Thursday, July 1, 2021

Spiritual Journey Thursday, Sharing Our Stories, and Poetry Friday: Nurturing Our Summer Souls

Carol at Beyond Literacy Link is hosting Spiritual Journey Thursday this month with the theme of Nurturing Our Summer Souls. We would love to have you join us. 

When Carol asked us to write about nurturing our summer souls for Spiritual Journey Thursday, my first idea was to take the theme and create an acrostic poem. But I found that structure too constraining. Then I tried to collect my ideas into prose, but that wasn't right either. It didn't take long for me to decide that a list poem was the perfect vehicle for my summer musings on how to savor summer and nurture our souls.

Savor Summer

Sip lemonade

Rock on the porch

Sit in the shade

Cheer the children in the neighborhood parade 

Throw candy for the marchers

Salute Old Glory

Chat with the neighbors  

Cool off with a popsicle

Rescue ice cream from the spoon & return it to the cone

Indulge in a shaved ice

Build a sandcastle

Bury my feet in the sand

Swim in the ocean or the lake or a pool

Hike in the woods 

Picnic with friends 

Play at the park

Swing until my toes touch the sky

Vacation with family in my hometown

Saunter the library stacks (when it opens)

Read outside, read inside, read on the road, read at home

Attend outdoor theater

Stroll the farmer's market

Collect shells or rocks or pine cones or memories

Embrace the new (food, flavor, trail, experience)

Listen to the birds 

Celebrate fireflies 


Revel in the flowers

Water my garden barefoot

Talk to my tomatoes

Stop at roadside stands

Buy the berries and the melons and the peaches

Showcase summer in my best dishes

Gaze at the night sky

Take my quiet time outside

Ponder God's word

Listen for His voice 

Feel His love

Embrace the miracle of today

Journal the wonder

Nurture my soul

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Sharing Our Stories and Slice of Life: A Seventeen Day Road Trip!

The year was 1984 and I was almost six months into my first pregnancy. The trip was punctuated by hot weather, nights at Motel 6, and long days of car travel. So why would I consider it one of my favorite trips?

We made meticulous plans. Our in-advance research yielded a brown manila envelope for each destination. Each night we would pull out the envelope for the next day and decide which of the many possibilities to pursue on the next day.

We ate out of our ice chest and a cardboard box in the back seat. I’m sure we had an occasional restaurant meal, but those meals haven’t lingered. Instead I remember the box of cereal, the loaf of bread, the jar of peanut butter, the carrot sticks (prepped the night before), and fruit purchased from grocery stores or roadside stands along the way. I remember a very delicious cantaloupe ripened to perfection and cut using a knife carefully wrapped in a dishtowel and secured with a rubber band (a travel technique learned from my mama). I remember picnicking in parks in small towns and a hillside picnic in New Mexico where we carefully gathered pine cones that I still decorate with each Christmas (despite the fact that we now live where pine cones are ubiquitous).

I remember one particularly unfavorable restroom stop after Lance had ignored my suggestions for more favorable stops, and I had reached the point of absolutely having to stop “right now.” A pregnant woman’s bladder can be very insistent! By the time we returned home seventeen days after beginning, I knew that we had taken this trip at the perfect time. My pregnant body was finding riding in the car for hours-on-end less than desirable.

I remember the book that I was reading, The Clan of the Cave Bear, enjoyed after I scanned the envelope for information about our next day's destination. I remember enjoying magic mattress massages available for a quarter at some of our Motel 6 lodgings. I remember a leisurely float trip down a river in Idaho. I remember visiting Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, Yellowstone, Salt Lake City, and the crown jewel of the trip for me, Grand Teton National Park. We may have even splurged with an overnight stay at the lodge and enjoyed a meal there.

The best parts of our 1984 road trip? 

  • It was taken before Lance had a laptop or cellphone to keep him tethered to the office. 
  • We visited some of the most beautiful and memorable places I’ve ever been. 
  • It lasted for seventeen days, the longest vacation we’ve ever taken!

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Slice of Life: A Birthday to Remember!

 I wasn't sure that I wanted to be away from home for my birthday, but I decided that being with my sister for a birthday would make it special. We've not shared many birthdays in person as adults. So I booked a flight for early June to visit my sister in Bryan, Texas, my first visit in two years. Little did I know at the time that it would turn out to be one of the memorable birthdays in my life. 

First of all, my nephew and his family live in College Station, so of course they would join us for birthday cake and ice cream.

I invited my niece who lives in Texas (about three hours away) and my sister-in-law who lives in Oklahoma (almost seven hours away) to join us. And was thrilled when both responded that they could come! We loved attending church together on Sunday. 

My sis, me, my sister-in-law, and my niece
The biggest surprise came when my nephew and family (who live in OK, seven hours away) decided to join us! I failed to get a family pic while they were here, but here's one they took for me on their return trip home. 

The first cousins!
The second cousins
 The birthday girl!

The birthday girl's view!

At some point during the evening's festivities, I escaped to the bedroom for a little peace and quiet. Only it was filled with five cousins playing together. Some of them didn't even notice that I was in the room at first. I began questioning each in turn about their grade in school (funny how teachers prefer knowing that to knowing ages). And that's when we discovered that we had a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grader in the house! I insisted they line up by grade for a fun pic. And yes, those are my toes in the pic!

And that's how we ended up with sixteen people at my 66th birthday party. Thanks to everyone who joined the celebration. Because of the pandemic, and because we lost two siblings in 2020, and because I'm one of the elders in our far flung family, this gathering was a dear occasion and a birthday celebration that I'll hold forever in my heart.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Spiritual Journey Thursday: Comfort

is hosting Spiritual Journey Thursday this month 
with a call to revisit our One Little Word for 2021. 

I putter about my blog, search for posts that include the word comfort, and seek to come up with a way to revisit my One Little Word for this Spiritual Journey Thursday post that will do double duty with the Sharing Our Stories community. 

I chose to approach my OLW for 2021 through the lens of these three phrases: Snuggle into comfort, reach out to comfort, and step out of my comfort zone. I've probably snuggled into comfort long enough. This quote by Kay Arthur that I shared in my January post reminds me that the Lord is beside us and willing to comfort us in our daily walks and trials: "Snuggle in God's arms when you are hurting, when you feel lonely, when you feel left out. Let Him cradle you, comfort you, reassure you of His all sufficient power and love."               

I'm relieved that vaccinations have enabled me to actually reach out to comfort and embrace dear friends. I've resumed walking with friends and our church congregation has slowly moved back  to "in person" gatherings. This week will mark the first Sunday that we will gather in person for two hours of worship instead of one hour church followed by Zoom gatherings for second hour classes that has been our schedule for the past two months. I'm looking forward to hosting our first in person book club in June. 

But the comfort that I'm leaning into is the comfort of being with friends and family for the next week. I traveled to Austin, Texas yesterday (traveling is one way that I'm stepping out of my comfort zone). My good friend, Mallory, picked me up at the airport and will drive me to my sister's home in Bryan, Texas today. It's been almost two years since I've seen Mallory's family. We shared a pew with them on Sundays for almost ten years and they shared their children with us. We were so sad when they decided to move to Texas. Here are pics taken from their last visit to our home in July 2019 and one of the family taken just yesterday.

And today I'm off to see my sis in Texas. It's been two years since we've been together. I can't wait to see her. Her son and family, my sister-in-law, my niece, and my nephew and his family are joining us for a family weekend together. It's a sure bet that we'll be doing a bit of embracing and comforting. It's our first time together since my brother's death. Covid-19 has stolen so much from us. We are looking forward to this time together to share our love, remember those we lost (a sister and a brother in December 2020), and comfort each other. These words from 2 Corinthians 1: 3 & 4 remind us that as we are comforted by God, we have a responsibility to reach out to comfort others:
"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."             

Finally, it's time to step out of my comfort zone and get to work on some projects at home. I've been gentle with myself and spent a lot of time snuggling into comfort and giving comfort. When I get home from this trip, I'll make hay while the sun shines (and while the garage is not cold and dark) to join husband in his efforts to declutter the garage and our home in preparation for downsizing at some point in the future. (I welcome all helpful hints from friends who have already walked this path.) The words of this quote will help me remember that outside my comfort zone is real growth. "Be comfortable with being outside your comfort zone. That's the only way to grow."

I look forward to reading your posts about your 2021 journey with your OLW!

To savor the magic of story, link your post at Sharing Our Stories.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: A Flower is the Blossom of Any Plant

Oh, my goodness, flowers! They fill my heart with joy. They gladden my eyes with their beauty. They turn my gratitude to God who created flowers for our enjoyment. 

The next thought that flitted through my mind was, "Is a blossom a flower?" And I found the reassurance I was seeking on the internet with this answer to my query, "A flower is the blossom of any plant, including trees." Whew! 

I knew this post would have to be a sharing of flowers from my little corner of the world. I wish I could claim all these flowers, but they come from walks I've enjoyed. I limited myself to a dozen photos taken this year in the merry month of May.

A surprise bouquet from daughter and grandsons!

This one comes from daughter's back yard!

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that our
neighborhood deer will not discover my
geraniums. They ate all the blooms last year.

This lovely pink rose from my own roses 
is for my beautiful sis, Kay!
She celebrates a birthday in May and adores pink.
To savor the magic of story, link your post at Sharing Our Stories.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Vacation House Fun!

We just returned from a few days at the Oregon coast with daughter's family. We've dubbed the places we stay "vacation houses" and we loved experiencing the Oregon coast with two of our grandchildren. Two year old Robby was amazed and kept repeating, "Oh, my golly!" (we're not sure where he picked up this phrase) in response to each new space as we toured the house. 

Their family shared the upstairs, complete with a large sitting area perfect for evening story time. Robby's bedroom was a large, walk-in closet, with ample room for his pack and play. Four year old Jack slept in a big bed and loved the space where he could unpack his toys and clothes and place them on open shelves. He even had his own bathroom.

Jack was enthralled with his new Lego garbage truck set and went to work assembling it right away.  Robby loved his new Truck book, complete with tabs and flaps for many different kinds of vehicles. Grandpa hauled in a bin of toys from our house, I brought in my book bag, and the fun began. 

The next morning we headed out for a morning at the beach. The wind had died down a bit overnight. We had sand toys, kites, jackets, windbreakers, morning snack choices, and I even brought my book. (Sometimes I just can't help myself.) It seemed appropriate to be reading Kristin Hannah's The Four Winds on a windswept beach. Although it was a bit chilly, we were rewarded with a gorgeous blue sky backdrop for our colorful kite flying fun. Jack loved standing in the hole his dad dug in the sand, and Robby liked being buried in the sand. Afternoon activities (after nap and quiet time) included a visit to a park, assembling a floor puzzle of a construction site (24 pieces) and cajoling Grandpa to play ball in the garage which consisted of dropping balls into the pockets of a billiard table.

Our 2nd full day began with another beach excursion, this time with overcast skies and more wind. It was a bit shorter, but followed up by hot chocolate to accompany morning snack back at the vacation house. Late afternoon activities included a hike in the nearby woods, games of Red Light, Green Light with Grandpa, making muddy buddies, and grilling hot dogs and hamburgers for dinner. The adults enjoyed an episode of Bone and Shadow each evening after the kids were in bed, and a 300 piece puzzle, perfect for a group of four to finish in one evening. 

Before we knew it, it was our 3rd wake up and time to pack up and head home. Jack and I were sharing hugs that morning when I told him, "
Jack, you make my heart happy!" 

And his gleeful reply? "Grandma, you make my elbows laugh!"

 We returned home with some sand in our vehicles, a few rocks from the beach, and precious memories to last us until our next vacation house excursion. 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Spiritual Journey Thursday: Blossoms of Joy

Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link is rounding up our Spiritual Journey Thursday posts relating to the theme Blossoms of Joy. Thanks, Carol, for hosting this week.

Can you imagine our earthly sojourn without the blossoms that accompany our celebrations and our farewells? Some years ago, carnations worn on Mother's Day signified whether a mother was alive or deceased: red if one's mother was living, white if one's mother was deceased. Our mothers pinned our love to their Sunday dresses in the form of corsages. Today we gift our mothers gorgeous flower arrangements for the home as a reminder of the joy they bring to our lives. 

I am fortunate to live in the Pacific Northwest where spring trumpets its arrival with bursts of flowers, blossoms on trees, and the tender green leaves of spring. I decided to search my photos for my favorite pics of spring. Here are a just a few of my joyful blossoms of spring. I was trying to limit myself to ten, but it looks like I ended up with a baker's dozen!


The lyrics to the hymn "God Is Love" capture the joy of the natural world and its reflection of God's love and kindness.

God Is Love 

(the link has two additional verses)

1. Earth, with her ten thousand flow’rs, 

Air, with all its beams and show’rs, 

Heaven’s infinite expanse, 

Sea’s resplendent countenance— 

All around and all above 

Bear this record: God is love.

Text: Thomas R. Taylor, 1807–1835, alt.

Music: Thomas C. Griggs, 1845–1903