For your weekend…

I’m in a bit of a reflective mood today.  Coming to the end of something is a good time to look back and make a review of what worked and what needs more attention to details for the next round.

Sometimes I wonder what our life paths would look like if graphed like a map and seen from an aerial view.  How many twist and turns, switchbacks and straightaways, deadends and bypassed options would we see then?  Would we have chosen differently if we knew what it looked like from God’s perspective or have we already made those choices?  LIke most of us, my life has been a mix of the two.  I wonder how many of my own roads would look similar to the branch in the picture…

The following quote is a favorite of mine–I see it almost every day.  It has been a comforting reminder when I have been in need and an encouragement in times when my vision for the future was obscured by the realities of the present.

“When you come to the end of all the light you know, and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: Either you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly.”  ~Edward Teller

Whatever God’s choice for your next step is, I wish you a wonderful weekend relaxing in the knowledge that He really does have a plan…and it’s for our good (Jeremiah 29:11).

Never–not even for a second–believe otherwise!

Grace & Peace!  You are loved and prayed for today!

See you back here on Monday!

*photo by Becky Childs

Fill in the blank (your turn!)

Good morning, Everyone!  Once again, today is a very busy day.  I’ve got several orders to complete and deliver along with a small show this afternoon, so this will be a very short post.

I have a friend who is extremely fond of taking famous sayings and giving them his own little twist.  His versions never fail to make me laugh; they occasionally make me think.  Either way, they’re always interesting and entertaining.

Here’s your challenge for the day:  Take one (or more!) of the following quotes and see what you can do with it.

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, ____________.”

“No one can give you better advice than _____________.”

“A rolling stone gathers no moss, but ______________.”

“Fall in love with yourself and you’ll have _____________.”


There is absolutely NO pressure for this one.  Be witty, deep, melancholy or wise…your choice!  No matter what you choose, however, share it with me here, please!   (Oh!  One more thing:  smile!)

Wasting trials?

I recently bought a book that I’ve been wanting for quite some time.  It finally arrived the other day and I have to say I’ve been very pleased with my purchase!  The book is Common Prayer:  A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okoro.

I had heard and read several positive recommendations for this book and I have to admit that, so far, I’m in agreement with them.  The book is set up with daily readings, Scripture verses, prayers and church history as a way to channel a wildly divergent church body toward a common search for a deeper relationship with God.  It is NOT an endorsement for any particular denomination, but rather a combining of elements designed to direct God’s people to worship in unity.

Personally, I had to have it because I just plain liked the title.  Ordinary radicals?  That’s a pretty interesting concept…especially when combined with prayer and the pursuit of God.  It seems to me a reminder that followers of Christ ARE called to a radically different lifestyle which requires prayer and a common goal with other believers.

So, what does that have to do with the title of this blog?  Well, one of my first readings this week (the November 25th reading) had a repeating refrain that has kind of stuck with me:

“Wake us to your presence, Lord:  that we might not waste our times of trial.”

It was followed by a prayer that began, “What would you teach us today in our trials, Lord?…”

Those phrases resonated with me because, like you, I’ve had some pretty significant issues in my lifetime.  I’ve got to admit that there have been plenty of times when I wondered what God was up and why in the world He would choose to do it that way.  (There are those pesky WHY questions again!)

Several years ago, however, God led us through a series of issues that made us really focus on Him.  There was simply no other way to survive them.   During that time, we asked God to be clear in His directions to us AND to please help us learn the lessons He was trying to teach us so that we would make the most of the time and, from a very practical point of view, not have to repeat them.

We learned a lot.  We hurt a lot.  We prayed a lot…and we found out that our God is more than able to take the hard things and bring good from them if we will let Him do so.  Given the choice, we would rather not repeat those lessons.  However, if we had to choose between not going through them and missing out on what we learned about God and His faithfulness…well, then, we would have to choose to repeat the circumstances.

That’s very hard to say.  It’s actually hard to even think about it, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

So.  For today, maybe it does make sense to look at the difficult circumstances in all of our lives and ask God to make sure we don’t waste them.  IF–and I hope this is the case!–you’re actually in a great place today, remember to give thanks and then take time to look around.  There may be someone nearby who needs to hear this from you:

“Wake us to your presence, Lord:  that we might not waste our times of trial.”


Asking the “WHY?” questions

I’ve been reading a mystery.  I like them.  I like trying to figure out the details and answer the questions before I reach the end of the book.  Figuring out the “Big 5”:  the who/what, when, where, how and why of things, can be extremely satisfying.  I enjoy that feeling of knowing the answers before they’re required.  I think most people like that.

It’s one thing to deal with that in fiction.  It’s another thing entirely to deal with it in real life.

Lately, I’ve been dealing with some of the Big 5 questions in that real-life arena, as well.  The first four questions aren’t usually that difficult to find the answers to because they often seem to be the headliners in conversations.  They’re the first things we figure out and pass along.  It is that frustrating fifth question that takes the most time to know:  the WHY question.

That question can cover a lot of ground.  From the purely casual to the deeply spiritual, the why questions often take the longest to answer.

Sometimes I wish God would just tell me the answer when He fills in the other blanks.  He often makes me wait.  It has taken years to get to some of those answers and I’m guessing it will take years to get to some of the others.  I’ve also gotten the distinct feeling that there will be some (make that a “lot”) that never gets answered in this life.

I think I might have to get over it.  (smile)

There are quite a few things I want to know the “why” of—and naturally, I’d like to know sooner, rather than later.  For example, I’d like to know

  • why there’s so much pain in the world for people I love.
  • why people can go through the same events and one comes out fine and the other takes their life.
  • why some people struggle with fear and others don’t.
  • why people who don’t want children can often have them so easily and some who want them desperately can’t have them at all.
  • why people continue to sin over and over when they know God and His forgiveness—especially when they’ve experienced it personally (and yes, that includes me).
  • why God thought people were a good idea…sometimes it seems we mess a lot of things up pretty well.
  • why some of us are so blessed and others appear to be left with so little.

And that’s just the SHORT list!  I don’t get a lot of things like that.   I think God wants me to keep asking those questions, though.   I think that, at the very least, He wants me to keep noticing those differences and talking to Him about them.  I think He has some things for me to do to help mitigate the pain in some of those situations and, perhaps, just be available to listen or pray in others.  I’m pretty sure all those things don’t happen for JUST those reasons, but maybe they’re a start.  He’s looking for us to turn to Him…to talk to Him…be available for Him to use…to find ways of blessing those in need and be an option for those who can’t see another one clearly.  Scripture tells me that I’ll go through things that are uncomfortable so that I can later share with others the comfort that God send to me (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).  My mind gets that and yet, I’m still asking that why question more often than not lately.  I’m beginning to think that I’m not just interested in the why so much as seeking a solution in those situations…and it seems I’m talking to the only One who can give me that, as well.

Maybe you should, too.

Epic fail?

It had all started 24 hours earlier.  Once again–despite my best intentions!–my schedule overwhelmed the bounds of time and reason.

It’s amazing, really, that this continues to happen.  I mean, I wrote a whole week’s worth of blog posts about culling the schedule, careful planning and choosing to enjoy the holiday in a more reasonable way.

It was not to be.

My calendar said, “Bake a sweet potato pie today!”

My schedule said, “Nope!”

My pantry said, “Nope!

My heart said, “YES!” but somewhere in the pre-planning phase I forgot that I had been out-of-pocket for 3 days of show time last weekend and that I only had 2 days after that to get a week’s worth of choring done.  You know…those pesky little details like clean laundry and getting product posted on Etsy in time for the (hopefully) great after-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy.

By the end of Thanksgiving Eve, all I had to show for it were 2 big batches of cookies–oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip.  Yes, I know.  Technically, I could have made the pie.  My husband had pointed that out to me already.  The point, however, was for me to RELAX while making the pie…and that just wasn’t going to happen.  We ended up going to bed late and a little grumpy.  Not a good beginning to my holiday.

Thanksgiving Day dawned bright and early.  We got up and headed to the kitchen to try and add one more offering for the family dinner.

After much discussion and the fact that we apparently couldn’t even boil eggs correctly that day, we decided that the cookies would just have to be enough.

There were computer problems:  it took me a whole hour to post my simple Thanksgiving greeting!

I missed the trashcan with a load of trash even though I was standing directly over it.

I got cold water in the shower.  It wasn’t even 8 o’clock in the morning, people!

After a bit, you just have to laugh.  I mean, REALLY laugh!  You just have to choose to let it go and have a good time, anyway!

I’ve taught that for years–it was time to put it into practice.

Honestly, once I made the decision to just have fun no matter what else happened, it turned into a pretty awesome day.

It is now 4:15 PM on the Monday after Thanksgiving.  I still haven’t made the pie and in about 2 hours, my family will arrive here for supper–one last meal before my brother heads back home.  We will laugh and we will catch up on the “just us” kinds of things.  We will eat great food and we will relax and we will know that this family is far more important than any schedule.

Epic fail?  I think not.  The pie can wait…and so can I.

Happy Thanksgiving!

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving

And into His courts with praise.

Be thankful to Him and bless His name.

For the Lord is good;

His mercy is everlasting,

And His truth endures to all generations.”

Psalm 101:4-5

Thankful for all good things…including you!

Grace & Peace!

See you back here on Monday!

*all photos by Becky Childs…except for the one by a passing stranger in the orchard.  (Smile)

Thanksgiving Dinner–a poem

I come from a large family.  A really large family.  A really large family of incredible cooks.  That means that the Thanksgiving meals at my Grandmother’s house were typically large enough to cover 2 good-sized tables, the stove and the counters in the kitchen.  We looked forward to that meal all year long.

Now, before you begin to think such abundance was excessive, let me also tell you the following:  My mother is one of 10 children.  It was an extremely rare holiday when at least 7 of them weren’t in attendance…along with all their children.  Each family averaged about 3 kids.  My parents were the exception because they usually had about 4 foster kids in addition to their regular three.  Several people would bring along additional friends or extended family members.  All of that means that lunch for at least 50 was a given for any holiday meal.  That amount of food was just plain necessary.

Every family has traditions.  In addition to the gathering in and the fabulous food and playing with all of the cousins and the just ‘being together’ of our Thanksgiving Day, we always looked forward to my grandmother’s recitation of her poem that she had learned as a child.  To this day, a Thanksgiving holiday is not complete without this poem.  Grandmother has been gone for many years, but one of my dear cousins had the foresight to ask Grandmother to write the poem down for her.  Thanks to that same sweet cousin, I have a copy of the poem written in my grandmother’s own handwriting and when I read it, I hear her voice.  It is, for me, a most precious thing.

I share it with all of you today as a way of sharing those memories…and as a warning.  (smile)

“Thanksgiving Dinner”

I don’t believe in eating much

of turkey, pumpkin pie and such.

It make me dream bad dreams at night

and then, besides, it’s not polite.

So I’m not going to stuff and stuff

and act like I can’t get enough.

For me a turkey leg will do

with just a slice of breast or two,

then some liver, gizzard, and a wing,

Lots of dressing, that’s the thing!

Mashed potatoes to make me grow

Squash and cabbages, they’re fine, you know,

And I must have some cranberries, too,

And layer cake–two pieces will do.

Then of pumpkin pie so yellow–

One piece, because I’m a little fellow.

With nuts and apples I shall quit

and not ask for another bit.

For it isn’t good the doctors say

To eat too much on Thanksgiving Day!

The BEST Sweet Potato Pie…ever

The baking of this pie is scheduled on the calendar for tomorrow as one of my 3 favorite things to celebrate the holidays!  I can’t wait!  I’m even having fun doing the shopping for this pie!  This planned anticipation thing is really working for me.  I’m excited about being able to focus on each step of the process and, in so doing, be more relaxed and intentional about including more joy in my holiday season.

You may already have a favorite recipe for sweet potato pie, but trust me…if it’s not this one, you need a new one!  Lighter and fluffier than the more traditional recipes, this packs all the flavor into a gorgeous pie that doesn’t feel heavy–a real treat since this will come after the feast of the day.  Or maybe not…(grin)  Either way, I hope you’ll give it a try and then share your reviews with me here!


Sweet Potato Pie (This is a Southern Living recipe from 1978!)

2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes

½ cup butter or margarine, softened

2 eggs, separated

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ cup milk

¼ cup sugar

1 unbaked 9-inch pastry shell

Additional spices (optional)

Whipped cream

Orange rind


Combine sweet potatoes, butter, egg yolks, brown sugar, salt and spices; mix well.  Add milk, blending until smooth.

Beat egg whites until foamy; gradually add ¼ cup sugar, beating until stiff.  Fold into sweet potato mixture.  Pour into pastry shell; sprinkle with additional spices, if desired.  Bake at 400 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees, and bake 30 additional minutes.  When cool, garnish with whipped cream and orange rind.  Yield:  one 9-inch pie.

* Southern Living’s Our Best Recipes, Volume Three, Jean Wickstrom, 1978, Oxmoor House, Inc.

(personal note:  I skip the orange rind…and even the whipped cream.  This one stands all on it’s own!)

Creating Options For Joy…the next step

Of all the things I heard this weekend, the most universal was, “I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is just next week!  How did that happen?  Then, Christmas will be here before you know it and I’m not even close to being ready.”  As a general rule, what followed was a listing of all the tasks to be done and a somewhat longer lament over how it didn’t seem possible—that the time was here OR that they’d ever get all of the things on their list completed before it was actually time to celebrate.

I must say it was often entertaining for me to hear these comments given the topic of my posts over the last week…well, that and the knowledge that Thanksgiving has come at the very same time (at least for those of us in the USA) since 1863 when President Lincoln declared it to be a national holiday.  If you went simply on what they were saying, it was a bit like it was a brand new thing for some of these folks…like it had just snuck up on them or something.  I know, I know…holidays sometimes do that.  Life does that.  Sometimes it sneaks up on you and catches you a bit off guard.  That, however, is one of the things I’m trying to change for myself.  I want to live my life in such a way that every single day gets to be its own special day.  I want no more wasting of days in the stress and hurry of life and then wondering where the time went.  At the very least, I’d like to wake up one morning when I’m really old and not have to wonder if I’d really lived the life I was blessed to receive.

If you’ve been following along with me in trying to reduce some holiday stress, then you may be interested to hear the next step in my process.  So far, we’ve been deliberate in our thinking of what we want to include, consulted other immediate family members, combined lists and set specific dates on our calendars to that we can look forward with anticipation to those specific elements of celebration.  Over the weekend, I had asked that you think about some of the things you didn’t want to include in this year’s celebration.

I think that may have been the most difficult thing, so far.  Some of you were mildly panicked at the idea of even saying out loud that you weren’t especially excited about going to ____’s house, spending hours on the road traveling or even putting up certain decorations.  Keep in mind that although these things may have been part of previous celebrations, they are not going to keep the holiday season from happening if you don’t do them.  You should also keep in mind that if doing these things is the only way that your family or friends will know that you love them, there are much larger issues at stake.

Don’t get me wrong.  You will have to say something.  Simply not showing up is unacceptable.  Know this before you go:  You may get some push-back if you decide to stay home this year, not have the party at your house, go somewhere different, change your décor, choose to give to charities or take a family trip to an exotic location instead of struggling to find that perfect gift for everyone in the extended family.  The main thing to remember is that these are your choices to make.  These same friends and family members who are mildly alarmed at your choices about doing things differently…they get to make their own choices, too.

One thing you will need to remember while you’re actually saying your choices out loud:  Be respectful and don’t talk in circles defending your choices.  The choices are yours.  State them and let it go.  And please, remember to be gracious…there may be someone who wants to change their plans with you, as well.  It’s ok.  You can make plans together for another time.  Grant the same grace to your friends and family that you’d like to receive from them.  It will all be ok in the end.

There are just two of us in our household.  As I listened to my husband’s list of things that he wanted to include this year, I was first amused—because he decided that SIX things were better than the THREE things I had suggested (perhaps because of my earlier “you snooze, you lose” comment).   Then I started thinking about how much work adding his six things might cause for me.  I started to get the impression that I might have cleared my calendar just in time for him to fill it again.  (smile!)  That’s when the beauty of my plan suddenly dawned on me, however.  Yes, there are things that I will be happy to do just because I love him and I want him to be able to celebrate just as much as I will this holiday season.  However, it is not my job to single-handedly do all of his celebrating for him.  There will be things that he will need to do/help with in order for them to happen.  Make sure you remember that at your house, too.  If it really is important to them, they will want to help.

Reading back over this, I realize that it may seem to some that I’ve been a bit harsh here.  That’s not even close to my intention.  I’m not saying that you should eliminate all forms of traditional celebrations with your extended families.  This might actually be the year when you WANT to have everyone over to your house to celebrate!    If so, extend the invitations today!  My point is that we should live our lives WITH intention.  It is the only one we get…shouldn’t we make it count?  If we lose the ability to really participate in the joy of celebrating because we’re so busy fulfilling someone else’s idea of the perfect holiday celebration…well then, what’s the point?

The things on my list won’t match the things on yours.  That’s ok.  In fact, it’s better than ok!  It’s proof that God really did know what He was doing when He was busy creating all of us.  Each one of us has the ability to reflect another aspect of God’s own creativity.  Since He has no limits, there are endless possibilities for the ways we can choose to celebrate this season.  Choosing to deliberately create specific options and opportunities for our own joy as we say “THANK YOU, GOD!” for all that we’ve been blessed to receive is actually a way to celebrate Him!  Making this practice a habit for the rest of our lives might just slow us down enough to see Him more clearly and get to know Him better.

I need that.  I suspect someone else out there might just need that, too.

For your weekend…

“O Lord that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.”  ~William Shakespeare

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.  ~John Muir


“Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, – a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.”  ~George Herbert

Praying for another weekend of thanksgiving…full of joy…with hearts and eyes to see all the beauty that God so generously shares…

See you back here on Monday!

Grace and Peace!

*all photos by Becky Childs  (side note:  the photos are set on random order, so they’ll be in a different configuration each time you come back to the page–you aren’t going crazy.  smile!)