winner

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A favorite new sunflower addition to the patch this year.

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I wish you could see how velvety the stems and petals are and the underside

of the petals are a vibrant yellow.

Love at first sight.

Thanks for the comments this week and the copy of Interrupted will be a

new addition to Becca L.’s library.

Send me your mailing address and I will get this book to you pronto.

My email address is to the right on the sidebar.

 

Happy reading and sunflower gazing!

Interrupted by the headlines {+giveaway}

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When I began blogging eight years ago, the internet world was not

so noisy.

I started this blog for two purposes,

to have a place for my writing

and to encourage others.

As the years rolled by I made it a point that this space would be

quiet and perhaps even restful.

I vowed not  to succumb to the allure of using buzz words or whatever was trending

to attract attention.

However this summer in particular has made it difficult to not pen anything

related to all the headlines, news crawls and social media feeds.

The topics range from the Middle East, Ebola, Robin Williams, depression,

mental illness, Parkinson’s, #Ferguson and even ice buckets for ALS.

These are only a mass of letters forming words which can’t adequately

uncover the depth of wounds inflicted intentionally and often ruthlessly

on the innocent.

No longer can we believe “it is over there, faraway” because now

the “it” is residing closer to home and often sitting in the next seat.

For each elevated headline, I am convinced there are hundreds

of unnoticed headlines further revealing our broken world.

We are broken by so many other words like hate, racism, fear,

violence, disease and apathy.

I am not a news junkie and sometimes I am grateful

because even a casual glimpse

into this world in which we live in can be utterly devastating.

I have felt powerless to make even one difference in any of these headlines.

I walked through doors and along sidewalks last week and for some reason

felt more acutely aware of my skin color.

I don’t normally lead with how I look but last week,

I wondered how I was perceived in light of

recent events.

How do I view others different from myself for that matter?

I feel a bit more shaken as I have a son,

a husband,

a brother,

a father,

uncles and cousins.

Slowly I have whispered checkmate to my fears with

the only remedy I know will cast away its presence.

It’s called love.

Anger kills whereas love embraces life.

Fear picks up weapons whereas love seeks to mend the broken.

Love chooses to value and bestow dignity around the shoulders of those

who are homeless,

addicted,

poor,

ill,

oppressed

and without a voice.

Love isn’t blind to injustice or

deaf to the laments of the people,

it simply demands a better way.

Love sees beyond categories and labels

and declares,

no matter your state or station in life,

you matter.

Behind the ink and paper of headlines are real people

who matter tremendously.

I recently had the opportunity to read Jen Hatmaker’s book Interrupted.

It is newly revised, updated and expanded since its initial release in 2009.

To be honest, I didn’t really want to read it anything that would make me

anymore uncomfortable than I already was with the steamy weather.

But my friend Susan had tagged me in a Facebook post encouraging

me to review the book and I am an obedient friend (at times).

I read Interrupted in the course of 3 short sittings and

yep, it made me uncomfortable

but it couldn’t be a more important book

for the current conditions of our world.

It’s a wake-up call for individuals as well as the Church

to abandon hiding behind the confines of walls

and instead fling open doors to a world bent on

inflicting violence and forsaking peace.

 

We clearly don’t comprehend how personally Jesus
takes it when we love suffering people.
He is so utterly identified with the afflicted that there
is nothing more obedient, more pleasing, more central
than serving Him in the marginalized.
-pg. 100

We have the privilege of serving Jesus Himself every
time we feed a hungry belly, each moment we give dignity
to someone who has none left, when we acknowledge
the value of a convict because he is a human being,
when we share our extreme excess with those who have 

nothing, when we love the forsaken and remember the 
forgotten.
Jesus is there.
-pg. 101

So what is the next right thing to do?

I cling to Mother Teresa’s words, to the fervor in which

Jen wrote and will continue taking footsteps of love

as my marching orders reignited.

I must display love to those who cross my path

and to those who will never intersect with mine.

As differently as I felt in my skin,

I am sure each one

of us feels more acutely aware of our shared outrage,

pleas and tears.

As simplistic as it may sound,

love is the only way I see towards change,

the changing of hearts and mindsets.

I would encourage you to read Interrupted.

It is written in a non-threatening conversational style and chronicles

how the Hatmaker family was interrupted and upended

by a new holy passion to live in

service to the last,

the least,

the forgotten and

the forsaken.

You can order the book here and here.

You can read Jen’s hilarious and insightful blog here.

I am numbered with 250 bloggers who are spreading the word about

Interrupted and Tyndale has graciously given each of us a copy to

give away.

Leave me a comment in the section below about anything little

thing your heart desires and I will pick a winner on Wednesday.

I don’t have great answers today only

to go forth and love greatly.

Love truly is a holy passion.

 

 

surprise landings

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Last Sunday, our family took a trip to the beach.

Only we never laid eyes on sand.

We were so happy all five of us could spend a day together taking in the cool breezes

and getting lost in the sound of the crashing surf.

We also wanted to take our dog to the beach for perhaps her last time

to play tag with the waves.

Five individual schedules aligned but collided with too many other details

to document here but the end result was traffic.

After two hours in the car and not making progress,

we took a quick vote and decided to try and find a lake.

Google Maps to the rescue.

We found a lake however,

it was late to find a prime spot with some shade.

We had prepared for the beach and not blazing sun.

Translation: we had grabbed sweatshirts and not sunscreen.

We had an umbrella which burrows easily in the sand but

not so well in hard soil supported by driftwood and rocks.

Once we set up “camp” very much off the beaten path,

(and we had quit our muttering)

a dragonfly landed on Carlen’s chair.

Just like my thing for ladybugs,

ditto for dragonflies.

We took pictures and selfies.

Our disappointment in the change of terrain dissipated

by a winged creature’s chance landing.

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This beauty wouldn’t leave and when the time came (Carlen wanted her seat back)

I tipped the chair and found

a tall blade of grass to hasten its departure.

We lasted only a couple of hours and the heat was really hard on

our pooch Hazel.

We drove home from a different destination than we had

envisioned but we left full of the deposit made into

our memory banks.

Now we have  lake memories to add to

the other ones of dragonflies

landing in our midst.

I wrote a post 3 years ago describing two different

dragonflies landing on our house and staying for hours

or in one case 2 days.

When I revisited this post, although I can be quite wordy,

I was extremely wordy back then.

Feel free to read those words but in case you would

like the Cliff Notes, read on.

We questioned why those dragonflies landed and remained.

The answer was revealed in a Google search in ten words.

Dragonflies need to stop and rest,

just like everyone else.

As much as I love watching dragonflies

zoom across the air and marvel at their

beauty and grace,

because of these past sightings,

they also remind me to rest.

Make rest your destination.

Last Sunday our destination was more

than a beach, it was to spend time as a family.

A lake, a beach or even a backyard could accomplish this goal.

Rest isn’t always an easy road.

There can be many obstacles and detours needed

to find the place of rest.

Seek rest no matter what it looks like.

I think rest is very much off the beaten path.

Eventually I hope rest will become a well-worn trail

for the majority.

If a dragonfly needs rest,

so do you.

Wherever you travel,

may you be filled with

the priceless deposit of rest.

 

of superheroes and ladybugs

I rescued a ladybug last week.

Since I am confident I won’t be featured in any upcoming

superhero blockbuster, I will share the details here.

While driving home from completing my last errand,

I noticed a small orange hump on my hood.

Naturally I slowed my speed to ensure a safe ride for my hitchhiker.

Once securely parked in my driveway,

I inspected the front of my car.

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A ladybug had hitched a ride and the landing appeared to be less than ideal.

I was positive it perished at impact yet when I ventured a poke,

the ladybug’s legs were catapulted into motion.

She split her polka-dotted shell in two and prepared for lift-off only she remained

hood-bound.

After several attempts at flight, I decided to coax her onto a leaf.

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Slowly the ladybug began to cling to the leaf.

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There she remained as I cradled ladybug and greenery in my hand.

The corner of the leaf was just enough stability.

Well as much as I adore ladybugs, I needed to move along.

I placed the ladybug and the leaf on top of a bed of leaves.

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I left my sweet little ladybug passenger to find its way home.

I went inside because I had things to do and one rescue a day met my

minor league superhero quota.

Several hours later,I surveyed the garden and

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ladybug, ladybug flew away home.

Now I may joke about having even an ounce of superhero blood in me,

but I am well acquainted with a true Rescuer.

He is the who has found me on those days when I have taken a nasty spill

or even when life has hit me squarely in the jaw.

When I have grown tired from keeping a death grip against whatever happens to be

moving my life at warp speed,

He rescues me.

He bends close and assesses the damage.

He tenderly hold me in the warmth of his hands

and deposits me in a bed woven by his security and protection.

Unlike me, He is not so wrapped up with worldly things that he

abandons with merely wishful thinking.

I never escape his watchful gaze.

He waits with me until I have strength to sit,

stand or

even fly.

Without a camera, the trail of the ladybug

from my car hood to plucked leaf to hand

to bed of safety might simply be a cute story.

Perhaps a different lens is needed to color

in our life stories.

Each day there is an invisible thread stitching a trail from the Father to you.

Look for the thread.

Witness the Rescuer.

He is the all-powerful one who tethers you to himself

when you lose your grip.

His rescue abilities obliterates quotas.

Aren’t you glad?

Let yourself be rescued.

Allow him to fly you home.

wait

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Despite…

the seeds finding their soil home later than ideal,

the dog believing the leaves (which grew

from those late arriving seeds)

were her personal, irresistible snack

and all those

careening soccer balls treating

the stems (missing leaves) as if they were goalposts

for an invisible net.

The first flower emerged.

Somehow the watering,

the sunshine and

the feeding of the soil outweighed the daily assaults.

Struggle couldn’t obliterate the promise.

So remember today,

if only for a moment,

it is never too late.

The blows and the bites

from the outside will not

take you down.

Despite the daily toll,

wait.

Allow yourself to be

fed

and

watered

and

the sun to

canopy you with strength.

You will bloom.

Wait.

You will see.

A day is rooted in your future

when eyes will land upon you

and reflect on the effort

required and the fortitude needed

to keep your spine straight.

We will bask and

be changed because

we shall behold  beauty.

 

He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart; 
yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

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 its 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