Friday, July 31, 2009

x 2

"A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of Nature." (R.W.Emerson). I certainly saw a lot of that masterpiece as my friends helped me to celebrate a significant birthday. A wonderful time around the beautiful table of Lydia Grace made me feel very special, but to be totally surprised the next night with the menfolk included, after a particularly stressful day at work, well that was just the "icing on the cake." (Pun intended.) It made me realize two things: This must be a really big birthday, but more, how very blessed I am with the richness of these "masterpieces of nature." Truly.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


This move to a new decade just might be the hardest to date. All the fast and furious changes in the world today--those things that catch my breath, sober me, and are getting harder to keep up with ... Well, turning over my odometer to another decade seems to certify that yes, I am getting older, (to season that concept with grace), and, yes, changes do come.

I think of an essay I read by a gracefully aging woman who commented that she had reached the age that, should death come calling, there would be no gasps of "she died an untimely death" but rather, "she lived a good life, bless her heart."

Taking stock, I'm thankful I feel young, am healthy, and have lots of energy. I like to try new things and I enjoy a challenge. I'm thankful for my wonderful friends of all ages, near and far (some of whom gave me a birthday tea!), and for my wonderful family, near and far. I'm grateful I still have a mom to talk things over with. I'm thankful for the Gardener, a soul mate who smiles at my idiosyncrasies. And, life would not be bearable without the Comforter, my Heavenly Father, who abounds me with mercy and grace.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Splendid Ideas

Paper and pen must always be at hand when one loves to write. I believe you can never have enough journals. I have one for books I read (comments and quotes), one for quotes in general, one about my dad's last days, one about stories my mother tells me of her childhood, one about life in general and what God is teaching me, one about household things, one about Little One's sayings, and one in my purse for those thoughts that come and should not be forgotten (at least from my perspective.)

And yesterday, a friend who I had not seen in awhile brought me another one. It might be the most beautiful yet. A Jane A*sten journal! Plenty of space to write, but also dotted with Jane's own quotes on life! Such fun this will be, and such a thing of beauty. Every part (cover, inside cover, pages, illustrations, quotes) is exquisite. This young friend knows me well. Thank you!

And a quote from the journal: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in possession of many splendid ideas must be in want of the perfect place to write."

Monday, July 27, 2009

What is it?

What is it about the little ordinary eating places that draw in our hearts and make us memories?

We often just happen upon them. Their charm entices us; their quirkiness enthralls us, and a window seat is just "icing on the cake."

These are the places where we best celebrate and the moments we most remember.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Really True Jewels

Think about it: there are things in life that are the same whether we are rich or poor. No matter our "status" in life, we see the same moon in the sky, we can cool our toes in the same oceans and lakes, we go to the same parks and picnic at the same beaches ... smell the same flowers, gaze at the same trees, skies, stars, clouds ... and I could go on. I heard someone say this recently and it caused me to pause and think.

These gifts that we live with each day are the true diamond-studded jewels in our lives. They are the real riches––there for us all to gaze at, wonder at ... and worship the One who created them all.

Repost from July 1, 2008. Connecting again with Happy To Design Sunday Favorites!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Peter arrived

"The Question" always comes up this time of year, and at Christmas, being we are such a practical family. "What's on your birthday list?" This year, only four things (and usually I can't come up with that many) and Peter Rabbit was at the top (check).

I've been looking for Peter Rabbit to join our garden for a long time. Aha, we thought when we were in the mountains, let's see if we can find him (since we have looked and looked in our fair city). This would be the Gardener's gift ... and sure enough, high on a mountain road we came upon a yard full of such things, and a little shop run by two old sisters with identical voices crackling with a strong southern twang. Maybe they were twins. They helped me make the best choice of the rabbits waiting there. While I was looking around I saw more reading boys...maybe this is the same place I found my little guy on the occasion of our own boys graduating from high school. We put him in our garden to remind us of all the books we read together and our years of homeschooling. He's been there, quietly reading, ever since.

So, little Peter Rabbit is now home with us, and looks fine anywhere we place him. He'll season with age, as we all do, and, like most things around here, he'll bring forth memories every time we glance his way.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

from porch to porch

"On warm evenings we would sit out on the front porch from supper to bedtime. There was no TV then, of course, and on weeknights little traffic on the road. It would be so quiet that you could hear other people talking on their front porches or a bunch of children playing elsewhere. Besides the night sounds of birds and insects, there would be just the human voices. Sometimes there would be conversation from porch to porch and back and forth across the road."

from Wendell Berry's Hannah Coulter. Looking forward to our next book club!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

almost sweater weather

It hardly seems possible that we are having the weather that we are here in the south. Cool, dry air is something to take note of. I don't remember such a treat in previous, blistering hot summers. So refreshing to open up in the morning and let cool air in.
And in the evenings to read on the porch, listening to the night sounds of crickets, bats, and neighbors softly talking. I almost reached for a sweater last night. The weather won't last, but we surely celebrate this gift from God while we have it!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A change for the better

When we moved into our home 10 years ago, I painted every room in the house. Of course our bedroom, tucked away in a corner of the house, was the last to consider. I absolutely hated it and would lie in bed at night looking around, trying to figure out how I could transform it. Painting is best done as a "project" when the Gardener is "off site" (as in another part of the world). So such a time arrived and after great thought I figured out how I could do this. I would do one small part at a time. Completely, and then move on. I could move the furniture a few feet on my own. So, I started in one corner (and it's a large room including a large bookcase!) I removed everything in that area, shifting only a few feet which was mostly manageable. I removed the border, patched walls and holes, primed, and painted two coats including the woodwork. When that area was done, I went on to the next. I even packed away the books in boxes! It took me three full days and I felt like I had the flu when I was done. Muscles I didn't know I had, aching like crazy. Then I proceeded to hang up curtain rods and curtains, etc. I'm not sure I'll ever tackle such a tall order on my own again, but this was well worth it! Now when I lie in bed and look around, I feel peace, not angst! For other fun changes, click here.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Rocking Chair Grace Again

We roll down the windows and let a fresh breeze spill in as our car chugs up the winding roads into the mountains. The crisp clear air begs for us to breathe deeply as if to cleanse away the city pollution from our lungs. It’s time for lunch but we have yet to find a nook alongside the road to eat our sandwiches. I breathe a prayer, “Lord, help us to find a really special spot for our lunch.” After all, we had opted to go the cheap route, and not look for a cute little teashop along the road. Don’t we deserve a picnic to remember?

In less than a minute a road sign announces a rest/visitor center just up ahead. Wow, a quick answer. As we drive into a pristine park-like setting, we notice that all the shady picnic tables are of course occupied. We ride around the mountain-style building, boasting a porch on all sides. There on the back porch are two rocking chairs, quietly waiting for us, as if we’d booked ahead with reservations! We park nearby and sit down to rock our way through a simple lunch. Much too simple for the beauty we look out on. We are completely alone with a sea of day lilies, backed by a lawn as green as grass can be. One majestic mountain after another rises in the distance like waves billowing on the sea. A soft breeze blows as we rock and munch sandwiches and carrot sticks. And I ponder the quick answer to my silent prayer. Several people interrupt the quiet as they come out of a nearby door and with an “I-wish-I-had-thought-to-eat-lunch-here” inflection to their voices, congratulate us on our creative use of the rockers.

I wonder about this dining spot prepared for us. If I hadn’t prayed, would we still have seen the road sign and found the rockers? Was it a “God-thing” or just a coincidence? As I thank Him profusely from my heart, I assume it is of God, but why?

The answer comes from history. From experience I know God ordains my days, and has as long as I’ve known Him. Recorded history tells the rest of the story. Everything in life––even “coincidences”––works because of Him. And if that wasn’t true, and there was such a thing as “just happened,” I would still delight to give Him the glory for it. For us this day––amazing rocking chair grace!

Seek to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindness of God in your daily life. A. Maclaren

First published in July 06. Please see Happy to Design for other repeat goodies.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

a better place

Four years ago today my dad left this earth for a better place. I often think about what the transition must have been like. My guess is it was pretty quick, and pretty spectacular. I'll know myself someday, but in the meantime, it's pleasant to think on. I love this photo of 5/6 of our family (baby brother yet to appear). I can see the house my dad so lovingly built for us, and his favored cello in the corner. It now sits in the corner of my mother's bedroom. The dining room chair is at my sister's house, and the candlesticks on the mantle are at mine. A dvd arrived in the mail this week with some vintage film on it. As I watch I see glimpses of my parents, and one scene in particular took my breath away. I was a toddler, probably just starting to walk, and my dad grabbed me up to give me a hug and a kiss. Film never before seen by us, so almost like a little surprise visit with him. Something for me to tuck away into my heart. How I miss him.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Ride in the Mountains

Time in the mountains can be so refreshing! We took a little drive last week--through forests that American Indians long ago called "the land of the noonday sun." Only at high noon do you see much sunlight. Then the open country roads with gorgeous mountain views ... and the the gushing streams along side the road just begged us to pull over and stop, to listen to their music and feel their rush of cool air.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

sweetness and spice

We giggled like young girls as we aimed the camera for a self-timed photo of the four of us. We kept trying to get it right--so we all had our eyelids up high enough and our smiles right, lined up just like a picture of us years ago. In our silliness it came to me that there is great comfort in old friends. We go back years to when our children were small and we met to study the Bible. We've continued to stay in touch, meeting at least once a year at Christmas. Such sweetness to come together again for lunch with our favorite chef, B, who makes such delectable food. The spices are blended to perfection, and it all looks so beautiful. We sit and savor, taking it all in slowly, feeling a bit like royalty as we eat at her table.

Monday, July 13, 2009

minute vacation

Come along for a little mental vacation. In the middle of the dusty, dry game park we visited last March, we came upon this little guest house alongside a man-made oasis. For just 200 American dollars a night, along with our own food, we could relive the movie "Out of A*rica." Spectacular. We were delighted the caretaker invited us in for a tour. More than we can afford, but fun to dream about for a few minutes!

Imagine coffee on the veranda each morning while we watch the animals come for water.

Sweet naps here with curtains blowing in the afternoon breeze.

View out the bedroom window.
And a nosey neighbor.

Friday, July 10, 2009


I'm thinking of my mom today, and how she is remembering that summer day, 66 years ago, on the front lawn of her childhood home ... The story is that later that day they went on their honeymoon by train down to the Jersey shore. The train was full, or they had cheap tickets ... but for some reason they sat on their suitcase in the vestibule between the cars. Someone came along and asked if they were brother and sister. Of course my dad answered, "Oh yes, brother and sister in Christ." Their last anniversary together, #62, was celebrated in my dad's hospice room with huge windows looking out at the clouds that seemed particularly beautiful that day as heaven beckoned him. We bought them a big bouquet of flowers. Six days later he made his way to heaven's gates. Love overflowed and peace reigned in our hearts.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Mountain Time

Something about time in the cool (usually), refreshing mountain air does a soul good.

Our time in the mountains last week brought family together to make memories. A good time was had by all.

Top photo by lulu.
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