Monday, August 18, 2014

Empty Nest....(again)...

My daughter and son-in-law are 1,089 miles away.
My youngest daughter is 2,104 miles away.
My son is a whopping 8,446 miles away.
sheeesh...
I'm going to make one of those fun directional signs for the back yard...
The ones that cheerfully point the way to places we love...
Mine will include Gillette, Wyoming;  Chicago, Illinois; and Velburg, Germany.
Lemonade from lemons...
When the nest is empty, I must be creative!!

This fall will be interesting...
Lots of transition going on.
My husband is retiring (sort of).
Wait, we're too young to use the word "retire".
Right?......(right?)
He will end his career with the State Patrol and the Army Reserves,
And begin a new career with the Department of Health.
We're excited for this new phase of life.
He'll be HOME more!
He'll keep NORMAL hours!
(Normal...what's that?  I hear it's awesome...can't wait to find out!)
My goals will focus on things like making dinner every night...
Running more regularly...(it's been a busy summer)...
I will focus in earnest on my new card line...
(Fun Christian cards that do not have flowers or birds or lambs or syrupy sentiment anywhere on or near them!)
On writing...and re-vamping the novel I began and left sitting all summer...alone...abandoned...
And settle into our new church...
That feels like home...
And start a new writing group for the nice ladies I'm meeting...
Oh, the fun we'll have!
And embrace once again, the nest that is empty...
Oh so empty.
Yet full of opportunity...
For what?
Who knows!  I'm asking God to lead...

Psalm 37:23
The steps of a man are established by the Lord when he delights in his way.


This directional sign is made by Lori of Whimsey Studios. She makes and sells these signs and many more wonderful illustrations of which I've purchased several!  Here's a link to her etsy shop.  

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Shadows and Sunbeams...



I took a bit of a break from running this summer.
LOTS of stuff happened...
It was a busy one.
I've been fitting runs back into my mornings lately.
It hasn't been easy to "start over".
And really, I haven't had to start over.
Breathing is easy...
My legs get very tired though.
And then there's the aches and pains afterward.
Buck up, Heather!

So the other day, I was running on the trail...
It was 7am on a sunny Saturday and no one was up...
I was all alone...me and my iPod...some bunnies...
and Needtobreathe.
I kept pushing replay.
Multiplied...Washed by the Water...Lay 'em Down...Difference Maker...etc.
I appreciated that they had been shuffled together.
It doesn't always turn out that way.
Bunnies darted out from the hedge of fern, salal and Queen Anne's Lace...
They would run with me for a while and dart back into the brush.
They distracted me from how tired I was getting.
I'd only run about a mile or so.
I didn't want to quit but I really, really did want to quit.
I saw a patch of sun ahead.
I'd run to the sunbeam.
The shadow seemed to stretch as my eyes locked on the patch of light.
Keep on going, keep on going..
Needtobreathe serenaded me...
"Your love is like radiant diamonds
Bursting inside us, we cannot contain
Your love will surely come find us
Like blazing wild fires singing your name"
The sunbeam came and went and I hadn't collapsed in a heap, so set my sights on the next sunbeam.
But... I had to go through the shadows first.
The shadows always seem to stretch...
But the sunbeam finally came and I looked ahead to see how far the next one was.
It was do-able.
So I kept going.
"God of mercy, sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to Your design
May this offering stretch across the skies
And these Hallelujahs be multiplied"

It occurred to me as I ran from sunbeam to sunbeam,
That life is like that.
Shadows and sunbeams.
Sometimes the shadows stretch, but we know that if there are shadows, there's a sunbeam ahead.
And sometimes the sunbeam is wide and long...
Warm and bright...
We soak up the light and then another shadow.
God is faithful in the shadows and the sunbeams.
And I'm so thankful that He runs with me...
On the trail...
And off.

Psalm 36:5
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

DIY Rain Chain!

Contrary to this summer's weather, it is usually quite rainy here in Washington...

We put a lot of importance on rain management...
AKA: gutters.
They're a necessary ugly.
So this summer, as I spruced up the back porch,
I decided to replace one of our more dispensable gutters with a rain chain.
I've seen many rain chains online and in stores for upwards of $100...
REALLY?
$100 to manage dripping rain? 
Seemed a bit steep to me!
So, as usual, I decided to make my own.
Here's what my gutter looked like before...
Isn't it lovely?  No?  
I agree.  Ugly...Dirty...Blech!
Here's what it looks like now...  
If you'd like to make your own, it's very, very easy.  
Here are the cliff notes...
What you'll need:
Vintage little tin jello molds (hole drilled into the bottom of each)
Strong, yet pliable wire (I had some electric fence wire, I have no idea why we possess electric fence wire...no clue whatsoever)
Chain  (I bought 5 1-foot lengths of chain - you may need more if your chain needs to be longer -from Home depot...the home depot guy was very kind to cut the lengths for me.  There is no way on earth I could have done that at home.)
Binder rings (yes, binder rings)
To attach the tart tins to the chain, I made connectors out of wire like this:
I put one binder ring through one loop and stuck the other side through the tart tin and attached another binder ring...attaching chain to the binder rings as well and closing them.  Voila.  Repeat the same thing using all of your chain and tins.  All of the tins should face the same way.  Here's a detail of how I did it...
Now to attach it to the gutter...
I took off the ugly gutter and used one of these, set into the gutter opening, to attach the chain so that it comes out of the top of the now open gutter.  Your gutter may be different than mine and you may need to buy a different piece to make it work...this cost about a buck at Home depot.  There are very elaborate and fancy "rain chain adaptors" that you could buy for MUCH more...but why would you do that?
I added some colorful glass crystals because I thought it needed a certain je ne sais quoi...and the crystals were exactly what it needed!
I made this chain yesterday and after weeks and weeks of sunshine (no complaints here!), it's raining today.  I'm happy to report:  The rain chain is doing it's job!  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Beautiful Dewdrops...


Lately I've been a little obsessed with water droplets.
It's been hot around here so water evaporates quickly...you have to be up early to catch the dew!
That drop of water appears to encapsulate another world entirely!


The kale holds lots of little droplets...
It's amazing that they stay separate and don't run together...


My camera never quite knows where to focus...so many droplets!


They even cling to the edges of the leaves...


Blueberries with a mist of dew are gorgeous...and tasty!


The beauty of God's creation always amazes me...and then add a little dew...wow!

Proverbs 3:19-20
By wisdom the Lord laid the earth's foundations,
by understanding he set the heavens in place;
by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
and the clouds let drop the dew.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Aftermath...

We went to a wedding many years ago...the reception was at a place called "The Aftermath"...I loved that name...what a perfect description of what takes place after a holy ceremony where two lives are joined.
Aftermath: The result of an event or occurrence considered collectively.

The aftermath of my daughter's wedding this weekend was utter joy.
The ceremony honored God...the One who orchestrated their meeting and then their love.
There was so much fun and food and laughter and smiling...
The kind of smiling that makes your face ache...the kind of laughter that requires drink awareness to avoid spit takes...the kind of food that on a normal day you'd feel guilty about but the occasion absolutely requires its consumption, the kind of fun that is Youtube worthy!
But the joy...the joy was felt deep inside.
The kind of joy that comes from utter assurance.
I asked Jake how his feet felt the night before the big day...
"They're pretty warm...no, actually, they're very hot" was his response.
Assurance.
Christina's nervousness stemmed from the number of eyes that would be watching as they said their vows.  So many happy, tear-brimmed eyes...trained on her, in her sparkling gown...the center of attention...a place she typically avoids...
The promises they'd make were for our benefit...for God's eyes...there wasn't a doubt they'd made the promises to each other long before this day...

Stephen (our pastor) prayed with us before we all walked down the aisle...


And then she walked down the aisle...to the hymn "Be Thou My Vision" on the arm of her misty dad... 
Let's just stop right here...
To hear that hymn while watching my daughter walk down the aisle was so moving...so appropriate...so...perfectly bridal...the wedding march seems silly now... 
Then the question...Who gives this woman in marriage?
"Her mother and I do" was uttered and then her hand slipped away from her father's arm and into the hand of the one she loves deeply...
Yet...
We give her away, to receive another son?
The whole giving to receive thing...
A God thing...
Let go to gain more...


It was easy to give her to him.
He's a good man.
Her grandpa said so when he read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
He told them both how much they were loved - by God and all of us - and then read this:
"Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor;
If either of them falls down
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
Grandpas have a way of drawing tears out...
But they always seem to have hankies handy.

Their vows were said...
Their rings exchanged...


Then Stephen paused for a moment...
To put on a go pro camera...
Because everyone knows the pastor has the best view of the kiss!
And they must have practiced because it was a very good kiss!


And so their vows were sealed,
Official.
She was his.
He was hers.
Legally.
Before God.
And a lot of precious witnesses.

And it was time to party.
We all danced our way back down the aisle...
And celebrated into the night.









Until it was time to say goodbye...


They drove off in a balloon-filled, streamer-covered car..."Just Married"...

I thought I'd feel a let-down after they left...when all of the fun was over.
But I didn't.
The aftermath of joy remained.
The kind of joy that comes from utter assurance...
That God has blessed this marriage...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Gladys is a rooster...?

Five of my old hens just left my coop for a "retirement home"...
It has a "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
I appreciate that.
I picture them free-ranging in a meadow filled with leafy weeds, bugs and worms...
I have a good imagination...don't ruin it for me...
So that leaves me with three confused hens...
Two black australorpes named Aretha and Gladys...so named because they are very, very vocal...
And a barred rock named Flo.
The pecking order has been turned on its head.
Who's in charge here?
The first morning after the others' departure, there was some loud discussion in the coop.
A few odd low squawks caused me to run outside to see if a critter had managed to invade the coop.
No, just Gladys...being a louder version of herself.
The others answered with higher pitched cackles.
This went on for about an hour.
I wonder what they were saying...
Chickens are notoriously stupid...dumb...embarrassingly dense...
I know they weren't having an intelligent discussion.
On day two, I heard something very curious.
A very odd crowing.
It sounded like an orangoutang with emphysema coughing up a hairball....yes, exactly like that.
I looked outside.
There was Gladys...neck extended...
Pretending to be a rooster.
"Cough-a-crap-a-dohhhhhhhh" (very gravelly)
Does she really THINK she's a rooster or is she trying to fool the others?
Is THIS how she's going to gain her status at the top of the pecking order?
What must the others think?
Knowing hens, like I do, here's what they're thinking...
"Oh, Gladys is a rooster now, ok, we'll follow you."
Stupid hens.
She continued to crow for quite some time.
I was beginning to worry that the neighbors would think I added a rooster with a large frog in it's throat to the flock.
I had promised NOT to have a rooster...NOW WHAT?
What does one do when a hen decides to pretend to be a rooster?
Who will believe me if I tell them it's a hen?
Here's the worst part.
She's not laying.
In my coop you pull your weight or you're sent to "shady acres".
They all seemed to have forgotten that little detail.
It's quieter out there today...
One egg so far...
They must be adjusting to their new, smaller group.
I'll bet Gladys is in charge.
(I have to hand it to her...genius move...)
They all seem to be happy...henny (as opposed to roostery)...dumber than ever.
And all is right in the coop...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Waiting for the Wedding...



Burlap fibers dust the floors...
Succulents, freshly planted, peek out of cut logs...
A dress bag, filled with fancy, hangs in a doorway...
An empty guest book sits...waiting...
Sparkling shoes lay idle in a box, eager for a dance...
A simple veil waits to turn a pretty girl in a pretty dress into a beautiful blushing bride...
Bow ties spill out of a box, soon to adorn the necks of the bests...
Tightly wrapped plates, napkins and cups hold the promise of friendships renewed, new friendships made and good cheer shared in celebration...
Empty pitchers long to showcase summer blooms...
Rolls of ribbon and tulle will change the simple into the special...
And we wait.
Impatiently.
For the day when we will give a girl we love to a boy who loves her best...
When our family will grow in size and love...
When God blesses a union He designed...
And we celebrate with great joy!