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!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Move


The prompt today is “move,” which I could take into multiple directions. 

Today was somewhat of a challenge.  I was not feeling wellfrom a chronic condition that I deal with often.  It can impact my life and my mood as it does inhibit my activities without warning.  I was feeling sorry for myself.

In a funkthis is not how I wanted to spend my Saturday.  I was sitting up in bed with Baylor playing Iowa State on the flatscreen TV and said, “Enough of this!”  My first step was to MOVEget up and make my body perpendicular to the floor.  I took a shower and changed into clean comfy clothes.

I landed on the porch swing with my Bible, a book, and my journal.  I purposefully kept it quiet:  no music playing with my phone or background tv white noise.  The music of the rustling leaves blowing in the wind and the titmice challenging each other at the bird feeder were my acoustical pleasures.

I still was well off my game physicallybut even just small movement made a difference.  Movement to change my environment, to change my focus, and to lift my mood. 

Thinking about this in a practical way, I asked myself, “How can I apply this daily?”  Our environment is powerful and can greatly affect our mood.  Small movement toward change can make a significant difference.  Get up and turn off the noise.  Make a move to separate from the commercial to the natural.  Go over and pick up something encouraging to change to move your mental focus.

Newton’s first law of motion is often stated as an object at rest stays at rest and object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.  It takes intention and movement to make a change in even the smallest of ways. 

Make a move, today...

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Thirty-One Things - 7:30 p.m.

7:30 p.m.

It's Saturday in mid-October.  Feet propped up on the ottoman.  Unseasonably cold with snow flurries occasionally throughout the day.  

Ed's in the other chair, feet propped up on the ottoman.  We are relishing the college football season as we flip between the Iowa vs. TCU game and Ohio State vs. Penn State.

Arthur is laying on the floor, on his back, legs up in the true Corgi way.

I have socks on my feet not because they are cold, but because it is that time of year when lots of lathering with lotion is essential.

As I look around the house, it is festive for the celebration of autumn.  Pumpkins, gourds, fall flowers in West Virginia-made pottery, and some seeded grass stalks from the ornamental grasses from the front lawn.

When I was younger, I could not imagine wanting to be home on a Saturday night.  A Saturday night without a social commitment was a fate worse than death.  Now I relish uncommitted time at home.

While watching football, I am editing photos from our vacation. This is our first weekend home.  Lots of photos to catch up on.  

I hear the furnace running and I'm feeling very cozy and safe.

The more I experience, the more I realize that it is the simple single moments that seem so ordinary that makes life magical.

It's 7:30 pm.  I am content and feeling loved.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Mess


As much as I hate mess, it seems to be a necessary evil.  How many times has mess in your life become a gateway to something better? How often has mess been in an indicator that something else is going on?  Maybe we should embrace mess.

For the love of mess, as it means something is happening.

For the love of mess on the pages of my Bible, as it means I have been reading it.

For the love of mess of barrels on the highway, as it means the roads are being improved.

For the love of mess on baby Gabriel's face, as it means he is progressing with solid foods.

For the love of mess of suitcases and coolers and bags, as it means we are leaving for vacation.

For the love of mess of things out of control, as it reminds me I know the One who is.

For the love of mess of dog hair on my black pants, as it means I have had time with my Corgi, Arthur.

For the love of mess all over my craft room, as it means I have been creating!

For the love of mess all over my desk at work, as it means I'm striving to make a difference.

For the love of mess of the opposite side of the bed when I come to bed, as it means the one I love is next to me.

For the love of mess in doubts and struggles in my faith, as it means I am growing in Christ.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Hair


I’ve always been intrigued by hair...since I was a child.  My hair has gone through various phases and styles, like anyone’s.   My thoughts are random enjoy the journey.

1.  I have always longed for long luxurious hair.  My mother tended to keep me in short, pixie cuts (think Mia Farrow) in grade school.  Childhood is a time of pretend and fantasy.  Taking three old stockings of my mother’s (days before pantyhose) braid the legs, and then put one end on my head like a cap.  I’d dance around pretending like I had a long braid down of hair down my back.

2.  I remember my early high school years, my mother would give me body perms.  I would set my shoulder-length hair on huge rollers and I was ready for school.  By the time I walked to school in the early foggy mornings of September, it was back to frizz.

3.  Even as I child, I had an inkling that I looked better with my ears showing.  Hair over my ears made my face look broader.

4.  Right before I sat for my senior pictures, I cut my hair short and 40 years later have never grown it long again.

5.  In the late 1970s, thanks to Dorothy Hamill, the wedge became my hairstyle.  Oh, Denise, that looks so like you.  It became my signature.  The problem with a signature style, if you hang onto it, you look dated.  I upgraded to a more Princess Diana look.

6.  In the early 1990’s, I upgraded to a short style between Demi Moore’s look in Ghost and Halle Berry’s hair in Boomerang. 

7.  At age 58, my hair texture has changed.  I have never colored my dark brown hair, which is about 20% gray.  My last haircut was somewhat of a disaster so I’m waiting for it to grow out.

8.  Now I’m ready for a new style and am open to suggestions.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Heart


I heard my heart crack as I saw the words on the lined page...”pregnant.”

My baby daughter, Lydia.  Age 20.  Not married.  I’m finishing undergrad in social work.  All too aware of the fact that single motherhood is a huge risk factor for a life of poverty.  I wanted so much more for my daughter, Lydia, who now had to face this issue.

As a social worker, I also knew the impact of protective factors...and my prayer was to be the best one I knew how to be.

I’ve learned that the things that break your heart have the possibility to enlarge your heart, increasing its capacity to give more love and to receive more love.

Noah came out perfectly in 2006; Elijah arrived in 2008; and Gabriel was a surprise in 2014.  My daughter’s misstep, which seemed to break my heart, brought to me a love I never knew.  I have seen her grow and mature and put those boys first, sacrificing much.  It has brought so much richness into my life.  My heart contains so much love and commitment for these boys.  They are now my hearts as well.   Gained three more!

This week Noah, in fourth grade, made an amazing still life in art class.  Last year he won the architecture contest with his building he constructed.  Elijah, in second grade, made a lovely monochromatic piece of art.  They both are learning the violin and are taking tae kwan do.

And Gabriel...we are so blessed he is here.  Gentle and sweet and so many smiles.  I am so grateful for his little life and the opportunity to embrace a new addition to our family.

Never underestimate the capacity of the heart.  What Satan meant for harm, God has used for good.

My heart is open to receive whatever He sends my way.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Paper


I have never been inclined to purchase a Kindle or Nook or use their apps on my Android phone. I am a lover of paper!  I love to feel it on my fingers whether textured or silky smooth.  And not all paper is created equal.

This Spring, I discovered a book-azine that I absolutely fell in love withBella Grace.  So many superlatives I could attribute to this incredible publication:  exquisite photography, succulent words, and, not to be ignored...LUXURIOUS PAPER!  I carry my issues in my tote daily, “just in case” I get a moment to peruse.  That alone, brings me comfort.

I will skim article on the Internet, but when I want to do intentional reading to learn, absorb, contemplate, or focus...that paper HAS to be in my hands.  I need something concrete to underline or highlight or turnover to hold my place...and of course to fall in the bathwater when I read in the bathtub.

Early on in my learning days of Photoshop I became exposed to digital scrapbooking.  Wow...great way to scrapbook without having to store all those supplies and you can use them over.  It has its place, but after I found Project Life and participated in One Little Word, I knew I had to have the real paper experience, at least in some way.  Loving paper is similar to my love for fabric...collecting it, I might add.  I have evolved into a hybrid girl.

When it comes to the newspaper, I have not subscribed to it in decades.  The ink on the cheap newsprint dirties the hands, getting smeared onto other items like clothing, countertops, good paper.  It also creates a lot of waste.  The convenience of getting the news delivered to your doorstep does not outweigh the cons.

My favorite paper is the thin, tissue pages of the Bible and the sound they make in church when congregants are looking up a passage of scripture.  It is music, because those pages contain the words of life.  Keywording the verse in a Bible app in the same setting just does not emote in the same way.

Don’t ever say to me, “It’s just paper.”

Monday, October 19, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Path


My path up until now has had surprising curves and detours unexpected.  The path of life is not linear.  It has dips and declines and steep inclines with plenty of opportunities to trip and fall...and to get back UP.  This is definitely true in following Christ, but His grace sustains me.

- As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. –Henry David Thoreau

- Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. –Psalm of David

- I think joy and sweetness and affection are a spiritual path. We're here to know God, to love and serve God, and to be blown away by the beauty and miracle of nature. You just have to get rid of so much baggage to be light enough to dance, to sing, to play. You don't have time to carry grudges; you don't have time to cling to the need to be right. -Anne Lamott

- Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths. –Proverbs 3:5-6

- Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb. –Winston Churchill

- The past does not have to be your prison. You have a voice in your destiny. You have a say in your life. You have a choice in the path you take. -Max Lucado

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Cook


There was a time when I tried as much as possible to cook from scratch.  I had this desire to go back in time when there was more home cooking and less processed food.  I was inspired by the hearty meals of the Amish.  I even learned how to make things that I would not eat:  apple butter, fresh peach pie, apple pie, freezer jam.  Then that began to wane, although it was not necessarily a conscious decision.

It was one Thanksgiving when I was doing cooking preparations when it hit me as if a bucket of ice water splashed over me.  So much of the activity of cooking was accompanied with stretched phone cords and cradled conversations with my mother, while she was in her kitchen doing the same.  My mother’s Alzheimer’s robbed us of that.  Even when she was still able to cook, it was becoming more and more difficult to have conversations with her over the phone.

Now I rarely cook.  I miss it at times. But he is retired and I am working full time.  He has taken that role over...FOR NOW.  He also does the grocery shopping.  What is really interesting is that there are things he cooks really well:  pancakes, deep fried food, grilling, throwing things together, shrimp, chili, sandwiches, poultry (he makes the best turkey in a bag!).  Things I enjoy making:  lasagna, pot roast, stuffed pork chops, homemade bread, French oven stew, pasta primavera, chicken casserole.  

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Fear


I admit.  I do not want to write about fear.  I tend to ruminate enough without dwelling on my fears.  Yet I do recall a time when I was preparing over a period of months to make a major decision, to make a move.  I listed in my journal, all the things I was afraid of in making this decision.  Somehow putting those fears on paper made them more manageable.  Six months later, none of those fears became reality.

I tend to believe that life is good and embrace what is. I have had my share of hardships, and by God’s grace, I have overcome.  I tend to have concerns and anxieties, but rarely experience raw fear.  There are, however, things that do cycle in my mind.

I am always concerned about Caleb.  Who will be his advocate when I am no longer able or alive?

I am concerned about Lydia as she raises three boys on her own. How will she manage financially?  Will she continue to draw closer to the Lord and be committed to following Him?  Will she continue to make wise choices?

I am concerned about Noah and Elijah.  Will they continue to be secure in their relationships with their parents?  Will they find Jesus and walk with Him?  Will they do well in school and have secure futures?

I am concerned about Gabriel.  He has had to endure some challenges early in his first year but continues to progress.  I wonder if he will continue to do well developmentally.  The autism family history does loom in my head sometimes.  Will he be affected?  Will he find Jesus?  What will his relationship be with his father?

While I look forward to retirement, it also concerns me.  What do you do when the paychecks stop?  Do we have enough set aside to make it?  How long will our health continue?

And yet, I trust in the One whose eye is on the sparrow, for I know He watches me.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Rhythm


I love rhythm.  The drumbeat I follow tends to be different than the masses, but it is my rhythm, just the same.

The rhythm is changing as the sun slides below the horizon earlier each evening and peeks back up later each morning.  It is slowly drifting into cooler temperatures and our fall vacation is less than a week away.  This is the rhythm of September as October begins to knock at the door.

I rely on the predictable rhythms of life, appreciating them more as I get older, and the world seems so chaotic.  Children do best with structure and routine. It gives them a sense of safety and security...something in their world can be depended on.  I need that, too.

I love the rhythm of Fall. The warm hues of gold, orange, burgundy, purple, and brown decorate the landscape.  Food shifts to chili and the comfort of stews, soups, roasted meats, and root vegetables.  It welcomes reflection and a settling down.

I love the rhythm of Winter.  Home feels wonderful with the fireplace roaring.  The common winds blowing across the Lake Erie Snow Machine creating a unique beauty of the season.  I need a time of dormancy, just as the natural world.

I love the rhythm of Spring and the predictability of the dull goldfinches beginning to show glimpses of bright yellow.  I need its rhythm of renewal and rebirth.  I need the lightness of pastels, the fresh yellow-green of tender growth, the return of migrating birds and the increased daylight.

I love the rhythm of Summer.  The annuals and perennials are in full bloom and crickets sing each night.  People are more accessible and outside. Photograph opportunities are endless.  Outdoor concerts, grilled entrees, time in the swing on the screened porch, iced tea, fireworks, and full moons beat this rhythm of carefree living.

Rhythm makes life livable in the middle of so much uncertainty.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Learn


I took a personality test at work and my dominant color was determined to be green.  Some descriptions of those with this personality are stated as:

- Searching, learning and understanding are fun
- They like to analyze, study, invent, investigate and explore
- Greens have an insatiable curiosity
- Greens seek wisdom

Pretty accurate as I have always been one driven to learning, either formally or informally, particularly those things that interest me.

While my bachelor’s and master’s degrees have served me well, there are so many things I’ve thrown myself into in the past few years.

- Birding.  I remember making an effort to find a bluebird in a nesting area with no binoculars and knowing nothing.  Found one. And the birding bug bit!  Devouring the field guide, buying a great pair of binoculars, and meeting other birders, I could not get enough of become more and more proficient in this hobby.

- Genealogy.  I have dug deep into my West Virginia heritage and genealogy in the past six years, since my dad died.  Finding treasures of photos and letters from the past, whetted my appetite to know who they were and to know the stories. Through genealogy I was able to make more discoveries.  And with more discoveries, more pieces began to come together in the puzzle, only to make me want more.  I wanted so badly to spend time with my ancestors and would go to their graves and where they lived hoping to catch a greater glimpse of who they were.

- Photography.  Since 2010, I have not been able to get enough of learning and growing this art, as well as memory keeping.  This way of freezing a moment or a memory is all encompassing.  I now am learning memory photography for families whose babies are not expect to survive after birth.

But this has only scratched the surface of what I am learning and continue to pursue each and every day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Feet


My feet has inherited the dryness of my dad’s, and I’ve passed it onto Caleb. I don’t expect improvement in that area now that I’m 58.  But darling Ed, he takes over my feet, gives me pedicures, and rubs them with moisturizer. I am so blessed.

My feet have gone wherever I have gone.  I think about how these feet have marched across many a football field and streets for parades.  My faithful feet were reliable all through several years of band camp and marching down Derby Hill for the Soap Box Derby.

My feet have raised money for Nazarene missions, Alzheimer’s disease, and Akron Children’s Hospital.

It’s easy to take my feet for granted...and as bunions have become obvious and make wearing stilettos a thing of the past...I realize how they have served me.

My feet have often been the vehicle I have used to capture photographs along pathways and photowalks.  They have brought about discoveries and helped me see the world at a slower pace.

My feet have served others.  I now have to walk through up to three buildings to meet with my patients and families.  Sometimes multiple trips a day.  Counseling.  Linking others to services.  Providing emotional support.  Listening.  Giving cafeteria vouchers or a parking pass or a gas card.  Memory making.

My feet bring comfort at night as I rub them together under the covers when I go to bed at night.  They love to be bare and the less confining the shoe, the better!  Flip flops are the favorite fashion of my feet...and we hang on to wearing them as early in the season and as late in the season as possible.

My feet hold a place of honor, as they are what must hit the floor first in order for me to begin a new day...a new adventure.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Bedside Table

Bedside table...

My bedside table is very special to me.  It is a nightstand and bookcase.  Seeking out the perfect black bedroom furniture, I had it custom made by a woodworker.  A distressed worn look with an underlying red underneath that peeks where the black stain is randomly wiped away.

This bedside table is my friend on lazy Saturday mornings (like today) when I am in bed longer...sitting up.  It holds my coffee, my phone, a light, my glasses when I sleep.  Sometimes it has books on it but most of my reading books are on the bookshelves (a pair, one on each side of the bed) or in my tote.  It also has some of Arthur’s hair noticeably against the black base...signs of how much time I spend here. 

My bedside table has been with me through my single years and since I married Ed.  It has heard numerous conversations and prayers. It has seen Ed and I hold each other and make love.  It has seen me sick and seen me sad.  It never complains when it has to hold my snotty tissues.

My bedside table has seen me change Noah...Elijah...and Gabriel.  It has watched me and one of my grandsons lay on top of the bed watching movies (Elijah loved the Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe). 

My bedside table has heard the many birds outside my bedroom window...where the feeders welcome them.  It has noticed the cycle of the changing dull color of the goldfinches evolve to a brilliant yellow as spring arrives.  It also witnessed the possum that tried to invade the birdseed in the middle of the night.

My bedside table experiences my life with me and knows me so well.  Often as I lay my head next on my pillow, I believe it can hear the thoughts in my worries, my fears, my gratitude, my randomness, my happiness, my glee, my prayers.

It really deserves better care and more dusting.  But it never complains. My bedside table – a faithful friend.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Quote


I have been a collector of quotes.  I recall back in high school, my wirebound lined notebook filled with quotes and poems I loved handwritten in red. 

I find quotes a great jump off point for journaling.  They also serve as great mantras to memorize. When we think of Bible verses, aren’t they actually quotes we memorize?

I often give quote jars to special friends as gifts. They are clear glass jars with lids, filled with individual quotes on cut, printed paper, randomly placed for the receiver to pull a single quote out at any time they need one.

A great resource for quotes: 

Quotes can be very convicting.  One of particular notice is from Paul David Tripp from his book, Whiter Than Snow.

I am too skilled
At mounting
Plausible arguments
To make me feel okay
About what I think
What I desire
What I say
What I do
I am too defensive...
In the holy of holies,
Where I stand naked,
All covering gone,
Before You...
May you do there,
What I cannot do...
May you create in me,
A clean heart.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Camera

Me and My Camera...

I remember my instamatic and the flashcubes of the 1970sthe faded film and the date in the corner.  I remember the importance of capturing friends, family, and my own children.  This was before scrapbooking and smart phones.

I bought my camera in 2009 as a ‘congrats on your dream job’ gift.  Later that year my dad was diagnosed and died of cancer.  It was not until July of 2010 that I would pick it up and learn it.

Learning things like ISO, aperture, shutter speed, depth of field, the camera became alive to me.  Then a 70-300 zoom lens, a few more primes.  Then an extra body.

I became rabid about online learning and couldn’t absorb enough.  I discovered how to do textures, use Photoshop and Lightroom. And learned how to do still life’s and add text to photos.  It became more than just taking photosit was becoming art.  Everywhere I went, my mind was framing possible photos.  My photography began evolving into something greater than I imagined in the beginning.

Now I use it as a tool to bring gifts to others and ourselves.  I embrace it to capture life as it is versus fabricating it.  I have become prolific in memory keeping and turning it into treasure.  It’s about making meaning.

This year I took the plunge to purchasing my first full frame camerathe retro Nikon Df.  I’m just getting to know it and how to use it.  Vacation is a week away and I’ll be breaking it in.  It has a reputation for being superb in low light situations with minimal noise when you have to increase the ISO significantly.  I try to avoid flash whenever possible.

Before the end of the year is over, I hope to be doing photography for families of babies who children born with very little chance of life.  It is a phenomenal gift to give to a family as part of our palliative care team.  It feels a little daunting as this may be the only photos they will ever have of their child, but I know God will give me the grace to do this ministry.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Thirty-One Things - Memory


I never valued memory as I do now until I saw my mother’s elude her.  Life is a string of precious memories as jewels on a necklace.  There are too many to count or name, but each is a priceless gift.

I never want to forget and always remember // when my mother prayed with me after a bad dream // the comfort of Ed being next to me at night // the anticipation each year of the coming of autumn // my first sighting of a Blackburnian Warbler // Lydia having her first bite of ice cream // how the house smelled after Sunday morning church // Thompson’s ice cream // pulling clothes through Mamaw’s wringer washer // the smell of Zest soap // my dad praying on the chair in the bathroom // strawberry picking with my mom // playing with the Garros // dancing at band camp // Yelling BEARM in the middle of band // Ruff burying his bones in Dale’s bed // seeing Ed face to face for the first time // leaves burning in the Fall // the rustling of Bible pages in church // the night I prayed at Gilgal // when Arthur picked me // Lydia’s first steps // showing Noah the bird tornado // sleeping on the hard folding chairs at camp meeting // Sidda sitting across my shins // cake after church in the fellowship hall // listening to Howie Chizek on WNIR // my father’s voice // Caleb’s doe eyes // Acme-Zip games // slow-cooked roast beef // Mamaw’s rolls // making apple butter with my mother // playing the piano at Calvary Bible Church // the fall hiking spree with Suzanne // mom’s baloney sandwiches she made me for lunch time on school days // miniskirts and go-go boots // my first job at Ponderosa // Living Witness // the sound of crickets at night // star gazing at the meteor showers in summer // listening to Hazel Lee at MVNC // Lydia going with Betty to get crackers // Caleb’s beautiful bowl cuts // the sparrow that fell // wearing braided stocking on my head pretending I had long hair // football games with Josh and Missi // seven-up popsicles // riding my bike around the neighborhood // Green 1 // the smell after fireworks // relatives stopping in at Mamaw’s // Papa getting the big rocks out of the way driving up the road to Green Hill // being random with Dale // trying not to laugh during church // the zillions of stars in the pitch black sky in West Virginia // talking Mountaineer football with my dad // Lydia twirling in her lacey dress // Caleb’s cuddles when he was sick // Smores at the Green Cabin // snuggling with Noah and Elijah at bedtime // hearing the first signs of spring – birds // wonderful Words of life // and I’ve just started.