Sunday, November 30, 2014

Taking Time to Pause

The Gift of Nature

When I walk outside
on a bright autumn day
where the wind blows cool
making all the trees sway

When the air is crisp
giving me a slight chill
when my eyes look up
to see over the hill

It gives me such peace
a bonding with nature
as I breathe the air
so refreshingly pure

This is a lifeline
connecting me to God
who created all
down to the very sod

This gift of nature
So beautiful to see
Makes me feel I have
glanced at eternity

One of my favorite things to do is to walk outdoors quietly by myself. It helps me to clear my mind of unnecessary things and to focus on God and His creation. It's a good habit to develop daily especially when I think I just don't have time. That is usually when I need it most. When life seems overwhelming it helps to take time out and reflect on God, to be thankful, and to ask for help and guidance. 

As you go about each day, won't you pause a few short minutes from the chaos all around and think of God's gifts?

You may be going through a difficult time or a time of questioning and doubt, and not even feel like being thankful. Maybe you think God doesn't care. Beloved, He does care. I believe this with my whole heart. Though we can't see through the darkness, He can. He gives hope and will lead us through to the other side.

I'd like to invite you to meditate on this passage from the Bible found in the book of Romans. It's very encouraging to know that even when we have no words God's spirit speaks for us.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Gifts From God

Today's Five Minute Friday prompt is the word Give. When I began thinking about writing tonight, I wanted to include something about the gift of nature and how It always inspires and refreshes me when I take time to walk through the woods slowly and contemplatively. I started a poem but since it took more than five minutes I decided to include it at the end and write something else for the five minutes.


This God of ours is so wondrously great. He gives me gifts everyday that are often overlooked. I have air to breathe and food to eat. I have friends and family who love me. There is so much to see all around if we open our eyes.

God has given me a heart that wants to help and encourage others. Sometimes I give so much of myself that I get tired, even exhausted. Then I am thankful I have a place to lay my head and rest.

I also realize that others give so much to me. They listen to me and encourage me. There is the gift of laughter that we share. Last night we played a silly game called Quelf. We ranged in age from children to parents to grandparents. It was a lovely time filled with lots of laughter.

Stop, time is up.

When I walk outside
on a bright autumn day
where the wind blows cool
making all the trees sway

When the air is crisp
giving me a slight chill
when my eyes look up
to see over the hill

It gives me such peace
a bonding with nature
as I breathe the air
so refreshingly pure

This is a lifeline
connecting me to God
who created all
down to the very sod

This gift of nature
So beautiful to see
Makes me feel I have
Glanced at eternity

                                  ~gayl wright

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

To Give Thanks

This week's topic for Real Talk Tuesday hosted by my friend, Marvia Davidson is Thankful Thoughts. This will be the last link up for the year. So to start off I want to give thanks for Marvia and for her beautiful life. She seeks to live authentically before God and people. She has been such an inspiration to me and many others. A couple of weeks ago I was able to meet her in person, and I think this photo captures her personality well! I'm so blessed to call her my friend.

I wanted to make this post special, but I just couldn't figure out what to say or how to start. I began by writing down things to be thankful for and intended to add pictures for as many as I could. As I thought about it more, it just seemed sort of superficial. Don't get me wrong. I am thankful for those things and I will list them here, but I wanted to make it more meaningful. 

My heart was heavy for friends who are hurting and for the state of affairs in our country. There is a lot of turmoil, and sometimes it seems like anger and hate reign among people who should be friends and neighbors. I did not want to just rattle off a list of items that I have been blessed with without thinking about the heartache others might be experiencing. But then I realized that maybe by genuinely being thankful and sharing that with others I might be able to encourage someone just a little bit.

So I did what I often do when I can't think of what to write. I went to my art journal and just started painting a page. When that dried I decided to put gesso over it and then add another color. Taking time to look through magazines for words and pictures I began gluing some to the art journal page.

After that my mind seemed to go blank and I couldn't think of anything else to do. It was getting late so I decided to leave it until morning and think about it some more. After breakfast this morning I looked through more words and it finally seemed to come together.

I'm thankful for my loving husband who is so good to me.
I'm thankful for all my children and grandchildren who bring me much joy.
I'm thankful that my mother is still with us, when two years ago we almost lost her.
I'm thankful for the sky and the beauty I see there every day.
I'm thankful for my friends both online and in person.
I'm thankful for creativity like art, poetry, photography and writing for my blog.

What are you thankful for this day? Please join us for the Real Talk linkup. We'd love to hear from you!

Monday, November 24, 2014

In Which Our New Jersey Adventures Begin!

In an earlier post about living in South Dakota, I mentioned that Steve had accepted a job teaching in a Christian school in Cranford, New Jersey. This meant another cross country move in the span of two years. In the summer of 1978, we moved from New Hampshire to Florida. The following summer we moved from Florida to South Dakota. This time, in the summer of 1980, we would pack up a moving truck and drive east to New Jersey.

(Our little family, summer 1980))
It was a difficult trip with all four of us sitting in the cab of the moving truck towing our car behind. Apparently it had enough space to include the toddler's carseat. Since it was next to the door, and the window was open, little Jamie proceeded to let her sock go out the window. I guess she wanted to see if it would fly.

(Sara and Jamie, summer 1980)
We arrived in New Jersey late one afternoon at the home of Mary Ann Barker, a sweet lady who was also a member of the school board. I remember being exhausted after traveling so far with a 4 year old and 20 month old. Right after we arrived Sara fell and skinned her knee in their driveway. I was thankful for the way Mrs. Barker took her by the hand and helped her into the house. She carefully tended Sara's wounds talking to her the whole time.

Mrs. Barker was quite the hostess. For dinner we sat in their dining room where the table had been set complete with tablecloth and pretty dishes. She served each of us plates of delicious food as if we had been in a fancy restaurant. After dinner we went upstairs and Sara was shown the laundry chute. She was fascinated by the fact that it went from the second floor all the way down to the laundry room in the basement. When it was her bedtime, Mrs. Barker tucked the blankets snugly all around her making her feel secure. Sara loved it so much that she wanted me to keep doing it every night.

For breakfast the next morning, the table was again beautifully set. Mrs. Barker even had Half & Half in a little pitcher which she let the kids put on their cereal. With all her care and attention she made us feel very special. This would not be the last time her kindness was shown to us. More of her story will be coming at a later date.

(our home in Kenilworth)
We had stored our furniture in the garage of one of the other board members who was gracious enough to let it stay there for the rest of the summer. We visited relatives in Florida, and then came back to stay in the Barker's house for a couple of weeks while they were out of town. That gave us time to find a place to live. We found and rented the lower level of a house in Kenilworth, New Jersey. The owners were Italian and had left a lovely garden full of Roma tomatoes and figs which we were able to enjoy. 

A church down the street advertised a free preschool, so we decided to let Sara attend. She had a lot of fun dressing up as Raggedy Ann for their Halloween party and participating in the parade they had in the classroom.

We became close friends with one family we met at the preschool who had three daughters close to the ages of our girls. Every day when we walked home from school the girls begged to eat lunch together. Most times we did, either at our house or theirs. We shared lots of laughter and fun times with them.

Christmas came and we had a simple but special dinner. The girls loved their Christmas dresses which were gifts from their grandparents.

I had some extra material that was soft like velvet which I used to make matching stockings for Sara and Jamie. I wrote their names with glue and gold glitter. They used them for several years after that.

We did not have much in material wealth, but we were rich in love and friendship, and we were happy. Many different events happened during our year in Kenilworth, and I'll be sharing more of them during the next few weeks.

You can find previous memoir posts listed  HERE with links.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Run To Jesus

If you are struggling today or feeling overwhelmed, I hope my words will encourage you to look to Jesus. He is full of mercy and grace that never runs out. There is enough for all. I pray that God will bless you and that you will find peace and rest in Him.

"Oh Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more." (Psalm 10:17,18)

I am linking up with Lisha Epperson today along with others sharing their hearts at Give Me Grace.

Hope For All Times

When I hear the word hope it gives me such a feeling of wonder and awe. The hope I think of is the sure hope we have as Christians that we are held safely in the arms of our Savior and that we will one day be with Him. 

Because of this hope, and with God's help I can handle anything that comes my way. That's not to say things will be easy. There have been many situations in my life that are just plain hard. I've lost loved ones including having miscarriages. We've faced unemployment...

You can read the rest at my friend's blog, The Hope Diaries, where I am guest posting today! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Colors All Around

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is the word notice.

I took a walk late one afternoon this week despite the chilly wind. It had been awhile since I walked in the woods and I wanted to walk slowly with the intent to notice things I might normally pass by.

I saw colors of  green and brown and yellow.

There was a red leaf all by itself amongst the brown ones scattered on the ground.

I found some tiny yellow berry like things on a bush.

There were some tiny red leaves still hanging on a branch just blowing in the wind.

The sky was very cloudy but there were still patches of blue shining through.

Because of the shadows as the sun was setting my house looked dark with the bright sun going down but still shining peeking out from behind the house.

It's amazing what all we can see if we just slow down and notice.

Contrasts of Sorts

For the months of November and December Jamie is just giving a  Thursday Poetry Prompt at the beginning of the month. Then for the remaining Thursdays she is giving tools and suggestions to give you more confidence in writing poetry.

The prompt for November is: Movement Toward Hope. We are to come up with two lines at a time where we contrast something that is troubling with something that brings hope. She gives more explanation and how to on her website which you can find HERE. Usually we write the poem on the day of the prompt without worrying about editing too much. This time I started it later and revisited it a few times making changes along the way.

Contrasts of Sorts

(Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, beets, lettuce, carrots)

Goats with needs were causing grief
Now they're sold I've found relief

On our land there's much to fix
But garden greens, quite a mix                        

Growing older has its fears
God is with me through the years

Homeschool days in six months end
Something new waits round the bend

Words and pictures hard to pair
The result a blog to share.

Clutter seems it's here to stay
But I choose joy anyway.

We'd love for you to join us with these poetry prompts and feel free to share your own poem. Jamie has a link up button on her website to make it easy for you to join.  Be sure to check out her post on A Poet's Basic Tool box and A Poet's Toolbox: Inspiration Edition for some good advice on writing poetry.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Finding God in the Everyday

For Real Talk today, my friend, Marvia Davidson, wants us to see God in the every day happenings of our lives. Here is what she says: "Look, and you will find God whispering in the ordinary, everyday, mundane things of life. Look again. Lean in. Listen."

It was late in the day on Monday when I took a walk around my property thinking about Marvia's prompt. Stepping out onto my driveway the air was a bit crisper that I had realized and everything was covered in shadow as the sun was making it's way down behind the trees. Wondering if I was too late to get any good pictures, I turned my gaze to the sky and this is what I saw.

Keeping my eyes toward the sky I looked slightly to the east and northeast to get this panoramic view.

Turning, I walked up the back driveway and loved this view of the sun still giving light behind the trees.

Lastly I walked back down the drive and around to the other side of the house to get this wonderful view of the setting sun.

No matter where we live we can see the creativity of God as soon as we step outside keeping our eyes open to what is all around us. Sometimes we can't get outside very easily, but we can still see God in the ordinary things every day. The following poem I wrote in September illustrates this nicely.

The Whisper of God's Love

You can hear it
in the rustling of leaves
as the wind gently blows,
the whisper of God's love

You can hear it 
in the softly falling rain
tapping on the roof,
the whisper of God's love

You can hear it
in a baby's cry
as the mother responds,
the whisper of God's love

You can hear it
in the clattering of dishes
as someone prepares a meal,
the whisper of God's love

You can hear it
in the night, in the day
anytime if you will listen,
the whisper of God's love

Monday, November 17, 2014

When Daddy Sewed

The year 1962 was memorable in many ways. The Mona Lisa was exhibited in the US for the first time. John Glenn was the first human to orbit the earth. Walmart opened for the first time. Johnny Carson became host of the Tonight Show. Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, and Jodi Foster were among the celebrities who were born that year. It was also the year of Bob Dylan's debut album. Chubby Checker's rendition of “The Twist” had been number 1 on the rock and roll charts and was still very popular. Poodle skirts, bobby socks and black and white saddle shoes were still worn even though they were first popular in the fifties. I wanted one of those skirts, and what is memorable to me about that year is that my dad actually made one for me.

I was nine years old and in the fourth grade, unaware of most of the goings on in the world outside my little area. That was the year some people may have labeled me the teacher's pet. I had endeared myself to her by staying after school to help in any way I could. I was the child who wanted to please my teachers, and Mrs. Thomas was one of the nicest teachers I had ever had. Like most children who lived near the school I rode my bike almost every day, and sometimes my dog would follow me later, and I'd see him sitting outside waiting for me after school as I headed for my bike.

My mother was and still is an accomplished seamstress. She made all my clothes, but I was not very appreciative at the time. One time someone complimented me on my pretty dress. My answer to them was, “It's not a dress. It's a skirt and blouse made from one of Aunt Nell's old dresses.” I thought since my clothes were homemade they weren't as good as the store bought ones my friends wore. It made me feel a little inferior. I wanted to fit in and have clothes like every one else. To encourage me Daddy said, “Yours are better made than the ones they get at the store, because yours are custom made.”

In later years I was thankful for Mother's abilities, because she could make almost anything I described to her. She would even make her own paper patterns to get just what she needed. When I made my announcement that I wanted a poodle skirt, my Dad said, “I'll bet I could make you one!” I'm sure my mom was shocked because sewing was not something Daddy did. 

He was off to work every day and often told me he had to “go make a nickel,” which was his way of saying he had to make a living. He was Operations Manager of the National Biscuit Company, which is what Nabisco was formerly called. Often on his way home from work he would stop at a fabric shop that would have discounted fabrics. He'd come home with stacks of new material so my mother could make new clothes for us. He sure knew how to pick some pretty colors and designs, but we never dreamed that he would actually make something.

(Easter 1962)
I knew Daddy loved me. I was always “Daddy's little girl.” Even though I had two younger brothers and we were all loved, there is something special about the relationship between a little girl and her doting father. I had no doubt that he could make that skirt. After all, daddies can do anything, right? I'm sure my mom must have helped him gather the materials he needed. I do remember seeing him sitting at the sewing machine, and I'm sure I could hardly wait for it to be finished. 

Finally the day came for me to try it on, a beautiful skirt made from a medium blue print fabric with a white poodle appliqued on the front. It fit perfectly, and I loved it! When my aunt saw it she said, “If you can make that you can make me a dress.” So he did. As far as I know he had never sewn before and never did again. That skirt was very special to me, because Daddy had made it. Maybe he wanted to prove he could do it, but maybe he just wanted to do something special for his little girl.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Let's Celebrate!

This week's Real Talk topic is Celebration. According to my friend, Marvia, nothing is too small to celebrate. We so often think something has to be really big for us to celebrate - it has to be a holiday, a birthday, or some other milestone reached.

Where did we get that idea?                        

Why can't we just celebrate life?

My friend Suzanne Terry puts it this way in her blog post for Real Talk, Feast - Just Because. "This is my favorite reason to feast – nothing.  No reason at all. I am prone to making elaborate dishes on a whim to savor just for the sake of savoring them."  Then she says, "You are alive. Celebrate!" In other words she's asking why we need a reason other than that we are alive. She also realizes that it's not always that easy. Most of the time we go from one thing to another missing the "right now" of our lives. 

We often just live for each event, counting down the days or we pine for things past wishing we could bring them back. Neither of these are healthy for us. I'm not saying we can't look forward to things or reminisce about past events. There is a place for that. What I am saying is that we so often miss little every day things in our habits of rushing through our lives to get to the next thing. 

Why do we need a reason to celebrate?

My answer is that we don't really need a big event to do something special. A couple of days ago my friend, Mary Beth Pavlik, shared a very enticing recipe called Apple Pie Biscuits that she had gotten from Joy the Baker. It looked easy and delicious, and I thought I'd like to try it sometime. Then I read Suzanne's post yesterday about feasting and celebrating and I was inspired. I decided I would make it that very night for dessert. 

Well, I didn't get to it that night but determined to make it this morning for breakfast. It was a hit! My husband felt like he was sitting down to a feast with his bacon, eggs and coffee and these special biscuits!

What if we chose to slow down and focus on the ordinary things of each day?

What if we woke up each morning with the goal of finding some beauty in our lives?

What if we chose to celebrate life rather than complain about what we don't have?

Maybe we would find ourselves a little more content and realize how much we do have to be thankful for even in the midst of our struggles and our hard things.

What if we looked at each day as a new door to open with wonder as we search for treasures in all shapes, colors and sizes and in ordinary and not so ordinary places? Would we find reason to celebrate?

Please share with us your thoughts on celebration. What do you like to celebrate? Join us at Marvia's Real Talk.

Monday, November 10, 2014

More Adventures in South Dakota

Most of our time spent in South Dakota was very enjoyable, but some things were hard. We learned and experienced many things during our stay for the school year 1979-1980. You can find the first part of the South Dakota story HERE. Since I don't have pictures that directly relate to the stories in this post I will just include some that were taken while we were there.

(Steve and Sara pulling taffy)
We had become good friends with Glenn and Linda next door and Susan and Bob across the way. Linda and Susan were sisters. Susan liked Andy Williams and Linda liked Roger Whitaker. So at Christmas time we surprised them with Christmas albums by those artists. It was the first time we had heard Roger Whitaker and we became big fans of that particular Christmas album. It has been a tradition to play it every year in our home, so much so that our kids always looked forward to hearing it when it was time to open presents.  After the blizzard we had in the fall we did not really have much more snow that year, but we had lots of ice storms which made the plants look pretty.

Since the school had students from different places in South Dakota, not all the board members lived close, so they had to come a distance for a board meeting. Some of the them were not so kind to us. Because we did not make an effort to find out when they were coming so that we could invite them into our home, we were falsely accused of not being hospitable.

Our neighbors were very surprised at the accusation, because they had taken time to get to know us and had experienced our hospitality. At first I was just hurt and angry, because I thought the board members should be reaching out to us since we were new and didn't know how things were done. I knew the anger was wrong, but I also knew that I would have a hard time getting rid of it, so I asked God to please take it away. Answers to prayer don't always come quickly but this time it did. He took my anger away and I had a peace that I could not manufacture on my own.

Sara and Jamie loved drinking chocolate milk and they always brushed their teeth together.

One day, my friend, Susan, with her two younger children and I with my two decided to go to town. I don't really remember what we did, but I do remember on the way home that her car ran out of gas. At first she wasn't sure what had happened, because her husband always kept the car in running order. She managed to pull over before it completely stopped, and we sat there talking and trying to figure out what to do. There was a farmhouse pretty close so we decided to walk there.

I had been sitting sideways in the car facing Susan with my back to the door. When we decided what to do one of the kids got out of the car and opened my door without warning. Because the car was parked on a slant, I went sliding out the door as soon as it opened. I'm sure it looked pretty funny. I stood up and Susan asked in a laughing voice, “Did you just fall out of the car?”  I answered in the affirmative and we both had a good laugh.

We were in for another surprise, though, because as soon as we got the four kids together and started to walk, a whole herd of cows came running towards us. Imagine a large fenced-in pasture area with a bunch of cows heading straight for you. I knew that with so many they could easily break through the fence, and we were a little bit scared, but they stopped at the fence and just stared at us.

We continued to walk along and they walked right beside us on the other side of the fence as far as they could before we got to the farmhouse. Susan was able to call her husband to bring some gasoline and we walked back to the car without any more trouble. It was quite an adventure that I remember pretty clearly even though it was over thirty years ago.

Sara and Jamie loved to feed their dolls, and Jamie thought she needed to feed me, too!

After that particular school year the teachers were advised to look for another job, because they weren't sure the school would be able to stay open the following year. We realized that the climate there was not really good for us as Sara and I had respiratory problems a good bit of the time, so it was just as well that Steve find another job. This time it was for a school in New Jersey so we would be making another cross country move in less than a year's time.

(The girls loved the bouncing spring horse)
Join me each Monday for my memoir snippets. You can find more stories by going HERE.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Beautiful Autumn Day

For days I have been wanting to get back outside and wander around my yard taking pictures. It is very relaxing and invigorating for me to do that, but I've let too many other things get in the way. When I looked out the window today and saw how beautiful it was with the blue sky and the fall colors I knew that today I had to be out there. Leaving my chores and duties behind I grabbed my camera phone, put on my cap and my farm boots and went walking. The beauty was too much to keep to myself so I decided to share.

I took these standing in the woods by our house looking up and feeling in awe of the beauty and the greatness.

Here are some of the animals that live here although the beautiful white one will be sold soon.

(our rooster - Cogburn)
I'll leave you with these two taken on my way walking back up the hill.

As I look around at the beauty of creation I am reminded of what a great God we have. He didn't just create us and all this beauty and then disappear. He loves us more than we will ever realize and is full of grace and mercy. I hope as you gaze at these pictures that you will be drawn to the only One who deserves our praise and adoration. May He bless you today.

(my evening view)
I am linking up with Lisha Epperson and #GiveMeGrace. 

#naturephotography #fallcolors