Saturday, December 12, 2015



That’s how Friday felt.  Christmas blues are not unusual and they hit me hard this morning.  I walked into my office (already feeling this blue film on my spirits) and got hit with a bunch of emails from Columbus adding complexity, rework, changes in protocol, and hassle to what is only to be a fraction of what my job is but seems to rob me of the most meaningful parts of my work.  I did not see an end.

I can become over stimulated and more tired in December with the extra demands and chaos of Christmas at a children’s hospital.  I was doing very well, then todayughI cannot even listen to my voice go on about it.  Spare me my own whining!  God give me perspective!

I was rescued by a Fridayknowing that I could center and reset for a few days after the day finished.  I am so thankful to have made the commitment to slow down Christmas daily by going through “The Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp.  It would be my top priority on Saturday morningno clock to hurry me, quietness, time to sit in the flickering candles and soft Christmas music and twinkle lights, time to reflect, and nourish myself with whatever God had for me.

Who would have thought the story of Ruth and Naomi would have anything to do with Christmas?  God knewand prompted Ann to write His message to me today.  Naomi was not having a great Christmas (having lost her husband and two sons).  It was hard to see that her widowed daughter-in-law, Ruth, was there by her side, never to leave her alone.

Ann writes:  “There are Advent moments when you’d like nothing more than to order a Christmas miracle. The one you need when it feels like no one sees you. No one sees how you really feel. How overwhelmed by the work and underappreciated by the people. No one sees that you just want someone to cup your face and look into your eyes and say your name from somewhere deep inside, like a calling home, like a belonging ~ like a holding that has you around all the fragile places and never leave.

“Some seasons are Naomi timesIn some seasons, for all their gloss and glitz, it can be achingly hard to find gifts and days can feel like fists.

Sometimes the miracle begins by growing, not in bitterness, but in faithfulness.”

Like Naomi, I sometimes miss the love around methose who have been faithful Ruth’s in my life.

What a joy to slow down and see them…and so many abundant gifts!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Laugh

Make them Laugh!

Contagious laughter is a priceless gift.  That is, the kind of laughter that makes you laugh because of someone else’s actual laughter.  Phyllis Diller was classic with this…and her famous cackle was her authentic laugh.

Once Ed was tying his shoelaces and it broke.  He made some Ed-ism remark, and I laughed.  Then Lydia laughed hard, deep, belly laugh.  Her laugh was the trigger to more laughter.

There’s something contagious about trying to stifle a laugh.  I do this “keep my mouth shut but then my laugh comes out of my nose” laugh.  It causes such a stir, I should just let my laugh fly.  It always happens in public.  It often brings a laugh from others and sometimes smart remarks.  Like Phyllis, it comes from an authentic place.

One of my favorite memories with my mom is when we would get tickled about something.  An inside joke, you might say.  Just between us.  And other people most likely don’t get it.  Lydia and I share those moments as well. 

The greatest laugh comes from children.  Gabriel used to get excited and laugh sounding like a weed-whacker.  Noah can laugh so hard that it sounds like he is crying.  I remember how Caleb would laugh hysterically when the Rugrats’ mother would come on television or the mouse would hop up and down on the turkey rotisserie in the fireplace in a Muppet Christmas Carol.

Laughter is good for us.  Proverbs tells us that a merry heart does good like a medicine.  At times I need to be random and silly…punchy…slap happy!  It does my heart good to have a lighter attitude about life.  I have a mind that is always amusing itself.  It’s dangerous in a group, as of those amusements will slip out inadvertently.  Inside my head is a non-stop repertoire of movie lines.

Stephen Chobsky writes, “There’s nothing like deep breaths after laughing that hard.  Nothing in the world like a sore stomach for the right reasons.” I’d add: When laughter turns into a coughing spell.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Water


Three weeks ago, Ed and I were in the Canaan Valley area of West Virginia.  There is a lot of water in the mountains and valleys of Appalachia.  Small springs turn into brooks that turn into streams that turn into raging rivers, only to be added to from mountain runoff.

After seven days and nights of on and off rain, we ventured to Blackwater Falls.  Still dreary, the leaves would be saturated with color and the Blackwater River would be in full force.  The roaring from the turbulent waters rapidly, helplessly free-falling from 50-foot drop off can be heard long before they can be seen from the moment one exits their car.  To see it is hypnotizingyou cannot look away.  The falling water then twists and turns along an eight mile gorge.

The power overwhelms the senses as you travel the boardwalk and steps closer and you begin to feel the mist lightly land on your arms and face, and if you are not careful, your camera.  You forget there are those around you, as its mighty force draws you in.

Water is essential for sustaining life, and yet, too much of it will leave carnage in its wake.  Three years ago it was Hurricane Sandy that paralyzed the east coast.  Who can forget the devastation of New Orleans prompted by Hurricane Katrina?

“Water is powerful. It can wash away earth, 
put out fire, and even destroy iron.– Arthur Golden

In the spiritual realm, fear, doubt, stress, and self-pity can overcome me like water, tossing me about with nothing to hold on to at the mercy of this massive power.  But just as Peter did when he began to sink as he watched the water and waves below, keeping my eyes on Jesus becomes my anchor.  Peace be still.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Ritual


I’ll admit it.  This word has stumped me.  I have rituals in my life but I don’t know if I can expound on just one to complete a whole page. 

My first thought was to write about the ritual this country goes through every four years.  Election hype.  It seems to start 18 months after a new President is elected.  Speculation about who might be eyeing the prize that goes on until wannabes start declaring their candidacy.  Every word, every movement, every nuance is scrutinized. 

And then come the debates

And the pundits, aka talking heads, before AND after

Who’ll drop out, what do the polls say this very nano second

And the live Twitter feeds go crazy!!!!! (And I kinda get into it.)  It’s become this country’s ritual.

But I want to talk about a ritual that’s way more fun and happens every night.

You can tell when Arthur gets antsy and wants me and Ed to head for bed.  Do you think it is because he is tired? Absolutely not.  Ed and I do our individual before bed routines and then climb under the covers.  Our furry four-footed Pembroke Welsh Corgiyes, Arthurflies his long short-legged body into our bed.  He knows he’s in for wrestling and playing and petting.  Arthur knows Mom will hide under the covers and make him have to find her.  Arthur knows Dad will wrestle with him.  Arthur knows this ritual like the back of his hand.

But smart doggyhe knows when Ed turns on his side and I turn on my stomach, it’s sleeping time.  He dutifully knows his ritual is to bound off the bed and land on his soft bed on the floor adjacent where we sleep for the night.  And he smiles as he goes off to sleep thinking, “Oh boy!  I get to do this again tomorrow!”

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Break


On my piano sits a beautiful, but broken, piece of pottery.  A pitcher you might say.  About 18” high.  Once a bright aqua with sunflowers painted on it.  Now it is faded, marred, scratched, and glued back together.  It actually had come apart into two pieces.

This pitcher was a visual of my life and my husband’s before each other.  We used it in our wedding as a symbol.  Married later in life, we came to each other not unlike this broken pottery.  Separately we came with our own disappointments, failures, trials, struggles, and stumbles.  We both had disability invade our lives.  We had regrets and things we might have changed in our past if we could. We were convinced that only God could have put each of us back together.

The truth is, I found this pitcher at a yard sale for two bucks.  Ed and I broke it and put it back together.  Far from perfect, it was beautiful.

Far from perfect, God took two individuals, broken, and put each one back together separately by His healing grace and unconditional love.  The healing process was painful, having God set in place what was broken.  Then rehab followed. It was a long road and neither of us had a clue that we would meet each other at the end of it.

Ed and I found each otherwith our limps and scarsgrateful we had surrendered to the Potter’s hand and gone through the process of his restoration long before we knew each other existed.

The broken pitcher sits on display in our living room.  It would hold no real significance without the meaning behind it.  God’s restoration of our brokenness in His firm but loving way is a miracle of grace.  Brokenness is the road to healing.

God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, 
broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, 
broken bread to give strength. 
It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. 
It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns 
to greater power than ever. - Vance Havner

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Happy


Pharrell Williams in 2014 came out with the song, “Happy” which took the world by storm.  It’s been everywherein movies, commercials, social media.  I prefer the word joy but also believe that is a deeper current in the heart when happiness may not be felt.  But let’s keep this light.  What makes me happy?  (Oh, to name a few)

- Feeling my husband’s foot under the covers in the middle of the night.

- Autumn leaves, sweater weather, fuzzy socks.

- Two beady eyes from my favorite furry friend.

- Grandboys happy to see their Mamaw and Grandpa Ed!

- Friday nights after a long week of work.

- Capturing an incredible moment with my camera.

- Watching the Perseids out in the country on a humid August night.

- Time with a close friendover coffee even better.

- An Italian dinner followed with a live Il Volo concert with my Ed.  (One is coming up in February!!!!)

- Caleb and me sharing eye contact and burgers in the back seat of the van.

- A perfect porch swing day.

- Hearing the first chipping sparrow in Spring.

- Being at home.
- Carving out time to slow down, breathe deep, and be grateful.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Sweet


Some crave salt; some crave sweets.  I am definitely on the sweet side.

My mother always had something sweet available for “snack” before bed.  Sunday dinner was the only meal followed by dessert.  Of course, we had the traditional birthday cake (although sometimes she made my dad a pie for his birthday).  My mother also made candy for Christmas time:  black walnut fudge, peanut butter fudge, orange blossoms, Hollywood squares, thumbprints, stained glass windows.  I miss those days.

Fridays our family went to the grocery store and my brother, my sister, and I could choose a packaged candy for snack that night.  I always chose Brach chocolate stars.

My favorite sweet since I was little has been cake. My mother always had a boxed cake made in a 13 x 9 pan for snack.  The frosting was always homemade (they did not have canned frosting in those days, thank goodness!)

Every birthday, my mother would make my favorite cakeI called it colored coconut, but Duncan Hines used to make a Confetti Cake with colored coconut.  My FAVORITE.  It has since been discontinued but I’m looking for recipe hacks to relive that experience.

My next favorite cake is white coconut cake (do you see a theme here?) and white wedding cake.  I will not eat cake with fruit filling or pineapple upside down cake.

I have made Watergate cake (rumor is someone stole the recipe, thus how it got its name), which includes 7up and pistachio pudding.

The easiest cake I make was a recipe given to me by Lois Schuey:  Crème de Menthe cake.  Think mints you get at Olive Garden.  BONUS:  I’ll share it:  White cake mix (no pudding) and using whole eggs.  Otherwise, bake as directed adding 3 T. of green crème de menthe liqueur.  Once cooled, spread a thin layer of chocolate fudge frosting.  Mix 3 T. of green crème de menthe liqueur with a tub of thawed Cool Whip.  Spread over cake.  Keep refrigerated. Wallah!