We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Thursday, June 30, 2016

In the Garden . . .

Aren't you glad summer's here? We savor the warmth and sunshine. We look forward to vacations and picnics. We catch up with neighbors over the back fence . . . and enjoy the beauty of flowers bordering sidewalks, along roadsides, and in various pots here and there. At the nurseries I joined the spring crowds loading up their carts with zany zinnias, shade-loving impatiens, bright geraniums, and dependable begonias. Maybe you were there, too?

Yet, for me, the real joy came in purchasing a few vegetable plants.  Last fall (October 20), I blogged about our choice to disassemble my late husband's big garden. We grieved one more loss. At the same time, we conferred with a local master gardener-friend, Susan, who helped us create a small lasagna garden in our yard. Perhaps we could still preserve Barry's legacy. 

We chose an easily accessible sunny corner and began the process with Susan's oversight. We layered leaves and hay, using recycled pavers to mark the boundary. Elisabeth carefully transplanted Barry's old fashioned roses, raspberry plants, and a clump of chives, babying them with hopes and prayers that they would make it. 

Then we waited for spring. 

Mid-May found us in the check-out line with red cabbage, lettuce, Swiss chard, cucumber, and tomato plants. We found beet and bean seeds. And Memorial Day weekend, we planted . . . Elisabeth reminding me of Barry's prior instructions. 

There's something wonderful about a garden. Every day, first thing in the morning, I find my way to our little plot. I marvel at the growth, check for more blossoms, smile at the tiny cucs, pull out the weeds while they're still small, and smell the variegated roses. I remember the man with the green thumb who gave me and our daughters an appreciation for God's good earth and its fruit.

And I realize that, difficult as it is, the change of moving forward is good. With an open mind, it brings its own treasures and joy. There's growth in the process.

So . . . if you're local and happen to be in the area, stop by and peek over our white picket fence. And remember . . . God gives us grace to begin again.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Morning Tangles

When's the last time you just needed to take some time out and get organized? 

Today was one of those days for me. Over the past several weeks, I found myself lacking focus and feeling frustrated--especially while working on my computer. Over the last year or so, as I hurried to meet deadlines, I didn't always take the time to organize my files. By day's end, it felt good to finally have my documents in order. 

And I found it to be a little like cleaning a closet when you find a forgotten gadget. I discovered a piece I'd written years ago when Elisabeth, now eighteen, was in elementary school. One summer while I sat poolside watching her swim, I scribbled down some poetry--just for fun. Here's one your family might enjoy, especially if you have girls with long hair!

Morning Tangles

Morning tangles
Mazes in my hair
Secret snarls
Undercover nightmare

Brush it! Comb it!
Tug of war - Ow!
"Can I please do it later
Instead of just now?" 

Morning tangles
Aggravating spots
Bottle of detangler
Sprayed on all my knots

Brush it! Comb it!
Snarls start to move
Tug of war's over
Finally smooth   
So I hope you'll take some time to do a little organizing this summer. You never know what will turn up - and it may be just the thing to bring back some good memories and lighten up your day.

Photos from bling.com/images

Thursday, June 16, 2016

To Tell or Not to Tell - Behind the Scenes # 5

When sharing a story from your life, can you be honest about what has happened without saying too much?  Do you find it tricky to find the appropriate level of disclosure?

I felt this tension when writing Penned Without Ink. On one hand, I desired to share an authentic perspective, one that revealed raw emotion and told an honest story. I wanted it to be personal, not plastic. I can't tell you the number of times tears slipped down my cheeks as I wrote our family's story paired with the accompanying gut feelings and limiting new realities . . . true of any hardship, really. Often, I wrote from open journals, citing Scripture that still brings hope and comfort to me. Unless there's a certain level of vulnerability, the story falls flat; there's not much to say, It's when we acknowledge the exposed places that the grace of God begins to lift the heaviness and brighten our way.

On the other hand, I felt compelled to protect the people in my memoir. My characters are real people with real names in real places, after all. Real people who, in their humanness, struggled with the unexpected and the unexplained. Real people who didn't always get it right--including me. I knew that whatever I wrote would be in print, literally an open book for anyone's eyes to scan its pages. 

Ever conscious of this tension, I asked permission of each person mentioned in the book. I wanted to be careful to find a healthy balance of grace and truth on every page.

And isn't that the way to live life? To be honest about our stories, yet offer a little mercy to ourselves and those around us when we struggle to accept the unexpected and unexplained? To trust the Master Writer to write our stories with both truth and grace?

Photos from bing.com/images

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Last Lunch

This past Friday I packed the last lunch. 

Elisabeth graduates from high school this week so my lunch-packing days have come to an end. I took a few minutes to figure out how many lunches I'd prepared since 1988 when our oldest entered first grade. It's over 6400 minus the few times the three girls purchased their meals. Almost every day I bagged up sandwiches, fruit, and pretzels or chips . . . and sometimes, I'd tuck in something special to remind them of my love.

Mothers have been packing lunches for centuries, I suppose. I wish we knew more about the mom who packed her young son's lunch the day he gave it to Jesus. To her, it was just another lunch. Simple ordinary fare: five loaves and two small fish. She had no idea Jesus would bless this quiet offering and feed thousands with her humble preparations.

Fish and bread. 

How many times have you offered the ordinary? Perhaps . . . a bedtime story, a prayer over the phone, a bouquet of flowers, a day of babysitting, a meal, a listening ear, a few heartfelt words typed on a page . . . On good days we offer the plumpest of fish paired with the freshest of bread. On other days, the fish may look pitiful and insignificant alongside day-old loaves that flopped despite our best efforts. The Lord accepts our little bit, blesses it, and feeds the multitudes--for His glory. 

Can you imagine this mother's surprise when her young son burst in the door that evening shouting the story of how his little lunch fed so many people? We have no way of knowing what will happen with the most ordinary of offerings.  

So let's not hold back. Even the simplest of gifts may reach far and wide. You never know what God will do! 

See also: http://www.sarahlynnphillips.com/2015/02/loaves-and-fish.html

Pictures from bing.com/images