LIGHTED PATHWAYS

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Second in OCEAN VIEW series

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

The only features of our “pet friendly” accommodations made known to me, prior to arriving, was the $200 fee. I left home with questions, like, would he be welcome on the beach? Would there be a pet check-in to present his required vaccination status? Most importantly, would we have a place to take our morning walks? The answers turned out to be yes, no, and yes, in that order. Sadly, even though dogs were allowed on the beach, I never made time to show Auggie the ocean; maybe another time. As for the check-in, no human interaction occurred other than the many oohs and aahs and “may we pet him” offers. The morning and evening walks were a dream come true! Soft sandy paths connecting the houses, streets, restaurants and the beach, were wrapped with cute little picket fences every step of the way. Best of all were the lights! Perfectly placed along and low on the fences, at just the right level to illuminate our path, were automatic lights. Everywhere. We never had to walk in the dark, nor search for light switches. No flashlight necessary; no effort on my part, the light was always on time and enduring. Not unlike God’s word, right? May I make a couple more comparisons? Walk with Auggie and me as we continue to see similarities between our path’s golden glow and God’s word.

I wish I’d taken a picture of our walking path after dark, to show how our steps were not darkened by the many shadows cast by trees and buildings which stood between us and overhead street lights. This was due to the shin-high lamps illuminating our path. I was reminded of Psalm 119:133 “Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me.” Truly our path was not overshadowed. I didn’t trip, and Auggie wasn’t startled; at least not in the dark. Only once, during daylight, did our path encounter a bully who had escaped from its owner. But that’s another story, and a comical one at that.

Path to the beach at sunset

Some well-intended light sources can be glaring, or blinding, like headlights on high-beam or a porch light so bright it ruins the ambience. These pathway lamps had just the right glow – easy on the eyes and pleasantly guiding the way. Again in Psalm 119, “Your word is very pure; therefore your servant loves it.” (verse 140) Here again we see the likeness between our pathway lamps and God’s word. We open it and read of the love put into showing us the way as God Himself breathed the inspired word for our benefit. It is not meant to be used as a weapon to battle each other, but to bring light to a world darkened by the work of satan. Many times Jesus pointed out how the Pharisees used the law to entrap and segregate. But Jesus came bringing life, “and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4) A light to our path.

One other helpful feature I noticed about our pathway lamps was the appropriate spacing. This way the whole path is well lit, eliminating spot lighting with gaps. We could walk confidently, knowing what was ahead. What a comfort on unfamiliar ground! In Psalm 119:50 the writer, speaking of God’s word, said “This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life.”

It’s a beautiful thing how the Word was with God, and, looking down on the darkness of this world, became flesh, suffering the darkness Himself, to become the light that would save the world. And returning to Heaven, He left us the light of His word to guide us home too; light that is readily available, expertly placed, pure and easy to see, that we may walk confidently. Even under afflictions, through dark times, and in unfamiliar territory, His light comforts, right on time, enduring forever.

Ocean View

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There’s a pleasant sound when the earth is in motion, when the waves come ashore from the ocean.

We’ve just returned from a trip to Seaside, Florida, my husband and I, where we stood in the soft white sand and viewed those astounding color bands from crystal clear over our feet, to the deep blue where the ocean and sky meet. All those bands of aqua, green, and blue, are my favorite colors, but especially the brilliant sweep just before the horizon’s edge, like the blue from spring’s bluebird. I don’t know if it was merely getting to see the ocean again, or the thrill of witnessing my husband’s first view of the Gulf, but whatever it was, it trickled from my eyes and made me clap my hands. “The vastness of it…” was all we could utter for a while.

From the moment we arrived at our cottage called “Waves”, to our trip’s goodbye at sunset, I was thrust into a sea of beauty, both actual and metaphoric. Our upmost emotion as we stood in the unending waves was certainly gratitude; for a safe arrival, and for the beauty our eyes beheld.

I kept thinking of God’s question to Job in chapter 38. “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:…Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band; when I fixed My limit for it and set bars and doors; when I said, This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop!” (verses 1, 8-11) It is good to feel so small; to know there is a grand and awesome presence more than our human strength and frailties. How humbling to know the God who created a force so great it grinds rock and shells into powder, yet so gentle children can splash at its edge; a pure wonder! But a wonder to be respected for sure, and not just a little caution should be taken while enjoying even the gentler side of this great body of water.

While my husband’s choice kept him knee deep distance from shore, I never can resist getting all in. Up to my chin in waves, my toes bouncing, touching the familiar feel of sand, I remembered the fisherman Peter. Immediately I knew we have been too hard on him, accusing him of little faith, though Jesus had a right to say so of His disciple. But we? Not so much! Peter at least had the faith to take a step, a leap of faith so to speak, out of the boat into the angry sea. It wasn’t a beautiful bright day with folks watching, floatation devices in hand. It was a stormy night where the only other companions were crying out in fear. It wasn’t chin deep, but “in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves” that Peter professed to his Lord, “Lord if it is you…” Command me. I will come. And he stepped right out onto the rolling crashing waves, knowing it was Jesus Who called “Come”. Now, being human, he did take his eyes off Jesus and did begin to sink, and Jesus did save him. But I’m here to tell you, as I met my waves eye to eye, I could not say I would have stepped out of Peter’s boat. Just knowing my fear of approaching people with the gospel, I cannot say I would answer so boldly the call Peter heard. You can read about it in Matthew 14:22-33.

The call to become a Christian is one we hear through His Word. I answered by being baptized in a swimming pool, the nearest body of water at the time. I still get distracted and take my eyes off Jesus . I still start to sink. He still saves. I am thankful for Peter’s example, one of stepping out in faith in the first place. Whatever we feel God is calling us to do, let us echo the faith Peter demonstrated as he stepped out of the boat, and let us keep our eyes on Jesus.

The colors, the sounds, the vastness of it all, are part of what keep us going back to the ocean. Each time I’ve been I come away with new inspiration for life, from life. This is the first in a series of “Ocean View” I have washing around in my head. I hope you’ll join me as we discover little treasures on the beach with an ocean view. Trisha

Sept 22, 2022 Seaside, FL

Dear Mama

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Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come. …Her children rise up and call her blessed;” Proverbs 31:25, 28a NKJV

September 16 is a nice time of year; nicer because it’s the birthday of my mother. Now, my sister always made Mama proud, and pleased her in so many meaningful ways. Our little brother had his own unique way of being dear to her heart. But for some mother-ish reason, Mama liked my words, written. So, all I’ve ever done that seemed to me, to honor her was write, for her, on her special day. Somehow it does seem better than the scorched toast and dry scrambled eggs with a bud vase holding a chigger weed or clover bloom, which in my youth I’d be serving for her today, on a tray. I can imagine the mess she had to clean up after I got it done. I share the words in her honor, and because she would want me to.

Dear Mama

If Mamas could sell every tear they cried

And if they were paid for how hard they tried;

If happiness really, could be bought

And children learned every lesson Mom taught;

There’s no end to how happy and smart I’d be,

Because you’d have bought them just for me!

You’d have spent the tear treasures on everyone else,

And, perhaps, some SAS shoes for yourself!

For your big loving heart would always know

Where needs were calling, and your sore feet would go. 

You would be 91 today and I am celebrating your life; recalling the beauty of your heart in spite of the pain. Thanking God with a smile on my face for His grace in letting me be yours. 

A grateful daughter, Trisha                                    9/16/22

Daddy’s Little Ice Cream Buckets: My final “Daddy Story”

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As Daddy felt his time slowly pulling into the station, he asked me to start writing down his memories and we called them our “Daddy Stories”. I did write, and had printed into a booklet for him, 15 stories most of which were his. This was after his sight had failed but in time for him to hear someone else read back his memories to him and I suppose, to feel like he would not be forgotten. The following I write today, to add to the end of my Daddy Stories, as I watch another garden season ride by.

Near the end of August the garden, like our own aging, grows old, mature, less productive in some ways, more so in others. There is for me, the temptation to begin clearing the disorganized rows again as the picking and canning slows, but the garden itself is still teeming with life. About this time I also shake my head and wonder how those little seeds and sprouts in so short a time, became all this wilderness of blooms among crowded lanes of overgrown vines; and how grass and weeds appear overnight. I love how the drooping sunflower heads draw a crowd of goldfinches and intricately designed butterflies flutter throughout the zinnia, okra and purple hull pea blossoms. This is also a time of reflection; on the ones who planted, picked and preserved gardens before me, teaching me the joy of the process. I wonder how many times I’ll get to do it all over again, and I’m glad I do not know.

For the last couple decades of my daddy’s life we had made amends and grown closer. In my memory that nearness began to grow out of our shared interest in gardening. Sometimes on sunny afternoons, I would drive the half hour or so to his farm to watch his hummingbirds and admire his garden. As life goes, he eventually grew too old to do the work himself and he and his wife, Ms. Wanda, moved to our town of Murray, Kentucky. Here, he was able to drive out often to see my gardens, give his much needed advice, and take an occasional basket of beans or peas home to break and shell for me. When I returned the visits to pick up the readied beans or peas, he had them packed into round plastic gallon pails he called his ‘little ice cream buckets”. He would say, “now don’t even think about returning that little bucket; I’ve got a dozen of ‘em”.  But I would bring them back filled with okra, hot peppers and tomatoes for their enjoyment, and get to hear another “Daddy Story”. Over the years, I did keep a few (a smarter person would have kept many) of the pails with lids, which proved to be just about the most useful thing you can own, next to a pocket knife.

I do not truly believe there is a lot of difference in taste from one vanilla ice cream to another. As long as it’s not one of those ‘low carb’ or ‘no sugar added’ or some such concoction pretending to be good ice cream, they’re all pretty much the same to me. But daddy always, and I mean always, bought the “Dippin’ Kind” or, if that wasn’t available, Prairie Farms, which interestingly enough, also had to be in a round plastic pail. Once during the Covid isolation I called from Kroger reporting I could not find a plastic pail of vanilla ice cream, so was there another brand I could bring, to which he said, “No, I think they’ll have it over here at Food Giant”. Daddy did not have a particularly scrutinizing taste, but he did grow up in a time when everything that could possibly be reused, did. I am 100 percent sure he bought the Dippin’ Kind strictly for the plastic pail. There’s no telling how many uses we have found for those little buckets. 

I am down to only one of his little ice cream buckets with a lid, because  I’ve “used the far out of ‘em” as he’d say. As I washed it today, I was overtaken by emotion in thinking of the end of good things; like multipurpose little plastic pails, old men with softened hearts that want to be forgiven, and time…time for hugs and forgiveness. 

We learn as we go; it is the only way. While my amazing mother instilled in me the love for growing flowers and the satisfaction of a pantry lined with gleaming jars of canned tomatoes, beans, pickles, jellies and relishes, it was daddy’s love of growing and tending the garden, which I seem to have inherited as well. From them both, however, I learned to put the past behind, to fill my pails with love, close the lid on bad memories and plant the good ones; to be at peace. 

As long as God thinks I need to, and daddy’s little plastic bucket lasts, I’ll keep wagging it and my grandpa’s half-bushel basket to the garden to watch in amazement the whole God-inspired process of decaying seeds becoming fabulous food.  I’ll keep picking pails of peppers and okra, cucumbers and tomatoes, and pouring up shelled peas to keep for freezing and dropping broken green beans into it to guesstimate a full canner. 

Satan plants weeds from bad memories in effort to tarnish and destroy and make us bitter. I’m going to keep carrying those in my little plastic bucket straight to the garbage; then wash and rinse the bucket to hold the good scraps I take to the compost can, where they will eventually give rise to new generations of beauty. 

Life can leave you buckets of blessings and pails of problems for which we each will decide a purpose, and whether or not to make good use of them. I’ve filled my buckets hundreds of times over with useful as well as useless stuff; soapy water and a good scrap of terrycloth towel, cut flowers, fishing worms, good veggies and bad veggies, canning lids and rings, and packets of seed in the freezer to plant another year; scraps of iron and chain and rocks I‘ll never use; popcorn, pecans and grilling supplies; and I’m sure that doesn’t even get near the number of uses Daddy found for his ice cream buckets. I treasure the ‘late summer garden’ time of his life when he was less productive in some things and more so in others, with stories to tell, and little ice cream buckets of wisdom and love to share with his children.

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Bunny Chase

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Enjoying the rain from our kitchen window with my first cup of Portland Blend this morning, my view shifted suddenly from the serene stillness to a lively chase. Already immersed in the beauty of a gentle rain which has been absent from our west Kentucky summer, I was nearly startled by the activity. Not the usual one resident rabbit, but two bunnies emerged from my garden, jumping at each other’s face, then racing around the first crepe myrtle, and continued their dance and chase around the next five crepe myrtles! One would chase the other around the tree, then meeting to begin hopping and prancing, sometimes fist bumping their front paws and then repeat the activity with the next tree. As the leader circled the sixth tree, it disappeared into the soybeans, leaving a bewildered bunny to hop slowly, hesitatingly, back toward the garden shed. I felt a little sorry for the kid, and wondered if they’d ever see each other again.

Life can be a total rabbit chase! I wonder if my maniacal gardening appears to others like the chase I had just watched, around and around and on to the next job in line. We hear of chasing a rabbit down a hole, which again, I’m prone to do, especially if I’m trying to relay some incident. Some notion enters my brain as another is being explained and off I go. And then there’s that great big expanse of a soybean field lying across the lives of our children, friends, work families and so forth. Their paths divert in some direction other than ours and it’s a toss up as to whether they’ll cross again, or lead off in still further mazes. It’s just life.

I hope we jump and fist bump and dance in circles and run our races together for as long as we’re given. Life can be terrific that way; and sad that way.

In my gratitude for the long awaited and much needed rain, I’m also sorry for those who are dealing with too much of it and the rolling rivers. Thankful for the break in temperatures these last couple days, we brace for the coming week of horrid heat. I’m glad I got to see the antics of the rabbits this morning and was reminded to be thankful for our people as well as reminded to stop and play now and then. The chase can be tiring, so remember to rest mentally and emotionally as well as (and probably more importantly than) the physical rests.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭46:10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Fake Lakes

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“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)

Few things are as inspiring as young children whose efforts to try on life are just down right funny and at the same time, may slap a helping of practical onto our pretense. Several such ‘little’ inspirations were provided lately, one being a delightful visit from my niece Sara and her preschool boys. To begin with, as if their big blue eyes and chubby cheeks weren’t adorable enough, they came in proclaiming just how happy I must be for them to be here! Yes, I was, actually, and so why, pray tell, do we adults often act almost apologetic for showing up at someone’s door? It was so heart-warming to know they fully expected me to be happy.

As with every single little person who has ever been in our house, these boys too, discovered the joy of our Smurf Ahoy game. Now, in case you’ve never seen one, its container is a 12 inch square cardboard box about six inches deep, swimming pool-blue inside, and a cardboard ship is balanced over this blue “ocean”. The object is to see how many smurfs you can place on the ship without tipping it over and spilling the smurfs into the “water”.  As you might imagine, two and three year olds think it’s much funnier when the objectives are ‘how fast can I tip the boat’, and ‘how loudly can I call out the color on the spinner’? Totally unconcerned with any status of being winner, they simply thrust themselves into it, often literally.  Jameson, the younger lad, decided to “get in the lake” himself and proceeded to squat over the box. Stopping him just in time, we explained it was only a pretend, or fake lake. As they continued spinning the little arrow for another smurf move, my mind was spinning about fake lakes, and the precious lens of honesty through which children view the world. As I picked up the fake apple Jameson had been carrying around from my kitchen bowl of wax fruit, I felt kind of bad, you know, like – are these children going to decide this is a house of fake; a game with fake water,  a beautiful apple you can’t eat, and plastic grapes that disappoint as well? Lord, help me be a transparent person with real ears for listening; real vision for seeing needs; real boldness to speak truth, all wrapped in real love. Never let me lose my real zeal for making ‘joy’ a genuine full-to-the-brim lake splashing with praise.

In so many ways we grow out of thrusting ourselves into the fun of life, and choose instead, the fake lakes where you’re safely neat and dry, concerned with appearance and refinement, though it may be a veneer to hide our inner child. Oh, I get it – manners are important and it is necessary we learn to use a filter so as not to offend. These are valuable issues that should come with maturity. But children show us what we are missing when we over extend these traits and cast a shadow over the richness of excitement for life. One example I’ll never forget is a side-by-side ride about a decade ago, with great nieces Katja and Izzy and our side-kick Ryan. Ready for the end of a busy fun (but long) day, I was concerned with getting everyone safely back to the house; but not Katja! “Wow, Aunt Trisha, look at that sunset!” If not for her unending zeal I’d have missed that one. I take for granted the shared appreciation of sunsets and butterfly kisses, instead of proclaiming aloud the joy in case someone missed it. (Thank you Janette DeWitt for being a sunset sharer.)

Back to the ‘who-cares-who-wins’ attitude so important to having fun, I got to watch a T-ball game this summer where three year old Jack, another great nephew, was playing. After 199 times of telling me he wanted to go to my ‘howwss’ it was his turn to run the bases. As soon as he crossed home plate, he turned, pointing to me through the fence, and yelled, “I wanna go to your howwss!” My heart soared! Home run! May we all be so persistent in letting others know, including God, how much we love spending time with them. “Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;” (Psalm 70:4)

Little kids are the ones who reward you with exploring all around your house in wonder. We adults are way too cool, scarcely letting our eyes wander, afraid to actually show genuine interest; and after all your hard work to make it interesting! I know, manners and all that. Next time I visit though, I’m going to ooh and aah the way I really feel anyway. (smile) One day when Ryan DeWitt was about five, he asked to hear my antique Victrola play a record. Seems like it was “How Do You Talk to an Angel?” Anyway, as the speakers scratched out a tune, little Ryan looked up at me and the blue-eyed gent asked me if I’d like to dance. LIKE??? Oh my stars, he made my day!! You never know who may just be teetering between up or down, and your invitation to dance could make all the difference. Go ahead and ask, or pick a dandelion, or hold their hand. Make their day.

The children have nailed it with food too.  I’m always forgetting to offer the ice cream, or I leave the deviled eggs in the refrigerator, and guests are so polite they’d rather do without than say a word. Kids are great. They just say, “hey, you got any cookies?” and if you don’t, it’s no big deal, they just check for the next best thing, like “how about ‘nabanas’ or “pasghetti” as my nephew’s little boy, Grayson, used to ask. Always have bananas, and chocolate chip cookies on hand so you can look smart. Especially if a couple weeks earlier you served tossed salad to a group of girlfriends and forgot to set out the dressings until everyone was eating and your sister asked for them. (;

When great niece Izzy was at the ‘fort-under-the-dining-table’ age, she and our neighbor’s little girl were dragging quilts through the house to make their hide-out. One particular quilt is reversible, and I suppose Izzy had just never noticed the pink floral side to the quilt that covered her in the guest bed. Even in her excitement of building their cotton covered table fort, she suddenly stopped mid-stride, and looking down onto the never before seen side of her quilt, she exclaimed, “Oh Aunt Trisha, that is so pretty!” Do I take time to stop amid my busy task-filled days to give an honest compliment to someone’s accomplishments? (No, I didn’t make the quilt; it’s old, and I sure wish whoever did make it could have heard the totally honest praise!) Kids don’t mind that you’ll infer they do not have a pink floral quilt, or a blouse as pretty as yours. They just pile on the praise when they notice, and want to show appreciation. How many times I pass up the pause in stride to add a little sweetness to someones day!

Then there’s the departure. We say something like “well, I’d better get going now” or “I’ve hindered you long enough” as if our presence could be a problem or something. Not little kids! They make sure you know how much they like being there by flat out refusing to leave with mom. “No! I wanna stay” accompanied by tears, erases any question you may have had about your guests feeling at home. If however, they’ve had enough and want to go, they just say so, without pretense. And this day, Sara’s older child, Colt, walked up to my husband’s recliner, and leaning toward him, asked “do you wanna hug me bye?” Mercy, how sweet can they be? Open, honest, forward – no fake stuff there. I’ve said for several years that life’s too short to be fake. The littles in my life are living proof. Perhaps here is a compromise between the two departure style: Well, I’ve loved our time here together, but we both have grown-up stuff to get done, so until our next meeting…

God offers living water, never fake, which nourishes our souls all day long.  Drink deeply and do as He does – never offer fake lakes. 

“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Jesus, in Matthew 18:3)

Planting With Prayer and Patience

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Good Monday morning to you! To quote the lion in The Wizard of Oz, “Unusual wedder we’re havin’ ain’t it?” While it is a bit chilly for me, the recent showers were wonderful. As I walked out to my garden yesterday I thought of a new piece patched into a quilt. Rich deep brown with green stripes of leaflets and spikes in contrast. Only two days ago I was murmuring and doubtful. Harsh dry winds in the week following my planting plus what I feared might have been only partially prepared soil, gave me concern and I was already wondering if I had saved enough seed to replant.

Oh ye of little faith! God’s masterful plan is unfolding once again in the germination and new growth of another garden, and as Audrey Hepburn said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”. (Still one of my favorite quotes.) Times like this remind us of the instruction from our Lord Jesus Christ to go out there and plant the seed of His Word. Don’t worry if you have enough, nor if the condition of hearts is ready, nor about the opposing winds of worldliness. Ill winds, infertile hearts and giving us enough – those are God’s job and He’s been taking care of it for generations. His plan is good. He said plant, pray and wait. He is the maker; He gives the increase. (Ecclesiastes 11:4-5)

There is no limit to tomorrow’s harvest of goodness from one child taught, one good deed done or one seed of encouragement.

As youngsters, many of us learned Hebrews chapter 11 as the “hall of faith”. The first verse defines ‘faith’ as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen”. Whatever we do in teaching, encouraging or deeds for others, we must do so believing in tomorrow and the power of God to make it good.

Mothers’ Day – For All Women

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“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her own works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:30-31, NKJV)

As Mother’s Day approached, I was busily tending flower beds and lawn on Thursday, watching newly planted tomatoes and peppers gain strength while green onions emerged from the brown earth. Growing things is what many women do best; tomatoes, love and faith to name a few. My mind was spinning a blog post in honor of all the fascinating moms and their accomplishments, especially the tiny important ones like mastering french braids and gluten free recipes, delivering Girl Scout cookies, baiting fishing hooks, reading for the hundredth time a Little Golden Book and teaching little hands to fold in prayer. (Planting the important things.)

Before I could get to the blogging, tragedy struck the lives of some beautiful mothers I know, and my eagerness was deflated by sorrow and pain for them and their families. As I do so often, I began to name the many women who have had to say goodbye for now to a son or daughter, too soon. My prayers are for these amazing women to be carried when their strength fails in their time of grief; that all the love and creativity they have shown to others will be gathered in manifold volumes and returned to encourage, strengthen and assure them of their great value, and ability to survive. They are strong women, and my Lord is even stronger than all our strengths. Their courage began to nudge me, as I thought of them, to go on with a Mother’s Day message, reminding all women with or without children, how you inspire, create and nourish the earth every single day.

I thought of all the new plants I have growing in my yard all because of a friend, a mom herself, who loves to grow things. I have a little holly I call Dana Holly, because Dana Bazzell discovered it growing where it would not have survived, transplanted it and gave it to me. I also have a Dana pine, a Dana beauty berry, and a Dana buckeye, all for the same reason. Yes, men can do this too if they have a green thumb, but not while they tend to their spouses, children, homes, careers and church activities – with time left for travel, Facebook and cats. Actually, I can’t think of a single woman who isn’t a ‘mom’ to something – dog moms, cat moms, flower moms, all growing beautiful living things and loving the productivity of their hearts and hands. Teachers who create thinkers; writers who produce trips for our imaginations; artists who decorate our world; musicians who put the beat in our hearts and seamstresses who can take a flat piece of cloth and create a girl’s fanciest dream, are all moms of life.

I thank God daily that I get to be Chad’s and Stephanie’s mother. I thank God also for the incredibly strong mother I was blessed to call Mama, and for the women who influenced her, one of whom was my great aunt, Bertie Wilkins Frisby. She was a registered nurse who had no children of her own, but instilled in others a respect for education, faith and family. Knowing she was a nurse, who had lived with Type I diabetes, and had cared for an elderly relative even as her own sight was failing, I felt her influence reaching me as well. We can all recall those pillars of our communities, the sources of strength and wisdom who planted in us a will to keep on keeping on, even when – and maybe especially when – the rose petals fall too soon.

God bless you, my sisters of womanhood, as you plant, water and feed. May God give you the increase you desire. Blessed Mothers’ Day to you. Trisha

In memory of Betty L. Jackson

A Little Birdie Told Me

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Happy soggy Monday (again!) to you. Yesterday was a most perfect day with warm breezes and bright sunshine, perhaps our first this year. Isn’t it strange what a few hours can do to not only the weather, but our moods as well? As I was racing to complete my Monday “must-do” list in hopes of reaching the flower bed before the rain, I was about to start complaining over this weather of ours. We’d already had a light morning mist, but the breeze was mild and I had visions of easy picking – those weeds would just pop right out for me if – IF – I could just get out there before it rained any more. Ha! Not today. And the farmers would say, “flower beds? Seriously? Try making a living in this rain!” I know; I’m married to one.

Scowling toward the darkening window of rain drops, I noticed a beautiful Ruby-throated sipping at our Yoshino cherry tree, our first hummingbird of the year! Seemingly oblivious to the clouds and rain, he was enjoying the provision of sweet nectar in nature. The world was right again for me – Spring is going to happen regardless of the timing, and certainly without regard to my mood! From there I moved to another window, and lo and behold, our dogwood had unfolded lovely little red petals just to cheer the day. I was reminded of rebirth, new growth, resurrection. And so many blessings!

Just yesterday the back yard was filled with songbirds; bluebirds swooping from tree limbs to clothesline; black shiny martins soaring from their apartments to the electrical lines, and strawberry heads of finches bobbing and darting from limb to lawn. The combined chorus of all seemed to be singing the praises of their Maker. Green wheat growing alongside our lawn was rippling in the breeze like ocean waves and as I closed my eyes, the breeze gently rocked my hammock. I felt deeply ashamed of recent moodiness over missed vacations, knowing many desired destinations will never be realized. To be honest, I feel I couldn’t be away from all this anyway – awakening, spring time, rebirth – I don’t want to miss a thing!

Previous years’ hard work has yielded much new growth of fresh green leaves, tender shoots of hostas, iris and peonies, to name a few, just waiting for their bloom time when they will lift faces upward and give honor to their Creator. With so much energy emerging all around, how can I allow anything to put me down? Silly me, look at the lilies of the field, the raven, all so cared for by God and thriving with no concern for themselves at all! (Luke 12:24) “Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?”

Bloom where you’re planted. Seek nurture in nature. Be anxious for nothing, (Philippians 4:6). God is good, all the time.

The Rifle Shell

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“This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:12-13

In this first hour of March 23, 2022, I find no sleep so I may as well write. It would be my brother’s sixtieth birthday, the first since his passing. I suppose I will always feel protective of his memory just as I feel I should have been protective of him in childhood. I’ve written the following in observation of his birthday, and in honor of his proudest moments. If it sounds sad, it’s because I am sad he left so soon. Life can be sad, but life is still good, and he’d be the one to say, “Oh well…”.

THE RIFLE SHELL

A VFW gun salute shakes the silence of the air,

and over the flag covered casket is said a final prayer.

Lil’ Brother, a dad, a friend laid to rest

wearing his dress blues, the sun in the west.

Memories fill our hearts and flood our eyes

as the shots ring toward the cold blue sky.

A brass shell casing picked up from the ground

has a design inside where six points can be found.

I see one point for the courage to say “I will”

and one for the sacrifice because the risk is real.

One point stands for loyalty to country and brother,

and one for humility, heroes they claim, is someone other.

One point is for pain, in body and mind

as they endure training and leave home behind.

The last point, for loneliness, though in a sea of the same –

where all wear proudly a common name –

yet all left all familiar to them alone. And now once again he travels on.

Heroes don’t always die in active duty. They may bring home a scarred heart and torn life they die trying to paste back together again. Still others survive to live out a full and beautiful life, and become someone else’s hero. Thank you to Mark and all service men and women for your courage, sacrifice and loyalty to country and each other. I am sorry for the pain and loneliness you felt, and the humility with which you carried it all. Even though Mark isn’t here, I couldn’t let his “big six-o” go by without a special “Happy Birthday”. Love, Sis

CASTING

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“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” I Peter 5:6-7 (NKJV)

Recently I saw a good example of casting your care upon the Lord versus dangling it into the water, near the bank and watching for a nibble of concern. To set the scene for you, it was the first day of March, a beautiful breezy welcome from winter’s stuffy hold.  I had the pleasure of being amused all afternoon by an excited six year old, great nephew Grayson. Of the day’s many activities, his favorite at my house is “findin’ worms”.  Following his frenzied search for earth worms, and swinging a Mason jar of  his treasures by the wire handle, he asked, “now what?” I suggested we could put them back in the ground to live in the garden. Looking up at me with one eye winking at the sun, he sheepishly said, “Well I guess we could see if some fish want to eat them”.  I’ve never had that line used on me before! Unfortunately, I only had available to us my old cane pole with a short line, a weight and a rusty hook, as well as a crappie pole, with little more line and a bobber. With a six year old’s enthusiasm and confidence, this pitiful assortment seemed enough. So off we went to the pond, bait and poles in hand.

Once we had positioned ourselves on the pond bank and he dug a “fat juicy one” out of the jar, I speared it onto the hook. He exclaimed “I’m gonna cast it out there in the water now!” Cast? With limited line and no rod and reel. Explaining the need to have a reel to ‘cast’ was a waste of breath, for he had already determined this was the only way to fish. As I ducked and dodged the flying hook again and again, Grayson cast with abandon and trusted he would any minute pull in a big bass. Bait on, a whip of his tiny wrist, and optimism was cast without doubt. I suspected his real goal was to use up all his newly acquired bait. My method was to slowly bring the line behind me, often snagging my bait in the brush, then gingerly toss it out as far as my short line would allow me to drop the baited hook while I explained all the reasons why we shouldn’t expect a bite on a breezy day before spring. Is this how I cast my cares on the Lord? Do I cautiously offer a short line I can keep an eye on, snagged in worry, while explaining all the ways it won’t work?

Lord, let me cast like a six year old! Just fling it out there, too fast to snag it with other worldly cares and with weighted hope, expect to reel in a big blessing!  No wonder the Lord said we’d need to become like little children! Trusting, enthusiastic and hopeful – the examples I need for casting my line before the Lord, knowing he will take the bait of cares and replace them with peace.

“Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven’.”  Matthew 18:2-3 (NKJV)

Reshaping Through Our Seasons

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Once again a layer of ice has crystalized our countryside in Western Kentucky, though thankfully, it hasn’t paralyzed us as the 2009 ice storm did. Here at home we didn’t even lose electrical power, so we had the privilege of admiring the unbelievable sparkle of the outdoor world from a warm window, where I watched the nearby Hawthorne tree display colors as a crystal prism. Only the sun and the ice compose this dazzling artwork. Snapping pictures for an hour has not begun to capture the reality of what the eye beheld yesterday morning. My eyes, however, remained shifted away from the center of our backyard, where not all was beauty.
There in the backyard is a Southern Magnolia tree I love because it was given me by my brother 12 years ago. Due to it’s size, the weight of accumulated ice was more than it could bear and many limbs lay on the ground, splintered ends pointing skyward. As I lamented my heartbreak to my family, we talked about how insignificant one tree is in comparison to the devastating losses so many have suffered lately. It still hurts; it will never have the beautiful shape it was before the storm.
Thoughts emerged of life storms, splintered hearts and hope, and the healing we long for after the storm.
Hearts scarred and broken from abuse and abandonment will awaken each day and be reshaped by not only the past but by each encounter and effort to recover and repair. Broken relationships leave gaping wounds, and when scars form, room is made for building new and reshaping old relationships. I believe none of this happens without design by the creator God, Who set the life seasons in motion, planning for scars to give rise to new growth; strength in healing from brokenness; beauty from barren canvases where we allow the master artist to create in us renewed hope and revived spirit. (Psalm 51:10)
Just as there is beauty in the crystalized world outside my window even as the ice in its natural character does damage; and just as there is hope for my Magnolia to live on with its scars producing new growth and certainly new shape, we also can continue to be part of new growth and reshaping for others and ourselves after life’s storms. We are helpless to stop these changes of our seasons, but God is able to bring out of those seasons the beauty within us because it was He Who put it there in the first place. “It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves” Psalm 100:3. Give yourself the gift of allowing God through His word, to revive and reshape you after the storms of your seasons. “Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” (Isaiah 58:8)

Winter ‘Dull-drums’

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The scul-uff, scul-uff, scul-uff of my house shoes is getting on my nerves, as is the beyond dry condition of my skin and hair. I am dulled by naps and headaches and ridiculous television shows, and so tired of trying to focus my eyes for anything useful. Winter doldrums are not my normal; but then what has been normal for the past couple years? Now that I am feeling ornery enough to complain, I do see light at the end of the tunnel. The Covid ‘fog’ is lifting; also the aura that surrounds the loss of a loved one is finding its place a few paces away from the immediate needs of everyday living. And for every complaint I have just uttered, I enjoy a dozen blessings. So the good does not nullify the bad, it just makes it easier to bear. The blessings do not blind us to the ills; the ills illuminate the blessings.

I rise up in the morning, thanking God the sunrise did not get lost; that I can see, and walk and hear, and feel the freezing air and the warm house. I thank God for everything from hot coffee to holly berries. I thank Him for the time we have had with loved ones; brief or extended, the time is a gift. I’ve spoken gratitude for modern medicine and vaccine and those who act out of compassion, or just passion, to accomplish better lives for us all. From dear friends to my fur baby, from my husband to my children to the sister my husband loves to taunt, our people are a blessing!

I complained this morning about a hawk who has just about left us without song birds, and watching those birds was my favorite winter pastime. A couple hours later a beautiful pair of cardinals visited the bird feeder. What a gift! I wouldn’t have appreciated this treat quite as much if not for the gap of time our feeders have sat lonely.

When your heart aches, or your earth quakes, consider the opposite. Likely there is something in contrast for which you have been thankful; something to hope for and plan simply because you are alive. The lonely times are real, and I hope brief. Soon life rekindles and revisits and the birds will return to the feeder.

“ Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26 NKJV)

Taking Down The Tree – In Retrospect

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January 22, 2022:

First, a very happy birthday today to my 12 year old niece Isabella Claire, who has been a ray of sunshine in my life! The sun as well, is a beautiful gift from God today and I’m looking to it to continue healing. I am tired of feeling and looking like a slug; sick of taking care of only our household and not being able to reach out to others. Most thankful today for warm homes, drive-thru windows, and good medicine, I hope the Covid fog is about to lift.

The day I wrote the following was a good day, with a cherished visit from my brother’s daughter Sara and her toddlers as well as my sister and her young grandsons. The kids laughed and ran about so cute, having a ball, and the three of us, aunts and niece, had a good and much needed visit. The following day brought a new sadness to our family and one through which I am still processing via pen and paper. The events of the week hindered my tree-taking-down until the following Saturday afternoon; but the rest of my holiday decorations remain gathering dust, awaiting a time of wiping down and wrapping up. Snowmen stand smiling as if nothing changed; a small group of old world Santas seem oblivious to the calendar and uneaten candies have lost their taste for me. No longer fresh greenery shatters each time I pass it. In retrospect, I may reconsider the ‘bad luck’ in leaving a tree standing through the new year; not really sure.

Events of the past few weeks have left my mind and body craving newness but Covid is still pulling the reins on my strength, and sadness of my brother’s passing shadows my writing. In weak effort to pick back up and rejoin life, I am publishing this January 4 writing as I planned to do on that sweet morning.

January 4, 2022: Taking Down The Tree: Times of Tradition

We never used to leave the Christmas tree up into the new year. Mama said it was bad luck to have it up on New Years Day, but I doubt she believed it because she wasn’t normally a superstitious person. I realize now she simply needed it out of the way before getting back into her usual busy work week. I carry most of her traditions leading up to Christmas Day, which leaves me too tired to take it all down the week after, when I finally get to relax and enjoy it. (How DID she do it?) This year I’m really dragging it out because I am expecting company today who didn’t get to be with us on the 25th. I want her littles to get their gifts from under the tree. As I look upon the ornaments, dreading the process of taking it down, there’s one front and center taking me down memory lane so far I lost track of time.

Walking down the aisle of Kroger December 2009, I saw a rustic red wooden star with a fat little snowman painted in the center. Two points of the star were longer than the others, and they reached right into my heart. I stood holding it, sobbing, there in the middle of the grocery, thinking, “this – this very ornament is exactly what Mama would have given me this year” – I just knew it. Never before had I bought an ornament in the grocery, nor had I seen one I thought would have been given to me. But this one. This one was going home with me and now, Christmas 2021, it still adorns my tree and I can smile instead of cry.

I remember crying as I pushed my cart through Kroger a couple, maybe four or five times, I don’t know, I lost count actually that summer and autumn following her passing. I stand wondering this year, why. What about the grocery did that to me? Standing here today looking at my star, I just figured it out. For my entire childhood, from before I could remember, Mama and I did the grocery shopping together on Saturdays. That stopped of course after I married, but even then, if I dropped by on Saturday and she was gone, I knew I could find her at Owen’s Food Market, or the beauty shop.

Mama enjoyed recalling the times when I was a toddler, we would go ‘bumming’ on Saturday. We’d go to a dime store soda fountain in Cleveland, Ohio where she would lift me to a stool and we would share an ice cream soda. Afterwards, we’d get her shopping done. Her only day off for years was Saturday afternoon so the tradition continued, as two more children came along and we all four traipsed the aisles of Johnson’s Grocery in Murray, KY Saturday after Saturday. She bought ice cream and cokes for us to have a Saturday night treat, and I also recall getting to pick out a Little Golden Book for us on many of those trips.

Mama depended on credit in those days, so she remained loyal to one grocer at a time. When Mr. Johnson closed, she continued the tradition at Mr. Owen’s. They knew she would pay as soon as she could – and that’s as good a tradition as anyone needs – a good name.( “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold.” Proverbs 22:1 NKJV. ) Holding my star, I know she was the star of our Saturdays, our Christmases, and many of our traditions. I’m glad I broke the one about taking down the tree on new year’s eve. Otherwise I wouldn’t have had the pondering time today, leading me on the grocery cart ride as I figured out twelve years later why I felt such loss in the aisle, and why I latched onto my Christmas star. May you find your own beautiful stars living in the traditions and memories of love. Trisha

Colt and Jameson 1-4-22

Isabella Claire, ruthless opponent! 1-1-22

If I Were A Christmas Tree…

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Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17 (NKJV)

It is Christmas Eve morning, predawn, as I sip coffee in the glow of our Christmas tree. I wonder, will I get it all done in time to make more happy memories for my loved ones. Menus are ready for ingredients I’ve stowed away for weeks and I’m getting the usual anticipation jitters that I’ve forgotten something. There’s baking, arranging and cleaning to be done, but for now the house is quiet with sleep except for the snoring of my little lap dog. A star-lit sky is about to welcome dawn, and as I gaze upon our tree ornaments, I recognize the beauty of reflection.

A decorated tree is pretty by daylight, but the magic happens when the little white lights are glowing, and there in the dark, each ornament twinkles with life. They reflect memories of love and fun. In the stillness, my tree reflects the joys I received from each person who’s given these keepsakes. A mama bear reads to her baby bear by the tree lamp’s glow as she has since 1999. Thirteen little Hallmark ornaments are as happy as the day I received each one a year at a time, and I remember the precious little girl, and her mom who brought them to my door each year. My little clothespin ponies have shiny faces reflecting the love with which they were sent from West Virginia. Many snowmen from friends and family are dazzling as they dance in the lights and I reflect on the occasions and names of each one given. Flying cardinals and sitting cardinals reflect my mother’s love as well as that of those who’ve added to the collection, and the love they learned from her. Glass orbs with meaningful words twinkle and never grow old.

If I were a Christmas tree, would I reflect the true light, the Giver of all good and perfect gifts? Would God’s love, as He sent His Word to become the flesh and blood baby Jesus, glow in my life? Would I shine with the love Christ demonstrated for us as He gave the ultimate gift? If I were a Christmas tree, would I make others happy?

I’m sure the history of the Christmas tree is interesting, but honestly we don’t care. What it is to me, as it was to my parents, for as long as I can remember, is a place to store gifts we give each other. Most importantly, it is where the adornments of our Christmases are displayed; a first, someone’s last, treasured gifts, fond vacation memories, favorite things…all reflecting happy times and warming our hearts.

One of the first things I thought of in the wake of December’s rare tornado, was so many would have had their own ornaments out, vulnerable to destruction, and my heart ached for them. Life IS vulnerable; treasure it. My prayer for those folks is they are able to hold the happy memories in their hearts and keep making new ones.

Merry Christmas! In the midst of all life’s common and uncommon difficulties, may you make many warm memories – ones that reflect the joys in your life and entice others to seek the joy of the true Light.

I

Give Me Kentucky

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” If these United States can be called a body, then Kentucky can be called its heart.” – Author: Jesse Stuart

I admire how an author can bring to life the feel and the sights and sounds of a place, as a painter does on canvas. I was introduced to the writing of Jesse Stuart in the eighth grade by Ms. Ann Woods. She also taught me to never again say “Oh it’s just homemade”, but to say instead, “thank you, it was handmade just for me”. For these things, I love her still. Every year as the hickory nuts fall I remember the school grounds with the enormous trees and a wise teacher. And I do get the feeling all this nature was handmade just for me. Kentuckians are proud of their people, and their crafts and their land I think, like I am sure most are of any state they call home. But I am partial to what is familiar and comfortable to me. Like autumn in Kentucky.

On several days this month, I stood like a kid watching the circus leave town, and almost waved goodbye to the warmth of the scarlet colors and the November air. I believe I actually did blow a kiss toward the sky. Perhaps knowing Autumn is a fast moving train is one of it’s attractions. I anticipate her arrival with such gladness I hardly think about her departure leaving us cold in the wake.

Another of my favorite authors is Rick Bragg, though I believe he never mentions our state. Rick Bragg can almost make Alabama and Louisiana sound desirable, the way a new recipe in Southern Living can make plain old food more enticing. However, nothing he has said makes me want to move down there, not that we’ve been invited. I do like living on the edge – the edge between South and North – neither one, but the best of both. Do not misunderstand, I truly love Rick Bragg’s stories like I love my roses. It’s just the adjectives of Alabama are more like the thorns on the roses; but the rest of his stories, the people, are the vivid colors and fragrances of our rose beds. I do believe Mrs. Bragg raised a mighty fine writer who makes even hot muggy red clay of the South alive, rearing camaraderie and family like no other.

Nothing, however, about red clay, red tide football, nor red bulgy-eyed crawdads tempt me to abandon the sweet bluegrass of Kentucky. As I do not understand football, and being a basketball girl myself, I’m still holding out for a true blue and white rebound.  I do love a good basketball game as much as I hate politics. So do not try to debate me out of my comfort zone. Anyway, ‘my old Minnesota home’ or ‘my old Alabama home” just doesn’t sound right, does it?

As far as northward is concerned, I have been up through Illinois and I saw their rich black soil, so rich the flowers bloom neon colors. Their crop yields require grain bins on each end of the field and large wagons in the middle to dump the overfill. But I wouldn’t trade our warm brown Kentucky earth for losing my ears to the wind I felt coming off the lake in Chicago one March.

I do envy any state’s close proximity to fresh seafood. You may actually have me on that one. I think though, I’ll just wait for a good shipment of shrimp, back here in the shade of our maple trees. Few things in my humble opinion, rival a drive along the Bluegrass Parkway, or skimming over the water of Kentucky Lake.

I consider myself southern, if I had to pick one over the other.  But to me, the best locale descriptor is “I’m a Kentuckian” where we usually get to see a January morning poured out like marshmallow cream as far as the eye can see, and watch March flowers pop up thirty days later as we loft a kite in our short sleeves. Then, when a hoodie of heat and humidity slides over me, I hear someone from the deep south tell me how much worse it gets down there, and I catch my breath in the breeze that’s never more than a few days away. Spring and summer showers induce a radiance of fall color popping against a frosty October morning canvas. Never in Kentucky do the days drone into weeks because nothing is as changeable as Kentucky weather. Hardly ever a dull moment, and as they say, variety is the spice of life.

This time of year, (and what I really started out to say) I am starstruck by the deciduous display of gemstone colors. I’m sure pine trees are nice, when Alabama can get a wind singing through them, and pine needles do make great mulch (which still probably isn’t enough to get a lot out of red clay) but just give me the red, purple, gold and orange of maples and dogwoods, sourwood and sumac, poplars, sweetgums and hickories. While we do not claim to own the only beautiful trees in America, with nearly half our acreage in hardwood, it is a jaw-dropping, totally in-love experience to live a Kentucky autumn! 

Door Knockers

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“For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” I Corinthians 16:9

NKJV

 

Who knocks on doors any more? With little yapping house dogs, the popular door bell, and (rudely, yes) car horns, there doesn’t seem to be much door knocking lately. 

I was recently given a brass door knocker inscribed with my dad’s last name. As I began to count those of my paternal grandparents’ descendants who could possibly use it, the thought occurred to me how rarely we knock, literally and figuratively, on doors. Likewise, how often do we miss a knock on the door. The last time I knocked on a door I got sore knuckles and no answer.

 

Opportunity may come knocking; guests, maybe; hard times sure can come a knockin’ and the proverbial wolf at the door may have slipped through. Will I answer? When fear of the unknown halts my hand from opening, I’ll never know what stands on the other side. Open it anyway. It doesn’t mean I have to let it all in. Greet it bravely; hope for the best, embrace the potential to be the good someone needs. Perhaps we will be called outside our threshold  of comfort; or we may seize an opportunity to draw someone from their cold circumstances into our warmth. Be kind and if kindness demands a parting of the way, be kind still. When the wolf is at the door, be thankful for the smallest things and he will flee from you. When the hand of goodness is extended to you, grab it. Offer grace to the not so good, for you may see it again someday, transformed by your grace. 

Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” Hebrews 13: 1-2

 

I have, no doubt, left the door shut for fear it might be ‘hard times’, inconvenience, or an adversary.  I imagine Jesus was on the other side inviting me to go with Him on some mission of good. I probably felt pushed for time, or resources (aka money), or more than likely felt inadequate to meet the challenge. A less honorable, and probably more truthful excuse would be laziness, pure and simple. It takes effort to answer the door. But if we do invite opportunity in, she may require shuffling some furniture to accommodate her or she might have dirty feet.  I’m sure the images each of us see on the other side of our figurative door, are all different. Asking a neighbor to bible study; overseas mission work; prison ministry; cleaning house for someone disabled; watching a stressed momma’s kids while she takes a break, and the list is endless. I hope and pray we can all open when opportunity knocks, extend hospitality and in turn find the joy of working elbow to elbow with Christ; feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, clothing the poor, tending the sick and visiting jails.  (Matthew 25: 35-37)

As I hold the smooth shiny door knocker in my hand, I feel driven to find a home for it. Hopefully my musing the matter of doors will propel me toward opening my closed and careful world to be more like Jesus.

PESTILENCE

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Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Okay, that’s it! As much as I love nature, I’m afraid I may be losing my patience. Now they are IN the SHOWER! There was a time when I could ignore the little green nuisance. I stayed out of their way; their stink stayed out of mine. However, stink bugs have now taken first place on my list of ‘most unwanted’. Almost as numerous this year as the infamous tassel flies (hover flies), they are making me crazy! The odor is awful, and never have we seen so many at once! Over, under and throughout everything, these green, gray and brown pests are poised on doorknobs and thresholds, waiting to rush inside. One morning as I was about to raise the umbrella on the patio table, there were dozens of the crusted creatures clinging outside and inside the umbrella. As a scene from a scary movie, their effect broke the promise of a pleasant morning. Thus began my urge to rant.

In all the years past, I could avoid the raw stench if I just left them alone; not so now. Simply watering my outdoor plants stirs a stink. As I walk into my she-shed I start dodging the little devils, where they fly from their trenches in the windows. Just raising and lowering the windows is perilous – phew! The final straw? The vexatious visitors are eating the last of our tomatoes. If you love tomatoes like we do, you know how precious those last gems in autumn are! As I was looking for an unblemished tomato, a member of their colony flew right into my glasses; didn’t even phase it!

You may be a step ahead of me, and already know their real name and purpose if there is one. I really do not care what name they go by; I call them pestilence, pernicious, and nearing pandemic proportions. Okay, I couldn’t help myself from googling a bit about the little armored aggravation. Discussing this with my son, he pointed out there seem to be more varieties this year. Turns out, it’s true; the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) has only been seen in North America since 1998 and has been making its way westward since. Accidentally introduced from Asia, their population has exploded in the eastern United States. More serious than the pungent odor and unsightly gathering in the windows, is the crop damage caused by stink bugs. We queried possible explanations for the greener edge around our crops, but as it turns out this is indicative of stink bug damage. For now they are satisfied to eat into the outer edges of a field only, but as the population grows, who knows! Something about their piercing the seed pod prevents proper maturing and drying of the plant, referred to as the ‘stay green syndrome’. I’m indeed sick of them, and evidently our wasps and birds, too, have found them too noxious to develop a taste for the unusual urchins.

Stink bugs do have a natural enemy; a tiny samurai wasp, also introduced from Asia, known to parasitize the BMSB eggs. Yay nature! Yay wasp! Nature does make a way. I was thinking what an unusual name for a wasp less than a tenth of an inch in size. But evidently, bigger isn’t always better, and this is our only warrior against the enemy for now. So I am squishing, thumping and vacuuming every stink bug I can and holding my breath as I do. Wouldn’t we love to see a. natural enemy for the coronavirus! For that I am not holding my breath!

As for a stink bug purpose, I found none. Other than serving as a reminder of the pestilence sent upon Egypt one time in the form of frogs; indoors, outdoors, in bed and bath, frogs invaded the sanity of everyone and were intended to show God’s power and get the pharaoh’s attention. (Chapter eight of the book of Exodus) Well, this modern day malady has my attention! I am cheering for the Samurai, in hopes she will get rid of these stinkers and make life a little sweeter.

brown marmalade stink bug
brown marmorated stink bug where they are hiding in the folds of my patio umbrella (note the white sections of the antennae)

Chasing Butterflies – Labor Day Fun

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If satisfaction came as naturally to us as persistence does to nature, we’d never have a moment of discontent. Awaking to a nearly perfect Labor Day morning, I chose to observe the holiday with a little R&R and maybe something fun thrown in as well. My good husband was taking care of his breakfast and started mine too, so my goal already seemed obtainable. After our morning devotional outdoors, I was annoyed with myself for feeling a mild dissatisfaction growing. Maybe it was knowing a lot of folks had plans to make memorable use of the amazing weather and the last summer holiday. Feeling a tad “unplanned” I guess, and aware of Covid precautions, I could have become my own obstacle to a satisfying day. The only thing I had thought of to do on this warm clear day was kayaking, which requires first, making arrangements for getting to my kayak, and secondly, I would have to actually leave home. I didn’t feel that happening. I realized what I really wanted was to eat in my favorite restaurant (ten steps out the back door) and explore my own natural habitat for entertainment. As I write this in fact, the Goldfinches are putting on quite a show of song and dance.

The only hint at work I did, to assure we get a good nights sleep, was to ‘strip the bed’, as my mother used to say, to wash and hang the sheets out to dry. But for me, this is such a pleasurable thing, I’d feel a little guilty calling it work.

The main portion of the day has been spent in a four-acre plot left from a property split where we bought a small strip of land adjacent to our farm, which my husband has mowed and hired someone to clean out a densely grown property line. This left the unmown portion belonging to my sister and her husband where I thought I had spied a number of milkweed plants. Knowing the bushhog would soon invade, I began my hunt for the monarch and its host plant. To my delight, we discovered a butterfly haven! I learned to identify the milkweed plant and discovered several other beautiful plants as well. A tall wildflower with dark purple blooms, a lavender colored ageratum, also quite tall; and an airy pinkish bloom filling in the gaps between the purples, all grew around the milkweed, now in its seed pod stage. Some still had dried blooms drooping, but most were sporting their seed pods which in themselves are an eyeful of interesting detail!

Milkweed with seed pods

Probing into the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly and the dependence on its host plant I found an awesome story of persistence and patience. Eating and molting, webbing and waiting, metamorphosis in four stages, are all done in perfect timing. The result is an intricately decorated fluttering beauty who begins the process all over again until the early autumn generation makes its trek southward to Mexico where they are protected from cold until the journey back to its beloved milkweed where she lays her eggs of hope for another generation. Our son who is always up for outdoor exploration, helped me transplant a few of the milkweed plants to a location nearby that won’t be disturbed by spray nor mower next year. I want to give the returning ones next spring the satisfaction of finding their habitat much as they left it.

I was not disappointed with the butterfly population. True to the adage of the elusive butterfly, it was only after we sat still among them that we were visited with an explosion of color and activity. Bright orange, black and white Monarchs, Eastern Black Swallowtails and Silver Spotted Skippers were everywhere. Others as well which I didn’t take time to identify were flitting about enjoying the sunshine and nectar. The more we saw, the more beautiful they seemed to me.

We added to our day with takeout food brought to my patio (aka favorite restaurant); a short drive with our fur baby; and (shocking!) a trip to the garden by my husband who cut the okra for me and brought a nosegay of four different colored zinnias, dark purple, lavender, orange and red-orange. Only in nature do I like these vibrant colors together. Only in nature could I have found the satisfaction I was seeking this morning, as real contentment wrapped the evening in the sunset’s glow. We have been blessed with a world of sights and sounds to please the senses – right here in our backyards, our own natural habitat.

I hope your Labor Day was a delightful close of summer, safe and sound, and oh so satisfying!

I’ve Done It Again!

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Each year I promise myself and anyone concerned, not to make myself one with the outdoor world as Spring turns into Summer. Spring has a gravitational pull like few others, and only becomes stronger as summer dawns. I truly intend each year to divide my time wisely between outdoor activity and indoor obligations. Just as surely as the sun rises earlier and earlier, I become more and more negligent of my pledge. Actually, ‘derelict’ may be a more adequate description of my summer self. To make things worse this year, our backyard population of House Wrens is captivating.

Now, I’m fully aware of one’s reality being one’s perception, so if for some inexplicable reason you aren’t fascinated by all this nature activity or if you do not hear the call of the wild, perhaps you can relate to some other distraction keeping you from being all you think you should be. You will likely think I am loony (and you’d be partly correct) but it’s kind of that trash and treasure idea – it’s all in our perception. My reality, I’m not getting any work done and it’s nature’s fault!

Thinking the rainy days would be my redemption time to clean, or write, or even squeeze in some extra reading, was folly. I refuse, however, to accept all the blame. April showers brought us amazing May flowers. Obviously the birds and bees thought so too, for I have been like a kid at Christmas watching our feathered friends. I go from fascination to frustration as I watch and defend them. My most recent angst has been a Sparrow Hawk who seems to think our Purple Martins came from Brazil just for his or her benefit. Judging by the tenacity, I’d say it’s a she, with a family of her own to feed. That’s beside the point. Aren’t there enough rodents out and about to feed a host of hawks?! Seriously, I’m about a shotgun shell away from committing a crime! On Sunday morning we witnessed said hawk taking an adult Martin down, in our backyard, from her own apartment house. I cried. The dirty bird better be glad it was Sunday! But I digress; I was about to tell you about the wrens, wasn’t I.

Six feet from my sunroom window hangs what remains of a wind chime. It is fashioned like a retro coffeepot, with a birdhouse door and a tiny little awning over the perch. The wrens found it desirable so I cut off the chimes and let them have it. This year it became the chosen one; of the dummy nests created by Mr. Wren, Mrs. Wren chose this one for real. I’ve been sitting in the window, rain or shine, watching them finish, fend off and feed. They are adorable. Other than one seeming a bit smaller than the other, the male and female are identical. They, and another couple near my rose garden, have sung their little hearts out all spring and still sing about anything from “here’s another bug my dear” to “oh what a beautiful morning”! As I write, one of the coffeepot residents has landed on a shepherd’s hook, looks into my window and sings WITH bug in beak, as if to say, “be sure you mention how hard I work”! As one waits for the other to feed their babies, his little wings are in a constant flutter, allowing him to hover a moment for his turn to hand off the groceries. Then he is off on another cross-country mission (across the soybean field to the fence row) for another haul.

From early spring until now, we have enjoyed, besides the swallows and wrens, a daily visit from geese and an occasional Great Blue Heron to our pond, so I get to see them from the sunroom too. We have had gold, purple and house finches; Robins, Mockingbirds, Bob Whites, Red-winged Blackbirds, Bluejays, Cardinals, Hummingbirds and the prettiest little Chipping Sparrows. My favorite is the Eastern Bluebird who has rights to a box I check and protect the best I can. These are the backyard guests that keep me spellbound.

I hate the English house sparrow so much that I will make no further mention of its name. Starlings have been less of a pest this year, but still do some damage. And now the hawk. But isn’t that life? We each see and strive to meet our own needs. Why oh why can’t we all be the gentle melodious Bluebird who just takes care of his own, instead of the screaming predator who kills and maims members of its own class. I know, I know, it’s nature. Not even Mother Nature can please everyone every time. Still, given the pleasures versus the pain, I think she is quite a lovely lady, our Mother Nature!

As I close, a Goldfinch whistling “hey you, hey you”, has joined our wrens in the Crepe Myrtle that shades and protects the coffeepot house. They are completely at peace with each other and my heart swoons. It is nearly noon, and my floors are tracked with tennis shoe prints and dry grass clippings; the furniture is dusty and I have no meal planned. The lawn needs mowing today so there is a multitude of clover and dandelion blooms making happy bees out there. Blame it on the rain. Oh no! An EHS just attempted to enter the wren’s abode! Just as I ran to knock on the window to scare it off, a beautiful blaze of blue swooped down and did the job for me. After a few minutes of peering out her port hole, Mrs. Wren escapes to continue doing what she does, safe and sound. Bluebird, you are my hero!!

Thursdays used to be my productive days. I’m afraid I’ve done it again! Happy watching!

Broken Teacup Lids and Thoughts Of Mother’s Day

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The Thought Pixie brought along the Regret Rascal, arriving just in time to block the Sandman and so I began one of those nights. You know the kind, when every debate you had put away, comes back out to play. Good thoughts, bad thoughts, hopes, regrets; doesn’t matter because once they get on a roll, sleep just doesn’t have a chance. My solution is a cup of Sleepytime tea and a pen in my hand. You know, if you give those random thoughts free range, there’s no telling how long they will romp and stomp. I’ve found intentional thinking by reading or writing will either chase away, or corral them to a manageable level. Even though I am still awake, the effort seems to bring the brain to the point of resting sooner than lying there fighting demons in the dark. The writing usually brings me around to some point where most of those thoughts are connected. Such was this night, two days prior to Mother’s Day.

As if by an unseen force, my hand reached for Mama’s old Hallmark tea mug with a matching lid for steeping. It lives on a shelf, at eye level, where I can see it, but never use it for fear I’ll finish breaking what I started years ago when I dropped the lid. It broke in half, and is glued together with a dark scar, but I treasure it for a couple reasons. First just because it was Mama’s and it was given to her by one of her friends. I can just see her dipping the tea bag up and down in the hot water, then placing the cover to steep the tea and finally, placing the bag to dry on the upturned lid while she sipped her Earl Gray. Rarely ever did I visit her kitchen or den without seeing a dried tea bag where she left it. Secondly, the message written on the cup would probably have been her motto had you asked her. “Life’s truest happiness is found in the friendships we make along the way.” So, in anticipation of this Mother’s Day, I drank my herbal tea from the little blue friendship mug as I wrote to Mama.

Even good things can be broken. Good broken things can be repaired if we care enough to do so. God uses broken things; why shouldn’t we? Although they probably will never be the same, they may be even better – like this tea cup lid. It’s better because it has a new purpose: to remind me that broken is not always forever. It reminds me that people too, are breakable, repairable, and often better than new.

Hearts, relationships, a promise or teacup 
once broken, will leave a scar.
Will one see light shine through the cracks
Or will one see a mar?
Finding hope or substance to patch, stitch or mend
Will prove the thing to have been worthy
When love comes peeking in.


Thank you Mama for being my friend, and for teaching us how to find friendship in life. Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing women we call sisters, daughters, mothers and friends! Trisha

LIGHTED PATHWAYS

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Second in OCEAN VIEW series

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

The only features of our “pet friendly” accommodations made known to me, prior to arriving, was the $200 fee. I left home with questions, like, would he be welcome on the beach? Would there be a pet check-in to present his required vaccination status? Most importantly, would we have a place to take our morning walks? The answers turned out to be yes, no, and yes, in that order. Sadly, even though dogs were allowed on the beach, I never made time to show Auggie the ocean; maybe another time. As for the check-in, no human interaction occurred other than the many oohs and aahs and “may we pet him” offers. The morning and evening walks were a dream come true! Soft sandy paths connecting the houses, streets, restaurants and the beach, were wrapped with cute little picket fences every step of the way. Best of all were the lights! Perfectly placed along and low on the fences, at just the right level to illuminate our path, were automatic lights. Everywhere. We never had to walk in the dark, nor search for light switches. No flashlight necessary; no effort on my part, the light was always on time and enduring. Not unlike God’s word, right? May I make a couple more comparisons? Walk with Auggie and me as we continue to see similarities between our path’s golden glow and God’s word.

I wish I’d taken a picture of our walking path after dark, to show how our steps were not darkened by the many shadows cast by trees and buildings which stood between us and overhead street lights. This was due to the shin-high lamps illuminating our path. I was reminded of Psalm 119:133 “Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me.” Truly our path was not overshadowed. I didn’t trip, and Auggie wasn’t startled; at least not in the dark. Only once, during daylight, did our path encounter a bully who had escaped from its owner. But that’s another story, and a comical one at that.

Path to the beach at sunset

Some well-intended light sources can be glaring, or blinding, like headlights on high-beam or a porch light so bright it ruins the ambience. These pathway lamps had just the right glow – easy on the eyes and pleasantly guiding the way. Again in Psalm 119, “Your word is very pure; therefore your servant loves it.” (verse 140) Here again we see the likeness between our pathway lamps and God’s word. We open it and read of the love put into showing us the way as God Himself breathed the inspired word for our benefit. It is not meant to be used as a weapon to battle each other, but to bring light to a world darkened by the work of satan. Many times Jesus pointed out how the Pharisees used the law to entrap and segregate. But Jesus came bringing life, “and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4) A light to our path.

One other helpful feature I noticed about our pathway lamps was the appropriate spacing. This way the whole path is well lit, eliminating spot lighting with gaps. We could walk confidently, knowing what was ahead. What a comfort on unfamiliar ground! In Psalm 119:50 the writer, speaking of God’s word, said “This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life.”

It’s a beautiful thing how the Word was with God, and, looking down on the darkness of this world, became flesh, suffering the darkness Himself, to become the light that would save the world. And returning to Heaven, He left us the light of His word to guide us home too; light that is readily available, expertly placed, pure and easy to see, that we may walk confidently. Even under afflictions, through dark times, and in unfamiliar territory, His light comforts, right on time, enduring forever.

Ocean View

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There’s a pleasant sound when the earth is in motion, when the waves come ashore from the ocean.

We’ve just returned from a trip to Seaside, Florida, my husband and I, where we stood in the soft white sand and viewed those astounding color bands from crystal clear over our feet, to the deep blue where the ocean and sky meet. All those bands of aqua, green, and blue, are my favorite colors, but especially the brilliant sweep just before the horizon’s edge, like the blue from spring’s bluebird. I don’t know if it was merely getting to see the ocean again, or the thrill of witnessing my husband’s first view of the Gulf, but whatever it was, it trickled from my eyes and made me clap my hands. “The vastness of it…” was all we could utter for a while.

From the moment we arrived at our cottage called “Waves”, to our trip’s goodbye at sunset, I was thrust into a sea of beauty, both actual and metaphoric. Our upmost emotion as we stood in the unending waves was certainly gratitude; for a safe arrival, and for the beauty our eyes beheld.

I kept thinking of God’s question to Job in chapter 38. “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:…Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band; when I fixed My limit for it and set bars and doors; when I said, This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop!” (verses 1, 8-11) It is good to feel so small; to know there is a grand and awesome presence more than our human strength and frailties. How humbling to know the God who created a force so great it grinds rock and shells into powder, yet so gentle children can splash at its edge; a pure wonder! But a wonder to be respected for sure, and not just a little caution should be taken while enjoying even the gentler side of this great body of water.

While my husband’s choice kept him knee deep distance from shore, I never can resist getting all in. Up to my chin in waves, my toes bouncing, touching the familiar feel of sand, I remembered the fisherman Peter. Immediately I knew we have been too hard on him, accusing him of little faith, though Jesus had a right to say so of His disciple. But we? Not so much! Peter at least had the faith to take a step, a leap of faith so to speak, out of the boat into the angry sea. It wasn’t a beautiful bright day with folks watching, floatation devices in hand. It was a stormy night where the only other companions were crying out in fear. It wasn’t chin deep, but “in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves” that Peter professed to his Lord, “Lord if it is you…” Command me. I will come. And he stepped right out onto the rolling crashing waves, knowing it was Jesus Who called “Come”. Now, being human, he did take his eyes off Jesus and did begin to sink, and Jesus did save him. But I’m here to tell you, as I met my waves eye to eye, I could not say I would have stepped out of Peter’s boat. Just knowing my fear of approaching people with the gospel, I cannot say I would answer so boldly the call Peter heard. You can read about it in Matthew 14:22-33.

The call to become a Christian is one we hear through His Word. I answered by being baptized in a swimming pool, the nearest body of water at the time. I still get distracted and take my eyes off Jesus . I still start to sink. He still saves. I am thankful for Peter’s example, one of stepping out in faith in the first place. Whatever we feel God is calling us to do, let us echo the faith Peter demonstrated as he stepped out of the boat, and let us keep our eyes on Jesus.

The colors, the sounds, the vastness of it all, are part of what keep us going back to the ocean. Each time I’ve been I come away with new inspiration for life, from life. This is the first in a series of “Ocean View” I have washing around in my head. I hope you’ll join me as we discover little treasures on the beach with an ocean view. Trisha

Sept 22, 2022 Seaside, FL

Dear Mama

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Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come. …Her children rise up and call her blessed;” Proverbs 31:25, 28a NKJV

September 16 is a nice time of year; nicer because it’s the birthday of my mother. Now, my sister always made Mama proud, and pleased her in so many meaningful ways. Our little brother had his own unique way of being dear to her heart. But for some mother-ish reason, Mama liked my words, written. So, all I’ve ever done that seemed to me, to honor her was write, for her, on her special day. Somehow it does seem better than the scorched toast and dry scrambled eggs with a bud vase holding a chigger weed or clover bloom, which in my youth I’d be serving for her today, on a tray. I can imagine the mess she had to clean up after I got it done. I share the words in her honor, and because she would want me to.

Dear Mama

If Mamas could sell every tear they cried

And if they were paid for how hard they tried;

If happiness really, could be bought

And children learned every lesson Mom taught;

There’s no end to how happy and smart I’d be,

Because you’d have bought them just for me!

You’d have spent the tear treasures on everyone else,

And, perhaps, some SAS shoes for yourself!

For your big loving heart would always know

Where needs were calling, and your sore feet would go. 

You would be 91 today and I am celebrating your life; recalling the beauty of your heart in spite of the pain. Thanking God with a smile on my face for His grace in letting me be yours. 

A grateful daughter, Trisha                                    9/16/22

Daddy’s Little Ice Cream Buckets: My final “Daddy Story”

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As Daddy felt his time slowly pulling into the station, he asked me to start writing down his memories and we called them our “Daddy Stories”. I did write, and had printed into a booklet for him, 15 stories most of which were his. This was after his sight had failed but in time for him to hear someone else read back his memories to him and I suppose, to feel like he would not be forgotten. The following I write today, to add to the end of my Daddy Stories, as I watch another garden season ride by.

Near the end of August the garden, like our own aging, grows old, mature, less productive in some ways, more so in others. There is for me, the temptation to begin clearing the disorganized rows again as the picking and canning slows, but the garden itself is still teeming with life. About this time I also shake my head and wonder how those little seeds and sprouts in so short a time, became all this wilderness of blooms among crowded lanes of overgrown vines; and how grass and weeds appear overnight. I love how the drooping sunflower heads draw a crowd of goldfinches and intricately designed butterflies flutter throughout the zinnia, okra and purple hull pea blossoms. This is also a time of reflection; on the ones who planted, picked and preserved gardens before me, teaching me the joy of the process. I wonder how many times I’ll get to do it all over again, and I’m glad I do not know.

For the last couple decades of my daddy’s life we had made amends and grown closer. In my memory that nearness began to grow out of our shared interest in gardening. Sometimes on sunny afternoons, I would drive the half hour or so to his farm to watch his hummingbirds and admire his garden. As life goes, he eventually grew too old to do the work himself and he and his wife, Ms. Wanda, moved to our town of Murray, Kentucky. Here, he was able to drive out often to see my gardens, give his much needed advice, and take an occasional basket of beans or peas home to break and shell for me. When I returned the visits to pick up the readied beans or peas, he had them packed into round plastic gallon pails he called his ‘little ice cream buckets”. He would say, “now don’t even think about returning that little bucket; I’ve got a dozen of ‘em”.  But I would bring them back filled with okra, hot peppers and tomatoes for their enjoyment, and get to hear another “Daddy Story”. Over the years, I did keep a few (a smarter person would have kept many) of the pails with lids, which proved to be just about the most useful thing you can own, next to a pocket knife.

I do not truly believe there is a lot of difference in taste from one vanilla ice cream to another. As long as it’s not one of those ‘low carb’ or ‘no sugar added’ or some such concoction pretending to be good ice cream, they’re all pretty much the same to me. But daddy always, and I mean always, bought the “Dippin’ Kind” or, if that wasn’t available, Prairie Farms, which interestingly enough, also had to be in a round plastic pail. Once during the Covid isolation I called from Kroger reporting I could not find a plastic pail of vanilla ice cream, so was there another brand I could bring, to which he said, “No, I think they’ll have it over here at Food Giant”. Daddy did not have a particularly scrutinizing taste, but he did grow up in a time when everything that could possibly be reused, did. I am 100 percent sure he bought the Dippin’ Kind strictly for the plastic pail. There’s no telling how many uses we have found for those little buckets. 

I am down to only one of his little ice cream buckets with a lid, because  I’ve “used the far out of ‘em” as he’d say. As I washed it today, I was overtaken by emotion in thinking of the end of good things; like multipurpose little plastic pails, old men with softened hearts that want to be forgiven, and time…time for hugs and forgiveness. 

We learn as we go; it is the only way. While my amazing mother instilled in me the love for growing flowers and the satisfaction of a pantry lined with gleaming jars of canned tomatoes, beans, pickles, jellies and relishes, it was daddy’s love of growing and tending the garden, which I seem to have inherited as well. From them both, however, I learned to put the past behind, to fill my pails with love, close the lid on bad memories and plant the good ones; to be at peace. 

As long as God thinks I need to, and daddy’s little plastic bucket lasts, I’ll keep wagging it and my grandpa’s half-bushel basket to the garden to watch in amazement the whole God-inspired process of decaying seeds becoming fabulous food.  I’ll keep picking pails of peppers and okra, cucumbers and tomatoes, and pouring up shelled peas to keep for freezing and dropping broken green beans into it to guesstimate a full canner. 

Satan plants weeds from bad memories in effort to tarnish and destroy and make us bitter. I’m going to keep carrying those in my little plastic bucket straight to the garbage; then wash and rinse the bucket to hold the good scraps I take to the compost can, where they will eventually give rise to new generations of beauty. 

Life can leave you buckets of blessings and pails of problems for which we each will decide a purpose, and whether or not to make good use of them. I’ve filled my buckets hundreds of times over with useful as well as useless stuff; soapy water and a good scrap of terrycloth towel, cut flowers, fishing worms, good veggies and bad veggies, canning lids and rings, and packets of seed in the freezer to plant another year; scraps of iron and chain and rocks I‘ll never use; popcorn, pecans and grilling supplies; and I’m sure that doesn’t even get near the number of uses Daddy found for his ice cream buckets. I treasure the ‘late summer garden’ time of his life when he was less productive in some things and more so in others, with stories to tell, and little ice cream buckets of wisdom and love to share with his children.

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Bunny Chase

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Enjoying the rain from our kitchen window with my first cup of Portland Blend this morning, my view shifted suddenly from the serene stillness to a lively chase. Already immersed in the beauty of a gentle rain which has been absent from our west Kentucky summer, I was nearly startled by the activity. Not the usual one resident rabbit, but two bunnies emerged from my garden, jumping at each other’s face, then racing around the first crepe myrtle, and continued their dance and chase around the next five crepe myrtles! One would chase the other around the tree, then meeting to begin hopping and prancing, sometimes fist bumping their front paws and then repeat the activity with the next tree. As the leader circled the sixth tree, it disappeared into the soybeans, leaving a bewildered bunny to hop slowly, hesitatingly, back toward the garden shed. I felt a little sorry for the kid, and wondered if they’d ever see each other again.

Life can be a total rabbit chase! I wonder if my maniacal gardening appears to others like the chase I had just watched, around and around and on to the next job in line. We hear of chasing a rabbit down a hole, which again, I’m prone to do, especially if I’m trying to relay some incident. Some notion enters my brain as another is being explained and off I go. And then there’s that great big expanse of a soybean field lying across the lives of our children, friends, work families and so forth. Their paths divert in some direction other than ours and it’s a toss up as to whether they’ll cross again, or lead off in still further mazes. It’s just life.

I hope we jump and fist bump and dance in circles and run our races together for as long as we’re given. Life can be terrific that way; and sad that way.

In my gratitude for the long awaited and much needed rain, I’m also sorry for those who are dealing with too much of it and the rolling rivers. Thankful for the break in temperatures these last couple days, we brace for the coming week of horrid heat. I’m glad I got to see the antics of the rabbits this morning and was reminded to be thankful for our people as well as reminded to stop and play now and then. The chase can be tiring, so remember to rest mentally and emotionally as well as (and probably more importantly than) the physical rests.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭46:10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Fake Lakes

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“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)

Few things are as inspiring as young children whose efforts to try on life are just down right funny and at the same time, may slap a helping of practical onto our pretense. Several such ‘little’ inspirations were provided lately, one being a delightful visit from my niece Sara and her preschool boys. To begin with, as if their big blue eyes and chubby cheeks weren’t adorable enough, they came in proclaiming just how happy I must be for them to be here! Yes, I was, actually, and so why, pray tell, do we adults often act almost apologetic for showing up at someone’s door? It was so heart-warming to know they fully expected me to be happy.

As with every single little person who has ever been in our house, these boys too, discovered the joy of our Smurf Ahoy game. Now, in case you’ve never seen one, its container is a 12 inch square cardboard box about six inches deep, swimming pool-blue inside, and a cardboard ship is balanced over this blue “ocean”. The object is to see how many smurfs you can place on the ship without tipping it over and spilling the smurfs into the “water”.  As you might imagine, two and three year olds think it’s much funnier when the objectives are ‘how fast can I tip the boat’, and ‘how loudly can I call out the color on the spinner’? Totally unconcerned with any status of being winner, they simply thrust themselves into it, often literally.  Jameson, the younger lad, decided to “get in the lake” himself and proceeded to squat over the box. Stopping him just in time, we explained it was only a pretend, or fake lake. As they continued spinning the little arrow for another smurf move, my mind was spinning about fake lakes, and the precious lens of honesty through which children view the world. As I picked up the fake apple Jameson had been carrying around from my kitchen bowl of wax fruit, I felt kind of bad, you know, like – are these children going to decide this is a house of fake; a game with fake water,  a beautiful apple you can’t eat, and plastic grapes that disappoint as well? Lord, help me be a transparent person with real ears for listening; real vision for seeing needs; real boldness to speak truth, all wrapped in real love. Never let me lose my real zeal for making ‘joy’ a genuine full-to-the-brim lake splashing with praise.

In so many ways we grow out of thrusting ourselves into the fun of life, and choose instead, the fake lakes where you’re safely neat and dry, concerned with appearance and refinement, though it may be a veneer to hide our inner child. Oh, I get it – manners are important and it is necessary we learn to use a filter so as not to offend. These are valuable issues that should come with maturity. But children show us what we are missing when we over extend these traits and cast a shadow over the richness of excitement for life. One example I’ll never forget is a side-by-side ride about a decade ago, with great nieces Katja and Izzy and our side-kick Ryan. Ready for the end of a busy fun (but long) day, I was concerned with getting everyone safely back to the house; but not Katja! “Wow, Aunt Trisha, look at that sunset!” If not for her unending zeal I’d have missed that one. I take for granted the shared appreciation of sunsets and butterfly kisses, instead of proclaiming aloud the joy in case someone missed it. (Thank you Janette DeWitt for being a sunset sharer.)

Back to the ‘who-cares-who-wins’ attitude so important to having fun, I got to watch a T-ball game this summer where three year old Jack, another great nephew, was playing. After 199 times of telling me he wanted to go to my ‘howwss’ it was his turn to run the bases. As soon as he crossed home plate, he turned, pointing to me through the fence, and yelled, “I wanna go to your howwss!” My heart soared! Home run! May we all be so persistent in letting others know, including God, how much we love spending time with them. “Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;” (Psalm 70:4)

Little kids are the ones who reward you with exploring all around your house in wonder. We adults are way too cool, scarcely letting our eyes wander, afraid to actually show genuine interest; and after all your hard work to make it interesting! I know, manners and all that. Next time I visit though, I’m going to ooh and aah the way I really feel anyway. (smile) One day when Ryan DeWitt was about five, he asked to hear my antique Victrola play a record. Seems like it was “How Do You Talk to an Angel?” Anyway, as the speakers scratched out a tune, little Ryan looked up at me and the blue-eyed gent asked me if I’d like to dance. LIKE??? Oh my stars, he made my day!! You never know who may just be teetering between up or down, and your invitation to dance could make all the difference. Go ahead and ask, or pick a dandelion, or hold their hand. Make their day.

The children have nailed it with food too.  I’m always forgetting to offer the ice cream, or I leave the deviled eggs in the refrigerator, and guests are so polite they’d rather do without than say a word. Kids are great. They just say, “hey, you got any cookies?” and if you don’t, it’s no big deal, they just check for the next best thing, like “how about ‘nabanas’ or “pasghetti” as my nephew’s little boy, Grayson, used to ask. Always have bananas, and chocolate chip cookies on hand so you can look smart. Especially if a couple weeks earlier you served tossed salad to a group of girlfriends and forgot to set out the dressings until everyone was eating and your sister asked for them. (;

When great niece Izzy was at the ‘fort-under-the-dining-table’ age, she and our neighbor’s little girl were dragging quilts through the house to make their hide-out. One particular quilt is reversible, and I suppose Izzy had just never noticed the pink floral side to the quilt that covered her in the guest bed. Even in her excitement of building their cotton covered table fort, she suddenly stopped mid-stride, and looking down onto the never before seen side of her quilt, she exclaimed, “Oh Aunt Trisha, that is so pretty!” Do I take time to stop amid my busy task-filled days to give an honest compliment to someone’s accomplishments? (No, I didn’t make the quilt; it’s old, and I sure wish whoever did make it could have heard the totally honest praise!) Kids don’t mind that you’ll infer they do not have a pink floral quilt, or a blouse as pretty as yours. They just pile on the praise when they notice, and want to show appreciation. How many times I pass up the pause in stride to add a little sweetness to someones day!

Then there’s the departure. We say something like “well, I’d better get going now” or “I’ve hindered you long enough” as if our presence could be a problem or something. Not little kids! They make sure you know how much they like being there by flat out refusing to leave with mom. “No! I wanna stay” accompanied by tears, erases any question you may have had about your guests feeling at home. If however, they’ve had enough and want to go, they just say so, without pretense. And this day, Sara’s older child, Colt, walked up to my husband’s recliner, and leaning toward him, asked “do you wanna hug me bye?” Mercy, how sweet can they be? Open, honest, forward – no fake stuff there. I’ve said for several years that life’s too short to be fake. The littles in my life are living proof. Perhaps here is a compromise between the two departure style: Well, I’ve loved our time here together, but we both have grown-up stuff to get done, so until our next meeting…

God offers living water, never fake, which nourishes our souls all day long.  Drink deeply and do as He does – never offer fake lakes. 

“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Jesus, in Matthew 18:3)

Planting With Prayer and Patience

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Good Monday morning to you! To quote the lion in The Wizard of Oz, “Unusual wedder we’re havin’ ain’t it?” While it is a bit chilly for me, the recent showers were wonderful. As I walked out to my garden yesterday I thought of a new piece patched into a quilt. Rich deep brown with green stripes of leaflets and spikes in contrast. Only two days ago I was murmuring and doubtful. Harsh dry winds in the week following my planting plus what I feared might have been only partially prepared soil, gave me concern and I was already wondering if I had saved enough seed to replant.

Oh ye of little faith! God’s masterful plan is unfolding once again in the germination and new growth of another garden, and as Audrey Hepburn said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”. (Still one of my favorite quotes.) Times like this remind us of the instruction from our Lord Jesus Christ to go out there and plant the seed of His Word. Don’t worry if you have enough, nor if the condition of hearts is ready, nor about the opposing winds of worldliness. Ill winds, infertile hearts and giving us enough – those are God’s job and He’s been taking care of it for generations. His plan is good. He said plant, pray and wait. He is the maker; He gives the increase. (Ecclesiastes 11:4-5)

There is no limit to tomorrow’s harvest of goodness from one child taught, one good deed done or one seed of encouragement.

As youngsters, many of us learned Hebrews chapter 11 as the “hall of faith”. The first verse defines ‘faith’ as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen”. Whatever we do in teaching, encouraging or deeds for others, we must do so believing in tomorrow and the power of God to make it good.

Mothers’ Day – For All Women

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“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her own works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:30-31, NKJV)

As Mother’s Day approached, I was busily tending flower beds and lawn on Thursday, watching newly planted tomatoes and peppers gain strength while green onions emerged from the brown earth. Growing things is what many women do best; tomatoes, love and faith to name a few. My mind was spinning a blog post in honor of all the fascinating moms and their accomplishments, especially the tiny important ones like mastering french braids and gluten free recipes, delivering Girl Scout cookies, baiting fishing hooks, reading for the hundredth time a Little Golden Book and teaching little hands to fold in prayer. (Planting the important things.)

Before I could get to the blogging, tragedy struck the lives of some beautiful mothers I know, and my eagerness was deflated by sorrow and pain for them and their families. As I do so often, I began to name the many women who have had to say goodbye for now to a son or daughter, too soon. My prayers are for these amazing women to be carried when their strength fails in their time of grief; that all the love and creativity they have shown to others will be gathered in manifold volumes and returned to encourage, strengthen and assure them of their great value, and ability to survive. They are strong women, and my Lord is even stronger than all our strengths. Their courage began to nudge me, as I thought of them, to go on with a Mother’s Day message, reminding all women with or without children, how you inspire, create and nourish the earth every single day.

I thought of all the new plants I have growing in my yard all because of a friend, a mom herself, who loves to grow things. I have a little holly I call Dana Holly, because Dana Bazzell discovered it growing where it would not have survived, transplanted it and gave it to me. I also have a Dana pine, a Dana beauty berry, and a Dana buckeye, all for the same reason. Yes, men can do this too if they have a green thumb, but not while they tend to their spouses, children, homes, careers and church activities – with time left for travel, Facebook and cats. Actually, I can’t think of a single woman who isn’t a ‘mom’ to something – dog moms, cat moms, flower moms, all growing beautiful living things and loving the productivity of their hearts and hands. Teachers who create thinkers; writers who produce trips for our imaginations; artists who decorate our world; musicians who put the beat in our hearts and seamstresses who can take a flat piece of cloth and create a girl’s fanciest dream, are all moms of life.

I thank God daily that I get to be Chad’s and Stephanie’s mother. I thank God also for the incredibly strong mother I was blessed to call Mama, and for the women who influenced her, one of whom was my great aunt, Bertie Wilkins Frisby. She was a registered nurse who had no children of her own, but instilled in others a respect for education, faith and family. Knowing she was a nurse, who had lived with Type I diabetes, and had cared for an elderly relative even as her own sight was failing, I felt her influence reaching me as well. We can all recall those pillars of our communities, the sources of strength and wisdom who planted in us a will to keep on keeping on, even when – and maybe especially when – the rose petals fall too soon.

God bless you, my sisters of womanhood, as you plant, water and feed. May God give you the increase you desire. Blessed Mothers’ Day to you. Trisha

In memory of Betty L. Jackson

A Little Birdie Told Me

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Happy soggy Monday (again!) to you. Yesterday was a most perfect day with warm breezes and bright sunshine, perhaps our first this year. Isn’t it strange what a few hours can do to not only the weather, but our moods as well? As I was racing to complete my Monday “must-do” list in hopes of reaching the flower bed before the rain, I was about to start complaining over this weather of ours. We’d already had a light morning mist, but the breeze was mild and I had visions of easy picking – those weeds would just pop right out for me if – IF – I could just get out there before it rained any more. Ha! Not today. And the farmers would say, “flower beds? Seriously? Try making a living in this rain!” I know; I’m married to one.

Scowling toward the darkening window of rain drops, I noticed a beautiful Ruby-throated sipping at our Yoshino cherry tree, our first hummingbird of the year! Seemingly oblivious to the clouds and rain, he was enjoying the provision of sweet nectar in nature. The world was right again for me – Spring is going to happen regardless of the timing, and certainly without regard to my mood! From there I moved to another window, and lo and behold, our dogwood had unfolded lovely little red petals just to cheer the day. I was reminded of rebirth, new growth, resurrection. And so many blessings!

Just yesterday the back yard was filled with songbirds; bluebirds swooping from tree limbs to clothesline; black shiny martins soaring from their apartments to the electrical lines, and strawberry heads of finches bobbing and darting from limb to lawn. The combined chorus of all seemed to be singing the praises of their Maker. Green wheat growing alongside our lawn was rippling in the breeze like ocean waves and as I closed my eyes, the breeze gently rocked my hammock. I felt deeply ashamed of recent moodiness over missed vacations, knowing many desired destinations will never be realized. To be honest, I feel I couldn’t be away from all this anyway – awakening, spring time, rebirth – I don’t want to miss a thing!

Previous years’ hard work has yielded much new growth of fresh green leaves, tender shoots of hostas, iris and peonies, to name a few, just waiting for their bloom time when they will lift faces upward and give honor to their Creator. With so much energy emerging all around, how can I allow anything to put me down? Silly me, look at the lilies of the field, the raven, all so cared for by God and thriving with no concern for themselves at all! (Luke 12:24) “Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?”

Bloom where you’re planted. Seek nurture in nature. Be anxious for nothing, (Philippians 4:6). God is good, all the time.

The Rifle Shell

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“This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:12-13

In this first hour of March 23, 2022, I find no sleep so I may as well write. It would be my brother’s sixtieth birthday, the first since his passing. I suppose I will always feel protective of his memory just as I feel I should have been protective of him in childhood. I’ve written the following in observation of his birthday, and in honor of his proudest moments. If it sounds sad, it’s because I am sad he left so soon. Life can be sad, but life is still good, and he’d be the one to say, “Oh well…”.

THE RIFLE SHELL

A VFW gun salute shakes the silence of the air,

and over the flag covered casket is said a final prayer.

Lil’ Brother, a dad, a friend laid to rest

wearing his dress blues, the sun in the west.

Memories fill our hearts and flood our eyes

as the shots ring toward the cold blue sky.

A brass shell casing picked up from the ground

has a design inside where six points can be found.

I see one point for the courage to say “I will”

and one for the sacrifice because the risk is real.

One point stands for loyalty to country and brother,

and one for humility, heroes they claim, is someone other.

One point is for pain, in body and mind

as they endure training and leave home behind.

The last point, for loneliness, though in a sea of the same –

where all wear proudly a common name –

yet all left all familiar to them alone. And now once again he travels on.

Heroes don’t always die in active duty. They may bring home a scarred heart and torn life they die trying to paste back together again. Still others survive to live out a full and beautiful life, and become someone else’s hero. Thank you to Mark and all service men and women for your courage, sacrifice and loyalty to country and each other. I am sorry for the pain and loneliness you felt, and the humility with which you carried it all. Even though Mark isn’t here, I couldn’t let his “big six-o” go by without a special “Happy Birthday”. Love, Sis

CASTING

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“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” I Peter 5:6-7 (NKJV)

Recently I saw a good example of casting your care upon the Lord versus dangling it into the water, near the bank and watching for a nibble of concern. To set the scene for you, it was the first day of March, a beautiful breezy welcome from winter’s stuffy hold.  I had the pleasure of being amused all afternoon by an excited six year old, great nephew Grayson. Of the day’s many activities, his favorite at my house is “findin’ worms”.  Following his frenzied search for earth worms, and swinging a Mason jar of  his treasures by the wire handle, he asked, “now what?” I suggested we could put them back in the ground to live in the garden. Looking up at me with one eye winking at the sun, he sheepishly said, “Well I guess we could see if some fish want to eat them”.  I’ve never had that line used on me before! Unfortunately, I only had available to us my old cane pole with a short line, a weight and a rusty hook, as well as a crappie pole, with little more line and a bobber. With a six year old’s enthusiasm and confidence, this pitiful assortment seemed enough. So off we went to the pond, bait and poles in hand.

Once we had positioned ourselves on the pond bank and he dug a “fat juicy one” out of the jar, I speared it onto the hook. He exclaimed “I’m gonna cast it out there in the water now!” Cast? With limited line and no rod and reel. Explaining the need to have a reel to ‘cast’ was a waste of breath, for he had already determined this was the only way to fish. As I ducked and dodged the flying hook again and again, Grayson cast with abandon and trusted he would any minute pull in a big bass. Bait on, a whip of his tiny wrist, and optimism was cast without doubt. I suspected his real goal was to use up all his newly acquired bait. My method was to slowly bring the line behind me, often snagging my bait in the brush, then gingerly toss it out as far as my short line would allow me to drop the baited hook while I explained all the reasons why we shouldn’t expect a bite on a breezy day before spring. Is this how I cast my cares on the Lord? Do I cautiously offer a short line I can keep an eye on, snagged in worry, while explaining all the ways it won’t work?

Lord, let me cast like a six year old! Just fling it out there, too fast to snag it with other worldly cares and with weighted hope, expect to reel in a big blessing!  No wonder the Lord said we’d need to become like little children! Trusting, enthusiastic and hopeful – the examples I need for casting my line before the Lord, knowing he will take the bait of cares and replace them with peace.

“Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven’.”  Matthew 18:2-3 (NKJV)

Reshaping Through Our Seasons

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Once again a layer of ice has crystalized our countryside in Western Kentucky, though thankfully, it hasn’t paralyzed us as the 2009 ice storm did. Here at home we didn’t even lose electrical power, so we had the privilege of admiring the unbelievable sparkle of the outdoor world from a warm window, where I watched the nearby Hawthorne tree display colors as a crystal prism. Only the sun and the ice compose this dazzling artwork. Snapping pictures for an hour has not begun to capture the reality of what the eye beheld yesterday morning. My eyes, however, remained shifted away from the center of our backyard, where not all was beauty.
There in the backyard is a Southern Magnolia tree I love because it was given me by my brother 12 years ago. Due to it’s size, the weight of accumulated ice was more than it could bear and many limbs lay on the ground, splintered ends pointing skyward. As I lamented my heartbreak to my family, we talked about how insignificant one tree is in comparison to the devastating losses so many have suffered lately. It still hurts; it will never have the beautiful shape it was before the storm.
Thoughts emerged of life storms, splintered hearts and hope, and the healing we long for after the storm.
Hearts scarred and broken from abuse and abandonment will awaken each day and be reshaped by not only the past but by each encounter and effort to recover and repair. Broken relationships leave gaping wounds, and when scars form, room is made for building new and reshaping old relationships. I believe none of this happens without design by the creator God, Who set the life seasons in motion, planning for scars to give rise to new growth; strength in healing from brokenness; beauty from barren canvases where we allow the master artist to create in us renewed hope and revived spirit. (Psalm 51:10)
Just as there is beauty in the crystalized world outside my window even as the ice in its natural character does damage; and just as there is hope for my Magnolia to live on with its scars producing new growth and certainly new shape, we also can continue to be part of new growth and reshaping for others and ourselves after life’s storms. We are helpless to stop these changes of our seasons, but God is able to bring out of those seasons the beauty within us because it was He Who put it there in the first place. “It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves” Psalm 100:3. Give yourself the gift of allowing God through His word, to revive and reshape you after the storms of your seasons. “Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” (Isaiah 58:8)

Winter ‘Dull-drums’

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The scul-uff, scul-uff, scul-uff of my house shoes is getting on my nerves, as is the beyond dry condition of my skin and hair. I am dulled by naps and headaches and ridiculous television shows, and so tired of trying to focus my eyes for anything useful. Winter doldrums are not my normal; but then what has been normal for the past couple years? Now that I am feeling ornery enough to complain, I do see light at the end of the tunnel. The Covid ‘fog’ is lifting; also the aura that surrounds the loss of a loved one is finding its place a few paces away from the immediate needs of everyday living. And for every complaint I have just uttered, I enjoy a dozen blessings. So the good does not nullify the bad, it just makes it easier to bear. The blessings do not blind us to the ills; the ills illuminate the blessings.

I rise up in the morning, thanking God the sunrise did not get lost; that I can see, and walk and hear, and feel the freezing air and the warm house. I thank God for everything from hot coffee to holly berries. I thank Him for the time we have had with loved ones; brief or extended, the time is a gift. I’ve spoken gratitude for modern medicine and vaccine and those who act out of compassion, or just passion, to accomplish better lives for us all. From dear friends to my fur baby, from my husband to my children to the sister my husband loves to taunt, our people are a blessing!

I complained this morning about a hawk who has just about left us without song birds, and watching those birds was my favorite winter pastime. A couple hours later a beautiful pair of cardinals visited the bird feeder. What a gift! I wouldn’t have appreciated this treat quite as much if not for the gap of time our feeders have sat lonely.

When your heart aches, or your earth quakes, consider the opposite. Likely there is something in contrast for which you have been thankful; something to hope for and plan simply because you are alive. The lonely times are real, and I hope brief. Soon life rekindles and revisits and the birds will return to the feeder.

“ Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26 NKJV)

Taking Down The Tree – In Retrospect

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January 22, 2022:

First, a very happy birthday today to my 12 year old niece Isabella Claire, who has been a ray of sunshine in my life! The sun as well, is a beautiful gift from God today and I’m looking to it to continue healing. I am tired of feeling and looking like a slug; sick of taking care of only our household and not being able to reach out to others. Most thankful today for warm homes, drive-thru windows, and good medicine, I hope the Covid fog is about to lift.

The day I wrote the following was a good day, with a cherished visit from my brother’s daughter Sara and her toddlers as well as my sister and her young grandsons. The kids laughed and ran about so cute, having a ball, and the three of us, aunts and niece, had a good and much needed visit. The following day brought a new sadness to our family and one through which I am still processing via pen and paper. The events of the week hindered my tree-taking-down until the following Saturday afternoon; but the rest of my holiday decorations remain gathering dust, awaiting a time of wiping down and wrapping up. Snowmen stand smiling as if nothing changed; a small group of old world Santas seem oblivious to the calendar and uneaten candies have lost their taste for me. No longer fresh greenery shatters each time I pass it. In retrospect, I may reconsider the ‘bad luck’ in leaving a tree standing through the new year; not really sure.

Events of the past few weeks have left my mind and body craving newness but Covid is still pulling the reins on my strength, and sadness of my brother’s passing shadows my writing. In weak effort to pick back up and rejoin life, I am publishing this January 4 writing as I planned to do on that sweet morning.

January 4, 2022: Taking Down The Tree: Times of Tradition

We never used to leave the Christmas tree up into the new year. Mama said it was bad luck to have it up on New Years Day, but I doubt she believed it because she wasn’t normally a superstitious person. I realize now she simply needed it out of the way before getting back into her usual busy work week. I carry most of her traditions leading up to Christmas Day, which leaves me too tired to take it all down the week after, when I finally get to relax and enjoy it. (How DID she do it?) This year I’m really dragging it out because I am expecting company today who didn’t get to be with us on the 25th. I want her littles to get their gifts from under the tree. As I look upon the ornaments, dreading the process of taking it down, there’s one front and center taking me down memory lane so far I lost track of time.

Walking down the aisle of Kroger December 2009, I saw a rustic red wooden star with a fat little snowman painted in the center. Two points of the star were longer than the others, and they reached right into my heart. I stood holding it, sobbing, there in the middle of the grocery, thinking, “this – this very ornament is exactly what Mama would have given me this year” – I just knew it. Never before had I bought an ornament in the grocery, nor had I seen one I thought would have been given to me. But this one. This one was going home with me and now, Christmas 2021, it still adorns my tree and I can smile instead of cry.

I remember crying as I pushed my cart through Kroger a couple, maybe four or five times, I don’t know, I lost count actually that summer and autumn following her passing. I stand wondering this year, why. What about the grocery did that to me? Standing here today looking at my star, I just figured it out. For my entire childhood, from before I could remember, Mama and I did the grocery shopping together on Saturdays. That stopped of course after I married, but even then, if I dropped by on Saturday and she was gone, I knew I could find her at Owen’s Food Market, or the beauty shop.

Mama enjoyed recalling the times when I was a toddler, we would go ‘bumming’ on Saturday. We’d go to a dime store soda fountain in Cleveland, Ohio where she would lift me to a stool and we would share an ice cream soda. Afterwards, we’d get her shopping done. Her only day off for years was Saturday afternoon so the tradition continued, as two more children came along and we all four traipsed the aisles of Johnson’s Grocery in Murray, KY Saturday after Saturday. She bought ice cream and cokes for us to have a Saturday night treat, and I also recall getting to pick out a Little Golden Book for us on many of those trips.

Mama depended on credit in those days, so she remained loyal to one grocer at a time. When Mr. Johnson closed, she continued the tradition at Mr. Owen’s. They knew she would pay as soon as she could – and that’s as good a tradition as anyone needs – a good name.( “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold.” Proverbs 22:1 NKJV. ) Holding my star, I know she was the star of our Saturdays, our Christmases, and many of our traditions. I’m glad I broke the one about taking down the tree on new year’s eve. Otherwise I wouldn’t have had the pondering time today, leading me on the grocery cart ride as I figured out twelve years later why I felt such loss in the aisle, and why I latched onto my Christmas star. May you find your own beautiful stars living in the traditions and memories of love. Trisha

Colt and Jameson 1-4-22

Isabella Claire, ruthless opponent! 1-1-22

If I Were A Christmas Tree…

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Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17 (NKJV)

It is Christmas Eve morning, predawn, as I sip coffee in the glow of our Christmas tree. I wonder, will I get it all done in time to make more happy memories for my loved ones. Menus are ready for ingredients I’ve stowed away for weeks and I’m getting the usual anticipation jitters that I’ve forgotten something. There’s baking, arranging and cleaning to be done, but for now the house is quiet with sleep except for the snoring of my little lap dog. A star-lit sky is about to welcome dawn, and as I gaze upon our tree ornaments, I recognize the beauty of reflection.

A decorated tree is pretty by daylight, but the magic happens when the little white lights are glowing, and there in the dark, each ornament twinkles with life. They reflect memories of love and fun. In the stillness, my tree reflects the joys I received from each person who’s given these keepsakes. A mama bear reads to her baby bear by the tree lamp’s glow as she has since 1999. Thirteen little Hallmark ornaments are as happy as the day I received each one a year at a time, and I remember the precious little girl, and her mom who brought them to my door each year. My little clothespin ponies have shiny faces reflecting the love with which they were sent from West Virginia. Many snowmen from friends and family are dazzling as they dance in the lights and I reflect on the occasions and names of each one given. Flying cardinals and sitting cardinals reflect my mother’s love as well as that of those who’ve added to the collection, and the love they learned from her. Glass orbs with meaningful words twinkle and never grow old.

If I were a Christmas tree, would I reflect the true light, the Giver of all good and perfect gifts? Would God’s love, as He sent His Word to become the flesh and blood baby Jesus, glow in my life? Would I shine with the love Christ demonstrated for us as He gave the ultimate gift? If I were a Christmas tree, would I make others happy?

I’m sure the history of the Christmas tree is interesting, but honestly we don’t care. What it is to me, as it was to my parents, for as long as I can remember, is a place to store gifts we give each other. Most importantly, it is where the adornments of our Christmases are displayed; a first, someone’s last, treasured gifts, fond vacation memories, favorite things…all reflecting happy times and warming our hearts.

One of the first things I thought of in the wake of December’s rare tornado, was so many would have had their own ornaments out, vulnerable to destruction, and my heart ached for them. Life IS vulnerable; treasure it. My prayer for those folks is they are able to hold the happy memories in their hearts and keep making new ones.

Merry Christmas! In the midst of all life’s common and uncommon difficulties, may you make many warm memories – ones that reflect the joys in your life and entice others to seek the joy of the true Light.

I

Give Me Kentucky

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” If these United States can be called a body, then Kentucky can be called its heart.” – Author: Jesse Stuart

I admire how an author can bring to life the feel and the sights and sounds of a place, as a painter does on canvas. I was introduced to the writing of Jesse Stuart in the eighth grade by Ms. Ann Woods. She also taught me to never again say “Oh it’s just homemade”, but to say instead, “thank you, it was handmade just for me”. For these things, I love her still. Every year as the hickory nuts fall I remember the school grounds with the enormous trees and a wise teacher. And I do get the feeling all this nature was handmade just for me. Kentuckians are proud of their people, and their crafts and their land I think, like I am sure most are of any state they call home. But I am partial to what is familiar and comfortable to me. Like autumn in Kentucky.

On several days this month, I stood like a kid watching the circus leave town, and almost waved goodbye to the warmth of the scarlet colors and the November air. I believe I actually did blow a kiss toward the sky. Perhaps knowing Autumn is a fast moving train is one of it’s attractions. I anticipate her arrival with such gladness I hardly think about her departure leaving us cold in the wake.

Another of my favorite authors is Rick Bragg, though I believe he never mentions our state. Rick Bragg can almost make Alabama and Louisiana sound desirable, the way a new recipe in Southern Living can make plain old food more enticing. However, nothing he has said makes me want to move down there, not that we’ve been invited. I do like living on the edge – the edge between South and North – neither one, but the best of both. Do not misunderstand, I truly love Rick Bragg’s stories like I love my roses. It’s just the adjectives of Alabama are more like the thorns on the roses; but the rest of his stories, the people, are the vivid colors and fragrances of our rose beds. I do believe Mrs. Bragg raised a mighty fine writer who makes even hot muggy red clay of the South alive, rearing camaraderie and family like no other.

Nothing, however, about red clay, red tide football, nor red bulgy-eyed crawdads tempt me to abandon the sweet bluegrass of Kentucky. As I do not understand football, and being a basketball girl myself, I’m still holding out for a true blue and white rebound.  I do love a good basketball game as much as I hate politics. So do not try to debate me out of my comfort zone. Anyway, ‘my old Minnesota home’ or ‘my old Alabama home” just doesn’t sound right, does it?

As far as northward is concerned, I have been up through Illinois and I saw their rich black soil, so rich the flowers bloom neon colors. Their crop yields require grain bins on each end of the field and large wagons in the middle to dump the overfill. But I wouldn’t trade our warm brown Kentucky earth for losing my ears to the wind I felt coming off the lake in Chicago one March.

I do envy any state’s close proximity to fresh seafood. You may actually have me on that one. I think though, I’ll just wait for a good shipment of shrimp, back here in the shade of our maple trees. Few things in my humble opinion, rival a drive along the Bluegrass Parkway, or skimming over the water of Kentucky Lake.

I consider myself southern, if I had to pick one over the other.  But to me, the best locale descriptor is “I’m a Kentuckian” where we usually get to see a January morning poured out like marshmallow cream as far as the eye can see, and watch March flowers pop up thirty days later as we loft a kite in our short sleeves. Then, when a hoodie of heat and humidity slides over me, I hear someone from the deep south tell me how much worse it gets down there, and I catch my breath in the breeze that’s never more than a few days away. Spring and summer showers induce a radiance of fall color popping against a frosty October morning canvas. Never in Kentucky do the days drone into weeks because nothing is as changeable as Kentucky weather. Hardly ever a dull moment, and as they say, variety is the spice of life.

This time of year, (and what I really started out to say) I am starstruck by the deciduous display of gemstone colors. I’m sure pine trees are nice, when Alabama can get a wind singing through them, and pine needles do make great mulch (which still probably isn’t enough to get a lot out of red clay) but just give me the red, purple, gold and orange of maples and dogwoods, sourwood and sumac, poplars, sweetgums and hickories. While we do not claim to own the only beautiful trees in America, with nearly half our acreage in hardwood, it is a jaw-dropping, totally in-love experience to live a Kentucky autumn! 

Door Knockers

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“For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” I Corinthians 16:9

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Who knocks on doors any more? With little yapping house dogs, the popular door bell, and (rudely, yes) car horns, there doesn’t seem to be much door knocking lately. 

I was recently given a brass door knocker inscribed with my dad’s last name. As I began to count those of my paternal grandparents’ descendants who could possibly use it, the thought occurred to me how rarely we knock, literally and figuratively, on doors. Likewise, how often do we miss a knock on the door. The last time I knocked on a door I got sore knuckles and no answer.

 

Opportunity may come knocking; guests, maybe; hard times sure can come a knockin’ and the proverbial wolf at the door may have slipped through. Will I answer? When fear of the unknown halts my hand from opening, I’ll never know what stands on the other side. Open it anyway. It doesn’t mean I have to let it all in. Greet it bravely; hope for the best, embrace the potential to be the good someone needs. Perhaps we will be called outside our threshold  of comfort; or we may seize an opportunity to draw someone from their cold circumstances into our warmth. Be kind and if kindness demands a parting of the way, be kind still. When the wolf is at the door, be thankful for the smallest things and he will flee from you. When the hand of goodness is extended to you, grab it. Offer grace to the not so good, for you may see it again someday, transformed by your grace. 

Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” Hebrews 13: 1-2

 

I have, no doubt, left the door shut for fear it might be ‘hard times’, inconvenience, or an adversary.  I imagine Jesus was on the other side inviting me to go with Him on some mission of good. I probably felt pushed for time, or resources (aka money), or more than likely felt inadequate to meet the challenge. A less honorable, and probably more truthful excuse would be laziness, pure and simple. It takes effort to answer the door. But if we do invite opportunity in, she may require shuffling some furniture to accommodate her or she might have dirty feet.  I’m sure the images each of us see on the other side of our figurative door, are all different. Asking a neighbor to bible study; overseas mission work; prison ministry; cleaning house for someone disabled; watching a stressed momma’s kids while she takes a break, and the list is endless. I hope and pray we can all open when opportunity knocks, extend hospitality and in turn find the joy of working elbow to elbow with Christ; feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, clothing the poor, tending the sick and visiting jails.  (Matthew 25: 35-37)

As I hold the smooth shiny door knocker in my hand, I feel driven to find a home for it. Hopefully my musing the matter of doors will propel me toward opening my closed and careful world to be more like Jesus.

PESTILENCE

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Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Okay, that’s it! As much as I love nature, I’m afraid I may be losing my patience. Now they are IN the SHOWER! There was a time when I could ignore the little green nuisance. I stayed out of their way; their stink stayed out of mine. However, stink bugs have now taken first place on my list of ‘most unwanted’. Almost as numerous this year as the infamous tassel flies (hover flies), they are making me crazy! The odor is awful, and never have we seen so many at once! Over, under and throughout everything, these green, gray and brown pests are poised on doorknobs and thresholds, waiting to rush inside. One morning as I was about to raise the umbrella on the patio table, there were dozens of the crusted creatures clinging outside and inside the umbrella. As a scene from a scary movie, their effect broke the promise of a pleasant morning. Thus began my urge to rant.

In all the years past, I could avoid the raw stench if I just left them alone; not so now. Simply watering my outdoor plants stirs a stink. As I walk into my she-shed I start dodging the little devils, where they fly from their trenches in the windows. Just raising and lowering the windows is perilous – phew! The final straw? The vexatious visitors are eating the last of our tomatoes. If you love tomatoes like we do, you know how precious those last gems in autumn are! As I was looking for an unblemished tomato, a member of their colony flew right into my glasses; didn’t even phase it!

You may be a step ahead of me, and already know their real name and purpose if there is one. I really do not care what name they go by; I call them pestilence, pernicious, and nearing pandemic proportions. Okay, I couldn’t help myself from googling a bit about the little armored aggravation. Discussing this with my son, he pointed out there seem to be more varieties this year. Turns out, it’s true; the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) has only been seen in North America since 1998 and has been making its way westward since. Accidentally introduced from Asia, their population has exploded in the eastern United States. More serious than the pungent odor and unsightly gathering in the windows, is the crop damage caused by stink bugs. We queried possible explanations for the greener edge around our crops, but as it turns out this is indicative of stink bug damage. For now they are satisfied to eat into the outer edges of a field only, but as the population grows, who knows! Something about their piercing the seed pod prevents proper maturing and drying of the plant, referred to as the ‘stay green syndrome’. I’m indeed sick of them, and evidently our wasps and birds, too, have found them too noxious to develop a taste for the unusual urchins.

Stink bugs do have a natural enemy; a tiny samurai wasp, also introduced from Asia, known to parasitize the BMSB eggs. Yay nature! Yay wasp! Nature does make a way. I was thinking what an unusual name for a wasp less than a tenth of an inch in size. But evidently, bigger isn’t always better, and this is our only warrior against the enemy for now. So I am squishing, thumping and vacuuming every stink bug I can and holding my breath as I do. Wouldn’t we love to see a. natural enemy for the coronavirus! For that I am not holding my breath!

As for a stink bug purpose, I found none. Other than serving as a reminder of the pestilence sent upon Egypt one time in the form of frogs; indoors, outdoors, in bed and bath, frogs invaded the sanity of everyone and were intended to show God’s power and get the pharaoh’s attention. (Chapter eight of the book of Exodus) Well, this modern day malady has my attention! I am cheering for the Samurai, in hopes she will get rid of these stinkers and make life a little sweeter.

brown marmalade stink bug
brown marmorated stink bug where they are hiding in the folds of my patio umbrella (note the white sections of the antennae)

Chasing Butterflies – Labor Day Fun

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If satisfaction came as naturally to us as persistence does to nature, we’d never have a moment of discontent. Awaking to a nearly perfect Labor Day morning, I chose to observe the holiday with a little R&R and maybe something fun thrown in as well. My good husband was taking care of his breakfast and started mine too, so my goal already seemed obtainable. After our morning devotional outdoors, I was annoyed with myself for feeling a mild dissatisfaction growing. Maybe it was knowing a lot of folks had plans to make memorable use of the amazing weather and the last summer holiday. Feeling a tad “unplanned” I guess, and aware of Covid precautions, I could have become my own obstacle to a satisfying day. The only thing I had thought of to do on this warm clear day was kayaking, which requires first, making arrangements for getting to my kayak, and secondly, I would have to actually leave home. I didn’t feel that happening. I realized what I really wanted was to eat in my favorite restaurant (ten steps out the back door) and explore my own natural habitat for entertainment. As I write this in fact, the Goldfinches are putting on quite a show of song and dance.

The only hint at work I did, to assure we get a good nights sleep, was to ‘strip the bed’, as my mother used to say, to wash and hang the sheets out to dry. But for me, this is such a pleasurable thing, I’d feel a little guilty calling it work.

The main portion of the day has been spent in a four-acre plot left from a property split where we bought a small strip of land adjacent to our farm, which my husband has mowed and hired someone to clean out a densely grown property line. This left the unmown portion belonging to my sister and her husband where I thought I had spied a number of milkweed plants. Knowing the bushhog would soon invade, I began my hunt for the monarch and its host plant. To my delight, we discovered a butterfly haven! I learned to identify the milkweed plant and discovered several other beautiful plants as well. A tall wildflower with dark purple blooms, a lavender colored ageratum, also quite tall; and an airy pinkish bloom filling in the gaps between the purples, all grew around the milkweed, now in its seed pod stage. Some still had dried blooms drooping, but most were sporting their seed pods which in themselves are an eyeful of interesting detail!

Milkweed with seed pods

Probing into the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly and the dependence on its host plant I found an awesome story of persistence and patience. Eating and molting, webbing and waiting, metamorphosis in four stages, are all done in perfect timing. The result is an intricately decorated fluttering beauty who begins the process all over again until the early autumn generation makes its trek southward to Mexico where they are protected from cold until the journey back to its beloved milkweed where she lays her eggs of hope for another generation. Our son who is always up for outdoor exploration, helped me transplant a few of the milkweed plants to a location nearby that won’t be disturbed by spray nor mower next year. I want to give the returning ones next spring the satisfaction of finding their habitat much as they left it.

I was not disappointed with the butterfly population. True to the adage of the elusive butterfly, it was only after we sat still among them that we were visited with an explosion of color and activity. Bright orange, black and white Monarchs, Eastern Black Swallowtails and Silver Spotted Skippers were everywhere. Others as well which I didn’t take time to identify were flitting about enjoying the sunshine and nectar. The more we saw, the more beautiful they seemed to me.

We added to our day with takeout food brought to my patio (aka favorite restaurant); a short drive with our fur baby; and (shocking!) a trip to the garden by my husband who cut the okra for me and brought a nosegay of four different colored zinnias, dark purple, lavender, orange and red-orange. Only in nature do I like these vibrant colors together. Only in nature could I have found the satisfaction I was seeking this morning, as real contentment wrapped the evening in the sunset’s glow. We have been blessed with a world of sights and sounds to please the senses – right here in our backyards, our own natural habitat.

I hope your Labor Day was a delightful close of summer, safe and sound, and oh so satisfying!

I’ve Done It Again!

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Each year I promise myself and anyone concerned, not to make myself one with the outdoor world as Spring turns into Summer. Spring has a gravitational pull like few others, and only becomes stronger as summer dawns. I truly intend each year to divide my time wisely between outdoor activity and indoor obligations. Just as surely as the sun rises earlier and earlier, I become more and more negligent of my pledge. Actually, ‘derelict’ may be a more adequate description of my summer self. To make things worse this year, our backyard population of House Wrens is captivating.

Now, I’m fully aware of one’s reality being one’s perception, so if for some inexplicable reason you aren’t fascinated by all this nature activity or if you do not hear the call of the wild, perhaps you can relate to some other distraction keeping you from being all you think you should be. You will likely think I am loony (and you’d be partly correct) but it’s kind of that trash and treasure idea – it’s all in our perception. My reality, I’m not getting any work done and it’s nature’s fault!

Thinking the rainy days would be my redemption time to clean, or write, or even squeeze in some extra reading, was folly. I refuse, however, to accept all the blame. April showers brought us amazing May flowers. Obviously the birds and bees thought so too, for I have been like a kid at Christmas watching our feathered friends. I go from fascination to frustration as I watch and defend them. My most recent angst has been a Sparrow Hawk who seems to think our Purple Martins came from Brazil just for his or her benefit. Judging by the tenacity, I’d say it’s a she, with a family of her own to feed. That’s beside the point. Aren’t there enough rodents out and about to feed a host of hawks?! Seriously, I’m about a shotgun shell away from committing a crime! On Sunday morning we witnessed said hawk taking an adult Martin down, in our backyard, from her own apartment house. I cried. The dirty bird better be glad it was Sunday! But I digress; I was about to tell you about the wrens, wasn’t I.

Six feet from my sunroom window hangs what remains of a wind chime. It is fashioned like a retro coffeepot, with a birdhouse door and a tiny little awning over the perch. The wrens found it desirable so I cut off the chimes and let them have it. This year it became the chosen one; of the dummy nests created by Mr. Wren, Mrs. Wren chose this one for real. I’ve been sitting in the window, rain or shine, watching them finish, fend off and feed. They are adorable. Other than one seeming a bit smaller than the other, the male and female are identical. They, and another couple near my rose garden, have sung their little hearts out all spring and still sing about anything from “here’s another bug my dear” to “oh what a beautiful morning”! As I write, one of the coffeepot residents has landed on a shepherd’s hook, looks into my window and sings WITH bug in beak, as if to say, “be sure you mention how hard I work”! As one waits for the other to feed their babies, his little wings are in a constant flutter, allowing him to hover a moment for his turn to hand off the groceries. Then he is off on another cross-country mission (across the soybean field to the fence row) for another haul.

From early spring until now, we have enjoyed, besides the swallows and wrens, a daily visit from geese and an occasional Great Blue Heron to our pond, so I get to see them from the sunroom too. We have had gold, purple and house finches; Robins, Mockingbirds, Bob Whites, Red-winged Blackbirds, Bluejays, Cardinals, Hummingbirds and the prettiest little Chipping Sparrows. My favorite is the Eastern Bluebird who has rights to a box I check and protect the best I can. These are the backyard guests that keep me spellbound.

I hate the English house sparrow so much that I will make no further mention of its name. Starlings have been less of a pest this year, but still do some damage. And now the hawk. But isn’t that life? We each see and strive to meet our own needs. Why oh why can’t we all be the gentle melodious Bluebird who just takes care of his own, instead of the screaming predator who kills and maims members of its own class. I know, I know, it’s nature. Not even Mother Nature can please everyone every time. Still, given the pleasures versus the pain, I think she is quite a lovely lady, our Mother Nature!

As I close, a Goldfinch whistling “hey you, hey you”, has joined our wrens in the Crepe Myrtle that shades and protects the coffeepot house. They are completely at peace with each other and my heart swoons. It is nearly noon, and my floors are tracked with tennis shoe prints and dry grass clippings; the furniture is dusty and I have no meal planned. The lawn needs mowing today so there is a multitude of clover and dandelion blooms making happy bees out there. Blame it on the rain. Oh no! An EHS just attempted to enter the wren’s abode! Just as I ran to knock on the window to scare it off, a beautiful blaze of blue swooped down and did the job for me. After a few minutes of peering out her port hole, Mrs. Wren escapes to continue doing what she does, safe and sound. Bluebird, you are my hero!!

Thursdays used to be my productive days. I’m afraid I’ve done it again! Happy watching!

Broken Teacup Lids and Thoughts Of Mother’s Day

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The Thought Pixie brought along the Regret Rascal, arriving just in time to block the Sandman and so I began one of those nights. You know the kind, when every debate you had put away, comes back out to play. Good thoughts, bad thoughts, hopes, regrets; doesn’t matter because once they get on a roll, sleep just doesn’t have a chance. My solution is a cup of Sleepytime tea and a pen in my hand. You know, if you give those random thoughts free range, there’s no telling how long they will romp and stomp. I’ve found intentional thinking by reading or writing will either chase away, or corral them to a manageable level. Even though I am still awake, the effort seems to bring the brain to the point of resting sooner than lying there fighting demons in the dark. The writing usually brings me around to some point where most of those thoughts are connected. Such was this night, two days prior to Mother’s Day.

As if by an unseen force, my hand reached for Mama’s old Hallmark tea mug with a matching lid for steeping. It lives on a shelf, at eye level, where I can see it, but never use it for fear I’ll finish breaking what I started years ago when I dropped the lid. It broke in half, and is glued together with a dark scar, but I treasure it for a couple reasons. First just because it was Mama’s and it was given to her by one of her friends. I can just see her dipping the tea bag up and down in the hot water, then placing the cover to steep the tea and finally, placing the bag to dry on the upturned lid while she sipped her Earl Gray. Rarely ever did I visit her kitchen or den without seeing a dried tea bag where she left it. Secondly, the message written on the cup would probably have been her motto had you asked her. “Life’s truest happiness is found in the friendships we make along the way.” So, in anticipation of this Mother’s Day, I drank my herbal tea from the little blue friendship mug as I wrote to Mama.

Even good things can be broken. Good broken things can be repaired if we care enough to do so. God uses broken things; why shouldn’t we? Although they probably will never be the same, they may be even better – like this tea cup lid. It’s better because it has a new purpose: to remind me that broken is not always forever. It reminds me that people too, are breakable, repairable, and often better than new.

Hearts, relationships, a promise or teacup 
once broken, will leave a scar.
Will one see light shine through the cracks
Or will one see a mar?
Finding hope or substance to patch, stitch or mend
Will prove the thing to have been worthy
When love comes peeking in.


Thank you Mama for being my friend, and for teaching us how to find friendship in life. Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing women we call sisters, daughters, mothers and friends! Trisha