“The reason one writes isn’t the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald


"But how could you live and have no story to tell?" ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky


"Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph" ~Matt Hardy


“A mother keeps a garden of the heart, planting the seeds of faith and character that give her children hope and purpose for the years ahead.” ~Anonymous


“If your story is never told, it becomes something else...forgotten.” ~Anonymous

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Italiani a cuore

I love to cook.  I love to eat.  I love to read.  I love to travel.  I am a foodie.  I should have been a writer for a food travel magazine.  I would have taken Joanie, one of my closest friends along as the photographer, because I am visual and she takes incredible photos!  I think God is AMAZING in creating each of us so uniquely that we come alive with passion sometimes at the simplest things.  This all started a few days ago when I picked up the latest issue of the Food Network magazine, their Italian issue. (I cannot leave a store without purchasing an Italian issue of anything).

I took their "How Italian Are You?" quiz before launching into browsing this incredible periodical.  Now I lived in Rome for close to three years in the latter seventies/early eighties and have been back to visit Italy about half a dozen times since then.  I absolutely LOVE this country....it's people, culture, history and, of course, it's food. I am sure I have Italian blood in me somewhere!!  Well, I did pretty good on the quiz...falling in the "You are Italian at heart" category.  I would have been placed in the first grouping if I'd had an Italian "nonna" (grandmother) but alas, that was not to be.  I was pretty happy though because I always thought I was "Italiani a cuore".  Anything Italiano makes me come alive!

Looking out over my coffee table, I am staring at issues of "bon appetit", Intermezzo, Afar and Budget Travel, along with the aforementioned Food Network magazine.  I was pondering how much I love to create and cook all these delectable dishes that are arrayed in beautiful color on their pages....and reading the travel magazines, I can almost smell the scents and walk the streets of the countries, people and cultures represented.  Yes, I should have been a writer of food and culture.  My shelves are stacked with cookbooks, many of them international, and my husband gets to reap the benefits of my culinary interest.

Which led me to begin a new book.  For those of you who read my previous blogs, I had a few books to read while my husband is away on a trip to Russia.  Suffice it to say, in my love of reading, I often read several books at once.  I finished one, and am in the middle of two (which are stacked beside my bed...one used in my devotions and prayer time and one for inspiring me).  But I also read to just relax....so I picked up a book I ordered a while ago and I am now lost for good.  If no one sees me in the next few days...you can find me on my couch with a nose in this literary journey.  "A Year in the World...Journeys of a Passionate Traveller" by Frances Mayes.  Ms. Mayes wrote "Bella Tuscany" and "Under the Tuscan Sun".  Yes, they are about Italy....didn't I warn you? This book is her journaling story of visiting Spain, Morocco, Portugal, Burgundy, southern Italy, the Greek Isles..... I hope I can finish this before my husband returns home...not a good thing to have my nose stuck in a book when he returns after three weeks.  Of course, look at it another way....he could have bowls of pasta awaiting him when he walks through the door!

Just a little taste (no pun intended :) of a segment of this journey we call life that I love.  I hope you also have hobbies and areas of interest and activity you take time for that reflect the beauty of our Creator and the simple things that make you relax, dream, create and enjoy.  

Friday, February 18, 2011

Your Own Talent Show

I am sitting here watching the snow fall and I love it!  I love those soft white fluffy flakes coming down...it is so peaceful!  Whenever I see snow falling, three things come to mind...once standing at a winter ski resort years ago in absolute peace and you could almost "hear" the softness of the snow coming down.  The other two thoughts are the winter scenes in "The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe", the first book of the Chronicles of Narnia (love that book!), and how my sins as scarlet are made white as snow as I am forgiven!! (and yes, that is my favorite!).  Well, that is not what my blog is about today...just had to voice that as I look out the window. 

God has seemed to thrust Matthew 25:14-30 at me lately in several readings, as well as in our Bible study at church.  This is the story Jesus told of the man who went on a journey and left his property with his servants.  He gave them talents (five to one, two to another and one to a third servant, according to their ability).  You can read the story yourself, but in a nutshell...the first two men invested their talents, doubling them and received reward when their master returned.  The third man, afraid of his master, buried his and received his master's punishment.  I am processing with the Lord about my "talents".....lots of thoughts, but here is one...what has God entrusted me with? What is within the borders of my life that I have influence; what am I good at and what brings me life?  Of course, several come to mind....my family, my job, my church body, the neighbors or people I see every day.  What "talents" has God entrusted me with to bless those around me?  (Do I have five, two or one....doesn't really matter how many, the point is what am I doing with them?)  

Do we bury our talents because of fear of man or perhaps past wounds (things people have said to us or criticized us and we are now afraid to step out)?  Have we maybe failed in the past and don't want to try again? Are we apathetic or perhaps lazy in not wanting to put the time into developing those talents or desires?  Or maybe become too busy in the immediate to take time to invest in what He has entrusted us with.  A revelation came to me...when we bury something it decays and produces weeds.  When we plant something, we usually fertilize it and it produces fruit and beauty.

Lots going on in this head and heart of mine...could be I am approaching quickly that "empty nest" stage of my life and am wondering what next? I look out over my life and see the blessings in my family and all He has done in and through my life. I am so encouraged with all He has entrusted me with thus far. So my prayer is "Lord, with all my heart and life, groom, anoint and enable me to fertilize and plant my talents to bless you for the glory of God and the good of people in the days to come."   (side thought... I know enough about myself and God that I cannot (nor any of us) do anything with any talent or gifting without the divine help of God and His anointing....otherwise it is just striving and pride.)

So for today and always...Let's put on a talent show for God with all He has entrusted to us on this stage we call life. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


A year ago, I began studying Psalm 16, which has always held special meaning for me.  I have researched, studied, meditated, prayed and still don't believe I have scratched the surface of all the treasure hidden in these eleven verses. Currently, in my daily reading, I am in the Gospel of Matthew, but today I wanted to read something in the form of a psalm, so I went to the numerical psalm for the day...and behold, found myself once again in the words that have become bread to me when I am hungry.  May I just share a bit of a nugget of gold with you?

"Keep me safe, O God, for in You I take refuge." verse one.  (Psalm 17:8 says "hide me in the shadow of Your wings").  The Message Bible translates verse one..."I run for dear life to you."  When I think of wanting to be safe, visions of running into strong arms and being secure from harm come to mind, thus being protected.  

Hannah Whithall Smith (Safe Within Your Love) says, "I feel just like a little chick who has run out of a storm and under his mother's wings and is safe there.  I hear the raging storm and I am utterly unable to comprehend it or measure the damage it is doing.  But I am safe under His wings.  He can manage the dark storm, but I cannot.  Why then should I worry or be anxious?  When I feel hopeless or fear, I know I need to get back under His wings."

Years ago, our family was on a cross-country ministry trip and stayed with friends in Indiana.  Our trip coincided with tornado season and the evening we were with them, they were under a tornado watch.  Now, growing up in the Pacific Northwest and my husband being from Australia, tornados, nor the procedure which with you prepared yourself, were something we were not familiar with.  We went to bed that evening, our friends keeping the radio on for information.  I woke in the middle of the night to loud winds and rain and hearing the battery-powered radio on in another part of the house.  My husband and children were sound asleep :) I could hear the raging storm but could not see it as all was dark with no electricity.  I wondered how anyone could sleep through the noise (I have since learned that the rest of my family can sleep through anything!!). There was a sense of trust (yes, in God), but also in the family who had lived through this type of thing before. When morning came, we learned the tornado had not touched down where we were, but you could see the devastation from the storm we did experience.

The name of God used in verse one where David says he will take refuge, is "El Shaddai", the MIGHTY ONE, THE HERO. That's quite a description of One I want to run to and hide myself in a storm!  He can hear and see the storm and it doesn't phase Him a bit - He's been through storms before!  I think of Peter in Matthew 14:29 walking out to Jesus on the water and when he saw the wind, he was afraid and began to sink.  He took his eyes off Jesus.  Somehow, in hiding ourselves in Him, I think He want us to keep our eyes on Him and not the storm, even though we hear all the raging of the wind. 

Remember covering your eyes as a child and when you took your hands away, your mom or dad would say "peek-a-boo"?  Somehow, I picture El Shaddai gently removing those hands when we are hiding, and saying "peek-a-boo...I see you...look at Me!"

I don't know what storm you are facing or what is ahead for any of us...but El Shaddai, our Mighty God and Hero, knows and comprehends the storm, but encourages us to keep our eyes on Him, take refuge in His arms, and let the winds do what they must.....but as the storm is passing, or when it has passed, we are safe in Him and His is the face we see through it all!  

My prayer for those of you today who may be in the middle of a storm, or one right around the corner... Take refuge in Him today; hide yourself in Him; He is the safest place to hide!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Read, Watch and Listen

It has been a bit of a whirlwind this week as we prepared to send my husband off on a ministry trip to Kamchatka in far eastern Russia.  He will be gone for three weeks, so getting his business in order while he's away, making sure he had all he needs, and taking care of the needs on the home front...lots had to be done!  We prayerfully sent him off last night and are excited at what will transpire during this trip.

Oftentimes, for me at least, having even one family member gone changes the dynamics at home dramatically.  Not needing to cook such large meals, a bit more flexible schedule, not as much laundry.....you get the picture.  I have been reflecting a bit on what these three weeks hold for me.  The title of the movie "Eat, Pray, Love" came to my mind.  Well, eat is out (not completely) I want to lose some pounds before we head off to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary next month; pray is definitely "in", as is "love"...on my family that is here.  But I did settle on what my weeks ahead could look like.

With church & ministry responsibilities and other things that occupy my time, I plan to add a few things that I relax me:

Whenever Jim is gone, I do those things that are more "me" than him....watching old classic movies, chick-flicks, and a few modern "classics" which I love (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings - I get some good mom/son time with these :)  I also read, read, read.  One of my favorite comfort times is to get a hot cup of tea, a blanket and just read all night.  Bingo!  I know what I am going to do!!  And some incredible books have fallen into my lap just recently:

"The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children" by Stormie Omartian (incredible and so valuable at this time of my life!)

"The Art of Being You" by Bob and Joel Kilpatrick (given to us by a very good friend and can't wait to pick it up...written by a musician/minister and it is full of treasures my heart is yearning for).

"Out of the Far Corners" by our very close friend Peter Iliyn - this is one book you need to get...and I just happen to have the website:


We have known Peter (and his father) for years from YWAM and this is his father's story of coming out of Russia.  Similar to my father-in-law's story, though not orphaned, the settings are much the same.  I cannot wait to begin this journey of reading this treasure!  Peter's book was just released this week and is available on the link above.  Again, you will want to curl up with a hot cup of chai (tea), a few cookies on hand (Russians have to have their sweets!), light a fire or a candle, (maybe a little balalaika music in the background) and bury yourself in this adventure.  

And I plan to spend as much time waiting and listening to God's voice to me.  Refreshment, new vision....hearing His heart for my life, my family and those around me whom I come in contact with daily.

Therefore, my weeks ahead (which I will most undoubtedly share with you) will be "Read, Watch & Listen".  As much as I am able, I will share what I hear :)

And so in closing...what they say in Italy (from the movie "Eat, Pray, Love")  "La dolcezza di non fare niente"....the sweetness of doing nothing....Take some time for yourselves this week and enjoy the sweetness of just being!

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Woman After God's Heart

I absolutely LOVE the book of Psalms in the Bible.  I have done some study on the life of David and these verses throughout 150 Psalms shout out at me "This man wanted to KNOW God and wanted to KNOW His heart!"  In his darkest moments, he knew how to pour out his heart and soul but more importantly, WHO to express his deepest longings and soul-searching moments to and receive the comfort he needed.  How can we not relate to these cries of a desperate heart, as well as the proclamations of a grateful and praise-filled heart when He has come through for us?  When I need to be encouraged and lifted up by the word of God, so often Psalms is where I take my weary heart.  

By the way, I spent 2010 studying one Psalm in particular and I have loads to share in future postings...so excited to share some of the "treasures" I have discovered.

I was so incredibly blessed the other day to read a self-written psalm by the daughter of a friend I hadn't seen in years.  We reacquainted at a baby shower of a mutual friend and a few days later she shared this psalm which she felt inspired to write.  She had no idea it was prophetic for her...as she poured out her heart to her Father in Heaven, a few weeks later her husband lost his job.  She is now living this psalm day to day, her heart reaching out to the One who can encourage, lift up her weary head, and be the Source of all she and her family need. She gave me permission to share this psalm so I thank you, Christanna, and we pray that God will meet your every need.....and provide the employment for you and your husband.  Friends, I pray you will be blessed by this psalm of a "woman after God's heart" and in some small way, you also can sing it up to the Lord who hears our own very heart's cry:

" Oh God, my Provider, I am empty, my house is in need. My hands are weary yet willing. My heart is a large field, ready, I hope, for You to plant and bring forth a harvest of provision.  YES! Your rains have nourished me, flooded my soul; I am saturated with You.
Please protect my field from the crows, for they seek to pluck out the first fruits. Return unto me all that they have stolen from my garden. Cause MORE ABUNDANCE in those places that have been depleted, and be my Gardener, cultivate ME, prepare me for more growth. Increase my capacity to bear "fruit". Scare off the crows!!!!
Oh! Lion of Judah ,ROAR!  Scare every last one of them away! In my garden You are King! We rule and protect, together, You and I. Your delight is in ME, and my delight in in YOU. And, my land is owned and protected by YOU, MY LORD!
I put my hope and trust in You today; my heart shall remain steadfast in the hope that You WILL come through for me, and provide for my family."

Please think of Christanna and her family when you are praying and fyi..I do know she is a massage therapist so you can contact me if you are in need of one - she can come to your home!

I hope you are encouraged and blessed as I am and you are inspired to write your own "psalm" to the Lord which is beautiful music to His ears!!

Blessings today!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I Got You Babe

I didn't wake up this morning to strains of "I Got You Babe", but I could have.  This song got stuck in my head last night when I realized what day it would be today.  I love this movie and so in the spirit of the day..."Happy GroundHog's Day!"  

I am not sure I understand how this works though....in this part of the country, I am sure our furry friend would have seen his shadow, which would mean 6 more weeks of winter :(  But in Punxsutawny, Pennsylvania, good ole' Phil would not have been able to dig himself out of the snow to even look for a shadow.  So according to old tradition, there will not be 6 more weeks of winter (at least on the east coast)!

Therefore, on this traditional day of determining how we dress for the next month and a half, enjoy your day and if you have time in the evening, light that fire, get that hot cup of cocoa, watch a great movie and sing along "I Got You Babe":

They say we're young and we don't know
We won't find out until we grow
Well I don't know if all that's true
'Cause you got me, and baby I got you

HIM: Babe
BOTH: I got you babe
I got you babe

They say our love won't pay the rent
Before it's earned, our money's all been spent

 I guess that's so, we don't have a pot
But at least I'm sure of all the things we got

HIM: Babe
BOTH: I got you babe
I got you babe

I got flowers in the spring
I got you to wear my ring
 And when I'm sad, you're a clown
And if I get scared, you're always around

Don't let them say your hair's too long
'Cause I don't care, with you I can't go wrong
 Then put your little hand in mine
There ain't no hill or mountain we can't climb

HIM: Babe
BOTH: I got you babe
I got you babe

HIM: I got you to hold my hand
HER: I got you to understand
HIM: I got you to walk with me
HER: I got you to talk with me
I got you to kiss goodnight
I got you to hold me tight
I got you, I won't let go
I got you to love me so

BOTH: I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Seeing Beyond the Fog

Driving down the road in the early morning yesterday, I was enveloped in fog.  I was amazed that I really couldn't see much except the grey concrete in front of me with the yellow stripe down the center.  I knew if I stayed in the lane to the right of the yellow line, all would be well.  It reminded me of a camping trip our family took two summers ago and I wanted to share it...as it also reminded me of a conversation I had recently with a good friend.

Our family went on this camping trip mainly because we missed doing them.  The kids are nearly all grown and a couple of them convinced us we needed to do it again before they were all busy with their lives and it wouldn't be as easy.  Plus our oldest daughter had returned from a year in London and she missed the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest (that was nice to hear :)

Our biggest draw was Crater Lake...having lived in Oregon for so many years and we had never visited.  So my husband, myself and the two still at home went down on a Thursday evening, the others joining us when they finished work on Friday.  We found the perfect spot right on the river, outside of Crater Lake National Park, and everything about the area made this camping experience one of our best as a family.  The four of us decided to take a day trip up to the crater and then bring the others the next day when they arrived.  

Friday dawned cloudy and we headed out.  By the time we got up on top of the mountain, we were able to get some good photos, but soon were enveloped in clouds and fog.  We figured this was alright as we were still going to be there for 3 more days and the weather was sure to improve (we hoped!).  We opted to drive at least half-way around the crater and then do a hike.  As we drove on this very narrow road, we were surrounded by thick fog and clouds.  You could see the lake a bit, but on the other side, only fog.  It was eerie to be driving slowly along and not knowing what was on our left side.  We turned around because we knew we would be driving again the next day and hopefully see more.  Now, I am in the passenger seat on the right side staring at white fog, wondering what the view would be like. We did take our hike that day, staying strictly on the path, passing others doing the same, and found sunshine further down the mountain.

Saturday dawned beautiful and sunny and we ventured up to the crater...all 6 of us.  What a difference!  It was gorgeous!!  Bright blue sky, and the most incredible blue lake, with that famous island in the center.  We went nuts with photos.  But what surprised us most was what was on the other side of that road...nearly a drop off!  A beautiful forested valley....way way way down below!  Even as we drove further, I gripped the handle on the door as it was a bit disconcerting being so close to the edge.

What struck me then (and yesterday) is there are times we find ourselves in a "fog" of sorts, not knowing or seeing what God is saying to us.  We started out on a path in obedience to His word to us, understanding our way.  When sometimes suddenly, sometimes not so suddenly, we only see the road in front of us, a few steps ahead perhaps. We don't see beyond that - too much fog. But this I know...and the two experiences gave me a visual...if I stay on the right path of His last word to me, I will get through the fog and find the sunshine again.  If I get scared or try to find my way by deviating off the road, who knows what is there...maybe a drop off - of which could really delay me!  I walk this road of faith knowing the One who is directing me, if I just stay on His path and try not to make my own road. Not always easy, but more often than not, I just need to relax and let Him do the driving.

Proverbs 16:9 says "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."  I love that I can plan my way, and if my heart is really geared towards Him, he will determine those steps and direct them to His will for my life.

So, today my friends, if you find yourself in a fog...or your circumstances don't seem to let you get too far down the road, remember He can and will determine your steps and....the sun is out there waiting to break through!  (I loved waking up this morning to sunshine and not fog!!  Great day in Oregon!)

Blessings on you for a sun-filled day!