From the Bluegrass to the Pacific (There and Back Again)

Today, I’m flying to Seattle for a short visit with friends and family. I was born in Seattle and some of my mother’s family still live there. My son married a Seattle girl and that was a double blessing, because I’ve had an excuse to return to the region and visit one of the most beautiful areas in the continental U.S.

My son and his wife are relocating to Kentucky, thus the reason for this trip. I get to make the journey, too. We plan to take full advantage of this opportunity to see places we’ve never seen. And we’ll be looking for dog-friendly places, since Gusto will be with us. As you can see, he’s happy to be included.

After we leave Seattle, we’ll head to Oregon, where we’ll stay a couple of days then head down the Pacific Coast, hoping to visit some new places we’ve never seen. I plan to post pictures and thoughts here and on Facebook, documenting this trip so my friends and family can see these places with us. Not like being there, I know. But hopefully it won’t be as bad as sitting through a long slide show of vacay pics with the neighbors. After all, if it’s boring, you can leave. I’ll try not to be boring and in any case, it’ll be short. Usually.

So thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ll drop back in during this series of blogposts. You can follow this blog or friend me on Facebook or like my Facebook author page to keep up with what I hope will be an interesting trip. In any case, I’d love to hear from you regarding your favorite Western or Midwestern stops, especially if you know of any dog-friendly places along the way.

An Unexpected Detour

Yesterday, while my son and I were out driving, we passed a road neither of us knew. We weren’t in a hurry, so he decided to turn and find out what was down that road. My dad used to do that. We’d be out driving somewhere and he’d say, “Wonder where that road goes?”

We’d sit up on our knees and peer out the windows, waiting for the first glimpse of the unknown. Yesterday’s road was narrow, sometimes only one lane. It dipped down into a valley and followed the winding path of a creek. Houses sat on large, verdant lots, banked by rolling and sometimes rocky hills. Often the dark woods shaded the road so heavily, we could barely see.

Around one turn in the road, we happened upon a doe, standing on the edge of the road. My son thought she might be scouting for danger before she allowed her fawn to follow. She hesitated when she saw our car, then turned back to run into the woods, before we’d had a chance to snap a picture.

Kentucky boasts many beautiful spots and we found several yesterday. We had no idea where we’d end up, but when the road ended and we recognized the area, we were surprised at how far we’d gone. Life can be like that. You take an unexpected detour, sometimes fighting fear and uncertainty, but the road always leads back to the familiar. Or else, you grow accustomed to the new road.

We’re on a new road here at my house. At times, it’s hard to see what lies ahead, but we get up every morning and push on. We know the roads all lead to the same place. Our trust is in the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, and He will never let us down. His word promises that.

Thanks for reading. Hope you’ll stop by again sometime.

A Few Important Things to Remember About Mothers

Some of our most precious memories revolve around our mothers. They are usually our biggest fans. Their love is unconditional. Unless you really screw up, they never give up on you. 

Some important facts about mothers: We all have one. No two are alike; they’re as individual as your fingerprint. They tend to be protective and territorial (frequently compared to momma bear). When there is no water available, they will clean your face with their own spit. Some of them really can’t cook. You love them anyway. 
Husbands, never say this to your wife: My mother always did that for me. My mother can teach you how to cook (after eating what your wife prepared). My mother (insert anything here).
Folks tend to be protective of their moms. Like a very beefy guy on a bus once said, “You can insult me, but don’t insult my mother––or you die.” 
I am thankful to be a mom. I love my sons. I have amazing daughters-in-law. And I love my precious grandchildren. I can be over-the-top silly where they are concerned. And I love Mothers Day, even though I suspect it was created to sell greeting cards, flowers, and whatnot. I love visiting my mom and wish I could spend more time with her. That’s her in the picture with me and my middle son, Matt. You can read a more poignant post about her here. Check out middle son Matt’s amazing website here.
In closing, may your Mother’s Day be blessed, whether you’re a mom or celebrating a mom. And thanks for taking a minute to read my post. 

Focus on the Positive

When you’re gazing at your reflection in the mirror, it’s not always easy to focus on the positive, especially if it’s a full-length mirror. Even some of the most beautiful people observe themselves with a critical eye. Instead of the outer beauty we see, they notice the tiny wrinkles and blemishes they possess. Once considered a natural part of life, wrinkles, lumps, and rolls are now devastating. 
Old age is a time of reflection. We look back on our lives and wonder if we’ve achieved our fullest potential. Sometimes, we’re not happy with our own assessment.
The other day, I witnessed someone’s realization that her situation is not as bad as she thought. She’d been focusing on the negative elements of her life and truly, her life is not easy. Elderly and living on a stipend, sometimes she gets discouraged. An opportunity came for her to visit a friend in similar financial circumstances. The friend’s small apartment is tastefully decorated. There are many beautiful trinkets and collections on display. Her walls are decorated with family photos, awards, events, paintings, etc.  
My friend came away with a long face. When I asked why she seemed down, her confession surprised me. Her apartment looked shabby in comparison to her friend’s. After arriving home, she looked around and realized that while her things were not as many or as elegant, they were hers. Most of the things express her personality. Many were gifts from family and friends. Souvenirs from her cross-country trips, along with several jaunts to Mexico, adorn her walls and shelves. 
Most precious to her is the colorful hand-quilted spread on her bed and the last photograph taken of her late husband. A beautiful teapot collection adorns her kitchen and a handmade plaque, a gift from a beloved sister-in-law, depicts John 3:16, For God so loved the world…
She called me a few days later and told me how she had come to realize her gifts were different from those of her friend. Her apartment is her home. She’s surrounded not by elegance, but by comfort. She glanced at her reflection in the mirror and what she saw surprised her. She caught a glimpse of her twenty-year-old self and she felt happy. “I have much to be thankful for,” she told me. “I have my health, a wonderful family, and faith in God.”
I heard a new confidence in her voice I’d never detected before. I looked in my inner mirror and tried to focus on the positive elements of my life. I was almost immediately flooded with an overall feeling of contentment. I have a long way to go in some areas, but I can see that I’m on the right path.
Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings. Happy Spring!

A Frivolous Waste of Time?

        A writer friend took the summer off to devote to her family. And she had some serious soul-searching to do.

“What am I doing?” She asked herself. “Am I just wasting my time with my head in the clouds? Writing frothy fiction to entertain overstuffed saints?” When she shared this with me, she looked me in the eye. “Is this just a frivolous waste of time?”

Wow. Those words hit me hard. How often have I thought the same thing? Wondered if I was on the right track, or chasing a fancy. 

Serious soul-searching is best done in God’s presence. I presented it to Him. As soon as I spoke the words aloud, a thought occurred to me. A question, really. Actually two questions. “Is a beautiful painting a frivolous waste of time? Is a well-written symphony a frivolous waste of time?”

Creativity, art—or at least the doing of it—can sometimes seem like a shallow pursuit. What great meaning does the work have? Does it stir you? Does it speak to your inner man? It doesn’t always have to. Sometimes you just need to laugh, so you read a humorous story, or watch a funny movie. But during those times when you seek growth or spiritual renewal, you hunger for something with more depth. 

Read a great novel or watch a well-crafted movie, and it stirs your creativity. Stroll through an art gallery or listen to your favorite music. It can calm your teeming soul. 

It all comes down to a very personal decision. A call. A gifted writer crafts a story that captures readers and takes them to another place. Skillfully touches hearts and feeds hungry souls. My writer friend has that kind of gift. I hope she’ll find her way back. Maybe she’ll read this, see herself and know, God has given us the power to create beautiful things. Perhaps it’s because He loves beautiful things.