Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Glimpse . . .

into my world.

Walk up the pathway to my cottage and you will be greeted
By a multitude of friendly little ones popping out to say hello.

Step inside and let the fire's glow warm you . . .

While the smell of freshly baked muffins
Entices you to sit for a spell.

Undoubtedly, we'll have tea . . .

. . . and a nibble from one of Rachel's latest culinary endeavors.

I will blush as you glance around and see
Books sprouting like mushrooms
In this cozy reading spot.

The blushing will become embarrassment
As you espy the cluttered counters.

(I never liked that "bar thing" from the beginning --
I just knew it spelled trouble!)

On into the kitchen you will discover the truth of:
"If you install stainless steel appliances they will come
. . . fingerprints, that is.

Matthew routinely inspects
To assure that the dishwasher functions
Despite the ultra-quiet feature that mums the sound.

(Thanks, son.)

Ah, I see Rachel has been playing with her food again.
(And sharp knives, too!)

I'm afraid you've missed Elizabeth as she attends classes daily 9-5.
Her door sports a Rachel Original proclaiming Elizabeth's Room.

The sweet optimism of my sunny Lydia
Shines from her bedside table,

. . . As well as atop her bed.
(The tiger cuddles with another Rachel creation.)

Just what has Rachel been up to these days?

Well, what does a 10-year-old do
After reading through the AMA Medical Encyclopedia?
She goes into practice, of course!

Herein lies Tigger
Undergoing radiation treatment for pancreatic cancer.
(I have that info straight from Dr. Rachel.) My personal favorite:
The Maternity Ward. : D

Alas, I see our time has slipped away and you must be on your way.
I walk you to the door and equip you with a hug for the road and an invite to return soon. Then I turn and begin the business of tidying up . . .

But I stop when I catch a glimpse of my rescued sprig-of-a-fuchsia (snapped off in an annoying blunder). After a spell in a bath it rooted, then bedded down in the windowsill pot, wherein it has rewarded me with buds upon buds over the course of the winter. Just the other day I noticed it sported three new buds . . .

. . . which have all too soon became blooming beauty.

Realizing how quickly time passes . . . I sit down for another cup of tea and pick up a book, only to be interrupted by a sweet young one with a question. I smile and wink at the bud in the window. Thanks for reminding me.

Glance around and enJOY your day, sweet friends. ; )

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Pancake Day!

We feasted on these beauties for dinner -- Rachel's delicious buckwheat pancakes. We also enjoyed a platterful of my personal favorites -- Bill Granger's ricotta hotcakes. We ate and ate and ate and ate . . . Jams, applesauce, lavender honey, and the requisite maple syrup graced these delicious disks as we feasted to the tunes of Al Hirt and his famous Dixieland flair.

As Gary forked the last pancake onto his plate I recalled Pooh Bear's sage advice:

When having a smackerel of something with a friend,
Don't eat so much
That you get stuck
In the doorway trying to get out.

I would have done well to remember that before eating SIX pancakes!

Hope you enjoyed your Mardis Gras or Shrove Tuesday or Carnivale or Shrovetide or FAT TUESDAY.

Mine was definitely FAT TUESDAY!
: D

Monday, February 23, 2009

Playing in the Fields of Life

* * *

“If I could save time in a bottle . . .”
~~ Jim Croce ~~

* * *
“You can always make more money,
But you can never make more time.”
~~ Spud Harris ~~
quoted OFTEN by Husband Gary

* * *

A rainy weekend yields lots of play around here. Massages (she calls it homework, I call it Heaven), reading, cooking, listening to music (really listening), making “things,” holding, hugging, loving, learning, accepting, refusing, choosing . . .

“You can’t live your own way!” cry the incredulous as they dash around on the world’s timeclock. I simply reply, “I can if I choose . . .” But they haven’t waited for my reply, they had an appointment to meet, a mall to visit, a thing to buy, a meal to drive thru. So many lovingly decline an invite to tea with me and they can’t imagine how I have the time to just sit around and do nothing so often.

“Do nothing?” I snicker, “I’m busy playing in the fields of life.”

Alas they have dashed away before they heard my answer. But then, they may not have understood it anyway. I had a “special” teacher. I had an unfair advantage.

In my earlier days I struggled with this very infection of “busy-ness.” Struggle comes from steps into darkness. A wrangle with fear happens in the shadows of doubt. Today I choose the brighter side of life. I choose simple, slow, quiet as God envelops me under His wing. Every thought, deed, choice held captive to my goal of abiding in Him. I find joy in playing at life in His arena.

In earlier days I grappled with the name calling and judgment of others as I made “different” choices. These days I breathe deeply of freedom to dance upon my own path. I dress as I feel comfortable, wear my hair in a style of ease and comfort (no stylist required), and follow no man's rules concerning dress, food, music, worship, prayer . . . I live a life of ease because I have learned that this is not my home . . . I am merely camping. And we all know how casually we camp.

Once I sat in a packed chapel saying goodbye to a very “special” young lady. Katie lived a precious and perfectly wonderful life unlike any one else I knew. She cared not a whit for fashion, though her mom dressed her in the best. She stored no treasures on earth in her 24 years, but luxuriated in the moment – sparing no expense as she shared smiles and precious gifts of beauty. Admirers and followers flocked to her memorial. Great weeping eyes filled each pew.

As the pastor extolled the virtues of Katie’s all-too-brief life and entreated us to rejoice rather than weep, my son Andrew let out a whoop of celebratory JOY! He laughed out loud and pumped his legs in dance as the gentle speaker shared a vision of packing up one’s earthly tent and moving home. He acknowledged us as vagabonds on this earth with a hope-filled home in Heaven. I blushed a bit as my son did everything but “High-five” Katie’s family at her death.

But, you see, Andrew knew this truth. He celebrated Katie’s Homegoing with gusto. Both Andrew and Katie shared the gift of severely handicapped bodies filled with joyful lives. Lives and minds filled with all the same thoughts and hopes and dreams we so casually accept or reject as ours to determine. Katie and Andrew had no ability to get up and run to grasp ANYTHING save for the moments of eye contact, shared touch, sweet surrender of knowing what really counts. They succeeded in teaching their families and friends and even total strangers that life should be enjoyed even if you never run in a soccer match, dance at a prom, drive a car, toss a pebble into a pond, or even brush your own teeth. These precious kids quickly learned to distill the beauty in a day and celebrate it with joy not gloom, despite the restrictions. A “small” life by the world’s voracious definition, but a sweet life when savored.

To grow up knowing your time in a bottle has been severely limited may trouble some, but my son seemed to know it held a gift. He would be spared much of life’s pain in his brief campout in this fallen place. “SPARED?” some ask incredulously. “Trapped in an inferior body, dependent on those around for even the most basic needs like turning over for comfort or the wiping of a tear? How can you call that spared?”

I simply smile and remember how much Andrew managed to teach me in less than 16 years. His eyes, his smile, his razor sharp mind collected wisdom while others fought over legos. He savored each flavorful morsel while others pouted for sweets. He cultivated peace and serenity in the midst of chaos, fear and pending death while flying in helicopters, enduring ICU rooms, fighting for breath. Through it all he lived and lived well. Never did he miss an opportunity to cuddle, or smile, or sigh out contentment. He belched when he needed too and laughed because it felt good. His moments counted because the counter moved faster for him than most.

He taught me well to spend my time wisely. “How did he know?” you might ask. He knew. From his earliest breaths of life the doctors spoke of death. He grew up hearing of his pending death. He knew . . . we knew . . . He knew his bottle would empty quickly, that the tent would be folded and rolled away in the blink of an eye.

The day my son celebrated at Katie’s Homegoing he refused to quiet down. He wanted all to know that this time called for joy among the tears. He held onto nothing in this life. His little hands refused to clutch. His heart had to do all the holding and hearts pick and choose – they require the best. His heart opened wide and drank in the finest. No grudges, no avarice, no jealousy over things ~~ he lived his life in moments: one treasured event after another without any need to find a place to hold the junk. He had no junk worth keeping. Wheelchairs and bathing chairs and feeding tubes and such didn’t merit wasting time dreaming about bigger, better, or more. He would have gladly tossed them all and run free . . . as he did one early May morning.

When Andrew folded his tent and crossed over I felt so strange. I wept and rejoiced. I’m sure many thought I had lost my faculties along with my son. As we buried his unneeded body and the pastor shared a message of rejoicing at Andrew’s gain, a playful butterfly flew under the tent we erected against the beating sun. The butterfly danced gaily in our midst . . . “A postcard from Heaven,” I breathed. I smiled through the tears. I rejoiced with Andrew, just as he had rejoiced with Katie. He had taught me well.

I play at life so much more since Andrew taught me how to “camp” with the proper perspective. Won’t you play along with me in this earthly campground? There’s no need for tears and stress and greedy time-devouring thoughts of more or future or fashionable. The dust we gather on our skirts whilst we dance won’t make it to Heaven anyway.

Let’s be free!

Tag you’re it!

[And she runs off into the forest with a giggle and a cloud of dust.]

* * *
These things I have spoken unto you,
That in me ye might have peace.
In the world ye shall have tribulation:
But be of good cheer;
I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

* * *

Time in A Bottle
by Jim Croce

If I could save Time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day
'til Eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I'd save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go
Through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty
Except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

But there never seems to be enough time . . .

* Artwork by Rachel

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Wonder

* * *
The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Psalm 19:1

* * *

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Joyful Apple a Day . . .

I sit here with my Bible open, a fragrant cup of tea at my elbow, the sun streaming through the windows, and the soft sounds of The Lord’s Been Good to Me dancing on the harp strings as Lydia practices in the music room.

Those chirpy lyrics from the Disney classic short about Johnny Appleseed dance through my head:

The Lord's Been Good To Me
Lyrics by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent

The Lord is good to me
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need
The sun and rain and an appleseed
Yes He's been good to me.

I owe the Lord so much
For everything I need
I'm certain if it wasn't for Him
There'd be no apples on this limb
He's been good to me

Oh here I am
'Neath the blue, blue sky
A'doin' as I please
Singing with my feathered friends
Or with the bees

I wake up every day
As happy as can be
Because I know that with His care
My apple trees will still be there
Oh, the Lord is good to me.

He HAS been good to me!

Just the other night Gary and I sat down after a long day and enjoyed watching this on DVD. Yes, the children had all gone to bed and we enjoyed alone time with a Disney DVD. In hard times it just makes sense to nourish hope and discourage gloom. We need to remember sprightly folks like John “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman, strong moral leaders like George Washington, and a historical roll call of others like Daniel-in-the-lion’s-den who chose to rejoice in tough times and celebrate the joy in knowing that God’s blessings have no expiration date or fine print or hidden pork. Plain and simple: He loves us and holds us close.

My time in the Word today gifted me with this confident bit of hope:

Have not I commanded thee?
Be strong and of a good courage;
Be not afraid,
Neither be thou dismayed:
For the LORD thy God is with thee
Whithersoever thou goest.
Joshua 1:9

Withersoever I go . . . what a fantastic bit of encouragement! Withersoever certainly covers just about any place I may be thinking of setting out for. : D

Earlier today I received an email from a dear friend who frets and worries over the state of our world. That fear seems to be creeping into many hearts these days. So many had hopes. So many sought change. But now, so many fear loss. So many fear . . . It does appear that things will change and become lost and all the rest, but we need not lose hope. The earth never supplied it to begin with; no trading floors exist devoted to hope, only counterfeit ideas abound that materials and goods and $$ bring happiness. But I really don’t care much for the quixotic “happy” of the world, I prefer the solid joy of the Lord.

So for today I will smile in the face of a newly budded snowdrop,

Or marvel at the rapid growth of Rachel’s little dish garden of feathery carrot tops and boldly colored beet leaves.

This little bit of growth hints at the bounty to come when Summer will walk along our rows and runners.


It can be found just about anywhere you look.

* * *

A smile has gently crawled across my face; a tickle has begun in my toes and sets me up to dance. Oh, I need to vacuum and load the dishwasher, wash a few clothes and plan another meal, but for the moment I must simply bask in the joy of knowing that I can go nowhere beyond my Loving Father’s sight. Wherever I go . . . He sees me . . . and encourages me to rejoice. So, rather than look down at my worn out shoes or the weary path beneath them, I shall look up and around at all the beauty freely springing up around me: Gifts from my Father. Withersoever I goest I shall go with a smile.

Have a Splendid Weekend!
: D

*Illustrations from Disney's Johnny Appleseed.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Life Without Wii

Without TV what will she see?
Without a view, what will she do?

Restricted games may make her odd
In a world given over to a remote and a nod.

Her parents sow such a curious lot --
Releasing the child to the world of thought.

Books and music, how sublime;
Odds and ends and lots of time.

The child sports a bloom
Negating predicted doom:

She thinks . . .

. . . Me thinks.

Paper and tape marionette

Sporting styrofoam eyeballs embedded with beaded pupils

That *B*L*I*N*K*

And teeth that gnash.

Happy kid . . . artist . . . inventor . . .
Despite lack of Wii.

(Imagine a world . . . )

P.S. I see from some of the comments that I gave the impression Rachel lost her Wii. She didn't . . . she never had one.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Respite Wednesday

I find it good just to let my gaze wander,
Without any concern for time
And without any attempt to force concentration.

Gradually one part of the woods catches my attention,
And then one tree
And eventually one branch of the tree.

My scattered thoughts come to focus on a single experience
And then dive deeper and deeper into that one reality
(the universe in a blade of grass).

Oftentimes the result is that my attention is absorbed
By some small flower or leaf at my feet
Which I had not even noticed before

And I am at peace!

~~ Thomas H. Green ~~
Opening to God

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Luxurious Life

Time.Pure, free-flowing moments strung together in peaceful fragments, quilted together producing a day enveloped in bliss. Such has been my dance of late. Snowy days, windy nights, power-parched afternoons . . . all add up to holiday if I choose to celebrate the joy springing forth all around me.

And I do . . .

A walk in the gardens after a wintry flurry
Fascinates the senses with fleeting beauty.

The artists run and play,

leaving a trail of art that imitates life.

The good life.

Artistry follows inside as remnants and outgrown socks
Become creatures most dear

spawned in gentle moments of joyful creation.

I live richly with spates of power-free living (yes, we have a generator, but how I love the silence of a powerless break), candlelit dinners, and the playing of games around the trusty woodstove all wedged in between long lingering pauses with book in hand. These elements become my good . . . become my life.

My days have unrolled with a greater number of crannies for the sitting and thinking therein. A simple choice to live for a bit without recording device or literary convention, has blessed me with fresh perspective, quiet refreshment, and the unfurling of tender fronds of joy in the simple that peeks from the lowly places in my day.

I turned my back on blogging for a bit to evaluate, assess, and wonder. Can I find the time to do this without shaving from somewhere more valuable? Has this hobby become unwieldy for a woman dedicated to God-husband-family-hearth? Do needs pass unmet as I wander the day with camera in hand and prose flowing from heart to pen? In these past quiet days I have accounted and found that my family has received enough and then some, my home sparkles more than required. So where did I find lack? ‘Twas so simple . . . ‘twas in my thirsting for sweet time to be just me without audience or record.

The precious growth of my person and soul depends on quietness with my Lord. Not merely the devotional moments that I start each day upon, nor even the late afternoon tea-time given over to gentle thoughts and reading of something filled with delight. Rather, I must walk quietly through the ocean of my own thoughts in the presence of my Lord. I bring everything to His throne. I run with nothing but what His hands hath provided. At least I strive to do so. When I live in unceasing prayer and abiding love the joy of living catches me up on wings and I laugh, live, love as I have always dreamed of doing. But . . .

when I leave off the quiet, naming it selfish solitude, and harness myself as a vessel to carry mere requests to my Father I become weary: faltering, falling, failing. Of late I mistook the privilege of sharing in others’ hopes and dreams and pain and sorrow and disappointment as a work order. The “news” frothed over with fearful details and frightful outcomes. I spent hours reading, recording, and praying (nothing to be ashamed of), BUT then I began to worry and fret and gnash my teeth a bit. Recently I read this and found my reflection. I cringed.

How can you hope to make the imperfect things perfect, unless you keep before your eyes the vision of God, who is perfection? The prayer that is against only evil destroys itself. If you look at nothing but sorrow and sin, your heart may be at first full of love and pity, but presently anger – righteous perhaps, but still anger – will enter and begin to crowd out love; and then despair will come and deaden pity, and at last will even smother righteous anger. And then there will be silence for the heart that is filled with despair cannot pray.

It is not enough to know that the world is full of evil, we must know that God is good.

Christ is a part of all the poverty and misery because He was born into it and didn’t try to get away from it. If you put Him in the background, with the sin and sorrow all in front, how He shines and makes courage and hope! Yes! And if you put Him in the front with the darkness all around Him, how He shines again! Either way, He is the light in the picture.

~~ Florence Converse~~
The House of Prayer

How clearly I saw that my slogging to the Lord in prayer had nipped all buds of joy and overlooked any beauteous sprig that fell along the sodden pathway. My tears and sweat produced muck . . . and dancing became impossible.

And so I rested and dipped deep into the pools of refreshment I find lying around in abundance here at Wisteria Cottage.

No longer bearing burdens I was never meant to carry, I danced and pranced through snowy walks and toasty talks. It felt so good to rest in this safe and wonderful place we call home. My thoughts return again and again to family, friends, strangers in this world, but thoughts buoyed by hope and not despair which in turn engender faith hope and love . . . the greatest being love.

In a mere week’s respite I found my footing again. My dancing shoes stopped pinching. Showers of peace rained laughter and joy. The true luxuries of life returned. I daresay I will blog/read/comment less frequently, but with a richness that will fill this place with a fragrance pleasing to Him.

I choose to live in luxury . . . His luxury . . . every day. Won’t you join me?

Iced tea anyone?

; D

Monday, February 9, 2009

I've Gone Off to Dance for a While . . .

The Star (1878)
Edgar Degas

Winter Takes Centerstage

While Spring may be calling to dance,
Winter takes the lead:
Waltzing from tree-top to roof-top;
Frosting o'er the world with white. Flights of fancy in the gardens
Have been grounded (for the moment)
But my fancy swiftly shifts to a poetic song:
plucked from amongst
a shelf of lonely oldies
amongst a jumble of debatable
at the monthly booksale
As I pair a new book with my latest "favorite" cuppa
(Earl Grey laced with Lavender),
I find myself counting it all joy.
Happy Monday!