Sunday, June 29, 2014

We Do This to Ourselves


Years ago, I accepted that life is a diabolically unpredictable, dimly lit roller coaster.

With long boring stretches.

And plenty of fun stretches.

And stretches so terrifying in free-fall that you will curl up in the fetal position and vomit into your lap.

We might think life should be one thing, that our lives ought to turn out according to our carefully laid plans, but the truth is that life's mostly going to be whatever it's going to be...without a care for our thoughts or feelings on the subject. We like the illusion that we are in control. But we're not. Unexpected curves, twists, and loops pop up all the time.

You can fight this and shake your fist and whine and complain all you want.

Or you can lift your arms and enjoy as much of the ride as you can.

Faith helps. It helps to trust that God's in charge and everything will work toward His ultimate good, even the really terrible stuff. Faith gets easier the more you see of life, the more you both witness and experience bad stuff turning, eventually and often unexpectedly, to good.

Have you let go of expecting life to be the picture you have in your head? Are you on the first row or the third row...?


Friday, June 27, 2014


Our resident barn swallows have hatched their eggs!

The pictures were taken through the windows around our front door (hence the awkward reflections), but there are at least two and perhaps three babies in the nest. Barn swallows feed by catching insects mid-air, so mom and dad are busy flitting around looking for bugs. Barn swallows are very fast and maneuverable fliers!

There are lots more barn swallows than our pair flitting about, which makes me wonder if there are other nests.

Are you observing nature at work around your house? Are you tickled pink (as we are), or do you find nature's activities inconvenient or destructive? I admit I'm not thrilled with the wasps flying around and want to search out their nests and spray them first chance, but then I wonder if the poison will be picked up by birds eating the wasps. Unintended consequences suck.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gratitude Journal #240

Where to begin?

Today, I am grateful for a week at Lake Vermilion, for seeing the joy and satisfaction in George and Angela's eyes as they revisited their childhood memories of vacations on the lake.

Today, I am grateful for the peace and relaxation of the week, for kayaking, for loon calls and muskrat sightings, for good food, for the ease of good company in a log cabin setting.

Today, I am grateful for water that was just warm enough for swimming, for giant slides in the water, and for a brother-in-law who took these shots. Thanks, Mike!

Today, I'm grateful Jack brought his "We love you, Mrs. Wray" shirt so we could post a pic on Facebook. Mrs. Wray was his principal for the past five years, and she retired this month after 40 years in our district.

Today, I am grateful for rainbows. You know your vacation is going to be good when it starts off with a double beauty like this one.

Today, I am grateful for Nick and how he embraced all the fun to be had at the lake. He had so much fun fishing with George and Angela, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, going for walks, swatting mosquitos on his dad, etc.

Today, I am grateful for Jack...even though he tried hard not to enjoy boating and complained epically while kayaking. His favorite thing was the big slide and spending time with his aunt and uncle.

Today, I'm grateful for Mike, who did most of the dishes all week and always had a tool for every job...from the mini screwdriver to fix my glasses to pliers to straighten metal hangers into marshmallow-roasting sticks.

Today, I'm grateful for Angela, who is always so easy to talk with, so generous with her time and attention, and so thoughtful...not to mention being an amazing travel planner.

Today, I'm grateful to both Ang and Mike for loving Nick and Jack so much.

Today, I'm grateful for George, who took lots of pictures (some of which I'll post separately) of other things I'm grateful for and cooked some fabulous meals. I'm also grateful he had such good run and swim training for Ironman at the lake and that he got a chance to relax and have fun and drive a boat.

Today, I'm grateful for being safely home after such a great vacation and for being reunited with Daisy and all her craziness. I missed this face.

Now it's your turn. What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sunrise, Sunset

I have always been fond of sunsets. A college friend once told me he thought sunsets were depressing and morbid. Rather than signifying death or endings for me, sunsets signify rest, peace, relief, starlight, and moonshine. The light of stars and planets helps me put my problems into healthy perspective, and sunset is, therefore, a magical transition to peace and comfort.

Watching the sun set last night on Lake Vermilion definitely filled me with peace.

Watching the sun rise this morning, with fresh sunlight sparkling on the surface of the water filled me with hope for another beautiful day on the lake. There is so much potential for fun. George rented a boat to tour around Vermilion and also do some tubing for Nick. The resort owners are putting a large waterslide in the water, which will make Jack happy.

Sunrise, sunset. They give us a rhythm to our lives, a healthy pattern of movement and rest, light and dark.

They are a gift from God, part of His creation, and a blessing.

Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Gratitude Journal #239

Today, I am grateful for kennels that take wonderful care of dogs...even if the dogs themselves act like they are going to their execution on the drive to said kennel. Daisy deserves an Academy Award for her performance.

Today, I am grateful for safe travels and a beautiful cabin situated feet from Lake Vermilion, for loon calls and eagle wings, for boats and kayaks and cold water, for great company and relaxation. (I'll post pictures later, when my connection is better. Just loading the Daisy picture above took ten minutes.)

Today, I am grateful for big books on the much easier to haul around. For fans of the Outlander series, the new book is pretty good and a lengthy commitment at 1221 pages on my Nook. Does anyone know if Nook pages count the same as print pages? Seems like the page count would vary depending on what type size your reader is set to display. But it's very long and satisfying and better than some books in the series. (The Fiery Cross, I'm talking about you.)

Today, I am grateful for the end of another school year, for summer breaks, and for kind friends who watch pet fish in our absence.

Today, I am grateful for 28 years with the man of my dreams. I love you, sweetie, and happy anniversary!

What are YOU grateful for today?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Watch with Glittering Eyes

Source: Etsy

Magic. My word for the summer.

But what is magic? Certainly it's not the hocus-pocus spells and brews of witches and warlocks. Those things are make-believe, not real. Certainly it's not the illusions and redirections of magicians. Those things are tricks and deceits.

Magic--the real kind--is what happens when our souls encounter the great mystery, recognize it, and appreciate it so profoundly, so deeply, that we are changed somehow, made better, softer, stronger, more grateful for every little gift that life gives us. Magic is transformative...a blessing, a growth, a maturing.

Surely you have looked up at the night sky and experienced magic. How strange it must have been, hundreds of years ago, to look up at the sky and not know that a point of light might be, in fact, billions of stars so far away that we can only see them as a single dot of light. How strange to think that earth was ever thought to be the center of the universe.

How fresh and new our earthly perspective is these days!

Furthermore, our intellect knows that the speed of light means that we're seeing into the past every night. The light from those stars left home millions or billions of years ago. We see only the past of the night, not what is now. Whatever is going on now out amongst the stars is an even bigger mystery than our ancestors could have imagined.

As we learn one thing, another ten mysteries pop up. Like magic. And if we pursue them with glittering eyes, we learn their secrets, see new mysteries, and discover the delight of endless surprise.

How grateful I am that I will never know all the answers!

What scientific mysteries spark your curiosity? Have you ever had your perspective changed so completely by a new discovery or realization that you felt like you had, indeed, experienced something magical? How comfortable are you with having to adjust your thoughts as mysteries reveal themselves to you? Do you resist or do you embrace this magical transformation?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Great Mystery


The Great Mystery.

Have you ever experienced that magical moment when, staring up at the stars on a clear night, you feel incredibly tiny and unimportant and at the same time you know how very important you are just because you are able to think about the universe and appreciate it and admire it and learn a little something about it?

Reduced and expanded. All in a single moment.

The Great Mystery.

Gratitude Journal #238

Today, I am grateful for the email confirming my registration for the Stephen Ministry Leadership Training Course. I can't wait to go to Pittsburg in August!

Today, I am grateful for the postcard I received from an aunt who is traveling in Ireland.

Today, I am grateful for the last full week of school for my boys and the imminent prospect of a vacation with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law to northern Minnesota.

Today, I am grateful for rain.

Today, I am grateful for a food catapult, which Jack and I built last night. It was fun, and Jack did a great job following instructions!

Today, I am grateful for the birds nesting on our front porch. I think it's a pair of barn swallows and would appreciate a birder weighing in on that identification.

Building the nest. They won't stay put for me to take a picture with
the door open.

This picture was taken through the window over our front door. You
can see how much progress they've made on the nest.

We'll just hose the bird poo off the porch periodically. I hope we get to see babies soon!

What are you grateful for today?