Friday, January 31, 2014

Christmas decorations have all been put away. Memories of our last celebration, voices echo in my mind. 

Great times together, laughter, stories, fun, the glue that holds a family tight,  shared holiday spirit.

I know that you are not thinking Christmas thoughts right now . . . most of us are thinking "spring". 

"Come soon," we say, "bring your flowers and your lovely foliage. We long for you!"

I have been sharing journaling ideas and I have a couple for the holidays that I want to share with you. Perhaps you would like to use one of them next Christmas.

One year we made a book for a special family member. I asked the kids to write their favorite childhood memories, the setting, Grandma Bunches house. They wrote them and sent them to me and I compiled them into a book. Scotty and I wrote a few memories down, too. We haven't done this for my mom, yet, but I hope to someday. It was a wonderful gift . . . the kind of gift that money can't buy. Special memories, recorded. My kids really got into it and wrote some great stuff. She especially loved the ones that tickled her funny bone.

Our family also has a tradition, a Christmas Dream Box. I have a beautiful Christmas box, a place where we store our dreams.  We all sit around the family table after our huge, festive meal. I give all of the kids a piece of blank paper and a little box of crayons. They are instructed to draw a picture of one of their dreams. It is very quiet while everyone is drawing. When the drawing is complete and the last artist has laid down his/her crayon, we share our dreams with one another. It has been a beautiful way of getting to know one another better. 

You might not think our Christmas dream box much of a journal, but it really is. We look back on our past dreams and see if any have come to pass. Some of them have. It has been a special way to love, encourage and pray for one another. We get to know what is stirring on the heart of each one. Sometimes we get to help make the dream come true, which cannot happen if you don't know what the dreams of another are.  

I have known folks who never tire of Christmas . . . they think about it every day of the year. I'm not really one of those, but I thought that you might enjoy some ideas for next Christmas . . . or, hey, Valentine's Day, Easter, and Mother's Day are coming! Who says you have to wait for Christmas to start a dream box or a memory book? I say go for it . . . whenever the time best suits you.
Happy family time! 


Friday, January 24, 2014

A journal for dreamers . . . those with vision and faith . . . a bucket list journal. 

When the thought comes to mind, "I want to go there! I want to see that! I should do that sometime!" I run to my bucket list journal as soon as possible and write those thoughts down. 

Entry number 1, "Watch the old beautiful movie, White Christmas, with my dear cousin Anne someday." She and I share a passion for this delightful holiday movie and I would love to watch it with her. I picture us sitting before the tv in our jammies, sipping hot chocolate topped with  marshmallow froth, Christmas lights twinkling in the corner of the room, fireplace hearth aglow. Perfect ambiance!

I used to keep mental notes of all the adventures I wanted to have, but I realized I was forgetting, so I started a little journal to capture my dreams. The bucket list is in the front of the journal, and I hope to record everything on my list that becomes a chapter in my life in the back of the book. 

Some of the things on my list are simple, easier than others.  Number 21 seems a far out desire "Walk on the Great Wall of China". I don't know if that will ever happen, but the Lord has ways and I believe it is possible. I know that it won't happen tomorrow. I'm okay with maybe . . . someday.

This is one of my favorite dreams . . . share a day, weekend, or week in Charleston, South Carolina with my daughter, Ashli. Please, Lord! 

Do you have a bucket list? I would love to hear about one of your dreams.Please share . . . your dream might need to go on my bucket list, too.

I will be back next week . . . Lord willing. Have a very happy weekend. I hope it is "a bucket list entry fulfilled" kind of weekend for you!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

There is a little game that I used to play with my children. I hesitate to tell you these things because I suppose they might be misinterpreted. 

I would tease my children with, "Who are you? Where did you come from? I don't believe I've ever seen you before? How did you ever get in my car? There must have been a mistake?" 

One of them would invariably reply, without one bit of amusement in their voices, "Mom, we know you are our mom! You have a dent on your nose!" 

It was kind of like playing Seuss', "Are You My Mother?" reversed. I would play these little games to lighten the mood sometimes. 

The journal that I'm speaking of today does not boast of one treasured quote from my children. I got this idea from Oprah . . . drumroll, please. This is a journal of amazing quotes of other people. A scrapbook of words. If I remember right, Oprah said that she kept her quote journal in the bathroom, next to the toilet paper. Mine is on my desk right beside my computer. 

A bit of wisdom from Fred White:

"Our lives are steadily unfolding narratives which would generally make rather tedious reading. But the more we do with our lives, the more we enrich them, the more substantive our stories become. Of course what we "do" with our lives need not be overt adventure. A powerful insight, communicated well, can improve lives, enhance beauty, and even change history."

We can learn so much from others. Some of the quotes in my journal were spoken by the famed, some from dear friends, the not yet famous folk. All have been like well trained archers with bow in hand and hit the bull's eye of my heart with their wisdom time and time again. My journal is almost full. I must shop for it's twin. 

I do not write about the dent, which is a scar on my nose from way back in the day, or any other deliciously sweet words that my children have spoken. Those words are too precious for here. They are recorded in more noble places. 

Listening is a wonderful part of living. It is an art, my friend, and one that I think must be cultured. I hope that you will treasure the words of others, tuck some of them away for a rainy day. You never know when you will need a stored phrase to lift you on a gully washer, down kind of day. 

My quote journal is like a dear friend to me. What would you grab if your house was burning? My quote journal? Yes, it's a keeper!

Do you have a quote journal? I would love for you to share one of your favorite quotes with me. I still have a few blank pages to fill.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

As we were packing up life as we knew it, seems like only a few days ago, I found a pile of notebooks that were filled with prayers that I had written over the course of time. Some of my petitions had been written in the good times . . . mountaintop seasons. Grief, sorrow, suffering were written across every page of a few of them. I tore the pages from these journals, all of them, the wonderful and the hard, and shredded them with my hands. Written for God's eyes only, no one else need ever see. Healing has come. I'm trusting that if there was one bit of wheat worth salvaging on those pages surely the Lord has it stored away in a heavenly vault somewhere, and let all the needless words, the chaff fall through His fingers.

Spiritual journals have acted as a personal aide to me. Sometimes the true health of soul hides deep in the heart. Writing has a way of searching the hidden crevices, exposing truth to oneself. They are best written with Bible on one knee and journal on the other. I have never let there be much separation between the two lest something get off kilter.

That is one type of spiritual journal, the kind where we tell all to our savior. We can trust Him with our deepest woes and wonders . . . He understands as one who has been there. Some call it a prayer journal. It would be easy to write pretend prayers in this journal . . . or keep the Lord at arms length with writing only "Thee and Thou" prayers in every paragraph. However, healing comes with transparency. "I don't like this!" "I need that!" "He doesn't understand!" "Help!" Paragraphs that begin with "Thank you" are some of the most powerful. Troubles have a way of lifting when our focus is on the thanking. We may enjoy sweet fellowship and communion with God here. He lets us be who we are, He blesses our honesty with a beautiful gift . . . the grace to be with Him. 

I have written in other kinds of spiritual journals. The kind where you write a scripture then hi-light the portion that ministers to you. Such journals have stretched my inner self. Exercise of sorts.

Spiritual journals are so wonderful! If  you only have one journal that you write in, I hope it is a spiritual one. It can be temporary like a spiral notebook or bound embossed leather. 

The purpose of this journal is not to leave a legacy in writing, it is to fashion a relationship with the Lord, heart to heart.  Experience Divine encounter,if you will.

Would you like to keep a prayer journal, but don't know how to begin? I would begin with saying, "I'm not sure what I am doing here, Lord, could you help me? I want to grow closer to You." In fact, I think a few of my entries began just that way, so I am confident that He will meet you right there. He gives us grace to want to, then He helps us carry through and carry on. Praise Him!

Have a wonderful day!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"Our creator knows just what we need. God who made food for our provision and pleasure made the table for our souls." Joanne Thompson, Table Life

  Once upon a time, I thought of the perfect gift idea . . . a cookbook journal. Treasured recipes laced with family stories. I have made one for one of my new daughters, Ashley. I'm working on more for the other kids. It does require a bit of time.They hold such entries as this . . .

"Scotty's Aunt Shirley made this wonderful frozen fruit salad. She was one of the most beautiful women I ever knew. She had a way of caring that was warm and lovely. Her kind and gentle ways made you feel loved when she was in the room. I wish you could have known her, you would have loved her." 
I didn't just fill the book with recipes, I wove tales between cup and teaspoon portions.

"This is my Aunt Dottie's Cover the Mountain Carrot Cake, it made me famous in the little town in Kansas that I still call home. She has a love for the cooking arts. I have learned a great deal from her, in the kitchen and beyond."

"This recipe originated in the kitchen of my Grandma Terry. You would have loved her to the moon and back. She always had a tune in mind and a project on the back burner. Banana pancakes with homemade syrup was her specialty. I cannot think of her home without thinking of breakfast at her tiny kitchen table. She always had orange juice in a little juice pitcher and served it in little juice glasses to match. She would read the Bible to us before breakfast and Grandpa would pray. It was my home away from home when I was growing up."

A journal of family and foodstuffs, with purpose of passing tradition. 

"This recipe belongs to my mom. It is one of the best recipes in the world. You will love! My mom and dad always tended a large vegetable garden when I was growing up. Mom would can into the wee hours of the night. I do not know how she did it all! We lived on her canning through the winter. It was some of the best food I've ever had in my life." 

"This recipe of Bread Pudding is from Grandma Bunch. She and I make a great team in the kitchen. I busy myself with the stirring and the mixing,and she comes right behind with a tea towel in hand for the cleaning up, or vice versa. We enjoy each other in our work. She knows how to find a great recipe and tweak it to perfection."

When writing the Bread Pudding recipe in Ashley's cookbook, I forgot to list an ingredient . . . the eggs. Since it is a custard style dish, it was a tragic mistake, one we've since remedied. I do recommend double checking your entries. Perhaps you are more precise than I. 

 "Both of Caleb's grandmas are really good cooks. You will find that a lot of my best recipes come from them. I learned so much from their years of experience." 


So much of our family time was spent with us seated around a table. "What was your favorite thing that happened today?" I would ask our children. "What is your favorite color?" or "Did you notice the rainbow at the edge of the garden today, so vibrant,wondrous?" Scotty would always end the meal by saying,"Good supper, momma!"  We treasure the memory of it, our family at table, and I want to help my children remember, too. Aroma, taste, and fellowship. Home.

I thought you might enjoy one of the recipes. This is Aunt Shirley Windler's amazing frozen fruit salad.  I suppose it would be better served in the heat of summer, but I love it any time. I hope you enjoy!

Frozen Waldorf Salad by Shirley Windler

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup pineapple juice

Combine above ingredients, cook stirring until thick - cool.

1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup drained crushed pineapple
1/2 cup chopped nuts
2 unpeeled apples - chopped

Fold in 1 cup whipped cream and freeze. Thaw in refrigerator several hours before serving.

I hear it is supposed to get really cold again. Perhaps it is not the time for this frozen fancy. Perhaps you can put it on your calendar to make for your July 4th celebration. We all need something delicious to look forward to. 

Have you ever made a cookbook journal? I would love to hear your ideas? 

Happy eating and living! With blessings! 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Oft a tale is repeated, the ones that are powerful and true, where awe and wonder tango. This is one of those stories.

I was inspired by the Lord to write a journal for my daughter and give it to her before she went on a mission trip to India. It was absolutely, positively one of those times when I knew that I had been given an assignment from the Lord. She would be gone for 90 days plus a few, so I would write ninety or so entries. It was one of the easiest missions my hands have ever been upon. His grace to do was upon me.

Prayers, scriptures, family funnies, thoughts about her, messages about home, this and that of life with us. A few pages were written by her dad, her grandparents, her brothers. Her little brother, who was only eight at the time repeated his thoughts every single time, "Ashli, come home right now!" She was already at the missionary school being trained for the trip and he was missing her so! Two or three pages had Family Circus cartoons on them. "Who does this remind you of," I would say.

She arrived in India and within days she contracted typhoid. Death seemed nearly around the bend. For days and days and days threat of it lingered. She was terribly far away.  How we ached for her! It was one of the most difficult times of our entire lives. I cannot think or write of it without many tears. It is always that way when our children suffer, when they endure life and death battles, no?

A friend on the mission team sat with her, wiped her brow, fed her, ministered to her day and night. Every day she read Ashli an entry from the little journal that we made.

She remembers it as something that helped her to hang onto life, every day, little thoughts of home breathing endurance into her.

She looked like a concentration camp victim. Death was fighting for her soul. The journal kept reminding her that she had so much to live for.

"My mission trip to India did not seem very effective . . . what could I do? Typhoid depleted my strength, left me with nothing to give."

"We all learned to pray in new ways, Ash. We celebrate your life! Our gratefulness has reached new heights. Our trust in the Lord has been stretched deep and wide. Your mission was appointed, and we, the ones on this side of the world are the ones who needed changing," I say,with the heartbeat of the Lord still echoing in my ear. He was my comfort, the One who whispered "it is well" in my soul, and got me through. I am one who knows Him better now.

A ninety day journal written with someone else in mind. I have written a couple of similar ones a few times since, but this one was the first and probably one of the most important assignments I will ever have in my life. Thank you, Lord, for so many things, thank you! Thank you!

I hope this entry does not leave you sad. She did return home to us, she is healthy now, "and they lived happily ever after" can be written here.

Have a wonderful day, my friends. Be aware of little nudges to do little things . . . it might not be such a little thing after all. 


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sharing a bit of our ancient history today. We were in the car on our way to Branson, MO, our honeymoon destination. Scotty turned to me and shared a brilliant idea, "You should write about this. Do we have a notebook in the car?"

I thought he was the most romantic man on the earth . . . I hadn't noticed a lot of romance before this moment, but maybe, just maybe he could be romantic. 

I scrounged until I found a little notepad and pencil and I began to write "we are so in love" kind of things.

"You should record the prices of everything, because by the time we've lived in wedded bliss for fifty years or so, the prices will be so different. It will be interesting to compare."

hmmmmm . . . okay, maybe not so romantic.

That was our very first travel journal. I've kept several little journals about our travels through the years. Some have survived. I made little journals for each of our kids after some of our trips. The one that comes to mind is a trip we made to New York City one year . . . long before Caleb or Ashli ever lived there. I made little scrapbooks and put pictures and postcards, ticket stubs and such on the pages. It was very much cartoon style. I individualized them for the kids, according to what was most special to each one of them. One of my favorite pictures was of Scotty kissing Cruella Deville (she was made of plastic) in the Disney store. So romantic, that guy! That picture went in all of the journals! He got in trouble for that. We had so much fun in that store! They were too happy when we left!

Scotty and I took a trip a few years ago. We went to fourteen states in fifteen days. Every night I would ask him what his favorite moment of the day was. I wrote our memories down. 

Can I share one of my favorite things we did on that trip? The big news of the day that there was supposed to be a spectacular meteor shower that would begin around three a.m. We were in Colorado in the Rocky Mountains at the time. We set an alarm, dressed in all of our winter clothing (it was August but we were Rocky Mountain high) we went out and parked in a field, put the top down on the convertible and watched the sky perform. Okay, that WAS romantic. There was a woman killed by a bear the day before and I was a little squirmy at times, especially when I noticed two cows lying on the ground behind the car (I was sure they were bears). An unforgettable night!

Travel journals are fun to revisit. You can relive your adventure over and over again. It can be very factual . . .  jotting down the price of things, or it can be dreamy and poetic . . .Whatever you decide, it helps you remember and relive very special times. Keep in mind meteor showers happen all over the world, you could enjoy one in your backyard tonight and write about it in your journal tomorrow.

Just a few ideas for a travel journal. There are so many creative ways to record a journey. The most important thing is to have a wonderful day even if your journey is only to the grocery store. You might meet someone from Paris while you are there, and that is the next best thing to visiting sometimes. 

Do you believe I have a few more ideas to share? The babies are here to play so I will go for now. Have a wonderful weekend!


Friday, January 17, 2014

I started writing to her before she was born. "I feel you, life within me. The way you are moving, I can tell that you are ready to explore the world," I say. Today is her birthday and I am thinking about her so much!

I kept a journal for all of my children. Josh was about one when I was inspired, but I started shopping for a journal as soon as I knew I was pregnant with the other four.

I was always pointing out the wonders of the world when they were little, pointing forward. There were so many things that I wanted my children to notice in life; beautiful sunsets, buttercups and roses, rainbows and country roads. I wanted them to be alert, fully aware when there was something worthy of their attention on their path, so I was continually pointing out the beautiful things. I wanted them to pause, enjoy, breathe in the glory of it. "Do you see . . ." I was constantly saying, in between, "Don't hit your brother!"or "Come to dinner!"

Their journals, little books where I kept notes, tiny snippets of their growing up days, with my finger pointing behind to our once upon a time. Reflections of their youth, how I remember it. I didn't write every day. I would try to remember the cutest of their conversations and jot them down so they could remember them one day. It was for them, but I gained much joy through the years rereading the pages.

It was a secret mission. They never suspected that I was collecting fodder for their little journals. They were surprised when they reached their 20th year or so and I handed them the story of their life, as seen through momma's eyes. They treasure them now, but someday they will treasure them more. 

Long after I began my quest to write to my children, to make a record of their journey, I was at the funeral dinner of my beloved grandmother. On the table with the one million, nine hundred and fifty-nine pictures she took over the course of her lifetime, there was a little date book that she had used as a journal. "The babies came over today. Chris and Cheri, the dears." She didn't write every day, but every day that she did is a treasure that I will forever hold dear. 

Do you have babies in your house? This is one way to journal. You will probably do much better than I, be more consistent capturing your little one's beautiful jargon, but even if you scribble or misspell a word, your children will treasure your effort. One time I wrote "Dear Caleb" in Josiah's journal. I hate to say it, but it happened more than once in one journal or another. I am the mother of five, that should explain. I was often bone weary when I wrote. 

I really would love to hear about the creative ways you have kept journals. Do share! 

Blessings for a wonderful day, friends!  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

 I love to browse antique stores and wonder about the fingerprints left upon the wares. Untold stories tease, their silence foreboding. Family dinners of old come to mind. Sweet memories of sweet aromas, chopped apple cake and homemade crescent rolls.Happy family. Happy times.
 So many things remind me of my grandmother's kitchen. I picture her here and remember familiar stories, my story with her. I ponder my gratitude that she was in my life when I remember her home and her special ways.

 I'm drawn to the vintage linens. I sort through, my fingers running over the starched, crisp fabric. I say to myself, "eenie, meenie, miney, moe," The sales clerk stirs at my pause, "I will take this one," I say. She replies with happy sigh. "I will take this one, and this one, and this one, too." I picture tea parties laced with flower petals, porcelain and pearls on little square tables adorned in vintage. I imagine chatter and giggles, accompanied by the chiming of spoons. I linger awhile at the linen corner of the mercantile. My mind creates future moments that will one day be stories. "Don't part with the vintage linens, momma," my daughter shares my weakness for the romantic. So they are here, with me, waiting for the moment when breath revives the vision.
The most incredible find was a set of journals, seven of them all written by one man. Each journal was a five year journal with very small spaces for the day. The pages were written in here and there style. A little of this and some of that. "The weather is . . ." 
"The cows . . ." 
"The chickens . . ."
"My lady . . . " 
"We went to church . . . "
"Hotel over in . . . burned last night. So and so died. We tried to save him."

I bought all seven of the identical blue bound books, rich with biography. I brought them home and pored over them until long after sunset. Then I placed the tiny library, the bits and pieces of someone's life in a little blue vintage case for safekeeping. 

When Scotty and I were deciding what we would keep, what we would store, and what we would give away, I found it hard to part with this miniature. I love it. It inspires me. I stored it away back home. Memory stirs a pining for it.

The proprietor who reluctantly placed the treasure into my hands on the day of purchase also gave me letters from the author of the journals. A whole stack of line upon line, "this is how I am" letters. Gap fillers. Perhaps  I could create a story from this humble man's life, or maybe this is the story. Time will tell.

I was going to talk about various kinds of journals when I sat down to write this post this morning. However, I opened this post with a visit to an antique store. That always has the tendency to change the course of my journey. I would love to share creative journal ideas with you that I have used throughout the years. Would you like to hear? Or perhaps you have some that you would like to share with me. I would love it if you would tell me your creative secrets.

Whatever you do today, may it be special to you and to those whose lives you touch. I hope you enjoy the weather, notice the cows and chickens, hug those you love, and since its only Thursday, take a minute to pray about Sunday church. If you have an extra minute, maybe you could write bits and pieces of it down. Leave a legacy. It doesn't have to be about the big things. All the little things we do, they matter to somebody. 

Love and blessings.   

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"Beautiful things are seldom easy."

It is an old saying that I have clung to for decades. I remember the day that I first picked it up, held it in my heart and decided never to let it escape my grasp. Clueless was I to the depth of its meaning. 

Have you ever been to an art museum and sat before a giant wall covered with only one painting? I love to go and muse at the strokes of the artist. 

Sitting before an enormous crucifixion scene, some so real that you feel you are part of the witnesses. Sitting before such darkness, sometimes that is all you behold, the darkness of it. Death. I often get caught up in the sorrow, suffering and sadness of the scene. Beauty is before me, but I can be unaware of it. 

Life can be brutal. There is pain that wrenches heart in two.

Beauty is not always apparent when the soles of your feet are on the path of struggle. Keep walking. You often cannot see it until you glance back, retrospect. We often wonder how we missed it.

Often there will be glimpses of it on the path of trial, but the full glory is delayed. It will come. Understanding will come. You will realize what the Lord had in mind. Someday.

When gazing upon an artist's masterpiece, flaws are invisible. They are before us, covered by another stroke of hand. I studied art for a small season of time, and it has occurred to me that every work of genius I've ever seen in my life has had unrevealed blunders hidden beneath perfection. Covered, hidden, unrevealed. They were obvious, there in plain sight when the master was working. Well hidden before presentation and judgement.


The beauty of the crucifixion is love and grace. It depicts a God who cares so much that He gave His best so that we might be covered when judgement comes. Flawless before Him. Oh, the flaws are there, but who will see? No one, for they are beautifully hidden. Glory!

My friend, beautiful things are seldom easy. Are you walking through a hard time? I understand, I've had a few. Hang on, keep walking. Someday you will look behind and see reflections of rainbows that somehow you missed along the long path. 

How do you view a painting of the crucifixion? Close your eyes and think on it now. Is it dark? Do you feel the suffering of that day? Do you share the agony of some of the witnesses, the ones who cared about Him? Do you know the faith of the thief who believed in Him that day? 

The imprisoned one threatened with no release . . . with the sentence of death upon his head. Demise turned to promise. Hope! The one who would share paradise with Jesus that day. Forgiven. Right with God. Saved in a heartbeat, just in time. It could have been me, it could have been you in his place. For we have all been hopeless without Him. In reality, he, the thief, has a most desirable epitaph. "You will be with Me in paradise." The hope of the ages.

Beautiful masterpiece. 


Friday, January 10, 2014

Sometimes you need help to love someone. They are the difficult ones, those whom time has squeezed all happiness out of. Once upon a time, we had such a one that we were called upon to serve. 

Her name was Mrs. K.  

K  for Kontankerous!

She would growl into the phone, "I need someone from your office there to bring me some vitamins! Two bottles!!! Today!"  She couldn't hear well, so we would have to yell back that we were on the way.

"Let me go!" I would almost always jump at the chance to go. 

"I'm going to make her smile today," I would say. 

She always thought I was the doctor's daughter. Heehee! Happy face!

" You look gorgeous today, Mrs. K! What a lovely dress you are wearing," I wasn't pretending. She always dressed for company. Me. 

She had been abused by a first husband years and years before. Her terribly harsh responses were a symptom of the scars upon her heart. If she looked back too far, she found intolerable pain, so she kept her face forward, her upper lip stiff. Her eyes were trained for bitterness and scowl.

She invited me in her house one day. She opened her cabinet where her vitamins were kept. It was then I began to wonder if she was calling me to come for reasons other than her need for vitamins. The cupboard was full of bottles identical to the ones that I held in my hand. She gave me an impish glance. Where would she put the vitamins that I'd just brought? The overflow? Awkward moment, indeed.

I became aware of her birthday and sent her cards. Someone was making it easy to love her.  One year I thought, "I'll send her flowers, too." He was showing me ways to soften her . . . the helper.

She had the reaction of one who had not been given a gift for years when I took her a homemade, fresh out of the oven bread pudding for Christmas last year. I took my camera with me and I took her picture. I would post it here, but that would not be good (hippa). She hugged me when I left her that day.

I took to her, Mrs. K. I cared very deeply. I wonder about her now. Who is taking vitamins to her? Is she still in that little white house with the red brick chimney on the north side? She was getting so confused when I left. Perhaps she no longer remembers she took vitamins. 

I miss her. If she remembers, I bet she misses us too, that "good old doctor and his marvelous daughter."

I can't take pride in the love I felt for her . . . I feel it was a gift for both of us. I got to love her, and finally, with a bit of time she loved me back.

Lord, please bless Mrs. K today. Thank you for her. Amen


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Perfection . . . one's life can appear so. 

But everyone's life has a little trouble in it somewhere. Every day. Even Jesus told us there would be, "every day has trouble of its own."

There really isn't a life out there anywhere that does not know trouble.

It is when a difficult moment stretches into a whole day, that stretches into a whole month, season, year . . . life can be excruciating. We've had some of those. Long ones.

I made meatballs for lunch yesterday, I had to go to work before they were out of the oven. The aroma, I'm sure persuaded our neighbors to climb the stairs to our front door. They didn't come, but I'm sure they wanted to. I was so hungry for them, but meatballs will not be hurried.

Scotty took them out of the oven and had them for lunch. "I didn't like the meatballs," he says before I've even slipped out of my coat after working eight hours, 1-9 shift. "I like the old recipe better. I had to cover them in bbq sauce."

The sauce did not have a cup and a half of brown sugar in it. He wants this food without sugar thing  . . . but he doesn't. It is one of our conflicts. Getting the eating right.

It is an area of our lives unaffected by perfection.

We grow here. We love beyond imperfection. 

I know it's small. There are bigger things in my life, but I will spare you the grief. The bigger things are not between Scotty and I right  now, but there are some hard things. Today is very gray and my heart feels gray, too. Some days are like that. 

I just warmed up the meatballs and had my first taste of the new recipe. Yum! I was starving. That always helps. We might have to get used to this recipe.It might take some time and some fasting in between meals.

I hope that you are having a wonderful day . . . full of rays and warmth, if only on the inside. Love!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

She has been standing for awhile. She stands, she squats, with grace she bends to pick up trinkets from the floor. Graceful girl. Her bend is like a plie`, ballerina style.

She can do it, this walking thing, but she has yet to realize her ability.

Baby steps begin. We cheer. We clap. We are so excited. She returns a grin that would melt the heart of brute or bear.

Before now, our arms have been full of her. For several joyous months we have swaddled and cuddled and drawn her near to heart.  We have carried her to parks, supermarkets and church. We still do, but time is short. This we know. She is learning to run.

She will choose her own way soon, much sooner than we are ready for. For time has wings, how it does flee!

This beauty is my grandbaby girl. Our sweet Petra. It is her first steps I journal here.

My daughter will move to London soon. She is packing up and crossing the ocean to work in the city where Queens have reigned.

She began with first steps, long before she had passion for shoes. Years ago we heard the lyric of pitter-patter, her feet running to us. We clapped, we cheered, we were so excited to witness her finding her way. All of her steps led toward home, until one day . . . they didn't. Now her feet will lead her to tread paths where royals have trod. She will learn to have tea at four. The Thames will be close to  her front door. She will look on Tower Bridge everyday.

I never dreamed, at the dawn of her first steps, where her way would lead. Crystal ball did not reveal, I had no idea those tiny feet would live in London someday. I am so proud of her, but I know the way I will miss her. So sweet and bitter all at once. Life is like that at times, no? 

It all began a long time ago with, "Come to momma, Ashli! Come on, Babygirl! You can do it!"

The song begins again with a new generation.Where will Petra's feet take her? We do not know, but we have learned to appreciate every minute we can with her. Every single smile, every single bit of time we are given.  And we enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! 

We are dreaming of spending a few days in London someday. Our thoughts are only in dream form. I have my fingers crossed. I hope! I hope! I hope! Perhaps we will get a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth, should we get our way, but it will not have the thrill I will feel when I am finally  in the presence of my girl again, my Ashli Elizabeth. I honestly don't know if it will ever be, the trip that is in my mind, but I will happily think on it, pray for it, and hope. It would be grand if I could go with Petra in my arms and her brother at my knee . . . and of course her mommy and daddy tagging along. 

"Dream big," I always say. "It never hurts to dream. You never know where your dreams might lead." I have heard myself say this to my children at least a million times. 

"Nothing is impossible with God." 

So we believe.

Thank you for listening to another of my tales.

"And they lived happily ever after . . ."

Plie`!  And good day!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

It happened a few years ago. 

"I want to show you the most beautiful place. Can you come with me now?"

Whenever I hear his voice etched in this tone, I know that whatever I am doing  is not as important as what we are about to do. 

"Let's go," I say.

He takes me to a remote place that he found while hunting. He holds my hand and we ease our way to the edge of the most beautiful bluff. We stand above a babbling brook which is bursting with song. Our silence speaks of awe, as holy hush falls on us. We remain like statues for the longest time.

"Let's go around and come in from the other side," he says, "the low ground."

I follow. The bramble is tight. His hand is firm upon mine. He turns with his finger to his lips. We pause.

A massive papa deer stands before us. We dare not move til he takes flight.

We finally reach the edge of the singing stream. He sits on the ground and pulls me down on his knee. We do not say a single word forever. I finally dare to break the silence, "It is so holy here. We should pray." 

"You first," he always says.

I begin to pray, not asking for one thing, as I cannot remember one single need at moment. Praise spills from my lips, it pours and pours and pours. We never shut our eyes, we can't afford to miss a minute of glory. Tears stream down both our faces. I gaze into his speechless face.

It is so holy, we cannot speak. Breathtaking blanket of holy.Our Father is here with us, we feel Him, we are not alone.

Our first trip to this place was in spring. "Please take me again, I want to see it dressed in winter attire," I say. We load up and return to the middle of nowhere. 

The  brook sings, but with new and muffled sounds. Ice muffles the tones of spring, creating a beautiful winter song. 

"We could ask the owner if he would sell this place," he says. Dreams begin with such thoughts. We sketch imaginary walls in our minds. "We could build a log cabin. You could come here to write." We know all the while that it will never be, but neither of us add a negative punch to the billows that we create. We love to dream together. 

Our secret place is there and we are here. Our dreams of it remain only in memory. 

The time we spent in that place was so brief. Moments. It was one of our most wonderful times ever. I just had to write it down. Thank you for listening to my story. 

May you have a day full of beauty!

Monday, January 6, 2014

The mr. will say goodbye to his mrs. today.  My friend will lay his beloved bride in her final resting place. Her flesh has found sleep, her spirit/soul soars. 

It will be a day of sorrows, sad goodbyes, tears. 

He will walk his daughter down the isle in a few days, releasing her to the care of another man. 

This week of letting go . . . bitter as the wind that chills through bone. 

Yet, sweet because of the scarlet cloak.  Crimson cover that saves. 

"Oh, the blood of Jesus, that washes white as snow."

The redeemed sing the joyful song.

This is a time when what we have believed is tested, the season of letting go. It is also a time of clinging. We cling to the one who can carry us through. We are the most strong when we are found leaning on the everlasting arms.

May the mr. feel the strength and grace of the Master.

I pray it will be so. 


Sunday, January 5, 2014

One of our dearest, one of my new daughters recently came to me with concern.

"Whenever you are around lately I have just not been myself. I mean, that really isn't who I am! That's not me!"

"I can't wait to meet you, Lovey!" I say.

Our laughter brings ease.

That is how it is sometimes, no? Someone touches the surface of who you are and facade does not represent you well. There is a whole level of who you are that they do not know. Sometimes you can get to the next level with others and sometimes there isn't time for it.

I feel it as she put it sometimes. Not with her. Her heart and mine are crossing barriers and becoming more knit with the passing of days. No, it is with the new folk. I am meeting a lot of new people these days. Trust is born over time. 

I feel it with those I grew up with sometimes.

Lord willing, I will be going home to Kansas for a class reunion this summer. It is a big one. I always look forward to them. We meet every five years . . . five, the number of grace. 

We share snippets about ourselves at these meetings. I totally bombed our last gathering. I'm pretty sure that my surface self betrayed me. It was a night I have wished a thousand times that I could relive. Retrospect is 20/20. 

I am already contemplating what I will say this summer. I've had five years to prepare . . . and I fear I will most likely blow it again. 

But, if there is opportunity, I will let each one I speak to know how very important they are to me. I will be grateful on the inside (even if it doesn't shine through my exterior) for each one of them, for the many ways they have impacted and inspired my life. I'm so proud of all of them. We have a siblingship. And I care . . . every day . . . I care about each one of them.

An underclassman committed suicide recently . . . during the 12 days of Christmas his despair overwhelmed and he looked for escape. It has broken all of our hearts. I wish I could have told him that I care. I have deep regret that there was no way to rescue him from his pain. I'm heartbroken and so very sorry.

Praying each one of my friends will feel their worth. My heart feels and knows it, I hope they will too.
I know what some of you are thinking.

"They don't need to see you! They need to see Jesus!"

Well, I say, may He be on the surface and completely visible. Not just at my class reunion, but every single day. May that bring ease to all of us.

Are you one of my classmates? Can I just say, perhaps what you have seen is not really who I am.

I hope you say, "I can't wait to meet you, Lovey!" 


With blessings and love.

Friday, January 3, 2014

My friend, Joy, is a writer. She and I met at a conference in North Carolina several years ago. Our hearts were knit in an instant. What a treasure to find a kindred spirit. One of my greatest blessings!

I had a little surprise from the postman the other day. I received a gift from Joy. This sweet necklace (pictured above) was inside. I LOVE it! I put it on and went to work. 

Joy did not know that the very first day I would wear my new necklace, it would be one of the most difficult days that I would experience. My co-worker passed out over the counter while she was waiting on a customer and her body was seizing. I immediately had to call 911. When she came to, she was very unhappy and said that she did not want to be treated. She resumed working. So did I. She was calm, but my whole being was rattled. Thirty minutes later it happened again. What to do but call 911. I was told to call by my superiors. 911 was very upset with me. The patient had denied treatment and there was nothing they could do . . . "didn't I know that?" 

My coworker friend, when she came out of her spell, loaded up her stuff, put on her coat and left the store. She made the 30 minute drive home without incident. 

She is doing well now.

After she left the store, I happened to look in a mirror that we have sitting on the counter. There around my neck was a message to stay calm. I could not write at the time, so I just had to carry on. 

Joy has a beautiful blog where she posts beautiful and very encouraging posts. I hope that you will stop by for a visit. I promise a blessing.  You will find her at Pondering His Presence. 

Thank you for my necklace, Joy! You are a dear friend . . . the most special kind of friend. I love you so much! Happy New Year! I look forward to reading your godly wisdom in 2014.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

We pray expecting God to say "yes" to everything we ask. There is nothing wrong with praying with expectation. 

In fact, I think we should expect something to happen when we pray.  Not because we are able to order God around, but because He has instructed us to ask. He has made it clear in His Word that He is able and willing to help us. 

And He does. He gives and gives and gives. He is a very compassionate and giving God.

There are times when it appears that He flat out says "no" to what we want, though. Our knees are worn for the bending, our tears could fill buckets, and still He has His own way.

It is not "no" that He is saying, dear one . . . I believe His fatherly voice whispers "this is the way, follow Me". 

It is not the path we choose, but it is the best way for us, or else He would not let it be.

A dear friend passed from here to there last evening. Her daughter's wedding is scheduled in a few days. We have all prayed and prayed and prayed, believing that Kathy would be at that wedding. Somehow I think she will be, but it will not be as we have prayed for. It will be better for her, harder for us.

Would you please pray for the family that I speak of? It is hard when the Lord redirects our life. He holds the universe in the palm of His hand. We trust Him, but please pray. Thank you.