Monday, March 31, 2014

Playing With Shadows

This post is a milestone for me because it marks my fiftieth. So I thought I'd celebrate by having a little fun.

Last week during our Reframing Collective we focused on observing shadows, more specifically our own shadows. It was suggested that we take a picture and write out a conversation with our shadow. While I didn't exactly do that I did have fun observing different things about my shadows taken at different times some inside and some outside. I thought it would be fun to share some of it here and encourage you to have some fun with your shadows.

Here I am working on a zentangle page for my art journal.
My shadow looks like she wants to help.
She must be really excited. Look how she is shaking.
Wow! Looks like she figured it out.
Finally she gets the pen to the paper.

I hope you enjoyed my little fun. Sometimes it's really relaxing to just do something different.
And to finish off here are a few more shadow pictures that I took this past week.

My son says it looks like I have a long dress on.
Here it looks like I'm on stilts.

Here I was leaning against the porch railing.
I thought it would be fun to see what my hand would look like.

So if you decide to have some fun with your camera and your shadows, come back and leave a comment. I'd love to know what you come up with.  Have fun!  

In case you are interested here is the finished art journal page.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Things to Write About

I want to write about running along the beach with the wind in my face, hair billowing out behind me.

I want to write about sitting under the stars on a clear warm night drinking in the beauty and vastness of the sky.

I want to write about climbing a tree to the top to see what I could see, then settling down in its branches to read a book. 

I want to write about watching the lightning flash and zigzag across the valley as I sit on my porch on a hill.

I want to write about the beautiful rainbow after the storm.

I want to write about enjoying life with my wonderful husband of thirty-nine years.

I want to write about being enthralled with the first cries, smiles, steps, and all the milestones of my seven children.

I want to write about cuddling with my children when they were hurt and kissing to make it all better.

I want to write about snuggling with my grandchildren and reading books together.

I want to write about all this and more, for I am truly blessed.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Reflection

This first picture was a prompt in the very online write-in I attended back in December, 2013.  It was a new experience to have a time limit in which to write, and the following poem is the result.

(photo credit Jennifer Upton)

The sky was dark save for the moon,
the solitary sphere in its fullness.
The cycle has completed and
will begin again continuing
on night after night
reflecting light from the sun.

I am sometimes like that moon
solitary in my way,
day after day in my routine.
But I want more.
I want my life to be
a reflection of the Son.

(photo credit Jennifer Upton)

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Candle is Burning Brightly

This picture was a prompt in our Reframing Collective, which is a part of Story Sessions, a beautiful online group of women writers who encourage rather than compete.  As I gazed at the picture I was inspired to write a poem.

(photo courtesy of Jennifer Upton)

The candle is burning brightly,

Beckoning all to see,

Bringing hope in darkness,

Safety for you and me.

The candle is burning brightly

Beckoning me to come.

It's warm inside and cozy.

Peace in this place called home.

May my life be burning brightly,

Beckoning in the night,

Pointing others to Jesus,

Who is the one true Light.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Table is Set

This picture was the prompt in an earlier Story Sessions write in.  The question to go along with it was "What is inviting you?"  The poem below is what I wrote while contemplating the picture.

(Photo credit Jennifer Upton)

The table is set with
 a pure white cloth.
A vase of flowers 
will set the tone.
But I am all alone.

Utensils are rolled 
in napkins of white.
Hidden is the feast
Prepared for all from
greatest to the least.

Where is everyone?
What do they expect?
Everything is here
to set the tone.
But I am still alone.

I will just go out
invite all I find.
They will get the food.
They set the tone.
And I am not alone.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Fence

This picture was our weekly prompt in Story Sessions:

(photo credit Elora Ramirez)
I see white fluffy clouds against a beautiful azure sky.
I also see the barbed wire fence.
Could it be that the same sky is also on this side of the fence?

I see bright yellow sunflowers reaching up towards the light.
I also see the barbed wire fence.
Could it be that this field of sunflowers extends to my side of the fence?

Sometimes we look longingly over the fence thinking things are better, and we fail to see what we have right where we are.  Even if we are going through a very difficult time we could still look for just one thing to be thankful about and try to find that small speck of beauty.  May we all try to do that today.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Who are You to God?

This is taken from something I wrote at our last class meeting of Story 101.  Our prompt was a group of questions: "What truths is He saying over you right now? About you? About your future? About your purpose? Who are you to God?"

I had not planned to share this as a blog post, but something I read on facebook today from my dear story sister, Jennifer, seemed to speak to me and I thought that others might benefit from my thoughts.  This was written about myself as I pondered those questions, but any one of you could say the same thing to yourself. (And if you are a guy reading this, just insert the word son and man in place of daughter and woman.) You are loved and I hope this is an encouragement to you.

I am a beloved daughter who dwells safely in His hands. I am created in the image of God who enables me to create in my own finite way.

My future is an open book – I can choose to bask in God's love and look to Him for guidance and wisdom. This will help me to reach for my goals. He will give me strength and grace to meet anything that comes into my path - good or bad.

My ultimate purpose is to glorify God.This is done by my thoughts, words, actions, how I treat others, by obedience to God rather than man, and by praising and thanking Him every day for His goodness, mercy and love, and by taking time to notice the beauty all around me.

(photo courtesy of Jennifer Upton)

I am a woman, beloved by God. He has a place that only I can fill because I am unique. There is no one else like me. I don't need to try to be like anyone else. I need to be Me.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Life is a Mystery

This was written during a write in for Story Sessions.  The prompt was: " Write about mystery. What does it mean to you?"

Life is a mystery.

We never know what is coming.

Maybe this is a blessing.

Can we embrace it without fear?

Would we rather run and hide?

Life is a mystery.

We are so small and frail

Where do we fit in?

Can we enjoy it?

How do we find peace?

Life is a mystery.

We can trust in One who knows.

We can be still and listen.

We can explore.

We can discover much.

Life is a mystery.

What are it's secrets?

Where do we start?

Let's open our eyes.

Let's relish every minute,

And thank God we are alive!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Enjoying the Beauty of Now

Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.  I am about to do a new thing: now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.- Isaiah 43:18,19 (NRSV)

I realize that this passage is actually a prophecy concerning Israel, but I also find that when we meditate on passages of Scripture certain words or phrases may seem to stand out and speak to something in our own lives in the present time. In this particular passage the phrases "new thing" and "springs forth" brought to mind the direction my life is taking. I believe God is continuing to open a new page in my life and I am excited about what He is teaching me.

My "new thing" is that I am becoming more aware of the beauty of now, of the little things, of the seemingly ordinary things that often go unnoticed  But as I think about it, this isn't really a new desire for me.  I came across a prayer I had written over 20 years ago. Here is what I wrote: Thank you, Lord, for the beautiful world you have made! Help me to take time to appreciate the beauty and learn more of you. And help me to pass this desire on to my children.  What is new is that I am making a greater effort to see and enjoy the beauty.

The phrase "spring forth" calls me to take the beauty I find, let it spill over into my life and touch others beginning right in my own home.  God is teaching me to use my eyes to see more, my camera to capture more, and my writing and art to share what I find with others and maybe help them to see more of the beauty in the ordinary things.  Here is excerpt from another prayer I recorded those many years ago: Help me to find creative ways to make our home more pleasing. Help us to enjoy the beauty all around us. 

What is different now is that I've found a group of women that are on this journey with me.  In an online writing group of women writers we are being offered some smaller groups that will focus on certain things for 40 days.  They are called collectives, and the one I am involved in is called Reframing, which is simply a way to see the ordinary in a different way and to record what we find with our cameras and our words.

As I meditated on the above scripture this morning I was drawn to the view outside the window by my desk. I noticed the bare hardwood trees whose leaves had fallen, which signifies to me a death of sorts. The trees are obviously not dead, but they had to shed their dead leaves. The one curious thing is that some of the hardwoods still have lots of brown leaves. It's as if they want to hold on as long as they can not realizing that they have to let go of the old to make way for the new.  And they will probably hang on until the new ones force them to fall.  

Aren't we like that sometimes?  We like to hold onto things even when we know that letting go is for the best. Like those leaves, there are parts of us that need to "die" in order for God to make us new, to continually grow us into the people we were meant to be.  Sometimes we hold on to something because it makes us feel safe, but what if that part we cling to is actually keeping us from realizing our full potential as people made in God's image with the ability to create in our own finite way?  


In this picture I also see the pines that stand out with their vivid green against the background of the bare trees. They stand firm against the onslaught of winter and keep their bright color, as if to say, "You can't get me down."   Sometimes we need to be like these strong evergreens and hold on tightly to what we have and know to be true no matter what storms we have to face.

In both of these illustrations, that of letting go and holding on there is truth. We all need wisdom to know when to let go and when to cling to what we know to be true.  God will give us that wisdom if we just ask. I want to be used of God to encourage others and part of that process is my practice of observing and enjoying the beauty of now.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Looking Up

This is a poem I wrote back in December based on a prompt given during the 40 Days of Poetry we had as a part of Story Sessions.

Look Up, What do you See?

Looking slightly up I see

a mountain dulcimer

hanging on the wall

gathering dust.

I want to learn to play it.

A perpetual calendar 

made of wood

hanging on the left

made by a family member.

Will I ever keep it current?

Looking up higher

the ceiling in view is

also the upstairs floor,

thick, wide slats of knotted wood

nailed to wooden beams.

Hanging in the center 

is a brown ceiling fan,

blades with woven inserts

and flower shaped lights
but is hardly ever used.

This is what I see  

while sitting in my bed,

knowing I am very blessed,

waiting expectantly for

the next page in my life.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Words that Heal


There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 12:18 (NAS)

This verse jumped out at me the other day when I read, “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword,” and I was really taken aback. Did I read that right? Are words spoken rashly really as bad as all that? I mean, sword thrusts? That sounds pretty gruesome to me.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how true it was. When someone has hurt me through thoughtless and hastily spoken words, it has felt like daggers being thrust into my soul. Likewise, when I have spoken rashly to others, I have done the same to them. It seems that it happens more often with people I love the most.

As I realized the implications of this I prayed then and there that God would help me not to speak rashly but that my words would bring healing to others. Does that mean I will never speak rashly again? I think not. We will not become perfect this side of heaven. Even though God knows that we are frail and will sin, He still loves us more than we can imagine. There is always forgiveness and a new beginning. That is such a comforting thought.

The second part of the verse is equally strong. “...But the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Sometimes the right words spoken can be the healing balm that is needed. A wise person will listen to others and wait before speaking instead of just blurting out the first thing that comes to mind. A wise person will assess the situation and find words that will encourage and help others.

I don't think it is a mistake that these two clauses are together in this verse. Yes, they are contrasting two different types of responses and could be referring to completely different situations, but I think they can also be applied to the same person. If I have hurt someone by my rash words, I can go to them asking for forgiveness and then bring words of healing to them.

Sometimes we have to say some very hard things, which, if taken wrongly may cause hurt. If our words are seasoned with grace, maybe they will bring healing despite the hurt. May God enable us to use our words wisely and cause them to ultimately bring healing to ourselves and others.




Prompt: Are there some hard things you need to say? Can you say them in a way that will help to bring healing ?

Saturday, March 8, 2014


We all get tired.

We all get busy.

We forget that God delights in us and wants us to delight in Him. That's hard to do when we keep ourselves so busy that we go from one thing to another and forget to be fully present in each moment.

My desire is that we "become like little children" again to rediscover the childlike wonder and awe we once had. 

So often we put chains on ourselves or allow others to do so, and we live such fixed and rigid lives that we forget how we were meant to live.

We forget to ask questions, to slow down, to sit outside, to observe creation, to be quiet and listen.

There is beauty all around us if we will just look for it.  There is a freedom in being honest with ourselves, allowing ourselves grace, not being afraid of the hard things.

We serve a God who is awesome, who knows us better than we know ourselves, is not afraid of our questions, and who wants our love and adoration. Let's break our chains and seek with our whole being to know God as fully as we can! Let's spread our wings and fly!


They said it was impossible, but she knew she could do it.
They said she must stay in her safe little box, but she felt trapped.
They said she would die if she stepped out of it, but she knew they were wrong.
They said she was not good enough, but she knew they were lying.
They did all they could to keep her down.

What could she do?
How could she make them understand?

"Why do we have wings if we were meant to stay in these little boxes?
What are you all afraid of?" she cried, "I cannot stay like this!"

They recoiled in horror upon hearing these questions.
How dare she doubt the way things have always been done!
Why was she so wild and untameable?

Slowly she stood up and stretched out her wings
Oh, how good it felt to open them to their widest span
Everyone gasped, but she felt empowered  

***photo by Gayl Wright

Timidly approaching the edge of her box
She paused,
Gazed into the sky
And jumped...                                      

What a glorious sensation  -
the wind blowing across her face,
the grace with which she flew across the sky.
It was exhilarating!

Making her way back she saw the others still cowering
Please,” she pleaded, ”This is what we were made for. Come join me!”

***photo credit Jennifer Upton

Let's break our chains and seek with our whole being to know God as fully as we can! Let's spread our wings and fly!

I'm linking this with Kelly Balarie's #raralinkup, a place where we can come to cheer each other on. You will find many encouraging posts there.

This poem was originally written during a write in for an online group and shared on their blog, which no longer exists. The prompt was: "She flew."      

Thursday, March 6, 2014

New Life

The night before last I was having a conversation via g-mail with my daughter, Jamie Bagley.  I was bemoaning the fact that I had taken my art journal with me to a picnic but did nothing with it, and just then I had it spread open before me but still couldn't think of a thing to do. She said I should draw a punchy red flower, pretend it was her and write a blessing or poem or prayer.  I asked her what she meant by punchy.  Her answer was "vibrant-full bloom."  

Here is part of our conversation:
Me:   So you think of yourself as a punchy red flower?

Jamie: I think it's my authentic self. I could be yellow like a buttercup but I'm really drawn to red.  I'm just making this up as I go. I was going to turn the tables and tell you to pretend it's you after you go through all the trouble and read the blessing over yourself.

Me:  red like maybe a poppy?

Jamie:  exactly like a poppy

Me:  I will find a picture and copy it. I do better with copying things.

(As we were chatting I began looking for a picture)

 Me: I just found a cool pic of a poppy. So do you think of me as a red poppy? And, if so, what is it that makes you think it?

Jamie:  I think we're both heading into a season of blooming big and bright in a joyful way and the poppy looks like that to me.

Me:  oh, I love that thought. And I think you are right   It's kind of exciting!

(So while we were chatting I did some research on red poppies and found some interesting information.  I searched in several places, but bits of it seemed to stay with me. )

Our conversation continues:
Me:  I read that a red poppy symbolizes sleep, peace and death, but in classical mythology it signifies a resurrection after death.

Jamie: Whoa! That makes me a little giddy.  I definitely see that in myself.

Me:  me, too, I think.  I don't necessarily feel like I've been dead all these years, but I do feel like I've had a sort of resurrection.

Jamie:  It can be a death, not the death, though.  Death can be a letting go of a need for control or the putting to rest an old idea of who we thought we were or were not, etc. There are many kinds of symbolic deaths.  You can just think of it as a coming awake. like we are learning to live with our eyes open, to beauty, to suffering, to our significance, etc.

Me:  I just drew two poppies on an art page.  I love what you just wrote, Jamie, about the coming awake. Now if i can only think of a blessing or poem to go with them.

(The whole time we were chatting I was drawing or researching)

Me:  Did you know poppies thrive in disturbed soil?

Jamie:  Wow. It's like a gift that keeps on giving.  I hope you are writing a blog post about this.

After our conversation I worked on the picture a little more and then Steve and I watched a movie with relatives.  While the movie was on I was able to come up with a poem inspired by our conversation, my research and the picture of the red poppies. After finishing the art page that included the poem, I decided to take another look at wikipedia and found one more little tidbit about the red poppy. In Persian literature it represents LOVE.

The poppy has been used as a symbol of sleep, peace, death, resurrection and love.  What an appropriate image for this Lenten season leading up to the celebration of Christ's resurrection on Easter Sunday.