Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sky Watch - Looking Up

There was nothing spectacular about the sky on this day as I panned the horizon looking for a shot. And then I looked straight up...and everything changed. Perhaps we could all do better if we took more time in life to look above to the beauty that awaits us.

Join the group as we explore Sky Watch around the world each week.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Birthday Wish...

My Dearest Daughter,

My wish did come true. As I write today my mind goes back to all of the memories of time spent with you: bringing you home from the hospital (I was so scared!) and watching you grow with every passing day.

I can still see you with your little pony tails, holding your "Mooney" and singing songs with me on the front porch swing. I hear your little girl laughter as you run through the sprinkler with your brother and listen as you make up games and 'spin your webs'. And I watched these past 19 years as you grew into a lovely young woman whom I am so proud of.

You are beautiful, unique, special. I couldn't have chosen better if I'd hand-picked you myself. In God's infinite wisdom He gave me someone absolutely perfect and trusted me to raise her right. And though I've definitely made my share of mistakes, you have blossomed in spite of them and become a person I adore and cherish.

Thank you for everything you have given me through the years; for the overwhelming joy and laughter that has been my life because of you. I am so blessed to have the honor to be your mother and look forward to the memories and love that still lie ahead.
You are always, ALWAYS in my heart....and only a moment away. I love you so very much, from the very forever.

Happy, Happy Birthday darlin'...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Rock Hunting

July has come to Kansas and with it, the hot winds that blow across the plains. Its arid breath dries the ground faster than I can wet it with the garden hose, and flowers droop their tired heads in heated exhaustion.

I look around our yard at all the possibilities: potential flower beds, an arbor with a swing, trees to shade the lawn. And more rocks.

Rock hunting was not just "adverb+verb" in our house; it was an adventure. Back in the 1960's there weren't elaborate greenhouses and landscaping shops where one could purchase rocks for the garden. Even if there had been, we would never have been able to afford them. Lucky us. It set the stage for a family outing that remains with me still.

On a warm summer evening or a Saturday afternoon, we would load up in the old Ford pick-up, with most of us riding in the back (a common practice of country folk in the 1960's) and drive across the countryside looking for rocks. We'd drive the dirt roads surrounding our farm, turning into pastures and leaving the truck to 'hoof it' up grassy slopes, scanning the tall Buffalo grass for unique rocks to line Mother's garden.

We would pull on brown, cotton work gloves, look for just the right rock and haul our special finds to the back of the truck. There was always delight in the discovery and pleasure in sharing Mother's joy of these new additions to her flower beds.

After several stops we would jump back in the pick-up. The windows would be rolled down in front and some of us would sit on the tailgate in the back, my dad driving so slowly that we could touch the ground with our feet as we moved over terraces at the edge of our fields. I still remember the feel of the soft, fine dirt underneath my bare feet and the smell of wind and earth.

It was a time in rural America when people trusted one another and thought nothing of letting neighbors onto their land. There was mutual, unspoken respect and trust, and a give and take between us; an open-door policy that invited and fostered close relationships and friendships across the fence row. It was a simpler time when sharing a summer afternoon with your family consisted of looking for rocks and being as happy with your find as if it were a gift. And as I grow older I see that it was. For in those times of sharing we grew closer in family.......and richer in love.

That indeed was a gift....and it was enough.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sky Watch Friday - Glorious

I couldn't decide which of these I liked the most. I love the horizontal photograph because it showcases so much of the clouds and the interesting lighting and coloring that was taking place.

But I also love the vertical shot because of the contrast between brilliant blue sky and the black silhouette of land.

Same sky, different perspectives. Beauty in both.

For more on Skywatch with our hosts Tom, Sandy, Klaus and Imac visit here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wasn't it only yesterday?

This summer I've been sorting through some of my old photographs, and remembering sweet moments from days gone by.

This particular picture was taken nearly 15 years ago when our local newspaper was doing an article about the Salvation Army's angel tree. The photographer snapped candid shots as I visited with the reporter and my daughter nestled closely next to me, listening to our words.

Though that Christmas lies in my memory from a photograph of long ago, I can still feel the spirit of that moment and the warmth of my little girl, stilled in my heart as if it were only yesterday.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sky Watch Friday - Watching the Storm

With the many storms we've experienced this year across Kansas, I've learned to find the beauty in the prelude of their wrath.

This one crept in from the south, building back as far as the eye could see and stretching diagonally into the Oklahoma border. I watched in fascination from the bed of my husband's pick-up as the tops built up higher and higher; visibly pluming into soft cottony tufts. Though I knew it contained dangerous lightening, hail and high winds, I couldn't help but be captured by the intense beauty of its presentation.

I stayed out as long as I felt was safe and until the realism hit me in gray smoldering clouds that spat raindrops upon me and sent me indoors to watch from the window.

Sometimes I miss the city with the shops down the street, art and music. And then I look up to the vastness above and hear the beautiful sound of silence, see the perfection in God's paintings and find wonder in a gift that no store will ever sell.

Tune in to Tom for more Sky Watch.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Speaking of Weddings...

Today my husband and I celebrate our 7th anniversary. We met at the turn of the new millennium, thus beginning an adventure that would change both of our lives forever.

I remember sitting down with the minister during pre-marital counseling and hearing how difficult it was to succeed at a second marriage....and truth be told, if I had known all of the trials and tribulations we were to face these last few years, I wouldn't have gone through with it. I've always said that it's a good thing that God didn't bless us with money or I would've bolted long ago! But how glad I am now that I stayed...

It's fitting that in the book of James - my husband's name - it speaks of how we should be grateful for the challenges that come our way for they help build our character and strength. Two and a half years ago I wrote a post called, "Choosing to Love". I think it's as true today as it was back then. And even though we don't always have a choice in what happens to us, we do have a choice in how we deal with our circumstances. Often it is those decisions that bring us either sorrow or joy.

My husband knows that there are still parts of me that long for the city; for the diversity that is hard to find in small town (or country) living. He knows that there are people whose friendships I miss and that I wish for a neighbor to talk to across the fence, a front porch for my swing, and pavement beneath my feet. And yet, if we hadn't met, if we had not come here I wouldn't have experienced all of the beauty that lies beyond my back doorstep, nor been enriched by those who have crossed my path. Things happen for a reason and people happen for a reason. And so it is with us.

May our journey be just beginning, and may the road before us be lit by grace and love as we travel together in the years ahead.

Happy anniversary, sweetheart. I Love you.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sky Watch Friday - Get me to the church on time

This was taken the morning of my niece's wedding. It was a lovely October day; an "October's Bright Blue Weather Day" (Helen Hunt Jackson). The sky was truly this color: a cobalt blue that was almost surreal. It served as a flawless backdrop for this beautiful cathedral....and was the perfect prelude to a day filled with joy and love.

Thanks again to Tom for hosting Sky Watch.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Serenity's Secret

One day when I was visiting my mom and dad, I was looking through one of Mother's books called, Secrets of Serenity. In it I found the following quote from Andy Rooney:

For most of life nothing wonderful happens. If you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family and friends, then chances are you’re not going to be very happy. If someone bases his happiness - or unhappiness - on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time. If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.

I often write about joy and how it is found in the small, daily happenings that we experience. I think I've always known, both from being taught by my parents and by observing and living, that the worthwhile and joyous things are those that come in the small, delightful packages of our everyday existence.

Life is about the seemingly simple: flowers opening outside your window....having lunch with your favorite ice cream cone on a hot July afternoon.....a sunset on the horizon.....pound cake in the oven.....a song that stirs your soul. The big and momentous happenings should never be the sustenance for our happiness, but rather a supplement to the joy of the journey found on our daily walk.

Open your heart. Look out your window. Live for today. For within it lies serenity and in that, the secret to a happy life.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Sky Watch Friday - Splendor Up Above

I think that the sky is God's most amazing masterpiece. I love its many facets and colors, its ever changing, breath-taking wonderment and the peace I feel at its natural beauty.

No wonder He put it above, so we would have to look up. Fitting, indeed.