Oh Holy Lights

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When most people think Christmas, I believe their minds go to red and green.  Mine has always gone to blue and white.  Blue references the Ever Blessed Virgin Mother Mary and white, the purity of Jesus Christ.  This is how I’ve always thought of it, anyway.  Since I have spent nearly all my life in an apartment I loved putting up the tree with my family but we could never decorate outside.  Eight years ago after I married and we got back from our honeymoon one of the first things I did was to ask Burk if I could buy a nativity scene for the house.  I think he was a little startled given it was July, but he happily consented.  And so began my epic quest for the Holy Family in all its 1970’s era plastic splendor.  In the broiling heat of summer I found Mary, Joseph, the Baby Jesus, the donkey, the cow, the shepherd with his sheep, the three Wise Men AND the camel they rode in on!  Plus the Star of Bethlehem of course. Last year after Mama died I realized I did not have an angel.  She’s bigger than the rest of my set but then I began to wonder; maybe they are bigger than we are.  Psalms 91:11 says:

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

When I plugged her in to see if she’d work my then three year old came up to her and kissed her reverently on the lips.  It was one of the most moving things I’ve seen and I just happened to capture the moment.  I hope when someone drives by our house and looks up the true meaning of Christmas shines though.

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Showers Of Blessings

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I have lived my entire life around a man made lake that is now over one hundred years old.  In a landlocked city, I have only just now come to realize my yearning to see and be near water.  We have lived near creeks as long as I can remember and I have always had an integral connection with them.  The lake is a tributary of the Trinity River and has a dam that is 40 feet high.  When I was a little girl riding around with my father he would always slow down so we could look at the spillway.  Not pausing to view it would be like failing to make a stop sign.  I remember rolling down my window and peeking out to see if the steps were bone dry or rolling with water.  Despite the lake’s origins, it has become a haven for migratory birds and a respite for two and four leggeds alike.  Now my little girl rides around to work with me and I slow the car down and holler, “LOOK AT THE SPILLWAY!”  I let her window down so she can smell the water or hear it rushing along as it makes its way down; a symbiotic melding of man and nature.  This month is officially the wettest ever on record in the history of Dallas.  Manhole covers are bursting all over and rising up like miniature fountains.  It has been fascinating to watch.  I took a picture of the spillway almost a week ago as we stopped along the bridge to watch the pod of pelicans hanging out and looking for fish.  Several days later I took the bottom shot and it was like a miniature Niagara Falls.  A giant river rolled in waves, the bridge swayed with the force of the water running under it, and foam sprayed rising at least twelve feet in the air.  One of my favorite songs about rain is from the Eurythmics’ — “Here Comes the Rain Again”.  A lighter song I love is Luke Bryan’s “Rain Is a Good Thing”.  Pulitzer Prize winner John Updike said that “Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.”  So here’s to the pouring down of God’s blessings in each of our lives.

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A Huge Ring And A Chocolate Truffle!

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Not bad for mundane trips to Home Depot and Whole Foods!  When I was in college I remember my mother saying she wished I still went to the grocery store with her because she said she always got free things and help out with her bags.  Now I get it.  My little one winds up with some kind of sweet gift or gesture from strangers almost wherever we go.  I do not want her to be spoiled or take things for granted.  She always says thank you and I make sure she adds “ma’am” or “sir”.  I really love it when she thanks someone in Spanish because of the sheer look of slight shock and delight on their face.  I speak French so that will be her second language.  Since we live in Texas she’ll get enough Spanish on her own just as I have.  But I digress.  I had to go in Home Depot for light bulbs and we saw this older lady wearing a lot of pink and carrying a purse shaped like a car.  She had a huge plastic flashing ring, a light up necklace and even her hat lit up!  I snapped the pic before she’d turned everything on; I had no idea.  Anyway, I remarked to Maris the lady was wearing her favorite color and the next thing we know she is getting a brand new ring just like the one the woman was wearing — huge, round and flashing.  Maris was so thrilled and it was such a kind thing to do.  It really made our day.  I found myself wanting to be like that woman when I’m her age — full of joie de vivre and with a kind, generous, and youthful spirit.  Later on we went to Whole Foods.  As we were waiting in line to check out Maris asked if she could have one of the tiny pieces of chocolate they have as samples, but they were all out.  The sweet man behind the register heard our conversation and gave me an entire chocolate truffle to give to Maris for when we left.  He didn’t want any credit for it.  I made sure Maris knew it came from him and her eyes lit up as she told him, “Thank you, Sir” in both English and Spanish.  Another act of kindness from someone who didn’t have to notice or make the time to bother.  My Daddy said to always go the extra mile.  I want to instill that in our daughter.  My hope is that she will continue to grow in grace, strength and beauty.  Achukma hoke.

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” ~ Actress and Humanitarian Audrey Hepburn

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For My Mother

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When I first learned about Feast Days, I could not fathom why it marked the day of the person’s death.  I found myself wondering instead why it wasn’t on their birthday.  Now, as I struggle with the first anniversary of my beautiful Mama’s death, I finally understand.  She is at home with the Lord and at peace.  I want to honor her and celebrate her life.  She was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, and also the kindest.  She instilled in me a love of the written word, classical music, and flowers.  She was so quiet and so gentle but had a wit and humor that was unmatched.  I learned this poem reading it to her almost every day last year.  It was her favorite flower, one of her favorite poems, and by one of her favorite poets.  How I love you Mama.  This is for you:

Daffodils

I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the milky way, They stretched in never-ending line Along the margin of a bay: Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they Outdid the sparkling waves in glee:  A poet could not but be gay, In such a jocund company:  I gazed – and gazed – but little thought What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils. ~ William Wordsworth

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Thanksgiving

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Tecumseh, the great Native American leader of the Shawnee, said, “When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength.  Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.  If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.”  I bought the little sign pictured above recently and I keep it in our kitchen.  I see it every morning as I’m making coffee.  My father showed me the joy of finding joy.  It is all around us everyday regardless of our circumstances.  I chose this day to launch my blog.  The name is a metaphor for the hidden gems we all have at our feet … some we work for; others we simply stumble upon.  Seashells are wondrous works of art Mother Nature has given us all.  Carousels represent the cycles of life as well as its ups and downs.  Some turns go faster than others and some we wish would move more slowly.  My Daddy used to say that time and tide wait for no man.  I hope this will be a place of reflection and source of happiness for any who visit.  Achukma hoke.

Thanks for Provision

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them.  Make us, we beseech thee, faithful stewards of thy great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

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Duck!

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Our wolf hybrids are a brother and sister named Cheyenne and Dakota.  They are 75% Canadian Timber Wolf and 25% Siberian Husky.  Our house is like a camp site because they’re so leggy they can reach any food or drink left just about anywhere.  Their diet is mostly bison.  I do think they consider themselves somewhat domesticated hunters though, as they are always on the prowl for food — when they’re not sleeping that is.  Being the owner and operator of a pet sitting business, around the holidays it’s a zoo.  Poor babies; it’s like the cobbler’s children who have no shoes.  I came home after a long day of work to find their bowls were empty.  One of them had put their beloved duck in their dish as a not so subtle message.  I guess they were in a fowl mood.  😉  So I shuffled off for buffalo, and they wolfed down their food.  As sweet as they are, I do not recommend having these beautiful animals as pets.  My connection with wolves is deep and I consider our wolf dogs to be ambassadors for their brethren in the wild.

“I’ve always said that the best wolf habitat resides in the human heart.  You have to leave a little space for them to live.” ~ Former U.S. Wolf Recovery Chief Ed Bangs

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Priceless Works Of Art

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When I was a little girl I never could understand why my mother lit up every time I came home with something I’d made her.  I have never been able to draw but I do think I have at least always put colors together well.  As I got older I remember being particularly proud of a macaroni shelled jewelry box I’d made.  She lovingly kept my clay ash trays (it was the ’70’s) even though she never smoked a day in her life.  I always wished I could have bought her something “real” and “nice” in my eyes.  Now that I am a mother I cherish the surprise presents I am being presented with proudly.  I bought this cool frame that opens so displayed works of art can be rotated but kept safely under glass.  Today as I was at the farrier’s getting my hooves smoothed (AKA the nail salon) I was greeted triumphantly by one beaming little four year old after she ran in looking for me saying, “Mommy!  Mommy!”  Holding her piece of paper up as far as her little arms would reach, she grinned back at me as I saw a slightly blurred image of her, given I was overcome with joy.  Such a simple thing — crayon scribbles.  And yet they are priceless to me; one of a kind masterpieces each and every one.  Novelist Margaret Wolfe Hungerford is generally credited with the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  I am collecting a house full of beautiful originals and I could not be more blessed or more proud.  I hope she thinks I’m beautiful, too.

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God The Help Of Those Who Seek Him

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A Song of Ascents

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. ~ Psalm 121

My father used to carry around a New Testament Bible wherever he went.  It was always beat up because he read it constantly.  I wonder what he would think about the entire Bible being downloaded onto not only my iPhone but my Apple Watch as well.  Scripture at your fingertips in any form is always a comfort.  I love the Psalms and this one in particular.  Thank you Daddy for instilling in me a love of God’s Word.  Achukma hoke.

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The Planned Turns Unexpected

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We were all set to go to an upscale bowling/restaurant for a fun family night out.  I made the mistake of not making reservations on a Saturday night and we could not get in.  As I watched our four year old struggling not to cry, one of the hostesses suggested the playground across the street.  And so in the cold and the dark we reluctantly trudged over to play.  This is something Burk and I never would have done before having a child obviously.  Instead we were out in the crisp night air all alone listening to our daughter’s giggles surround us as she ran around with delight.  She had her light up tennis shoes on which were not only a comfort to me as a mother; I confess I wish I had a pair of my own!  They’re super cool.  So Daddy climbed to the top and pretended to guard his castle as Maris stormed his defenses.  We didn’t want to eat back at the place since we could not bowl so we wound up walking to a German restaurant.  My maiden name is German and I know next to nothing about Germanic cuisine.  There I sat for the first time in my life having something called spatzle with mushrooms.  It was a little weird but very good.  John Lennon famously said life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.  A spunky little girl didn’t let a major disappointment slow her down and we were all the better off for it.  Every single day I thank God for her.  Now we have a night to cherish that we will all remember.  It was an ordinary night full of magic.

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Anchorage, Alaska

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Now in Anchorage, we had one final destination before we headed to the airport.  The first thing that struck me about the city was that the only other place I had ever seen so many Native people was in Santa Fe.  It was so good to see.  We settled on the Alaska Native Heritage Center as our last place to visit.  It is an educational and cultural institution that shares the heritage of Alaska’s eleven major cultural groups.  Located only ten miles from downtown, it is situated on twenty-six wooded acres.  I found the dances were unfamiliar to me, as my heritage is Choctaw.  But they were interesting to observe and learn more about.  We toured different life-sized dwellings and spoke directly with people who were Athabaskan, Tlingit, Haida and Aleut.  I found the whale bones fascinating; at first I thought they were wooly mammoth tusks.  It was getting dark despite the early hour and I realized I had never traveled so far, nor had I been away for so long.  As we made our way to the airport I realized I was ready to come home.  One of the people whom I admire the most, Laura Ingalls Wilder, said that home is the nicest word there is.  I agree.

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