enjoying the view

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photo credit: Ryan McGinty

I grew up nestled among wheat fields and the rolling hills of the Palouse.

When visiting family I would gaze longing at Mt. Ranier

and considered this view supreme.

Upon moving to Oregon, with a simple

twist of my neck there were mountains

dotted along the horizon plus

we were a mere 70 miles from the ocean.

Mountains blanket me with awe

but the ocean is my soul’s sweetest spot.

The force of the waves captivate and woo me.

I didn’t find beauty in wheat fields

until I parted ways with this scenery.

I was always looking over the stalks to get

to a more preferable terrain.

I overlooked the surroundings in which I was planted.

There are days I don’t even notice Mt. Hood peeking out from

the blue and white sky because I am so saturated by my own thoughts.

Last week we were beach dwellers.

The summer has been a toasty one and I was anxious to

feel cool breezes and don a sweatshirt if it was deemed necessary.

If it was chilly or rainy, fine by me.

I simply wanted to be cool and I wanted my pupils to be

enlarged by the sight of the ocean.

On one particular day, we had the quintessential beach day.

The kind of day that could have been used by the chamber of

commerce to promote tourism.

I am talking the kind of day full of kite flying, sand castles

followed by jaunts of wave jumping and football throwing.

The sun was a mile high and the breeze was just enough

that it only occasionally created book pages to flutter.

Boys buried themselves in the sand while others

lifted their face heavenward and dozed in sunny bliss.

I decided to abandon the family and stroll

in the opposite direction from where our family was

staked out.

A runaway dog was chased by hollering kids,

dozens of brave souls sent out delighted

squeals in the shiver-worthy water and then suddenly

I came upon this vision…
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I spotted this empty chair from quite a distance.

I expected it to be filled by the time I drew close enough to capture

the image on my phone.

I wondered where was the owner.

Using the restroom?

Unable to the resist the pull of the tide?

When I reversed my path, the chair was still unoccupied.

I have looked at this photo from time to time since we have

returned to normal life back among the mountains.

I have asked myself…

Am I sitting in the chair designed for me?

Am I longing for someone else’s chair?

With no one in sight, how easy it would have been for me

to sit right down in that aqua colored chair and enjoy the

breathtaking view.

In fact, only the true owner would have noticed my

seat sitting where it didn’t belong.

Back at my beach base camp, I sat in

a drab forest green portable chair.

Boring I say.

Sometimes I view bits and pieces of my

personality and temperament as not preferable compared

to someone else’s.

Much of my life, I have lived in one terrain

dreaming of another land or seascape.

Slowly God is showing me how to live

where I reside and according to

how he has fashioned me.

I am learning how powerful it can be

to bask in the gifts I have been given

and allow them to freely mingle with those

another person possesses.

I am determined to embrace mine instead

of looking over at someone else’s field of gifts.

What does your chair look like?

Does it have a sagging cushion or

is it high-backed and seemingly uncomfortable?

Is it lacking arm supports and rocks back and forth

leaving you feeling unsure of it ability to hold you?

No matter the condition of your chair,

it is held together by the strength of a Creator who

has designed it perfectly for you.

You and I don’t have to wander around like Goldilocks

trying on other chairs hoping to find the one that is just the right size.

Imagine this,

your chair is directly in front of your eyes.

The chair God has crafted is just right for your frame.

Sit in your chair.

Allow your eyes to scan the scenery.

Your vision may see the ripple of wheat,

the lapping of water at your feet or you might blink

the sun out of your eyes and behold

the people standing before  you.

The ones you were meant to claim

by loving and caring for them as only you can.

Curb your wandering eyes

and simply sit in your chair

and enjoy the view.

It’s a supreme view.

 

 

bowls of worry

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All our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God.

~Oswald Chambers

Once upon a time I spotted rows of bright green happy bowls.

I stalked them for months at a neighborhood store.

They weren’t outrageously expensive but enough that I felt they were a bit

of a splurge when I had other bowls sitting on shelves at home.

But one day, I took a stroll through this store and happened to see

the remaining bowls in the marked down bin.

As quickly as I could stack them in my mini cart, I set them on a

conveyor belt and escorted them to their new home.

I had visions of using them to hold toppings for sundaes or

even taco salad.

I had the bowls’ purposes all lined up.

Quite awhile after their arrival,

I saw someone eating cereal from one of my lovely bowls.

Another time I happened to see a flash of green pass me from the

picnic table where I sat, moving quickly across the CONCRETE patio heading

towards the deck.

I cringed because you know, my beloved bowl could be broken.

As silly as this sounds, it is even more amusing that I might have casually

launched a few comments airborne hoping they would land at just the right

angle to get my point across.

Yes, maybe I had all the subtlety of a Nerf Super Soaker.

I mean using the bowls for what they aren’t intended for is one thing

but taking them from the safe confines of indoors is clearly another matter.

At any given moment, there can be any number of balls coursing through

the air.

Face it, my backyard is quite dangerous!

Around the same time as I began to realize the

extent of my bowl madness,

I stumbled across the Oswald Chambers quote.

Alright I will be honest, I read it immediately after

I averted my eyes from the bowl and the concrete pairing.

His words helped me understand how

deeply I had wondered from shallow waters to the

deep end of worry.

Bowls weren’t the only objects of my worry.

The list was long, wide and covered my family,

loved ones, money plus any number of what if’s.

Somehow I had begun to believe there was never enough

and no one capable of providing for whatever was lacking.

Any broken bowl would tip the scale beyond recovery.

*****

Well once upon a time on another day,

let’s call it last Saturday,

our neighborhood had a block party.

We planned the event with 3 other families.

Perhaps because of the heat, instead of sprawling down our street, we ended up

remaining planted in our yard.

There had been days of worrying all about the enough’s.

Would there be enough food?

Enough ice?

Enough shade?

Enough people?

Guess what?

There was plenty.

Plenty of people, conversation,

food, drinks and sun.

At one point, I noticed a ring of people in chairs laughing at someone’s joke I suppose.

I let my eyes wander and looked beyond the fabric chair backs.

A girl was sitting on the grass picking and feasting on blueberries and

then I watched her sister pluck a daisy and

thread it through her hair.

A smile formed on my face as witnessing these small acts

displayed the girls had felt welcomed.

I want to live my days with the abiding promise that I have a Provider.

One who takes a careful account of all my needs and meets them.

What if I lived with arms open of invitation and not scorn

when someone touched my stuff?

Dare I feast on blueberries and pluck flowers with no concern

that I have depleted the source?

Bowls are meant to be filled and emptied.

Flowers and berries are meant to be picked.

Each day I awaken empty,

needing to be filled

for the sole purpose of being depleted over

the course of each ticking second.

Carl and I will celebrate 28 years of marriage this week.
(Carl took vows unaware he was marrying a bowl worrier.)
Whew!

One of my favorite wedding gifts was a square bowl.

Yep, I have a thing about bowls.

We weren’t able to take many gifts with us when we left

for Minnesota days after we married.

I was so anxious to use this bowl once we returned.

This bowl has been lovingly used almost daily.

Currently it holds mounds of grapes.

Except for a small chip, this bowl has never broken.

Imagine that!

I am so glad I didn’t hoard this gift but liberally used and

enjoyed it.

Whether it is a material item or a loved one,

release your hold.

Lift your bowls and offer

them to be filled.

We might be pleasantly

surprised by the contents of the filling.

Note: I am confident that spider had vacated the blossom
before it was plucked by that sweet little gal :)

 

instagram reflections

The crickets have been chirping over here lately.

I thought I would post something long on photos and short on words.

Here’s a glimpse of the past two months in Instagram shots:

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A full bow over a Home Depot lot. I am not sure if there is a pot of gold here,
but I know we have emptied our pockets of  gold too often.

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Early Mother’s Day stroll for coffee and tea. No make-up so yep there is filter usage.
Is Carl not the cutest?!

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I complained of a sore throat. Carl brought home a solution.
Thankful.

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Nope…I cannot lie! This is hilarious. Thanks Leigh Kramer.

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Parting gift from a wonderful weekend. Necessary tea for the morning after.

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Favorite words from Caleb.

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Oh Coronado Island, you were beautiful but second to sharing 4 days with 3
forever friends. Bliss.

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Some of the soundtrack of our road trips.
Undisputed winners…Rend Collective and Journey.

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Father’s Day with my Dad.
Perfection.

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Our old girl Hazel ever hopeful that a treat is in the offing as she sits at Carl and
my feet. I am reading this slowly and as often as I can.

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Positive he grew a foot while he was away visiting his Grands. Positive!

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Sunflowers resting on my Grandmother Helen’s chop plate.
I miss all of my grandparents. Remembering how they served others
by their generosity and graciousness helps me keep them close.

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That magical third year delivers a bursting harvest of blue. Delight!

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This preciousness turned 21. No make-up. No filter needed. Ever.

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My Mom. My heart soars and sings and is filled with joy beyond joy.

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A healthy start to the morning.
A smoothie.
The Sermon on the Mount.
Check out this site.
#shereadstruth

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Bucket List shot for Carlen.

Some images have been captured and
others reside in my heart and mind.

Praying this summer will bring you all
a combination of both as well.

Make memories in print and in the heart.

Keep up with me on Instagram here
or check out the sidebar to the right.

 

making up for lost time

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I have packed 3 suitcases in 4 weeks.

4 if you count Caleb’s suitcase.

It has been a month worth of trips devoted to celebration of family,

friendship and milestone birthdays.

On either side of the miles traveled,

there have been beautiful meals shared

in terrain where infant pears clung tightly to branches

and bobbing and weaving between bites as

white puffs of cottonwood  filled the

air like cotton candy.

Selfie attempts were warranted and perhaps unsuccessful.

My heart is saturated with people and  conversations

and with unblemished joy of being numbered among so many I cherish.

The sights my eyes have beheld continue to replay in my daydreams and

I marvel at the hushed utterances of such grace, such blessed and sacred

time.

After the bags were unpacked and laundry piles began to subside,

I did what I always do.

I made a list.

A list of all that needed to be done.

You know the list I am talking about.

The list called making up for lost time.

I wanted to accomplish some chores but I also wanted

to rest up and refuel.

Caleb was away visiting his Grands so my week

could be more concentrated on the multitude of tasks before

my eyes.

Each day I crossed off an item or two.

Most mornings, I set a later alarm.

After several days,

I felt more tired than when I stowed away

my luggage.

Then I read this:

Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day.
You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.

~Dallas Willard
(as quoted in this book)

Despite my efforts to keep my days one part productive

and the other part relaxation, my pace had been a

hurried rush.

I was trying to make up for lost time.

I live my days if I am always making up for lost time.

But what is lost time?

Would I consider a trip to see family,

lost time?

Would I ever tell a friend,

“Yes, let’s get together for coffee

even though it will mean I am losing

time according to my grand list of to-do’s” ?

No, it is called spending time with others.

It is all about adding priceless gems to our lives,

not squandering it.

There is no such thing as making up for lost time.

Time is continuous and is meant to be spent.

Making up for “lost time” is as futile as trying

to gather sand in your arms.

There is simply today and the minutes

we determine to use in the course of our day.

Seems I recall Jesus saying to let tomorrow take

care of itself.

Don’t hurry.

Don’t worry about that which remains undone.

Caleb comes home today.

(Oh how I miss that boy!)

The last few days have been different.

I have slowed down.

In case, I didn’t get the message, I also have

a troublesome knee which makes me take

each step with care and gratefulness.

So what is your hurry today?

What’s your worry?

There will never been an end to laundry and

cooking and bill paying.

There will be another weed to pull as soon as I loosen

ten roots.

I apologize for stating the facts.

As much as I dream,

I will never read every great book written.

There is today,

a gift to be used and not hoarded.

A gift to be cherished and celebrated.

Spend it well and don’t deem it as

moments that demand being redeemed later.

Simply cash in every second with sweet abandon.

 

photo credit: Carl Washington 

prone to worry (& june desktop)

Less than 5 minutes after Caleb left for a school overnight field trip,

I remembered he left a special comfort item.

Then my mind started to imagine what else was forgotten.

Would he have a good time?

He has been accident prone lately, perhaps he would require

stitches before lights out.

Before I could envision the next disastrous possibility,

my phone alerted and there was a text message from

a mom on the field trip telling me she was Caleb’s

activity leader.

A few moments later she sent a picture of him

photo bombing a group of girls :)

Several hours later, another mom sent a picture

of Caleb sawing a log.

Bless the community of moms!

Oh the places my mind will go when I am given

a few moments to let it wander aimlessly.

I am thankful God knows how prone I am

to this circular thinking.

Before they call I will answer;
    while they are still speaking I will hear.

Isaiah 65: 24

Those text message moments found a home in expanse of this verse.

We had gathered, fingers braided in prayer before

Caleb crossed the threshold.

Those uttered words should have been enough.

Yet I had been rehearsing my worries.

God is well acquainted with the contents of my heart.

He knew the best balm for my

mother ache.

I am so grateful He hears and is more

than capable to protect Caleb

than his tattered blanket.

*****

June has arrived.

Two places for your desktop enjoyment.

One

Two

 

 

 

 

 

top soil

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The other night I did a bit of speed gardening.

It probably is just as effective as speed golf.

The light of day will reveal what was hastily planted in twilight.

There were plants from a school plant sale which needed

homes in pots and flower beds but all I have been able

to manage for the past few weeks has been to stick a finger

in the soil to assess their water needs.

My front yard beds looks a bit weary, neglected

until every last nail was pounded into

our new roof.

There are bare spots from plants choosing not to make an appearance.

I circled my fingers around stems and removed the dead leaves

and debris.

I loosened the soil, added top soil and watered.

I suppose looking for his wayward wife,

Carl walked through the driveway gate

and found me looking at the flower bed.

We both agreed it was vastly improved.

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Flowers with emerging blooms seemed to stand straighter.

Heavy bloomers leaned in closer to their supports.

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I am weary and suspect most of us live in a perpetual state of weariness.

This morning I read Matthew 11: 28-30 in two versions.

These verses are so familiar, they can float off our tongues without much effort.

Just like my gardening, I can speed past the words attempting to accomplish

a very necessary task.

This morning, God cleared away the dead stuff in my life through confession.

He circled my frame and added rich nutrient full soil on top of my present

earth foundation.

I stand a little taller and feel His support ever so much.

Jesus wants to carry me and my burdens not only

because He is strong but primarily because He loves me.

He encircles me with enough love to help me rest from all

my labors even those done with minimal light.

My garden will never be completed.

My walk along the various soils of this

earth has yet to be completed either.

I can assure you neither me nor my garden

will be featured in a shiny magazine.

There will be weeds, there will be flowers, there

will be death and there will be life.

Some days turning away from tasks

undone is the best and deepest kind of rest.

The best way to feel loved is by letting

someone with more able hands do the work.

Read and be reminded.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,

and I will give you rest. 

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, 

for I am gentle and humble in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls. 

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.*

  *****

Are you tired?

Worn out?

Burned out on religion?

Come to me.

Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.

I’ll show you how to take a real rest.

Walk with me and work with me—

watch how I do it.

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.

Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.**

*New International Version
**The Message

 

 

rest inventory-final steps

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It’s Friday and for many a super-sized weekend as well.

I hope this week you have been able to size up rest in all its many

facets, forms and gifts.

I pray there will be a scheduled respite awaiting you,

beckoning your presence by name.

Step Four:

There are no rules.

No one is keeping score, judging or chiding

you for doing rest incorrectly.

This week I have listed many ways to rest and you might

find that not one fits your needs.

Rest in the way which brings refreshment to your soul.

The lives of children are uncluttered.

If you watch their play, they lead with their imaginations.

An adult may enter the scene and attempt to make

constructive suggestions to aid in better play.

Often the children will don puzzled expressions

and return to their brand of play.

Resurrect play into your time of rest.

Abandon the rules of adulthood and

don’t let a well-meaning person thwart your

freedom to express yourself.

Jesus welcomed children.

He welcomed rest as well.

Step Five:

Open your arms wide and embrace the moments.

Most employers don’t want you to rest and for that

matter sometimes the people you live with would

request the same.

Be brave and take time this weekend to rest.

As I have been implementing rest into my week,

I cringe at how awkward I feel mentioning

on a given Sunday I didn’t do much

of anything productive.

I am changing my lingo and standing firm in my

need to rest.

As my words have changed and I have ceased apologizing,

I have noticed others taking note and a breath.

My saying yes to rest has given others permission to do the same.

The truth is people can make our lives easier but they cannot

rest for us.

Only we can rest for ourselves.

Wrap your arms tightly around rest this weekend and share about

it next week.

You might be the catalyst for another weary soldier swinging

in a hammock the following weekend.

Hey Arianna Huffington has nap rooms for her employees,

so you never know!

You look a little tired my friend.

Rest up!

 

 

rest inventory-step three

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I am the type of person who takes 5 books along

for a weekend getaway.

Surprised  when not even a single page

has been opened.

I  tend to overestimate my available time.

This mindset brings me to

the next part of our inventory.

Step Three:

Avoid overload by picking a favorite.

When I carry a large tote bag of books with

me on a trip and don’t finish any of them,

all I have accomplished is to drag a heavy load with me.

It isn’t a mystery why I feel defeated by the volume of my

lack of reading.

When we pick 10 different ways we like to rest and attempt

to fit each one into a given time frame, we most likely will

fail and end up even more tired simply trying

to attempt this Herculean feat.

Pick your favorite

be it a nap,

a book,

sitting in the sun,

doing a crossword puzzle,

playing with your grandchildren,

stargazing,

scattering sunflower seeds,

or sneaking in a spontaneous matinée.

Pick the time.

Enjoy your favorite way to rest.

Start small and commend yourself for

the stellar care you are taking of one

of God’s favorite people…

YOU.

**photo credit

 

 

rest inventory-step two

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Have you positioned a Post-It note with your marching orders

for rest in clear view?

I hope so.

If not, keep mulling over what brings rest into your hours.

Yesterday I wrote that today would be about digging holes.

To me, this is the best type of digging as it doesn’t requite gloves or a shovel

or even dirt for that matter.

Step Two:

Scour your week’s calendar for holes.

Whether you manually fill out a paper calendar or one resides

on an electronic device or you use a combination of the two,

assess the week ahead.

Is your weekend extra full or does it resemble a land of wide open spaces?

Will it be necessary to find rest in small time segments or

do you have the option of most of a day?

Each week will look differently.

Decide what type of activities you would like to add to your calendar

pertaining to rest.

Enter it into your calendar as a necessary appointment.

Think you might forget?

Schedule a reminder in your phone.

Some weeks, you might be able to schedule a round of golf whereas

another week may only allow a putting green, a driving range

or grabbing the putter and hitting the ball from each end of your living room.

I am not seeing a lot of unfilled squares on my calendar for the next month.

I can either acknowledge this reality with a sigh and a sense of dread or

I can accept this busy season and make a plan.

I carry a book with me so if I am surprised by unexpected time,

I can read a few pages.

I am preparing simple meals and I am saying no to adding one more item

on my full plate.

I am also trying to not look at multitasking as a virtue.

There will be weeks when you don’t have a spare moment.

Might I suggest doing one thing at a time?

Drive without the headset and the radio on.

Watch a television show without checking emails at the same time.

Lower the volume on the music playing so you are not yelling

to be heard in conversation.

I wonder if we are exhausted at day’s end because

we never let our brains (as intricate and wonderful as they are)

ever take a break.

I like listening to podcasts while I cook dinner.

If I have cooked without burning myself or something in the

oven and fully heard the recording,

even though my mind is engaged, I feel at rest.

However if after several minutes, I realize I haven’t heard a single

word, it is time to turn off the podcast

due to my mind being weary.

Zoning out doesn’t equal rest,

it reveals fatigue.

Check your calendars and find some resting

spots to land on this week.

 

rest inventory-step one

making-a-list-alexandra-wrote

I love compiling and reading lists.

I find myself in a perpetual rush

and often quickly skim lists

without truly absorbing the information.

I tend to write about the need for rest at the end of the week,

but I thought it would be beneficial to begin

thinking (dreaming) about it early in the week.

Let’s take an inventory this week to make

the pursuit of rest a reality.

You may or may not be like me in your list perusing

and prone to skip steps to get to the pay-off,

regardless, let’s take each part of the rest inventory list

one by one,

day by day.

Think of it as bite-sized daily assignments as we creep

closer to the weekend.

Plus it will keep each post shorter and to the point.

Step One:

Define what rest looks and feels like to you.

To me, rest resembles time spent refueling my soul.

I like to read, watch movies, take naps, play games, walk

and catch up on my ever-growing pile of magazines.

I like to write if it feels full of ease and empty of tension.

Rest could be throwing a frisbee, dinner with friends,

cooking, baking, doing your art, reading the newspaper

or spending time outdoors.

Maybe it is catching up with a friend, window shopping

or taking a drive beyond the hustle and bustle of the city.

There are some of you reading these suggestions, who

suddenly realize you have no idea what would bring a sense

of rest to their lives.

This is your soul waving a white flag beckoning you to

try some rest on for size.

Start by writing down a few activities you enjoy doing.

What brings a face and soul smile to you after you have

spent time doing it?

If it is a nap, embrace it.

Naps bring me countless joy!

Take a few moments and

ask yourself:

  • when was the last time I carved out time for rest?
  • what does rest look and feel like to me?
  • what makes my whole being smile?

Pick one way you like to rest or choose one of my suggestions

and write on a post-it note:

This week I will take time to rest by ________________________.

Stick the note someplace visible to remind yourself.

Feel free to post a note in the comments about how you are

choosing to rest this week.

Let’s encourage one another to be brave in resting.

I will start the comments with

how I am pursuing rest this week.

Tomorrow we will starting digging

holes to deposit rest.

Join me?!