Friday, August 29, 2014

Living in the Moment ~ It's the Only Time we Have


On those days when you tend to think too far into the future, imagining what anguish, what difficulty might await you, take a deep breath, look around you, and breathe in the moment. Squeeze every ounce of goodness out of it, because it’s the only moment we have. The future belongs to the One who is already there, and I’ve learned that He can be trusted.

So, I’m taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, living in the moment.


Inside, the fragrance of apple pie lingers in the air.


Outside, the neighborhood is peaceful and green.


My little backyard garden has been prodded and pruned.



And still, she offers her beauty.


While a stake in the ground reminds me of what I already know, and what was proven again just this week.


The laundry has been folded, the floors have been swept, and I discovered long ago that the best flowers come from your very own garden, and the best arrangements are not arranged at all.

I'm living in the moment.

Here’s wishing you a weekend of the same.

***


Monday, August 25, 2014

The Simple Gifts of August


Dear friends, our weekend arrived warm and bright, and with it came a rejuvenating of my spirit, in small and big ways.


Saturday morning, after a refreshing and needed time of prayer and devotion, I made a simple meal of biscuits and eggs and buttery grits, in true Southern fashion. The air was cool enough to have breakfast on the patio, so that’s what we did.


Long ago, I discovered there’s healing in the outdoors. Being surrounded by nature brings peace to the mind and calm to the body. With only the sound of water trickling down the rocks of the little backyard pond, I looked at the man across the table and felt safe and loved.

***


I spent some time working on one of the final steps of my baby blanket, whipstitching the strips together. Despite a rocky start, it’s finishing up nicely in shades of yellow and white. Considering I started over three times, that's nigh to a miracle right there. Next, I'll crochet two rounds of edging then I'll be done. My grandbaby is now about the size of a peach. I think often of this unborn child and feel my heart widen as I prepare to fall head-over-heels in love.

Later in the afternoon, I drove down the tree-lined street that takes me to my twin sister’s house. Pie was there in all of her sweetness. After a lively welcome, filled with the three of us singing and dancing in the foyer, I watched as she toddled about, carrying a lemon in each hand. Her Nonni wasn’t sure why the lemons had so captured her attention, but we dared not take them from her as she made it clear they were hers to carry.

When she saw me open one of the many books Nonni keeps on hand, she rushed over and settled on my lap, listening intently to the words and studying the pictures, the lemons still clutched in each hand.

***


Before I left, she let go of the lemons and played the piano for me, then enjoyed big gulps of Nonni’s sweet tea, one precious foot getting a lift from Nonni’s boot.

Making my way back down the shady street that leads me home, I gazed up into the blue skies of August and said, “Thank you, Lord, for all of these many gifts, for the ordinary things that make my life so rich and beautiful.”

What is life? It is the reviving that comes from prayer and devotion, the steady flame that burns in the soul that neither man nor circumstance can extinguish. It is preparing a simple meal and sharing it with my beloved, while the sound of trickling water brings calm to a late-summer morning. It is the patter of little feet across a sunlit floor, and a sister who prays for me and cheers me on. It is the stitching of common threads that come together in a pattern of uncommon beauty. If life is what you make of it, then I choose a simple one, rich in all of the things that matter. 

Until next time, dear friends, the calendar is a week away from September, a fact I find both shocking and soothing. My gut tells me fall will come earlier than usual this year. I, for one, am sitting on ready. In the meantime, I trust you are well and are unwrapping your own gifts of August.

***


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

When Seasons End ~ Scenes from a Blessed Life



Dear friends, as I write, the morning is new. I am sitting at my desk, just me, my coffee, and my thoughts. Growing up, my dad used to tell me that if I missed the morning I missed the best part of the day. As a teenager who engaged in sleep marathons during summer months, I considered his summation a whole lot of hogwash. Through the years, however, I came to realize how right those words are. Mornings whisper to my spirit. Their quiet hours have a pureness about them that can’t be duplicated, a pureness that I crave and seek out.


The last few days have brought sighs and smiles, starting with Saturday when my parents drove over to spend the day. Yes, dear old dad is still able to drive and I dread the day when some brave soul may have to tell him he can't. Sparks will fly, but for now he remains the chief navigator. Blessed is what we are.

My sweet mother delivered the pillowcases she had made for the both of us to send to Kelley's Pillowcase Project. I love them all and encourage you to participate in this worthy cause.

As summer draws to a close, I must say it’s been a one-of-a-kind summer for us—not in temperatures, but in personal matters that stretch your faith and test your patience. There have been comings and goings, here a little, there a little, time spent away from home, from church, from family, and time spent away from all of you. I have missed the days of routine.



But yesterday, as happens around this time every year, there on the ground lay the first sign that a new season is on its way, that nothing lasts forever, not even the state of limbo. (And let the people shout, "Hallelujah and amen!")

It was only a small thing, but I felt a stirring in my spirit as I imagined the coming days when the smell of a pumpkin pie baking in the oven will waft through the house. When, on brisk evenings, homemade soups will fill heavy pots on the stove, and cornbread will slide out of an iron skillet, golden brown and piping hot, just waiting to be slathered with butter.

Sometimes, it's the promise of what is to come that gives us the courage to accept what is, to let go of what was, and to keep moving forward. 

Until next time, sweet friends, your company remains a pleasure. May the final days of summer be slow and easy and filled to the brim with all of the things that make you smile.


***


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Celebrating 34 Years with The Man ~ Still Traveling On

Early in our marriage, it was clear The Man dreamed of journeying coast-to-coast, strolling along distant beaches and sipping gourmet coffee in cafés nestled in the shadows of mountain peaks. He taught me about maps and compasses and sun dials. Many nights I discovered him fast asleep on the sofa, a road atlas pressed against his chest. I dared not wake him. I knew he was dreaming of secluded log cabins and old landmarks in ancient cities.

As time and duties allowed—usually once a yearhe charted a course that carried the two of us to fascinating and enchanting places. 

After our daughter was born, he worked two jobs so I could stay home and raise the gift God had given us. Still, he always made time and figured out a way to go and see and do. I remember pink sunsets along Florida's emerald coast, gathering rocks from a cold creek in the Great Smoky Mountains, riding the Spirit of Vicksburg down the mighty Mississippi River, marveling at autumn's palette in upstate New York, sleeping under the stars at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains, and staring in silent wonder at the sight and sound of Niagara Falls.

The Man has always been a roamer and a traveler at heart and after retirement in 2008, our lives changed, as our travels increased significantly. There were sunrises over the Atlantic, sunsets over the Pacific, and collecting seashells along Cape Cod’s sandy shore. There was the Grand Canyon in Arizona and the Grand Hotel on Michigan’s Mackinac Island. There was the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, and the National Mall in Washington D.C. I remember outdoor cafés in Colorado and crowded subways in Chicago. 

Friday was our anniversary. We never know when we've made our last voyage, nor what another year will hold, not even another day, but for 34 years now, from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, to New York’s Brooklyn Bridge, and almost every Major League Baseball park in the country, I've been blessed by God to have The Man as my captain and my companion. Whatever the future holds, I can’t imagine sharing this journey through life with anyone else but him.


***


Adapted from the essay, "You must share agony to share the celebration," published in The Dallas Morning News commemorating our 20th wedding anniversary in August, 2000. 

I find it amazing how prophetic it was and how relevant it remains, 14 years later.




Friday, August 1, 2014

Exciting News, First Installment

Dear friends, the first installment of the exciting news I've been teasing you with can now be revealed. If things stay on course, and the good Lord is willing, The Man and I are going to be grandparents on or around February 27, 2015! 


As I witnessed my daughter's first ultrasound yesterday morning, and beheld this tiny being, bouncing around, waving teeny-tiny hands in the air, with a fast and strong heartbeat, my tears spilled over and I fell instantly in love. You grandmothers already know that feeling, don't you? The miracle of life never gets old.

With my grandnieces, sugar plum and pie, in my life, I have plenty of experience, and I'm now looking forward to holding my own grandchild (boy or girl doesn't matter) in my arms. 


Upon hearing the news that my grandbaby was on the way (we first got the news on my daughter's birthday, no less), my heart has been full and my hands have been in motion. 


Believe me, I'm not an expert at crocheting, but I can read a pattern and stitch by stitch, with multiple unravelings in between, I hope to end up with something similar to this. The Man walked through the living room the other night, only to find me unraveling yet another strip, and asked, "You think you're gonna finish that by February?" Ah, such faith he has in me.

One of the first things my daughter asked me was, "Mom, what sweet name are you going to call my baby?" I thought that was the sweetest thing, and I remember my niece asking the same question when she was pregnant with the little one I now call pie. I assured my daughter that this baby would have its own special name, and it will.

There will be challenges along the way, no doubt, but we're in good hands. The giver of life holds all of our tomorrows and I've learned that He can be trusted.

I should have other exciting news in the weeks to come, but that is more than enough for now. Until next time, sweet peeps, I'm fairly beaming.


***


Monday, July 28, 2014

The State of the Little Nieces

Dear ones, I am so blessed to have you in my life. Thanks for all of your welcome-back notes and comments. I read them in the quiet hours of night and it was like being surrounded by friends. While I didn’t trumpet our arrival home, The Man and I are home from our time away, at least for now, and hope to be back in the full swing of routines before too long. It’s been a season like no other and sometimes it takes awhile to find your balance again, but soon, very soon.

I’ve not blogged about my adorable grand-nieces in some time. Are you ready for major cuteness and such?


I spent a few precious hours with pie on Friday—the first time I’ve seen her since our turnaround trip home three weeks ago.


It’s clear her charm has not faded since we’ve been apart, and the chocolate cookie smudges on her face made her even more charming. She is walking up a storm, did I mention?


This baby’s smile lights up a room and beyond.


And her continued love of books makes her writer-aunt’s heart leap for joy. 

When she gets quiet, you can find her in her little chair looking at books. And the best part is she will let you read to her for a very long time.

The last time we chatted about pie, she was on the eve of having to enter daycare, and it was killing me and her mom and her Nonni and all of those who love her. What I haven’t told you is that God answered our prayers and pie has yet to spend a single day in daycare, for which we are most grateful. She is in the care of a seasoned nanny at the time of this writing and that is, in part, due to your faithful prayers. So, thank you, more than you know, thank you.


While we were away, pie celebrated her first birthday. Yes, already. Looks like we missed a lot of fun, doesn't it? 


Then there is my adorable sugar plum. What can I say that I haven’t said about this child? She fills my world and my heart with pure joy. On Thursday, we spent a few precious hours together. She's not much into wanting her picture taken these days, but I managed a couple anyway. 

We made pancakes and played and laughed and talked. My favorite line was when she put her arm around me and said, "Aunt Dayle, I love you so, so much." I keep asking myself how I ever got this lucky.


I want to squeeze her tight and put a lid on her head in an effort to stop her from growing up. I simply cannot believe she will turn four in a few months, but that is what little ones do—they grow up right before your very eyes, ready or not. I'm so blessed to be her great-aunt.


Sugar plum's summer has included a trip with her mom and dad, and her nanna (whom she adores) along for the ride. Here they are, sharing sweet memories together.

***

As I mentioned in my last post, there are some exciting things on the horizon, Lord willing, and I will share more about those in the coming weeks. In the meantime, the days are bright and hot, as summers tend to be in my little woods.


Until next time, know that I think of you and cherish our conversations.

***




Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hello and oh my! What happened to July?

While I was sleeping, July has whizzed right on by me. Not that I was sleeping but it does seem that way some months. You close your eyes and it's gone.

I’ve missed my time spent with you and wanted to stop in and say a quick hello.


Do you remember this little sewing table? Probably not, but I couldn’t resist painting it after seeing how much it disappeared into the tan-ish sofa. 



I think this barn red adds a wonderful pop of color, don't you?

Well, I hate to post and run, dear friends, but I must for now. I can’t wait to stop by and see what you’ve been up to in July. 

As for me, there are a few exciting things on the horizon and I will share more about those soon … if anyone still visits me here.

Until next time, keep cool and carry on.

***




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