Why We Need to Keep Some Secrets (and the Two-Edged Sword of Social Media)

I thought because I’d finally retired from teaching Elementary School this year I’d be virus-free without all those Kindergartners around.  But no, I am at home on a Sunday morning with a sinus infection while my husband is off to church. Ah, life.  I was looking forward to some quiet time ALONE (Plan A) to catch up on some writing (all the ideas!) and blog posts (yes, ideas!) but alas, there is a friend of ours on my front roof with a nail gun going and a compressor humming; it’s only 9:30 in the morning.

R doesn’t go to church.

He promised my husband he’d finish the window project they started last Saturday. He did not say he’d be coming on a Sunday. But there’s a Seahawks game on television this afternoon and he wants to finish in time to enjoy watching it.

So I made ‘adjustments’, (Plan B) and sought some peace and quiet on our back deck.  Since it rained last night it’s a little chilly and wet out there. Not to be deterred, I grab a blanket from the closet, wrap myself and settle in the deck chair to listen, write, journal.  But then the crows. There is no bird noisier than a crow. (Well, perhaps a blue jay).

Plan C-Currently I am typing on my makeshift ‘desk’, a smoothly sanded, unused piece of shelving propped across my lap inside on the couch where it’s warm. And semi-quiet.

I wanted to post a status on Facebook to share my woes with the world. Sort of an, “I can’t get no respect-Don’t you feel  sorry for me-Isn’t life hard?” kind of thought, so the world would know what I was going through. My world of Facebook, anyway.

But I decided against telling everyone and thought I’d just tell you. (Aren’t I sly?)


I’ve heard many Holy Spirit nudges when I’m writing lately about “keeping secrets.” Not a hide-things-in-the-dark kind of way, but in a way that honors the whole of my life.

It is easy to curate for others what I want them to know and see, to give the impression that I think deep thoughts and live in quiet beauty (which is what Instagram is for). If I ponder a Scripture that speaks to me or find a photo on my morning walks I like to share that with the world to edify others and add a little encouragement to their day.

But it’s not the entire picture of my life.

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Old Tables and New Life {Roots & Sky Edition}

I pour lemon oil onto my dust rag, massaging the small table’s worn and chipped surface. No amount of elbow grease or lemon oil will cover up the wear and tear–scuffs from an old plant container, water rings from one too many glasses of iced tea, the solitary black circle from a dropped cigarette.
Simply an every day side table, no precious wood or dovetailed joints in its construction.  Made of common mahogany, one small drawer holds the flotsam and jetsam of my living room, a shelf underneath supporting a large basket of books.
There is an angry spot on the bottom shelf where some rubbing alcohol spilled. I thought it would come off with the lemon oil, but the surface’s finish prohibited such repair.
Chips, scratches, streaks….the wood is far from perfect, but no matter. We will keep the table, hauling it into and out of the garage each Christmas making way for our holiday tree. Repolish, re-oil and sift through the drawers contents as needed.
Why? This piece belonged to my mother and my mother has been gone for over 30 years. I have so few of my mother’s things in my home; this little table is a daily reminder. Its value is only in the eyes of the beholder—and I am thankful to behold its glossy, worn presence.

In Christie Purifoy’s new book, “Roots and Sky” she ponders the power of every day wonder in simple things, viewed through the lens of the Seasons.  I asked a friend if I could begin reading “Roots&Sky” with the ‘Spring’ section, skipping over Fall and Winter. She counseled me to begin at the beginning, explaining there was a reason for the Autumn backstory.
I’m very grateful I started with Fall. Christie’s journal chronicles the trials and triumphs encountered when she and her husband purchased a very old farmhouse high on a hilltop in Pennsylvania. Old, like built in the 1880’s old.
 Dreaming of a grand future—flowers, farming, fellowship with neighbors–Christie and her husband begin the daunting process of reclaiming the old and worn and broken down.

Without the dark and empty slate of Autumn/Winter, 
we cannot appreciate the riot of new birth in the Spring.
What a parallel for life.  As I sit here typing on this rain-soaked day, the old, tired earth is waking up. There are signs everywhere.  Although the mantle of ground has been beaten down, grass browned and soggy, leaves laying in saturated piles scattered about, the scilla and tulips are peeking out. The Crocosmia are threatening to invade the vinca, my Pink Viburnum puts on its saucy show.
Viburnum ‘Pink Dawn’
Why do we tend the earth? Why do we tend anything that we hope will grow and yield a present joy or future beauty in our lives? Perhaps it is a statement about our confidence in the future.

From the ‘Autumn’ chapter:
“This house is deteriorating. My body is dying. We are subject to the same terrible decay.  But worth is not measured in such terms.
Once upon a time, God called his creation good.  And no curse of sin unwound those words. Gnarled maple trees. Plaster walls. An ordinary woman’s ordinary body.  All good.
To care for these is to say to death, “You are not the end.” p. 55.
This is why we care for the earth, care for ourselves, care for our homes. 
Death is not the end, but a beginning, we know, to another life with our Saviour.  The physical earth mirrors the spiritual, the cycle of seasons death/life/care, death/life/care ultimately mirror the power of God’s saving.
purple scilla
red flowering quince
From the ‘Spring’ chapter:
“To remember as the earth remembers is a powerful thing. 
Winter remembers death and spring remembers life…”  p. 121
‘Death’ is a near naked lilac bush with bare bumps of buds threatening to bloom.
‘Death’ is an old, worn table or a scuffed threshold or a broken down fence.  

We repair, we replace, we rejoice when the new comes and the old holds. When life stirs in the ground and in us we remember—what we love will hold us until that final day we see our Jesus.
But for now we plant, we tend, we care.  Spring is coming.  
Winter Hazel (smells like honey!)

Can I Get a Do Over?

     I was lamenting recently with some friends in our Glory Writer’s Facebook group about my good intentions not exactly panning out for observing Advent….I SO wanted to light the candles each Sunday and do the readings. I even have a daily devotional “2016 A Book of Grace-Filled Days” with selections to read. Little selections–just a nugget for the day to contemplate. But each entry had four Scripture references. No way I had time to read all those passages in The Word. Every day. 

     I think what finally did me in was the pink and then purple candles.  The colors just didn’t seem right for Christmas. I just couldn’t put them in my Advent candle-holding table wreath.

But I wanted to.

     It’s my want-to that gets the better of me sometimes. On the DISC Personality assessment, I’m a High “I”–Impulsive and Impressionable–I want to please people and I think a lot of ideas are Great Ideas and I Should Do This.

Silly me.

     My dear writer friends Amy Young and Tresta Payne (of said Glory Writers group) also wrote of the tension–the balance of wanting to remember without getting buried in the ‘shoulds.’ And over at The Mudroom-you’ve read at that place, yes?–Velynn Brown shares her thoughts–can she still be a good Christian without all the reciting? (Links to their posts are below).

All of this brought a comforting smile–I’m not the only one.

Instead, I’m going back to the word God gave me for the year–‘Surrender’ and camping there. I have to ‘camp’ there–no matter where I am, it keeps coming up.

In the worship songs we sing at church, in our Small Group Bible Study, and in my own reading.

Andrew Murray, Abiding in Christ, has this to say:

“Whatever the present moment may hold, however unprepared the message finds you, however sad the divided and hopeless state of your life may be, do come and surrender–this very moment. I know it will take time for the Lord to assert His power and arrange all within you according to His will, time to conquer your enemies and train all your powers for His service. 
This not the work of a moment.”

The words “unprepared” and “divided” really resonated with me–and a little sadness, too. The sadness is because I’m not always feeling the love and joy and peace I should. And when I don’t ‘feel’ something, I think it’s not there.  That’s the problem with the other “I” that I am–intuitive–much of what I focus on comes via my sense about some things, and I’m not sensing the joy. Or peace. Or love.
Doesn’t matter, it’s still there–’cause God is bigger than all that. That’s why you walk by Faith. End of Story.

Also? I have 5 grandchildren arriving next week (their parents are coming, too) and they’ll be here for one week. (and I couldn’t be more thrilled ’cause I love them to the moon and back).

But still…. They’ll be headquartered downstairs in our finished apartment during their stay, but of course there will be all kinds of traipsing and traversing upstairs, downstairs in and out.

Getting my house ready for Christmas–my stove sized-boxes are stacked in the living room waiting to be unpacked–plus getting their space prepared….oh, and the grocery shopping and well, the planning. And vacuuming the pine needles off the trampoline. 

‘Cause people gotta jump–rain or shine.

It’s all been a bit much.  

     Do you know how many moving parts there are when you add seven people to seven days and two cities and throw in Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the ‘Event Day’ which of course is going to see some movie everyone wants to go see (the one with the word ‘Star’ in it)?  Well, we had to make a chart to organize it all.

Well, I had to make a chart. For my sanity.

I think I’ll adopt the word ‘Surrender’ for next year, too. But for now it is a moment by moment life, as Murray reminds me.

A daily, “Yes, Lord, Abide with me now.  I’m not waiting for you to come–you’re already here. And I need you.”

I think I’ll get a do over in 2016….It takes a long time to surrender.


You can read Tresta’s post “Failing at Advent” here
Amy’s  “Out of the Mouth of a UPS Worker” is here
and Velynn’s “Coloring in Christmas With my Favorite Things” is here.
The 2016 Book of Grace-Filled days is by Jessica Mesman Griffith. You can find it here.
2016: A Book of Grace-Filled Days

Memories, Flora-wise, a Polysyllabic Poem

Botanically speaking, the plant names 
trip on the tongue with some effort (mine)
but once murmured, sound like the tune to an old song
I’ve known all my life,the words rolling off in 
chunks of meaning as I pass by a rainbow of familiar flora – 
oleander-pinnate, poisonous, softened by pink and purple
eucalyptus–fragrance in crushed wood, leaving the warmth of summer on the wind,
agapanthusamethyst blooms, towering hedge-high
bougainvillea-starburst magenta gems on a stem
mandevilla-fluted swirls of indigo, twirling tendrils, fence-tight
jacaranda-lavender floating ballerinas, suspended sky-high
crape myrtle–rainbow sherbet colored curls 
manzanita–bronzy branches, twisted trunks
hibiscus–deep throated petals of the South Pacific.
I carry the colors home, sorting out the images 
remembering the days 
when summer lived in my yard
while the pictures, people and places 
I ferry home in my heart.

Linking with Kelly and The Small Wonder Community

Ten Things about My Mother (for Father’s Day)

Have you ever been able to hang out with an 8 or 9 year old and read the book ‘Because of Winn Dixie’? (Kate DiCamillo, Newbery Award Winner 2001).

“The summer Opal and her father, the preacher, move to Naomi, Florida, Opal goes into the Winn-Dixie supermarket and comes out with a dog. A big, ugly, suffering dog with a sterling sense of humor.   A dog she dubs Winn-Dixie. 
Because of Winn-Dixie, the preacher tells Opal ten things about her absent mother (who died ‘because of the drink’), one for each year Opal has been alive.”

Last week I was able to read a chapter of this wonderful book and was inspired to make my own list. I realize Father’s Day is coming up, but since I remember my mother so much better than my Father (he left us when I was very young) I now give you….

my dad, bottom left, and mom, pregnant with me, ca. 1951.
Ten Things about my Mother

1. She was determined to make something of herself when she left her home and family in Montana at the age of 19 and moved to Seattle. I married at 19 and 20 years later moved to Seattle.

2.  She never knew a stranger and welcomed people of all races and colors, waaaay before it was a cause celebre, just because that’s who she was.

3.  She loved to belt out Johnny Mathis and Ella Fitzgerald songs. I get all my love of music and song from her.

4.  She wrote down her life on bits and pieces of paper, stealing away from five busy children and a full time job whenever she could. I got the writing bug from her.

5. She taught my brothers and sisters and I the importance of working together and pulling our weight. I started my life as a paid employee at age 15 because of her.

6.  She was a mad, creative seamstress, whipping up Barbie Doll clothes (yes!) Christmas pinafores and Easter dresses for my sisters and I, even made my prom dress and wedding dress.

7.  She was always game for adventure…..one time during a summer in Newport Beach, she was sure we’d be able to rustle up stew from sandcrabs, so we and our housemates stormed the surf for hours collecting them.  You can’t make stew out of sandcrabs.

8.  She loved passionately, perhaps choosing partners poorly four different times, always believing there was love for her somewhere.

9.  She doted on her grandchildren, the two she was alive to meet–and left small and quiet gifts in books and poems.

10.  She died way too young–at 55–a life cut short by drink and disease.  But not before daring greatly to make a difference in the world, loving us all with everything she had.

I wouldn’t be here without my father, but I wouldn’t be who I am without my mom.