December Reflections

December was up and gone before I blinked.  It was filled with “catch-ups” through Christmas cards and annual holiday parties as well as more memory making trips.  Here are a few highlights despite the fact that next week I should be doing January’s reflections.  (Where has 2017 gone?  February can’t be happening.

Photo Review:

Christmas Eve Gingerbread Project — with CSI plot

Lantern Lift-Off for my Nephew, Caleb and Cousin-in-law, Emily’s birthday

Morning Walk in Veteran’s Oasis Park, Chandler, AZ. Love at first sight.  This lovely cactus I’ve never had the privilege of seeing before.  I wish I was around when it blossomed.  Now to figure out it’s name… Wildlife!  On the Way to Vegas…December 31st — Officially Happy 50th!New Year’s Eve on the Vegas Strip.  Bucket List!Quotes to Chew On:

“In this world, love is marked by suffering, crying out, and a deep and abiding longing for the day when God will wipe away every tear (Rev 21:4) Goggin & Strobel (

From Barbara Bradley Hagerty’s Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife

“If you want a healthy glow and a happy midlife, here’s a secret.  Give it away: your time, your money, whatever is at your disposal, give it to someone else.  Especially your time….As it happens, not all volunteering is equal.  Why you volunteer and how you volunteer actually matter (p. 300)…I must shift my eyes from the next step on the ladder, the one just outside of my reach, and scan the horizon for my unique contribution, that combination of storytelling and voice that I am tailor-made for — something, perhaps, that no one can do quite the way I can.” (p. 316)

Unspoken theme of the research on midlife…”autopilot is death, yes, you need to engage life with verve, but please note the fine print.  It’s arduous.  Flipping the switch from autopilot to engagement demands intention, energy, and effort every single day.” (p 356)

“But no matter the medicinal virtues of being a true friend or sustaining a long close relationship with another, the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the self nor of the other, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied for them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.”                                                            from David Whyte (Friendship)

Songs on Repeat Mode:

Walls by Kings of Leon

Even So Come by Passion

It’s Quiet Uptown by Kelly Clarkson

On My Nightstand:

Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife by Barbara Bradley Hagerty (excellent!)

The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family: A Leadership Fable? About Restoring Sanity To The Most Important Organization In Your Life by Patrick Lencioni (not well written but some good information)

The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe About Ourselves by Curt Thompson (enjoying)

Me Before You Jojo Moyes

November Reflections

_dsc8309This month was filled with a some real highs and lows.  One of the highs was planning a surprise party for my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary with my brothers (assisted by their wives) and seeing so many beloved people from our youth.  There were lots of shenanigans and fun but most importantly a Thanksgiving most of us won’t ever forget.  Another highlight was working with Dennis at an experiential training we gave to a group of people from all over the country.  It’s such a gift to be able to work with each other (most of the time, that is) ;-).  Other highs were visits from Dennis’ Aunt from Ohio and seeing my friend, Suzanne, be a featured poet at a local open reading.

A definite low was finding out a good friend is battling an aggressive breast cancer.  The double whammy was getting sick (a rare three week wipe-out sick) and being unable to visit her.  (I look forward to writing about answered prayers and healing in the months to come – latest – tumor shrinking.)  The election was another low for me.  It would have been anyways, no matter who would have won.  Finally, with advent season upon us, I find it’s a special time to embrace the gifts that have been given to us (a free country) but at the same time acknowledging the devastating experiences here on earth (cancer, poverty, racism) for with Jesus’s birth automatically comes with a knowledge of his eventual shame-filled death.

Photo Review:

img_6664A much enjoyed evening at Gatsby’s Books with my good friend and poet, Suzanne O’Connell, who was a featured poet.  img_6689Flying off to my hometown…yup, in a propeller plane — well not exactly, I land two hours a way from my hometown and then drive.  We made it in record speed this year since we took an LAX 6 am flight…home by 1 pm.dsc_0833Leftovers. dsc_0856Camouflage.  Can you see him? img_6695 No words.img_6718See above._dsc8330Family Photo Shenanigans_dsc8406My parents…Almost there — 50!!  Official New Year’s Eve.

Quotes to Chew On:

From Barbara Bradley Hagerty’s Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife

“‘…we-ness’ is among the most important qualities of a happy marriage.  ‘If we-ness isn’t there by the time you get to fifteen years,’ he said, ‘you’re in trouble.’…That long-term study of thriving couples uncovered two other intriguing insights.  The most controversial is that the wives are, as Levenson put it, ‘the emotional centers, the emotional historians, and the emotional thermostats of the marriage.’ …’And one thing we found is that when wives are emotionally taken care of by their husbands, they will help their husbands in moments of conflict.  They will invest in the relationship..  But if the wives are distressed and not soothed or calmed, they will disinvest, and this is when the couples we studied did not do as well as others.’ (p.182-3) (Robert Levenson quoted)

“What are your top character strengths?” How can you pull on those strengths even more during this time of struggle, and what would change, what burden would be lessened, if you did that?” (p. 256)

“If you want a healthy glow and a happy midlife, here’s a secret.  Give it away: your time, your money, whatever is at your disposal, give it away to someone else.  Especially your time.” (p. 300)

“I must shift my eyes from the next step on the ladder, the one just outside of my reach, and scan the horizon for my unique contribution, that combination of storytelling and voice that I am tailor-made for — something, perhaps, that no one can do quite the way I can.” – p. 316

From Natalie Goldberg, The Great Spring…

“…there is no cure for human life, except to live it, being willing to rip off the blinders as we go and let the light in.” – p. 129

“Writing doesn’t ask you to be any different from who you are right now.  Not better, not more.” – p. 161

“Death is only half the story.  The other half is life, how to navigate in these slippery waters, how to keep the humbling knowledge of our end in sight.  We all seem to blow it one way or another, but how important it is to admit our mistakes, not turn our back on anything.  It’s in the details of what we have done that we can find our liberation…We need stories to remind us and to mirror our reality.  And we need writers to record them.” – p. 166

“It’s a naked thing to show that we are fractured, that we do not have it all together.  Broken all the way through to the bottom.  What freedom is that, to be what we are in the moment, even if it’s unacceptable.” p.176

Songs on Repeat Mode:

Walls by Kings of Leon

I Have This Hope by Tenth Avenue North

Even So Come by Passion

It’s Quiet Uptown by Kelly Clarkson

Round Here by Counting Crows

Setting the World on Fire by Kenny Chesney and Pink

On My Nightstand:

Redemption Road by John Hart (excellent– a thriller)

Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife by Barbara Bradley Hagerty (excellent!)

The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family: A Leadership Fable? About Restoring Sanity To The Most Important Organization In Your Life by Patrick Lencioni (not well written but some good information)

Great by Choice by Jim Collins (enjoying)

The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe About Ourselves by Curt Thompson (great so far)

May you have an amazing Christmas Season.



photo credit for top picture, family photo with golf carts and my parents — Lovejoy Photography

March Reflections

Given April is almost half way through, I thought I’d better get my act together to review March.  It was a time of disciplined eating as I did the Whole30 diet the beginning of concert season…two.  :).  We entered in spring and remembered the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

Photo Review:

Tenth Avenue North concert:

IMG_4380 IMG_4403Spring… IMG_4433Reptile Zoo…. IMG_4443 IMG_4448Fall Out Boy… IMG_4482Spring outside… IMG_4517 IMG_4518Quotes to Chew On:

Beyond that [caring], it involves virtues like generosity and the deliberate cultivation of empathy, without which it is impossible even to conceive of how to love my neighbor as myself.”                                                                                     – Iain Provan

“True and sound wisdom consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and ourselves.”   — Calvin, Institutes

The following three quotes are from Creatures of the Day: And Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Irvin Yalom

“…anticipating endings may encourage us to grasp the present with greater vitality.” (p.29)

“I know my existence is drawing to a close, but the end has been there since the beginning.  What is different now is that I treasure the pleasures of sheer awareness.” (p. 48)

“Embarrassment is never a solitary event.  It always requires at least one other person — in this case, me.  I think it emanates from your expectation of how I’d receive your disclosure and how I’d feel about you.” (p. 67)

Songs on Repeat Mode:

Beautiful Addiction by Nate Feuerstein

Castle — Halsey

Alone Together — Fall Out Together

On My Nightstand

Deepening the Treatment by Jane S. Hall

Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

The Meaning of Marriage Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller

The Seven Principles for Making Marriages Work by John Gottman with Nan Silver

May you have a blessed month!

February Reflections

This month was a blur.  It’s hard to believe we are already into month 3 of 2016.  I swear time is speeding up with age.  It was a month of trips, hockey games, and a front yard transformation — from grass to drought tolerant.

Photo Review:

From this…

IMG_4257 To This….IMG_4237IMG_4246IMG_4213Hockey in Two Different States…

Dallas Stars…

IMG_4314Anaheim Ducks…(A win in overtime!)IMG_4325And as mentioned in my previous post, Lake Tahoe…

IMG_4296Quotes/ Poetry Worth Chewing On:

Don’t Worry

Things take the time they take. Don’t


How many roads did St. Augustine follow

before he became St. Augustine?

— Mary Oliver

What This is Not

This is not just surprise and pleasure.

This is not just beauty sometimes

too hot to touch.

This is not a blessing with a beginning

and an end.

This is not just a wild summer.

This is not conditional.

— Mary Oliver

“Though bias seems like bad news all around, it’s a basic human trait.  It’s part of our wiring for survival, explains psychiatrist and professor Daniel Siegel, codirector of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center….The point is not to get rid of bias altogether — an impossible mission — but to get to know what biases we hold, acknowledge the damaging aspects, and learn to see, and do, things differently.  — Karin Evans Unconscious Bias:  Fear Less, Love More In Mindful Magazine, August 2015

“Self-care is never a selfish act — it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others.  Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”

— Parker Palmer

“When the satisfaction or security of another person becomes as significant to one as is one’s own satisfaction or security, then the state of love exists.” — H. S. Sullivan

Songs on Repeat Mode:

Beautiful Addiction by Nate Feuerstein

7 Years — Lukas Graham

Hold Me Down — Halsey

Alone Together — Fall Out Together

Ugly Love — Griffin Peterson

On My Nightstand

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

The Meaning of Marriage Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller

The Seven Principles for Making Marriages Work by John Gottman with Nan Silver

Felicity by Mary Oliver

May Reflections

May is considered my bridge to summer where late nights don’t feel so late.  This year it was filled with fun and not-so-fun.  Not-so-fun in that we are all ready for school to be out, yet it’s not.  So we must still do homework, piano, guitar and have early bedtimes.  Fun because we had a socially active calendar.  Highlights were: dancing our feet sore at an 80s Prom hosted by our good friends, The Reams; hosting a TOMORROWLAND party because our good friend, Jeff Jensen, helped write and produce it; and attending one of the last Graces’ meeting with our dear friend, Shannon, who will be moving to Sacramento in two months.  It is a time of grieving as she’s the second member, of our 5 woman group, to leave in two years.  We lost our first member to brain cancer last June 19th.  We’ve been meeting for almost 16 years.

Photo Review:

Lovin’ Spring Flowers

IMG_1704Not quite as enjoyable but nonetheless important — 11 hours at the Hunter’s Safety Course…getting ready for hunting near Jackson Hole this September.IMG_1711 An amazing night — 80s Prom at the ReamsIMG_1720With it staying light later — this month brought with it a number of evening walks IMG_1740 IMG_1752 Watching TOMORROWLAND, co-written by our good friend, Jeff Jensen, with 50 of our friends.  If you haven’t, go!IMG_1755Tomorrowland Party!!! IMG_1767 IMG_1768 IMG_1779 IMG_1780Succulents in Bloom! IMG_1821A love anytime, though doesn’t help with my swimsuit preparation :(. IMG_1835May was a big gymnastics month for us. IMG_4237Quotes Worth Remembering:

“We read because we are looking to see what others are thinking, feeling, seeing; how they are acting out their frustrations, their happiness, their addictions; we see what we can learn.  How do people manage marriage and loss and illness and sex and parenting?  How do they do all this?  Often, the emotions that fill our inner lives are too large to make sense of; chaos and irrationality jump around inside us.  To enter the form of a story is to calm down, or excite ourselves, within a controlled space.”  Elizabeth Strout, The Best American Short Stores 2013

“I think this summer was also the period when I first struck on the idea of ambition, that I could be something in particular, rather than just myself in general.” p. 53, Michael Byers, In The Best American Short Stores 2013

“Love isn’t in the actual grab and heft of body when he comes out of school and runs into my arms, crying with glee.  No.  Love is the moment just as he comes out of the schoolhouse door, standing amid his friends, and searches for my eyes.  Love is in the second he sees me, and I see him, dressed in one of his outrageous outfits, bright startling coats, weird hats, drooping strange pants…” pg. 117 by David Means, The Best American Short Stores 2013

IMG_1652“Many children threaten at times to run away from home — this is the only thing that keeps many parents going.”  — Phyllis Diller, In The Best Joke Book (period)

Ted’s grandmother pulls him aside at his eighth birthday party and hands the boy a five-dollar bill.  “Here, this is a little something extra from Grandma.  But not a word of this to your brothers and sisters.”

The boy looks at the bill and responds, “If you want me to stay quiet, it’s going to cost you a lot more.”  — The Best Joke Book (period)

Songs on Repeat Mode:

Counting on Love by Matt McAndrew

Dream by Imagine Dragons

Believe by Mumford and Sons

Chains by Nick Jonas

At the Cross (Love Ran Red) by Chris Tomlin

The Hurt & The Healer by MercyMe

Books on My Nightstand:

The Best Joke Book (period): Hundreds of the Funniest, Silliest, Most Ridiculous Jokes Ever by William Donohue

What Love Comes to: New and Selected Poems by Ruth Stone

An Invitation to Silence and Solitude by Ruth Haley Barton

The Best American Short Stores 2013 Edited by Elizabeth Strout

Until next month…Blessings as you roll into summer!

March and April Reflections

March very quickly blurred into April and by the time I realized I hadn’t done any reflections it was almost time for April reflections soooo I’m combining them.  I’ve been working diligently on a memoir I’m writing so I apologize that my blog has been a bit neglected.  I’m hoping to be done with a rewrite by the end of May, which will hopefully free up new writing time.

Photo Review:

I found this great raven in Sedona during our Christmas vacation there.  It’s done by artist, Henry Dupere.  We have several of his pieces.  Next on my wish list, his hanging bats.


We remodeled our downstairs floors from carpet to hardwood floors due to Eden’s allergies. It has worked beautifully and she wakes up with a lot less congestion. Well worth it! IMG_1562During school, a friday dinner tradition, no matter what month it is. IMG_1695Snuggly, sleeping on the stairs.IMG_1691 Just depicting the amazing fashion sense of my son….He gets it from his father.IMG_1689 IMG_1652 Easter hunt with cousins
IMG_1663 IMG_1666I don’t know what kind of moth this is, but thought it was a beauty.

IMG_1665When you take selfies on Mom’s iphone, this is what happens….it gets posted.

IMG_1649We had a marvelous hike with lil e’s class on the San Juan loop hike.


Wild CucumberIMG_1603Sunset reflected in the window IMG_1586 IMG_1576Quotes Worth Remembering:

Your destiny shifts when emotional experiences open you up to yourself. You attract different energy and you put a different energy out. You are not controlled by unseen emotions: you have choices.  — Dr. Claudia Luiz

Give Sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o’er wrought heart and bids it break.                                                             — William Shakespeare, Macbeth

We can hardly bear to look.  The shadow may carry the best of the life we have not lived.  Go into the basement, the attic, the refuse bin.  Find gold there.  Find an animal who has not been fed or watered.  It is you!!!  The neglected, exiled animal, hungry for attention, is a part of your self.                                                 — Marion Woodman

“…the essence of a therapeutic relationship: finding words where words were absent before and, as a result, being able to share your deepest pain and deepest feelings with another human being.  This is one of the most profound experiences we can have, and such resonance, in which hitherto unspoken words can be discovered, uttered, and received, is fundamental to healing the isolation of trauma — especially if other people in our lives have ignored or silenced us.  Communicating fully is the opposite of being traumatized.”                      — Bessel Van Der Kolk, The Body Keeps The Score

The following three poems are from Ruth Stones, What Love Comes to: New and Selected Poems

What to Do

In someone else’s house

you are not exactly at ease.

It’s a matter of protocol.

That is, sequence.

There are unspoken rules.

Some of these rules are

under the rug –

so to speak.

You employ

a mechanical mouse

to investigate.


Now fragmented as any bomb,

I make no lasting pattern;

and my ear, not cut off

in the logic of a van Gogh,

an offering of angry love,

is merely blown to bits

in a passing wave of violence.

Therefore I hear such fragments

as make no meaning.

A theater of the ridiculous,

beyond the absurd

and beyond that, scattered –

not like stars, but like the coalescing

weight of gravity; thin and meaningless,

until, tenuous, like the finest web

stretched out, it collapses and carries all

into a single disappearing zero.

Monetary Problems

The widow goes to the bank.

She needs a new roof,

or a new house; whichever.

Janet, the young woman in loans,

gives her the forms to fill out.

The print is small.

The spaces are small.

The widow tries to feel confident.

Social Security isn’t much

but it’s certainly something, she says.

Janet is busy, busy,

but she takes the ninety-seven

for the appraisal.

After a month the bank inspects the place,

Substandard, the bank says,

keeping the ninety-seven.

No fixed income.

Too much of a risk.

Perhaps if the widow had a brother

or a son-in-law to cosign.

That was just a gender suggestion,

of course, the muse says.

Silence helps us drop beneath the superficiality of our mental constructs to that place of the heart that is deeper in its reality than anything the mind can capture or express in words.  It is a place of longing and desire and reaching for that which we do not yet have.  In this wordless place the whole of our person turns itself toward God and waits to be addressed by God.  This kind of prayer is standing in the presence of God with the mind in the heart; that is, at the point of our being where there are no divisions or distinctions and where we are totally one.  There God’s spirit dwells and there the great encounter takes place.  There heart speaks to heart, because there we stand before the face of the Lord, all-seeing within us. (pg. 78)           — Ruth Haley Barton, Invitation to Solitude and Silence

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in very foreign tongue.  Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

–Rainer Marie Rilke  Letters to a Young Poet

Songs on Repeat Mode:

I Don’t Want Your Love by Five for Fighting

Parachute  by Train

Dream by Imagine Dragons

Believe by Mumford and Sons

Chains by Nick Jonas

At the Cross (Love Ran Red) by Chris Tomlin

The Hurt & The Healer by MercyMe

Books on My Nightstand:

What Love Comes to: New and Selected Poems by Ruth Stone

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van der kolk

An Invitation to Silence and Solitude by Ruth Haley Barton

May you have a blessed month full of spring!  What new beginnings will you find?




February Reflections

February was a blessed month with times of meaningful connection and reflection.  I am so blessed by my friends and family.  My life is full, for which I’m extremely grateful.

Photo Review:

IMG_1866I took the plunge and chopped off some locks.

While I realize this is still long hair to some, this is the shortest I’ve had my hair in probably 20 years.  It took a bit to reacquaint myself with my hair, but now I’m enjoying the convenience and look of shorter hair.


I went to a contemplation retreat at All Saints Church with Dr. Dan Siegel.  I love Pasadena!IMG_1948One thing I’m trying to do this year is look at life through different lens and from different perspectives.  Here’s my attempt to do that through my camera (with the wall).

IMG_1951IMG_1947Lil e lost another top tooth.  This phase goes by so quickly.

IMG_1867I actually kept an orchid alive so it rebloomed!!!  This felt like a miracle (albeit small) to this black thumb.

IMG_1972A Self-Portrait protest to God about the beheading of my Christian brothers by ISIS.  This is much too tame in emotional expression but I took this picture with people near me so I felt unable to do what I wanted, which was scream and yell.

IMG_1885This is a picture of some lovely birthday flowers given to me.

IMG_1985I ended this month with a self-directed solitude retreat, a present to myself.  It was really rough.  Take a look at the scenery.

IMG_2044 IMG_2038 IMG_2032Quotes Worth Remembering:

“No matter how much insight and understanding we develop, the rational brain is basically impotent to talk the emotional brain out of its own reality.”  p. 47  — B. Van Der Kolk, The Body Keeps The Score

“Silence is frightening because it strips up as nothing else does, throwing us upon the stark realities of our life.  It reminds us of death, which will cut us off from this world and leave only us and God.  And in the quiet, what if there turns out to be very little between us and God?”                                                                                     — Dallas Willard

“Perhaps the deepest and hardest to articulate fear is the fear that this God whom we cannot control will not meet us in the way we want to be met.  Sometimes this expresses itself as a question: “What if I show up and God doesn’t?”….In the vulnerability of love we risk saying, “Here I am.  With my whole heart, soul, mind and body I am here, ready and willing to move more deeply into relationship with you.  I make myself available to you, and I will wait for you.  There is nothing I can do to control the outcomes.  There is nothing I can do to force your response or make your response what I want it to be.  All I can do is put myself out there and wait.”  And that is a fearsome place to be, but oh so necessary….In many of us, the fear of not getting what our heart longs for has led us to develop an unconscious pattern of distancing ourselves from our desire in order to avoid the pain of its lack of fulfillment….your desire for God is the truest and most essential thing about you.  It is truer than your sin, it is truer than your woundedness, it is truer than your net worth, your marital status or any role or responsibility you hold.  Your desire for God and your capacity to connect with God as a human soul is the essence of who you are.”  (pgs. 49-51)  — Ruth Haley Barton, Invitation to Solitude and Silence

“There is a trait I recognize now in the child I was then, a curiosity about my own physical composition, an obsession bordering on fever.  Perhaps that inquisitiveness is common to children of mixed parents.  You till, you dig, you paw, searching for bits, scrabbling at roots, eager to learn to which tribe you belong.  Are you more like one or more like the other?  Are you one way when you’re in one country, but another when you’re not?  You dangle from that precipice, wondering where to drop.”  — Marie Arana, American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood

“Mistakes aren’t a necessary evil.  They aren’t evil at all.  They are an inevitable consequence of doing something new (and, as such, should be seen as valuable; without them, we’d have no originality).  And yet, even as I say that embracing failure is an important part of learning, I also acknowledge that acknowledging this truth is not enough.  That’s because failure is painful, and our feelings about this pain tend to screw up our understanding of its worth.  To disentangle the good and the bad parts of failure, we have to recognize both the reality of the pain and the benefit of the resulting growth.  — Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace, Creativity Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

“The gospel is for everyone and everything.”  — Reframe video, Episode 1

Songs on Repeat Mode in January:

I Don’t Want Your Love by Five for Fighting (How could I miss this song before?!)

Give me a Song by Will Reagan

Set a Fire by Will Reagan

Losing Your Memory by Ryan Star

Where the Island Ends by Ryan Star

Where will your feet direct you this month?


January Reflections

January is one of my favorite months.  It’s a month where I set aside time to be intentional, to set goals, to plan my year, and to identify what I want this year to be about.  It completely feeds my organizational self and I enjoy the fruit I see each year from setting aside this time.  I will share more about my intentions in later posts.  But for now, here is my month in review via photos, quotes and music.

We were still in Vegas when January started and we enjoyed 40 degree weather with a dip in the heated pool and jacuzzi.

IMG_1708IMG_1773We loved hiking the Red Rocks.  (It was still cold.)

IMG_4174 IMG_4080We ran into this beautiful Friesian Horse, Crue, in a parking lot.  He had just had an audition in the snow for a Michael Bay movie.  What a beauty!

IMG_1792We threw a Kick-Up Dinner for Dennis’ work.  With some help of Shannon and Elisabeth, we created this lovely table.

IMG_1843I love winter sunsets.  This picture doesn’t do it justice.

IMG_1848I ended the month with a fabulous date with my favorite under 5-foot guy at a favorite haunt, Grounds, in our old neighbor.

IMG_1853Quotes Worth Remembering:

At times the strength of spiritual community lies in the love of people who refrain from getting caught in the trap of trying to fix everything for us, who pray for us and allow us the pain of our wilderness, our wants, so that we may be more deeply grounded in God.           — Rosemary Dougherty

With silence only as their benediction,

God’s angels come — where in the shadow of great affliction,

The soul sits dumb…

–John Greenleaf Whittier, from a letter to a friend on the death of his sister

“No,” I tell him.  “I don’t want to know anything more than I know now.  No.  I don’t want to know.  I already know too much.”

“I disagree with you there, Annie, Blumenfeld says softly.  “Truths about people are never too much.”                                                                                                                                                                                        — A Shining Affliction, Annie G. Rogers

“What has been wounded in a relationship, must be, after all, healed in a relationship….She left you without ever recognizing you.  That’s not a goodbye, Annie; it’s just leaving…..I feel the largeness of grief, how grief will not let you hide from the awareness of time passing and death, or from life itself, going on in all its unexpected ways.”                                                                                                                                                                                                 — A Shining Affliction, Annie G. Rogers

“When it comes to love, there is room for so much and so many different kinds.  The heart is capable of expanding far beyond what we can ever imagine if only we will allow it….There will always be things greater than we can ever comprehend that can come into our lives at any moment.”                                        — The Cellar, Katherine Lo

“Accepting truth was like removing a Band-Aid: at first it was painful, then it left a red mark and some of that gray sticky gunk that you had to scrape off” (p. 230) ……. “Jesus hung there, staring at me in all His agony, and I suddenly understood something:  Everyone suffered…But it was more than that that.  Sometimes we had to walk through the pain alone.  I looked back at a picture on the wall, the one where a bystander helped Jesus carry the cross.  Sometimes we had others to help us along the way.” (p. 233)

Out of Reach by Carrie Arcos

“God is infinitely patient.  He will not push himself into our lives.  He knows the greatest thing he has given us is our freedom.  If we want habitually, even exclusively, to operate from the level of our own reason, he will respectfully keep silent.  We can fill ourselves with our own thoughts, ideas, images, and feelings.  He will not interfere.  But if we invite him with attention, opening the inner spaces with silence, he will speak to our souls, not in words or concepts, but in the mysterious way that Love expresses itself — by presence.”

— M. Basil Pennington, Centered Living

“‘The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves.’ (p.11)…Imagination gives us the opportunity to envision new possibilities — it is an essential launchpad for making our hopes come true.  It fires our creativity, relieves our boredom, alleviates our pain, enhances our pleasure, and enriches our most intimate relationships. (p. 17)….Healing, he told us, depends on existential knowledge: You can be fully in charge of your life only if you can acknowledge the reality of your body, in all its visceral dimensions. (p. 27)”                                  — B. Van Der Kolk, The Body Keeps The Score

Songs on Repeat Mode in January:

Give me a Song by Will Reagan

Set a Fire by Will Reagan

Losing Your Memory by Ryan Star

Ghost by Ella Henderson

Where the Island Ends by Ryan Star

May peace and joy follow you into February.

Favorite January Pictures and Other People’s Thoughts

Favorite Pictures from the Month:  lil e’s birthday:

Minecraft cake that took hours to make along with nights of staying up late for goodie bag treats.  (All worth it!)

IMG_0832 IMG_0830 IMG_0809IMG_0834  IMG_0813

Here are some of my favorite quotes from this month:

“God wants to use ordinary life to shape us.”  Pastor Lou Huesmann 1.12.14

“But I was wrong, for Fred weren’t a complete fool.  Nor was his Pa.  The bigger fool turned out to be yours truly, for thinking they was fools in the first place.  That’s how it goes when you place another man to judgment.  You get stretched out wrong to ruination, and that would cost me down the road.”  p. 33, The Good Lord Bird

Psalms 27: 13, 14:  13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

My paraphrase from Modes of Therapeutic Action by Martha Stark, in chapter 25:

Maturity, and the hallmark of mental health is being able to move beyond needing reality to be a certain way and being able to live with a capacity to know and to accept reality as it is.  Once we are able to make peace with reality as it is, we are able to let go of our relentless hope and move on to a deeper and richer enjoyment of our lives and our relationships.

“The factor Ericsson and other psychologists have identified as the main predictor of success is deliberate practice – persistent training to which you give your full concentration rather than just your time, often guided by a skilled expert, coach, or mentor. It’s a qualitative difference in how you pay attention, not a quantitative measure of clocking in the hours.”  from internet article, Debunking the Myth of the 10,000-Hours Rule: What It Actually Takes to Reach Genius-Level Excellence

Favorite Quotes from January Reading

From Kevin Powers (2012) The Yellow Birds: A Novel.  “[War] tried to kill us every day, but it had not succeeded.  Not that our safety was preordained.  We were not destined to survive.  The fact is, we were not destined at all.  The war would take what it could get.  It was patient.  It didn’t care about objectives, or boundaries, whether you were loved by many or not at all.” (p.3,4)

From Charles Duhigg (2012). The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Random House:

“Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.  Left to its own devices, the brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to ramp down more often.” p. 17

“Willpower isn’t just a skill.  It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms and legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.” p.137

From Elan Golomb (1992).  Trapped in the Mirror: Adult Children of Narcissists in their Struggle For Self.

“The more a person’s worth is exaggerated the smaller he feels.  False labeling destroys one’s sense of worth.” ….”[With a narcissistic parent] The child’s inner self, which requires unconditional love, is treated as identical with his external behavior and his products” (p. 29)

“A man with a healthy ego takes longer to establish his commitments since he looks before he leaps.” (p. 83)

From Brene Brown (2010) The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.

[A quote from Chodron in Brown’s book]…”Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others.  Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” (p. 16)

“The heart of compassion is really acceptance.  The better we are at accepting ourselves and others, the more compassionate we become.  Well, it’s difficult to accept people when they are hurting us or taking advantage of us or walking all over us.  This research has taught me that if we really want to practice compassion, we have to start by setting boundaries and holding people accountable for their behavior.” (p. 16)

From James Finley’s Christian Meditation

“In passing from ego consciousness to meditative states of awareness, we are awakened to that eternal oneness with God that is the very reality of ourselves and of everyone and everything around us.” (location 162 ebook)

“We start out in ego consciousness, imagining that the union with God we seek is far off.  After all, ego consciousness is the subjective perception of being a separate self that has to find God, who is perceived as being other than one’s self.  But then, as ego consciousness yields and gives way to meditative awareness we begin to recognize the surprising nearness of God, already perfectly present in the intimate recesses of our very being.” (location 168,173 ebook)

From W.S. Merwin Migration: New and Selected Poems loved FINDING A TEACHER, for copyright reasons won’t reprint it but encourage you to look it up.