Wednesday, March 31, 2010

“Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity!

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.

“…We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without.”  ~Henry David Thoreau

The past week has been spent doing some deep spring cleaning. When I do this, I become very frustrated because I have more things than I have space. I am still attempting to cram a houseful of stuff into a much smaller townhome. Each year I peel off another layer of “treasures” and move them on to other homes, but there are still way too many layers remaining. And I find myself fighting a battle within.

One part of me whines and wishes we had never “downsized”. All of my stuff is too important to get rid of. I need these things yet there isn’t proper space to keep them here.  The other part of me struggles to defend the simple life. Cast it all away; make it a deep religious experience this self tells me. Rise above your stuff. It’s a fierce battle that rages within me. No wonder I hate to spring-clean!

I know I need to accept some middle ground here and I will before the month is over. There will be bags of stuff to give away and there will be treasures to repack and reshelf. And a sense of calm will return. But the war is far from over. There will be more battles.

The problem, as defined by Charles Foster in The Sacred Journey, is this: “To a terrifying extent, we are simply lists of the things we own. Our dependence on them is so complete that we have come to have no existence apart from them.”

And that isn’t the way I want it.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Joyful Chaos Blog Giveaway!

A Joyful Chaos Blog is giving away another interesting Amish book, Success Made Simple written by Erik Wesner.  According to this blog, this book about Amish businesses and the Amish in general is authentically presented and an interesting book.

Visit A Joyful Chaos Blog to see this book and place your entry for a copy. 

I always enjoy reading this blog and her gentle stories of life in an Amish Community.


Morning Coffee

"We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves."
Lynn Hall, (Where Have All the Tigers Gone?)


Monday, March 29, 2010

Tiny Signs of Spring

We almost missed these little crocus.  They are so small and so buried in the rough that only today when they are just about spent did we notice them.  We shouldn't have just relied on our view from the window; we should have been walking down to the pond to check the changes up close. 

Of all the spring bulbs we've tried in the rough pond edge, only these tiny little crocus survive year after year.  I keep saying I'm going to plant more but I have yet to do that.  Because by fall, that area is so thickly overgrown it's almost impossible to plant anything.  But maybe this will be the year.  It's always fun to have flowers early like this.  And they sure are hearty - obviously much heartier than I am!


An Unburdened Journey

Yesterday, I asked my daughter for some ideas on how I could rearrange our living room. It wasn’t long before we were moving furniture here and there. We never did arrive at any new arrangement before she had to leave, so the house stayed that way. Later in the afternoon, Jim and I tried to figure something out. We found ourselves hauling furniture from one room to another and then back again as we tried to make sense of the chaos. We finally came to the conclusion that the best arrangement was the one we had originally. So everything was put back in place. (The upside is that we were able to vacuum in places that really, really needed it!!)

But as I sat looking at all this furniture and “stuff” we had; things we have acquired over our almost 40 years of marriage, I realized how much of a burden I let these things become to me. We have a beautiful 30 year old Pennsylvania House end table that is too big for our small townhouse. But how can I give it up. I love it! Or my 1970 Noritake china – my wedding pattern, Lorelei – which we rarely ever use anymore because we’re much too casual these days. How can I get rid of that? One of my granddaughters may want it someday.

As much as I would love to lighten our load, free up space and simplify our lives, I struggle with my love affair with my stuff. This is my current battlefront. And my strongest weapon right now is the book I’m reading, The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster. His (much boiled down) premise is that we are hardwired to be pilgrims and that only when we are pilgrimaging are we truly happy. Just as Jesus walked the land with nothing extra to anchor him down, we, too should journey that way. Not dragging a 30 year old Pennsylvania House end table with us – no matter how beautiful it may be.

Obviously, I need furniture and there is nothing inherently wrong about wanting beautiful pieces. (Jesus was a master carpenter, remember.) But it becomes a problem when I lose perspective and make it so much a part of me that I can’t let it go or I let it dictate my days. It’s very hard to make progress on my journey if I’m worrying about and tending to my furniture.

So I’ll give myself today to put the rest of my stuff back in place without letting it color my mood. Then I’ll return to making lap quilts and focusing on my journey. I’ve got a long trip ahead of me.

(ps - Anyone want a beautiful Pennsylvania House end table?)


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ideas? Suggestions? Hints?

The care center in Iowa where our small lap quilts are being sent wondered if it was possible to machine embroider a short message on the quilts. (From Your Friends at the Lake Mills Care Center) They are going to use these quilts as Welcome Gifts for their new residents – an idea I like!

My sewing machine is a very basic Singer that doesn’t have that capability so I can’t do embroidery. But I am thinking that I could print that message on special fabric made for computer printers and attach those to the back of the quilts instead. Has anyone had any experience/luck doing this or maybe even a different method? I’d like to come up with a nice way to accommodate their request. Usually when I make a quilt, I like to cross-stitch a label for it, but I think that might take too long – although I might try one just to see. Any other suggestions or hints?


Friday, March 26, 2010

My Week in 364 Words - Love the concept!

Lap Quilts – Becoming a great on-going project!

Facebook – The jury’s still out! Want to be friends?

Comfortable knit pants – My new favorite new style!

Healthcare Reform – Hoped for something more American.

Dove Chocolate w/Almonds – my new indulgence!

Eight O’Clock Coffee – my current home brew!

Paul Ryan – For President in 2012!!

How about you?


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Morning Coffee

Faith says not, 'I see that it is good for me, so God must have sent it,' but, 'God sent it, and so it must be good for me.' Faith, walking in the dark with God, only prays Him to clasp its hand more closely.
~ Phillips Brooks


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster

The Sacred Journey: The Ancient Practices
by Charles Foster

In Chapter 2, The Kingdom Road: A Theology for Walkers, Charles Foster writes:

“You will struggle to find in the Gospels anything obviously analogous to conversion. One moment people are fishing, and the next they are following Jesus. They come, just as they are. They are immediately disciples. They start the journey. They don’t pray the conversion prayer; come along to church for a bit, and then do a discipleship course. They left their old lives behind and walked in the Jesus direction.”

“He says, ‘Come,’ and they come.”

I love the simplicity of that. Jesus simply wants us to walk in His direction; make the decision to follow His lead. There aren’t many rules and rituals beyond do as He does.

Of course journeying with Jesus isn’t easy. He walked and served among the least in society; those with real physical and emotional needs. He slept on the ground, washed in the rivers – no padded pews and fancy banquets for Him. But the actual deciding to follow him is not, nor should it be, a complicated and ritual laden endeavor.

We just need to get up and begin walking in His direction. That’s all he asks,  "Come and follow me."


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thought for the Day

Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty.
Ronald Reagan


Morning Coffee

The journey to true understanding begins with coffee.


Monday, March 22, 2010

For Today

God Bless America!


Thank Goodness for Messy Closets!

I am restless today. I feel out of sync. So I am going to spend the day – maybe the whole week - immersed in cleaning closets. It will be a time of hibernation and of restoration. I find that in the physical act of reorganizing my surroundings, my thoughts are reorganized as well. And when my thoughts are in order, I am in order and life is so much better. Thank goodness for messy closets and fresh coffee!

“Better keep yourself clean and bright. You are the window through which you must see the world.” George Bernard Shaw


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Taylors Falls - St. Croix River

A beautiful day for a drive to Taylors Falls with granddaughter, Meghan.  I was so concentrating on the rainbow that I almost missed the falls (on the right) entirely.  The water was definitely "ice blue".


Prayer for the Day

This prayer by Phil Ware was part of Today's Verse from  Read the full devotional here.

Holy God, I know you are there! In the morning, in the evening, in the long nights, I know I am not alone. Thank you for knowing me and going with me through all my days. Please make your presence known to me this day as I seek to honor you in what I do and say. Through Jesus my Lord I ask this. Amen.



If you want to experience some spring, visit a garden center.  We spent some time wandering in our favorite - Linders Garden Center in St. Paul.  It was so wonderful to be surrounded by all this springiness.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saturday Morning Coffee

The rhythm of the weekend, with its birth, its planned gaieties, and its announced end, followed the rhythm of life and was a substitute for it.   ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Pour yourself a cup of coffee and let the gaieties - planned or unplanned - begin!


Friday, March 19, 2010

A Perfect Gift

Day 27 of The Passionate Journey by Marty Bullis.

Bullis made an interesting point in his message for today.

Usually when we are given a gift, we are excited to unwrap it and we do so with great anticipation and excitement. But, depending on our expectation, we can be delighted, disappointed, thrilled – or even angered by the gift.

But when we are given the gift of Jesus and his atoning for our sins, Jesus is not the one unwrapped. We are. All of the layers of sin, insulation and protection from the world that we have built around ourselves begin to loosen and fall away.

If we accept the gift of Jesus, eventually we become completely unwrapped and our true self is revealed to Him.

And He always loves what he finds.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Feathered Friends

This little chickadee did flit down to the feeder a couple of times but never landed. Maybe next time.   Although just watching them from that close vantage point is very fun!


Morning Coffee

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature--trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence.  We need silence to be able to touch souls.  ~ Mother Teresa


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Adventure, Love and Danger

After reading a reference to the movie The Princess Bride in the John Ortberg book I am studying, I decided to check the movie out.  I had never watched it before and was surprised it goes back to 1987.  My kids were 10 and 15 at that time so maybe they watched it without me.  Anyway, I was able to find it at our library so popped it in last night and sat down to enjoy.  And enjoy, I did!  What a fun movie!!  Make yourself a bowl of popcorn and escape into a story of adventure,  love, and danger in The Princess Bride!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spotting Eagles!

This is how we saw the eagle soaring above us. And we were excited. We are in awe of these great birds and stop everything when we catch sight of one. We really couldn’t see every detail of this beautiful bird but we did see enough to know it was an eagle. And we got excited.

We grabbed our camera with the telephoto lense and tried to capture a better picture of him. This was as clear as we could see him with our lense. But, again, it was enough to know for sure it was an eagle. And, again, we were thrilled to catch this glimpse.

Isn’t this the way we see God? We may only catch glimpses of him; a sighting here, an encounter there. But we know it is Him. We know it is His hand we see at work in a situation. And we get excited!

The more we encounter these glimpses of God, the better we become at knowing it is Him we see. Just like knowing that the tiny speck in the sky is an eagle, we know that spiritual encounter, no matter how brief or subtle, is the hand of God.

And we get excited and we try to get closer!

May your day be filled with many special sightings.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Our Friendship Quilts

Friends are threads of gold in the quilt of life.

One of the lessons on quilt making that has stuck with me is the need for variety to create interest and depth. When selecting fabrics, we are to make sure our pieces – while being somewhat similar for our purpose – are also different in some way. Some busy, some solid, some tiny, some large, some light, some dark. It is in the play of the differences where the real beauty and dimension of the quilt is created.

And it is the same way with our friends. How flat our friendships would be if we were all cut from the same cloth. How much more fun it is to have friends of many different styles and colors. I am a tiny muted patterned print who doesn’t mind blending into the background at the edges of the quilt while my closest friends are splashy and colorful pieces who love to be in the center where the action is. It is our differences that define us and as we play off each other, a beautifully quilted friendship is created.

Happy Quilting!


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee

The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you.  ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Pour a fresh cup of coffee and then enjoy all the best things today!


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Saturday's Child

Monday's Child

Mondays child is fair of face,
Tuesdays child is full of grace,
Wednesdays child is full of woe,
Thursdays child has far to go,
Fridays child is loving and giving,
Saturdays child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

This little poem popped into my head this morning; I'm not sure why.  But I've always liked it.  If you don't know your own birth day of the week, you can look it up here.  And then compare your personality attributes to those in the poem. 

Happy Saturday!


Friday, March 12, 2010

Morning Coffee

Coffee falls into the stomach ... ideas begin to move,things remembered arrive at full gallop ... the shafts of wit start up like sharp-shooters, similies arise, the paper is covered with ink ...
~Honore de Balzac


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Into the Wilderness of Intuition

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself. ~Alan Alda. 

Leaving my city of comfort is not easy; I've lived here far too long.  I know exactly where everything is and how it all operates.  There are few surprises which is good because I don't care much for surprises.  But I have to admit, I am becoming more curious about what might be in the wilderness.  And I'm beginning to study road maps to find the best route to the wilderness for me.  (I'm not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type person.)

I know the wilderness is still a long ways away from here but it is becoming a consideration - maybe even an actual goal.  And I do know this much for sure:  I am much closer to it today than I was yesterday!  And I like that.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This Day in History

This day, in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell made the first successful telephone call.  I wonder if he had any idea where it would all lead.  Look AG, no wires! 

When I take the time to think about our wireless/digital world, it totally amazes me.  I would love to take my Grandmothers around and show them all the things we can do today.  And I can't help but wonder where we will be when I'm 90, and what stories I might have for my Great-Grandkids about the way we used to do things.

But first I need to work at keeping up with all these new things; it is a challenge for me. I think I want a Droid; but first I need to know what it is!


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Perfect Afternoon

Tying and binding quilts; enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee and listening to Elvis Presley sing Gospel.
It really doesn't get much better!


The Ladies' Work Table Book

Useful and ornamental needlework, knitting, and netting are capable of being made, not only sources of personal gratification, but of high moral benefit, and the means of developing in surpassing loveliness and grace, some of the highest and noblest feelings of the soul.

~Author unknown, from The Ladies' Work Table Book, 1845


Monday, March 8, 2010

Morning Coffee - Then Get to Work

“We are addicted to our limited vision of ourselves.” Kenny Werner, Musician

“Most of us go to our graves with our music still inside us.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

These quotes were part of a chapter in Morning B.R.E.W. – A Divine Power Drink for Your Soul by Kirk Byron Jones. How right on the mark they seemed to me, especially the one by Kenny Werner. For whatever reason, most of us put the most limited version of ourselves as our default setting. And then we spend the rest of our lives wishing we could override that default – without much success.

How much better it would be if instead we viewed ourselves as capable of most anything if we simply worked at it. Understanding that accomplishments need work and practice and the investment of time is not the same as believing that they are unattainable for us. It is simply understanding that we can do things - and we can do them well - but it requires hard work and perseverance. (Just ask Arnold Palmer how much work it takes.)

So let’s pour another cup of coffee and then invest some time in accomplishing something. There isn’t much that is out of our reach, if we work at it!


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spread the Word!

Just One Ministries is “Spreading the Word” through a Bible redistribution program. The ministry is collecting gently used Bibles and then making them available to others for free. For example one idea is to place a basket of Bibles at a local food shelf for clients to help themselves to.

While the hope is that many will help with the Bible collection, the fact is that it’s not necessary for success. If one person gave one Bible to one other person who sought one, who knows what the final impact of that gift would be.

This is the idea behind Just One Ministries - that all it takes is for Just One person to do Just One thing to make a big difference in the world.

Just One! Spread the Word!

13Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Romans 12:13


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Morning Coffee

“Every day that is born into the world comes like a burst of music and rings the whole day through, and you make of it a dance, a dirge, or a life march, as you will.”   Thomas Carlyle

Pour another cup of coffee and make your Saturday a dance!


Friday, March 5, 2010

Wise Advice

From my Dove:
Stop Worrying. 
Really stop it. 
It's bad for you.

Wise Advice!

He's Number One!

From my Lenten Devotional this morning:

“Emulate the Spirit this day, piping Jesus into the deserts of the world. Refresh the dying ones around you. While you’re at it, strap on one of those oversized sports fan’s gloves and point it toward Jesus!”

I love that imagery, piping Jesus into the deserts of the world. The writer (Marty Bullis) was talking about pipes – big pipes that carry water to dry lands. However, in my mind, I saw a cake decorator, piping frosting onto a cake. I like my image better! (And, yes, I do love cake!)

The image of the big sports finger, though, is one I can easily imagine. But I just don’t see myself as that outwardly exuberant of a fan yet. I would like to be – I hope to be - but I’m not there yet. I’m still a quietly “wearing a cute jersey” fan.   He's Number One!

Hope yours is a Rah! Rah! kind of day!


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Trying out Smilebox

I'm trying a 14-day trial of Smilebox so am experimenting with it a bit.  These are some photos from a day trip to Rochester Minnesota with our daughter.  (I think there is sound with this slideshow.)
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Rochester Trip

Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Another free photo slideshow by Smilebox

Morning Coffee and Little Lap Quilts

My soul is fed with needle and thread, my body with chocolate and coffee!

I can't believe how much fun I'm having making up these little lap quilts for the residents of the care center. They are quick and easy to make, yet let me be a bit creative with my fabric choices. It is a perfect combination.

Each little quilt is made with someone in mind; maybe not a specifically named person, but certainly a special person. For example, this John Deere Logo fabric would be perfect for a former farmer. I know there are former farmers in this little Iowa farm community. (Hopefully they liked their tractors to be Deeres.)

And I see this vintage rose colored fabric as something a farmer’s wife might like. It reminds me of a big farm kitchen where lots of wonderful baking, cooking and canning took place. I can see it as a ruffled apron, gathered curtains or even an every day tablecloth on the kitchen table. It just says home to me.

Whether I’m picking through my boxes of fabric or finding a new piece at the fabric store, there is a process with each piece selected and I’m having fun with it. And while this project is definitely feeding my soul it is also feeding my body; coffee and chocolate are flowing freely! (-:


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Morning Coffee - A Daily Process!

Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion - it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.   Billy Graham

When I was young, I had this idea that once I became a Christian – a "real" Christian – my whole life would change overnight. I would wake up one day to a whole new way of living. I would think different thoughts, desire different things, use different words. I would love everybody and never hardly ever get angry.  I would be victorious over evil – at least most of the time.

Of course that never happened, that big conversion day never came. And for a long time that disappointed me.  I felt I was failing at being a Christian. Now, however, I'm finally beginning to better understand what a Christian life really is. As Billy Graham says, it’s a process; or maybe more accurately, a progression. It’s recognizing and squarely facing my skirmishes with evil each and every day and winning more and more of them. Raising my winning percentage.

Will I ever bat 1,000 - or even 500?  Nope!  That’s why we have Easter. But like any discipline, to get better at being a Christian, takes practice, practice, practice – and then some more practice.

A coffee toast to a victorious day!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010


No.  One tiny word, just two common letters but oh so very powerful. A word that can bring relief or one that can bring defeat. Really, aren’t all words that way. They all have the power to excite you, to hurt you or even to change you.

Sometimes we throw them around as if they were harmless marshmallows when in reality they are very sharp – and sometimes dangerous - arrows. Arrows that we often times wish we could put back into our quiver.

Yet, on the other hand, words are meant to be used. They get better with use. We should fling them about with abandon; have fun with them. String them together to create interesting ideas. Put them to music and sing them. Try out unusual ones, or even make up new ones. Like bloggernacking! Do you bloggernack? Google it and see. Words are fantastic things! 

What an interesting juxtaposition!


Monday, March 1, 2010

At the Feeder Today

I filled the bird feeders a bit ago.  It's sunny outside and the temp is almost 40 - a beautiful Minnesota day!  The best thing about being at the feeders today was listening to the birds sing.  They have begun their spring songs and it sounded so wonderful.  I stood out there for quite awhile just listening.  I put the feeder on the ground not too far away and waited.  The friendly chickadees always come.

A Joyous Giveaway!

A Joyful Chaos Blog is giving away a copy of the book, Amish Peace - Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World by Suzanne Woods Fisher.   Check out her very inspiring blog and post a comment and you might just win an autographed copy of this book.   This is one I may have to purchase for myself if I don't win this autographed copy!  I think it would be very enlightening.