Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Thrill of Surrender

I'm stuck in bed with a fever, and I read The Saving Life of Christ by Major M. Ian Thomas.  I underline in the brightest red these words:

"Relate everything, moment by moment as it arises, to the adequacy of what He is in you, and assume that His adequacy will be operative . . . Expose by faith every situation as it arises to the all-sufficiency of the One who indwells you by His life.  Can any situation possibly arise, in any circumstance, for which He is not adequate?"

Even in sickness.  Even in rejection, loneliness, disappointment, or loss.

I feel this ancient hope rising in my heart.  I feel this current of truth that overtakes my soul.  By the time I get to the part of the book where Thomas writes about the "thrill and adventure of being totally abandoned to the One who will lead you. . .," I forget my fever.  I forget that I'm sick, and I respond with perhaps the greatest two words I know:  Yes, Lord.

Yes, Lord!
 ___________________________
Have you read Thomas' book before?  It's a good one!

Friday, March 30, 2012

For the Love of Writing

Recently, I read the following application letter (on the great website, Letters of Note) written by Robert Pirosh when he applied for a job as a screenwriter with MGM Studios in 1934.  He says this about writing:

"I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave "V" words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land's-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp."

I remember how much I love language and this act of writing.  Each and every day, I love it. It's beginning to matter less and less if they love it--those agents, those publishers, that public--because I love it.

(P.S. Robert Pirosh got the job with this cover letter.)  
______________________

What do you love about writing?  Do you have favorite words?  I still love the verb grapple!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Even If I Win, I Lose

This morning, my husband and I get in an argument over something that I seriously can't remember.  We're standing in the kitchen, arguing over lunchboxes or breakfasts or the weather or socks.

I'm making my final excellent point when my husband leaves the room.

My youngest looks up at me and says, "You lost that fight, mom.  Dad won."

I burst out laughing."Oh, did he?"  Before I can defend my superior logic and obvious advantage in debate, my husband returns. 

He says, "We both lost." 

My youngest nods in understanding.  Nobody wins.

We both lose when we get angry with each other.  Something about how both of us lose helps me humble myself when it comes to arguing.  Even if I win, I lose.

___________________________
Isn't it so true?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Your Chilling Requirement

This morning, we all notice the gorgeous peach tree blossoms set against an ominous morning sky.  



We know what's coming.  At the end of the summer, we can pick peaches on this walk.  This one little tree produces so many peaches that the owner actually begs us to pick his peaches each year. 

So we do. 

Many folks plant peach trees in Pennsylvania because peach trees, like other fruit trees, have a chilling requirement.  Some peaches require over 1000 hours of below 40 degree days in order to go into the dormancy that allows a new season of peaches.  Without those 1000 hours of rest, the peach tree simply won't bear fruit. Here, a peach tree gets those crucial chilling hours.

So if it's bearing great fruit, it means that tree had the right amount of rest. 

I have my own chilling requirement.  For days, months, sometimes years, I go dormant to prepare for the next year's fruit.  We have to see rest that way.  It's preparation.  It's a requirement. 

_____________________________
Have you had dormant years that were required before a season of fruitfulness? 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Living Worry Free

This week, I read in Jeremiah 17: "This is what the Lord says, 'Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.  He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes.'"

Prosperity would be there, but that person would miss it, unable to perceive it?

That's been me!   

As I thought about that last phrase, I recalled all the times I could "not see prosperity" even when it was right in front of my face.  These times, not surprisingly, corresponded to how far my heart was from God.  In those times, nothing seems good enough.  I want more, better, new, and different.  Give me a new house, a new wardrobe, a new car, a new life!  Give me more! 

But when I'm trusting in God, suddenly I see all the prosperity about me.  I can get overwhelmed by all the good things in my life. 

And not one circumstance had changed.  

Something about staying connected to Jesus puts a corrective lens over my eyes. 

After these words from the Lord, Jeremiah continues by saying, "But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

That's the kind of living I want.  Worry free.  Bearing fruit.  No Fear. 


As if showing me an actual picture of it, I see this tree by the stream today.  This is the kind of living I want.

____________________________________
Have you been able to see prosperity sometimes, and sometimes do you feel blinded?

Monday, March 26, 2012

For Cryin' Out Loud!

My gentle Buddhist neighbor accompanies us on the journey to school this morning.  He walks behind my friend and me and tries to point out all the beautiful budding trees.

But my friend and I stay arm-in-arm, heads buried down, discussing all our parenting woes.  We're totally engrossed in our own problems.

"For cryin' out loud!" the gentle Buddhist screams.  "Pay attention!" 

We stop in our tracks and burst out laughing.  He's pointing up to the tree above us (the one we nearly missed because of our conversation). 



For cryin' out loud!  There's a beautiful day out here, and I'm missing it when I'm too absorbed in my problems.

__________________________
It felt so nice to have someone remind me to "pay attention" today!  Did you pay attention today?  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What You Lose in the Getting

I'm standing in front of my beautiful white Weeping Cherry, and I tell my neighbor, "I wish the blooms were pink."

Pink is so glamorous, so very Spring.  Pink has always symbolized energy, love, zeal, and beauty.  Instead, I have a white Weeping Cherry.  Boring.  Usual.  Pure, but bland. 

"If only it were pink like some of the others!" I shake my head and go inside.  That very night, a storm passes through the valley, and I wake up to a pink Weeping Cherry.



Has some magician come in the night?  Really, the rain and wind turn the blossoms down.  The weight of it transforms this tree from the inside out. The once white blossoms hang low, closed for the season.

Pink signifies the end.  It means the tree submits to the storm.  These blooms will fall by tomorrow. 





I consider what it means to want something.  I wanted pink, but I see now so very clearly the great cost of it.

You lose something in the getting.

God shows me this with every unfulfilled dream.  He sees what I'd lose in the getting.  He sees what would fall.

If I don't have pink, it's because of what I'd lose in the getting.  Thank you, Lord, for the bright white blossom.

________________________
Have you found this to be true?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Box We Pass Around

This morning, I bring out the box of clothes my sister mailed to me.  She found used clothing for my daughters to wear.  From that box, I keep back a few items that would be perfect for my neighbor's daughter.

She takes the box, and then returns it an hour later with several items of clothing she thought would be perfect for my daughter. Especially green things since my oldest adores the color green. 

Then I get a text from another neighbor who has cleaned out her closet and has found clothes perfect for my youngest.  I return sandals to her that she once gave my oldest that now fit her youngest.  I pull out her old pants to wear today that no longer fit her but fit me.

And so on and so on.  

The neighborhood recycles clothes and toys and books and tools.  We even pass around the canes of fruit bushes from various gardens.

You just keep sending it all around.  Eventually, we all have what we need.  Living with flair means you pass the box around and share with the neighbors.

________________________
Do you have things to pass around this week?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Just This

On the walk to school, we notice the tiniest weeping cherry.  Amid the oldest and the tallest, the brightest and the best, this little tree--so humble and no bigger than a chair--makes her contribution. 

In the shadow of the tall oaks on either side of her, she seems so very small.  


Stand tall, Little Tree!  The whole world might not see you, and you don't stand nearly as tall as the rest, but for this one walk to school, this one street, and this one patch of grass, you bring joy. 



I want to be the kind of woman who brings pleasure and joy, even if I'm not the best or the most important.  Maybe my assignment from God is to bloom small for just one street.  

_____________________________
Thank you for reading Live with Flair!  It's the 2 year anniversary today!  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Weep No More

The Weeping Cherry, so bare and empty all year, blooms in full today.   


I think about this very special week of blooms, and I remember God's ancient and unchanging ways:  



I remember Psalm 126:  "Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them."

We go out weeping and return with joy.  We're brought low, spindly and bare as winter branches, only to enter a new season. 



 It will be so.   As Psalm 30 remarks:

 "You turned my wailing into dancing;
   you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
   LORD my God, I will praise you forever."

As He clothes the Weeping Cherry with this particular splendor, we also receive a splendor that makes the heart sing.

We burst open with it.  We cannot be silent. 

_______________________________
What's in full bloom around you (or within you!) today?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The 3 Most Helpful Changes to Our Diet

For nearly two years, we battled digestion issues and grumpy moods in one daughter.  We fought fatigue, joint pain, and headaches.

After blood tests and x-rays and specialists and stress, the answer came:  change her diet.  My bread and butter and cheese loving child had a new protocol.  It would involve flax seed and fish oil.  

My father-in-law explained to me that flax seed works as a binding agent in the digestive tract, and fish oil reduces inflammation.

"But she won't eat it!" I cried

Enter Grandma.  Grandma sprinkles the flax seed on my daughter's food, points to it, and says, "Now eat."

Nobody says no to Grandma.   

Within a week, the digestion issues healed.  My daughter began to wake up happy.  She ran around the yard in the afternoons instead of lying on the couch.  The dark circles under her eyes cleared.   When people ask what changed, I tell them we add flax seed to everything and she takes a fish oil gummy (from Nordic Naturals) with a fruit smoothie (Greek yogurt, a tablespoon flax seed, milk, fruit!) every morning. 

It's more expensive than bread and butter.

Changing a child's diet isn't easy.  You have to commit.  You have to plan.  You have to save money and budget differently.  Flax seed, fish oil, and fruit.   So far, so good!

______________________
Do you take fish oil?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Are We Still Having It?

After yesterday's rain shower, the neighborhood children wonder if we're still having Monday Night Fitness Group in the parking lot.  The phone rings and a little voice asks, "Mrs. Holleman, are we still having Fitness Group?"

"Yes!  Unless it's really pouring rain, we'll be there!"

"Good!  I can't wait!"

Later at that parking lot, 50 folks come to ride bikes, skate, throw footballs and Frisbee, and of course, jump rope.  We used to be a group of 8, and now we are 50 strong. 

I'm standing there from 6:30-7:30 PM, turning those ropes like I've done for four years now.  I'm slapping high fives and singing "Cinderella-Dressed-In-Yellow," "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear," "Bubble Gum," and "Last Night, the Night Before."  The kindergartners and the middle school kids all wait in the same line to jump.  One boy breaks the neighborhood record and jumps 130 times. A few moms and one dad try to jump double dutch.  My arms nearly fall off from turning ropes.

Yes, we're still having it.  We'll still have it next year and the year after that.  In forty years, when I'm too old to turn the ropes, I want to see a whole new neighborhood gathered in this same spot.

Yes, we're still having it.

_________________________________
I need new jump rope songs!  Any suggestions from your childhood memories?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Forced to Receive

At precisely 2:35 PM today, the sky tears open and pours out the hardest rain.  It's so loud in my car that I can't hear the radio.  It's so heavy that both sides of the streets fill up with enormous puddles that rise up like waves around passing cars.  I'm parking to then go walk to the school doors to retrieve my children.

Of course I have no umbrella. 

I'm standing there, soaking wet in the storm.  It's refreshing and rather funny to see all the Unprepared Ones sheepishly standing there in front of the school doors.  It's even more funny to see the Prepared Ones with their huge umbrellas, gathering us to their sides.  My friend graciously agrees to stand there with me to escort my family to our car.

I'm Unprepared and I'm forced to receive from the Prepared. 

We gather side by side and make up for what we lack.  We stand there under a dark and threatening sky, and the whole thing just makes me smile. Sometimes, it's good for the soul when it's forced to receive. 

_________________________
Have you been forced to receive by circumstances lately? 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Life and Peace!

All weekend, I remember this passage of scripture in the book of Romans:  "The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace."

Oh, how I want that life and peace!  Right now!  Every day!  

To control means to maintain authority or influence over.  How can I ensure that the Spirit of God continues to maintain authority and influence over my mind?  I commit myself afresh to the things that feed my soul: the intake of scripture, prayer, worship, solitude, journaling.  And I remember that I ask by faith--not by self-effort--for God's Spirit to control my life.

Right now!  Every day!  

If I feel that old darkness coming on, I ask for my mind to be controlled by the Spirit. 

The Message creates this version of Romans 8:6: "Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life."

How true it is. I walk about my house repeating the truth:  The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. 

____________________
Have you experienced a mind controlled by the Spirit vs. the sinful mind?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

It All Goes By So Quickly

When you have a glorious weeping cherry tree right in front of your bedroom window, you watch that thing every single day once the snow melts.  

It's because the blooms of the weeping cherry last for a week at best.  It all happens so quickly--from bud to blossom to thick green foliage--that I've learned over the years to pay attention.

I step away from mopping my kitchen floor, and I gaze at the branches.  




The buds!  The buds have come, and some of them are nearly bursting.  Maybe, this very week, I'll have that firecracker explosion of blooms on this tree. 



As I clean and mop up the footprints of little girls who race through my house, I remember how fast it all goes.  Back in the days of diapers and colic, I just couldn't wait for it all to be over.  But now?  What I wouldn't give for a few days with my girls as little toddlers again!

I take in every moment now because I finally realize they won't be here for long.  I also see each day as that precious cherry blossom.  It's taken years, but finally, I'm starting to see it.

I'll have that beautiful bloom for the shortest time, and then I won't.  

_______________________
Did it go so fast?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Now That's School Spirit: The State High Lipdub 2012

I just love this lipdub!  (A lip dub is a type of video that combines lip synching and audio dubbing to make a music video.) Our town's public high school students and faculty came together (all 1,800 of them) to make an amazing lipdub to showcase their school.   Here's the youtube link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9LJNvBNl0Y


It's a long video, but it makes me excited for my daughters to be high school students.

You did it with flair, State High!

___________________________
Can you imagine the organization it takes to pull this off?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How You Know It's Blogworthy

After two years of blogging at Live with Flair, I'm always looking for blogworthy material that I haven't already used.

On the walk to school, the sweetest little second grade girl asks me what I'm going to blog about today.  I have my camera in my pocket, but I haven't pulled it out yet.

"I don't know.  I haven't found it."

She points out the blooming crocus.

Done that.

She points on the tiny pine trees emerging from the forest floor.

Done that.

She finally points to a tiny daffodil blooming by the school.

Done that.  But wait. . .  

"Come here!" she says, pointing and smiling.

I bend down, pull out the camera, and tell her she's right.  She's found the blog for today.  I wonder if she sees what I see:  tiny yellow daffodils beating the odds, pushing against the dark decay.


I see their little necks straining so hard.   I see a mother and a daughter, a father and a son, an adult and a child. I see a teacher and a student. I see hope and strength and victory.  I see neighbors and best friends and love and joy. 



______________________________________
What do you see?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In a Crazy-Fan Kind of Way

Today, I write to a student who receives a low grade that "I'm rooting for him."  The phrase just seems so very important and necessary.

I'm rooting for you!  You can do this!  

I normally don't think about rooting for students but rather for teams or certain players in sporting events.  Maybe I root for certain politicians to win elections or actresses to win Oscars or Golden Globes. 

What if I rooted for--in that devoted, crazy-fan kind of way--family members, neighbors, and students?  What if I saw God as rooting for me (in that devoted, crazy-fan kind of way?).  Is this even Biblical?  I find this in Romans 8: " If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"

It's a new way to live with flair.  I'm rooting for you.  God's rooting for you.  

_________________________
Isn't it amazing to remember that God is for us and not against us?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Today Was the Day

This day brought forth threats of rain, ominous clouds, and wind.  Although we had patches of sunshine, the morning mostly promised nothing of bright vibrant blooms.

But today was the day.  Today was the day the first daffodil of spring stretched out one petal of greeting and sent out that unmistakable scent.  Today was the day chosen for this one bloom.


It didn't look promising (there's not even adequate light for a vibrant photograph!), but today was the day

I know there's a grand timeline for something coming into full bloom whether a dream fulfilled, a project completed, or some change to begin.  Forget about the outward signs that promise nothing.  God knows and the thing will bloom just when it was made to. 

____________________________
 Do you know what I mean?

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Pep Talk for the Grumpy

This morning on the walk to school, my oldest complains and complains and complains about the state standardized testing she must endure this week. 

She's miserable.  She's envisioning an entire week of hunching over little bubble sheets to prove her worth.  Besides, the timing couldn't be worse: It's sunny and warm today with birds chirping and trees budding.  Who wants to be taking tests all week long?  And another thing:  Everyone's exhausted because of losing an hour with the time change.

Complain, complain, complain. 

Everyone is complaining.  Then, it hits me:  Everyone is complaining.  How uninspired!  How unoriginal!  I point out the fact to my children.  I remember that complaining represents the default state.  It's the easy, low road that takes absolutely no mental effort.

I have a mile walk to change their minds about this week of testing. 

I remember Philippians 2:  "Do everything without arguing or complaining. . . so that you shine like stars. . . in a corrupt generation." 

"Shine like stars, girls!  Shine!  If you celebrate this test you're going to shine like stars!  Turn the complaining to celebrating!  Let's do it!" 

I'm pretty sure more than one child rolled her eyes and huffed and puffed. 

But they heard me.  I know they did.   And I heard me.  I entered the house to a messy kitchen, unmade beds, and a day full of teaching and office hours.  "Shine like a star, Heather.  Let's do it."  I ask God to let me celebrate every little thing I want to complain about.  That's going to take some real faith today. 

__________________________
Have you successfully turned a complaint into a celebration? 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Is Today the Day?

Every morning, we race out to the side of the house to check if the daffodils have bloomed.  
   


Not yet.  Soon, but not yet. 

We see, as if by x-ray vision, the water stored inside alongside the tightly wrapped daffodil bloom.

By what command do they emerge?  Who says?  When?

One morning--we cannot know when--the bright yellow flower will burst forth.  They mystery of it (the not knowing when) keeps us watching.  Just like the Northern Cardinal eggs; just like the strawberries; just like the loose tooth and the bagel bird feeder; just like the hibernating turtle; just like every growing thing we watch and wait for.

The mystery allows us the grand privilege of hope.  It grows and blooms in our hearts with every new spring day.  

______________________
What growing thing are you watching these days? 




 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What I Found in Jack's Eye Today

Jack's never going to get another eye.




I realize this fact as I call to him; he has to turn his whole head to see me with his one eye. 

So much about this little cat has healed, and you know if you've read his story.  But some things won't heal.   Jack has learned coping mechanisms and tilts his head so he can see what other cats see.

He still runs into walls, the table legs, and sometimes other cats who approach from his right.  That's just how it is when you're missing an eye.

Sometimes I wonder why certain things have happened in my life.  I wonder about things I cannot change, problems I cannot solve, relationships I cannot mend, and moods I cannot manage.  I realize that God could heal, but He chooses not to because of a plan and a purpose I cannot see. 

But I've learned to pray for strength.  I've learned to pray for courage.  I've learned to pray for the ability to see what God sees.  I tilt my head and turn my face to the light. 

I peer deep into Jack's one eye, and today I see myself


That's me in the white sweater, turning my head to see. 

_____________________________
Have you embraced the things in you that you just can't fix?   

Friday, March 9, 2012

May You Flourish

Last night, my dear friend uses the verb flourish, and I just can't get the word out of my mind.  It shimmers.  It resonates with my heart.  Etymologically, the word means to "flower" and also to "brandish" (like a weapon).  When something flourishes, it blossoms, thrives, and prospers.  But to flourish also suggests a strength, a fighting stance, and a powerful position. 

All morning, I consider this word.  Then, I turn to the Psalms, and of course (isn't it always this way?) I spy a verse of scripture that uses this wonderful word.  I read this: 

May the LORD cause you to flourish,
   both you and your children.
May you be blessed by the LORD,
   the Maker of heaven and earth.

Yes.  I want to flourish--both me and my children, both you and your children, all of us--today.  I entrust myself again to the One who blesses and the One who causes us to flourish.

____________________________
May you truly flourish today in all of your endeavors!  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It Doesn't Have to Be This Way: The Story of the World's Best Breakfast Quiche

This week, I learn that you don't have to use pastry crust if you want a great quiche.

You can use potatoes!


If you grate a potato into the bottom of your pie dish and load up the veggies and egg mixture--letting it rest in the fridge overnight--you'll find you have a savory "crust" when it emerges from the oven an hour later.

You grate one potato into a pie dish.

Potato Crust
Add sauteed onion and sweet peppers (or any vegetables you want!).  Spread this on top of your potato crust. 


Whisk 2 eggs, 2 egg whites, 1/2 cup milk, a tablespoon hot sauce, salt and pepper, and pour over the veggies.


Store in fridge at least 8 hours.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour (or until firm).


Enjoy!   This quiche was so hearty and yummy that my husband ate two servings for his birthday breakfast today (Happy Birthday to the world's best husband)! I also made another quiche to delight a gluten-free friend.

I realize that serving healthy foods isn't impossible.  It doesn't have to be a pastry crust; a potato crust tastes flaky and buttery and just as fattening.  Fattening?  Unhealthy?  It doesn't have to be this way.

It's the same with living.  If something's not good for me, it doesn't have to be this way.  I can find another way. Living with flair means it doesn't have to be this way.

______________________________
What else have you used for crust that is actually good for you?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Send Children Outside

I swing the windows wide open and send my daughters outside.  It's over sixty degrees today, and after a long winter, today feels Bermuda hot. 

We clean the cobwebs off the bikes, raise the seats, pump the tires, and then let the girls loose, ponytails flying.  We bring out the new chalk and jump ropes.  Still, they come back inside within a few minutes.  "Go!" I say, shooing them back outside.

I know what will happen.  If given enough time, they'll remember.  With the brittle remains of winter, they will make a new world:  fairy houses and stick cabins from dried leaves, moss, and twigs.    

The oldest takes a book and lounges in the sun.  I don't mind as long as she's outside.  She's at that age when a good book is like a dear friend.  Her little sister cajoles her away from reading and challenges her to a bike race. 

They haven't forgotten what it means to play outside.  It takes some time to remember, though.  I watch them wander the yard, and finally, the oldest says, "I have an idea!  Follow me!"  And they're off.

___________________________
Do you remember playing outside all day until dinner?  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chasing Down That Light

 I spill out of the woods onto the meadow.


I see the way the late afternoon sunlight strikes the raw, brittle plants that rise up from the earth. I bend down, watching the light, and take the photo.


I remember that photographers go after the light.  I've never had any other formal training than this:  Go after the light. 

That's what I want to do every day; I want to go after the Light, even on the coldest and rawest days.

I walk until my fingers protest against the cold.  The sun, sinking lower and lower, animates nothing else this afternoon.

But for just that one moment, I saw the light and chased it down.

______________________________
Don't you just love late afternoon sunlight?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Watching Hugo and Loving God: The Secret Message From a Father

I finish watching Hugo with my children, and we all have tears in our eyes.  The story strikes deep into the heart as the final line resounds:  "It's about how [he] searched so hard to find a secret message from his father and how that message lit his way . . .all the way home."

As I consider broken people (all the characters in the movie have some form of loneliness or pain) who search for "home," I remember the verse in Psalm 68:6 that "God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy."

All my life, I've longed for that secret message that would lead me home.  When I read the words of Jesus in John 10:10 that Jesus had come so "they may have life and have it abundantly," I knew a message had come from my Father.

It lit my way. . . all the way home.  

________________________
Did you ever discover a secret message like this?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

And So We Go Owling

We go to the woods, and we observe emerging trees.  A new forest grows up under our feet. 


Something about this brave little tree makes me so happy.  Hello!  I'm here! 


So far, Spring Break includes walking in the woods and across the meadows.  We hunt for antlers. 

Later, we go owling with the neighbors. I learn about owling from Jane Yolen's book Owl Moon.  You go into the woods as the sun sets and the moon rises.


You bring your flashlights.  You stay very quiet, and you listen for the soft hooting of owls.

Owling Under the Moon © Live with Flair

When you hear them, you shine your light and try to find them in the night.

For a city girl who once wanted bustle and glitz, I can't believe the truth of it:  I'm owling right now.   Walking in silence, holding a little hand in the cold, dark woods, I find a peace settling down in my heart.  It comes up from the forest floor and descends from the tallest trees.  It swoops down, calling out to us if we listen. 

___________________________
Have you ever in your life gone owling?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Steamed Chinese Dumplings

Yesterday, we return home from a voyage because the little one has a fever and stomach pains.  With nothing planned for dinner and an empty refrigerator, the oldest one devises a plan for interesting and fun.

And we sure need some interesting fun to make up for a disappointing Spring Break.  

As the sick one sleeps, my oldest and I remember how much we all love Steamed Chinese Dumplings.  I haven't made them in two years.

For my dumplings, I just mix some ground chicken and whatever flavors I want:  cilantro, green onions, ginger, chopped peanuts, hot sauce, and salt.  I add one egg to the mix. 


Then, I drop one teaspoon or so into the middle of a wonton wrapper:


I seal the edges with my wet fingers:


I put them in the steaming basket over boiling water (lid on!) for seven minutes: 


And there you go:  interesting, fun, and delicious.  We serve the dumplings with plum sauce. 


Sometimes, you just have to make Steamed Chinese Dumplings when your plans change.  


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What do you put in your steamed dumplings? 

Friday, March 2, 2012

One Hundred Joys

In the midst of my worst postpartum depression, I remember all the advice from doctors, therapists, pastors, and friends.  They often mentioned finding reasons to get out of bed each day.  They suggested local outings, meeting with friends, and learning new skills.

They knew I needed to wake up and remember what I love.  It took years to remember.

But slowly, I did.

Today, I woke up thanking the Lord for all the things I can't wait to experience this very day:  the giggle of little girls racing around the kitchen, the first sip of freshly brewed coffee, a conversation with my husband, the purr of a cat, a walk in the woods, the sound of my friends' voices, the perfect shot to capture from my camera that's always in my pocket, or a drive through the Pennsylvania countryside.

I could list a hundred more joys.

And yes, the joy of finding vivid verbs when I'm writing does indeed get me out of bed in the morning.

When I think about it, the Master of the Universe has special things for me to see and activities for me to accomplish this very day.  I better get out of this bed! 

I love asking folks what they get out of bed for. 

Living with flair means we look forward to an amazing day.  

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What makes you excited for the day?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

When You Can't Find What You're Looking For

I'm in the woods where the deer roam, but instead of shed antlers, I stumble upon trametes versicolor

It's a special kind of mushroom.

Trametes versicolor © Live with Flair

With all this gloomy rain, the forest floor erupts with various mushrooms and lichens. In China and Japan, scientists believe that a protein within this mushroom contains amazing immunity boosting agents including cancer treatment.

I've never before in my life ever written or spoken the words trametes versicolor.  What other things grow up in the mucky moisture of these woods that can heal things?

I see no shed antlers, but it doesn't matter.  As I turn to walk home before the rain comes, I see the brightest yellow lichen.  I learn that scientists study lichen (since they have no roots and instead absorb nutrients from the air) to measure air pollutants, ozone depletion, and even metal contamination. 

Yellow Lichen
It's a glorious world that can teach so very much.  When I can't find what I'm looking for, I remember to sink deep into what's around me.

I learn and marvel.

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What marvelous thing did you find today?