Friday, April 25, 2014


Finally, I'm back joining in with Five Minute Friday again.  You can go HERE to see how we do it and read what others have written.  Basically you write for five minutes on the topic given without worrying about editing. Just set a timer for five minutes and write

 Being a friend means a lot of things
A friend always loves
A friend doesn't judge
A friend let's you be yourself
A friend is sensitive,
A friend gives you the push you need,
A friend cares always
A friend is kind
A friend is faithful
A friend is encouraging
A friend is there when you need someone
A friend is careful
A friend gives sacrificially
A friend babysits to give you a break
A friend listens and doesn't interrupt
A friend is a gift 

These are my best friends, my children and my husband.

These are long time friends of mine sharing a meal together

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Lady's Slipper

The Lady's Slipper

Green leaves unfurling

Fit for a fairy princess

Lady's Slipper blooms

Day 1
Day 3

Day 5
Day 6
Close up Day 6

In my wanderings on our property six days ago I found these Lady's Slipper Orchids. From my readings I found that they take years to grow and need some sort of fungus to feed on to grow. Then as they mature, the fungus feeds off of them. They need each other to grow and continue. Lady's Slippers can live for twenty years.You can find out more about them HERE. These are pictures I have taken starting with the day I found them. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Reclaimed Brilliance, Conclusion

This is the conclusion of my post about "Reclaimed Brilliance" which was a prompt in a Story Sessions Write In. You can read Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE.

A few months later, my daughter asked me to write something for her empathy series she was hosting on her blog. People were rewriting stories from the Bible as if they were one of the people there. My first reaction was negative as I thought to myself, “How could I possibly do that?” I had never done anything like it before, but the idea seemed to stick with me. I began to wonder what I could write about. When I did decide, it did not take long to do the actual writing. My daughter thought it was very good! I was kind of surprised.You can find that story on my daughter's blog, Ava Anomaly.

A year earlier people were telling me I should start a blog, but I had no idea how to do it or what I would even use it for.  I thought maybe I could document our getting chickens and goats and the progress that was being made throughout the process, but that sort of fizzled out. Doing the guest post for my daughter helped to boost my confidence a little and I began thinking again about starting a blog.

With help and encouragement from my daughter I did start this blog and participated in Five Minute Friday for the first time on the very same day! I also signed up for the winter session of Story 101. Then in the month of December Story Sessions was running a special so I joined before I even took the class. I jumped right into the 40 Days of Poetry they had started on December 1, and my love for poetry and art was rekindled. 

my first attempt at artful found poetry
December was also the first time I participated in a Write In with Story Sessions and I actually surprised myself by writing a poem during that time. I posted it recently HERE. Every prompt and every write in that I participated in brought more confidence and more reclaiming of a love of writing creatively. During the same time my oldest son and I joined a local writer's group which has been very helpful. I actually entered a flash fiction contest at short notice.

I feel like I have gotten out of my rut and have found new ways to express myself through writing, art, photography and more. The flame is burning brightly now.

dogwood blossom from my front yard

When I began writing from this prompt I was thinking mostly about the reclaiming of my creative writing skills, but as I have looked back over the years of my life, I see writing is not all that has been reclaimed. There is so much more.  This is what I have discovered:

"Reclaimed Brilliance" means that I am becoming more of the person God has created me to be, someone who creates in many areas because I am created in the image of the Master Creator.

And I hope I will continue to reclaim, to grow, to be ever spreading my wings to pursue all that God is calling me to be, to bring creativity into every area of life, to bring joy and beauty to others and ultimately praise to God who gives me strength and grace to persevere.

To God be the glory!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Reclaimed Brilliance, Part 2

You can find Part 1 of this story HERE. In that post I mentioned that changes were coming. I believe the reclaiming began with this next step in my life.

My youngest son and I went to stay with a daughter for over two months. She was having a difficult pregnancy because of heart problems which landed her in the hospital. You can find her story HERE. Her husband was having to take off work a lot and take the children to where others could care for them during the day and part of the evening. When we realized the seriousness of her situation my husband and I decided that I should go stay with them for as long as they needed me. Since my youngest son was 14 at the time and homeschooled we decided he should come also. 

In some ways it was a difficult time. It was the first time my husband and I had been apart for that long of a time. He did come to visit after a month’s time. Without going into a lot of details about the separation of my son and I from the rest of the family at home I’ll just say that there were mixed emotions. We missed the family back home but we treasured the time with my daughter and family who lived so far from us. (All the experiences we had would make another story.) It was wintertime so there was a lot of snow on the ground.

my granddaughter and me
Now you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with “Reclaimed Brilliance.”

While I was away at my daughter’s I had lots of time to think and ponder and rest. To be sure I was busy every day, but in the evenings I was pretty free. Also my son helped with the kids during the day, and their father was there at night. I wanted to journal my time there so my daughter gave me a blank Narnia journal that she had not used. I also wanted more creativity. Being interested in sketching, I ordered the workbook for Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, and began the lessons in the book on my own. At the same time I read about the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and knew I needed to get it. It was a life changer. At the back of the journal I began recording things I was thankful for each day. I would do this in the evening while sitting in bed. 

Do you see that more glimmers of creativity were coming back?

Clutter had also been nagging at me for a long time, so when I found the book Organized Simplicity, I bought it and read it thinking it would help me prepare for clearing out clutter when I got back home. Now things did not suddenly fall into place. I did not instantly stop complaining. I did not always look for things to be thankful about. When we returned home we did make some progress on clutter. I made an effort to keep recording things to be thankful for, but slowly the excitement faded. We are still working on the clutter issue.

There were lots of things to deal with including my mother having surgery, pneumonia and other problems and we almost lost her. Thankfully, God saw fit to bring her back to a measure of health and she is still doing well at age 91.

We had a small garden but wanted to expand our vision for our homestead. One of our daughters gave us chickens for Christmas in 2012. My husband exercised his creativity by building a portable chicken tractor. We also decided to get a couple of dairy goats the following spring so we could have milk. My husband, other family members and friends helped build a small barn. Here I was, a 60 year old grandmother milking goats. I was actually stepping out and trying new things.

Now the sparks of creativity were becoming small flames.

(You can read the conclusion HERE)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Reclaimed Brilliance, Part 1

“Reclaimed Brilliance” was the prompt we were given in a Story Sessions Write In recently. It caused me to think about parts of my life when I felt creative and parts where the creativity had been pushed back. I began writing but did not finish during that write in. The words just kept coming. I worked on it little by little over the course of a few days and finally finished after writing seven full journal pages.

“Reclaimed” is a word that can be very comforting. I think of it as taking back something I lost or just forgot about, something that may have been pushed way down deep. I love the word “brilliance” because it sounds like such a happy word to me. Brilliance can be described by words like magnificent, splendid and grand. It can also mean unusual mental ability. When I think of brilliance what comes to mind is light shining, bursting into color and sending rays in all directions.

“Reclaimed Brilliance” for me led to thinking about reclaiming creativity in different areas of my life especially in the area of writing. 

It’s interesting how some of these prompts will take us on journeys that seem to have little to do with the prompt, but I think if you will bear with me you might see why it led me in this direction.

When I was young I had quite an imagination. My mother told me I had an imaginary monkey who was always getting in my way. My imagination was fueled by the many books I read. My father would take us to the library every week and I think I read all the kids biographies and many other books. When I was ten I wrote a song. One year my friend and I started writing a fantasy story. We would take turns taking the spiral notebook home from school and add to it each day. I don’t think we ever finished it. Another time I entered a contest writing a book review. I didn’t win but got an honorable mention and a consolation prize. 

me in third grade
I was very curious, constantly asking questions of my elders including my aunts. My parents usually answered me, but more often than not my aunts told me I was too inquisitive. I took my time when I was washing dishes or some other chore. Many times my grandmother would tell me that I was so slow, but I enjoyed being slow. My grandfather, who used to take me to school sometimes, also thought I was slow. He would say, "Grandma's slow but she's old, got a wooden leg." He may have been mostly teasing, but it wasn't really helping me. Mostly I was slow because I enjoyed what I was doing. I loved to wander around my backyard when the wind was blowing strongly before a storm and stay out until the last minute. I guess that was a little of the wildness in me coming out.

I began playing the piano when I was young. I don’t believe that area of creativity was ever really buried. Even though I don’t do it as much now, it is very much a part of me and how I express myself, so I’m not including that in what I am reclaiming.The piano playing was actually something that helped carry me along.

Later in life, after I married and had my first four children, we began homeschooling. Now there was some creativity in that area because we didn’t have a lot of money. Also when my girls were young we were creative about birthday parties and such for the same reason. Since homeschooling was a new venture, I began keeping journals in order to record the memories we would be making.

our girls when we began homeschooling

There were some glimmers of reclaiming during those years.

As time passed my journal writing became more sporadic. Sometimes months would go by when nothing was written. It seems like most of my creative writing got buried. I did not even think of myself as a writer. Of course I was busy raising children so that might explain why there was not time for much extra.

In recent years I let myself get really busy with duties at home, duties helping other family members, and generally staying too busy to pay much attention to myself and my creativity. I know I did a lot of complaining and didn’t really keep my mind on being thankful. I wouldn’t always notice the good, but would often complain about the bad, or what I saw as bad.

But change was coming and more sparks of creativity were making themselves known.

(Part 2 is HERE)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Time Circles Back

This is what I wrote in response to the Story Sessions prompt: Threads of redemption and how time circles back.

When my children were growing up I chose to invest myself in their lives rather than try to have a perfectly clean house. I couldn't do both.  Maybe some people can but I wasn't one of them. I also wanted to instill in them a love for God through my words and actions. Did I do this perfectly? Absolutely not!  I'm sure my children can attest to my outbursts of temper on occasion. They knew that I was not perfect. Things would be left undone, and I would be so tired at night I would just seem to fall into bed.

As time goes on, though, the time I spent with my daughters is showing up in the way they are loving their husbands and children and spending time with them. In each of my girls I see a little of myself – the good and the not so good. It's a strange feeling sometimes to see different parts of my personality showing up in each of them, and I am enjoying how I see them in their own daughters.

Time circles back.

My boys are still at home, but I see it in them, also, the way they care for me.  They are so responsible and know how to fill in when I am not able.  For the past three weeks they have been doing most everything around the house because I have had to just rest and regain strength. I am very thankful for them and their sisters.

Spending time with our children when they are young matters in so many ways.  It is so important to listen to them, to treat them with respect as fellow human beings and not as possessions, to include them in what we do. Things were not always smooth and calm as our children were growing up. Some times at different stages in their lives things could get pretty rocky, but my husband and I wanted our children to feel free to come to us with anything.  Now as they are adults our communication lines are open even if we don't always agree.

All seven of them love Jesus and want to follow Him. This is a beautiful thread of redemption woven into all of our lives starting from when my husband and I first married. Actually the thread can be traced back to whoever in our families first followed Christ. Though each generation has changed and discovered more how to find Jesus in unexpected places, we all have a common bond and love that comes from our hearts.

Time does circle back full of threads of redemption in ways we don't often realize.

A nice place to rest and chat

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Fairy Tale

Darkness is deep.
I lie awake in bed.
The world sleeps.
Quietness reigns,
Broken only by
Melodic chimes.

What beautiful music
Comes with the breeze,
Stirring my heart.
I slowly arise,
Open my shutters
And see a surprise.

A dazzling, blinding light!
Before my squinting eyes,
Unfolds a fantastic sight.
A crack in the sky.
A portal to another world?
A hand reaches out....

I shiver, stepping back.
The palm opens wide
Beckoning me to come.
Do I dare?
What if I never return?
What if I die?

My strong curiosity
Rebukes my fear.
Reaching up I
Clasp the hand,
And find myself
In a ravishing land.

A shining castle, Dawnstar by name.
Shimmering fountains surrounded by
Gorgeous gardens with color aflame,
Yellow daffodils, red roses, purple violets...
Jeweled pathways glittering in the sun.
Such breathtaking magnificence!

My heart is pounding fast.
I must know where I am.
Who has brought me here?
Is this real or just a sham?
Filled with wonder I turn and see
The prince of this glorious realm.

Suddenly my nightgown becomes
An exquisitely embroidered dress,
White and sparkling with diamonds.
Cascading softly down to my toes.
As I gasp at this stunning beauty,
The Prince kneels and gives me a rose.

He leads me into a banquet hall.
Where a splendid feast is laid.
Mouthwatering fare enough for all
The guests assembling there.
He then asks me to be his bride.
I am speechless but nod a yes.

Our home shall be the castle
Named for the morning star,
 Whose rays break through the dawn,
Promising joy and peace.
Happiness and love prevail,
And time will never cease.

The first five stanzas of this were written during a Story Sessions Write In.  I have since edited them and added the rest, making this my first fairy tale poem.