Wednesday, December 30, 2015

the day before the day before

It is the day before, the day before a brand new year starts.  The sun is shining and it is really a beautiful day.  The ground is frozen in places and the air is cold and crisp.  There was an earthquake here last night, measuring 4.3-4.8 depending on the source.  So, that's exciting.  I was very much asleep at the time and didn't wake up at all.

I broke open the pumpkins I had grown over the summer, the ones I displayed on the front step all through the fall and all of December.  I broke them open with a big rock and left them in the garden for the chickens.  They were not interested.

Blake and I had a date today after wrestling practice.  We had lunch at our favorite Mexican place, Esteban's.  He told me that the guys were trying to talk with him after practice and he kept telling them he had to go because he had a date.  They laughed when he told them the date was with his mom.  I thought it was pretty cool.

Austin is off with his girlfriend's family for the day.  They headed to the mountain to go sledding.  The other day he went with friends and tried snowboarding for the first time.  He was sore but he said it was really fun.

Aaron is crabbing today.  I don't think I've mentioned it before but he has been crabbing commercially as the commercial season permits.  The captain that he works with is the owner of the restaurant that I work at.  I don't know if it's "normal" to love a job such as crabbing, but Aaron does.  He loves being out on the boat.  He loves the wildlife that he gets to see.

Here we are on Christmas Day (even wearing our matching Wildcat Wrestling hoodies)....

In honor of the approaching new year I have begun my 2016 reading list.  I even stopped in at the library today and requested a few to begin with.  I plan on re-reading The Book Thief this year.  Last year Aaron got me my very own copy from a library in Ireland!!  This excites me to the core.  I also plan to read and actually finish George Orwell's 1984.  I'm fascinated by the concept but for various reasons haven't read it through yet.  Ah, a new year and new reading goals!
Welcome 2016!!  Please be kind.
Happy new year everyone!
{New Year Wishes and Christmas Bliss} - Sugar Lump Studios - Artwork by Nancy Maxwell James:

Sunday, December 20, 2015

of December

The year is winding down in a flurry of Christmas songs and gift exchanges.

I'll be glad to see it go.  I've not lived a harder year.

The final days can come and bring with them the joy of the season, celebrating the ONE who died for me (and you!).

Then, the new year will dawn and I will embrace it like a long lost friend.


We don't have plans for Christmas.  We'll just lay low at home, exchange gifts and probably stay in our pajamas all day.  We'll eat homemade cinnamon rolls and drink coffee.  We'll have a ham dinner in the afternoon.

Earlier this month Aaron and I went downtown to the tree lighting.  It was bitterly cold but there's something about the festivity and the small town that makes braving the cold worth it.  We walked around a bit, into Popsies (the best old-fashioned candy store EVER!) and into the Holiday Market where they're selling handmade things from local artists and we snagged a cup of hot cider (and spotted a Christmas present for our younger son).


Also this month we were honored to attend a Naval Change-of-Command ceremony, in which one of our friends was being promoted to Commanding Officer.  The ceremony was held in this old theatre which is still used as a movie theatre on the Navy base.  I played with the photo a bit to make it look like how I imagined (if only that modern red pickup weren't in the picture).  Austin and 5 other ROTC members were the Color Guard for the ceremony and represented the high school very well.  Aaron and I thoroughly enjoyed the ceremony and the traditions that are honored and upheld.

Our Christmas tree is so beautiful this year.  We bought it at the Lions' Club tree lot which was a first for us as we usually cut our own tree up in the mountains or from a tree farm.  As we decorated the tree, Blake commented that he really likes our decorations because they are so diverse and eclectic.  They really are!  There are decorations we hang every year that I've had since I was a kid.  Some of the decorations are the ones the boys made when they were little.  Some are the original decorations from our first tree of our married life.  Not much matches but it is colorful and sparkly and full of memories, just like I like it.

Our boys are both very vested in their individual sports.  Blake is wrestling on the varsity team and doing really, really well.  As a freshman on varsity, most of his matches are against seniors but he holds his own.  I love watching his skill and his control and the lessons he learns through defeat.  This weekend he wrestled in a tournament with 16 schools.  He earned 3rd place for his weight class and his team earned 2nd place overall.
Austin recently shot in a ROTC competition.  We got to be there and watch him shoot his three positions.  It's difficult to see the actual shots in the targets without a scope but it's amazing to watch him shoot nonetheless.  He has amazing control and focus.  In the picture below you can see the targets, what you can't see is the tiny white circle in the center of each black circle that they are actually aiming at.  Also in the picture you can see Austin in most of his precision gear (minus the jacket).  And you can see his girlfriend, Elena.  We like her.

The offhand position.

The kneeling position.  This is Austin's best.
My employers threw a generous Christmas party.  We were spoiled with great food.  I'm thankful (as I've said before) for Christian employers.  These people are genuinely kind and loving and I really can't even begin to tell you all the ways they've been a blessing to Aaron and I.  I'm thankful for my co-workers too.  We are a colorful bunch and, like a family, we might not always get along, but we always help each other out.
This is me and my Elyse, enjoying the hot chocolate bar!

Hey Pinners! Create your own Pinterest image with your favorite holiday quote using PicMonkey.: 

Friday, November 6, 2015


reading... 84 by George Orwell

watching...  Bones season 10 on Netflix

trying...  to write a little something everyday: poetry, paragraphs, or just a line

cooking...  Hamburger stew in the crockpot, homemade bread

doing...  headed to the playoff football game at the high school here in just a bit (yay, for small town football games!)

going...  on a Costco run tomorrow before my shift at work

loving...  the way God works in lives, in amazing and miraculous ways, and when we least expect it

discovering...  the swiftness in which chickens can "work" a garden.  I cleaned it out and handed it over to the hens for the season.  They've already accomplished so much.

enjoying...  doing puzzles with my husband.  We just finished another, our 5th in two months.

thinking...  does doing puzzles instead of going out mean we're boring?

feeling...  I feel very boring.

listening...  the wind is cold and really blowing tonight.  It's going to be a cold football game!!

celebrating...  youngest son's football season is officially over, and the first quarter of school is ending next week, and good things are happening at church, and I really feel like God is going to do some pretty awesome stuff in the next little bit.

smelling...  fresh baked bread (Heaven!)

Monday, October 26, 2015

moments in a library

I sat in a chair, in a beam of sunlight, in a room full of tall windows.  The orange sunlight of early evening shone through the orange, yellow, and red leaves of the tree outside making it look like a stained glass window.  Or stained glass windows are made to look like sunshine through autumn leaves. 

For a small public library in a small island town there were many people milling around.  I wondered where it was they were not going.  Why were they here instead? 

The man there, reading the newspaper, was he just biding time till something else?  The woman in the boho dress and Ugg style boots that I caught inspecting the pattern on her own sleeve, she didn't seem to be fully engrossed in this moment, was her mind elsewhere?  The older woman who pulled out some purple knitting from her tote bag and set to work, why did she choose to knit here, in the little library, in the little island town?  Another woman walked to her, beginning a conversation from a few strides away, without hesitation or apology or invitation pulling the nearest chair over, creating a ninety degree angle between them both.

If someone were to set eyes on me in that moment they would have seen a tired woman, laptop open in front of her, listening to something through earbuds connected to the cell phone at her side.  Her hair disheveled, eyes framed in worry as she occasionally sighed and looked up from her glowing screen, gazing out the window, lost in thought.

My mind in those moments was wandering the streets of delusions, paranoia, organized crime, family responsibility, and the fine line between what a mind can believe is truth and actual truth.  And again, my sensitive heart feels everything on a deeper level so I'm stricken with worry.  There is a struggle in the mind that can be easily dismissed by lack of compassion or understanding.  But I understand.  I understand the darkness that blurs reality.  I know that it can become massive and overpowering, and perhaps I only understand a fraction of it through personal experience but I know enough to not be able to dismiss it.

Little libraries in little towns close mighty early.  I packed up my things, took one last look around, and headed for the door.  Outside the air was crisp, the sun fading.  Autumn is in full glory in the Pacific Northwest. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

fading garden

The garden is making her descent.  I've all but left it to itself now, weeds growing abundantly, tomato plants growing haphazardly, zucchini plants yellowed and wilted but still taking up space.  It's just a matter of time and I will be in there pulling out dead sunflower plants, ripping out the pumpkin vines.  But still, when I take the time to see, to really see, there is beauty in the fading.
The sweet pea vines are green, leaves open to catching raindrops and putting them on display.
Pods hang, ready to be picked.  They are sweet and crunchy at this stage.

Some of the flower seeds I had planted are showing forth in vibrant color.

The contrast of this delicate pink flower with the wilted sunflower leaves captures perfectly what I wanted to convey.  The garden is almost spent but still there is life.

Adding to the swift dismissal of the gardening season is the fact that I can't keep one smart chicken out of the garden.  Nuggets is the only hen that knows how to jump the little garden fence and she wanders around in there munching on the collard green leaves, leaving behind evidences of her visit, such as a soft feather that dances in the slightest breeze.

The last sunflowers are not near as bright and lively as the first.
But they are still beautiful in their fading.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

in early September

It was a Friday in early September.  Leaves just turning.  Air just beginning to feel thinner, cooler.  The boys were both in school for the first time in the history of us.  He wanted to get in some salmon fishing.  I tagged along.  The beach is beautiful.  And there is hiking.  And the sun was shining.
I hiked along a trail in the woods just off the beach and found spider webs abounding.  Each delicate web was filled with tiny drops of water.  They looked like little bits of lace decorating the bushes.

As I trod along the worn trail, I breathe deeply.  There is a scent in the woods that is hard to describe.  It is the decay on the forest floor, the leaves and tree needles mingling together as they are broken down by insects, rain, and heat, by the cycle of nighttime to day.  I love that smell.  I love how it all fits together, the symbiosis in creation. 

Back at the beach... I found this bit of moss.  It's complexity demanded to be captured.  I like it's texture contrasted by the grayed driftwood. 

I laid in the sun on the warm rocks and listened to the waves sweeping in and out.  The tide crept closer to where I lay and I eventually had to scoot away a few more feet.  I hooked Charlie to my foot and laughed out loud when I caught sight of him.

That's an interesting way to wear your leash, Charlie!

"Live in the Sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air" by Ralph Waldo Emerson  Available as iPhone Cases, Samsung Galaxy Cases, Home Decors, Tote Bags, Prints, Cards, iPad Cases, and Laptop Skins  #watercolor #quote:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

I want to write

I want to write.

I want words to flow from my pen and cover line and pages and fill notebooks.

I want to sit in coffee shops with blank pages before me, unaware of the sounds about me, only focused on pen at paper, releasing the words of my heart.

I want to be a regular at the used bookstore, visiting old friends, meeting new.  Smelling the exhalations of the worn stories, gently fingering their worn bindings.

I want to sweep into the library and borrow a gem that inspires the flame within my soul, urging me forward, fostering creativity.

I want to stroll on the beach sometime near mid-day rolling over words and phrases in my mind like the waves roll the pebbles on the shore.

I want to hole up inside on a rainy day with hot coffee and my warm little dog and pour out words as tears, slowly at first then from that place deep within that, when opened, gushes forth like a fountain.

I want to write but I don't, because I haven't found the story that demands to be told.

I have not uncovered those characters  hidden in my creativity bank that beg to be sculpted into a book.

I have not amassed some great amount of knowledge and wisdom to share and make everyone's lives better.

I feel that the world doesn't really need me to write at all.  Everything has already been said in many different voices.  What weight does my voice have?

No, the world doesn't need me to write.

But I need me to write. 

There is a part of me that craves it, like the instinct to breathe.  I need to write like I need to breathe.  And perhaps in simply writing, courageously venturing forward hand-in-hand with my creative side, I will stumble upon something wonderful.

Monday, September 28, 2015

from the dark

Why art thou cast down, O my soul?  And why art thou disquieted within me?

This has been my song for the last few months.  Walking through some of the darkest darkness I've ever felt.

In my journal I wrote:

   "I've been better.  I see that now."
   "Peace is like sand through my fingers."
   "The fog ebbs and flows but never leaves completely.  It is my constant companion."

I cling to the Psalms.  I've read them through four times and am currently re-reading them.  I find strength and hope in the words of David.

Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning, for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.
Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live, for thy law is my delight.
Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.

The trials come like ocean waves.  I'm not fighting one battle, but multiple.  And the weight of it crushes my spirit. 

I can't describe to you the darkness, can't detail the depth of the struggle because it is too fresh.  I'm still too much into it to share.  But I can tell you that God loves me.  He really cares and I know because He has shown me.

Last week was hard.  Really, really hard.  I was at the lowest I've felt in my entire life.  Really, really low.

Over the weekend I attended a conference for Christian ladies.  I get to go every year to this conference and I have a lot of friends there, women I admire who challenge and inspire me. 

My heart was not super into the idea of getting dressed, putting on a smile, and going through the motions (just being honest here) but I was going to get to see my mom (whom I've not seen in a year and half) and that was the motivation I needed to make the trip, if for nothing else.

Of course the conference was beautiful and the women were wonderful.  God softened my heart enough to be able to reach in and love me.  He gently reminded me of the bigger picture and allowed me to learn some new things.

At one point, one of my dearest friends, in a private moment, looked me right in the eyes and asked a very detailed question about one of my trials, a trial I have not mentioned to a soul.  When I opened up a bit she just nodded and said she would be praying.  And she is a fierce woman of prayer so I know she'll be right at the heart of God, breathing words of prayer on my behalf.  Lord, thank you for a friend like that!

Some things God showed me:

   ~  look for the blessings in every trial
   ~  every trial has a purpose
   ~  don't look at the lions, look at the light
   ~  be open and sensitive rather than hard and bitter
   ~  this is a time of opportunity

Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee, he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord
I Chronicles 28:20
I'm still processing exactly how to find a blessing in a trial.  It would seem that the blessing would only be evident after the trial is over but I intend to seek the blessing within the trial, in the deep, dark root of it.
It reminds me of Mister Rogers and how he always said to look for the heroes in every tragedy.  I do that.  But perhaps the heroes in my current story are blessings and I just need to look for them as I do the heroes.
The blessings I've had over the last few days:
  • getting to know a lady new to our church and discovering that she is genuine and honest and delightful
  • spending time with my mom
  • being spoiled with a weekend in brand new Jeep Grand Cherokee (rental car) with so many luxuries that I felt like royalty
  • dear people that gave (GAVE!!) us a car.  It doesn't run at the moment but thankfully my husband knows enough about cars that he should be able to get it up and running and we'll have another set of reliable wheels.  I'm so thankful.  And humbled.
  • an employer that is, first and foremost, a Christian, that I can share some troubles with and ask her to pray and know that she will.  And when I'm in need of some extra hours at work she is able to double my hours for the month and still asks if there is anything more she can do.
I am not worthy of the blessings.  Not worthy of the love that God showers on me.  But I can say that I have felt in the last two days better than I have in months.  My trials are still here, that hasn't changed, but my perspective has changed.  This is what God's love does.  He reaches down in the darkest of hours and holds us close to Him, not promising that things will get better but that He has a plan for every thing and that He will never leave our sides.
It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.  The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.  The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.
Lamentations 3:21-25

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

of San Diego

It was such a pleasure to spend a week with my sister.  Our time together is rare and always too short but she is one of my most favorite people in the world, one of those people that I feel comfortable with no matter what.  And being with my brother-in-law and my nephew is easy and enjoyable.
The reason for the visit was to offer some help and care to my sister during her recovery after surgery.  I don't know how much actual help I was but I felt like I was at least doing something, even if that was only keeping the dishes clean.
The San Diego area is like a foreign country to me.  The plant life, the animals, the weather, the was all fascinating.  I asked a lot of questions to quell my curiosity and thankfully everyone was eager to answer as best they could.
This flower resides in a hanging basket on my sister's patio:
This was a bush in their yard:

My nephew, Sully, and I had a "date" at Barnes and Noble.  We each grabbed a good stack of books and magazines and a Starbucks drink and spent a good chunk of the afternoon thus engrossed.  Sully and I actually share quite a few interests so being able to spend time with him was a pleasure.
A few days later we, again, spent time together engrossed in books, this time at the San Diego Naval Hospital Library.  While my sis had an appointment we found our way to the library.  Expecting rows and rows of medical books, I was pleased to discover a normal library, minus some of the fluff of a public library.

The family took me sightseeing on a beautifully perfect afternoon.  This beach was in the Ocean Shores/Point Loma area.  It was neat to see so many surfers and even pelicans!  I was thrilled to see four pelicans flying in formation like bomber planes.  And surfers with hair bleached by the sun.

The houses were amazing.  The clouds, even more.

The view of San Diego from Shelter Island:

A pelican!!

The view from Harbor Island:

I'll confess, I LOVE flying!!  This trip was my first experience with flying since I was 16 (and that was a long time ago).  I cringed upon that first take off.  My stomach sank as we gained altitude.  But I was mesmerized by the power of the jet engines, by the shrinking landscape below me, by the variety in the topography.  The earth is fascinating and when you have occasion to see it from 30,000 feet in the air it becomes all that much more amazing.
Each flight (I had four), I was able to sit by the window and I promise I was pressed against that window the entire time save for one leg where the setting sun was shining right in my eyes and the view below was all gray clouds so I read instead.
The clouds are beautiful from above:
I don't know that I could ever tire of this beauty:

I understand why the term "cotton candy clouds" was created.  Please excuse the spots on this next picture, the window was a little dirty on the outside but the clouds are too pretty to not share.

While I was in sunny San Diego my home was hit with a huge storm that blew down trees and knocked out power.  The rain was heavy.  The wind gusts were recorded as high as 70 mph.  Thankfully we didn't have any trees fall but my garden suffered some casualties.  I wasn't sure what to expect when I got home but I was pleasantly surprised to be able to gather all these tomatoes.  The yellow ones are so sweet!
 And this flower, decorated with rain drops, was a beautiful sight.

It is life back to normal here at home.  Fall is in full swing with a twinge of chill in the air.  All the kids are back to school today.  My two walked out the door to begin their Freshman and Junior years.  Sigh.  It's ok, really it is.
Until next time San Diego.  And, I love you Beth!

Monday, August 24, 2015

purple mountain majesties

Perhaps I am a cheap date.  Perhaps I need only be tempted by a package of Sour Patch Kids candy and some pretzels to agree to an adventure.  Perhaps I would have gone anyway.
Whatever which way, Sunday evening found us at the coldest, windiest beach on our island.  He was fishing, I was taking pictures and eating candy.  Thankfully, someone had built a really great driftwood shelter that I sought solace in when the wind proved to be just too cold.
But the sunset was gorgeous.  And the Olympic mountains sang with purple mountains majesties.


After catching the first fish and gutting it, this friend showed up, hoping for his share....

We live in such a beautiful place.  I really can't get enough of it.  And I don't mean it as bragging, it is just fact. 
We have a big beautiful sky and too many beaches to count.  And on any Sunday evening we can just get outside and enjoy a sunset like this, and catch delicious salmon, and take glorious pictures, and eat Sour Patch Kids.  Well, you can probably do that last one almost anywhere.

See what I mean about the sky?!?

The catch: two pink salmon.

Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord.  Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens. 
Lamentations 3:40-41