For three years in a row I had the pleasure of heading to West Virginia with two friends for a girls get-away weekend. After breakfast, we would pack our lunch and head to that day’s designated hiking spot, and usually not return before late afternoon or sunset.
On one particular hike one of my friends asked what we each saw as our unique giftings. I actually wasn’t sure how to answer at this weird stage in my life, when empty nest syndrome has started to kick in bit by bit. One friend brought up my singing, which had always been my number one passion, but, that has changed through the years with raising a family. My other friend asked me about the healthy products I like to make for myself and friends and asked why I didn’t consider doing it as more than just a hobby.
Long story short, she and our other friend encouraged me to follow that passion, and two years later it has come to fruition! I really wasn’t sure about sharing it here on the blog because we have all been “spammed” by one business or another, and I truly care about my blogging friends. But, I also share what is going on in my life in other ways, and know that some of you are actually into this kind of lifestyle as well. And, hopefully it will explain why I don’t always keep up with reading and writing on here as much as before!
So, here’s to chasing a passion and turning it into a reality….
Normally I am not a fan of the fall season changing-of-the-clocks. It messes with my sleep pattern for what seems like months, and really, who wants darkness in the winter before 5 p.m.? This year’s “fall-back,” though, has brought a welcome surprise. I am actually now waking before sunrise on most days…well rested and able to enjoy the peaceful hours of pre-dawn and observe the first glorious rays of the sun as it peeks through the trees and reflects on the creek below.
Today was no exception, and on this morning as I was treated to the first rays of pink and gold, the line from my favorite Christmas carol came to mind so clearly:
…a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn….
As I reflected on the familiar Christmas story, I was reminded that it is the hope behind the story that brings the greatest joy.
I love that God didn’t send his only son to be raised by earthly royalty, but… to a blue-collar worker-a carpenter, who by trade takes blank pieces of wood and crafts them into beautiful works for art or service. As for his mother, a soon to be common housewife, who humbly and lovingly spends her days looking to the needs of her family.
I love that His birth wasn’t in the cold, sterile, marble halls of a palace, but in a stable, where the sweet smell of warm hay mingled with the less desirable smells of nature …bringing him into the world as close to the common earth as it gets.
I love that in his earthly lineage, as recorded in His genealogy by Matthew, is not only nobility but a reformed pagan, Ruth, as well as a prostitute, (gasp!) Rahab…foreshadowing the redemptive power of God’s love to even the most looked-down-upon among us.
…long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared, and the soul felt it’s worth…
And finally, I love that his birth was first announced to common shepherds and not aristocrats ….that a star broke through the darkness signalling not only His birth but the greatest hope into hopelessness the world had ever seen.
Until next time, may His hope eternal bring you and yours the peace and joy found in this blessed birth.
There are no strangers, only friends we haven’t met…
When I was growing up, one of the things I remember clearly was going shopping or on any outing with my mom and watching, ok, cringing, as she would engage in conversations or small talk with total strangers. I simply could not understand why one would start a conversation or even make a comment to someone they had never met. No place was safe…and the grocery store, especially the check-out line, was the absolute worst.
Fast forward many years to my adulthood, and the apple apparently has not fallen far from the tree! It is to the point that my husband will jokingly ask me when I get home from shopping at my favorite grocery store, “Well, did you make any friends today?” Yes, I now know the joy and fun of engaging total strangers on outings, and how nice, even if just for a brief moment, to get to know some of the wonderful people surrounding us in this journey of life.
On a recent day trip with one of my dearest friends to my first pro-football game ever, I had the absolute pleasure of sitting next to Randy, who hours before was a total stranger. By the end of the game we were posing together for a selfie. I asked him about a play on the field, and from that question he took it to heart that I knew absolutely nothing about football and proceeded to explain to me every single thing as it was happening in the game from that point onward. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I actually understood the very basic concepts, I just allowed him to continue his one-on-one ,play-by-play narration of the game. It wasn’t just me, the whole section of strangers was high-fiving and sharing laughs and hugs as if we had all known each other for years. In fact, it was the joy of interacting with total strangers, even more than the game, that took the fun to a whole nother level!
I am apparently not alone in my sentiment about interactions with strangers. I can think of at least two times when just popping into a convenience store I have been stopped by total strangers. One was a dear old man who had just lost his wife and wanted a friendly face to pour out his heart to, another was a woman who seemed to need to tell someone about the pain of her recent break-up. For me, a trip to the grocery store without engaging strangers is empty indeed.
My apples did not fall far from my tree either. Both my sons love engaging total strangers in certain scenarios, and thankfully they are old enough that I don’t have to be concerned about their safety…just happy to observe that they see people in a friendly way as well.
In the end, wouldn’t the world be a much nicer place if strangers were seen as possible friends yet unknown…
Life is full of beautiful gifts, and yesterday morning brought that truth to light in a very special way…
It was the birthday of my neighbor across the street, a neighbor I have become very close to in the last several months. It was also her first birthday since the death of her husband in early April. When we walked the day before yesterday she told me “…it’s just another day…” but to me, a birthday is to be celebrated-new life is always a blessing to be celebrated. Knowing it was the first birthday since her husband’s passing, I wanted to make sure I acknowledged it in a special way before she met with her family later to celebrate with them.
In the morning I texted to see if she wanted to take our neighborhood walk, then quickly stuck some breakfast cookies in the oven to take over with a card. Three minutes before the cookies were due to come out of the oven, I got a text from her: ” A Monarch butterfly has just emerged from its chrysalis, come see!” Funny, just the day before I noticed all the milkweed in her garden and meant to ask if she had ever seen the Monarchs hatch.
The cookies couldn’t come out fast enough, as I was sure the newly emerged butterfly would take flight before I could cross the street! As it was, I arrived in plenty of time to see the newly transformed Monarch since it was at least another hour or so from taking flight. My oldest son was off that day so was also able to come enjoy the scene with us, reminding me of the time we watched a newly emerged butterfly take flight when he was young.
As we talked and marvelled at the beauty of nature, I couldn’t help but think what a beautiful gift of new life she had been given on her birthday. She said she had never witnessed a butterfly emerge till that morning… a touching reminder that life does indeed bring renewed joy after pain.
My neighbor sent me off yesterday with Milkweed seedlings to plant in my own yard, and today while gardening I had a little visitor of my own, keeping me company as I worked…
Until next time, may you experience renewed joy and wonder in your life as well.
…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning Psalm 30:5
One of my absolute favorite things to do with my children when they were young was read aloud to them. I collected many nature books, both fiction and non, to teach my sons about the beautiful world around us, and the book What Birds Teach Us by Ashley Hewson is one I truly would love to have had in my collection. The below description of his book is taken from his site:
The author and his wife are both avid ‘recreational birders’ This interest integrated with the author’s family counseling studies, fulfills his desire to encourage and build into the lives of our youth, so that they can make healthy life choices and do life well.
The book is a collection of the author’s observations and photographs from his beautiful country of Australia. I have enjoyed his blog for the past year, so I was looking forward to having a collection of his pictures and words of wisdom in book form. The book surely did not disappoint, and in fact, exceeded my expectations in the amount of content it contained.
It is a collection of very positive words of wisdom and advice based on the traits observed by the author and his wife of the various birds they have watched in the wild. In short, it compares the traits and habits of the various birds to different character traits we humans, both young and old, would be wise to incorporate into our own personal lives. In fact, there are so many more character traits than the ones that would first come to a person’s mind, and that is where it truly exceeded my expectations.
My one son has pointed out to me repeatedly how much he hated Aesop’s Fables as a kid. I read it aloud to he and his brother many times and had no idea of its traumatizing effects…I guess I should have known that turtles smashed on rocks due to their pride may have been a bit too much! I wish I had a book such as this one, to teach those positive character traits, and many more, in a much more gentle way! Not to mention, the photographs are simply beautiful.
I really can’t recommend this book highly enough. It would be a wonderful gift for any child in your life, starting as early as age four or five and upwards. Honestly, there are even a few good reminders for adults as well-my personal favorite is the chapter on creativity. It truly is a gift that will keep on giving!!
This has been the rainiest start to a summer I can recall in recent memory. With one stormy weekend after another, we had not so much as stuck a toe in the sand until the last weekend in June. So, it was with great anticipation that I packed all of our beach gear and food to finally meet up with one of our favorite families for a beach bonfire….yeah!!
We never go to the beach early, I’m not a fan of sunscreen and arriving after the crowds leave is even better. We got there around 4 pm, perfect timing…now to find our friends in the sea of people still remaining.
Her text tells me she is all the way at the end. Unfortunately, for my cooler-toting son and husband, it turned out to be at the very opposite end of where we were…so, after walking and stopping to catch our breath numerous times in what must have been a two-mile hike through the sand, we were more than happy, to say the least, when we finally made our rendezvous.
Ahh, to at last kick back in our chairs, ocean water lapping at our feet, as we basked in the sights and sounds of the great Atlantic. It was delightful…until….
When lightening strikes anywhere near the beach, sticking around is not an option, not if you value your life that is. A few carelessly stayed in the waves, but we high-tailed it out of there, opting to not risk even carrying our metal chairs. We decided to wait it out a while in our vehicles, eating a few snacks to curb our hunger and hoping the storm would pass so we could continue on with our plans. At least, that’s what a few of us were hoping, another few wanted to pack it in, call it a night, and head for the nearest restaurant. It remained to be seen who would get their wish.
After about 30 minutes and many consumed snacks later, my friend ventured toward the beach, looked back with a big smile on her face, and pointed to the sky…
Yes, sometimes things are definitely worth waiting through, because you just never know what beauty awaits on the other side of a storm.
Until next time,
∗ Special thanks to my son for sharing his pictures and video.
A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. —Tenneva Jordan
This is a repost from last year for technical reasons I have been dealing with and have finally fixed! The above quote is so like my mother that I had to add it. Happy Mother’s Day to all who are actual mothers, and all that are not but love as if they are !!!
Last night we were under torrential downpours with lightening strikes all around us and a tornado watch in effect. Both our sons had not yet returned home for the night, but my husband and I went to bed, saying prayers for their safe return while keeping one ear open, as all parents do, when awaiting their kid’s return.
I think of my own mother, how on earth she survived raising five children, and how many nights she and my father must have prayed as they waited for their children to return home each night.
My mom was not only a terrific mom, she was also my confidant and friend….sticking with me through thick and thin….cheering me on, encouraging me when down, and always believing in me no matter what.
She was and still is a source of inspiration to myself and so many. One of her greatest accomplishments, which still amazes me, was earning her nursing degree while raising five children. I can still see her in my mind’s eye sitting at the table doing her homework after we finished dinner, which she had also prepared.
Now that I have raised two sons myself, I am even more amazed at her accomplishments and am not sure which is more amazing, earning the degree or raising five children….probably the latter!
Eventually our first son came in with a few friends in tow, an hour later our oldest son safely returned home as well. Both stopped in to give us big hugs before heading off to their own beds, and my mother’s heart could rest peacefully knowing my beloved treasures were back safe and sound, and all was right in my little world.
Happy Mother’s Day to my fellow mothers!
Until next time,
Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. Proverbs 14:1
It is a quiet Sunday morning as I write this. The air is cool enough to leave the door cracked just slightly, allowing the sounds of nature to flow inside. The birds are singing their morning songs as they flit around in their busy springtime activities. A tufted titmouse pair are continuing their gathering of nest-building material for the box just outside my window, while a hummingbird stops to sip at the nectar feeder just below the future titmouse abode.
Gabby cat is enjoying an early morning walk around, simultaneously keeping a lookout for possible adventure with one eye and the approach of our neighbor’s dogs with the other…
A squirrel enjoyed an early breakfast of sunflower seeds scattered beneath the feeders before attacking the feeders directly. In due time he was joined by two other squirrels that soon gave him chase before they all raced up a tree, resembling a reverse playing of firemen sliding down a pole.
The male cardinal is visiting another feeder closer to our pond, and the sounds of the waterfall flowing fills the air with its soothing sounds, in perfect harmony to the music of the wildlife surrounding it.
The creek is at high-tide and is still and deceptively quiet under a misty haze and overcast sky. In the surrounding trees, the birds and squirrels make up for its silence aided by honking geese in the distance, while cinnamon ferns, jewel-weed, and iris decorate its banks as they continue to spring more to life with each passing day. Somewhere nearby a wood duck couple are certain to be enjoying its serenity, while playful otters and busy beavers are certain to be disturbing it.
At any given moment an eagle is likely to do a fly-by low along the creek, or perch in one of the nearby trees watching for fish and other small creatures to fill its stomach and feed its young.
Harold, our resident blue heron, has yet to my knowledge made his daily appearance, but that too could happen at any given moment and may even include a sighting of Henrietta, seen accompanying him of late…tis the season!
Peaches, the cat of unknown origins, who has unfortunately decided to adopt us, draws my eye away from the creek again as he takes up one of his favorite spots beside the pond…much to the dismay of Gabby, and Bitty as well, who is perched beside me now glaring at him from her window seat.
The cardinal seen earlier is now perched closer to my window, almost hidden in the lush leaves, until roused by a blue-jay who was earlier hopping up and down on a branch above him and making a general ruckus. For whatever reason, Mr. Jay felt the need to antagonize the cardinal until deciding to fly off towards the creek with the cardinal giving chase.
In a break from nest-building duties, Mr. Titmouse flies over to give his wife a morsel on a nearby branch, and the lone squirrel is back posing for a picture.
Our door is now shut and the fireplace is lit to chase off the chill-enticing kitty with its warmth-as my husband and I enjoy the quiet of early morning. The wood ducks paddle into view, and all seems right with the world.
I purposefully laid aside my camera for the most part this morning-deciding to add in older pictures later-and purposed instead to just sit still and enjoy all the sights and sounds outside the lens…
…because sometimes in our single “focused-ness’ of life we miss the peripheral beauty going on around us, and that is a lesson in and of itself.