XXIV sonnet

A little poetic pause to accompany another beautiful Oklahoma sunset.
Love wraps us, warms us, and reminds us it is all grace.

sunset blue

 

Let the world’s sharpness, like a clasping knife,

Shut in upon itself and do no harm

In this close hand of Love, now soft and warm,

And let us hear no sound of human strife

After the click of the shutting. Life to life –

I lean upon thee, Dear, without alarm,

And feel as safe as guarded by a charm

Against the stab of worldlings, who if rife

Are weak to injure. Very whitley still

The lilies of our lives may reassure

Their blossoms from their roots, accessible

Alone to heavenly dews that drop not fewer,

Growing straight, out of man’s reach, on the hill,

God only, who made us rich, can make us poor.

~24th sonnet from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Thanks for visiting, friends! Hope to see you again later this week. Make it a really great one.
XOXOXOXO

stuck

It happens to the best of us. We get stuck.

And it’s inconvenient and maybe embarrassing. And possibly painful.

We get stuck in difficult situations. Dilemmas that test us. Spotlights that terrify us.

We get stuck in traffic, stuck in debt, stuck in toxic relationships.

So frustrating, right?

********************

A few days ago our tomcat Geoffrey got himself stuck in the layered wire ceiling/roof of the chicken coop yard.

geoffrey stuck 1

geoffrey stuck 2

Poor Geoffrey. It’s not uncommon for him to spend all night in the coop with the chickens and geese, as he is a great nighttime hunter but not at all interested in the flock. In fact, he’s probably in more danger from them than they are from him. Often we release the birds at sunrise only to find him bolting out at high speed, ears flattened and eyes wide, having been hiding in some corner, probably either from Johnny Cash the violent gander or Randall the Redneck Rooster. But this morning was the first time we’d found him in quite such a predicament. Stuck. So stuck. Handsome had to loose our fluffy boy from his wiry womb and sooth his frazzled little feline nerves. Happily, Geoffrey was uninjured. Just embarrassed and a little stressed.

********************

When you’re stuck, how do you cope?

You can rail violently against your circumstances, throwing little fits and pouting,

at your leisure expounding on all the injustice thwarting your obviously good and noble efforts.

(You can spin your wheels, basically, which is the first natural thing we all tend to do.)

 

Or you can calm down, be very still in mind and body, and take a deep, cleansing breath.

 

sunset blue

 

You can focus on what is going right, what is going really well in fact, and cultivate again that seed of gratitude.

You can let the anxiety fall quietly away and gather instead all the positive energy available to you.

Consciously remember that you have vast resources within you and around you,

resources that can change your circumstances in amazing ways.

Reach out in prayer. Faithful prayer. Harness your imagination.

Then start to work.

Do the first simple task in front of you. Do it really well.

Then do another thing.

And another.

And keep moving.

Be so filled with momentum and living energy that old anxieties and worries cannot distract you.

Just keep choosing to see the Light and continue working.

Trust that you are being helped in unseen, supernatural  ways, because you absolutely are.

*************

Geoffrey is fine now, by the way. He shook off that stuck stress quickly and was in a minute dreaming up his next big tomcat adventure. My heart tells me he was thankful for Handsome’s intervention. But it also tells me that deep down Geoffrey knew help would eventually come.

Interrupt anxiety with gratitude.
Do your part.
Trust.
XOXOXO

oklahoma garden resources

Hello! It’s early Tuesday morning, which means I am getting ready for another fun day at OSU-OKC for Master Gardeners’ class!

Seriously? I have so many things to share with you about these sessions. The people are just fantastic. The new energy flow is welcome in my life and so interesting, stimulating. The deluge of information being offered is unprecedented! And so much inspiration… Week after week, I come home with new ideas and smarter daydreams. I just had no idea how much further my mind could be stretched in an arena I have loved for so long.

Maybe the most important thing I am learning is how to find really good information. And that is something I’d love to share with you no matter where you live, but especially if you too are digging and sowing and harvesting in this Great State I call home.

 

Oklahoma garden resources lazyw

Because anyone who has tried establishing and tending a garden in Oklahoma knows it is particularly challenging, right? Extreme everything. Ferocious wind, crazy temperature fluctuations, either droughts or floods (or both!)… Every soil type under the sun. Very little goes the small, quiet way here. Including beauty. So we need good support. Smart, experienced people to light the way. Here are some clickable garden resources for you, as offered to me by the fine folks at the Oklahoma County Extension:

 

Oklahoma Master Gardener Program

Soil Test 123

Oklahoma Proven

Association of Natural Biocontrol Producers

Hydro Hippy (pollinators for sale)

OK State Entomology & Plant Pathology

National Academy of Sciences pollinator resource

BBC programmes: The Private Life of Plants

Don’t Move Firewood

Bio-Integral Resource Center (for Integrated Pest Management)

IPM Institute of North America

Albuquerque Extension Master Gardener Program

National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

Ohio State University college of food, agriculture, & environmental science

I will be adding to this list periodically, so please check in again! And if you have an online resource to share, please send me a note and I’ll add it. Knowledge is power.

We know we belong to the laaaaaand!
XOXOXOXO

friday 5 at the farm: random photos

Happy Friday!! We made it to another weekend, friends. The farm has certainly been hoppin’ lately. Our oldest daughter Jocelyn has been spending more time here, warming up the place and pouring her music into every room. We spend some of our time at home, just breathing deeply and moving slowly, and some of it driving all over creation getting stuff done. I love every minute. So thankful.

We’ve got more seasonal autumn spice happening day by day. And the gardens are enjoying a lot less brutality from Mother Nature, although the chickens have tried to pick up the slack where the weather has left off, scratching and pecking lots of gorgeous plants almost to death. Dang chickens. But I do have new gardening gloves, so that’s nice.

Things are overall great! My husband is working too hard at the office, but it’s because he cares so much and has such high standards. And that will never change until I write a book or otherwise hit the jackpot and he can retire.

How about a quick Friday 5 at the Farm, just some random photos and captions? Okay.

 

f5f nieces

Last weekend my parents and little brother Phil and our sister Angela’s three gorgeous kiddos visited the farm for some autumn fun. Our oldest daughter also surprised us with a visit and brought a friend. I didn’t even know she was coming! She just walked in the front door saying “hellloooo!!!” Such a crazy fun surprise when your kids are old enough to do that. I love it. And my nephew’s friend Matthew came, too. We’ve watched those two boys grow up together and love them very much. The place was full of happy people. We ate soup my Mom brought (delicious) and snacked on chocolate-chip pumpkin bread (also yum) and tried pretending like it was autumn weather while really we were sweating under the shade trees. But painting pumpkins and building scarecrows helped a little. It was a wonderful day. I love my family so much.

f5f frogs

Our daughter was able to spend the night after all the family fun, and late in the evening after cleaning and resting and just as we were about to go to bed, I offhandedly mentioned that the tree frogs had recently had babies. She LOVES animals. I mean, LOVES ‘em, even more than I do. Especially babies. Especially any difficult to love variety, like frogs. So of course her eyes lit up like diamonds and of course I relented and we took a clean bucket outside and went hunting for frogs. So, that was perfectly terrifying.

f5f calzone

One evening this week we had homemade calzones for dinner, and I promise to post the recipe soon.  All it is, really, is pizza dough with your fave fillings, folded over, brushed with egg wash, and baked. The best part of this story is that after she watched me make one batch of Alfredo sauce Jocelyn asked me to teach her, and with very little guidance she made a second batch perfectly. She’s a natural! In fact she’s been cooking here a lot lately, and it gives me so much peace and happiness knowing she can do this for herself as a young adult. In my opinion, cooking well and regularly is more than a novelty.

f5f seeds

As if the wealth of knowledge I am gaining at master gardener class isn’t enough, nearly every week someone brings live plants to share. And also, we have lately been collecting dried seeds from the campus gardens to bring home and fill our own little Edens. So exciting! Now when I walk past my herb bed or shrubby border, or when I see any garden for that matter, I ask myself What can be saved and propagated? And as for my growing knowledge base, right now I know just enough to be really dangerous.

f5f bat

Thursday midday as my girl and I were walking through downtown Oklahoma City, we happened to see this fuzzy little guy. It’s a bat. I know! A real live bat in the middle of downtown OKC, not Austin TX, and in broad daylight! Warming himself, it seems, on the concrete step. There was much begging and cajoling for me to bring it home to live at the farm (we already have lots of bats here, but this assurance meant nothing to the girl who wanted to “save” this one), and there might have even been a dare for me to touch it. Our crouching, squealing, photo-snapping spectacle drew the attention of a few passersby, and surely by now the Legend of the Downtown OKC Bat is thriving, at least locally. I’d like to add now that late last night I couldn’t sleep and watched a NOVA program about the current Ebola crisis. Apparently, bats are strong and common carriers, so… That is almost as terrifying as tree frogs suddenly having lots and lots of tiny babies.

********************

How has your week been? Give me a headline or a funny story from your corner of paradise. Or tell me your favorite meal this week. Better yet, assure me that looking closely at and maybe touching only the fur of a bat will not give me Ebola.

Happy Weekend friends!
XOXOXOXO

another midnight rendezvous & hope satisfied

She had already spent at least an hour with him at the end of the day, getting her jeans nice and dirty, snuggling and brushing and leading him. Riding him with barely any tack despite his boundary-pushing mood. She played with her horse happily, part woman and part little girl, while in the tree-rimmed valley my beloved Oklahoma sunset gave us a kaleidoscope show of reds, oranges, golds, and streaky, dramatic blues.

Once or twice the two of them stood motionless and stared into the forest for a long time, probably listening to deer and resting. But I imagined them staring into the future, wordlessly communicating like they do. I imagined her forming her beautiful new life right there with her thoughts. Strong and capable, graceful, dangerous, beautiful.

joc sunset dusty

Several hours later, after dinner was cleaned up and we had made a second batch of oatmeal lace cookies (try them with Nutella, friends) and after all three of us had watched a scary movie (it is the month of Halloween, after all), I stepped outside to inhale the stunning moonlight and say thanks for such an incredible day. She followed me and we stood on the warm concrete sidewalk together and just enjoyed the cool breeze. It was a particularly gorgeous night, cool and breathy, no violent wind. Everything was illuminated silver under the night sky. The geese were even mostly quiet. After a moment she giggled and said she was going to scare Dusty (her horse). She was wearing running shorts now, no longer the afternoon’s jeans, and she was barefoot. She scampered around me and down the sidewalk to reach the front gate of his pasture. I was the one to follow this time and called after her with a warning of stickers, but, you know, she’s okay Mom.

She passed through the gate and tiptoed downhill in the glowing wash of moonlight, navigating wildflowers and nocturnal cats. There was a moment when a bug surprised her and she did a fancy little dance and wiggle to free herself, and we both giggled endlessly. Then she called Dusty’s name in a stage whisper but didn’t find him yet. Continued in wide circles and gentle, searching steps under the silver sky. Big dark pools of tree shadow all around her.

Then she let out that trademark whistle she and Handsome have always used, that two-syllable song that starts low and ends high and never fails to catch or calm a horse. That got him, as she had to know it would. But he was uphill from her, behind her near the barn instead of down where she was looking. When she turned her womanly body to see him her pretty face lit up like a little girl and she ran fast on bare tip toes. Caution abandoned. He half-trotted down to see her, and they hugged. She wrapped her arms around his thick neck and he bent that thick neck across her back. There was much baby-talking and deep whinnying. So much mutual affection.

I just stood there soaking it up, amazed once again at how generously God answers prayer. And how suddenly. Amazed by how much sensation and emotion can be packaged into one moment.

Of course she could not resist another midnight ride. And given his obstinacy earlier that evening, she probably felt it her duty to tame him a bit. So for the second time in a week, right there under the brilliant moon, feet bare and heart light, she launched her tiny body up, belly first across his bare back. No reins, no help, nothing. He is so fat right now! And though he isn’t very tall she barely reached that high flat spot of his back before exploding into a fit of laughter. This triggered him to start walking toward me, and she hung there upside down (I don’t know how), all big smiles and playful kicking legs, trying to find purchase.

When she finally did gain the upright advantage, she just swung one smooth, lean leg over his rump and pivoted quickly so she was square and perfect, like that was the exact place she had always been meant to sit.

And of course it is.

He was calm for a moment, staring at me wide-eyed with those thick broomy lashes, maybe for permission or help, who knows? Then the silliness began again. They cuddled and kissed and nibbled at each other; she laid forward and wrapped herself like a baby monkey all around his ample middle; and the breeze braided together her dark hair with his black and white mane. I could barely hold back happy tears.

********************

Whatever you are praying for, whatever your hope, stay strong. I even think, the more hopeless a situation feels, the more important it is to continue in prayer and gratitude, in hope and seeking. Walls that keep you from seeing the blessing are sometimes weak, cruel illusions. And the walls that are very real can crumble in an instant. Make good use of your waiting season, but do not give up on any miracle. Okay? Love is terrifyingly powerful.

Here is where we’ve poured our hope
and where we’ll wait for it to grow.

~Emily Freeman
XOXOXOXO

back into the light

Good Sunday morning friends. I’ll be short and sweet today.

One of the books I’m reading this week is A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman. It is soaking into me, plumping up the dry corners of my heart and making my thoughts lush again. She is giving me lots of good stuff to reconsider, lots of exciting ideas about the power of faith and imagination, the trajectory of thought and energy. But what’s different about this book compared to the others I’ve read recently is how it’s all based on a firm scriptural foundation.

sunlight green starts

I am a fairly positive person, especially after some hard lessons I’ve learned these past few years. I’ve learned that your attitude and imagination are crucial to your well being. And they are choices.

But when faced with the deepest, heaviest weights in my heart I tend to worry. It’s a slippery slippery slope, you know? One negative, fearful thought leads to another, which makes you start with the what ifs and the imaginary conversations with difficult people and then you are up at three in the morning all week and your husband says you look miserable lately and your best friend is asking about you secretly, is she okay?

Well, by now I know that fear is the opposite of faith.

That appreciation trumps expectation.

And that worry is a sin. It’s forbidden.

These things are firm in my heart, and thankfully the moments I slip up are now few and far between. But they do happen. Because sometimes life is heavy and the people we love are walking in the wilderness. I have so many stories to share with you. For now, let’s see where this beautiful, inspirational book leads:

We all have our unique shape of fear.
There are no greener grasses, only different lawns.
~Emily Freeman

Isn’t that true?

I have a dear friend who is wildly generous with sharing her appreciation and love for other people. She is one of the strongest encouragers I know, among the most passionate and loyal girlfriends I have ever had. But she never sees her own beauty. She often longs to be the women she admires and forgets how loving, smart, beautiful, and hilarious she is. How magnetic. And maybe she thinks all other lawns are greener, not just different. I wish I could help her. I know she would take away my fears and worries if she could. Over the years she has certainly tried, and I love her for it.

disco with green and sun

But neither of us really can operate each other’s mind, which is the real battleground. So we make little loving gestures, send sweet, sincere notes, and pray for each other. We try to insulate each other’s hearts from the cold and the poison of the world so that we can make healthy choices with our own thoughts, our own emotional, manifesting choices.

With the love and care of my husband and close friends and the power of prayer, I really am coming out of the shadow of worry (again). Back in the bright, warming light (again), but in an even better frame of mind than before. Because I learned a lot from this brief second season of dark. I’m not even upset about it, because I know God understands and forgives. He won’t waste this energy slump either.

Jesus shows himself through you in a million little ways.
Perhaps more often than not,
they are ways you can’t plan for,
don’t intend, and may never even know about.
There is no waste in the visible or invisible work of God.
~Emily Freeman

Your life if green and beautiful, even if there are dead spots and even if the weeds and wildflowers look different to you than what you see elsewhere. You can love people even if you can’t live for them. God will help you make use of every single thing in your life. Train your thoughts, okay? Make sure your imagination supports your prayers. Help each other remember. Forgive yourself when you forget. Life is so beautiful and good.

I sabotage the gift with my limited view of God’s provision.
~Emily Freeman

XOXOXOXO

 

 

fast & flourless peanutbutter cookies

The first time I made these cookies, my first daughter had just been born. As I type this she is a beautiful, forward-moving nineteen year old young woman, and I couldn’t even guess how many batches of this recipe I have baked between then and now.

 

pb cookies bowl unmixed

 

When she was a baby, my Grandpa used to call me all the time, sometimes every day, to see how I was managing and could he tell me how to do something? (I wasn’t much older then than she is now. Yikes!) Yes, of course, I always wanted to hear from him! Grandpa Stubbs is one of the most knowledgeable people in my life, and he has always been funny and sweet and eager to share everything with us. Especially cooking and gardening secrets. He was also a traveling and telephone salesman throughout his career, so he knows how to get your attention. Well, one day he called excitedly to tell me all about the best peanut butter cookies in the world. Either he had just discovered this magic or he had just remembered it to share; it’s hard to say.

“Honey, I know you’ve eaten peanut butter cookies before. I am sure they’re good. But you have never and I mean never had cookies like this. Now I want to tell you how to make them, but it’s complicated, ok? And you might need to write down the recipe, are you ready? Okay. There are lots of ingredients. Don’t forget! They are all very important. Ready?”

“Almost ready Grandpa!” I vividly recall holding my daughter as she nursed, unwinding the long corkscrew phone cord, and finding an envelope to write on. “Okay go.” Even then I loved collecting food and cooking ideas.

“Okay you need some peanut butter. You need some sugar. And you need an egg. Do you have those things?” Looking back, these spontaneous recipe phone calls might have been his and Grandma’s way of monitoring how well I was eating. I catch myself texting such questions to my daughter now. Wait, wasn’t she a tiny nursing baby just a few minutes ago?

“Yep, I have all of that Grandpa, are you sure that’s all I need?” This scored me a deep belly laugh from him, because of course I was obnoxious enough to audit his recipe.

“Yes, honey that’s all you need. One of each. One cup of sugar, one cup of peanut butter, and one egg. That’s it!” Then he laughed again, generously, like he had told me the best joke ever. We laughed together. I love him so much.

These were his gardening boots which he gave to me when we bought this farm. I wear them all the time even though they are way too big. Shoes to fill, and all. xoxo

These were his gardening boots which he gave to me when we bought this farm. I wear them all the time even though they are way too big. Shoes to fill, and all. xoxo

 

Well suffice it to say that I made Grandpa’s recipe that day and fell in love with its heftiness and easy prep. My girls both ate them almost weekly throughout their childhood. And it is probably Handsome’s favorite cookie, too, among many beloved recipes. It’s so reliable, so fast and easy, and so filling!

Here is how it goes:

flourless peanut butter cookie recipe

See how basic the ingredients are? It’s rare that you wouldn’t have them on hand, right? I know.

Just mix up the first four items until you have a smoothish, glossy, well glued-together dough. I have developed an aversion to electric mixers lately and just use a wooden spoon. You do what you fancy. Once it’s a dough, just scoop out a ping-pong ball sized hunk at a time (maybe less) and roll it around in your hands until it is a pretty symmetrical sphere. Then roll that in a little shallow tray of sugar and arrange on a cookie sheet.

I have been using parchment paper liner these days, but it’s not absolutely necessary as long as you watch the baking time closely to prevent the sugar from burning. Also, since this recipe does not contain any soda, the cookies hold their shape. So you can really cram them on the baking sheet and get a lot cooked at once!

When your dough is all sphered-up and arranged neatly on your baking sheets, use a plain fork dipped in sugar to criss-cross the traditional waffle pattern on each cookie. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. These cookies don’t really change appearance that much, aside from losing their glossiness. If they turn dark brown, they are ruined.  FYI.

 

pb cookies with title sticker

And that is it! Cool for a bit on a wire rack. They are excellent with ice-cold milk. Great with an apple for a quick, energizing lunch. Packs really well for road trips or freezer keeping (as if).

Now tell me something your grandpa has taught you! Or tell me your favorite cookie recipe! Or what have you been doing regularly ever since your babies were babies? I would love to hear.

Thanks for stopping in, friends. Have the very best weekend.

What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance.
They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life.
And, most importantly, cookies.
~Rudy Giuliani
XOXOXOXO

 

 

thanks ebola scare

Monday was weird in mildly stressful ways, but we made it through. Late that night we shared some savory, creamy rice plus garlicky chicken thighs with the skin still on and even found each other laughing by sunset. Capped it all off with some perfectly good romance. Win.

monarch 1

Yesterday was flat out magical, from an early morning with Handsome, daytime field trip with the master-gardener group, and sweet evenings texts with my beautiful oldest daughter. I even had the energy to write a menu and grab all of our groceries for the next two weeks then get my inconsistent self in the gym. (By the time I got home it was too dark to run.) Handsome was gone on an overnight business trip, so the farm was quiet, perfect for draining away weirdness residue and siphoning extra energy. Tuesday’s magic stayed with me all last night and into today.

Today I had nowhere to go and no strict schedule to keep. So naturally my eyes popped open thirty minutes early. After coffee, chores, housework, and some lazy autumn decorating, I went outside for a four-mile run and got that old familiar craving for twice as much. Or three or four times, maybe. Everyone around me is training for a marathon or at least a half, and I regret not making a fall race a priority. I miss running being part of my weekly routine, and October first seems like a great time to hit refresh. Wish me luck.

When I’m not running and listening to all things Eminem or Shakira, I am listening to a condensed chapter of Sting music, and it’s so great. My favorite song right now is Desert Rose. Here is the best song lyric you will ever sing to yourself while trying to maintain hope and forward momentum:

Our dreams are tied to a horse that will never die.

The whole song is beautiful, really.

monarch 2

Then after some more stuff I needed to do today, the magic began to fade.

By necessity I performed two mundane, out of the ordinary, and fairly gross tasks: I unscrewed the metal guard and cleaned out the shower drain in our master bathroom, which had recently become… let’s just say… insulated with my long hair. Then I bleach-scrubbed the whole operation until my eyes were oozing something like watery milk. Then I dealt with a possum in the chicken coop who was eating barbarian-style our prettiest butterscotch-colored hen. In broad daylight! And by “dealt with” I mean I closed the beast up in the concrete house, shooed away the rest of the flock, and started trying to reach my husband, who was at that moment still in Dallas, Texas.

I feel like impressing on you the crucial detail that I performed both of these unpleasant farm duties while in full date-night make up (yes, folks, even eye shadow) and with my hair freshly washed, blown out, and curled and teased like nobody’s business. I was even wearing a clean, pretty sundress, because October or not, Oklahoma is in the 90’s again.

Chances are good that I lose some “hobby farmer” creds by not dealing with the predator more directly. (I may or may not have posted a rabies-related plea for help on Facebook before finding my own gun.) But on the other hand I did locate the appropriate screwdriver for the shower job then replaced it to the correct toolbox immediately. So there’s that. And let’s not forget date-night makeup on a Wednesday afternoon, okay? It counts. With our schedule lately, it counts for a lot.

Between book club titles, I am reading Dorothy Must Die which is difficult for me to groove. More up my alley is A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman. Have you nibbled it yet? My gosh. I mean, you guys, please read this book. It’s short, beautifully written (along the flavor of Ann Voskamp but somehow more youthful sounding), and inspirational from both the artistic stance and the spiritual. If you have any ache in our soul or itch in your body to be creative or discover your purpose in life, give this slim volume some of your valuable time. You won’t regret it.

One of her early chapters offers this:

As we continue to uncover the shape of our unique design, we need not feel the pressure to figure out what to do with it.

Believe in myself and I sink into the waves of worry, procrastination, daily tasks, and diagnoses. There is no dry ground in sight. But sink into God and he will buoy the soul on top of the water.

Which obviously reminds me of the Sting song Shape of My Heart which happens to be playing as I type this.

This afternoon, once my eyes cleared of the watery, milky, bleach-related secretion, I walked out to the vegetable garden to empty some kitchen scraps into the compost. Excited to see how much my small square of kale had grown in two days, I was in for more unpleasantness. Someone, probably Lone Wolf the rooster, had eaten it! It was all chewed down to dark green nubs. Deep breath.

So… a possum eats a hen. And a rooster eats my kale. And I am wearing really good makeup, but it’s all smeary from bleach fumes. I cannot decide if this is some strange brand of reverse karma or just your run-of-the-mill weekday chaos.

What phase is the moon in right now?

Thank goodness for monarchs and soul-nourishing books. And Sting.

I blame the Ebola outbreak for most of this.

The End.

close and closer still

I am the only one awake in the house, probably the only one awake on the farm, except for Geoffrey our ever-hunting-and-prowling barn cat. The morning is so quiet. Not even a tree frog croaking. Just the buzz and click of my laptop and the hum of the refrigerator. Every window is still black with night sky. Strong coffee smells are warming up the room, making my mind more pliable and my eyes less bleary. I am wearing my much loved grey book club t-shirt and pink sweat pants given to me by my friend Marci when spontaneously one day we decided to dye every piece of fabric in sight the color turquoise, including the jeans I was wearing. The table where I’m writing this morning is covered in a bouquet of fading zinnias and half a dozen pieces of fruit plus the only attempt I have so far made toward autumn decorating. And a bottle of nail polish weighting down a story idea scribbled on a wrinkly paper towel.

My heart is incredibly still. Not everything is settled yet exactly, not by the world’s standards, but everything is alright. No, everything is amazing. I can see, feel, smell, and taste that every prayer we’ve uttered in faith is already answered. And that we will be seeing the proof of that slowly, bit by bit, in God’s time. They’ve been answered for years, really. And as new crises have happened in our life, those too have come paired with their own solutions, if only we would stop and focus and breath deeply enough to see. If only we would get close enough to the Problem Solver to no longer see the problem. I miss you Harvey. Thank you for teaching me that. It has changed my life.

Yesterday between working in the barn and playing in the garden, I stopped to feed my bees and the llamas all visited. Dulcinea was particularly kissy. I discovered this photo on my cell phone later and was overwhelmed with the feeling of being so close to God, like a little girl. The feeling of being face to face with Him, silent, cuddled, held with strong arms. Maybe like Scout sitting in Atticus’ lap in To Kill a Mockingbird.

get as close as you can until He is all you can see

get as close as you can until He is all you can see

A rooster is awake now, though the windows are still inky black. My husband of thirteen years will soon appear in the stairwell with a towel for me and a kiss, ready to stumble outside for Hot Tub Summit, as is our early morning custom. I will give him freshly brewed coffee that he bought for me at midnight last night because I foolishly left my can of it at book club. We will admire the last stars of night and maybe the first colorful streaks of dawn. We will take note of the llamas and cats and buffalo and horses and help each other kill mosquitoes but not honeybees.

Then later today we will work together at church, getting the physical space ready for spiritual work. We will pray together and face everything together then rest in this home we’ve made, this love we’ve curated. Keeping room for every seed of hope we’ve ever planted.

My friends are all facing big trials and heartaches, just like yours. My family is in crisis, just like yours. And I ache for them just as they have ached for me. But I feel such a flood of hope and assurance right now! The dawn is finally cracking open on a long, bitter night. I just want everyone to fix their sight on where that is happening. The Source of every solution, all the Love that we will ever need. Do not let anyone distract you with worrying or over-analyzing or thinking that you alone can do it. Be firm on that, okay?

Get so close that He is all you can see.

Happy brand new day to you! You are loved and you are needed to move that Love around this world. Be a conduit. Be happy.

It’s not time to worry yet.
~Atticus Finch
XOXOXOXO

 

 

harper lee for mama kat

Hello again! This week Mama Kat invited us to share some favorite quotes. Cool!

I am a quote fiend. A quote fanatic. Quote-and-prose obsessed, it is fair to say. So narrowing down my list of faves was not easy. But this month our famous little Oklahoma book club is reading both One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Don’t we have good taste?

Anyway, these two books are rife with well crafted, substantial lines. And as I am reading through the latter title I am recording in a fresh new spiral notebook all the sentences that speak to me. It’s so fun! Believe it or not this is my first time reading To Kill a Mockingbird, and I clearly see why it is a beloved American classic. So good. I am halfway through and have cried three times and laughed a lot more.

I will admit that taking so many notes alongside reading just a 248 page book is taking me an inordinate amount of time. Maybe I should just read it straight through? I don’t know. But every paragraph is a gem. It’s all so beautifully written and filled with good messages, how can I pick a favorite even from this one book?

Here is one that glows on the page and is so relevant to my life right now:

to kill a mockingbird quote

It can be difficult, right? Abandoning the need for approval or affirmation when we think we’re doing ok? And on the flipside it can be tempting to preen our egos with other people’s approval despite what we know about ourselves deep down. It’s a cheap balm. Both are traps. Caring too much about what other people think while neglecting our well bred conscience, it’s dangerous. It starves us. Distracts us from the real work and joy of living.

Which leads me to an older, better known quote:

A clean conscience is a soft pillow.

Thanks for the short, sweet writing prompt, Mama Kat! You da real MVP. But don’t take my word for it.
That’s the kinda thing you hafta know for yourself.
XOXOXOXO

Kat Bouska

http://www.mamakatslosinit.com/