Monday, December 29, 2014

When Listening is the Answer to the Question

This is only my second year – the second time I’ve officially stepped up and committed to one word to define the 365 days of 2014.

Looking back, I can say I both completely embraced my word and yet completely let go of my word. It was return – and return I did – to many of the things I wrote that I wanted to embrace and dwell in. There are things I wished I dived in to more, but lingering on the missed opportunities won’t bring them back, and I am in desperate need of grace ….

As this year tipped over towards its sprawling close – alight in the hustle and bustle of celebration, and festival, the quiet question shimmered in the back of my mind: would I do it again? Would a word find its way into my heart? Would I feel led towards of word of meditation? Would I return?

It came down to three words. First scribbled into the margins of my planner. Questions more than anything. Wondering if these one of these words was the one. I prayed and asked and read – seeking a confirmation that I was headed in the right direction. Each petition followed by silence and a hanging feeling of an ellipsis – still incomplete.

The words migrated to three post-it notes on the edge of my calendar – hovering over me on bright pink squares – unresolved.

Then Saturday night while sitting somewhat distracted in the church sanctuary – the echo of worship songs still in my ears – I heard the word, and the description of the feelings I had around the word – repeatedly in both the children’s talk and the evening’s sermon.

I heard it in the story of Elijah – fleeing for his life into the wilderness of Beersheba; standing in the mouth of a cave and bearing witness to the terrible, awesome power of God; yet finding him in the aftermath – in a whisper. I heard it as Pastor Paul spoke of the benefits of restorative rest – not just taking a break, but being intentional about setting aside true Sabbath time for rejuvenation and reconnecting with the Lord. I heard it as I remembered Sarah Bessey’s prayer from the IF Gathering and Faith & Culture: my first writer’s conference; where she prayed over us from a passage in Matthew – calling us to Christ and in to the unforced rhythms of grace.

I heard my word and felt it breathe in to me.


Listen.

This is a good word for me. This is a hard word for me. I have been described as a good listener, but I’m not sure I listen as well as I used to; as well as I could. I am clouded and cluttered by pre-disposition and pre-meditation. I struggle through my own ideas of culture and expectation. There is more to hear. From my God. From my daughter. From my husband. From my family. From my body. From my neighborhood. From my community. From my world. Things I need to extend myself to without judgment and without immediate answer.

So as this next year dawns, I will be leaning in to hear. I will be waiting with patient expectation. I will be seeking the unbroken rhythms of restorative rest. I will be listening.



As one of my readers, you are one of the ones I want to listen to. One of the ones I want to hear from. Do you participate in the One Word project? If so, I would love to hear what word has called you this year.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Prepare

On Fridays a bunch of brave writers gather here to all spend five collective minutes writing on a single prompt. It’s a great way to catch your breath at the end of a long week. This blessed, beautiful place where we open our hearts and let words and tears and the inner workings of our lives bleed and flow and dance across the virtual pages. Yes, this community opens wide and invites you in to share. Come and visit and read. You will be blessed.

You’ll forgive me if I steer gently around the holidays for this post. It’s drawing me – so much to say – so much goodness. I’ve been writing about this a little already – I fact, my second Advent post spoke to exactly this. Maybe that’s why I’m pulling myself in another direction. Besides, it was art class today.

This week: Prepare

Go

They are so small: these tiny hands that grasp gently at the elegant length of deep oxford blue drawing pencils. I sped so little time in the world of children – despite having my own. Her life as an only lends itself towards more grown up conversations and themes – though I fight hard for every inch of childhood.

I sometimes forget the precious lives that inhabit the world two feet below my shoulders. But these children have utterly enchanted me. I have the privilege of sharing art with them once a week and I dearly wish it were more.
Our public schools have been losing curriculum they consider superfluous or unnecessary. Or simply not cost effective. These learning pillars that fall? They’re art; music; library – sometimes even physical education. Despite learned knowledge that these pillars shore up and round out an education as much as math, science, and writing.
So in I go every Tuesday morning. Heart pounding and completely terrified that they’ll look up; see beneath my carefully prepared lessons; and discover that while I might have a passion for arts and a flair for the creative, I am not actually a trained artist. My diligently packed 31 Gifts bag overflows with pens, pencils, color in many mediums, sandpaper, scissors and clips, paintbrushes, and books.  But is that enough?

After much thought and still with some trembling, I must say yes. Solidly. Completely. Confidently. While I might not have credentials behind my passion, I have a dedication to the craft and a deep desire to prepare their young hearts and minds to understand that they too are artists.

Soon enough, they will come crashing headlong into the naysayers and critics – those who will tell them they are not good enough; that their lines are wobbly; that their colors don’t work, and that cats simply cannot appear in every piece of art they create. They will face a lifetime of detractors and barricades – they may even find those barriers surfacing out of pools of worry and anxiety in their own hearts.

It is my deepest hope and prayer that in those moment, they will have a memory – something from way back – when someone leaned into them, believing, and said, “great job – I love what you’ve done with light and shadow there.” I hope they’ll remember a compliment of color, standing around images of the galaxy and learning about grayscale, putting pen to paper and making their first zentangle.

I hope my hour a week gives them the launching pad they need to leap deep into the pools of creativity to discover and navigate confidently through those waters on a lifelong journey.

Stop



How to Join
Want to know about how Five Minute Friday got started, and how to participate? All the details are here. No editing or second guessing. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Five Minute Friday (and on a Tuesday!) - Dear

So here’s a new one for me.
Five minutes (well, we’ll see).
Not Friday.

My schedule often puts me behind the eight ball when it comes to the Five Minute Friday writing exercise. I’m still at work when the pre-festivities Twitter party begins and am more likely than not in the car on the way home or running errands when the prompt hits. But I like to join in when I can – this is still my favourite spontaneous writing exercise.

It’s not just the writing or the tweeting that grabs me. It’s the community.  There is so much depth and breadth here – more than I ever imagined. And so, I return to the prompt, four days after it’s been given, to share some thoughts.

On Fridays a bunch of brave writers gather here to all spend five collective minutes writing on a single prompt. It’s a great way to catch your breath at the end of a long week. This blessed, beautiful place where we open our hearts and let words and tears and the inner workings of our lives bleed and flow and dance across the virtual pages. Yes, this community opens wide and invites you in to share. Come and visit and read. You will be blessed.

This week: Dear

Go

I am a keeper of all of the things. I’m not going to use the “h” word – that’s a bigger reach than I’m willing to take. I am a collector. I am a treasurer (sometimes with all this treasure, I am also a treasure hunter). I am a gatherer and preserver of all things necessary and unnecessary because someday, they might be.

In among the collectibles and things preserved, there was a magazine. Kept for months. Read a thousand times. But for all the times that I’d read this particular issue, I hadn’t seen the article. In a national publication with 23 million subscribers, written by a best-selling novelist.

She wrote: “I don’t believe an online relationship is a relationship – not a real one.”

Not talking about dating or internet brides.
Just friendship.
This writer did not believe online relationships are real.

While I agree whole-heartedly with Ms. Best-Selling author that real-life, real-time, in person relationships are utterly essential and life giving, I cannot agree that online friendships have no merit.

Three years ago, I might have told a different story. The extent of my online friendships revolved around dragons and elves, vast lands to develop, and conquering heroes. Yes. I’m a gamer. Please notice this remains in the present tense.

It was fun rallying around goals (bring down the Frost Giant – garner great reward!) and connecting on some level with the players. I got a recipe for midnight margaritas from a bartender in Virginia; got to be pretty decent friends with a nurse from Australia; and my husband and I still exchange birthday greetings with a grandfather of three from Wales.


But three years ago, I discovered the (in)courage community and this tribe of Five Minute Friday writers. That discovery was a game changer.

I’m not sure if I really believed that online friendships could hold the weight of those grown over cups of coffee and tea; shared times with families; and service together for a higher goal.

I’m not sure I could have been more wrong.

With the upsides of social media, I have grown and cultivated authentic, vibrant friendships with women writers across the country (and into other countries). We have laughed, talked, prayed, and served with one another over the weeks and months that begin to mark years. Thanks to handy apps like Voxer (or frankly, the phone), I know their voices and have called on them to share both joys and tears. Many of us participate in the growing project hash tagged fmfpartysnail mail – writing letters each week to post to new friends across the miles: encouraging, praying, and sharing.

These friends are in the inhale and exhale of my daily life. There is a mutual lifting up, a shared cheering as we cross various finish lines in our lives. There is the long-distance hug that feels nearly tangible when shadows fall. There is generosity of spirit. There is truth.

Is it even better if we get the opportunity to meet up at a conference or arrange a real life meet up where hours feel like seconds? Absolutely. There are several friends in my online community that I am counting on meeting someday soon. No matter what. But in the meantime, can we still relish friendship without our heads inclining toward each other over a table or without walking down a quiet path side-by-side? Absolutely.

My online friends are some of my most dear and treasured ones. I’ve been blessed to have them enter my life, and whether I meet them on this side of heaven or after; they will remain ever present in my heart and mind, and will always be counted among the ones I cherish.

Stop



How to Join
Want to know about how Five Minute Friday got started, and how to participate? All the details are here. No editing or second guessing. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Light of Preparation

We set our eyes on hope.
We take off the mantle of what came before.
We direct our attention to the future.

Whether immediate or sometime in the unknown future, hope kindles our heart for what’s next.

If our heart is Christ’s home, we are always in a state of anticipation for him. What we will learn next. What he will reveal. Where we will be led. When is he coming again?

That anticipation leads to preparation.


During Advent, our hope is centered in anticipation on God’s gift of love to his people. The rock and redeemer born of spirit-and-flesh-made-one is the hope of the nations – the restoration of world fallen into darkness; the light on the edge of the dawn of joy.

Our preparation takes on many forms: lighting candles, gather our families for special devotions, perhaps finding those outside our own immediate circle who need encouragement, hope, and the gift of our time or resources.

But overall, let this time of preparation happen in our hearts.

Let us prepare for joy – making room and bowing low in humble thanks. As heaven opens in song to remember the receiving of her king, let us join in with our own song, and repeat the sounding joy. Let us look with hope to the future when sorrow and the infestation of the imperfect will be no more because of God’s blessings that will flow without end. Let us anticipate the future heaven and future earth where God’s peace and truth reigns and the nations celebrate the wonders of his glorious love. Let us repeat the sounding joy.

I pray that the light of preparation will be kindled and renewed in your hearts as we move forward into this season of discovering the greatest gift.



I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Light of Hope

The darkness falls quickly these days – we have changed the long, luxurious days of summer for the even longer, chilly nights of winter. While I love the holidays this time of the year and the cozy factor that comes from all the warm sweaters and my favorite scarves, I find myself missing the long sunsets and bright mornings of summer.

Which is why the holiday seasons we revel in these winter months – Advent, Hanukkah, and Christmas – bring such delight. These festivals of light. These celebrations of anticipation and thankfulness.

For Advent this year, I’m going back to re-read The Greatest Gift, by Ann Voskamp (along with several fellow writers and, perhaps, the whole of the (in)courage community!) and our family will be reading, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift (also authored by Ann) and discovering the Jesse Tree in our Advent family devotion time.

Tonight at the table, we lit the first Advent candle – the candle of hope.

I read from one of my favorite chapters in Isaiah – 40 – and shared these words of hope with my sweet family gathered near:
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. 

What else could bring hope more, than the utterance of assurance from the God of the universe? What he has spoken will come to pass. What he spoken is true, and right, and will be honored.  His word stands forever and it the foundation of our lives.

I also love the hope declared at the end of this chapter:
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Are your tired and weary? Has this year been more than you feel you can bear? Does it feel as if the light of this season cannot possibly reach into the depths of your suffering and struggle?

He hears and he knows. The Father of compassion, the God of all comfort sees your heart and reaches out now and always to draw you near. To give you strength. To give you endurance. To give you hope.

I pray that the light of hope will be kindled and renewed in your hearts as we move forward into this season of discovering the greatest gift.



I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Still

No matter how scattered or organized; how empty or brimming with creativity; how filled with joy or laid low by anger and frustration; how wrapped in community or wandering in self-imposed loneliness, I always find rest in the writing and grace in the embrace of Grace and welcome of friends.

On Fridays a bunch of brave writers gather here to all spend five collective minutes writing on a single prompt. It’s a great way to catch your breath at the end of a long week. This blessed, beautiful place where we open our hearts and let words and tears and the inner workings of our lives bleed and flow and dance across the virtual pages. Yes, this community opens wide and invites you in to share. Come and visit and read. You will be blessed.

This week: Still

Go

I can be calm. I can be quiet. No one who knows me would tell you that I am a boundless ball of energy.

I am not a Tigger personality.

I may be an introvert,
But I am not still.

If intensity can vibrate softly, tenuously poised on tension’s edge; if ferocity can roar soundlessly; if wildness can be contained beneath the muted, glass-faced front of self-control – all the while flinging about beneath it; that would be me.

There are words and ideas I yearn for: release,
rest,
relaxation,
respite.
I don’t know how.
I am not still.

The news ticker of my mind runs laps while for now, my physical body struggles to walk complete a circuit of the local market. I am continually trying to argue and fight against this fact and turn it into a myth.  I am not still.

My spirit longs to pause before the throne of grace – longs to know what it is to truly leave things there in trust. Not leave it, then come dashing back ; somehow sure that my own watch care can discern the answer that would find far better resolution and assurance in the hands that fashioned Saturn’s rings. I am not still.

After how many lessons and a journey well-marked with my own tangents and segues between point A and point next that were redeemed by grace beyond measure – how many times do I still wonder, and question, and demand, and fret, and worry?

I am not still.

And yet (bless those saving words)

He remains.
He is still here.
He has never left.
Moving through kairos time – always and everywhere altogether –
All the while, fully still and complete.
He remains.

Under His hand,
I can be still.

Stop



How to Join
Want to know about how Five Minute Friday got started, and how to participate? All the details are here. No editing or second guessing. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Leave

Fair warning – this is going to be an emotional, hot mess. I knew the second I saw the prompt, what I would be writing. There are already tears pouring down my face. I’m sorry. I don’t know any other way to do it.

On Fridays a bunch of brave writers gather here to all spend five collective minutes writing on a single prompt. It’s a great way to catch your breath at the end of a long week. This blessed, beautiful place where we open our hearts and let words and tears and the inner workings of our lives bleed and flow and dance across the virtual pages. Yes, this community opens wide and invites you in to share. Come and visit and read. You will be blessed.

This week: Leave

Go

It is terrible, awful place when you come to the point in your life when you have to seriously consider your parents’ mortality.

It’s not like this is a surprise. Birth. Life. Death.  It’s pretty well laid out an understood. But don’t we understand it on a completely different level when the birthing, living, and dying becomes the experience and story of someone we know? Someone who is close to our heart? Someone who is in our heart?

My father is in the hospital. Again. This is not a new thing. And perhaps, not even a surprise. He has been with us here on this earth for eighty years, and against so many odds, has remained with us through several strokes and other major illnesses.

Through it all, he has been a stalwart survivor. Beyond belief. Every time I got a call about another stroke; every time I had to get on a plane to fly home, I thought, “This is it. This is going to be the time I have to say goodbye.”

Three thousand miles away with no highway to get there is a rotten place to be when your family needs you. Just a plane. Which means hedging, and guessing, and planning – when to go, how long to hold off. What time is the right time? Let me tell you – there is no time. Not when your heart just wants to be there right this second for all the seconds that are left.

From a heaven-bound view, I am not worried. My father’s faith is my foundation and I know where he is headed. Part of me cheers because there will be no more pain. No more suffering. Only glory. Only life unending in the presence of the Savior.

But oh my heart – that is only part. As much as I can say, “the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord,” and “I know that my Redeemed lives, and at the end he shall stand on the earth,” and that in those passages lives the promise of redemption, resurrection, and reunion, there is part of me that goes all Dylan Thomas saying, “Do not go gentle into that good night; rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

God help me.
I am not ready to say goodbye to my father.
I am not ready for him to leave.

Stop




Here, that promise from Job - an exquisite rendering from Handel's Messiah


How to Join
Want to know about how Five Minute Friday got started, and how to participate? All the details are here. No editing or second guessing. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Celebrating Another Birthday - With My Love

He's a bit more clean shaven these days,
but I love this picture.
Dear S,

It’s your birthday today – the twentieth one we’ve celebrated together. I can hardly believe it. Hardly believe that the year has flow by so quickly – how is it October already? Hardly believe that we’ve shared twenty years together – how did that happen?

When we met, I never imagined that I’d be spending twenty years with anyone. Remember our long standing joke about what I said on our first date? About this being a fun time but not being serious and never, ever going anywhere? I guess you and I are just on the longest trek not going anywhere that any two people have ever taken.

But we’re not going “not anywhere,” are we? These twenty years have been a journey of growth and discovery like neither of us ever imagined.

I’m so grateful to be on the journey with you.

You are my rock – strong and steady; a stabilizing force in my life; a strong foundation; the one I can count on.

You are my laughter – the one who unlocks my weird; the one who releases my funny. You know I am far too serious – good some of the time, but not all. You’re my safe spot for all the wackiness to be unleashed. You make me smile.

You are my romance – still; dancing in the kitchen; holding hands walking down the hall; quick kisses stolen in quiet moments; attraction that still holds and deepens – though neither of us looks like we did in our twenties. Okay, I take that back. You look exactly the same to me.

You are my safety – in an era where a woman is always supposed to stand on her own; you let me stand – you want me to stand – you like me strong. But you know that I can’t be that way all the time. And when the times arise that I crumple and fall; when it’s just too much. You are there. The safety of your arms surrounds me. I can gather myself. I can breathe.

You are my right hand – shopping, adventuring, directing a play, embarking on an artistic turn – you are there. Encouraging me. Supporting me. Filling in when I need another play for another part. Building something. Carrying something. Always believing.

There are a million reasons to celebrate you today – my love, my best friend, my partner in crime. I will celebrate each one.

Happy birthday, and may the year to come be another adventure together in blessing and love. I wish for you the very best of what lies ahead in this life.

Always



I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Long

I’ve been away too long again (P.S. I wrote that before the prompt came out!). But this community – it never fails to reach out and embrace – even when one has been away. I’m so grateful for this space; and for the women that I’ve met here; with whom I’m building relationships.

For all the talk about how online is incomplete, I have yet to feel that here in this space. Except for missing the joy of being actually together chatting on couches or sitting across tables with sweet tea or coffee, there is nothing truly incomplete about this friendships and this space.

On Fridays a bunch of brave writers gather here to all spend five collective minutes writing on a single prompt. It’s a great way to catch your breath at the end of a long week. This blessed, beautiful place where we open our hearts and let words and tears and the inner workings of our lives bleed and flow and dance across the virtual pages. Yes, this community opens wide and invites you in to share. Come and visit and read. You will be blessed.

This week: Long 

Go

There’s nothing like a good laugh full of irony and this prompt might be it. I’ve been away from my blog for a while. Away from my words. To be honest, even in the still, quiet times where it’s just me and a real live page – nothing digital – there has been an abundance of white space.

And while I love white space – I need, desire, crave white space in all iterations in my life – the dearth of words has been hard to bear.

It’s not for anything dreadful and traumatic. I’ve been there before. This is not it. It is a comfortable, if somewhat guilty, silence with a lingering feeling of obligations not met. But there has been nothing on my heart that will come out in words.

I have certainly not stilled my thoughts – those run rampant and wild; percolating into effortless bubbles. I feel like a three year-old with a wand and a bucket of soap on a breezy spring day, flinging shimmering cascades of effervescence into the air, only to have them vanish in a moment. 

Creatively, I have not been in silence. My thoughts, feelings, and ideas have been spilling out in my art.

Smile with me.

I have always wanted my art to spill out but have never felt I had anything worthy of spilling. And now – a joyful profusion comes out like a dam has burst. Where has this come from?


And curiously, why can’t they both pour out at the same time?

My friends and community gather round and encourage me. Where would I be without these voices that anchor me, connect me, and point me back to truth?

I’ve heard some snort derisively at the idea that there are seasons – laugh at the idea of the ebb and flow of this thing we call life and the ability to capture the essence of living with our words and ideas. Laugh away. Clich├ęs are sometimes birthed in truth and oftentimes perpetuate themselves because they endure.

So this is my quiet season.

It feels too long. But let’s face it. I’ve been away longer than a few weeks before. Maybe you have too. Maybe you’ve struggled with the idea that your voice has gone silent for a time.

Honor the quiet.

This is what I’m learning. The lack of tangible words is not a lack of words altogether. Sometimes, it is a growing time. Learning to be more precise and intentional with what we do say.

Words matter. They always will. But I want to say the right ones. Ones that have weight, and meaning, and integrity, and truth.

Even if it is a long time between posts.

Stop

How to Join
Want to know about how Five Minute Friday got started, and how to participate? All the details are here. No editing or second guessing. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday Grace Notes – the Delicate Scent of Clean

I remember the first whiff. The inhale that felt like the cleanest breath I’d take in ages. It fit the shop of course; all delicately decked out like an English garden. All soft lighting and pale wood. An abundance of white. Beautiful, painted graphics like something from a John Constable landscape.

The Crabtree & Evelyn store I walked into blended florals, woods, and delicate spices into an attractive, inviting welcome into another world. That world originated in the early 70s as a small family business focused one man’s passion for travel and well-turned products into one of the world’s most respected luxury brands.  Long before health and wellness became buzzwords, Crabtree & Evelyn blended botanicals with rich, natural products to create beautiful soaps, lotions, and even edibles.

Of all the products Crabtree & Evelyn have produced, my all-time favourite will always be their triple-milled Goat Milk Soap. Originally packed in white, then upgraded to a classic blue, this soap was a luxury indeed at about $25 for a box of three. But it was very much worth it.


Milk proteins blend with just a hint of alpine lavender for one of the cleanest, sweetest smelling soaps you could ever hope to use. I can’t remember who discovered it first, my mother or I, but we have both been head over heels for this soap for decades. In fact, after learning that she had nowhere to buy this soap locally, I bought out the stock at a downtown store in my neighborhood for her Christmas gift last year.

This is one of those items I save for special occasions – I know my mother does too. This is the kind of soap you want to put in a special dish to make it last as long as possible.

And now we have even more reason to hang out to our stash. In one of our conversations last week, my mother broke the bad news. Crabtree & Evelyn are no longer carrying this product line. I have to admit, I was more broken up about this than I should be over mere soap.

Now, I am grateful for my tendency to hang on to things – I still have a few bars tucked away. And they still smell amazing. I’m astonished at the asking price for these little blue boxes on eBay and Etsy, but know that for some buyers out there, it will be worth every penny.



Tuesday Grace Notes are an opportunity for me to share a small bit of harmony amidst the other things I write about. Truly, they are meant to be shorter than my usual pieces (laugh with me here), and just a little something to add a touch of beauty to my life and yours. One week it might be a
wonderful book I’ve read and can’t put down. Maybe it will be one of the movies I love (or its soundtrack). You might find a favourite recipe here. Or the new soap I’ve just discovered. You’ll find that many of them are inspired by my mother and the things she taught me about living a gentle, elegant life. I hope you’ll join me as more things are shared.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Monday, September 29, 2014

My Own First Corinthians Thirteen

Even if you’re not overly familiar with your Bible, I’m sure you’ve heard of, or even seen part of the book of First Corinthians they call the Love Chapter. It’s a beautiful exploration of true love – what it is, and what it’s not.

My mind wandered there over the weekend – just reflecting on where I am at this point in my life; considering things that are happening around me; and being incredibly grateful for the relationship I have with my husband. It’s not perfect by a long shot, but it’s good. We continue to work on the relationship and invest in each other, and are in all the best ways, the perfect balance for each other.

Because this is a blessing and a gift I don’t ever want to take for granted, I decided to write my own paraphrase of I Corinthians 13. My own love chapter, dedicated to my best friend and love of my life.


He is the most patient man I have even known – standing firm in the face of some of life’s hardest challenges; the kind of things that would have broken a lesser man, or chased a less persistent man away.

He is always proud of my accomplishments; being my loudest cheerleader and biggest source of encouragement.

He knows that we are not the same, and never feels diminished by my success. In fact, he relishes it.

He does not suffer from an overblown ego, but remains confident in his abilities and strengths. Very often, he graciously acquiesces to my teasing and cajoling – and frankly – we have enough in common that we have so many things we can enjoy doing together. But we’re also very different and can enjoy our space apart. Sometimes, we just enjoy being quiet together. And that is a gift.

He has a strong sense of justice and celebrates when right prevails. He has stood with me through financial struggles, the upending and startling painfulness of family ups and downs, health issues – the ones that have almost ended me, and the ones that continue to hang on in debilitating, chronic ways. Oh, the health issues. He has hope that I will get better, but until then, often operates as my hands and feet; as my driver; as my comforter; as my guide; as my rock when I have low moments and feel as if I can’t go on.

He is the only person I am completely comfortable with – and by that I mean he sees the good, the bad, and the awful. He sees the giddy and the goofy. He sees the serious and the struggle. He sees the committed and the determined. He sees the whole of me.

No one makes me laugh like this man – in some ways; he reminds me what it’s like to be a child again.

He believes in me. He has hope for our future. But most of all, he loves me.



I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday Grace Notes – a Discovery of Art

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be an artist. Some things I love and have wanted seemed to come as easily and naturally as breathing. For instance writing. I cannot remember a time when words were not my friends; when language and syntax did not pulse and leap for me like throb of the blood in my veins. It has never been a problem for me to say, “I am a writer.” I also love to cook, and find relaxation and joy in the kitchen. I love music too, and at least at one point in my life new how to bring a keyboard and a cello to life.

But art.

The second feather - I'm putting this one on note cards
It has taken me a long time to even tentatively utter the words, “I am an artist.” Inside my head, I can still see my hyper-critical shadow self shaking her head sarcastically; rolling her eyes; saying, “whatever.” I adore color. I have an immense collection of pens, pencils, stickers, paint, paper, and other art supplies. I have delved into art journaling and fallen in love. I create images I’m proud of in Photoshop – moving light and shadow and font to make statements and tell a story. I consider my writing an art – same for my cooking.

But I still have trouble saying, “I am an artist.”

I think what I mean is, "I can’t paint anything that looks like it exists in this universe."

Because somehow in my mind – for me – art equals painting.

The first feather, a work in progress, and new art supplies
Which makes no sense at all, because art is so much more than that. I even led a small group earlier this Spring where one of the goals of my heart (along with my two fearless leader friends), was to teach other women that you didn’t have to be Michelangelo to be an artist.

So imagine my surprise over the last twenty-four hours, when I’ve discovered something I can paint. And draw. And not too badly.

An online friend had been sharing images of her feathers. Beautiful, colorful creations. They are amazing. I was so tempted. I wrote her on Facebook and asked about the hows and whys, and she encouraged me so kindly. So I tried.

Toucan feathers - at a friend's suggestion
Focusing on not focusing (and thus over thinking – which I do so very well), I tumbled my oversize art journal down from the top shelf and grabbed a pencil. And drew a feather. I thought it wasn’t half bad and showed it to my family who gave me huge kudos (because they’re amazing) and cheered me on. I started surfing on Pinterest – looking for other feather ideas and found another to try. I did. And it actually looked like a feather. The next morning, I took on another challenge and tried my hand at a fish – albeit a feathery looking fish, but a fish nonetheless. And it looked like a fish.

My feathery fish - still a work in progress - but it looks like a fish!
I’m so excited.

This newfound art is a grace note for me because it is a dream fulfilled and an experiment in wonder altogether. It is an adventure in giving grace, of sorts, because despite the cheers and encouragement from my friends and family, there’s part of me – that cranky shadow self – that still sees nothing but flaws and errors in the art.

But I’m choosing to ignore her completely for now, and simply revel in the beauty and imagination that flows out from my brush, and give thanks that I have a small bit of the Creator’s gift at my fingertips. I want to honor that gift.


Tuesday Grace Notes are an opportunity for me to share a small bit of harmony amidst the other things I write about. Truly, they are meant to be shorter than my usual pieces (laugh with me here), and just a little something to add a touch of beauty to my life and yours. One week it might be a
wonderful book I’ve read and can’t put down. Maybe it will be one of the movies I love (or its soundtrack). You might find a favourite recipe here. Or the new soap I’ve just discovered. You’ll find that many of them are inspired by my mother and the things she taught me about living a gentle, elegant life. I hope you’ll join me as more things are shared.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Where I'm From

My daughter brought home her first writing assignment from school today - building a poem from prompts built on a poem by George Ella Lyon called, Where I'm From. It draws on childhood experience, favourite foods, things your family said all the time, common things around your home, plants, pets, and more. It's memory and identity. Because it's writing, I couldn't resist. I had to try my hand at the exercise. It's poetry, but not my usual style.

And yet, it speaks so much of where I'm from:


I am from piles of books –
stacked from floor to hip to ceiling, spilling off shelves;
creating literary architecture of their own.
From a rainbow swirl of pen and ink,
and the quilt patterned patches of notebooks –
blank, lines, and quad-squared pages.

I am from crumbling driveways,
walls that pulse and dance with color
(a different one in every room)
and echoes of jazz and quiet cellos in intimate corners.
I am from soft cats warming themselves in the sun;
a stunted dogwood of southern memory;
and a lilac bush with competitive growth spurts.

I am from quiet times in sacred spaces,
tea poured hot, and an endless pattern of  blue and white.
From gentle elegance and fierce determination,
patience anchored in rock firm safety,
and joy bursting with imagination and wildness.

I’m from tooth-grinding stubbornness,
undaunted loyalty,
and a rich vein of creativity shot through with iron and gold.

I’m from trust in the Lord with all your heart,
Do your very best, and
noblesse oblige.

I’m from ham for Christmas and lamb at Easter.
I’m from the Gathering Place in the islands,
fields of rice paddies,
and hills sheltering castles at Cardiff.

I’m from baked chow mein and stir fry,
from journey across oceans,
and the soft palm of a hand.
From teacups and journals,
old woks and more books,
walls covered over and again in memory,
painted art from hands I know,
and more books.
Because books are at the heart of all we love.

I am sifted like sand and flour,
elementally twined, rooted, blossomed, and risen
from earth, and bread, and binding
of the ones I love.



I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

I'm joining Simply Beth for her Three Word Wednesday link up. For this link up, choose three words; share a post, photo, or scripture that highlights those three words; link up here; and share some encouragement and blog love with other writers.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tuesday Grace Notes - Space to Breathe

As I move into an incredibly busy season of the year – back to school for my daughter; peak times on my job supporting the technological needs of the back to school crowds; husband working full time; little time at home for anything outside the schedule; swim team starting up again … I am so thankful for the gift of time and space we had just a couple of weeks ago.

My husband’s parents gave us the gift of a timeshare; far up on the coast of the Pacific Northwest. It was only a couple of hours away from home, but it might as well as been four time zones.

With limited technology and only a television to contend with – we haven’t had access in years, so it’s fairly easy to pretend it wasn’t there – there was time for seaside exploring; hours of book reading; extended time to journal; and just time to be still.

I continue to be sometimes surprised at my own evolution as a person. The girl who once lived for the hum of city life; who couldn’t let a week go by without stopping by Nordstrom, Gene Juarez, or any other number of overpriced shopping haunts; who didn’t want to wander too far away from the latest happenings – she’s given way. Now, I’m the woman who stays away from the mall and shopping and crowds as much as possible, who shops online – and then mostly for books; who yearns for long, wild grass and grey oceans with pale skies above.

Sometimes grace notes are things – I still love my pretty things around me. But sometimes grace notes are the quiet times; the still times; the sacred moments of space that buffer us from the crowding, demanding necessities of the everyday.
Sometimes grace notes are just the space to breathe.
Deeply.
Fully.
Until you are so satisfied with just the sound of your breath,
that nothing else matters.


Tuesday Grace Notes are an opportunity for me to share a small bit of harmony amidst the other things I write about. Truly, they are meant to be shorter than my usual pieces (laugh with me here), and just a little something to add a touch of beauty to my life and yours. One week it might be a wonderful book I’ve read and can’t put down. Maybe it will be one of the movies I love (or its soundtrack). You might find a favourite recipe here. Or the new soap I’ve just discovered. You’ll find that many of them are inspired by my mother and the things she taught me about living a gentle, elegant life. I hope you’ll join me as more things are shared.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Whisper

On Fridays a bunch of brave writers gather here to all spend five collective minutes writing on a single prompt. It’s a great way to catch your breath at the end of a long week. This blessed, beautiful place where we open our hearts and let words and tears and the inner workings of our lives bleed and flow and dance across the virtual pages. Yes, this community opens wide and invites you in to share. Come and visit and read. You will be blessed.

This week: Whisper 

Go 

It’s been pressing at me. The faintest pulse. An urge. A sweet, gentle proposition curling like pipe smoke around me – as if I were the image of an old man, rocking gently on a well-worn porch.

I hear it like an echo in the books that I’m reading – and even the ones I’m not. The titles thrusting themselves with modest insistence as I pass the stacks piled up throughout my home. I hear it in the melodies of the songs on my iPod and on the radio. Even when the tune stands alone and there are no words. The message remains. I am gathered and surrounded by it in the scriptures I've been meditating on and soaking in.

It is more than a question, but less than a statement. It is an invitation to a life well lived. A life of spirit-filled joy and contentment found in stillness and in service.

Layers upon layers are building. Structure forming. Images and intention coalescing into something yet to be revealed. I know the direction. I am watching the story arc unfold. I have a glimmer of an idea of the ending. But I will not know all of it. Not in this lifetime.

But the offer remains. On the breath of the dawn and in the sigh of twilight, He speaks and asks, “Follow me.” So simple. It could not be more simple. My Lord and my God calls me in a whisper: love me with all your heart; love those with you as you love yourself; do justice; love mercy; walk humbly. Follow me.


I want to take brave, small steps and follow after this invitation. Brave, in spite of my fearfulness of the cost unknown. Brave, even in the face of the unexpected – sheer terror for an organized planner with control issues. Brave, because the strength is not mine alone.

A step into surrender.
A step into sacrifice.
A step into a holy calling of dying to self.
This is where I’m going.

I pray that He doesn’t mind that I whisper my yes inside my heart.
I pray my whisper echoes into eternity.
Come with me?

Stop



How to Join
Want to know about how Five Minute Friday got started, and how to participate? All the details are here. No editing or second guessing. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!