Monday, July 23, 2012


“Our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts”~ Soren Kierkegaard

There is nothing like early mornings in the garden for quiet contemplation. I never know what I am going to hear from God while basking in the cool shades of green and dodging honeybees I disturb while seeking fat butterbeans.

This morning was no exception.

While peering through the vines, I noticed the leaves at the bottom were yellow. Upon further inspection I found a few bugs. I made a mental note to take care of those hungry critters. With my mind on the vine’s problems, I couldn’t see the beans. I scanned the leaves and saw nothing but lush vegetation. And then, my focus cleared and just a breath away from my nose hung a cluster of fat pods.

So it is with my life sometimes. I focus on the problems so much that I miss the fruit. Yes, we need to deal with problems, but we shouldn’t let it hijack our vision. How often are we so distracted that we miss what we seek and it is right there in front of our nose?

This week, take a deep breath. Get a plan for the problem, then step back from it and see the fruit.

Monday, July 16, 2012


“Time spent with cats is never wasted”~ Sigmund Freud

Cats have always been a part of my life, that is, until my precious grandson developed a serious allergy to them. After that the only way I could have a relationship with my favorite animal is if they stayed outside. But that just didn’t seem possible. I needed a cat more comfortable outside than inside. One that knew how to survive in the wild and in all kinds of weather. You don’t find that in your typical housecat.

A couple of months ago, while my husband and I spent a quiet evening on our front porch, a stray cat came to visit. We shared our snack with the friendly feline. And, as you have already guessed, her visits became quite regular. We called her the kitty who comes for dinner.

One day we got quite a surprise when she hauled her four kittens to our deck. Two were black, one a tabby like its mother, and the last one was gray.  She almost had them weaned. The problem was they were feral and would have nothing to do with us.

Then just as suddenly as the momma cat drifted into our lives, she disappeared. So did all of the kittens except for the gray one. She stayed behind but hid from me every time I came outside.

Then it hit me. This kitty fit all the requirements for my perfect outside pet. The problem? She was as wild as they came and even the door opening sent her sailing off the deck. But I decided to try and tame her anyway.

I named her Willa, after Willa Cather. Cat-her, get it?

The long process of training began. I used canned mackerel as my bribe. But as hungry as she was, she just did not trust me. I spoke to her in my most endearing, quiet coo.

No dice.

What to do? An idea came to me. Years ago I raised Shaded Silver Persians. I remembered how the mother cat used to call her kittens, so I tried it. Willa’s ears perked up and she made a beeline toward me. However, she stopped about four feet away because while I sounded like momma, I sure didn’t look like momma. I tossed a piece of fish to her and she devoured it. As long as I meowed, she stayed put. If I spoke in English she scurried away. Over the following days I continued speaking her language and feeding her.  However, she never got close enough for me to touch her.

The next week Willa began to trust me more. She came closer and ate from my hand. And I could mix in my English with my cat-speak and she wouldn’t run. The week after that, while she ate, I could reach behind her and stroke her back. Two days later I could also scratch behind her ears.

Last week I picked her up and held her close, cooing in English and barely meowing at all. Now when I come out with her food, she runs up to me. And as long as I sit down, she will get into my lap, give me a few nose-bumps and knead me with her paws. The process is slow and ongoing. She still will not let me walk over and pick her up. But she will.

You know? The same process I used to earn Willa’s trust can be used to promote trust and communication between people. The key is to help them in their time of need and be willing to speak their emotional language instead of expecting them to speak ours. Over time as trust is built we can use both their language and ours. Then the day will come when they trust us and understand our language. All it takes is patience and the willingness to enter their world.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


My stepfather missed what some consider the most important firsts in their child’s life. He wasn’t there for my first smile, my first word, my first tooth, first step, or first birthday.
         He didn’t come into my life until I was four. However, although he missed my babyhood, the poor guy more than made up for the firsts he missed as I grew.
         He bought me my first bike and taught me how to ride it. I can still hear his feet pounding the grass in our back yard as he ran behind me holding my bike steady.
         You know, I could ride that bike as long as I knew he was there. But once I missed the sound of his steps I fell. Dad would be a few yards back hunched over, bracing his hands on his knees trying to catch his breath. He’d smile, his face red and glistening with sweat, and say, “You did good, Sis. Let’s try again.”
         In my first year of school, Dad listened to me read about Dick and Jane in my first reader. Mom loves to tell the story of how I’d pause and stumble while reading for her, but when I read for Dad, I wouldn’t miss a beat or a word. What she didn’t know was that Dad had promised me that I could stay up late and watch television with him if I did a good job. He always knew how to motivate me!
         He bought me my first car and taught me how to drive it. And while it didn’t physically wear him out, I’m sure his heart pounded as hard as his feet did when he ran behind me on my bike.
         He was there for my first date. Before my date arrived, Dad pulled me aside, pushed a dime in my palm and whispered, “Sis, put this in your shoe. If that boy gets out of line, you call me and I’ll come get you.” That dime in my shoe reminded me all evening that I had a champion at home and I was safe.
         On the day of my wedding he walked me down the aisle, patting my hand to reassure me and himself that we’d be okay.
         He held my first child, and a few months later held me when my husband left us. He helped me walk through that dark valley and rejoiced with me when I married my husband, Neal. Years later he held my first grandchild.
         My Dad may have missed the important firsts that new fathers experience. But I don’t care about that. He was there for the “firsts” that I remember and I will treasure those memories as long as I live.
         Thanks, Dad. You were there for what really matters.

Monday, June 04, 2012


This spring started out dry. Oklahoma-dust-bowl dry. I’ve been soaking the garden, and my flowers, herbs, and veggies have hung in there instead of wilting like Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West. That said, it didn’t thrive either. Thank goodness the temperature hasn’t been hot. 
This week it began to rain. It thundered. Lightning flashed. And my garden? Looks like a jungle. So what is it? Water from a hose helps it limp along. Water from the Heavens makes it grow lush and fruitful. 
The source makes all the difference. The same is true in life. In times of struggle I have to ask myself, from which source am I drawing from—this earth or from the Heavens? 

This spring started out dry. Oklahoma-dust-bowl dry. I've been soaking the garden, and my flowers, herbs, and veggies have hung in there instead of wilting like Oz's Wicked Witch of the West. That said, it didn't thrive either. Thank goodness the temperature hasn't been hot.
This week it began to rain. It thundered. Lightning flashed. And my garden? Looks like a jungle. So what is it? Water from a hose helps it limp along. Water from the Heavens makes it grow lush and fruitful.
The source makes all the difference. The same is true in life.
In times of struggle, I have to ask myself, from which source am I drawing from? This earth or from the Heavens?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


“We have met the enemy and he is us.” ~ Walt Kelly

Four years ago we built our home in the country and named it “Selah, ” an ancient Hebrew term found in the Psalms. It is believed to mean: “a pause” in the music, to “reflect & meditate” on the message, or a “transition” in the song.

That was exactly what Neal and I desired for all who visited our home. We wanted our guests to pause from their busy lives, transition from their hectic schedule in order to relax, reflect and meditate.

That said, every spring the peace of Selah comes under assault when a pair of red birds called Tanagers starts attacking the windows in our house. All day long they fly into the glass and peck as they slide down. Feathers fly everywhere. Sometimes they take turns, other times they fight the windows together.

It isn’t our windows that have them worked up; it is the bird they see in the window. A bird they perceive as a trespasser in their territory. They nearly knock themselves silly, but are determined to drive the intruders away.

From morning till night Selah’s windows reverberate with thuds from bird body slams and Tommy gun “rat-a-tat-tats” from resolute beaks. The problem? The birds they are fighting are their own reflections. They are fighting themselves! All that energy, all that time—wasted! Silly birds . . .

But wait? Don’t we do that?  Sometimes we perceive an enemy intruding into our lives, keeping us from success or putting stumbling blocks in our way. But what we often fail to recognize is that the enemy is actually . . . well . . . us.

I am my own worst enemy when it comes to time management. Not only am I guilty of over committing, I also procrastinate. NOT a good combination!

There are those who focus on the negative. It could be on their past experiences—missed opportunities, failures, unmet expectations—or on their self-perceived imperfections due to comparing themselves with others. Along with a negative focus is negative self-talk, which creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Most of us have a “bird in the window” episode at one time or another. What’s the solution? Recognize our self-sabotaging habits and do something about them. For instance, I keep careful tabs on my calendar and stay mindful of my commitments. I also write down a daily schedule that I follow even if I don’t feel like it. This habit was hard for me to develop, as most good habits are, but I can attest it was worth it!

Eventually, Mr. and Mrs. Tanager will wear out, give up and build their nest. Peace will finally return to Selah.

May peace return to you this week! 

Monday, March 26, 2012


There is an interesting tree in Liss, England. It is hollow in the middle. Like the one the Keebler Elves live in! You can actually go inside it, look up and see the sky. It is empty, but it lives. Not just lives, but thrives as you can see in the picture.

Every time I feel like I’ve failed or not measured up somehow, I think of that tree and how I feel as hollow as it is, and yet, I can and must still thrive.

How do I do that?

I have to make a decision. How am I going to use this “failure” experience? Am I going to let chew away at my soul, or am I going to use it as a learning tool? You know, failure can be an excellent tool. Not only can I learn from it but I can use this experience to connect and help others.
Just like this tree, I should welcome others to walk inside my experiences and see that it is possible to thrive no matter what happens.

If you’ve failed, I’m so sorry. But now it is time to examine the experience, write down what you’ve learned, and from that . . .

Grow and Thrive!

Friday, March 16, 2012


“Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, ‘Make me feel important. . . ’” ~ Mary Kay Ash

Recently we decided to add to our flock of hens, or Fr’Hens as I call them. I’ve learned a lot about life from my Fr’Hens. And it is no different with these new balls of feather fluff. Even though they are less than a week old, they have already established a “pecking order.” And although this is a natural social organizing among chickens, it is still sad.

The little chick in the above picture seems to understand and accept that she is not welcomed to join the bundle. If I could speak “chicken” and if she could understand, I’d pick her up and say, “Don’t let them fool you! You are just as cute and healthy as they are. You have the same purpose as they, and will lay eggs with the best of them. Hold your beak high and jump right in the middle of them! Peck the back. Stand your ground!”

Alas, I cannot speak chicken, and she wouldn’t understand me anyway. But I can do this for people.

There are those who, although are visible to the eyes of others, are still invisible. They know it. It is easy to recognize them. They are the ones who stand apart from the crowd, who stare at their feet, who listen on without saying anything. They are the students who sit alone in school cafeterias, the adults that sit alone in social gatherings.  They have the look that says, “I wish I could think of something to say, I wish I was part of your crowd, I’m so lonely.”

Let’s train our eyes to see those who are invisible. Let’s listen to our hearts and help them to realize they are important, valuable, and that they should hold their heads high.