Tuesday, April 16, 2013

God in my Garden

One of our goals this year was to grow some of our own food. To that end, my dear husband put in the loveliest raised bed garden a city girl could ask for. Two 4 by 8 foot raised beds, about 18 inches deep, stained lumber and complete with a custom irrigation system. I knew he couldn't do this in a small way. I seriously doubt we will be saving any money or even breaking even this growing season. That might be sad except this garden undertaking is about a lot more than tomatoes and beans.


Another goal, one I am reflecting on more and more lately, is to really get a grip on the idea of rest. Not sleep, I get that, but rest, relaxation and refueling. I hope gardening, whether my raised bed vegetable garden or the many pots of herbs and flowers gradually taking over our patio, will lend a hand in that arena.

This past weekend I had my first real visit to the garden since we planted. I needed to do something called "cultivating". This was a word I had heard and used in recent years. It is a biblical term as well as an agricultural one. I had heard it in homeschooling circles when referring to what we hoped to bring attention to and value in our children's educations and upbringing. We hoped to cultivate a love for certain things, skills in others and character qualities that honor God. Cultivating faithfulness comes to mind.

As I cultivated my garden, I just couldn't help but see my new plants with little faces, and hands, feet firmly planted in the soil. I spread some nasty smelling, albeit organic plant food all around the plants. I used a shiny new tool, a menacing claw like contraption, to break up and turn over the hard soil. I could almost hear the protests of the little seedlings, hands flailing in the air..."Hey, what's up with this...we were just fine, enjoying our day and now the ground is shaking, dirt is falling all over us, this is noisy and frightening and WHAT is that smell!?" I know I would be protesting similarly...and then it hit me. I do protest similarly when the ground beneath me shakes and feels crumbly, when the dirt is flying, noise swirls around and stinky stuff gets a little too close. I did not see, until this gardening chore became mine, the true value of such cultivation. By breaking up the soil, I made it easier for these new, tender plants to put down deep, strong roots. Allowing air and water to get where it needs to go rather than just running off will encourage growth as well. The smelly, rich fertilizer, mixed thoroughly into the soil, will make for more and better fruit down the road. How like life this is. Cultivating faithfulness or any other precious virtue may, at least for the short term, seem more like torture than training.

One more chore I got to practice for the first time was thinning. I didn't like this chore so much. The idea of removing some of the little sprouts to make room for things like carrots and beets to spread out and grow was kind of sad. The lesson I'm taking from that? Sometimes we may need to spread out a little, not be quite so close to those around us to cultivate some things we might not otherwise. I'm thinking about this a lot lately. I hope it's a lesson confined to beets and carrots.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

All things new...

It's been awhile. That's not the new part, sorry. I just get caught up in life, some of it is just sad and I don't want to blog about it. Other parts are great but I'm too busy enjoying them to stop and blog. I do get random requests, though, to get back to writing, so here goes...random thoughts seem the best way to catch up. I have some topical posts gestating quietly...for later.

-I still have no desire to do another marathon of any kind...I do, however, miss the exercise and time with a certain training buddy. We might just have to get back to that part.

-The grand babies are growing up so fast. I love doing things like picking strawberries, playing with the water table with them and remembering when my babies were that age. Every week brings something new and exciting.

-We have a new granddaughter, Hannah Kate! She is adorable and reminds me so of her sweet mommy!

- I love this Gigi thing!

-Some people are mean, or difficult or even impossible. No, that isn't news, really, but that I am still surprised and sad and think I can make things better, well, that's a little new. I am learning that lots of things are just outside of my control and I just can't do it all. A new and special person in my life went to great lengths to explain that to me last weekend. I take enormous comfort in the fact that God is big.

-I have a new job. My other job came to an end when the company owners decided to shut down the business. God gave me a wonderful job in a really short time frame. I appreciate that because job hunting is hard work and maybe even a little intimidating.

-I really like my new job. I am learning so much every day. That might even be more intimidating than the job hunt was. I get to work in a health care setting (and I even get to wear scrubs!) and that was my dream all along. My hours are a lot longer and I don't get to slow down much but I really feel good about how I spent my day when I clock out.

-I love wearing scrubs to work! I might be a little obsessed and need to reevaluate my scrubs budget. I may or may not buy a new set nearly every pay day. And I iron them, something I'm told is silly.

-Some days it is all I can do to stay awake until bedtime! It is that exhausting. I spend most of Saturdays cleaning, grocery shopping, getting our clothes ready for the week. I have not quite mastered the art of rest, not just sleep, but rest and refreshment and rejuvenation. I am working on it.

-My girls strapped on their babies and totally cleaned my house for Easter weekend guests. I can't think of how they could have blessed me more. Then we were able to just sit and enjoy one another's company for a couple of hours.

-My wonderful husband has been such a help as he is off on several of my workdays. He tries to prepare dinner sometimes, he keeps the house clean, does some laundry and takes care of all those tasks I can't really do since I am gone all day. He gets the dog groomed, meets the carpet cleaning people, gets the oil changed and pretty much anything else I ask him. He's my rock star!

-He put in a wonderful garden for me, and wrought iron fencing around our patio so the babies won't fall off. What fun we are having outside!

-It is an adjustment being gone this much. I miss my kids and my grand babies. I am working hard to find times to be with them, at least the ones who are interested. Sometimes I just call or text and ask to meet them somewhere. Even an hour is precious.

-I love "talking shop" with my oldest who is also in health care, miles above me, and has been praying for me to have a job like this for years. He is so encouraging and gives great advice.

-I love that hubby and I are working together toward goals that will make later better and working hard to enjoy the now while we do it.

-We are leading a new Young Married small group. Have I mentioned how we love young married couples? Oldest daughter and her beloved are a part of our group. Another sweet blessing.

-Our baby boy is getting married in July. I am helping to plan the wedding. Some days that is lots of fun, others I wonder what I was thinking when I agreed to this. I had a different life then, a different job. They are a fun couple, we love his intended and it will be a beautiful and very unique day. I have mixed feelings about marking that off my list. Where have the years gone.?

-I began to get impatient the other day, maybe in traffic, or a line at the grocery store. Then it occurred to me that I am just simply too old for that. By my age I should have mastered patience just a little bit better than my attitude revealed. Now I say that to myself on a regular basis. "Girl, you are too old to be impatient!" The voice in my head sounds a lot like my mother's.

-I was encouraging my sweet daughters recently. I was urging them not to get in too much of a hurry to get to the next stage of their lives but to be "all in" whatever they were doing at the moment. They are already so good about that, but these days are so precious and fleeting and before they know it their babies will be ready for school, or driving or dating or college or...then it hit me, I need to be "all in" at 53! I need to be completely given to whatever I am doing or whoever I am with, not always thinking ahead to the next thing, or the weekend or next month. I want to be completely engaged and present with my husband, my children, my co-workers or our patients. I want to give my best, my all to whatever I am doing.

-We were shocked and saddened to lose two family members in the last three months or so. One of Bill's brothers died suddenly followed by a sister-in-law. They were both way too young. It is sobering. We are reminded that none of knows when our life here will end. We are being purposeful, even more than we had been, to make each day count, as if it were the last. We are taking steps to be as prepared for our transitions to Heaven as we can.  We are being more careful to hug a little longer, each of our precious loved ones; to remember to say the things we want them to hear. We are also being as diligent as we possibly can to monitor our health, to listen to and observe our bodies, these Earth suits, so that we don't leave before we should. I want to see my grand children's children...and be there for them.

-Someone I love,  more than anyone else, was diagnosed with a wee little health concern. Consequently we have made some dietary changes. We were eating pretty well before but need to be even more diligent. We are learning to enjoy Mediterranean food, which includes Greek cuisine. I like this change. We are never too old to learn new things and appreciate different cultural expressions.It's fun to find new restaurants and learn to cook in different ways. I hope it helps. He's losing weight rapidly. Me? Not so much!

-We have the distinct honor and pleasure of hosting visiting dignitaries in two weeks. A family friend of our son-in -law, Colonel of the Army in a certain faraway country, will be visiting with his wife and staying with us. I'm a little bit concerned about meeting their needs and showing them a real Texas sized good time but we will all work together to do our bests. Maybe a great post will come of that.

-Housework, laundry, ironing and cooking still don't get done all by themselves.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Half Marathon Random Thoughts (or, the one where I admit being stupid.)

Today I "did" a half marathon, that is 13.1 miles. I can't say "ran" as I only did that for about 100 feet. The rest was merely a controlled fall or just a clumsy slog. It was quite the experience, however, and writing about it in narrative form escapes me at the moment so I think another 'random thoughts' post is in order.

-Always, always be sure to see a map of the route for a half marathon (or a whole one, for that matter) BEFORE signing up. In fact, it might be smart to actually go check out the route before race day. I failed on this point and boy am I sorry now.

-There is a huge difference between a "flat half" and a full on "trail run." Ask me how I know!

-I have now used a "Porto Potty" and consumed blue Gatorade...two things I promised myself I would never, ever do.

-CLIF bars are awesome and they made a huge difference in how I was able to perform - or not die, depending on one's perspective.

-I may have suffered some sort of brain damage in this event as I could not seem to make my body do what my brain was commanding. I also may or may not have seen mushrooms that looked exactly like the ones from Super Mario Brothers and quite possibly had an out of body experience.

-I have the sense of humor of a nine year old BOY! Shoes being swallowed by icky, sticky mud, followed by the distinctly "toot-like" sound that results from freeing them caused more than a few uncontrollable bouts of laughter.

-I might have said "Jesus!" and meant it several times during this trial (or trail.) I am certain my companion did.

-I fell...in slow motion...and we died laughing.

-My new shoes are completely covered in mud. I'm not too upset about that.

-All of me hurts. Maybe even my hair.

-My precious husband pulled off the greatest surprise and was waiting for me at the finish line. He rooted me on all through training, which ate up lots of hours and he is my biggest cheerleader. I hope to return the favor someday.

-My toenails (in all of their glittery fall orange glory) are all still in their designated places and I have no blisters! These concerns caused me to lose sleep. I'm just sayin'

-I imagined I looked pretty fit and cute rocking out my running clothes and neato cool race number. Then I saw photos...I looked like Jabba the Hut in stretchy pants...with lots of mud! None will be posted upon threat of death! (OK, maybe just our feet.)

-My companion, also known as my oldest daughter, Bethany, sang lovely, made up songs about how we were so gonna do this thing the entire last two miles! She is my hero. I also considered throwing in the towel at about mile marker 11 only to realize I would still have to walk back to my car which was parked just beyond the finish line! Duh! I did not quit.

-I learned that no matter how hard you train, how prepared you are and how much you want to do something, rain followed by mud, interspersed with fallen trees, rocks, both large and small, cacti, bow hunters, snakes, cliffs and more mud, cannot ensure a quick and simple event. Life is like that, too.

-Some people find such endeavors addictive. I am not one of them. This is it! I never need to do another race of any type, ever.

-I might relax my "no bumper sticker" rule and sport a new 13.1 window cling at least...seeing as how I earned it.

-I did this to prove to myself that I could and to mark a significant anniversary of another hard thing. That my husband and children are proud of me is a really sweet added bonus.

-I came in dead last and I don't even care. I finished before the cut off time and that was my goal.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Random Thoughts

I have it on good authority that some people appreciate and even enjoy posts of this type. This is my first attempt. We'll see.

-My boss says I "internalize" things. I work in customer service. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Would "externalizing" be a preferred approach? I think I might try that this week. I'll report back.

-I have heard two sermons (back to back, by two separate pastors) and read two separate books that referred to the "parable of the talents," all within the last month. I am beginning to think God might be saying something to me. I am thinking a lot about my life. How many "talents" have I received? What have I done with them? What will God say on the big day?

-I absolutely love fall. I do not, however, love man food. For the uninitiated, man food is stuff like chili, beef stew, hot wings, bratwurst, you know, meaty, greasy, heavy...well, man food. I am, however, surrounded by men as I have been blessed with four sons, two sons-in-law and one really terrific husband. They love man food. I love them. 'Nuf said.

-I have discovered Pinterest. I may be in trouble.

-I think about my Mama every day. I still miss her so much more than I ever imagined I would or could. Many days my thoughts of her bring a smile. Other days, not so much.

-On a related note...we all love reminiscing about the funny things my Mama used to say. I recall her mentioning a "wild hare" which I understood to be a wild HAIR. I pointed out the one I came to love that grew from her chin. She was not amused.

-On a still related but slightly different note...I regret giggling at the bearded and mustached lunch ladies I encountered in school cafeterias. I regret it and I repent. Because what goes around comes around, judge not lest ye be judged or Karma is a b****. Whatever your persuasion or belief system, never laugh at something you don't want to come home to roost. Consider yourself warned. That's all I'm gonna say about that.

-I taught nearly all of my kids to drive. I taught some of them to drive in a Ford E350 15 passenger van. They can drive anything. It is one of my prouder accomplishments.

-I have been training for about 10 weeks for a half marathon I plan to undertake on Saturday. I saw what I think is the route. I think I might be scared now. I wonder why I thought this was a good idea.

-I hate being accosted by the people hawking their wares from the kiosks at the mall. I really hate it.

-I grew up very poor. Our first years decades of marriage were also pretty lean. Two things will always mark affluence to me because they were the first to go when the money was tight on grocery day. They are fabric softener and Ziploc bags. I am thrilled to have both in my possession at the moment. I never stop thanking God for His blessings to us. Especially little things like zippie bags and soft clothes. I hope I never do.

-While I do not love man food and I really don't care for football, there is just nothing like the comforting drone of football on the TV on a lazy Sunday afternoon. My hubby lounges on the couch in his church clothes (minus the dress shirt, since he just ate chili.) It just means fall, and life is good.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Like water...

Some things are just better than others. We don't live in a world that acknowledges that consistantly. Sure we elevate lots of silly things to the "best" category. Electronic devices, movies, songs, singers, actors, cars, athletes...you name it. But principles or concepts? Anything goes there. Whatever floats your boat or works for you and yours, that's the best. We are to be tolerant and open minded and avoid assigning any particular value to life choices. I have thought a lot about this over the last couple of days. Maybe it's the political climate swirling around. Maybe it's something else entirely. This is what I think. If I love stuff, money, what others think of me and give my life to obtaining that over, say, what God thinks of me and cultivating contentment and a deep abiding relationship with Him, then that isn't good. Even if I say it is. If I put myself first and overlook, neglect or assign a lower place to the needs of those around me, whether they are mine or not, then that isn't good. Even if I say it is. If I use my time as I wish without thinking of the eternal significance of that time and say that is good, it doesn't make it so. If I use people to get what I want, accolades, financial gain, power or even vacations, that's not good. Even if I think it is. What in my life do I think is good that God says is not? Have I spent my days on things that really are the best, that matter, the eternal things, or should I have chosen another path?

One time several years ago I was asking some of these same questions and a sweet friend looked across the lunch table at me with tears welling in her eyes. She reminded me that I chose the life I was living and that it was a hard choice. Then, right there in Macaroni Grill, she picked up my water glass and poured it out on the table! Every.last.drop! She reminded me that my life was best spent "Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered...(2 Sam14:14) and that I was doing that every day, as unto the LORD. Most days I feel that way




                                                                               day.....on      this       


                                                                                                                     wonder if I



                                                                                                                                    been an


Monday, July 23, 2012

Slow Down

A loving reminder...

Let me linger for a moment
while you sleep upon my shoulder,
for it won't be many days
until I find that you are older,
and I'll have to run to catch you
just to hold you on my lap.
What a rich and fleeting pleasure
just to hold you as you nap.

For Jeremy, with love, from Mama

How precious are those days, all of them, so don't be in a hurry. They are memories before you know it. Just remember to breathe it all in. Laundry, dusting, meals, washing dishes...all important, but nothing compares to lovin' those babies.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


After a somewhat heavy post, I thought something bit lighter might be in order...even if it means two blogs in one day.

I have so enjoyed my smaller home and taking the time to decorate it the way we prefer. Taking the time means many things. Sometimes I don't have the funds or the time in my schedule to do what I want and other times I just don't know quite what should go in a particular spot or where to find it. The biggest wall in our living room was like that and I really pressed the hubs to wait with me until we knew what to do. I have done plenty of hasty decorating with less than perfect results. Not this time. I really needed some inspiration. He waited and then did lots of work to make it happen and I thought I might show how it turned out.

This was my jumping off point...

Thanks to Pottery Barn, I finally knew what I wanted to do with my big, square, blank wall. I didn't want to copy their design but I liked the mix of frames, some with art, others with photos along with the large, wooden initial and other art. I also appreciated the treatment of the table in front of the wall with the branches in the jar, the tray and other items to break up the flat, linear aspect of the wall. Problem was, the blue just didn't work with our color scheme and I absolutely HATE to paint. Mr. Brown took care of that.

He meticulously painted the wall a lovely green. He's really good at painting. I was blessed to receive a number of priceless and precious family photos from my uncles when they came to celebrate my Mama's homegoing. My sweet mother-in-law contributed some from her collection as well.  I selected and repainted frames for as many as possible and our project began. Did I mention that I hate to paint?

A certain artful daughter created this modern rendetion of a family tree at my request.

Then we carefully cut paper patterns for each piece to make selecting their location on the wall that much easier. While time consuming, it sure made repositioning and then hanging the actual frames, gears, and art that much easier in the end. And...fewer holes in the wall.

Here is the nearly finished work in progress. The gears were a special gift from oldest boy. The large empty frame held a prominent place at both daughters' weddings and now contains photos of their beautiful grandmothers...the small empty space now sports a pin-up photo of Nonnie Jean! While scandelous at the time it is quite tame by today's standards. She could really rock a bathing suit!

If you look closely you will see my wedding photo from the Austin American-Statesman, circa 1977, wedding photos of my children, parents and grandparents, my handsome Airman at about 18 and my sweet second son dancing with me at his wedding. I will continue to add and rearrange as our family grows but this is a great start, don't you think? I believe I might have been inspired.