Monday, February 28, 2011

Counting More Gifts!

I finished reading Ann's book, 1,000 Gifts, and have started rereading it for the second time around. I struggled with it! Maybe it was because it's been a long time since I tried reading really deep books. I used to and loved the challenge and the soul searching they would bring. Maybe I was holding back, not wanting to move out into the truth of its message. Maybe it was all my own past getting in the way of my opening my clenched fists to allow God to fill them with what He knows to be good. Anyways, it was hard. I don't think the author meant for it to be easy, as it seemed to be a soul-wrenching journey for her. I only know, I want it! I want to see. I have so many dark rooms in my life that have heavy locks and no windows, and they have not been open in a long time because what is in them is NOT what I thought I wanted to see and say thank you for. As I read this book for the second time around, I'm finding myself a little less stoic with my clenched fists holding the keys to those dark places. Can I really learn to see, and to find the grace He promises and to say thank you for the hard things, the dark things, the things I don't understand???? Join with me and hundreds of others as we count our thousands of gifts and hold out our open hands for more:

28: Two cups. Always two. They sit on my kitchen counter, waiting for morning,
sleepy eyes, hot coffee. Always two friends, drinking in silence until the caffeine kicks in and we can say "Good morning!" Always two empty cups.

29. Seedlings. Little, tiny leaves and stems pushing up moist, warm dirt. I can almost hear them praising the God who created all things for the chance to live and grow and prove once again that Springtime and Harvest follow the cold and deadness of winter. Faith! So big and vast and we have such a hard time catching it. But there it is --- all packaged up in a little, tiny seed. Dead, but full of life. All it took was believing life was in there and placing it in the ground.

30. Pigeon Peas. Never heard of them before, never tasted them, never saw one --- why would my nose wrinkle at the thought of eating one???? My sister heard about them, and found out we could grow them here. She bought a can at the grocery store just to try, and we are hooked!!!! So the pigeon peas are planted all over the place. Supposedly, they grow quite large, chickens eat them, goats eat the leaves, you can eat them fresh dry them for later, etc., etc. Lesson learned: don't wrinkle your nose up till you try something!

31. Wisteria starting to bloom! Hundreds of flowers pushing their way out! A very dear friend gave me a rooted stick years ago, planted it by my fence, and built a nice high trellis for it to climb on. Talk about faith! Thank you, Dan! Whenever I see those flowers, I'm reminded of your faith, your giving spirit, your love for flowers, and all you did for me!

32. Lea over at the Potting Shed! A gal who can ignite sparks in the deadest of hearts, put a song in a broken spirit, and hold an umbrella when the rain pours down around you!

33. Charlene, a new found friend with a heart of gold and a passion for God!

34. Squeeze of a friend's hand!

35. Meatloaf. Just too good! Comfort food to the max!

36. Iced Tea. Cold, wet, peachy, iced tea after a dirty, hot hour in the sun.

37. Buster's panting, hot face buried deep in his water bowl. He's so happy when
Momma is happy. Big Blue ball gets a work-out, football lands in the pond, feet are muddy, but who cares? Life is good, and we'll do it again tomorrow!

38. Bread. Most of you know I love bread more than anything. But this was special bread. Two long loaves of Italian bread. FRESH! Brought to my sister by our neighbor. Brought to me by my sister. I couldn't stop. Oh, Lord, could this possibly rate up there as one of the best gifts of the week?????

39. Sharing God's word with friends. Like breaking open a fresh loaf of bread and tasting it new and fresh again.

Click the link below and hear the whispers of thanks from hundreds of others who are counting their gifts:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Vegetable Garden -- Take Two!!!

Some of you may remember that I planted a veggie garden last year. Most of it was an experiment of what I could and could not grow and in what types of containers. I will confess, it left me feeling like a failure, very crabby, and not wanting to do it again this year. All winter long, when I could have done the work WITHOUT the sweat, I stared disgustingly at the containers, happily growing weeds that grow so well in the Florida winter. Why is it that weeds have NO problems????? (As a side note, there is a series of about 100 or so videos on Utube by a guy who has made it his life long hobby of learning about weeds and what you can eat and how to prepare them. Search for “Eat the Weeds”. All I can think of, is ME, rooting along the ground like a possum, looking for something edible, and end up eating poison ivy or something!!!)

But as fate would have it, my brother, who lives in Maine, is really “into” the gardening thing. He is blessed to have a father in law who has shown him so much, and now it is my brother’s goal to grow enough of whatever grows there to sustain him through the year. And you know how it is, we always “preach” about what works for us. So. . . . . My brother had a pep rally with my sister, and talked her into growing what grows here in Florida and learning to like it. Somehow, I got in on this, and started cleaning out my pots.

As for our experiments of last year????? The $1.00 bags that you get at the grocery store, etc., worked fine as plant containers, but by the end of the season, they were done. Dry rotted. When you tried to move them, they fell apart. But they drained well, held enough dirt, were easy to keep weeds out of, and they did not collapse or cave in. The most sturdy and nicest looking were the dark green ones from JoAnns. The worst were the red and black ones from the Family Dollar Store. Worth the $1.00, but now I have to get something else.

The Styrofoam ice chests were fantastic, but don’t try to move them once filled with wet dirt and plants. They will break. Duct tape (You know, the stuff we all bought tons of after 9/11) worked well to hold the broken pots together, and are still there, waiting for my new plants. The tops served well as “saucers”. Talk about eye sores, though. But my green beans loved growing in them. I put a circle of wire fencing around the ice chests, and the beans grew and produced throughout the summer and fall. One success story.

I also purchased huge blue storage bins at Big Lots last year. MUCH cheaper than plant pots of the same size. Now I know why. The plastic became brittle and I can’t move them without them cracking. So they will just stay where they are for this year.

My favorite pots of all look like the old whiskey barrels. They are actually Styrofoam, light weight, but have been painted and look like stained wood with metal staves around them. I’ve had them now for about 8 years, and they are still in good shape.

So. . . . The gal who was NOT going to garden this year now has green onions, radishes, carrots, beets, peppers, green beans, yard long beans, pigeon peas, etc., planted in you-name-it buckets.

It’s a lot of hard work for Buster, though. But he loves it. Since he still has all his “childhood anxieties”, he will NOT go out the door without me with him. So this gives him long outings, chances to pee on every living thing, stick his nose in the holes I dig for planting, runs with dead root balls, etc. And yes, an occasional drink from the hose. He does know what “No peepee in the in the pots” means, but did NOT know that this also meant the little seedling trays. Yuk!!! They got a good watering!

I’ve learned I should stay away from Nurseries. Why is it that I never learn???? Just because there is a tiny, live plant in a tray at the Nursery does NOT mean it will grow into something edible in MY yard down the street!!!!!! But I still do it! And the only one who profits is the Nursery. Every one that I bought means another pot, more dirt, more fertilizer, more sweat, with the ending of , “See???? I told ya!” But here I am, dirty hands and feet, sweat and snot pouring off my face, nails forever ruined, but I did it. And that’s the whole heart of it --- that I could do it!

Monday, February 21, 2011

More gifts. . .!

Can it be that I'm "getting it?" If only I had carried a pen and a tablet with me everywhere this week, I would have been able to list countless blessings and thank-you's!!!! I got the book a few days ago, and have NOT been able to put it down. I am racing through it, to the point I have the page ready to turn, long before I'm even there. And I don't want to. But I have to. I can't explain it. I've decided I will read and read and read to the end and then begin again. I just have to know the end. I can't stop along the way, or take a breath, go back for do-overs. I've never done this with a book. In fact, for years I thought I could never read again. I had lost that ability to concentrate. I had been reduced to flip calendars. . . . at the most, maybe a page in a daily devotional. But the challenge to live in the moment, to experience God's graces, to thank Him for all things. . .
I don't even SEE all things. . .Maybe when it all sinks in and I can wrap my heart and life around it and I begin to see - REALLY SEE -- I'll find a way to explain it all to you. In the meantime, I will count, I will make my list, and I will continue to encourage you, too, to rean Ann VosKamp's, One Thousand Gifts!

14. Warm sun rays warming the soil.

15. Seeds that give me hope and faith in beans, green onions, carrots, radishes.

16. White, snowy flower blossoms floating through the air as the gentle breezes loosen them from the branches of the cherry laurel trees.

17. The cry of peacocks in the distance.

18. A family of wrens pushing leaves aside looking for the first bugs of spring.

19. Buster’s exuberant joy in having me working in the yard again. All I have to say is, “Let’s go do the beans!” and he knows we are doing important “stuff” in the yard together.

20. Two ringed-neck doves who faithfully watch over each other. One watches for predators as the other, trusting her mate’s protection, eats quietly under the feeder.

21. My sycamore tree. Can it truly be 6 years old now??? A gift from my sister, and always a reminder of her love and friendship and all we have been through together. It stood about 4 feet tall when we first planted it. Came with a supporting stake, taller than the tree, and tied securely to each other. Stake and tree together were planted with hopes and faith . . . . . Always hope and a faith that sees a future sheltering shade tree one day. Now? . . . The stake was no longer needed after a few years and the tree broke away the bands holding the two together, now able to stand tall and straight on its own. I smile when I stand at my sister’s place, look over the roof of my house and see those sycamore leaves waving at us. I remember my fears during the dark days of chemo treatments. My tree had begun that spring healthy, sprouting out leaves that turned perfectly green and giagantic -- just as a sycamore is to do. But as the deadly, cancer-killing chemicals left my body, so my tree soaked them up (Yes, I planted it much too close to my septic tank!!!!). The leaves began to turn brown on the edges, curling from the poison being fed to them. But they hung on to life, and the following spring began the life cycle again, new and whole. We’ve made it through so much . . . Juri, the sycamore tree, and me.

22. Large crows cawing in my driveway. All I can say is, I pray the mockingbird does NOT learn THIS song.
The mockingbird sang a contata full of spring melodies this early morning. It was worth getting up early just to hear this one-bird choir sing his God-given song from the top of the telephone pole. Seems to be his favorite pulpit.

23. Whitey’s smile.

24. Loretta’s hug.

25. Artie’s song.

26. Trina’s heart.

27. A Sunday full of reminders that, “His love has no limit, His grace has no measure, His power has no boundary known unto men. For out of the infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!”

By clicking the button below, you will be taken to a wonderful place that will show you hundreds of others who are counting. Somehow, I know God is smiling as He hears thousands of thank-you's being whispered in His ear!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Continuing to find One Thousand Gifts. . .

Ann Voskamp continues to encourage us all to keep on counting our gifts daily. You can find a host of "gift-counters" by clicking the banner below. I'm warning you, though, you will come away with your heart warmed, a smile on your face, and a desire to start counting. . . . .

8. Warm rays of sun that turn the chill of my bones back to normal again. After several dark, damp cold days, the bright blue of the sunny skies is so welcoming and embracing.

9. An old wooden rocking chair on my back porch. A place where memories join me every time I sit there -- memories of watching a little brown puppy I named "Buster" explore and run and chase balls and butterflies. Memories of deep, anxious thoughts when the battle for life was being fought with chemo, radiation and surgery. Memories of weakness --- when it took everything within me (and the help of a pole) to get up out of that rocker. Memories of strength when the battle was over, health returned full and renewed and flowers bloomed once again.

10. A pair of titmice who seem to know better than I do that God is faithful and that Spring always follows Winter. With the first hints of longer days, warmer suns and budding trees, these two are arguing as to which is the better of the birdhouses. One has a bigger doorway. One is higher than the other. One has a wooden roof, the other a tin roof. One is bigger. One is on a pole and the other on a tree. Does any of it matter??? It does to titmice!

11. A note from a friend I never knew I had! We blog, we share our lives, our thoughts, our prayers, our fears. Some leave comments and we appreciate them so much. Some become friends and pray for us, and we thank God for the encouragement and faithfulness of their walk iwth us. Then comes a "delayed gift." I find out I've been on someone's prayer list these past few years. Someone who found my blog and whispered my name before the Throne of Grace as I tried to find my way down the unknown paths of Cancer. Thank you, Penni!

12. A box from my sister-in-law containing some books that were special to my brother, Tony, along with many hand-written notes -- things he wanted to remember, things he deemed very important, things that only make me wish I had known him better, things that cause my heart to yearn for deeper things - gifts I have to dig for.

13. A Hershey's Kiss from a smiling gal at the drive up window at the bank. It made me smile and it tasted soooooo good!

My prayer today is that you, too, will look for the gifts left for you, take the time to unwrap each one carefully and treasure them with a thankful heart!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mr. Hey-yo!

There are a lot of things I can do without, but when I run out of sugar, it is NOT a good thing! I don’t mind diet drinks, diet soda, etc. But when it comes to coffee or tea, I NEED sugar ---- that good old, grainy, white stuff that we are supposed to ban from our lives. But for me --- no sugar???? No coffee!!!! Period! Bottom line. I’ve tried a million times to go sugarless, use sugar substitutes, and all the rest. I’ve given in to my weakness, so sugar it is.

I went to the grocery store for sugar and came home with a cart full. Plus, I stopped at the roadside veggie stand. Poor old guy --- his fingers were so cold that he couldn’t even get the plastic bag open.

So I’m good to go for a little while. I have my sugar, my veggies, and Buster is restocked on treats and dog food. He checks his stash carefully, gets a bone, and lays down with a big sigh that tells me, “Life is good!”

On the way home, I passed a little “farm” --- just as I have a million times before in the past few years. Mr. Hey-Yo lives there. Not his real name, but we all seem to know who we are talking about when we refer to “Mr. Hey-Yo!” Several years ago, this little piece of land was parceled off and a “For Sale” sign was posted. It looked like a slice of pie, or a little wedge of left over land. This three-sided weed patch borders on a busy road, a large utility corridor, and a church property. Across the street is a grade school. NOT a quiet haven for a home, for sure.

It wasn’t long before it was sold. Then a home. Then a farm fence. Then a barn/shed type building. Then cross fencing. Then. . . A truck! And we knew someone was making their dream come true ---- a little piece of Heaven in the middle of nowhere. It wasn’t long before we saw an older man working around his property. Then we saw chickens, goats, a turkey. . . And then, miniature horses. I can’t remember why, but my sister had some questions, and I mentioned to her that perhaps this guy could give her some answers. Her response was, “What am I supposed to do. . . . Stand at the gate and yell at the top of my lungs, HEY-YO!!!!!” So, to this day, the man with the slice-of-pie farm is quietly called Mr. Hey-yo, and we all know who we are talking about.

Today, as I passed by, Mr. Hey-yo’s goats and miniature horses were grazing by the fence. I glanced over and looked, and the old man was standing there looking at his animals. Though I never met this man, I felt I knew so much about him. He seems so content with what he has. So gentle with his little baby goats. And there is just something about miniature horses. . . They make me smile. I can’t imagine why this man raises these little horses --- they seem so useless. I think if I were to ask him, he would just smile and say, “Just because!”

I learned a lesson today. It seemed to hit me and I couldn’t get it off my mind. I wondered what people see when they look at ME???? Do I show contentment? Am I gentle? Do I make the best of my little slice-of-life God has given me? Am I a sheltering person? Do I have the kind of faith that sees a weed patch become a realization of a dream?

Thank you, Mr. Hey-yo, for reminding me today that all that I have is truly all that I need! And thank you, Lord, for sugar!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Daybook Entry for February 9, 2011

February 9, 2011

Outside my window... The sun is shining after several dark and cloudy days. A much needed rain soaked the ground, and I'm so thankful for that. Two balls still stubbornly hold onto the bare sycamore branch outside my window. A tufted titmouse is waiting his turn at the feeder. VERY impatiently, may I add!

I am thinking... About patience. I am NOT a patient person. I always thought I was. I now know I was just very good at covering my impatience!
And the older I get, the more my impatience shows. Psalm 40:1 says, "I waited patiently for the Lord. . ." which means, without tiring and with perserverance.
Mary Sutherland has a great devotional about this on the Girlfriends in God site

I am thankful for... God's patience with ME!

From the learning room...Hamburger is VERY hard and can be a health hazard when it rolls out of the freezer and hits your toe! Lesson learned: Make FLAT packages when freezing hamburger!!!!!

From the kitchen... Egg salad made from my sister's farm fresh eggs! Sour cream biscuits to go with left over beans and carrots.

I am creating... Nothing this week! But I may get my cutter out and get ahead on some card making supplies .

I am going... Nowhere? I can't think of even ONE thing I need to use as an excuse to go to the grocery store.

I am reading... Sparkling Gems from the Greek by Rick Renner (PLEASE don't think I am a deep theological student here! This author has written this book as a daily devotional, with 365 days of treasures!!!! He gives a passage of Scripture, picks out a word, gives background, history, Greek meaning in its context, application, questions to ask yourself and a prayer.) I had signed up for the daily email and I was getting one a day. Not enough for me. (AGAIN -- impatient!) So I checked on ebay and found a used one and just love it!
I am hoping...
To follow through with memorizing at least 2 verses a week. I’m finding it doesn’t come as easy as it did when I was younger!!!!

I am hearing... My heat running and running and running. . . .(cha-ching, cha-ching.) Don't know what's wrong with me, but I am cold ALL THE TIME! Doesn't matter how many layers of clothing I have on, I'm just cold!

Around the house... First on the list is the bottom drawer of the stove -- under the oven. I pulled it open, and now it won't shut. That means taking everything out, keeping Buster's slobbery mouth off whatever is in there, try to get the drawer back on track, etc., etc., etc., (Patience AGAIN????)

One of my favorite things...Patty Melts!!!!! Years ago (when I was crazy, strong, and brave), I delivered newspapers 7 days a week. Afterwards, a few of us would meet at a 24-hour diner and I almost always ordered a Patty Melt. Since those days, wherever I go, I will order one if it is on the menu. My sister and I have a rating system, giving them a score of 1 - 10. Right now, I'd give anything for a big, juicy, hot one with onions, drippy melted cheese, buttery grilled rye bread ----- can't you just feel the cholesterol sticking to your ribs?????

A few plans for the rest of the week: Read over I Peter for tomorrow night and continue on my own in Kay Daigle's Bible Study. She has entitled it, "Adorned in True Beauty."

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

I planted a few blackberry bushes last year. NO, these are not mine. But I'm HOPING someday they will look like this. I love blackberries!!!!!

Praying for: Healing Rain to fall on a dear friend!

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Thank You, Lord for. . .

1. Gentle rain with a music all its own.
2. God's faithful provisions, whether I worry or trust.
3. My sister, her friendship and unconditional acceptance, not matter what.
4. Buster, my big, exhuberant Lab who has taught me not to sweat the small stuff.
5. My Pastor, who, by example and teaching, has taught me not to sweat the big stuff.
6. A church I can truly call home.
7. A beautiful smile on a beautiful lady in the Post Office.

Click on the link below to find others who are counting their gifts and sharing them with us all:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Daybook Entry for February 5, 2011

February 5, 2011

Outside my window... A soft breeze making the bare limbs of my sycamore tree sway back and forth. The laurel is loaded with thousands of tiny white flowers! The breezes caused them to fall all over my car! This tree is fooled by the warm weather and will probably have to do this again before true spring is here. The sky is gray, dropping a soft, much needed rain. Robins don’t care at all. The puddle in the driveway makes a “free for all” bird bath.

I am thinking... About hope and faith! Strange that my laurel tree would bring a flood of thoughts like this. Spring will come and that which seems dead will burst forth in flowers. Hope that is not in vain, faith that lives in the light of tomorrow’s promise of new life!

I am thankful for... Second chances! Forgiveness! Encouragement to finish the race in spite of a horrible beginning!

From the learning room... Digging into 1 Peter. Pastor is going through the book in our Thursday night Bible study, so I’m “digging deeper” with an online Bible study by Kay Daigle. It helps for me to write things down. Especially answers to questions. I can slide past things too easily if I don’t put it on paper.

From the kitchen... Not sure yet ---- maybe a pot of navy beans with carrots and ham, a pan of biscuits, salad. . .

I am creating... Some greeting cards.

I am going... To the post office to mail my first chemo angel package.

I am reading... Diamonds in the Dust by Joni. It’s a daily devotional, but I just keep reading and reading. . . !

I am hoping...
To follow through with memorizing at least 2 verses a week. I’m finding it doesn’t come as easy as it did when I was younger!!!!

I am hearing... The calming drips of the rain off my roof onto the dead leaves on the ground. Cars splashing through puddles on the road. A crow cawing. Buster snoring!

Around the house... Laundry going, already cleaned bathrooms. . .what’s next?

One of my favorite things... Rainy days! I love the sounds, the fresh smells. . .!

A few plans for the rest of the week: Week is about over. Haven’t even thought about next week.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

Praying for my pastor and his wife.
Thank you, Lord, for such dedicated, faithful servants!

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Chemo Angels

Those of you who have followed my blog down through the years know that I took the journey through Breast Cancer. If you are new to my blog, you can find that journey beginning with my posts towards the end of June, 2008 and continuing through 2009. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about that time in my life. It just seems that I'm finding more and more women who are going through this, and as I read their blogs, I find myself reliving my own experience over again.

The other day, I was going through things and trying to make spaces for "stuff" that has no permanent storage place, and I found my stack of cards I received during those dark days. Most of them are from all my faithful blogger friends. I sat down with that pile and went through them all, one by one, and found myself thanking the Lord for these special gifts of encouragement. They STILL encourage me and I will keep them forever!

Mixed in those cards are a bunch that are beautifully hand made. They came every week or so and contained a thoughtful message of encouragement. You see, Linda was my "chemo angel". And what a faithful angel she was!

I'm so excited now to have the privilege of being a chemo angel myself for the first time. These people have a website at:

They are so good at matching patients with "angels"!!! It doesn't take much or a lot of time, just a commitment to send a card or little gift of encouragement to someone going through chemo treatments. Anyone can do that, I'm sure.

So if you are going through chemo right now, let them know. Or if you can find it in your heart to see someone through this rough patch in their life, sign up as an angel! It meant all the world to me. Let's make the world a little brighter place!