Monday, December 31, 2007

Ruby's Words of Wisdom

- When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
- Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
- Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
- When it's in your best interest, practice obedience.
- Let others know when they've invaded your territory.
- Take naps. Stretch before rising.
- Run, romp, and play daily.
- Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
- Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
- On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
- On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
- When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
- No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout! Run right back and make friends.
- Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
- Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.
- Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you're not.
- If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
- When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Incomparable Anne Lamott

I love Anne Lamott. She has long been one of my very favorite writers. Operating Instructions, Bird by Bird, and Traveling Mercies are some of my very favorite books.
Attached is a link to an online interview with Anne Lamott and Steve Brown. Excellent, excellent interview. She talks about writing, her liberal political leanings, grace, and her love of Jesus. Just wonderful. (And also really really funny...)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ralphie Would Be Proud

Well..... yesterday was Christmas. My kids got all kinds of stuff. Brand new bikes, books, clothes, video games, etc.
AND my 11 year old son got the One Thing that he really wanted (and the one thing I really DIDN'T want him to have). Yes, that's right. The coveted, much ballyhooed Red Ryder BB Gun (as in "You'll shoot your eye out, Ralphie!"). Yes, that's the one. I think his father, who BOUGHT this dubious present, was just as thrilled as our son. They spent Christmas afternoon out in the woods in our backyard shooting things... the wheelbarrow, empty bottles, clay discs, etc.
My son was beaming. Ralphie would be so proud.

Monday, December 24, 2007

What I've Learned from George Bailey

It's once again that time of year to watch my very favorite movie, "It's A Wonderful Life". It always makes me laugh, cry and, most importantly, it always makes me appreciate the life I already have. I guess I love George Bailey because I see myself in some of his struggles: depression, discouragement, anxiety, etc.

As the movie unfolds his guardian angel (the sweet, simple Clarence) helps him to see that he already possesses a truly Wonderful Life, if he'll only open his eyes and see it.

Here are the 3 Big Things (and very simple lessons) I've learned from George Bailey over the years:

  1. Money, careers, cars, houses and the acquisition of More Stuff don't matter.... the only things that matters are your relationships with people; and your relationship with God. (Matthew 6:24; 1 Peter 1:24-25)
  2. Your life touches so many others' lives, in ways you don't see and can't even imagine. Remember to love God, and to love others (and don't forget to love yourself). (Matthew 22:36-40)
  3. Your life is important to God, and He has a plan for you. (Jeremiah 29:11; Psalms 139: 13-14; Luke 12:6-7)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Chris Turnbow's Christmas Miracle

Below is a beautiful story about the the power of love, and the power of family. The story itself is amazing, but the audio clip is definitely worth a listen. (It even made me cry.... and I almost never cry.....) What a wonderful Christmas blessing for this family. Enjoy, and count your blessings.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Joseph, Jesus' Earthly Dad

Ever think about Joseph? He was kind of ignored in the whole scheme of things, wasn't he? Jesus and Mary, well, they were obviously the center of attention, but what about Joseph? What must he have been feeling? Speechless? Overwhlemed? Without a doubt.
I can only imagine what he thought when he realized that he and his wife Mary were going to be the earthly parents of the Messiah.

That's some Heavy Stuff.

None of us really know what Joseph thought, of course, but I think Max Lucado probably came very close to capturing it with the lovely piece he did below.

This isn't the way I planned it, God. Not at all. My child being born in a stable? This isn't the way I thought it would be. A cave with sheep and donkeys, hay and straw? My wife giving birth with only the stars to hear her pain?
This isn't at all what I imagined. No, I imagined family. I imagined grandmothers. I imagined neighbors clustered outside the door and friends standing at my side. I imagined the house erupting with the first cry of the infant. Slaps on the back. Loud laughter. Jubilation.
That's how I thought it would be.
But now. Now look. Nazareth is five days' journey away. And here we are in a . . . in a sheep pasture. Who will celebrate with us? The sheep? The shepherds? The stars?
This doesn't seem right. What kind of husband am I? I provide no midwife to aid my wife. No bed to rest her back. Her pillow is a blanket from my donkey. My house for her is a shed of hay and straw.
The smell is bad, the animals are loud. Why, I even smell like a shepherd myself.
Did I miss something? Did I, God?
When you sent the angel and spoke of the son being born--this isn't what I pictured. I envisioned Jerusalem, the temple, the priests, and the people gathered to watch. A pageant perhaps. A parade. A banquet at least. I mean, this is the Messiah!
Or, if not born in Jerusalem, how about Nazareth? Wouldn't Nazareth have been better? At least there I have my house and my business. Out here, what do I have? A weary mule, a stack of firewood, and a pot of warm water. This is not the way I wanted it to be! This is not the way I wanted my son.
Oh my, I did it again. I did it again didn't I, Father? I don't mean to do that; it's just that I forget. He's not my son . . . he's yours.
The child is yours. The plan is yours. The idea is yours. And forgive me for asking but . . . is this how God enters the world? The coming of the angel, I've accepted. The questions people asked about the pregnancy, I can tolerate. The trip to Bethlehem, fine. But why a birth in a stable, God?
Any minute now Mary will give birth. Not to a child, but to the Messiah. Not to an infant, but to God. That's what the angel said. That's what Mary believes. And, God, my God, that's what I want to believe. But surely you can understand; it's not easy. It seems so . . . bizarre.
I'm unaccustomed to such strangeness, God. I'm a carpenter. I make things fit. I square off the edges. I follow the plumb line. I measure twice before I cut once. Surprises are not the friend of a builder. I like to see the plan before I begin.
But this time I'm not the builder, am I? This time I'm a tool. A hammer in your grip. A nail between your fingers. A chisel in your hands. This project is yours, not mine.
I guess it's foolish of me to question you. Forgive my struggling. Trust doesn't come easy to me, God. But you never said it would be easy, did you?
One final thing, Father. The angel you sent? Any chance you could send another? If not an angel, maybe a person? I don't know anyone around here and some company would be nice. Maybe the innkeeper or a traveler? Even a shepherd would do.

I wonder. Did Joseph ever pray such a prayer? Perhaps he did. Perhaps he didn't.
But you probably have.
You've stood where Joseph stood. Caught between what God says and what makes sense. You've stared into a sky blackened with doubt. And you've asked what Joseph asked.
You've asked if you're still on the right road. You've asked if you were supposed to turn left when you turned right. And you've asked if there is a plan behind this scheme. Things haven't turned out like you thought they would.
Each of us knows what it's like to search the night for light. Not outside a stable, but perhaps outside an emergency room. On the gravel of a roadside. On the manicured grass of a cemetery. We've asked our questions. We questioned God's plan. And we've wondered why God does what he does.
No, the Bethlehem sky is not the first to hear the pleadings of an honest heart, nor the last. And perhaps God didn't answer every question for Joseph. But he answered the most important one. "Are you still with me, God?" And through the first cries of the God-child the answer came.
"Yes. Yes, Joseph. I'm with you."
There are many questions that we won't be able to answer. Many times we will muse, "I wonder . . ."
But in our wonderings, there is one question we never need to ask. Does God care? Do we matter to God? Does he still love his children?
Through the small face of the stable-born baby, he says yes.
Yes, your sins can be forgiven.
Yes, your name can be written in heaven.
Yes, death has been defeated.
Because God has entered the world.
Immanuel. God is with us.
--Max Lucado

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Steve Brown's Christmas Blog

Below was taken from Steve Brown's blog at
I love Steve Brown - not only does he have a fabulous radio ministry, but his dry wit (and honesty) are so refreshing!

I can't believe it's December again! Didn't we just "do" Christmas a couple of months ago?
Christmas! That means I have to get out the tree and the decorations. If I had known that this was coming around so fast, I would have never taken them down from last year. It would be like not making up the bed in the morning because you're going to have to unmake it in the evening.

Christmas means that sad people will be sadder, joyful people more joyful, busy people busier, religious people more religious...

...and it means war.
Yeah, war!

The "Prince of Peace" calls every Christian to man the ramparts and to prepare for battle against the forces of evil who would reduce "Merry Christmas" to "Happy Holidays" and remove any reference to Christ in the public square beginning with Christmas.

It's called the "War on Christmas" and John Gibson's book, The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday is Worse Than You Thought, gives the horrifying details. He, of course, is right.
Annie Gaylor, co-founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation says that the "real" reason for the season is winter solstice. They have a plaque that reads: "At this season of the winter solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."

A couple of years ago, Tom Piatak, wrote in The American Conservative: "The result of sanitizing Christmas is now within sight: an undistinguished, uninspiring public celebration, devoid of religious or cultural significance or indeed of beauty, with nothing left but multiculturalists pap and tawdry commercialism."

Do you know how I feel about all of that?
I don't care!
I'm not anybody's mother and, frankly, I don't care what unbelievers do about Christmas. I'm not their boss, their judge or their leader. They can dance naked around a fire celebrating winter solstice if they want to, say "Happy Holidays" to their hearts' content and ignore God whenever they want. I just don't care. I don't even know their names.

My not caring may be because I'm tired; it could have something to do with being old; it could be just my "default" cynicism directed at pagans who are offended by the name of Christ and also at those who sell books and get ratings faking anger directed at pagans who are offended by the name of Christ.
But I really think my not caring has to do with Jesus who said, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:60).

When I said I don't care, that's not exactly true.

The Christmas season is a grand and glorious time to offend a pagan. I take perverse delight in saying "Merry Christmas" to pagans, in asking Target store managers why they are offended by the Salvation Army, and in handing out "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" bumper stickers to my humanist friends. That's not because I'm a "Christian solider." It's just like to irritate.

Now that I think about it, there's another reason it isn't exactly true for me to say that I don't care. I think I just don't get upset with "an ant crawling up an elephant's leg with murder on his mind." It's sort of like the fly, sitting on the cow's tail, that said, "I'm leaving you now," to which the cow replied, "Oh, really, I didn't even know you were there."
Paul said in 1 Timothy that Jesus Christ is "the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords" (6:15) and to the Philippians he wrote that the time was coming when "every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (2:10-11).

Take Jesus out of Christmas? Are you crazy?

The King goes wherever he wants and does whatever he wants whenever and however he wants. The Freedom From Religion Foundation folks are dreaming. There is nothing sillier than the growl of a toothless tiger...except for maybe powerless people pontificating and not even knowing how powerless they are. They don't know it, but they really don't get a vote and I find it hard to get my underwear in knots over toothless tigers or powerless people.
As I've written the above, I've found myself with another feeling too. I'm sort of surprised because what I wrote was about all that I had planned to say.

Do you know what else I'm feeling? I'm feeling a profound sadness. Maybe that's one of the reasons I'm such a Scrooge at Christmas (it's a real disconnect, by the way, if a Scrooge like me looks like Santa Claus). When I listen to, as it were, toothless tigers growl, there is something so heartrending and depressing about it that I can hardly stand it.
Do you remember what C.S. Lewis said about Narnia in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? He said that Narnia, under the power of the White Witch, Jadis, was a place where it was "always winter and never Christmas." In fact, Lewis had an alternative title for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He was going to title it The Hundred Year Winter.

A hundred years with snow, ice, dark and cold...and no Christmas.
Is that sad or what?
That's the profound pathos of those who want Christ out of Christmas. Without him, there is no Christmas. There is just the cold, hollow, empty silence of meaninglessness and hopelessness.

Think what it would be like to be guilty and have no one to forgive you, to be thankful and have no one to thank, to be afraid and have no one to go to, to be lost in the universe with no reality but your lostness, and to be mortal and have nothing to which to look forward except the grave. How heartbreaking to have no flag to follow, no King to whom to pay homage but yourself, and no reason for the life that you've been given.
If there's no God, there's no value. If there's no value, there's no meaning. If there's no meaning, then you're a turnip to eventually return to the soil from which you came.
Turnip types don't celebrate Christmas. And because their state is so incredibly sad, they don't want anyone else to either.

The old hymn lyrics come to mind:
Let those refuse to sing who never knew our God;but children of the heavenly King may speak their joys abroad.
In other words, don't get angry. You don't have to fight in a war that's been over for two thousand years. Shed a tear and say a prayer.

Then, in the name of Christ, get down! Celebrate, party, sing, rejoice and laugh because...
"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us!"

Mrs. Claus' Cookbook

Christmas Cookie Recipes Galore.... :-)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Outrageous Beauty

To me, one of the irrefutable "proofs" of a Benevolent Creator is the outrageous natural beauty that our planet is replete with. (And, come to think of it, this beauty is wholly unneccessary from a functional perspective..... yet another arrow pointing towards a Creator?).

So, to that end, I thought I would attach just a few photos.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Winter Blessings

To every yin, there is a yang......
Interestingly, my melancholia has been tempered the past day or so by life's little blessings that seem to have stood up and "declared" themselves to me. There is nothing earth-shaking here; simple things, really, and things that would be quite easy to take for granted.

However, I'm trying hard to see the simple gifts that are tucked into every single day. So, here they are.... the Small Blessings I've noticed over the past couple of days:

  • The feel of really soft, freshly laundered flannel sheets on my skin as I get into bed after a long cold day.

  • Snuggling up next to my still-asleep husband early in the morning, while the house is still dark and quiet.

  • Having complete peace in the evening after the children have gone to sleep, and having time to read my book and sip a cup of hot coffee laced with a bit of Grand Marnier. (Yum.)

  • Seeing the wonder and excitement in small children's faces when they see Santa ("the man") at the mall.

  • Having legs that work. (Each time I see someone confined to a wheelchair I am reminded to whisper a prayer of thanks that my body functions as it should.)

  • My 11 year old son and 10 year old daughter, who are two of the funniest people I know.

  • My sweet dog Ruby, who truly believes the sun, the moon and all the planets orbit around me.
  • Having an evening bubblebath with a glass of wine and a really good book.

  • The austere beauty of a tree's barren branches against a cold, hard-blue Winter sky.

  • Watching my husband build a fire and being convinced, yet again, that he is just the best looking man on the planet.

  • Singing my favorite hymn ("I Stand Amazed") in church this morning while standing next to two of my good friends and realizing all 3 of us are crying because we're all simultaneously overwhelmed by God's love. Now that is cool.

Friday, December 14, 2007

December Melancholia

I can count on it every year, like clockwork. The days get shorter, the temperatures get colder and, a week or so into December, it hits me..... sort of like a grey twilight fog that descends quietly and persistently over my psyche and refuses to lift... until after Christmas is over.

I have no idea why this happens. I have absolutely no reason to suffer from the Christmas Blues. Perhaps it's the fact that God's voice and the spiritual significance of Christmas get completely drowned out under the overwhleming cavalry charge to Buy More, See More, Do More, Consume More, and Have More. Just too much, all the time, force-fed. Yuck.

Was Christmas always this way?

I have been listening quite a bit this month to "Wintersong", Sarah McLachlan's fabulous CD of holiday songs. There is a clear melancholy streak that runs through much of her music, and this CD is no exception. However, these selections are also incredibly beautiful. Her voice is haunting; a beacon of sorts to those of us who are melancholy this time of year. Below is a link to the video of "River", her gorgeous re-make of Joni Mitchell's classic. I love the lyrics..... she sings that it's "comin' on Christmas" but yet she wishes she "had a river that she could skate away on".

I can relate.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Logan, the Sky Angel Cowboy

Get your Kleenex out before you watch the below clip. It's a tear jerker.
The wisdom this little boy possesses is far beyond his years.
As they say, "...out of the mouths of babes..."

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Thoughts on How to Live

Follow the 10 commandments.
Live the Golden Rule.
Believe in yourself; you know just as much as most people.
Showing up is 90% of life.
Don't say anything about others that you wouldn't want them to know you've said.
Discipline your children. Inspire them for good.
Don't get bullied into following political correctness.
Being yourself is always better than pretense.
Call your relatives, tell them you love them, even when you don't want to.
People's lives behind closed doors rarely looks like what you think it does.
What you do everyday is way more important than what you do occasionally.
Never compare yourself to the image others project.
Say positive words ten times more than negative words.
Stop assuming it's about you; it's probably not.
Do what you are afraid to do; your fear will frequently vanish.
Act as if you'll be successful. Remember: what the mind believes, the person achieves.
Make a habit out of smiling. People will smile back at you!
Lipstick and sunglasses do wonders.
People live up or down to the expectations you put upon them. Be optimistic and expect the best.
Words can't be taken back, so choose them wisely.
A glass of red wine makes the evenings much better.
Hug your children and your spouse at least three times per day.
Tell your friends and family all the nice things you are thinking about them.
When anyone walks into your presence greet them with a smile.
People are just doing the best they can.
Everyone craves encouragement and love.
No one really wants your opinion, unless they have specifically asked for it.
Supporting others’ success doesn't lessen your chances to succeed.
Most problems won't matter next week, next month, next year.
More Stuff doesn’t equal More Happiness; it never has and never will.
Don't yell at other drivers while you're behind the wheel. You just wind up ruining your own attitude.
Complaining about things is the sad hobby of life's losers.
Remember that life is a gift and can be gone in a flash. Treasure every day.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

as delicate and beautiful as a snowflake

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond any experience, your eyes have their silence: in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me, or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me though i have closed myself as fingers, you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens (touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly, as when the heart of this flower imagines the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals the power of your intense fragility: whose texture compels me with the colour of its countries, rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes and opens; only something in me understands the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses) nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Tonight was the "Charlie Brown Christmas Special" on TV. I know you remember the one... it was the one we all waited for as kids.... and ran to the TV... it was a "special event".
My kids are a bit more jaded. After all, their generation has Boom, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, etc., etc.
Somehow, though, it still retains its magic.
So, there we were, snuggled up together under the quilt, watching Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Pigpen, and the whole gang get ready for Christmas. My kids thought it was hilarious that every time Pigpen would sing a cloud of dust would rise up. :-)
When Charlie Brown and Linus went to the Christmas Tree lot and picked their way through all the shiny, metal, over-processed Christmas trees, and selected the one sad little tree that just needed some love, I thought "Hmm... are my kids going to 'get' this....?"
Later on, we were getting them ready for bed and my 11 year old son said "Mom, I've decided what the 3 best things about Christmas are." (I fully expected to hear: PS2, Nintendo, and X-Box). He shocked me when he continued: "Jesus is first. Spending time with family is second. And then presents are third." I smiled, nodded through my blurry, tear-stained vision, and kissed him goodnight. I guess he did "get it" after all.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Spices for Mulling

Not literally, of course.... but below are little snips from an aforementioned book, The Pursuit of God (one of my very favorites..)

It's good stuff. All about the nature of God. Enjoy mulling it over.

"That which is real has being in itself. It does not depend upon the observer for its validity."

"Now by our definition God is also real. He is real in the absolute and final sense that nothing else is. All other reality is contingent upon His. The great Reality is God, the Author of that lower and dependent reality which makes up the sum of created things, including ourselves."

"Imagination is not faith. The two are not only different from, but stand in sharp opposition to, each other. Imagination projects unreal images out of the mind and seeks to attach reality to them. Faith creates nothing; it simply recknons upon that which is already there."

"God is eternal. He antedates time and is wholly independent of it. Time began in Him and will end in Him. To it He pays no tribute and from it He suffers no change."

"The highest love of God is not intellectual, it is spiritual. God is Spirit and only the spirit of man can know Him."

"God is so vast that He can, without anything other than Himself, meet and overflow the deepest demands of our total nature, mysterioius and deep as that nature is. "

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Happy Birthday, Jeff Buckley...

Everyone who knows me knows I'm a huge Jeff Buckley fan (my husband would say 'fanatic'). Jeff's one and only studio album, "Grace", is, in my humble opinion, the best album of all time.

Today, November 17, 2007, would have been Jeff's 41st birthday.

As a sort of "birthday tribute" to Jeff, I wanted to post a really great BBC documentary about Jeff that I located online. Link is below.

Rest in peace, Jeff. Thank you for the incredible, soul-stirring and beautiful music you gave us.
UPDATE: The original link I had on this post is no longer functional. I finally found another link for this documentary.... who knows how long this one will be good for. The documentary is GREAT though.
Here is it is. Scroll halfway down the page and you'll see it. -HWHL 6.12.08

Friday, November 16, 2007

November Light

So yesterday afternoon I was with my kids, driving home. It was a gorgeous Fall day, late in the afternoon. The sun was just beginning its slow descent towards the horizon and the clouds in the sky were tinged orange and pink. The sinking sun made the Fall leaves incredibly brilliant. I glanced over to my left and suddenly had the whole palette of Fall colors right in front of me. Everything from a dazzling red maple to some unknown tree which had the most fiery orange leaves I had ever seen. And then on to a beautiful golden maple, and countless other shades in between. Even the simple tall stalks of grass were bathed in the warm afternoon light. And then, as if on cue, 5 geese flew above the treetops, towards the setting sun, their feathers soft and golden in the November sky.

It was just a moment, mind you. The whole scene unfolded in 10, maybe 15 seconds, tops. No one else on the little two lane road seemed to notice or even care. Certainly not my children, who were bickering in the backseat. But, in that moment, the beauty of the creation that is God’s gift to us, day after day, was so profound and amazing; so graceful and good; that I was left with a deep serene thankfulness in my heart and in my soul to the Creator-Artist who made it so.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Pursuit of God

Below is a link to the online version of The Pursuit of God, by A. W. Tozer. This is an exceptional book, full of profound insight, beauty, and wisdom.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Power of One Kind Gesture

See below for a lovely short movie about the power of one kind gesture, and its "ripple effect". Enjoy, and realize that your everyday actions, no matter how small or insignificant you feel they might be, impact the lives of others.

Click Here To View The Movie!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Beauty and Benevolence

"The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands." -Psalms 19:1

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

My favorite passage from all of fiction

As we walked homeward across the fields, the sun dropped and lay like a great golden globe in the low west. While it hung there, the moon rose in the east, as big as a cart-wheel, pale silver and streaked with rose colour, thin as a bubble or a ghost-moon. For five, perhaps ten minutes, the two luminaries confronted each other across the level land, resting on opposite edges of the world.
In that singular light every little tree and shock of wheat, every sunflower stalk and clump of snow-on-the-mountain, drew itself up high and pointed; the very clods and furrows in the fields seemed to stand up sharply. I felt the old pull of the earth, the solemn magic that comes out of those fields at nightfall. I wished I could be a little boy again, and that my way could end there.
We reached the edge of the field, where our ways parted. I took her hands and held them against my breast, feeling once more how strong and warm and good they were, those brown hands, and remembering how many kind things they had done for me. I held them now a long while, over my heart. About us it was growing darker and darker, and I had to look hard to see her face, which I meant always to carry with me, the closest realest face, under all the shadows of women's faces, at the very bottom of my memory.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Saturday, November 3, 2007


I believe happiness which is derived from external circumstances will always be elusive and fleeting. True happiness must come from within, and must be regardless of external circumstances in order for it to be lasting and of any significance.

Below are a few quotes I've found regarding Happiness, Contentment, Joy, etc. Some are serious; some are humorous. All of them will make you think. Enjoy. :-)


Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps the singing bird will come.

-Chinese Proverb

There is nothing more beautiful than cheerfulness in an old face.

-Jean Paul Richter

Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.

-Mark Twain

When we cannot find contentment in ourselves it it useless to seek it elsewhere.

-La Rochefoucauld

The secret of contentment is the realization that life is a gift, not a right.


In the depth of Winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible Summer.

-Albert Camus

The bird of paradise alights only upon the hand that does not grasp.

-John Berry

That is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great.

-Willa Cather

Joy is not in things; it is in us.

-Richard Wagner

Friday, November 2, 2007

Look and See

This morning, at waterside, a sparrow flew
to a water rock and landed, by error, on the back
of an eider duck; lightly it fluttered off, amused.
The duck, too, was not provoked, but, you might say, was

This afternoon a gull sailing over
our house was casually scratching
its stomach of white feathers with one
pink foot as it flew.

Oh Lord, how shining and festive is your gift to us, if we
only look, and see.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Thoughts on Love

When love beckons to you follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.
But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.
When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, I am in the heart of God."
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

Friday, October 26, 2007


After rain after many days without rain,
it stays cool, private and cleansed, under the trees,
and the dampness there, married now to gravity,
falls branch to branch, leaf to leaf, down to the ground
where it will disappear - but not, of course, vanish
except to our eyes. The roots of the oaks will have their share,
and the white threads of the grasses, and the cushion of moss;
a few drops, round as pearls, will enter the mole's tunnel;
and soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years,
will feel themselves being touched.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Grace, Part II

My day started at about 4 AM, with the jackhammer in my head. My migraine was back. Sometimes I think it never really leaves.... Despite the fact that my new medication seemed to be working, apparently my migraine had "crashed the gates" and taken up residence in its favorite spot, directly behind my right eyeball. Typical sharp sharp stabbing pain, like a hot knife. I knew falling back to sleep was an impossibility. So, as usual, I wandered downstairs to hang out with the dog and watch "I Love Lucy" re-runs on Nick at Night.
The day never got much better. It was one of those days when I was much more aware of the pain of those around me: I saw a mom shout at her little kids in the grocery store.... not just shout a little, but really mean, vicious hate-filled shouting... I turned on the news and saw a weeping couple, looking defeated.... they had lost everything they owned to the fires in California. They had to start over again and, as the wife said, "We're not kids anymore".

So, to that end, I thought I'd re-visit the concept of grace, and add my thought that even in life's nastiness, where all you can see is the thorny painful thistle, God's grace is like the rose that comes OUT on the same branch as that nasty thorny thistle, despite ALL seeming "evidence" to the contrary.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God..."

- Ephesians 2:8

"Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void."

- Simone Weil

"Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness.... Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: 'You Are Accepted'."

- Paul Johannes Tillich

"All men who live with any degree of serenity live by some assurance of grace."
- Reinhold Niebuhr

"The grace of God is, in my mind, shaped like a key, that comes from time to time and unlocks the heavy doors." (This one is my favorite.) :-)

- Donald Swan

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A True Hero

Earlier today I ran into Max Cleland while I was having lunch in Buckhead with a girlfriend.
For those of you unfamiliar with Max Cleland, he is a former U.S. Senator from the fine State of Georgia, as well as a former Vietnam Era military hero. Mr. Cleland was awarded both the Silver Star and the Bronze Star for valor during combat, as his brave and selfless actions undoubtedly saved the lives of many others. He lost both legs and one arm (yes, that makes him a TRIPLE amputee) in service to his country.

I had last seen Max Cleland, 23 years ago, when he came to speak at my high school. I remember how impressed and genuinely moved I was by what he had to say (and, as we all know, it's pretty tough to impress a jaded, know-it-all 16 year old).

So, today, after my friend and I finished our crab cakes, I made my way over to his table, introduced myself, shook his hand and we spoke for a bit. One of his lunch companions had just returned from active duty in Iraq; I thanked him for his service. I, like most other Americans, have serious concerns about our planning (or lack thereof) in Iraq, as well as our "extrication strategy". Regardless of how I felt, I wanted to sincerely thank these two military men for serving our country. They did their job, and we owe them thanks, and honor.

When I came home after lunch, I googled Max Cleland and was reminded of a recent unpleasant incident involving the ever-incendiary (and increasingly unpleasant) Ann Coulter. Ann Coulter had the nerve to assert that Max Cleland wasn't "really" wounded in combat and had "dropped the grenade on himself" and was using his injuries for political gain. Amazing. I've never been an Ann Coulter fan, but she really knows no limits to how low she'll stoop for ratings and shock value, does she? And what bothers me the most about Ms. Coulter is how loudy she crows that she's a Christian. Is she acquainted, at all, with the concept of God's grace? That it's a free gift? And that we are to give freely as well and not judge? (Bring salt and light into the world? Does ANY of this sound familiar to her?) If she is acquainted with these basic tenets of the faith, she certainly hides it well. Unfortunately, I see her "brand" of Christianity driving people away from the faith.... she is of the same mindset that brought the Crusades into the world; she is of the same mindset that burned heretics at the stake; she is of the same mindset that drowned supposed "witches"; she is of the same mindset that announced that "the skulls of unbaptized babies pave the road to Hell".

Can you tell I'm riled up?

I must say - I was thrilled not long ago when Elizabeth Edwards took Ann Coulter to task on live TV and basically kicked her *ss. Coulter sooo deserved it, and Mrs. Edwards was right on the money... eloquent, succinct, and very firm. (Well done, Mrs. Edwards.)

I think history will view Max Cleland as a True Hero.... a man who served his country on the battlefield, and then came home and served his country again as a public servant. As far as Ann Coulter, I think history will view her as little more than a coward; an incendiary Talking Head who existed mainly to stir up controvery, then line her pockets with the royalties from her many books. She is, indeed, nothing more than a mean-spirited moral bully.


Since my other posts tend to lean toward the heavy and the serious (or, at the very least, the contemplative), today's post will be ridiculously vapid and shallow. Hooray!

Yes, my girlfriends and peeps, I give you the one, the only, the eye-poppingly incredible Viggo Mortensen. Viggo is, in my humble opinion, God's Gift to Women. (And I say this only half jokingly.) After my handsome husband (the Tall Cool One), Viggo is, hands down, the finest piece of manliness on Planet Earth. And for all you Lord Of The Rings fans out there (props to my home girl Dawn!) was he NOT the utter embodiment of King Aragorn??!! No other actor would have even come close!

So let's all gaze, in rapt unison, and issue forth a collective happy (and vapid) sigh of aesthetic appreciation, shall we?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Relentless Grace

Anne LaMott has been one of my favorite writers for many years. I read Operating Instructions, her hilarious memoir of her first year of motherhood, when my own son was a newborn and I was struggling with post-partum depression. I laughed until I cried, and have given copies to several mommy-friends.

My favorite book she has written, by far, is her tender and honest Traveling Mercies, which details her thoughts on faith and how she wound up becoming a Christian. Below is an excerpt. I think this encapsulates, quite beautifully, how God continues to pursue us, persistently and relentlessly, throughout our lives until we finally let him in.

"I had a cigarette and turned off the light. After a while, as I lay there, I became aware of someone with me, hunkered down in the corner, and I just assumed it was my father, whose presence I had felt over the years when I was frightened and alone. The feeling was so strong that I actually turned on the light for a moment to make sure no one was there - of coure, there wasn't. But after a while, in the dark again, I knew beyond any doubt that it was Jesus. I felt him as surely as I feel my dog lying nearby as I write this. And I was appalled. I thought about my life and my brilliant hilarious progressive friends; I thought about what everyone would think of me if I became a Christian, and it seemed an utterly impossible thing that simply could not be allowed to happen. I turned to the wall and said out loud, "I would rather die." I felt him just sitting there in the corner of my sleeping loft, watching me with patience and love, and I squinched my eyes shut, which didn't help because that's not what I was seeing him with. Finally I fell asleep, and in the morning, he was gone. This experience spooked me badly, but I thought it was just an apparition, born of fear and self-loathing and booze. But then everywhere I went, I had the feeling that a little cat was following me, wanting me to reach down and pick it up, wanting me to open the door and let it in. But I knew what would happen: you let a cat in one time, give it a little milk, and then it stays forever. So I tried to keep one step ahead of it, slamming my houseboat door when I entered or left. And one week later, when I went back to church, I was so hungover that I couldn't stand up for the songs, but this time I stayed for the sermon, which was just so ridicuous, like someone trying to convince me of the existence of extraterrestrials, but the last song was so so deep and raw and pure that I could not escape. It was as if the people were singing in between the notes, weeping and joyful at the same time and I felt like their voices or something was rocking me in its bosom, holding me like a scared kid, and I opened up to that feeling - and it washed over me. I began to cry and left before the benediction, and I raced home and felt the little cat running along at my heels, and I ran down the dock past dozens of potted flowers, under a sky as blue as one of God's own dreams, and I opened the door to my houseboat, and I stood there a minute, and then I hung my head and said "Screw it: I quit." I took a long deep breath and said out loud, "All right. You can come in." So this was my beautiful moment of conversion."

Monday, October 22, 2007

Who is Happy Wife Happy Life?

So.... who is Happy Wife, Happy Life? And why the heck does she have a blog? And what in the world is she going to muse about, anyway? HWHL is a stay-at-home-mom-of-two (and wife-of-one), entrepreneur, chauffeur, maid, psychologist, referee, etc., etc. I am also a committed Christian who loves God and strives every day to walk with him (without wandering off). Wandering off to do my "own thing" is a daily issue for me, and I find myself reading Romans 7:19 regularly and being very thankful that Paul shares his own struggles with the flesh. (Hey, if Paul struggled with this stuff, I guess we should all just chill out and realize this battle between spirit and flesh is going to be a lifelong issue for all of us....)
As far as hobbies, I love to hang out with my husband and kids, read, cook, take pictures, sing (usually in the shower), joke around, tell bad puns, and just generally be goofy. I go to the gym and work out from time to time, but I'm hardly a "hard body" (more like a "cream puff" to be honest). I love animals and (almost all) people. The arrogant and rude people really get on my nerves, and I just have to keep reminding myself that Jesus died for them too. So, why the blog? Well, now that I'm a freelancer from home while my children are in school, I have a very thin slice of free time. It's either channel my creative juices into "blogging" or watch yet ANOTHER scintillating episode of Montel (NOT). Also, I recently discovered (and was deeply moved and inspired by) a lovely blog called Holy Experience, written by Ann V., who is the wife of a Canadian farmer. Her writing is much like little raw gems, glittering in the dust. I stumbled upon it by accident and was amazed by the profound beauty and grace in her words. So, I thought I'd give blogging a shot. Our styles are obviously very different. I'm definitey much more of a smart aleck, but still think I have some observations I'd like to share (read: INFLICT upon you, gentle reader...). I look forward to posting some thoughts and ideas. Maybe some poems and photos. Perhaps an idea for peace in the Holy Land....? That would be nice. But I'm not holding my breath.
Until next time.... TTFN!

PS: One of my hobbies is photography. I took the above photo, at sunrise, on the Georgia coast just as the sun blazed over the horizon and a flock of seagulls flew overhead. It was a glorious, moving moment, and I was the only one on the beach to witness it. It was, to my mind at least, another gentle tap on the shoulder from the Father that "Yes, I'm still right here... and I still love my kids". God is good.