December 25, 2014

journey to Bethlehem

Every year we spend the day before Christmas "journeying" to Bethlehem.  I play "Mary," my Farmer plays "Joseph," and the children play our nieces and nephew, travelling in the same caravan en route to our ancestral city of Bethlehem, for the census.

It all started quite simply, about a decade ago when Sugar was a toddler, and we used the figures of our nativity scene to act out the Bible story for her.  As Mary & Joseph made their long trip to Bethlehem, they stopped along the way to eat.  (We "stopped" with them, sharing raisins to ensure Sugar's rapt attention).

Each year it's gotten a little more elaborate, until it has blossomed into an annual theatrical production - at least for mealtimes.

We spread the blanket on the floor and lay out the food in the center.  We sit around the food in a circle, sharing from the common bowls (handmade pottery, or wood, if possible).  Sometimes Joseph (or, more rarely, Mary, who has also been known to fake pregnancy with a pillow) wears a plaid bathrobe to really get into character.  Conveniently, the children all have biblical names and it's only "Mommy" and "Daddy" which are discarded in favor of stage names.

Our "simple peasant" fare has gotten a bit more substantial over the years as the children have gotten larger and hungrier.  From the initial almonds, raisins, and bread, the menu has grown quite a bit.  I offer it here, in case anyone else wants a spark of an idea to ignite their own tradition.

Journey Menus
breakfast:  bread, curds (cottage cheese), dried or preserved fruit, and almonds.

lunch:  fish (tilapia or swai are inexpensive, and are tasty baked simply with a pat of butter), barley loaves, honey yogurt, olives, pistachios and grapes.

supper:  lentil stew, tortillas, plain yogurt, goat cheese [I also made risotto this year, since growing children cannot live on tortillas alone, and not everyone at this house has developed a taste for lentil stew yet.  Let's just call it poetic license, shall we?]

There are many possibilities for substitutions, and our menus vary a bit from year to year.  Dried fruits that could have come from that region of the world include raisins, dates*, and figs.  Fresh fruits include grapes and pomegranates.  Nuts could be almonds, hazelnuts, or pistachios.  Dairy products of all kinds would have been common.  Come up with something else?  I'd love to hear about it!

Christmas Day Feast
Breakfast is supplied in the stockings - granola bars and juice boxes and craisins and such - and lunch is normal fare.  But for our supper we pull out the stops with a Moroccan dish called Lamb Tagine with Dates (adapted from Betty Crocker's New International Cookbook).  We've made this dish with lamb, beef, chicken, and venison, and it's always delicious.  I've followed the directions to the letter, from browning the meat to adding the dates in at the end, and I've thrown it all into a crockpot at the same time, and it's still always a hit.  I think this recipe is one of those rare ones that you just can't mess up.  Here's the all-at-the-same-time version:

Put into a crockpot:

3 lbs meat (lamb, venison, beef, or chicken all work just fine)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. saffron
2 cups water
1 T honey
1 cup pitted dates*, chopped (don't use your yummy varieties here; deglet noors will do nicely)

Cook on high 4-6 hours, or on low 8-10 hours.  Or whatever.  Crockpots are wonderfully flexible.  This year I put the meat in frozen around 11 a.m. and am hoping it will be done (on high) by 5pm. (I'll let you know if it's not!)

Serve with naan and millet if you're having an energetic year.  If not (like me, this year) then plain rice and a vegetable will do fine.  I have some olives left over from yesterday that I'll put out, and we'll have pomegranates and clementines and dates* (the yummy ones!) for dessert, along with some completely inauthentic Christmas cookies that my industrious children made with my mother one lovely day while I was out.

Merry Christmas, and may God bless us, every one!

* a word on dates:  Your health food store may have medjools (which are a lot tastier than the deglet noor variety usually sold for baking), and other varieties if you're lucky.  Otherwise, is a reliable and cost-effective choice for barhi, jumbo medjool, khadrawy, and halawi varieties.  They also have great customer service and a delightful sense of fun.

December 10, 2014

days 2-7 of 90

I thought as I went through the 90-day Bible challenge I would jot down some verses that jumped out at me ... but it turns out that just reading each day's chapters takes a good chunk of my time.


I did take some notes, so I'll share them, albeit a bit after-the-fact.  I'd welcome your responses to my many, many queries!  Here goes:

day 2 of 90  [Genesis 17:1 - 28:19]

God, wanting to confide in his friend:  "Shall I conceal from Abraham what I am about to do?" (18:17).  Or something else?

Lot's reluctance to leave Sodom (19:16, 18) - ?!?  What on earth was so dear to him there that he hesitated to leave despite angelic visitors warning him of destruction and urging him to evacuate?

"Invoked the Lord by name" (21:33, 4:26) - ??  I'm using the Revised English Bible that my Farmer got during his study-abroad semester in Great Britain.  Other versions use "called on" or "worshiped."  The International Standard Version (with which I am not familiar) uses "profaned."

Rebecca, seeking guidance of the Lord about her pregnancy, and receiving prophetic words (25:22,23).  This does not quite jive with the Biblical (Pauline) image of women I grew up with (1 Corinthians 14:35)....

Jacob - from whom came Jesus - grasping from birth at what was Esau's (25:26, 31; 27:19).

Isaac, telling the same old "my wife's my sister" deception as his father (and to the same king, too! 26:7).

The first Rehoboth, a well named because "the Lord has given us room" (26:22)  [well, okay, the very first one was Nimrod's city, Rehoboth-Ir].  Wonder what's behind the beach town of the same name?

More invoking of the Lord by name (26:25).

That God would honor a blessing given because of a deceit!!  (27:23, 28-29)

day 3 of 90  [Genesis 28:20 - 40:11]

Second tithe: Jacob, to God (if God protect him & provide food & clothing, and bring him back in safety: 28:20-22)  [first tithe:  Abraham to Melchizadek 14:20]

Poor, poor Leah - unlovely, unloved (29:17,25, 30).  But God saw, and it was from Leah's womb that Jesus' lineage came.

"you have striven with God ... and prevailed."  (32:28) - !!!  Who strives with GOD and comes out on top?!  What on earth does this mean?

Joseph "told tales" about his big brothers to their father.  (37:2)

day 4 of 90  [Genesis 40:12 - 50:26]

Joseph, sending his brothers back with good news to their father, warning them not to quarrel on the way - ?? (45:24)  About what, I wonder, did he think they would quarrel, and why was it his place to so admonish them?

And the double-ness of the entire Egypt story: Joseph sent on ahead to provide for them during the famine (45:5, 7), yes - but also to move the entire Israelite family to Egypt to be there 400 years as slaves.  A friend was just telling me the other day that sin must serve some purpose, else God would never have allowed it to enter the earth.  And this on the tail of my own thoughts that morning - why Satan?  Why the initial fall of an angel from perfect harmony with God?

Why the centuries of slavery for God's "chosen" people?  Like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, wondering if it was truly a blessing to be so "chosen."

Hmmm, but in chapter 47 Joseph effectively turns the entire nation of Egypt (and parts of Canaan?) into slaves for Pharaoh, after collecting all their money & all their livestock & all their land in payment for the food (which he had collected from them in the first place (41:34, 48).  So he enslaves them, and his descendants become enslaved by them.  Interesting.

day 5 of 90  [Exodus 1:1 - 15:18]

day 6 of 90  [Exodus 15:19 - 28:43]

day 7 of 90  [Exodus 29:1 - 40:38]

All that blood on the priests gorgeous vestments!  (Ex 29:21)

"Soothing aroma" (Noah's sacrifice and now) 29:25 & 41 - the smell soothes God?

"Cleanliness is next to godliness" (30:18-21) - Aaron & priests must wash before entering Tent of Meeting.

Ohhh, the anointing oil and the incense!  The temptation to make our own, to smell that aroma concocted by God Himself for His pleasure!!

Craftsmanship is from God:  31:3-6 - "I have filled him with the spirit of God, making him skillful and ingenious, expert in every craft, and a master of design, whether in gold, silver, copper, or cutting precious stones for setting, or carving wood, for workmanship of every kind.  Further, ... I have endowed every skilled craftsman with the skill which he has.  They are to make everything that I have commanded you."

The seriousness of the Sabbath - penalty of death for working! (31:13, 15; 35:2-3)

How God disowns the Israelites when they sin, like a disgusted parent, to Moses:  "...your people, the people you have brought up from Egypt, have committed a monstrous act" (32:7) and how Moses turns it back: "...your people, whom you brought out of Egypt ..." (32:11)

I love that the effect of spending time with God Almighty was a luminous face! (34:29)

On building projects:  when the Israelites built their Sanctuary, so many people gave voluntarily that they had to be told to please stop giving, because there was already more than enough.  (36:6-7)

So what a cherubim was was common knowledge??  There is exquisite detail on how to make the flowering almond candlestand, but the instruction to make cherubim (gold ones over the Ark's cover, and embroidered ones on the curtain) is just casually tossed in there, in a sort of "well everyone knows what they are" kind of way.  Huh?!

Well, that was helter-skelter.

Have you any insight on these passages to offer me?

December 1, 2014

Day 1 of 90

Today is the first day of the Advent season.

Sugar had remembered, and gotten down the two Advent calendars yesterday, so today at breakfast Lil' Snip got to open the flap with a "1" on it while Spice read to us from Luke about the angel Gabriel coming to Mary.

I printed out Ann Voskamp's beautiful Jesse Tree ornaments, and copied some devotional readings to go along with the ornaments.

And somewhere in the evening hours, after a deliciously unseasonable day of t-shirts and raking leaves and making angels out of discarded hymnals, a challenge came my way from a distant young cousin of my Farmer - to read the Bible in 90 days.

Intrigued (and yes, convicted by her mention of time spent on facebook!), I printed out the plan and said I'm in.  I showed it to my oldest girls, Sugar (who loves to compete) and Spice (who loves a challenge).  They thought they'd like to try, too.

Starting now.

It took surprisingly little time to read the first day's chapters, once I'd re-mastered the trick of sticking to a single task (which was surprisingly hard).

Here's a few of the gems that stood out to me:

~  The order of creation (Genesis 1):  light (but not sun or stars yet), sky (got its own whole day!), division of water and earth, plants, sun, moon, stars, sea creatures, birds, animals, man.  [although Genesis 2 has God creating a man first and afterward planting a garden and forming animals and birds, and then woman].

~  God, bitterly regretting that he had made man (Genesis 6:6).

~  That it was Abram's father Terah who first struck out toward Canaan (11:31) but stopped short and settled in Harran.  [also, was the land of Canaan named after Ham's son Canaan, who Noah cursed?]

Care to join me and my girls, anyone?  A three-month journey through God's story to us, to rediscover, perhaps, who He is, and why He so deeply loves us . . . ?  (And beautifully timed to coincide with Advent, the season of waiting for a Redeemer)

November 17, 2014

separated? never!

[this is a post from over a year and a half ago, but the day Lil' Snip had yesterday was so similar - and the truths I learned about God are just as timely - that I thought a re-post was in order]

It had been one of those days:  Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice at each other's throats like wild dogs, bickering and blaming and outright brawling, and under and around and through it all, Lil' Snip's grating whine - when did he become a whiner?! - insisting that someone hold him, that someone read to him, read to him, read to him, again!, that someone play with him - nooooo, this way!!

I was ready to die.  [sorry, I know it's dramatic, but that's the way it was.]  Actually - by God's grace alone - I had died, over and over, to my self that day.  And as naptime mercifully approached, and I tucked the loudly protesting toddler under my arm and carried him, struggling violently, up to his cage, I mean crib, God shone His light on my heart, and taught me something beautiful about His.

I still loved that Lil' Snip.  He had been purely intolerable that morning, and somehow I had not only tolerated him, but I still loved that inharmonious, recalcitrant bundle of muscled will.  All his discordant belligerence, his complete lack of courtesy and grace had done nothing - nothing - to separate him from my love for him.  I was happy to be separated from him for a few hours, it's true, but at my core, my heart still beat love, love, love, love toward him.

And that's God's heart toward me, toward you:  nothing, nothing, can separate us from His love.  Sin keeps us from intimacy from Him, but even sin does not change His love for us.

When Lil' Snip awoke, cheerful and compliant (actually, his snit lasted a few days, but let's compress that for the sake of brevity), ready again to receive my love, I forgave* him his obstinance and accepted him gladly back into my arms.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? 
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine
or nakedness or danger or sword?
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, 
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, 
will be able to separate us from the love of God 
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Romans 8:35, 38-39

* a difference here is that my toddler does not confess his sin; when we, however, "confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:8-10).  Needless to say, another difference is that I, unlike God, am powerless to cleanse Lil' Snip from his unrighteousness, much as I would like to be able to!

November 9, 2014

humble pie

Well, as difficult as it is for me to believe this, it has lately come to my attention that there are some people [bear with me; this has got to be an absolutely minuscule population of people who don't know me very well in real life] who have an illogically warped view of me as someone who is, well, in some way or another, not to put too fine a point on it, perfect-ish.  And if that just blows your mind, well, you're in good company:  my Farmer is certainly under no illusions, either!

I'm not exactly sure what this fallacy is founded on - and I don't really want to know.  I just wanted a chance to shatter any illusions that exist.

I thought about the photos I post on here sometimes of the beauty I diligently seek out, and it occurred to me that you all on this side of the camera would have no idea just what I have to look past sometimes in order to find beauty.

So - I thought I'd walk around our house - right now! - and take pictures of the messes I find.  I could have waited until an even messier day to do this, but, well, I do have some pride, and thought I'd better do this while under inspiration instead of putting it off while my courage wears thinner and thinner ....

Here they are, then - our messes:

I started in the kitchen - plenty of material here!  My Farmer is actually washing this pile (a weekly ritual for which the regulars are grateful!) but since we don't have a dishwasher, and only wash dishes twice a day, dirty dishes on the counter are not an uncommon sight.  We're glad we have plenty of pots and pans to cook with and plates and bowls to eat from.

Here is one of my "back counters".  I have no excuse for this mess.  I guess it doesn't help that I vary the mess on a regular basis, does it?  ;)  (anyone want my tea rejects? grape-flavored Sleepytime and Madagascar Vanilla Rooibos).  This particular mess includes a bead-melting project from two weeks ago, saffron from our bulbs, pfeffernusse, a bag of coffee that needs to be put away, lightbulbs I replaced with daylight swirly bulbs, my to-do lists and homsechool folder, a plate that I should have returned to a neighbor almost a year ago, and a bag of bagel chips that for some reason is not in its home ...

This is the "back kitchen."  We live in the house where my Farmer, and his father, and his grandfather were all born (in fact, the cradle that they all slept in is tucked up in our attic), and the term "back kitchen" came with the house.  It's always at least this messy, a handy dumping spot for items en route to the garage.  Yes, that is a lid to a pressure canner you see there on the floor ....

Here we have the shoe bench that my Farmer made for us, along with 1) my bag of ___??, 2) my purse, 3) a stack of books to return to people on top of 4) a stack of partially-finished craft plates that Sugar, Spice and Nice did with Grandma the other week, 5) a bag of ball gloves handy in case we get inspired (we haven't), 6) a basket-y vase I picked up at Goodwill weeks ago because I love it but for which a permanent spot has yet to be found, 7) two large boxes of hymnal angels that we started last year before Christmas, stored in the upstairs linen closet, and brought down to crowd the kitchen and shame us into finishing them for this Christmas.  I hope there aren't too many stinkbugs in them.

This amazing collection is front and center in my kitchen, I'm afraid, available for the inspection of anyone who happens to drop in.

This is in our kitchen, too.  It's the "craft shelf" - coloring books and crayons and play-dough that Lil' Snip can access on his own to amuse himself during the day.  There also appears to be ... a large pan lid ... and an empty blue plastic container ... and my Bible and journal ... and an abacus.  Naturally.

Welcome to one side of the laundry room.  Like the linoleum?  When we moved in, I had plans to paint over it, but could never settle on a color.  That was eight and a half years ago ...  So here we have wrapping paper, a folding drying rack, the bucket for dirty rags (whew! I just washed those!), cleaning caddy that was purchased in a bout of "if I have new cleaning supplies I'll probably clean more" insanity and has never moved from that spot, my Farmer's work papers and laptop, bags of stuff to go to Goodwill, an unopened box of tissues, and ... a foot spa from another thrift store.  We used it, once.

The playroom.  Do toys need an explanation?  I think not.  These primarily belong to the younger two.  Care to guess which of them is better at putting things back where they belong?  It's not who you might think ...

Just around the corner?  Nuts from our trees, drying before they can be cracked.  I don't know why the shirt is hanging there.  The red coat, a lambswool and cashmere Goodwill find, was rescued from a closet where it had been feasted on by moths after only one season of wear.  (I can't quite bring myself to get rid of it.  It's the nicest coat I've ever owned.)  Also a kitchen set made by my talented brother, a bookshelf turned sideways, and a large safe bedecked with colorful magnetic letters of the alphabet and crowned with puzzles, a wooden sconce I made in high school, a popcorn can of harmonicas, triangles, maracas and the like (wonder why we keep it up there??), a spider plant, and our television.  Oh yes, and the slightly bent antenna that enables us, on the rare occasions that we bring the tv down, to view three channels.

Sugar's still-life assignment, waiting for another day to finish sketching, and Lil' Snip's mysterious Tinker Toy creations.

Here we are in the living room with my messy stack of books.  Yes, the ones on the bottom have been long-forgotten and will probably never be read.  Like the bookmark holder that Nice made me?  She and Lil' Snip keep it stocked with freshly-made creations so that I'm never without a marker for my reading material.  [extra points if you noticed that the humidifier on the floor is a different one from the box in the background]  The stray laptop cord is just for pretty, haha.

More reading material, this time my Farmer's magazines.  I am not a magazine reader, much less a magazine hoarder, so naturally I married one.  The glass pane got broken during an innovative game that Sugar made up to entertain Lil' Snip one day.

The closet under the stairs, a.k.a. "the cubbyhole."  My children play in here amongst the folding chairs and vacuum (obviously they need to remove the yoga ball, inflatable world globe, beanbag and miscellaneous pillows first), so my Farmer wired a light for them as a surprise one weekend while they were with Grandma.  I kind of collect blankets, unintentionally.  They don't usually end up matching each other or the room decor, so mostly they live in here, mostly on the shelves.  [Looking at this photo makes me think I should do a post sometime on ancient wallpapers found around here in various closets.....]

And last but in no way least, the upstairs hallway linen closet [speaking of ancient wallpaper].  Sleeping bags, pillows, more blankets, bunches of lavender that have long since ceased to be fragrant, the unused portable playpen, tubing for ???, old bridesmaid dresses, a space heater, a pink hamper that was here when we moved in ....

Well, there you have it.  That was harder than I thought it was going to be, to show you my junky places and think of all the unfinished projects they represent.  I'm tired now.  But in some ways, it was a pleasure - to think of how we use our house, and to call to mind old memories, and how every thing reminds me of someone I love.

So next time I offer up a string of gratitude-photos, you'll remember what I had to look past in order to see the beauty, right?  And you won't be tempted to think that somehow my life's all sunshine and roses.  Deal?

['Fessing up a bit:  Does it seem like the photos are smaller than usual?  They are.  Transparent I wanted to be, but I couldn't quite bear to have my messes shoved so very largely into the faces of the few dear people who actually read my blog.  Forgive me?]

October 14, 2014

fresh starts

I've been spending a good bit of time indoors lately, sitting in my cozy overstuffed chair, reading, working on the blog transfer and my "correspondence" (a.k.a. emails and facebook messages to friends).  It's been good weather for snuggling into a comfy chair:  cool enough for jeans and slippers, but not quite cold enough for my Farmer to want to fire up the pellet stove too often.  Thus, the warm and cozy chair.

The wind's been blowing, though, and with it came milder temperatures, so this morning I ventured out, determined to snip off the unsightly dying flowers of my once-gorgeous new chrysanthemums.  I was feeling disappointed in how long (or short) they'd lasted.  I'd only bought them a couple of weeks ago, and was hoping their jewel tones would enliven my straggly flowerbeds a little longer.

But, c'est la vie, at least we'd had their color this long.  So out I went, insouciance and flower snips in hand.

If you're more of a gardener than I am (which wouldn't take much), then you probably know what I found about an inch below the dead flowers I was clipping off, but to me it was like finding another ice cream sandwich when I was sure I'd eaten the last one in the box:

                                                     New buds!!

This means more flowers (I hope, I hope - please, veteran gardeners, don't burst my bubble if I'm wrong; I'll find out soon enough).  Just as I was mourning the sure and certain end of beauty, it turns out there was more to come, hidden.  Before the death of the old was complete, before I'd even noticed its inexorable approach, probably, the new was being formed.

So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, "After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?"  Genesis 18:12

I know - it seems wildly out of context.  Sarah is delighted - and astonished, and probably not entirely believing - at the thought of bearing a child after decades of being barren, and I'm just talking about a second flush of flowers.  Doesn't it show, though, a God who loves to do the unlikely?  Who makes wine out of water, sends a lame man leaping for joy, gives first sight to the born-blind, grants children to the barren, forms saints out of sinners?

Who gives hope to the hopeless?

I've spun dozens of pots on the wheel.  The raw creation of it never gets old.  (I mean, who walks along a creek and envisions dinnerware in its banks?!)  A lump of clay - mud, really - pulled into a graceful vessel.

Mud -> bowl.
Mud ->  vase.
Mud ->  goblet.
Mud ->  teapot.
Mud ->  piggybank.


But unlikely's nothing to God.  He took mud . . . . and made a living man!

Oh yeah.  My God?  Is a second-flush-of-flowers kind of God.

October 13, 2014


Hi there!

If this is your first visit - I'm thrilled to have you pop in, and hope you'll find a home here.

And if you came over* from "my life: in short" (a.k.a. "live deeply"), welcome back!  Same blog, same author, new background and new name.  What do you think?

First off, a confession.  That poem partially quoted at the top of this page?  I am not an Elizabeth Barrett Browning fan.  In fact, I don't know anything about her and I've never even read the entire poem ("Aurora Leigh", an epic poem in blank verse comprising nine books, according to Wikipedia) from which the excerpt at the top of this blog is taken.  I'd probably read that partial quote somewhere and would have forgotten it completely and forever (as with so many things that I read), but that someone very kind once told me that my writing "makes the ordinary holy", and suddenly that long-hidden piece of poem sprang from the depths of my memory, and there it was - what I want to do with my writing:  point to the fire of God that I see in the everyday.

So I finally have a title for my blog that fits.

I hope you like it.  And more importantly, I pray that I accomplish it.

*(I would have loved to bring you all over here with me, but blogger can't do that.  So if you were following my life: in short before, just click the blue "join this site" button over on the right to keep following.)

[update on the blue button, which doesn't seem to be working - if you click the tiny red boxes to the right of the blue button, a window will pop up.  Click the "follow" button to the top right of that window and you'll be able to sign up!  Thanks!!]

October 8, 2014

passing through shadow

The moon was still nearly full when I pulled myself from bed at the usual too-early time.  I'd almost forgotten about the eclipse - and how quickly it would go - and by the time my shower had woken me up, the earth's shadow had eroded the moon to a slim, shining sliver.

I rushed through coffee prep, grabbed my inadequate camera and binoculars, turned on the porch light, and stumbled over fallen walnuts out to the middle of the backyard, where no branches would obscure my view.

The porchlight started flashing.  I turned, saw my Farmer silhouetted in the doorway, and waved.  When he didn't come out, I went up to investigate.  Turns out he'd seen the glow from my camera's display, and thought there were bioluminescent mushrooms growing on the stump I was using as my tripod.

Meanwhile, the moon had turned reddish, passing through the penumbra of the earth's shadow, reflecting "all the sunrises and sunsets in the world, all at once."

The girls traipsed out in their pajamas, barefoot in the cool dew.  Taking turns with the binoculars, we watched as the moon sank in the sky, grew dimmer and dimmer.

We never did see the "turquoise band" resulting from reflected ozone.  Photos online were much more spectacular than the ones I took, than even the reality that we saw, despite a forecast-defying unclouded sky.

So a shadow passed over the moon, temporarily obscuring its brilliance and shading it rusty-red.  Cars hurried to work just yards to our left, buggies, pickups with ladders and tools on their way to build things, fix things.  No one slowed to watch the spectacle.  Perhaps no one noticed there was one.

I wouldn't have missed it, though.

When we could barely distinguish the morning-faded moon from the morning itself, we headed back inside - me to cook the eggs, them to read abed, and dress.

Quietly, masked by daylight, the moon emerged from shadow and once again - to the other side of the world - reflected sunlight fully.

October 3, 2014

what I saw, when I looked ...

Some days look bleak. . . .

. . . until I slow down,
lean in,
peer closer,

The more closely I look, the more beauty I see.

God lavishly "wastes" his creative design 
on weeds,
inside trees,
even in the midst
of decay.

All over the ordinary,
he hides

All it takes to see it
a seeker.

have a look!

(I started inside the house)

Sugar's eye.
Is there anything like the human eye to stir wonder?!
The colors it can see...
The emotions it can communicate...

The zipper!!  The colors!! 
(No, God didn't make it, but he tucked it away in a thrift store for me to find,
knowing that its bright design and pockets galore would delight me.)

Glass.  Water.  Mums.

Glossy kernels of Indian corn & popcorn.
Think of the explosion of popcorn!
The transformation of Indian corn into meal, and again into bread.
Edible art.

(I headed outside)

 Raspberries!  Giant ones, too, glowing in the sun.
He could have made us to live on mere grass, you know.
Berries are pure gift.

And speaking of grass - have you ever seen anything
as the green, green grass of summer?
Emeralds don't even come close.

This purple-mauve gem of a weed is called Pennsylvania smartweed.
Like the indiscriminate rain,
flowers spring from the earth for the just and the unjust alike,
free for the looking.

Humble tansy, holding its world of yellow blossoms,
and the humble ant in his gleaming everyday suit.

The sepals on this flamboyant pokeweed!
Almost plastic perfection.
Did you ever see such fuchsia?!

 Who would ever suspect this powdery unassuming plant of a powerful fragrance
used to calm everything from digestion to anxiety?

Asiatic dayflower.
Just a delicate, frilly little weed.

Even in fall - season of death and decay - beauty is tucked away . . .

 Dogwood fruits amongst dying leaves, beside next year's blossoms-to-be.

Fallen leaf, caught in the sunlit angles of decaying poplar wood.

Lil' Spice's loud cries brought me running, sure he was hurt.
He held out his best, favorite leaf:
"It broke!!"

Between two sheets of wax paper,
we mended it.

Translucent fish scales, like delicate miniature seashells!
(Even fish scales are touched with beauty!)

Every seed pod, unique to its species.
Does He never run out of ideas?!
To tuck hard, dry, withered little kernels of life
inside fibrously whiskered cavities 

where just weeks ago
tissue-thin petals of palest pink had been?

Intricate network of veins on a poplar leaf - a study in fractal art.

Crabapple among clover.

 Leaf lace

Dried echinacea "pincushion"

 Star Magnolia flowerbuds
forming spring's lavish creamy blossoms
like a caterpillar in chrysallis
unfolding into

Chrysanthemum bud, blushing into blooms
to brighten autumn.

And God's greatest handiwork of all
is us,
of course.

No flower
or common creature
could have a sense of humor
a boy!

May God bless you
with opened eyes
to see
what He lays


before you!

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