“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

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mothering 24/7

It's funny, but lately whenever I begin to ponder about God, his nurturing and gentle character and how a mother's heart reflects the same, I get hit with a mothering issue.  God gets my attention in a way that perhaps would have otherwise slipped by unnoticed.  Those daily, or maybe weekly occurrences, depending on what stage of life your children are in presently, which require a bit more nurturing and attention.

That phone call late at night when you just began to slumber...you are needed.  

Those moments when you don't feel well and your child feels even worse.

That point in the movie where what you felt what was going to happen is about to happen...and your adult child walks in the door obviously in want of mother.

This opportunity which is presenting itself and the wisdom and guidance of the parents is being called upon.

Advice, need, comfort, healing, direction....sometimes just a listening ear, sometimes just wanting to be held.  It all falls in the job description of a mom.

Those times when you "drop everything" and come to the aid of your child.  A hug, a comforting word, a bandaid, advice on poison oak :)....and after you have dispensed what you have inside and out.... when you yourself called on the "Father" for wisdom and continue praying for the need, you realize just as you were there for your child...HE is always there for you.  The world is not so big, that He doesn't notice you.  He is able to take care of you and the world keeps on spinning.

Even if you have never had this example of having a mother "who was there for you"...GOD can be that source of mothering to you.  He is a nurturer, a comforter, a healer, a hugger, and He is terrific on advice and direction!  He can fill those empty spaces where a mother did not.  

Isaiah 49:15...”Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?  Though she may forget, I will not forget you.”  

As I have reflected recently on "did I do all I could" for my child in his/her need...God has gently asked me "would I have done the same?"  And I am reminded of His mothering heart and yes, He would have done the same...and still does.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Once Upon A Time...

Storytelling....images...a dad sitting on a bed cuddling a daughter in those precious moments before turning off the light....friends around the campfire....a princess...a prince....a hero....a damsel in distress....a tale worth remembering and repeating at just the right moment.

I may have shared this quote before, but it is definitely one of my favorites:

"If a story is never told it becomes something else...forgotten."

Is the art of storytelling soon becoming a lost art?  I hope not.  I have several friends who are gifted story tellers.  I know others who should be.  

A life worth living is a story worth telling.  (Hey, I just came up with that one all by myself!!)  For the past 39 years I have lived in a story worth telling (I know, I am not 39, but my stories really began around then).  I have traveled around the world, lived in some incredible places and met so many awesome individuals and their stories are crying to be told.  

Conversations with my daughter as of late have resounded with "Let's tell our story....those stories you told at our bedside each night need to be heard."  She is incredibly creative and a communications major.....I need all the help I can get.  

This morning I read an interesting Scripture and saw something I hadn't seen before. 2 Kings 8:1-6.  Elisha, the prophet, had earlier prophesied over a Shunammite woman about the birth of a son, which she did have and later died. Elisha prayed and he was raised to life. (2 Kings 4)  In chapter 8, Elisha's servant is retelling the "story" to the king.  This woman shows up having lived in the land of the Philistines for seven years due to a famine Elisha told her to flee.  She has come back to reclaim her land and the servant tells the king, "this is the lady in the story".  Through the retelling of the story, this woman's life and land is restored.  

Hmmm...through the telling of our stories, lives can be rebuilt, hope is restored, passion is rekindled, faith is revitalized.

Our personal history is ours, it is a part of shaping our destiny.  It is a significant part of who my family is and is becoming.  We all have a story to tell.  And it needs to be told.  If anything, to passed down to our children telling of the faithfulness of God, lessons learned, mountains climbed, valleys walked and sorrows endured.  

I'm in the middle of an exciting adventure of writing with God.  It may take months -  hopefully, not years.  But I have years ahead of me (again hopefully) to share the adventures already had...the experiences and exploits yet to be lived....the stories just waiting to be told and not forgotten.  

Once upon a time....in a galaxy far far away....a young lady got on a plane in obedience to God's voice to her.....and discovered the GOD who has a story to tell and He wants to tell it through me...and you!


photo credit: iStock photo

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The (Mother)Heart of God

Recently I have been trying to wrap my mind around the motherheart of God.  Those attributes of our God that seem to come from the heart of a woman, or more specifically, a mother.  As my husband and I travel and share with those who have been wounded and hurt by their fathers, we are becoming more and more aware of the wounds left by mothers.  The message of “The Fatherheart of God” is a very wide spread message of love and forgiveness.  The heart of a Father healing the hurts of a wounded man or woman, boy or girl trying to navigate their way through life not having known the love of a father.  Or perhaps having had a father, but as is so often the case in our imperfect nature, the father left scars on a heart yearning only to be loved and accepted.  It can be very difficult to understand God’s father heart for us  if we have not had any kind of a healthy role model of a father here on earth.  Yet perhaps the male image of God lends itself to grasping it a bit easier.

But how often do we hear of the concept of the motherheart of God?  Where does that fit into our understanding of God?  I am not sure how theologically this all fits in, but I do know God has many attributes that lean far more to the feminine character than to the male.  Here’s just two familiar Scriptures that point to a mother heart...

Isaiah 66:13...”As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” 

Matthew 23:37...how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

A myriad of adjectives, verbs and phrases all leap to my mind when I think of a mother:

Mothers...bring new life into the world.
Mothers....kiss & hug
Mothers....make special
Mothers....watch over

Available, loving, tender, gentle (but firm), hopeful, faith(ful), facilitate.....I began making a list this morning.  It has played over and over in my mind leaving me no choice to but let the words wash over my soul and plant understanding and revelation in my heart of God’s mother love for us.   Yes, many of these attributes overlap with the male and father understanding of God, but some resoundingly reverberate of a mother’s touch.  And I do realize that some today would have a difficult time relating to those words describing a mother depending on the degree of the presence (or absence) of a mother in their lives.

God the Father has been impressing in my spirit and heart to seek Him for a greater understanding of His mother heart to us....men and women, boys and girls....who have been abandoned, wounded, and scarred by mothers. My husband and I have had tearful, heart-wrenching times of ministry to several who were so wounded by their mothers, it was almost unfathomable.  
In the weeks and months to come, I hope by the grace and ministry of God to my own heart, I will be able to share some revelation of His gentle and mothering love for us.

Today as I was musing on this, I came across an assortment of poems describing a mother’s love....I was amazed - in nearly all of them you could literally envision GOD in place of the MOTHER.  I’ll leave you with one to ponder God’s gentle, nurturing, guiding mother love over you today...

A Mother's Love

by Michael O. Adesanya

There are times only when a Mother's love
Can understand our tears,
Can soothe our disappointments
And calm all our fears.

There are times when only a Mother's Love
Can share the joy we feel
When something we've dreamed about
Quite suddenly is real.

There are times when only a Mother's faith
Can help on life's way
And inspire in us the confidence
We need from day to day.

For a Mother's heart and a Mother's faith
And a Mother's steadfast love
Were fashioned by the Angels
And sent from God above...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Remember Educating Rita...Becoming Jane...Now Promoting Joan :)

Ever find yourself reflecting back on your life and being overwhelmed by the goodness of God and the friendships He has given you over the years?  Try doing this in the spirit of thankfulness and you will be blown away by how your friends have impacted your life, even through the small things - and the oh, so many, big things.  Right now in my life, I have some incredible friends.  They walk with me and share my joys, adventures, sorrows and struggles.  Some I see and talk to daily, others maybe once a week or every few weeks.  Recently, with graduation, birthday and wedding parties, as I look around, I am blessed beyond words to have such a full life of friends.  

With the writer's challenge I am participating in, I have come in contact with new friends, and reconnected with old.  I have asked for help and received some incredible wisdom and input.  The discovery of the community of writers and artists is amazing and oh so helpful to someone such as myself.  

Today our challenge is to promote someone...be generous. Because great writers share others work.   It didn't take much thought on my part to know immediately "who" I wanted to promote.  She is a writer, (I've read some of her awesome stories and poetry), but her first love and passion is photography.  She has been one of my closest friends for 31 years, although we have been separated geographically for several. 

We worked as missionaries together for years.  We have hilarious stories to tell of the adventures God has allowed us to have together...sweating and eating charred  corn-on-the-cob in 100+ degree weather in Croatia because it was a "delicacy" and would have been rude to refuse.  We've been stuck in bus strikes during the days of "Solidarity" in Poland in the early 80's.  Together we've squished into an elevator with Russian athletes who were two feet taller than us and ridden for days and nights sharing train compartments with unsavory characters and blue stinky cheese!  Hmm....maybe we should write a book :)  It would be full of adventures, but also filled with the stories of lives my friend has touched.  Today there are men and women in Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic and surrounding nations living a life of fullness serving God, loving and serving others due in part to the prayers of my friend and the impact she had on their lives.

These past years, health issues have prevented her from working a regular full-time job and she has put all her effort and energy into her passion to create an at-home business to generate an income.  However, it is not a job to her.  It is a life of color, art, passion and creativity that flows from her lens.  She tells a story through her photography.  She lives through her art.  And she is one of the most talented artists I know.  

So today, I want to introduce you to an incredible lady.  You can find her on facebook and her website.  I hope you will visit her, enjoy her creativity and support this woman who has given so much to others in her youth.

on facebook -  Joan E Photography

An added note...in this age of free-for-all internet, postings, bloggings, pinterest, etc. there is so much art we discover and want to share with others because we "like" it.  But...please remember copyright laws - respect others and refrain from copying and pinning the art.  The biggest compliment you can give to artists, is to recommend their site for others to view their work. 

I would love to end with a photo of hers, but you do have to go to her site as it is all copyrighted.  And it is definitely worth the trip :)  So I will end with a photo of my own which she liked. As I mentioned, she is a big fan of mine which I so appreciate and she gives me wise advice on photography and writing.  

I love you, Joanie...you are the best!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Please, to the table...

Today's challenge is to quit trying to be so original and recognize the inspiration all around us.  In working so hard to be original, we don't often get our art, our music or writing out there for the world to see.  In reality, so much of the time, we are inspired by those around us....Picasso said "Good artists copy.  Great artists steal."  An idea, a phrase, a picture from someone else can often trigger the creativity within us and get us creating something that is so "us", but began perhaps in the mind of someone else. I'm not talking plagiarism here...just being inspired by other great writers and artists.

Today, I am taking the book title of a cookbook I own so I can share some fun food photos with you from Moldova and Ukraine. Yes, I'm sorry, still not done with this amazing trip. (I had my new camera so I took hundreds of photos...).  But I will recommend this book, although the last time I bought it for a wedding present for a friend, I had to really look for it as it was out of print.  It has many of the recipes of the foods we enjoyed on this trip.

So, ladies, please to the table.....

Moldova presented a variety of delectables for us to feast on, beginning with breakfast...

For those who are granola and cereal lovers, you would have had to adjust your palate to the savories of an Eastern European breakfast.  

Then came lunch on the road - and we traveled many many kilometers throughout Moldova so lunch on the road was often flexible and with friends...

Of course, no matter what or where the meal is eaten you must always finish  with the pièce de résistance

Oh my, the coffee...and these ladies know how to bake!

Ending this culinary tour with dinner(s) in the Ukraine:

When in Kiev, do as the Kievans do...Chicken Kiev

Or if you are fortunate enough to eat in the homes...

Chop, chop...

This went into this...

Which became this...

More chop, chop...

Again, into this...

Final product....a delicious "green Borscht" , a traditional soup of Ukraine

Remember in a previous blog posting when we were in the market and I said we were looking for fish...well, we found it and it was incredible!

It goes without saying, the haute cuisine of Ukraine is a memorable
experience and is a must to try at last once in your life.  Of
course, we are leaving out the vareniki (potato-filled ravioli type dish)
which I had at least four times.  If I had this...

Bulk-style vareniki & pelmeni (meat-filled) ...I would eat it that many times a week here at home!  

And so, in closing, I "borrow" another quote from a book I read, of which I cannot remember the name, or I would give it credit...

"Around here, it almost doesn't matter what's on the table, but it always matters who is in the chairs."  

What was on the table in Ukraine and Moldova was awesome...but it was definitely the friends we shared the meal with that will always remain the best of memories!

Monday, June 11, 2012

UPS, FEDEX OR Snail Mail....

A new day, a new week and a new challenge!  Today is Day #5 of the Writer's Challenge and I am hmmming and hawing about what to do (not sure if those are actual words, but I do know I use them...I will have to entrust this one to spell check).  The challenge is to "ship".  Something you have previously written, are writing or have floating around in your mind to write.  The challenge is to quit procrastinating and get it done...write it and ship it to someone to get feedback.  I didn't really think I had anything; I was more or less just writing every day either on this blog or in my notebook.  The five hundred words a day is fairly easy for me as I tend to write like I talk...a lot!  But to write an idea or story and have someone critique it hadn't really occurred to me.  I just planned to write and write and hopefully, get better as I write.  

This challenge made room for the Spirit of God to remind me of something and move on it.  For years I have been wanting to get the "stories" of our years in missions and serving God down on paper.  Mostly to leave for our children.  They have been "bedtime stories" as they were growing up, but I wanted to actually put them on paper for posterity - ours anyway.  Months ago, I wrote about the adventure of how God moved and led my husband and I to begin dating and eventually marry.  It is not your run-of-the-mill dating scene.  It is a tale of two lives being joined together with the God of heaven actually speaking into our circumstances.  May sound a bit corny, but it happened!  My husband has forever encouraged me to write it down.  We often teach from this story of how God speaks and is faithful as we are obedient to trust Him for our future, especially when it involves our mate for life!  

Ten pages and 6,000+ words later, it is finished.  I finished it months ago and it  has been sitting in my drawer.  Okay, I wrote it and now what?  Is it a "teaching" pamphlet?  Do I refer to it when I share on this topic?  Do I put it in a notebook for my children?  For some reason at this point known only to God, when I read the "challenge" for today's writing assignment, God nudged my heart....ship this to someone for their feedback.  Someone besides my family.  Okay, that is a little vulnerable and scary.  This is again a little out of my comfort zone.  I can tell the story to many, but to have someone actually read it and critique.  But, I committed to this 15-day challenge and I am going to follow through.  

Today, I am going to "ship" my story.  I have a friend in mind.  I might have several friends in mind...what would you think?  

I don't know where this writing adventure will take me.  I hope it will be a wild ride.  I hope my love for photography and writing will meld together.  I hope my friend is at home....

Thursday, June 7, 2012

From Market to Metro

Today is the day we set some goals for this 15-day writing challenge.

1)  Decide on a space you will set your tush down every day and write (my wording :)
2)  Set a time you will meet with yourself every day and put pen to paper (or fingers to laptop :)   Why do I like smiles behind my sentences?
3)  Choose a goal of words per day you will write...300-1,000 is a reasonable start.

In my favor is the abundant resource of photos and stories from our recent trip so it allows me to not stress so much over finding something to write about.  Though I have a plethora of thoughts to share with women growing in God, I have opted to focus some of the blog postings on summing up our trip and the 1,000 photos I took.  Therefore, 136 words down of the 500 I have set for my goal...

Our second stroll through the markets and metros of Ukraine...

Artists, artist-wanna-be's and reproductions are everywhere.  I managed to get this photo before being asked not to photograph the art :(

I would have liked to bring these wind chimes home, but figuring out how to get them in my suitcase and home in one piece untangled took way too much thought and energy :)

Anyone need a hat for winter?

Definitely a fashion statement...

Okay...had to take this one for my son - who would think House
would show up in the Ukraine?

Not sure why the stars & stripes underwear were in with the shoes...

Color, color, everywhere...

Of course, if you run out of shelf space...

For the strategist in all of us...

This was great - matroshkas and cameras all in one spot...I resisted, but how I would have loved those cameras :)

And you can still find him if you look...

Culture, color and clothing... 

I am assuming these weren't for fighting hay fever.

Before we head to the metro, one last stop in the food market...

Oh my, she is still there selling sala; I was running out of money, so it was all I could do to resist a purchase...

Pastry heaven...

And I HAD to photograph this display!  For those of you like us who traveled to the former Soviet Union and Eastern European nations during communism and shortly after, like the early 90's when we lived there...this abundance was unheard of!!  I am still in culture shock when I see this...
I revert into the "survival mode" of the early days and want to buy it all up in case it won't be there tomorrow :)   Good thing my friends held me back!

Had to sneak a photo in of our dear friend, Natasha, buying fixings
for our green borscht for dinner ... 

This kiosk sold Georgian pastries filled with mushrooms, meat, cheese and other delicious things.  We visited here once, actually twice...maybe it was three times.  If I lived here, this would be my choice of "fast food".

And now our trip down metro lane...

First stop, need a car, an apartment, a job...

Craig's List hasn't quite reached here yet...

Heading into the metro...you can shop as you go...

Strawberries, cheese and a whole chicken!  One-stop-shopping as you run for your train!  Seriously, I love it!

I really do like buying from the women selling near the metro as they can be very friendly when you show an interest in them and, as well, they are really trying to provide an income for their families to survive.  The variety is often due to selling whatever they have from their gardens or home, to make a living.  Each woman undoubtedly has a story...

One of my absolute favorite things to do in Ukraine, Russia or any of the other sister Slavic nations is to stroll the markets - outdoor and indoor - not so much to shop as to look and learn. (Besides my husband won't let me take it all home on the plane if I did buy it).  I love that it is different than where I come from.  I love the variety now available.  I love the seasonal fruit and vegetables.  I love seeing something I have no idea what it is...and finding out! I love people watching.  The markets and metro are a world all their own and I find them fascinating!  I love...wait, I think I have reached my 500 word goal for the day.  If not in words, at least in photos!  But all this to say, I really do love the Ukraine! (And yes, I use the word "the" before Ukraine...a habit from the old days when that is the way they said it :)