Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Buckets of Refreshing

Overall, this summer has been extremely pleasant for someone who is not a fan of high heat.  Cool days and cooler nights have come to a temporary end as the heat arrived and seems to want to stay.  My plants that seemed refreshed and able to handle the heat this morning were bowed down and droopy by this afternoon.  The soil seemed as if the moisture was evaporated out at such a rate that what was okay this morning was completely dry by evening.  Grabbing the bucket and filling it up multiple times from the garden hose, plants were watered slowly.  Too fast and the water just rolls off.  Slowly, repetitively, water needs to be added, allowing it to sink in.  One time watered, two time watered, and slowly I watched the water sink in.  After an evening and night to soak in the new water, tomorrow the plants will be recharged.  Of course, that is water for one day.  Tomorrow evening, in this heat, water will also be needed again.

I feel like these plants sometimes.  The heat of a busy day arrives and what started out as refreshed ends as drooped and bowed to the sun.  I can feel dried out, over extended and badly in need of refreshing.  In fact, I’ve been feeling that way in the last few months off and on.  Wonderful opportunities to be involved in so many different projects and activities, doing great things to serve – things I want to do.  But, without refreshing I will be as dry as that dirt.  Yet, I have noticed that as refreshing comes from the Lord, and it does come, it comes like the water from the bucket – a little at a time.  It came in watching fawns for some time this afternoon.  It came from an unexpected encounter waving to a friend during an afternoon.  It came from seeing a shooting star, a hummingbird, and a friend’s smile.  A child’s exuberant and unencumbered praise of Christ, the time in prayer, and the words of the Bible all come like cool water and refresh my spirit. 

Yes, I do bow with the heat and the dryness that life can bring, just with the schedule of things I love to do.  And yet, I am continuing to find each day, buckets slowly added to bring refreshing.  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Summer Blooms – Worlds in a Clay Pot

Blooms have been numerous in the yard this year; little swirls and dabs and swaths of color that highlight their pots.  They are a living painting, moving and swirling over the yard.  Rather than writing about them, I thought I would share a few pictures.  Try to imagine the birds singing, an occasional cricket to hop about, the buzz of the bees, sounds and feels of the breeze, and the warmth of the sun.  

Friday, August 23, 2013


WIP - a common abbreviation for Work In Progress.

This has been a summer of projects, many involving paint, sand paper and endless possibilities. I have taken over a spot of the garage, where a plank balanced over the rims of the wheelbarrow has made an excellent impromptu holder of paint and other fun tools.

Coming in to clean up after “playing” with a combination of paints on my hands and dust on my feet (projects that occur while barefoot are just so much better); I am excited by seeing ideas take shape. Sometimes, they turned out better than I imagined. At other times, the results were just okay or not quite as expected. That is the fun of and the challenge of WIP. The expected result may not necessarily occur, but the shaping of an idea into a newly finished project, while overcoming challenges and using creative imaginings throughout is great.

This idea struck me in a new way the other day as I looked at my hands, holding a paint brushed and covered in a combination of blue and brown paint flecks. I am also a WIP! I am not even close to declaring myself as a finished product that has met my end goals. Instead, I am in the process of a project shaped over a lifetime. And, not only does this include me, but those around me as well. We are not finished projects, ready for display. But, works in progress, in action, and in practice. The possibilities are indeed endless! I encourage you as a fellow WIP to go, learn, try and create.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

One Black Shoe on the Street Curb

There is a shoe, a single shoe, sitting next to the curb on the street.  Just one shoe, not even a pair.  And, I had to wonder just how did one single shoe arrive at that spot.  Oh, I could come up with something practical – but that would not be nearly as much fun.  So….

Idea 1:
A tennis shoe wearing individual was getting ready to cross the street.  Suddenly, a giant bird swooped out of the sky and picked the person up.  The suddenness of the swoosh of the flight take-off caused one shoe to fall off.  Thus, there it is by the curb.  The giant bird delivered the individual to their car, minus one shoe, after they have had an aerial tour of the town.

Idea 2: 
A shoe seller had a pile of shoes to sell in a box and there were so many they were starting to wobble as if they would fall out of the box they were being carried in.  Perched on the top, swaying to and fro was a pair of black tennis shoes.  The shoe seller could not see the curb since there were so many shoes piled high and stubbed a toe and wobbled.  This caused the black tennis shoe to slide off the pile, bounce off the shoe seller’s head, and land on the street.  As the shoe seller’s hands were completely full of a wobbly pile of shoes, there was no care taken to stop and gather the lost shoe.

Idea 3:
Black tennis shoe, white tennis shoe, red tennis shoe, or blue tennis shoe.  Someone could not decide which tennis shoe to wear and decided to wear them all at one time.   The person came to the curb and when stepping up the black tennis shoe fell off.  However, a train was coming through at that time and the shoe wearer decided that they would try and catch a ride on the train.  The train could not wait for the shoe to be gathered and it was left there on the street.

Idea 4:
A person starting to walk across the street stepped off the curb and their phone rang.  They answered and heard such wonderful news that they jumped for joy.  They ran off excited, so excited that the shoe stayed behind.

Idea 5:
A shoe hoarding raccoon decided that it was time to clean out it’s burrow and rid itself of the summer shoes in its collection.  But, the raccoon could not decide which one to get rid of.  Sandals, flip flops, tennis shoes, and other shoes were carefully sorted through.  Finally, after hours of careful inspection of the summer shoe collection, the raccoon made a selection of one black tennis shoe.  The shoe was carefully placed near the opening to the sewer so that it would find a good home with another shoe collecting raccoon.

Those are my stories, and I’m sticking with them!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Blood Will Out – Or So They Say

I love history, understanding why and how things worked at a period of time and how that has created ripple effects that translate to our lives today.  I find myself doing an internal eye roll and silent sigh heaving every time I hear it said that history isn’t interesting or not important.  Intrigue, war, politics, romance, power, peace, learning, conquering, wins, losses, explorations – it is all there!  In the whole span of history, my favorite time period to read about is 12th century Wales.  After starting as curiosity from a family genealogy project, I found stories that let me put historical flesh back on people and make them much more real to me. 

A phrase in that study leads me to more of an etymology understanding, “blood will out.”  In other words, at the end blood will tell, the family history will show itself, and true heritage will break through.  It is an interesting concept, one worthy of discussion and consideration.  I was looking at it in the case of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd ap Llywelyn Fawr, (that is Llywelyn, son of Gruffydd, son of Llywelyn the Great) or Llywelyn Prince of Wales, to add an interesting layer.  Llywelyn Fawr, the grandfather, was known as “the Great” and the first to steer Wales from a loose collection of fractious rivalries to a power that would form the seed of a nation.  This man faced dissent both from inside his borders, his neighbors, and from the looming border of England.  Even his son, Gruffydd, did not demonstrate his father’s understanding of the love of country over the love of son; creating a rift that would not heal in Gruffydd’s lifetime.  It was the grandson who understood the dream, where blood told of the nobleness of self-denial in an effort to create a strong and independent nation from disjointed lands, political maneuverings, and shadowy dreams.  It’s a much older argument than so nicely phrased in nature vs. nurture. 

Blood will out – human blood sullied by the sin of the first man, the first woman and carried in our veins since.  Blood will out – the Christ follower who receives a transplant of sorts, a washing away of the sin.  It is in the changes of the Christ follower’s life that we see that blood will indeed show itself time and again.  It is when we see changes that make impacts that are both deep and long lasting over generations that we see this blood change.  Blood will out – indeed.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

Perspectives from Marigolds

Just spent a few minutes dead-heading the marigolds in the yard.  Of all the summer flowers, that is one of my favorites with their little sun spots of color and powerful perfume that the bees and birds love. 
To give the coming and current blooms the most energy from the plant, the dying blooms can be removed in a process called dead-heading.  Just snip the bloom off with your fingers.  I go out and do that every week or so, and that is when you will find my pockets full of marigold flowers as I head back in the house to store my treasure through the rest of the year and into the next spring.  I break up the heads so that the seeds can dry out and be stored.  Then, after the most recent batch has dried, it takes its place in a glass jar to be held until the new spring comes.

Seeing these summer blooms drying up can be kind of a sad thought.  It is a reminder of the opening and closing of life chapters in general.  But, as I look at the pile of seeds ready to dry and be stored, I can’t help but think of the perspective lesson marigolds share.  Life does present us with opening and closings, starts and finishes.  The starts and finishes can be nerve-wracking, happy, grief filled, and joyous.  Needless to say, I can go in fits and starts with openings and closings that do not regularly occur in an all smooth fashion.  New things can make me nervous, even when I’m excited about them.  And, some things I am very glad to see go, while others I miss very much. 

But, marigolds remind me of how these chapter lessons are kind of like these seeds.   The lessons can be dried out and stored for later.  Carefully preserved to be re-planted later, as life seasons change, lessons will come in handy again.  Planted in the next season, they not only re-grow from the seed of that original plant, but produces new seeds as well.  Each season of planting and building, all from one dried up flower head holding marigold seeds.    

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Praise from the Garage Floor

I was sitting in the garage floor yesterday, painting a small window a lovely blue color, and listening to Rend Collective Experiment from my computer.  Singing along to some of the songs, I started thinking about worship and praise, and how my definitions of what that means narrows my width of worship and praise opportunities. 
Let me back up – worship and praise of what?  Worshipping and praising God, taking time for an action of gratitude, a heart of thanks for all that my God is and was and will be.  It’s an act that is uplifting, refreshing, energizing, and at times draining. 
So with that part said….
I’m sitting in the floor, paint brush in hand, and thinking about how worship is more than one style or one type of art and how my very definition limits me.  There is a painter who paints to music and creates incredible paintings as an act of worship.  The gardener who tends the plants so carefully to create a living canvas of color is acting out worship.  A dancer, with every fine tuned motor skill practiced, can move in time to worship.  A musician, a writer, a sculptor, a teacher, a child playing in the sprinkler… the list goes on and on.  Worship can take so many forms; I don’t want my definition to be so limiting – especially when we were made with so many ways to express praise. 

I’m going to start looking for new ways to praise, intentional actions to thank God for his goodness.  I wonder what forms it will take.