A Special Thing a Day

As the summer rolls on, some days feel very long.

I find that if we have one special thing–a simple thing–the day changes somehow. It doesn’t have to be a long, elaborate thing. It doesn’t even have to cost anything.

Today, we gave ourselves French manicures and made a peach popover.

That was it.  That was our big afternoon. For some reason, it was enough. 

I’m going to miss these long days of summers with two little girls underfoot. 

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I didn’t know you could put fruit in a popover. Delicious! Do you have a good popover recipe? 

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My Biggest Writing (and Life) Struggle: Point of View

All week, I revise a novel’s point of view. It’s hard! The narrator tells the story through the lens of just one character, so I have to be sure his knowledge comes from what only he experiences. Even though I know everything as the author, I can only reveal to the reader what comes from the main character’s point of view. 

It’s limiting! It binds me to dialogue and observation. I just want to tell everything quickly and obviously, but this would be no fun at all for the reader.

Studying point of view alerts me to exactly how limiting it is. There’s a whole larger story that I deliberately don’t let a character–or a reader– access yet. The narrator exists within clear boundaries of a chosen viewpoint for a very specific reason:

It makes a better story.

I have to remember my limited point of view. It’s just one character’s lens.

I love thinking of God as an Author who knows the whole story. I’m sitting here within those boundaries–accepting what I cannot know and cannot do–and surrendering to the joy of the whole story.

One day, I’ll read it.

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Have you had that experience of shifting to God’s point of view and suddenly feeling differently about your life? 

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3 Exceedingly Delightful Things

At 6:20 AM, my husband calls me to the window to see something exceedingly delightful (and seldom seen) by humans.

Two Pileated Woodpeckers perform a mating dance in my front yard. I’m not kidding. The male bows to the female, begins to hop a circle around her, and then flaps his wings around the trunk of a tree to show off his powerful wings.

Who knew they do that?

Then, my children discover enormous Queen Anne’s Lace in a field to put in colored water (we do it every summer) for bouquets of orange, green, and purple flowers.

Who knew Queen Anne’s Lace grew so big?

Then, I notice that the sunflower my daughter grew from seed in a big pot has changed positions. It’s following the sun and the sunflower hasn’t even bloomed. The whole plant knows to chase the sun, not just the flower.

Who knew?

We have many things to think about today. Exceedingly delightful things!

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Did you observe something exceedingly delightful today?

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Create a Little Joy: Grow Peas

We check the garden every day now. We’re already harvesting cucumbers, but the tomatoes, beets, and peppers aren’t anywhere near ready. 

The sunflower hasn’t bloomed; the blackberries aren’t black; the raspberries have no blossoms yet.

But the peas are close. Very close.

I’ll gather them in a bowl and begin the shucking of peas. The simple work of it makes me happy in ways I never knew I could be.

I’m adding this to my list of things to do to create a little joy:

Grow peas.

Watch their little tendrils vine and stretch.

Watch the white blossoms elongate into pods.

Watch them soften and nearly pop with peas.

Eat them with delight.

A vegetable garden roots me to a sacred experience–a cycle of seed, growth, and harvest–that I love observing.  

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Are you harvesting your own garden this month? 

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Keep Your Eye on This

I’m walking in the woods for the last time with my dear neighbor who will move away on Monday. It’s evening, and the sun sets as we walk.

She’s the one who showed me the Lady Slipper Orchids, the one who taught me how to go owling, and the one who walked me to the secret vernal pond.

She walks in front of me and offers final instructions:

“Keep your eye on this,” she says. “It’s a thistle. In a few weeks, this will be the most beautiful bloom. It looks terrifying now, but just wait.”

“I will,” I promise her. 

Keep your eye on that.  Just wait.

I love the kind of friends who show you where to look, who remind you to hope in days to come (even when it looks terrifying now), and who know the importance of walking in the woods to stay enchanted by creation.

I walk behind her, and I notice a tree. Something had a home inside of this hole. I don’t have to know what it is. I just have to know it’s there. I love the mystery of it. 

I’ll keep my eye on it and see what I can learn.  

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What do you keep your eye on when you walk in the woods?

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First Roots, Then Blossoms

I’m standing at the kitchen sink as the bright yellow sunlight streaks across the windowsill in front of me. I check the gardenia cutting–the one that’s been sitting in a glass of water for weeks now–for roots.

Not yet. I change the water, remove the lower leaves, and put the cutting back into the glass.

This is going to take weeks.  

It needs roots before I can plant it (although sometimes you can just plant it and wait for root growth if you keep the soil very moist). I have to let the nutrient delivery system grow into place before I can do anything safe with this cutting.

Only then will I plant and wait for the cutting to grow and deliver that particular summer scent of gardenia. It’s a Victorian Tea Party kind of fragrance. It’s a kind of fragrance that makes you want to mind your manners, slow down, and act a bit refined. I just love that crisp, clean smell.  

The whole discipline and patience of rooting plant cuttings keeps me focused on God’s processes in my own life. That certain and absolute reminder that I need strong roots if I’m going to survive settles me down when  I get impatient. First roots. Then blossoms.

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Have you successfully rooted garden cuttings? 

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A Thorough Repentance

Last night, the fireworks show begins with a reading of the Declaration of Independence. I’m listening to the voice boom over the loudspeakers across the valley, and I’m deeply aware of the verbs for the first time in my life: dissolve, throw off, absolve

I’m hearing it again: We totally dissolve this. We will not tolerate this oppression. We will not. We throw it far away from us. 

I think of how very thorough the breaking away is.  There’s no going back.

It’s a declaration against what comes against the human spirit. It’s a declaration against tyranny. As I sit there in the darkness, I consider my own declarations against that which tyrannizes and comes against everything of God in me. I think about repentance and all the ways I want to turn away from sin and move towards God. 

I consider the thorough language of the Declaration of Independence–the great care, the attention to every detail of oppression–and how strong and forceful it becomes. I want to be that thorough when it comes to anything oppressing me and my family and community. 

I feel courage rising in me. I feel another call to battle, but this time, thorough. I look at encroaching sin, and I sever ties; I dissolve, throw off, absolve, and declare a new allegiance. 

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Have you ever not thoroughly turned from sin and seen how it comes back?  

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Also with the Contrite and Lowly

This morning, I read in Isaiah 57 how God “lives in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit.” 

On a day when we celebrate the greatness and independence of our nation, I wonder about the greatness that comes through the deep sorrow–the contrition–we feel over wrongdoing, injustice, and shortcoming. I wonder about the beauty of lowly spirits that come humbly before God to thank Him for our country, declaring not independence, but absolute dependence, on God’s great mercy and love.

We declare dependence with a contrite and lowly spirit.

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Happy 4th of July!

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2 Recipes Worth Sharing for the 4th: Lemon-Blueberry Crumb Bars and Pulled Pork

Today, we make the Lemon-Blueberry Crumb Bar recipe that my mother-in-law discovered (she makes them sugar-free!). This kind of treat disappears within minutes; these bars are so delicious that you’ll want to stop reading this blog and make them right now. 

Here’s the link to Lemon-Blueberry Crumb Bars.

Then, our family favorite for the 4th is the Pulled Pork BBQ that you’ll love. I take a pork tenderloin, throw it in the crock pot in the morning on high, cover it with water and one can of Dr. Pepper (or Diet Coke), and let it cook all day long. Before dinner, I drain the juices, shred the pork, and add our favorite sauce (Sweet Baby Rays or Sticky Fingers). We make big sandwiches out of dinner rolls and coleslaw. 

And yes, there’s sweet tea and corn. 

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Do you have favorite 4th of July recipes? 

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She Claims It’s an Exploding Firework

My youngest and I bake a cake for our 4th of July preparations. She chooses strawberry frosting and then assaults the top of the cake with every kind of sprinkle we own. 

I’m about to reprimand her. I’m about to insist she be more careful, more organized, more logical about the decoration. 

She’s zealous about it–a little lit fuse–so I say nothing and let it go.

“Mom,” she cries out, waving her hands around her cake like it’s a true masterpiece. “Look at this! It’s an exploding firework.” 

So it is.

It is!

Every time I pass the kitchen counter, I see 4th of July fireworks exploding.

Perhaps our truly zealous endeavors must involve a bit of the disorganized, the illogical, and the dangerous. It’s the only way to get that particular bursting brilliance across the dark night. And when you capture that lit fuse creativity so natural in childhood, you say nothing and let it go.   

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When you get that creative, doesn’t it feel like this? 

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