Friday, January 30, 2015

Holding Up the World

Five hours separate me from my brother. Five hours and years of sparse communication. He's not a big talker and we were never close, but I love him and he loves me. Love bridges the gap in our conversations but there are five hours of travel to think about. I'm talking about traveling the state of Maine in January. Snowstorm today and tomorrow diving to record low temps and another snowstorm on Monday. Tuesday the high is -5 degrees. It's difficult to leave the house and fires unattended on a day like that. Then there's the little detail that I have been sick for the entire month.

My brother will undergo open heart surgery on Tuesday, with high risk because he also has muscular dystrophy. He lives alone and is fiercely independent but this challenge is big, even for him.

This morning, before I knew for certain about the surgery, I took five minutes to look at my collage journal. I hadn't reached for Liz's poetry book in some time. As I picked it up and flipped through, I noticed a small piece of paper tucked inside. She must have placed it between the pages before sending it my way. I pulled it out and read, "you don't have to hold up the world today." Immediately I glued it on the picture in my journal of the woman holding up the world.

After receiving the call from mom about my brother this afternoon, worry kicked in. What about his apartment and bills to be paid and food left in the fridge and ...

"You don't have to hold up the world today."

A familiar whisper skimmed across my thoughts.

You can trust Me to care for him.

Snow is gently falling outside. Tomorrow the wind will turn beauty into blizzard-like conditions once again. 

 God who holds serenity of today is shelter in the storms of tomorrow.

My shoulders feel weight shift.

 Let me let go. 

 When talking to my brother last night, he made a statement that has stayed with me.

"God's will be done."

I'm a more specific kinda gal - wanting to cover all my bases kind of pray-er. But lately God is drawing me into a new season, a place of rest and trust. Unscripted prayers will carry my heart and cover the distance of miles and obstacles.

I'm grateful that my brother has returned to the faith of his teen years and uttered those words. I can think of no better ones in this moment.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Soul Clutter

"My soul isn't designed to be cluttered."

That quote is from Finding Spiritual Whitespace, which I am reading for the second time along with a group of women on the Facebook page of  Bonnie Gray, the author. I read her book right after it was released, but as I entered Chapter One for the second time, tears filled my eyes. The language, the words, the story resonated with my soul.

"What I need is...Soul Rest."

How do I take a soul rest? 

My soul consists of mind, will and emotions. My mind is full of concerns right now for friends and family members going through very serious issues. I've been on the phone for the past two days encouraging and praying and waiting for news with bated breath. 

I find myself craving long periods of solitude, but unable to settle in because of circumstances. I long to write and read and create, yet the rhythms of my life are not cooperating with my yearnings.

So I  use small increments of time to practice those things that fuel my soul. This morning found me with my Bible and journal, then my collage journal, building pages. There's a part of me that hated to leave the page unfinished, yet I knew when it was time to shower and get in the office, beginning another phase of my day.

Make room. 

Those two words tumble around in my head along with plans and responsibilities filling up my day tomorrow. 

"We can't make it happen."

But I know who can.

Un- rush me, Lord. 

You have a plan and I've never known you to be in a hurry. Even this morning my prayer was for you to sync me with your plans. 

I am ready to close my day now. Tonight I will lie down on this scripture that comes to mind:

"I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28 MSG

Monday, January 26, 2015

Dreaming of Mac & Cheese

Potatoes are a staple here in "the County" as my home base is called. This is potato country. Actually these are yellow organic so Im not sure exactly where they were grown, but I'm guessing locally. 

I'm making shepherd's pie tonight - mashed potato, turkey burger and corn. One corner contains green beans just because I had them leftover from lunch and I like them. It's as close to comfort food as I can get tonight. I'd much rather have macaroni and cheese but alas, dairy and I aren't on speaking terms right now. Sigh.

It was a challenging day, all starting with the phone ringing at 1:00 am for hubby. A truck breakdown is typical when below zero weather persists day after day. He went out and came back by 2:00 and went back to sleep. The last time I looked at the clock, it was nearly 4:00 am. 

I was determined to drag myself to the gym and meet with my trainer for my once a week health check She cut our session short and sent me home to rest. I've been fighting sinus stuff and nausea ever since I got that flu virus on the day after Christmas. As weary as I was, rest didn't come easy either. 

It has been an out of sync day for me.  Hubby came in tonight while I was peeling potatoes and asked what was for supper. I looked at him with a blank look and said,"uhhhh?"

"Okay, I'll take two." He quipped.
We both laughed and I told him he'd be lucky to get one today.

I've said it before but its worth repeating. God knew what he was doing when he gave us day and night. I love the thought that a brand new day awaits me tomorrow and there is an end to this one. Smile.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

I Love You More!

Watching your children have children of their own is nothing short of a miracle. If you are fortunate enough to live close and observe your grandchildren grow and change, you take part in another precious stage of life's circle.

I've been blessed to be a part of that process - watching my daughter have a daughter and being a part of her life. 

What memories!

School vacations filled with games and movies and snacks. Shopping trips since she was a baby. Tears and laughter. Times of separation that broke my heart. Campfires and smores and school projects that left red paint on my blanket. Art projects that left green paint on my floor :). All reminders of when she came to stay. Little notes I keep by the door. Countless photo opportunities!

Photo opportunities are limited now. She has grown into a lovely young woman creating her path in this world. I'd rather spend what time we have together hearing her voice, knowing her stories, delighting in her life. 

Friday night, in a rare moment, Ken cuddled in between Grampy and I on the couch. We talked a little about school and work and played a game on our phones side by side. It was one of those heart memories I hold close and they keep me going when the going gets tough.

Happy Birthday my sweet girl and know that you will always be my little girl even as I celebrate the woman you are becoming. 

I love you more!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Control is an Illusion

"Teach us how short our lives are so that we may be wise."
Psalm 90:12 NLT

Life is in the details.

During the season of my life when I was away from home for over a year, I missed the little things.

The way the sun comes through the window where I have my morning tea, reading a book, watching the news together while hubby and I eat supper, a phone call from a friend. 

The little things.

Daily I make small choices, seemingly insignificant, yet all according to plan. 

The years I believed it was my choice were an illusion, and I'm better off without it.

I read those words over on FlowerPatch FarmGirl

Do my choices really matter? I believe they do, especially how I respond to circumstances and emotional triggers.  I realize that Farm Girl was speaking from her life and perspective. If I were to write that sentence in my own words, with my own filtered thoughts, it would look like this:

The years I believed I was in control were an illusion, and I'm better off without it.

Joseph said something similar in Genesis 45. 

"So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God."

I've read those words dozens of times but this time I got chills, not necessarily good ones.

Bill Johnson says that "Faith unchecked leads to entitlement."

The fear of God is a check.

Even standing here knowing that I am His Beloved, I fear Him and His control. 

That can be a good thing.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Begin Again

Tuesday afternoon I set an intention. 

Focus on my writing. 

I want this intention to stick and become a weekly ritual.

I pulled several books from my shelf on writing and read a bit in each. In response, I picked up my pen and began to free write. As the words flowed onto the page, my fears surfaced with clarity.

What if I'm not a writer?

What if I begin again and life happens with its detours and interruptions?

Am I wasting valuable time?

As long as I can recall, I've wanted to write. In one form or another I did. I kept journals year after year. I blogged faithfully - well almost. I joined a writer's group until it disbanded.

Over a year ago, I began to write a book. Then life happened and I placed it aside. The longer I ignored my book, more doubts grew.

On Tuesday afternoon, I wrote through the fear and set my intentions. An idea had been lingering in my thoughts for a couple of months - to join the Compel Training for writers. I went to the site, looked over the benefits and expectations and promptly joined up. Then I watched a couple of their videos.

Finally I dug out my fifty type-written pages and began to read aloud, making notes for changes as I did so. 

When I finished, I knew where to begin again.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Making Room

I stumbled across a new blog (new to me) this morning containing three words which summed up the month of January for me.

Make room. 

There have been other words. 
 I've been praying for wisdom for 21 days.

I had a cold/flu since the day after Christmas. I'm starting to feel human this week.

Wait. Yes, that factored in. I knew I was waiting on all my usual new year's lists and goals.

But make room?
On days I experiences spurts of energy, I found myself drawn to weeding out. In 21 days, I packed up and sent out of my house a box of dishes, a tote of clothes and two large bags of books. Not to mention all the complaining from my hubby about the trash bags he has hauled to the shop dumpster.

I even broke my one resolution (order no books in January) and ordered a book about making room. Bless Amazon Prime :). The  Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up should arrive tomorrow.

What I'd forgotten is this process of letting go and weeding out and making room in my home affects my soul and permeates my spiritual journey.

I am making room for new ideas, clarity, time  and energy to do something about my dreams.

Monday, January 19, 2015


Below zero temperatures have given way to  a forty degree rainy day in northern Maine. My normal routine on Monday was altered with a text from Kate canceling my usual session at the gym. We've been focusing mainly on stretching and getting blood flow to an injured shoulder. I welcomed the cancellation as I lay in bed listening to the rain pouring from the eaves.

Cup of tea ginger-peach tea in hand, I settled into my green chair with my Bible and journal and scripture memory book. A quiet Presence settled over me as I revisited promises for my family and prayed new prayers. Drawn to my visual journal I worked for an hour without interruption. 

When I look at the finished pages, I'm tempted to feel like I wasted time. Compared to art journaling or photography or my neglected writing project, the work is unpolished. Nevertheless, a sense of release accompanies the process.

The opened book lies on my art table where I can see it several times a day. 

As I type this post, I am reminded of my word - UNSCRIPTED. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Creative Dabbling

I am disappointed that a week has passed since my last post. I was doing so well at posting every 2 or 3 days. In my defense,  my best friend was visiting from Nova Scotia and I felt lousy much of the week. We spent a couple of days watching non-stop Hallmark movies and knitting. You can read more about my knitting progress over on Fearless Lines today.

Pam cut her visit short due to weather and traveling. After she left, I burrowed under the tie blanket I was working on and watched a few videos about creativity. Jamie Ridler shares her 365 day collage journal over on her blog. I watched this video a few times. Feeling a bit better after supper, I  dug out my visual journal, empty dream board and magazines. By the end of the evening I'd completed a dream board/ life map and two pages in my visual journal, which I really want to keep up on a regular basis. If you are interested in more 365 themes, check out Amber's idea,  Project 365 that Nancy Williamson brought to my attention, or Jamie's collage journal ideas.

So here's my life map. I took the pic at night after I finished it so it's not the greatest but I will share more in the days ahead.

I didn't choose a 365 day project. It seems a bit daunting right now.  Amber's idea comes the closest to most doable for me. I want to spend a few minutes creating every day.

I love Jamie's post today about scheduling a weekly art day. I'd love to schedule a weekly writing day.

Sunday afternoons have morphed into my blogging day. I look forward to sharing over on Fearless Lines weekly and reading each of their posts. I also play catch up on my blog reading, if I haven't had time during the week.

So that's it for today. Hope something I've shared has sparked your creative fire. Thanks to all those who have helped mine along.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Simple Altars

For decades, the Word of God has been my anchor, my go-to place for encouragement, direction, and comfort. Normally I have a plan all set for the new year way before January. 
When January 1, 2015 arrived, I was still without a plan. I have a few devotional books that I read regularly so I turned to them. 
Words on a page.

About three days into the year, I came across a post about the "She Reads Truth" app. I had downloaded it months before but was disappointed because there was a price to the plan I wanted. However, a new plan was designed for this year and its free. Bible readings for 365 days.

That is so not my style. I've never been into "let's read for the sake of getting it done." Yet I felt a tug in that direction.

Today was day 11 and I discovered how to write notes in the app, too. I went back over the places that the Holy Spirit had highlighted for me throughout the week and noted them.
Then I wrote this question in my journal:

"What is God's story saying to me this week through these people's lives?"

I looked over my notes and there it was. 

He leads ordinary people daily. Altars were a place where God could bring heaven to earth through simple prayer. It was when they ventured out on their own, judging the situations according to human standards that they got in trouble, but many times God had their backs.

I loved the story of Abraham's servant who hadn't even uttered his prayer, but was praying in his heart. Before he finished God was answering. To be fair, other answers were long time coming.

But they came.

Simple prayers for wisdom are mine these days. 
Simple altars. 
My green chair, my head on the pillow at night, driving down the road or washing dishes (I know. I'm one of the few who still does this task by hand.)
Knowing that He hears when the words are only in my heart.

{For a little extra check out my crafting plans over on Fearless Lines.}

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Answer may be in a Seed

My morning quiet times have been just that. 
It's as though my thoughts are my prayers. 

I struggle to find  powerful words to penetrate circumstances and bring a miracle. I feel like I am coming up empty.

Jennie Allen said something today about Joseph in Genesis. You can watch the clip over on If:Equip.
She said that there was a steadiness to Joseph's life, not because it was a good life, but because he hoped in God.

How many times do I look for the steadiness in my circumstances, for choppy waves to calm a bit, only to be disappointed? It's when my perspective shifts and I take hope, that God is able to give me grace and strength and wisdom.

I wonder how long it took Joseph to shift perspective? He lived through incredible loss, betrayal, waiting, prison, promotion and loss again before he was able to see circumstances shift in his life. Even then he carried grief with him over the way he longed for things to be.

And if he had been a woman and a mother, would it have taken longer?

I think of another message I heard recently by Bill Johnson. (You can listen on the iBethel app- "The Unusual Victory.) Toward the end of his message, Bill made a statement that has stayed with me. 

"Often God will give his answers in the form of a seed." 

God is about process, journey, trust. Bravery in the face of fears. Sowing the small seed, which is in my hand, because it's all that I have.

My daughter wrote a post at the end of last year that has lingered in my heart. It was brave and honest and vulnerable. She called it Weathered Stripes.  She shares how her daughter with autism teaches her to be brave every day. She shares her fears, her struggles, a piece of her story.

My story intersects with hers. We are mother and daughter and granddaughter. Our lives are intertwined. 

There is another whose story is being written. God holds the scripts to our lives in his huge hands with his even bigger heart overflowing love and grace in His story toward us. 
This was Joseph's hope. This is mine.

I stand on tiptoe in prayer today, stretching my faltering faith to catch a glimpse beyond the fence of human ways of thinking. To witness the glory of God here on earth, hidden for our discovery and delight. Seldom does He appear the way we think, but always in love and restoration and season.

My prayer is for eyes to see You today Lord. Or at least to see the seed in my hand.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Altars and Intentions

Abram had become very wealthy... from the Negev, he went from place to place, until he came to Bethel,... where he first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord.
Genesis 13 NIV

Back to the place where he first built an altar.

The words stirred in me.

I think about the early years in my walk of faith. Building an altar for me went hand in hand with surrendering to God.
Although most of what I feel when I look back are the constant struggles, I wonder if what the Lord sees are all the little altars I built along the way.

As I drank my tea this morning, I listened to Jeremy Pearsons on BVOV speak about rest, restoration and renewal. Whispers of wisdom breathe peace over me. 

It doesn't mean that I won't go to the gym or clean my house or work on projects. Simply put, I will move through these ordinary days slowly, on the inside. 

January intentions:

Slowly renew.
Meditation in my heavenly garden.
Listen for wisdom.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Lines Falling in Fresh Places

Snow is softly falling on this quiet Sunday morning. I have been up since 5:30, which is unusual for me on the weekend.  For the first time since Christmas morning, I awoke looking forward to my day. I must be feeling better. The virus I contracted a week ago had knocked me off my feet.


I am writing about my OLW again today but this time as my first post over on Fearless Lines. I have joined a collaboration of creative, courageous women where once a week I will share a piece of my story. I am excited and I must admit to a bit of nerves in joining this talented group of younger women.

Sometimes it takes a simple change to spark fresh life. After writing my post,  I turn on the red tea kettle to boil and place last night's supper dishes in the dishpan with fresh sudsy water. Then I begin preparations for a crockpot soup we will enjoy later. All the while I am facing my kitchen window, watching the snow fall.

Suddenly an urge to go outside with my camera takes hold on me. Why not? I pull my old brown boots over my pajamas and bundle quickly into warm coat and hat. Leaving my gloves behind for the sake of taking photos, I slip out into the powdery snow.

There's nothing out of the ordinary to photograph so I focus on the ordinary - my house that I love, the twinkle lights still sparkling in the gray of morning, snow on my boots, clothesline still holding  summer pins.

It's all so beautiful today.

Gratitude fills me for these moments. It is the commonplace that one misses when life goes off kilter. Indistinct at the time, but precious in retrospect. 

Today my treasures glimmer. 

One of my favorite quotes is by T.S. Eliot. 

"We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

I am knowing this place for the first time in 2015 and can't help but wonder what lies ahead.

Thursday, January 1, 2015



I entered the new year in a bit of a fog after struggling with a miserable cold for a week. I've entered the coughing stage now so hopefully it is nearly over. I had all sorts of blog plans for the last week in 2014 - favorite posts, books, pics etc. Life happens and our plans shift. My head was too stuffy to form thoughts for a blog post.

Thus I begin 2015 with my one little word- unscripted. I must admit to being a bit nervous about this word. What exactly does this mean? I like scripts, plans, goals. I like to know where I'm going and how I'm getting there.
I had another word all picked out. Then the week of Christmas my granddaughter was showing me the books she was reading and guess what the title of one of them was? You guessed it. 


The word hit me with a force but even then I tried to move away from it. I shared it with my daughter and was sure she would choose to use it. No such luck

 I opened a daily calendar which was a last minute purchase that I intended to give as a gift. 

"She would lay her pen down and do what she should've done a year ago. Let God be the Author."
                                                                                                                  Karen Kingsbury
Would you say that falls in the category of unscripted?

 I googled the word. I found a really interesting article about a man who writes scripts for unscripted reality shows. He makes the point that even though there are hours of film needing to be edited, someone has to pull together a story from all the events. Something about that struck a cord with me.

I am living my real life every day but God is writing my story. Hmmm. I have to ponder this.

Needless to say, I have no idea where this is all going. I do have a few goals in mind for this year but I have a feeling there's a story already forming behind the scenes that I don't have the script for.