Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Skink Finds His Way

Sharing our yard with a variety of skinks is always interesting!  One particular variety has bright blue stripes down the length of their bodies.  Although the adults are about eight inches long, we are currently blessed with a multitude of much smaller youngsters.  As I sat on the patio the other day, one little fellow was scurrying along the edge.  Since the grass needs mowing and edging, he would try to enter the grass and come to a dead end.  He would sit a few seconds, back up, move a few more inches and try again.  I sat watching him for several minutes.

I marvelled at how much in common this skink and I had.  I was sitting on the patio to give my brain a rest.  For days I had been trying to outline a curriculum for my upcoming Christian Education class of middle schoolers.  Ideas had been flowing freely and then I hit a brick wall.  All  my thoughts and ideas were becoming convoluted and a huge mish mash! 

As I watched my friend, he suddenly found an opening and disappeared from sight!  I know he was glad to be in the grass since the heat index was around 105 degrees and the patio was in full sun, except under my patio umbrella.  God takes care of the least of His creatures and that includes me!  I said a quick prayer of thanks and returned to my computer and the words became organized and flowing once again. 

Why do I always forget that I am NOT in charge?  I believe God settled me in this yard with so many creatures and weeds to remind me daily that He is in charge.  My yard is my sanctuary!  My place to truly listen to God and full of creation to serve as my reminders when I close my ears.  Thank God for places of sanctuary!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Deacon’s Strange Mowing

The Deacon loves to ride his tractor! I call it a riding lawn mower but I suppose a tractor sounds more manly. Years ago when we bought this two acre lot, Scott insisted on having a ‘tractor’. So I got my pool and he got the tractor. After all, compromise is one of the keys to a long-term marriage. The Deacon is very precise in his methods of doing everything, including mowing. He puts on long pants, long sleeved shirt, big straw hat or cap, and dust mask. Interestingly enough, he also usually mows in the same pattern time after time.

As he was mowing a week ago, I noticed he was breaking his pattern and that caught my attention. He was moving very slowly. He was also doing a strange figure eight pattern. Now I am worried. I move out to the patio to observe him and be closer in case I needed to get to him quickly. He was out of my sight for part of the figure eight pattern. It was so odd that our son even came to the door and asked what his father was doing.

Finally as he moved into the northern loop of the figure eight I discover the cause of this strange behavior. A Cattle Egret comes walking from behind the bushes collecting bugs that are being disturbed by the mowing! This crazy bird continues to walk sedately along eating to his hearts content. The mower does not seem to threaten it at all. The Deacon is carefully mowing slowly past the bird. I was spellbound watching the Deacon prepare a special dinner plate for this rather smart Cattle Egret.

This unusual encounter continued until Buddy (my constant companion) finally noticed the bird and took chase. Buddy has very short legs and is no danger to any creature in the yard but he still enjoys the chase. The Cattle Egret reluctantly flew away but I knew he left with a most full belly!

Peace!

P.S. In case you are wondering if I am a bird expert, I had to do some research. I guessed egret but they usually feed in water. I identified our visitor as a Cattle Egret and they do usually feed in fields and meadows.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My Animal Friends—Part 5

Scott and I knew how much Ginny loved Ruth and we knew Ruth was getting very old. So, in our ultimate wisdom, we decided we needed to get a kitten for her for life after Ruth passed on. A co-worker had a pregnant cat and promised us one of the kittens. Earlier than expected we got the call. The kittens were born on the carport and when the owner came home, one little kitten was lying alone on the cold concrete. She picked it up and wrapped it in a towel. As the kitten warmed, she began moving. However the mother totally rejected this baby. Would we like her? So Starry Eyes (aka Star) became part of our family. Ginny diligently feed her with a bottle, talked to her, cared for her. Star curled up on the pillow and slept in bed with Ginny and Ruth. Star grew and thrived. Her paternity soon became evident too because she definitely had Siamese markings and as she got older, the Siamese yowl!

Star always recognized that Ruth was the alpha cat. Ginny was the love of Star’s life. But shades of Mischief (mentioned in an earlier posting), Star loved ONLY Ginny. The rest of us learned not to cross Star. She ignored us at the best of times and snarled and scratched at the worst of times. When Ginny left for college, Star did mellow toward us somewhat—after all, she had no choice. As soon as Ginny moved into a pet-friendly apartment, Star happily rejoined her. Star did not adjust well to Ginny’s marriage! She expressed her displeasure by using Ginny’s husband’s clothes and shoes as a litter box! He declares he slept with blankets wrapped around his neck so Star could not go for the jugular! Interestingly enough Star did accept our first grandson.

Star passed away a year ago at a very ripe old age. I refuse to speculate on where she is spending eternity!

Oh, what about Ruth? Ruth actually lived another five years after we got Star. Ruth’s epitaph is “She was the BEST cat”.

Peace,
Beth

Friday, June 25, 2010

My Animal Friends-Part 4

Ruth joined us in the midst of my past post. Ruth began like as an alley kitten. My brother took her in and she was a special member of his family for several years. Ruth was the best cat!!! Eventually my brother was unable to keep Ruth so my parents took her in. At that time, my parents lived a block away from us. Ruth got in the habit of following as we walked back and forth between the houses. Then she began walking over on her own. I can still hear my daughter, in a sweet little voice, saying: “Mommy, can Ruth come in for a visit?”

On day the request became: “Mommy, can Ruth spend the night?” Ruth and Ginny did have a slumber party that night. The next morning, Ruth went home. But that night she was back at our door and she never left again. Ruth and Ginny were inseparable and Ruth was still ‘the best cat’!

Although once an expert hunter and climber, there came the time when Ruth began slowing down. She was no longer bringing us ‘presents’, spent more time indoors and spent more time at the vet with infections and other issues. Once she disappeared for several days, the entire family scoured the yard and neighborhood at every opportunity but there was no sign of her. I remember clearly driving my son home from an after-school activity and seriously lecturing him about being especially nice to his sister because Ruth had obviously gone off to die. As I turned into the driveway my son began laughing. I became angry but he laughed and said, “Look Mom”. You guessed it, there in the driveway sat Ruth.

From that point on, Ruth became an indoor cat.  And yes, Ruth is still the best cat.

Peace,
Beth

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Animal Friends-Part 3

Envision Valentine’s Day, 1977. Two college seniors are engaged to be married in August. The young man picks up his fiancĂ©e for a Valentine’s surprise. What can it be? He drives her to the nearest Humane Society to get a puppy! Thus Dixie, the cutest little fur ball, became our first child! Dixie was so loyal, loving and smart.

Five years later when we added our first human child, Dixie became super nanny. From the moment Tommy first entered our house, Dixie believed it was her job to monitor his every move and keep him out of danger. Heaven help us if the baby awoke in his crib and we did not IMMEDIATELY go to him. I actually think that her running back and forth barking at us often woke the baby! Thirteen months later we brought home Ginny and Dixie went into overdrive as super nanny.

Dixie safely brought the children through those so important early years of life. She saw them start school, followed closely as they learned to ride bikes, and cuddled with them when they needed comfort, played with them at the drop of a ball and saw them through most of elementary school. It was a very sad day when we had the funeral for a very old dog who had loved us even more than we loved her!

Peace,
Beth

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Animal Friends-Part 2

Mischief was another long term animal friend, or maybe I mean fiend. I had to have this little Siamese kitten. She was adorable! Unfortunately, she seemed to despise me and most of humankind and preferred a solitary life! The entire family bore the reminders of her wish to be left alone. She had extremely sharp claws and used them viciously. Except she loved my father! She would even jump up and ride around on his shoulders. The rest of us had great respect for her claws. We never picked her up. If she wanted to sit in your lap, she would. You also sat there until she decided to move on. She loved to sit in a doorway in the hall and wait for an unsuspecting person to walk by; then she would attack! Mischief remained with the family for many years. After Scott and I were married, my parents and brothers moved from Florida to Texas. When they finally arrived, Mischief jumped out of the car and was never seen again.

In addition to Sandy and Mischief, Pretty Star (parakeet), TouchĂ© (turtle), aquariums of fish, a hognose snake, and several gerbils also lived with and moved around with our family while I was growing up. Four children and this menagerie obviously led to some exciting moments at times. Occasionally Mischief would land on Pretty Star’s cage and the loud crash would bring the entire family. Any cat would be enticed by fish, snakes and gerbils and Mischief was no exception. How about when the snake got loose just before my grandmother’s visit? We were all under strict orders not to mention that the snake was loose in the house. Thankfully he stayed hidden until after the visit. We moved often when I was young and somehow my parents always managed to get all the children and animals to the new location. What a huge feat-especially since Dad usually had to move on ahead of us!

“If I am going to be in the right relationship with God, I should treat the things he has made in the same way he treats them.” [Francis Schaeffer (1912-84), Pollution and the Death of Man]

Peace,
Beth

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Animal Friends

A fundraiser for our local Humane Society has brought all my past and present animal friends to mind. God is so good to have given us these precious friends to love and who love us with such unconditional devotion! During a tough or trying time I can be reassured by curling up on the sofa with one of my special friend. They will sit there, cuddling close, and listen to my cries and ranting without making a single judgment. Who does not calm down and relax while stroking a dog or cat?

The first animal friend I remember is Sandy. The family legend goes that when I was about six years old with three younger siblings at two year intervals, we were renting a house on a farm. Each day the farmer came out to do the farming chores and in the back of his truck was always this very old and very ugly dog. My two year old brother admired this dog and told the man that he was certainly a ‘fine dog’. A few weeks later the farmer brought a little mutt puppy to the house. Another of his dogs had a litter of puppies and this man felt that any boy who would admire that old dog needed a dog. So Sandy joined our family!

You can imagine what a job it was for Sandy to take care of four young children. Not long after we got Sandy, my mother saw my brother walking in the yard holding a rope. Sandy had the other end in her mouth. When asked what he was doing, he answered that he was ‘walking his dog’. Sounds to me like Sandy was walking the boy! Sandy lived as our friend and protector for about fourteen years!

Peace,
Beth

Thursday, June 17, 2010

National Weed Day

I am a skimmer of headlines! Whether it is a newspaper, newsletter or magazine I skim the headlines and then read thoroughly those that catch my interest. I receive several on-line newsletters. They hit my in-box, I read the headlines and then either hit delete or read. Yesterday morning the headline National Weed Day definitely caught my attention, but my time was limited so I left it in my in-box to read later. As I went through my day with errands, chores and writing I kept thinking about that headline. National Weed Day! Who would have thought?

Somewhere I once read that a weed is just a plant growing where you don’t want it. I thought of a huge ivy bed I had years ago. This ivy surrounded a large oak tree. It grew up the tree and extended out from the trunk at least six feet all around. Since I was afraid it would kill the oak and made a nice haven for snakes right next to my children’s swing set, I decided it had to go! What an ordeal! We pulled and pulled and pulled ivy. It was made worse by the poison ivy intermingled throughout. In my book, ivy that is not in a pot is a weed! I include nandina and border grass in this category!

I remember years ago looking through one of my seed catalogs and saw Virginia Creeper for sale. Who would BUY Virginia Creeper? I constantly am pulled up this weed! The birds and wind are constantly planting weeds all over my yard. However I am the cause of the blackberry brambles! Ten years ago I decided I wanted a patch of blackberries. To this day, blackberry bushes are popping up over an acre away from the original patch.

Back to National Weed Day. I was skimming too quickly. The headline actually read National Weed Your Garden Day. Well, that makes more sense; however ONE day will not do it for me. I propose National Weed Your Garden Year! Who is with me?

Peace,
Beth

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Where Have I Been?

I hope many have been asking this question. Life has interfered with my writing for a bit. My roles as ‘mother’ and ‘grandmother’ took priority and all my energy. At this time we have our son and wife moved and settled, newest grandson a happy and healthy 29 day old, son recuperated from appendectomy, daughter recovered from birth and adjusting to new baby in the house, and first grandson reassured that he is loved-even with a new baby. Wow! No wonder I have been so tired.


Here I am with my precious grandsons! Elliott loves his little brother and is a great helper. Breckin Alexzander is beautiful and growing like a weed. He is not allowing his mother to sleep much at night yet and has a marvelous set of lungs!

We are all anxiously looking forward to Breckin’s baptism the end of this month at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palatka, Florida. At the invitation of The Reverend Jim Dorn, and with the blessings of Bishop Benhase, Scott will participate as deacon in the baptism of our grandson. This will be a marvelous family celebration!

Peace,
Beth

Friday, April 9, 2010

Wisteria

If I were to write a graphic novel (aka comic book), my archenemy would be a character named Wisteria. She would be beautiful. I mean drop dead gorgeous. She would have the sweetest scent emanating from her. She would easily mingle into a crowd. People would stare but only due to her beauty and sweet scent.
 
Slowly and patiently she would send out little arms that would encompass the crowd one by one. People would not react because it would feel like a warm arm encompassing their waists or shoulders. The sweet smell would be so alluring. Person to person she would move until all were totally intertwined. Inch by inch the arms would spiral around each person and slowly begin to squeeze tighter and tighter.
 
No one would come to their aid because the view would be so pleasant and appealing. Beautiful leaves and clusters of lilac blooms would cover the area. The scent would be mesmerizing. There would be no suggestion of any sort of danger-just beauty.
 
Eventually the people in the crowd would realize they were in a desperate situation. But it would be too late! The arms were coiled completely around them from head to toe and they were being squeezed like a vise. There would be no way to move. There would be no way to call out! Life as they knew it was coming to an end thanks to Wisteria!!!!!
 
Now I must find a super hero to save them AND my yard!
 
Peace,

Beth

Monday, April 5, 2010

Pollen

It is the time for the annual yellow plague! Everything around here is covered in a thick layer of pollen. My car sat under the carport for five days while I was traveling. I could not see through the windshield! I then squirted windshield washer fluid on it and turned on the wipers. Oh No!!!! There was thick, yellow goop all over my windshield! It looked like someone through a gallon of yellow paint on my car! The pool had a thick yellow ‘bathtub’ ring. I got out the hoses to wash it off before cleaning. As the water hit the concrete around the pool, yellow rivers were running all around it! Since the weather is warm enough for pollen, all our windows are open. Pollen floats right through the screens! Yellow dust is all over my furniture. As I said, we are in the midst of the yellow plague!
 
Peace,

Beth

Friday, March 26, 2010

Saying Yes!

Some of you may have subscribed to the Lenten Meditations sponsored by Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD). Sister Claire Joy of the Community of the Holy Spirit has been writing the meditations. Today’s meditation is based on Psalm 19:14.
 
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

Sister Claire Joy writes that she is not a writer and writing forty seven meditations has ‘been an act of faith and arrogance’ for her. She writes:
 
“Yet one of the outward signs of a religious is the willingness to go out on a limb for God, to say yes when asked to do something we've never done before. All that seems to matter is the faith that if it is God's will, it will get done, and it will be okay.”
 
Peace,
Beth

What a joyous thought!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Birth

As we are approaching Easter, new birth is ever present in my mind. Easter Day is my all time favorite day each year! I love the beautiful Easter liturgies. I feel reborn each year as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The long penitential Lenten season causes the joy and celebration of Easter and the resurrection to be even more extraordinary.
 
Those who have been following me are aware that both my daughter and daughter-in-law are pregnant. I went with my daughter for a sonogram and must admit to having a hard time figuring out what was what on the screen. The nurse would point out HIS little body parts and I would smile and nod. Yesterday my daughter-in-law had her first sonogram and she texted me a picture! I definitely could not make heads or tails out of this one; but the doctor says HE is perfectly formed and active! New Birth! Two More Grandsons!
 
This is also the time of year I spread trays of little peat discs all over the house. My first seeds have germinated and I have had my first peek at the little seedlings. New Birth! Today I have a few more peeking out! I hover around the trays telling them to be well and grown strong. Isn’t that the same prayer we have for our children and grandchildren? I am carefully nurturing my little seedlings. I check their moisture level several times a day. Since my husband adamantly refuses to hang growth lights for me, I carefully take the trays with sprouted seeds outside as the day warms and let the sun provide the much needed light. At any hint of rain, wind, dropping temperatures or fading light, I bring the trays carefully in and spread throughout the flat surfaces in our house.
 
House finches raise several broods each year on the top of the posts on our carport. The first mother finch is already sitting on her nest. As I am typing, I am watching a sparrow beginning to build a nest on a post on our front porch. The bluebirds out back seem to be carrying nesting material into their box. I am still waiting for the arrival of my purple martins and hummingbirds. Scott and I celebrate all the new births of baby birds throughout the spring. We are entertained for hours watching the parents feed the babies and then the great antics of the babies fledging. New Birth!
 
May we all carry the joy and enthusiasm of new birth throughout the year and throughout our lives rejoicing in being blessed by God as Easter people!

Peace,
Beth




Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Yellow Honeysuckle

Yesterday I promised to tell the story of the yellow honeysuckle. Last spring we had a tremendous storm: heavy rains, thunder and lightening, and high winds. We lost electricity and the pool was nearly overflowing. Since we had no electricity we had to manually bail water out. This storm was so strong it actually blew over part of our trellis by the pool. I actually think that the huge confederate jasmine was the only thing that saved the rest of the trellis.

The yellow honeysuckle was growing on the part that collapsed. It crushed and broke the vines and even uprooted it. It took us a while to get the trellis off the vine. My husband said it was a lost cause. Even though I was not hopeful, I pruned the vine back and replanted the roots. For nearly a year it did nothing except stay alive; at least that was all my eyes could see. Those roots must have been reorienting themselves, growing and establishing a strong base. As warmer weather is finally moving in, I am beginning to see signs of new growth on the vines. He is only about three feet tall today but I am hopeful of a great growth spurt this Spring.

Sometimes life seems to crush us too! Sometimes we need time to reestablish our roots. Sometimes it seems like nothing good is happening on the outside; however those roots may be growing deeper and stronger inside. God appointed us as stewards of His creation, but I believe He knew that His creation would teach us so much more than we actually give.

Peace,



Beth

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Discernment of Vines

I hope you missed my postings for a few days. I took a little time off to enjoy a visit from my daughter, Ginny, and grandson, Elliott. Ginny was on Spring Break from the college she works at and her husband was traveling on business so we had the pleasure of their company for five whole days. Ginny is pregnant with our second grandson and we enjoyed giving her a much needed rest. Elliott is nonstop play, reading and cuddling. A grandmother’s pure delight!
 
Now to those vines…twelve years ago I planted a confederate jasmine vine on my trellis by the pool. Over the years it has grown tremendously. Each summer we enjoy the marvelous aroma of its blooms and the hummingbirds and butterflies enjoy its nectar. It has been the safe haven of many a bird’s nest and even a few wasps’ nests. Ten years ago, on the section of trellis right next to the jasmine I planted a red honeysuckle and on the last section I planted a yellow honeysuckle. Although they do not grow as ferociously as the jasmine and do not have much of an aroma, the hummingbirds love them best of all.
 
Procrastination has created a humongous tangle on our trellis. Each year we say we must prune the jasmine. Each year we procrastinated until the birds were already nesting and we did not want to disturb them. The jasmine grew and grew and grew and spread and spread and spread. Eventually the red honeysuckle was completely engulfed!
 
This past weekend my husband and I stood firm, grabbed the clippers and headed out to prune this overgrown beast. The first section with the base of the jasmine required bold cutting and hearty pulling but we cleared it fairly readily. The second section, however, was another story. The jasmine and honeysuckle were totally interwoven. The electric and large clippers had to be retired and I had to go in by hand with my little hand clippers. All the vines look the same to Scott so he was not allowed in this section. I painstakingly began clipping little vine by little vine, untwisting and tracing vines to their sources.
 
I truly did not expect to find the honeysuckle but I did. Somehow, under the massive arms of the jasmine, it had been steadily growing. Tendrils wormed their ways through the jasmine to the sun. When finished, I had found a much larger vine that I had anticipated. I meditate as I garden. As I worked on these vines, I wondered what parts of my life were like the honeysuckle. Do I have parts of my life that are being overshadowed and squeezed out by something else? What jasmine in my life may smell good but may be overpowered by other important honeysuckle? Do you have some jasmine and honeysuckle in your life?
 
What about the yellow honeysuckle, you ask. Tune in tomorrow and see.


Peace,

Beth



Library-Loving Blog Challenge

Check out my other blog: A Writing Journey to help support libraries!

Peace,
Beth

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mr. Froggie Went A-Swimming

The warm weather is bringing the frogs and toads back. They can be so much fun. They come in all sizes and shapes with all levels of croaks! My grandson, Elliott, and I love to watch them. Elliott and I love singing the children’s song: “Mr. Froggie Went A Courting”. However, at my house, too many of them choose to go for a swim rather than court. Elliott considers it his chore to be the animal rescuer and save all the frogs from the pool. Even as a toddler with me holding him as he leaned over with the net, he insisted on rescuing the frogs himself.
 
As the rain cleared and the sun shone, I stepped out back and spotted a big toad in the pool. Retrieving the net, I began the rescue mission on my own since my helper is not here. As I dip the net in the frog dives to the bottom. Thus begins the ‘froggie’ tango around the pool: me waiting until he arises again, trying to stay behind him; dipping the net yet again to see him dash again to the bottom. We do this over and over. Unlike Elliott, I will admit to becoming aggravated after a while. Why does he not understand that if he remains in the pool the chlorine will kill him?
 
I suspect I am often like these frogs. God is always there with His hand out to grab me and I am diving to the bottom. Sometimes it takes me a while to see the path He wants me to follow. Sometimes I prefer my way and I take the dive! Since God always waits patiently for me, I think I will head back out with my net and wait patiently for this frog. I can even use this waiting time to listen and pray!
 
Happy dipping to all!

Beth





Friday, March 12, 2010

Glory of Thunderstorms

I love watching thunderstorms! I really, truly do! The majesty and power of God’s creation moves me deep within my soul. Darkness is the best time to watch. The rush of wind, the pelting rain, the bright flashes in the sky and booming rumbles draw me. If you drive past my house during a thunderstorm, you will probably see me sitting on my rocking chair on the front porch. I have also watched a few hurricanes in my life however, not from the front porch. The wind is simply awesome!

When I read the story of Pentecost in Acts, I vividly see in my mind the rush of wind and flames of fire described in the gift of the Holy Spirit. The wind is a perfect descriptor of the power of the Holy Spirit. Winds constantly blow through my life. Usually it is the wind of a gentle breeze, sweet and soothing. The breeze that makes the chimes ring out a beautiful song has blessed most of my life. But at other times I feel as if I am in the midst of hurricane force winds. Destructive winds that toss me about like a rag doll. Then Jesus steps forward and tells the winds to cease and life becomes perfectly calm!

What about those bright flashes of lightning during the nights? We are sitting in total darkness and suddenly there is this brilliant flash and we can see all the things around us. Lightning also reflects my life at times. I am so overwhelmed that all seems dark. There seems to be no answers to life’s problems. Suddenly God clears my eyes to perceive His answer. His light is now lighting the path!

I do love thunderstorms. These images of God’s power nourish me. God’s presence in all of His creation truly awes me. May I never take His creation for granted.

Peace,
Beth

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Not One but Two Collisions

It is a fact that I have been inside too long over this lengthy cold winter. Yesterday was beautiful! It was so sunny and warm that I had thrown open the doors and was enjoying the nice breeze flowing through my house. Unfortunately it has been such a long winter that the birds that are flocking into my yard were not accustomed to seeing me out and about. As I slide open the screen to the French doors and stepped outside, a cardinal flew right into my shoulder. I am not sure who was more startled! He quickly flew up into a pine tree and sat on a limb fluffing his feathers. I dropped my glass of tea and seat cushion as I jumped off the steps! Luckily I did not break my leg and my ‘glass’ was actually plastic!
 
After refilling my ‘glass’, I arranged my cushion on the patio chair and sat to enjoy the sunshine. Suddenly something bounced off my back! Since both dogs are tiny, I knew it was neither of them. On the ground behind my chair was a little chickadee! He appeared to be stunned! Buddy, my constant companion, and I sat there watching him for a while. Of course, I did not have my camera with me. Buddy kept wagging his tail as if to say, “Let’s play, friend!” After a few minutes, the chickadee flew up to the top of the trellis with no apparent ill effects.
 
Hopefully Spring is here to stay and the birds will once again get comfortable with my presence in the habitat we share. The great advantage of using a laptop is that it can go outside with me to enjoy the marvelous weather! I am like many of my plants; I thrive in the sunshine! Many creatures share our backyard habitat: numerous species of bird, lizards, skinks, butterflies, bees, snakes, rabbits, turtles, armadillos, field mice (the most difficult of God’s creatures for me to love), bats, and many more. Stay with me throughout the year. I guarantee that Buddy and I have many close encounters and joyful experiences with our fine friends!

Peace,
Beth

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Our Gifts from God

God has blessed me with so many wonderful gifts! He led me to a wonderful husband, Scott, and gave us two beautiful children who have married two more beautiful children. He blessed us with a most dearly precious grandson and two more soon to join us. My ability to teach and organize truly came from God and led to a fulfilling career. He continues to give me good health as I have moved into my new stage of life as a retiree. The last few weeks I have been watching my husband prepare for his first Easter Vigil as a deacon and have wondered if I do enough with God’s gifts.
 
Scott has never been involved in any organized singing endeavor; however as a deacon he gets to chant the Exsultet during the Easter Vigil. He is both excited and nervous about this public performance! While preparing for the deaconate, he met a marvelous and truly gifted gentleman. Lavan is in his nineties and retired from a singing career and is married to a deacon. He continues to share his gift by teaching new deacons how to chant the Exsultet. Scott travels nearly two hours to get his lessons and then two hours home; however he loves every minute of it. I hear Scott practicing every day and he is getting better and better. My favorite story is from their second lesson. Scott chanted for Lavan first to show his progress. Lavan told Scott that if he did not increase the tempo that he would be dead before he finished! God blessed Lavan as a great music teacher! I cannot wait until the Easter Vigil!
 
Do I truly give from God’s gifts as I should? Are there things I should be doing that I am not? Have I actually discovered all my gifts from God? Am I using them as God wants me to? Am I being stingy with my time and talents? These are questions I need to pray about and I need you to pray for me too.
 

Peace,

Beth

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Large Churches??

I have not attended a large church since I was a teenager but as I survey the ‘church’ piles around my house; I cannot help but wonder if it is easier being a member in a large church. Yes, I have piles of church stuff all over my house because they are projects in process. In my foyer I have freshly washed children’s bags, waiting for me to collect more items to entertain the little ones during the services. On my dining room table, there are two communion sets drying after being washed and two acolyte albs. The albs have been hemmed for two new acolytes and are waiting for me to get the candle wax off one and then both need bleaching and laundering. The bar between the kitchen and dining room has a stack of DOK brochures for an upcoming meeting. The drainer is full of dishes from a bridal shower this past weekend. My office has a stack of materials used for the Sunday School class I am teaching and more DOK materials. My sewing table has a selection of ribbons, bought to replace the tattered ribbons in the altar book. In Scott’s office is a pile of reference material for his next sermon.

Do churches with large memberships still have parishioners homes covered in piles? I wonder!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Is Spring Sprung?

I spent several hours yesterday afternoon pulling weeds. The sun shining on my back felt marvelous. My thighs however are out of practice of being in the weed pulling position. The flower bed quickly cleared of weeds and I discovered new growth at the base of my ever faithful yellow lantana. The daylilies and daffodils are several inches high now. The daffodils even have some buds. No sign of my caladiums yet. I hope all the freezing temperatures did not do them in. The two miniature azaleas look good. I worked until I got to two large fire ant beds! My garden is mostly organic; however there are a few things that I do use chemicals on and fire ants is one of them. Hopefully they will all be gone by this afternoon when I head out again.
 
My hands look like I have been in the garden! I have never mastered gardening with gloves. I need to feel the stems and roots. I love the feel of dirt in my hands! When I come upon briars, I do put on my gloves-after I have carefully turned them inside out to ensure there are no spiders inside. Beyond that, it is flesh to soil! Delicious! Of course this is also why I occasionally have severe bouts of poison ivy!
 
Gardening, especially weeding, is good for my soul! Any frustrations I have are exhausted as I name each weed I pull! Mostly I marvel at our wonderful creation and how good God is to give us such a paradise in which to live. I am amazed year after year as the plants peek up again out of the soil. Watching them grow and bloom is a continually changing kaleidoscope of colors and shapes. I even love watching all the little creatures residing in the soil. I must admit that spiders are difficult for me. I love watching them from a distance; however I exercise my response speed when one crawls across my hand.
 
I pray that Spring is truly here! I would love to hear how all of your gardens grow!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Read Across America






I had a great time yesterday visiting Miller County Elementary to participate in Read Across America and Dr. Seuss’ Birthday events. I retired the end of last year as principal of this school. The main difference is I was the last principal in a very old school and this year they are in a beautiful new school. I had the opportunity to read aloud to Mrs. Andrea Givens’ fourth grade class. Being a recent retiree, I knew most of the children in the class and the teacher from my tenure there. It was a fun reunion!
 
I read Miss Hunnicutt’s Hat by Jeff Brumbeau. The book is delightful with awesome illustrations by Gail de Marcken. The story lends itself to a great prop and wonderfully expressive reading. I do believe fun was had by all and we ended with our own rendition of the Chicken Dance!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Monday, March 1, 2010

Max, My Special Inspiration

My journey reminds me of Max-may he rest in peace. I want to grow up to be just like Max. Max was rescued from a puppy mill. He was about 15 years old and had heartworm positive, had poorly healed broken ribs, ears were stapled together and he had only one eye and that eye had a cataract. We were visiting friends, Cathy & Jim, who were foster parents for Max. Max fell in love with Scott. Throughout the evening he followed Scott around and stayed by his side or in his lap. At the end of the evening, Cathy suggested we adopt Max. I was concerned that Buddy would not be happy to have an interloper move in. We did not have TyNee yet; that is another rescue story. Not to be foiled, Cathy suggested a spend-the-night party to see how they got along. Needless to say, Max never left our house!
 
Buddy was actually very excited to have Max in his house. Max, however, brought a great deal of baggage from his difficult earlier life. Max could be rather grumpy and if Buddy got too close he could be a bit aggressive. Buddy learned not to run up on Max and, most importantly, to not approach Max from his blind side. When Max growled, Buddy quickly dropped to the floor and wagged his tail. I want to be like Buddy too. He could befriend the most difficult of souls.
 
Soon Buddy and Max were best friends! When darkness fell, Max would follow Buddy on their walks. Apparently Max could see Buddy’s fluffy white tail. Due to the heartworms Max could not run, Buddy would walk with Max each day as they sauntered around the fence line. Max went through an innovative heartworm treatment that is easier on old dogs. Within a year he was heartworm negative and was running once again. As he became comfortable with us, he lost his aggressiveness and was a lovable sweet dog.
 
I want to be like Max. Nothing held him down. He overcame terrible adversity. He became a healthy, happy friend to us all. I want to persevere like Max. I want to ascend above all the little adversities of my life. I want to enjoy life as much as he did. I want to lean on friends when I can use support. He only spent about six years with us but we will never forget him.
Peace,
Beth

Sunday, February 28, 2010

No More Bells!

Ring! Ring! Ring! My life was controlled by bells for 48 years. First thing in the morning was the alarm bell. School bells dictated when I was to teach, eat, go to the restroom, and when I had bus or hall duty. Worse still, thunderstorms would knock out the school bells and as the principal I would have to ring them by hand. My life now has no more bells! I do not even set an alarm clock, although I find I am still an early riser.
 
Now my schedule is dictated by two small fur balls!
Buddy is an eleven year old Pekinese Pekapoo mix. He is my constant companion. If you want to know where I am, find Buddy. He is also my inspiration for my first children’s book. It is not yet ready to submit for publication.



TyNee is a sixteen year old Shih Tzu. She is a very small Shih Tzu. She is sure she is royalty and that all other creatures are here to serve her. She is a true Drama Queen. Everything involving her is magnified tenfold. Five o’clock in the morning is the time I am to arise according to TyNee. She will not allow her schedule to be changed by something as minor as my retirement.
 
The positive aspect of being ruled by two dogs is that they force me to break regularly from my writing and research. When they decide it is time to go out or eat or play, they team up to make sure I stop and cater to their needs. These breaks are probably good for my body and mind so for that I am thankful. Sometimes though the story line is flowing like a tidal wave and I don’t appreciate the interruption. But how can I not forgive these precious faces?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Journey Ended and Begun

I totaled it up! Adding all the years I spent as a student, teacher and then administrator I had 48 years in education. Forty eight years! That is unbelievable to me. I was a passionate educator! I loved figuring out how to teach in a manner that children would learn. I loved mentoring teachers! I loved the energy produced by a school full of kids. BUT there are many more things I love and education requires long hours. It is time to pursue other interests. So I retire. Retirement is the beginning of a new stage in my life.
 
Who am I besides a teacher and principal? I am a wife of 32 years to the deacon! I am the mother of two beautiful adults. I am the mother-in-law to two fabulous people. I am grandmother to one precious grandson. We are expecting another grandson in May and then another grandchild in August. (I personally am thinking PINK). I am a Christian, an Episcopalian, Daughter of the King, clergy spouse, Christian Formation teacher of children, and a liturgical minister. I am a daughter and daughter-in-law.
 
I have numerous passions I want to devote my time and energy to now. I have so many fond memories of visits with my grandparents. Grandparents have so much time for you. Doing things with my grandparents was always such an adventure. I want my grandson, Elliott, and the two that are soon to be to have many, many memories of their adventures with Gran. I want to explore more areas of my spirituality. I want to devote more time to praising my God and walking on His path. I want to publish my children’s books and stories. I want to decrease my impact on God’s creation. I want to salvage my yard from the weeds. I love digging in the dirt and watching the wonders of growth. I want to get back to sewing and knitting. I want to learn to crochet. I might even try to learn to cook.
 
Twenty years ago we bought my mother a corn plant (dracaena fragrans). The plant was about two and a half feet tall. Over the years the plant grew and grew and grew. After about fifteen years it outgrew mother’s house so we moved it to our house. We gave it a nice place by the French doors and it was very happy. Having more space, it grew and grew and grew. It is now pressed firmly against the ceiling. Since it is so large, I have a rolling plate underneath it. I must now remove that plate so it will have a few more inches of space. It is also root bound again. It is time to repot. This is not a job I will attempt alone. In fact, I believe it will require two more people. A bigger pot and fresh soil will allow more growth.
 
Now I too have more space. My space is my time. I want to grow and flourish like my corn plant. May my ‘repotting’ into retirement allow me to expand, branch out, grow stronger and deeper roots, and leaf out all over.

Peace,
Beth




Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why the Deacon’s Secretary?

It just so happened that I retired a few months before my husband, Scott, was ordained as a Deacon in the Episcopal Church. As a Deacon he holds a non-stipendiary position in the church and fulfills those duties in addition to his demanding position as a director of a social services agency. To make life more interesting, our rector accepted a call to another parish weeks before Scott’s ordination.
 
Are you getting the picture? A parish without a rector, a soon-to-be-ordained ordained deacon with a full-time job AND a retired wife at home! Who do you suppose is dealing with organizing the ordination ceremony, phone calls, emails, running errands, communicating with parishioners and the diocesan office, editing and proofing sermons, maintaining the calendar and much more? It was not long before I was being referred to as the Deacon’s Secretary and the title caught on.
 
Thankfully we have since called a wonderful interim rector. My duties as the Deacon’s Secretary have greatly decreased since she came on board. I am still Scott’s biggest supporter as secretary and wife.
 
Stay tuned to discover how well I am shifting into my retiree role and pursuing my passions!
 
Peace,
Beth