February 26, 2009

The Gift of Winter Solace

I am so anxious for Spring! We've had Spring-like days this week. Having read some garden books, I decided to water my seemingly dead perennials. Dawson, eating his breakfast before taking off for school, came out asking, "Watering in February? in Winter?"

"Be not anxious." In my anxiety mighten I miss some of Winter's gift? Thomas Merton wrote, "Love winter when the plant says nothing." Have plants lost their voice just because they aren't green or flowering?

"Take off your shoes, for the place where you stand is holy ground." What in life prevents me from seeing burning bushes? What might I need to shed, like taking off my shoes?

The leaves of summer turned their burning colors and fell, leaving bare branches. Do I read between the branches? What would life be like without the spaces? Do I see and read the spaces? Spaces are still there when the leaves are there but we don't notice them. What might my life be full of so there's no spaces, no room for God?

One by one the leaves let go, a precious emptiness appears in the trees and bushes. The naked beauty can be seen, bird's abandoned nests become visible, night stars now peer thru the branches.

Autumn falls into the womb of Winter. Life waits, snuggled into home, hibernating, gestating, and gaining nourishment. Winter is a time to pause and have spent energy renewed.

The bleak, barren trees preach wordless sermons about emptiness and solitude and the need to wait with hope and trust for new life, rebirth. Winter's inconsistent moods often challenge Spring's arrival. In storms, non-bendable branches might break. Winter is an inner season calling me to be more than I am now.

But Winter does cramp my style. It's my least favorite season. Though it invites contemplation and reflection, I dislike going out into the cold. Bundling up from head to toe to mittens is imprisoning. I feel locked in. "Let me out!"

But I shouldn't lock out all the cold unpleasant parts of winter, or life. I would lock out the beauty it has to show me. Winter may seem voiceless like a frozen mask, but it's hiding the vibrancy of life. Like the seed, who must surrender to the darkness, the holy space, I need to risk non-doing, waiting in the creative darkness, just being.

But the dawns are coming earlier and the evenings extending themselves. Let me not hurry the solace of the empty spaces, winter's gift. Let me see with the eye of my soul and listen with the ear of my heart. Winter is a good teacher, a season I should embrace.

February 25, 2009

Art and Body Gifting

I've readied some of my needlefelting to take to church today for hanging. I mentioned before that our church is set up with a professional hanging system for art. We have artists within our community and we change out the art periodically.

One of my pieces I'm taking I call either "Community" or "Jesus' Body". Scripture refers to those of us who love God and believe in Jesus, as family, parts of His body. I value that our church values the differing gifts within our body and desires to let these differing gifts be used within our community. So often in churches we only see the giftings of teaching and music, and then of course the helping, serving, administration, encouraging ... are ongoing.

I have a grapevine in my greenhouse. I've posted pictures of it. This last year was the most productive year of all, with clusters hanging at our head level all over. All it takes is basically doing nothing! Yes, I still nurture it with fertilizing and watering, and I do need to cut it back as it tries to take up more of the space than I desire. But I used to prune it back very severely, because I had a book ... I found out that table grapes are not to be pruned like wine grapes.

In fact, the severity of pruning wine grapes looks familiar ... It is the center frame of my picture. All around are the three-dimensional vine, grape clusters, and leaves. In a small group, we had drawn grape vines. Ellen had lots of hidden grape clusters saying that she needed community to help her see her fruit. I have gone through very barren times where I've felt my fruit gobbled up, and if I'm not regularly nourished from the source I will remain fruitless. This piece is a Spring, Easter, seasonal hanging.

My other art piece is made up of three. Because they were inspired from the same time frame of reading and journalling, I just hung them on the same backing. The top I call "Starburst". God said, "Let there be light". Walking in His Truth, His light, I don't fear walking out into the world with it's varying culture. I walk, bringing gleanings back to the light before venturing out again on another ray of light.

The middle piece I call "Crucible". I looked the word up and it's origin means "lamp on a crucifix". To me this means, that in all life brings my way, that in all my choices, if I filter them thru the truth of the cross ... It's a God-consciousness in all I do in my every ordinary days (Extra- ordinary!).

The bottom piece I call "Longings". Henri Nouwen had written, "Longings are doorways thru which we come to God and thru which God comes to us". I've pictured my heart with layers like an onion, restricting and fighting the real me, the God-created-me, in being revealed. If my desire is to live out of my center, I don't have to focus on removing the layers, but focus on having more desires/longings, which would mean more doorways of God and me connecting!

Does this make sense?


Hold a true lent in your souls, while you sorrow over your hardness of heart. Do not stop at sorrow! Remember where you first received salvation. Go at once to the cross ... this will bring back to us our first love; this will restore the simplicity of our faith, and the tenderness of our heart.
- Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Lent has begun, with today Ash Wednesday. I didn't grow up with Lent, but I like these 40 day periods, like Advent too, to have a spiritual focus that can bring more meaning with anticipation to ordinary days. The word Lent comes from 'Lenten' meaning a 'lengthen'ing of days into Spring (yeah!).

Baptisms used to be done on Resurrection day in the early church and they'd have a 40 hour fast in readiness for the event. In 330 AD it was stretched from new converts to all Christians and for 40 days - believing it commemorated Jesus' 40 day desert fast. So the Tuesday before became a time for confession and repentance, and called Shrove Tuesday ('shiriving' means confession).

Prohibitions seem a thing for Lent, with giving up rich foods as the focus, which has turned Shrove Tuesday into Fat Tuesday. Since people were wanting to rid their homes of some ingredients, they started having meals of pancakes, becoming tradition. I usually do crepes. Meat is sometimes given up too. Mardi Gras has become a revelry, a 'carnival', which means 'farewell to meat (flesh)'. It seems the given up items are being worshiped, and the time of self-reflection has turned into a self-indulgence!

In the movie "Chocolat" we see what some people do in giving up things for Lent. In the book Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner (a good book), she gives up reading for Lent. Ugh, that would be a hard one. A couple years ago friends of mine wanted to wear a tasseled bracelet (Numbers 15)(which I made for everyone) for a reminder of something - for me it was to exercise everyday, Sunday's excluded (which I think I'll do again this year - without the bracelet).

Some people will use Mardi Gras as a carnival celebration of looking inside ones self. People need to haul up aspects of personality they choose to bury and tend to remask a persona. I have friends who one year came to such a party with masks representing their hidden self, and maybe ridiculing egos. When Adam and Eve lost innocence what did they do? they sought to cover themselves. Paul asked us to "put on the new self" to "put on Christ".

Because meat, cheese, cream, butter, milk and eggs were typically avoided, small breads began to be made. Germans named theirs "pretzels" - "little arms". They were visual reminders for the heart, since formed in the shape of arms crossed over the chest - like praying.

God looks at the intentions of the heart, the spirit in which we do things. It's not just a matter of ritual but a matter of the heart!

February 22, 2009

Anniversary and Spouse Prayers

I've been awake since 4:30. I could say it's menopause, or it could be having drunk a second pot of tea (I often reuse my tea leaves for a second pot - more robust than the sawdust dregs in most tea bags), or it's just the fact that sleep has often eluded me all my life. My body can be very tired but my brain never wants to shut off. Monte always makes fun of my "dichotomy", of talking of my brain and body as two separate beings - but they are! Anyway ... it's become a time the Creator gives me creative clarity.

Yesterday was Travis and Sarah's anniversary. Theirs is one week after Valentine Day, and Heather and Bill's anniversary is one week before Christmas (I guess I could say ours is almost one week before Thanksgiving). As a MOPS Mentor Mom, I've shared this story, and I see I posted it a year ago, so maybe I won't do it as a devotional again this year. Dawson took the pictures and photoshopped the one. It's a family story with "the rest of the story" aspect to it.

When our kids were little we used to have fun with them, telling them the future person they'd marry could be alive right then living somewhere in the world - like Australia, or down the street, or so-and-so. "Naw!"
Monte and me are almost eight years apart, so it's fun to tell young kids that that person might not be born yet, or even worse (to them, when they're say 5) that that person might be 12 years old! "Naw!" But we talked about praying for that unknown person. And as teens - that whoever was dating your future mate, your hopes are that they'd protect and honor them, and the same goes for you with who you're spending time with.

When planning Travis and Sarah's wedding with Sarah's parents we were sitting around sharing stories. For some reason we talked about the time when Travis was three and he got very sick. After me sleeping at one hospital with him for a week (I couldn't leave such a little one alone!) and him undergoing lots of tests, they sent us to the National Jewish Hospital. They did more tests and were about to diagnose him with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis ...

Travis was unable to walk. Every four hours when the aspirin wore off, he was in pain. I had to do everything for him. His joints hurt too much to crawl. Monte was imagining his little boy not able to run and play and ride a bike, climb trees ... But then after a month, there was a turning point ...

Sarah's mom, Kerry, asked his age again. She was quiet a bit, then said that at about that time she got an urging to pray for the person Sarah would marry. (I always start tearing up at this point.)
We never know what praying may be doing, but we have to believe and trust that it is powerful!

For the devotional, I then went on to play a recording of a song Monte wrote about praying for our kids future mates and the hope "that they love Jesus just like I do". We had sung it as a family and captured Dawson's voice at 5 and Travis singing as a teen.

Hardly a dry eye in the room.

February 21, 2009

The Shack and felted image & etc

I finished re-reading The Shack this week - the last 2/3. Everyone needs to read that part more than once. Should I give a book report/summary?

I got a great idea for a needlefelted sculpture I'm going to do soon. Once done, I'll post a picture.

Monte's home from Arizona. It snowed a bit last night. We're imagining Spring things to do. In fact, this is the month to clean out birdhouses. 

February 18, 2009

Martin Luther

Today on the church calendar Martin Luther is remembered. I didn't post about him on this day before - probably because I talk so much about him on Reformation Day and All Saints Day (Oct 31 and Nov 1 - all a great story, a piece of church history and the larger story).

I've read a biography of him, and enjoyed even more a biography of his nun-wife Catherine. And I really like the movie "Luther". Monte loves a scene with his wife, and I love a scene where he's sitting with the Greek scripture and trying to figure how best to translate into the common German a word/phrase/concept.

In the Catherine biography I learned about the large 'home' they occupied, taking in many borders and many guests for meals and all the table talk. The kitchen was even described and how she went about renting or buying orchards for making their 'brew' drunk at every meal and all the household needs.

One story I've never forgotten is when she dressed all in black and Martin questioned her. She said something along the line of his behavior being such, like not trusting in God, so God must be dead, so she was mourning! That threw him into action!

Humor Value

Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.
-GK Chesterton

February 17, 2009

Potok Birthday

Today is the birthday of novelist Chaim Potok, born in NY in 1929. He's a rabbi and wrote books about Orthodox Jews, actually Hasidic, raised in New York City with the tensions of the varying values and culture in modern society. 

I mention him because I've read three of his books and really like them. The Chosen and The Promise follow the same characters, and The Chosen was made into a movie. As a parent you struggle with the chosen relationship between the father and his son. The movie shows that struggle in a more painful visual.

I'm even more intrigued with his My Name is Asher Lev, the story of a young artist, whose gifting, developing into a career, is not approved by his father, though their Hasidic Rebbe gives his approval. Here again, great character dynamics. The crucifixions Asher produces still capture my imagination. I see there's a sequel, The Gift of Asher Lev, I'll definitely have to read. The first book (which I will read again) left too many questions. Will they be answered?!

One great question? What is secular and what is sacred? I have my opinions on this, but will leave it hanging.

February 16, 2009

Presidents Day etc

"For God so loVed the world,
That He gAve
His onLy
ThaT Whosoever
In Him
Should Not perish,
But have
Everlasting life."
John 3:16

I've been cleaning up my computer and found the above ... and since we're still close to Valentine Day, I thought I'd post it.

Some years from Abe to George's birthdays in February I put a little log cabin on the kitchen table. The red, white, and blue runner, I wove. I was just thinking how log cabins still have an appeal today. Monte always talks about building a small one someday. We visited one in Wisconsin last fall and couldn't get over the size of the logs!

Here's a quote from Abraham Lincoln ...

“Neither [side] anticipated that the cause of the conflict [i.e., slavery] might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. ’Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bondman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

God is not at a nation's beck and call, but the nation at His. God transcends our humanity's limited vision.

February 15, 2009


People have been begging me to post photos of my new (first) Grandbaby. On Facebook I had posted my status for a week as "Karey is; simply a 'state-of-being'" - sometimes feeling like a zombie or robot in what I was doing. I knew my time in Texas was soon to end and once that baby was born, we were so tired, I just had to keep plugging away at finishing things up, so Heather's year without Bill, alone with their baby, could go smoothly. I wanted her to be able to relax and enjoy life and little Will.

So now that I'm home ... after taking Monte to the airport today (he's in Sonoita, Arizona for the week), I took the time to post lots of pictures on my photoblog. So cruise thru the varying days to view a variety of photos.

Notice I said "first" above? While Heather and me were readying for another nursing time, my iPhone rang. Travis and Sarah were calling and asked, "Hey Mom, do you want to spend time with us like you're doing now, in 8 1/2 months?" "Oh ... is that how you're telling me you're going to have a baby?"

So I guess this is the year Monte and me are adding the names Grandpa and Grandma to 'who we are'!

Colorado Mountains

I've returned home to mountainous Colorado. Did you know Colorado has almost 60 peaks over fourteen thousand feet? They are called 14ers and people climb them, checking them off their list. Colorado is also the source for four of North America's major rivers. Monte and me have often spoken about watershed life decisions and nearby here we can straddle the Continental Divide and raindrops or snow melt can end up in either the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans - quite the watershed!

I returned home to other mountains too: mountains of laundry and mountains of mail! Since yesterday was Valentines Day, as I attacked the mountain of mail, I thought of Monte and ripped out words and pictures that reminded me of him.

Remember the Velveteen House III post I did the night before I left for Texas? All the bedding of the four couples who slept here were piled in the laundry room this month I've been gone. So I tackled that mountain, washing the sheets first, before moving to the piles of clothes.

Monte cooked me salmon for our Valentine supper and had bought roses and goodies. He loved the collage I made for him.

February 8, 2009


I am taking pictures and will post some soon. Just wanting to get ahead and done with everything before I leave. Monte's coming back Tuesday night and I'll go home with him Friday night. Then Heather's on her own.

Oh ... I packed up Max the dog yesterday morning and took him to a kennel they've used to board him until further decisions can be made. He's a german shepherd (and due to horrible childhood memories, I am biased against them), but he does have a wonderful temperament, but so strong and high maintenance. The first eve I brought Heather and baby home, Heather was walking in her post surgery soreness and the baby was whimpering. I was carrying the baby and he was so powerfully shoving me. I was attempting to put the baby in the tall strong bassinet so to go put him outside, and he was almost in the bassinet! It seemed he thought Heather was hurt and the baby was the enemy to get or attack. If a leg had been dangling ... I have had bad dreams. Then the next day, all of us exhausted and asleep, his sharp barking all of a sudden after silence, startled us.

I need to go, the baby moniter is sounding Will's getting ready for the next feeding. That's what we're living between ... oh do I remember those days. But it does go by fast ... looking back.

February 5, 2009


What all do I tell?! I am very exhausted as I try helping Heather not be exhausted. She was able to come home from the hospital last eve, and hadn't really slept since last Friday night. I couldn't get over how lucid she was with all her questions and all the stuff thrown at her, yet nodding off as she'd quietly sit nursing, or finally a moment when no one's around. Glad I was knitting socks, so occupied and trying to keep her at peace.

Tho I hardly sleep, she's getting sleep.

All's I can say is Will is really a cutey and very good. Pray for us to remain healthy. He's a bit jaundiced, so we're working at him eating good, which means an electric breast pump a sweet nurse at the hospital let us borrow. I take him for more blood tests tomorrow.

It's good to be home is all Heather keeps saying. Good night.

February 3, 2009

February 2

The below is what I posted last year, so I copy and pasted it here for this year, and I was going to do it last night, thinking I'd be back from the hospital before 10, but no. Heather still had not slept in two days and was falling asleep nursing and baby Will was not going to sleep. So I didn't leave until he got to sleep and Heather was sleeping.

But as the day progressed I thought of this day and the timing in Scripture of baby Jesus's continuing story. Heather had even talked about this, without her knowing the calendar day's story. So off to the hospital again I go.
So what day is February 2? Groundhog Day!

Yes and No.

On the Christian calendar February 2 is Candlemas Day. This was the day Jesus was brought as a baby to the temple. Old Simeon and Anna were there waiting for years! for the Messiah, and proclaimed Jesus the Light to lighten all peoples.

A meeting of the old and new.

In some places candles may still be brought to the church to be blessed.

Folklore: "If Candlemas day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight;
But if it be dark with clouds and rain,
Winter is gone, and will not come again."

Groundhog Lore: If he sees the sun ...
and is frightened by his shadow he'll crawl back to sleep for 40 days.
If it's cloudy ...
and stays above ground; it's a harbinger of early spring.

Did dislike of religion bring the change from Candlemas to Groundhog Day?

Watch the movie "Groundhog Day".
Bill Murray, a TV weatherman seems condemned to live the day over and over again. He tries every role or small story he can think of. When all fail him, does he discover the real meaning of life?

It's Ecclesiastes in modern film--all is vanity. I love the fact that you can find a part of the Gospel in most every film.

February 2, 2009


I got 6 hours sleep last night and hoping Heather got some sleep, since she didn't sleep saturday night. Yesterday was a LONG day. Heather's water broke at 2:30am and we were at the hospital at 3:30. It's only 5 minutes away and because her labor was progressing slowly I came home several times to check in on the dog. They'd send me home to ... to eat, or shower, or "Nap" they said. I did get in 1 hour. So I just about got one sock knit.

Just to sum things up, by 8pm, after all day of contractions not being consistent and baby starting to show bleep drops on the monitor paper following her contractions, and only dilated 1cm, they suggested a C-section, and I was given scrubs to change into. Bill called quite a few times during the day (we can't call him, only notify Red Cross), called, from us getting checked into the hospital till her in her final room and nursing the baby for the first time and he heard him crying. She cried while talking with him in the evening.

Bill is a Steelers fan and we watched the game, Heather wanting to be doing what Bill was doing. She was wheeled away when the Cardinals made their final touchdown. I wasn't retrieved until the game ended, so gave them in the room the finale of a Steeler touchdown at the end (tho some had been texted).

William Lavender III was born at 21.27 hundred time (however you write that in military time - you know, around here, like when we were at Baskin Robins, I noticed the opening and closing time in military time!); and was 6.15 pounds and 20" long.

I'm about to go back to the hospital. She'll be in for a couple days.
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