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The practice of listening.

"It takes time and practice to learn to listen. And it takes a caring heart. A fourth-grade teacher once asked her class, "What is listening?" After a few moments of silence, one little girl raised her hand. "Listening," she said, "is wanting to hear." Lord, make us a people who want to hear." Janet Dunn, Desiring God. I love learning and I admit that I am somewhat of a self-help junkie. A friend once said to me, "You have to start reading something fun!" It didn't sound interesting, but she was right. This same friend is a great listener. When I sounded off about trouble in my heart about my relationship with my mom, she offered kind and loving advice. What was that advice? That I needed to seek the help of a counselor. Inside, I rolled my eyes. Really? Again? I've gone this route before, aren't I done? But I went forward with her advice.  I connected with a counselor, a caring soul, a beautiful listener. With her by my s

What does your "cookbook" look like?

My Betty Crocker cookbook is a wreck. It was given to me as a bridal shower gift in 1979, and I have treasured it ever since. Over forty years later, it remains a prized possession. It has been my cooking guidebook, truly important when you’ve grown up feasting on a mainly southern Italian diet, (no complaints here) which included a lot of pasta and meatballs. Yes, our meals had variety, but gravy was simmering at my house just about every other day. The traditional, and now collectable Betty Crocker cookbook became my best friend in the kitchen. Today, it has all the signs of being used and maybe a little abused. The pages are weathered, written on, and stained. The covers are loose, no longer held in place by the familiar spiral binding. The only thing keeping it together is an oversized, stretchy band. I’ve collected other cookbooks over the years, but this one has been my go-to manual. In it, I discovered new recipes, tried making things I had never heard of, and was thrilled

You Are Already Beautiful

I recently watched Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (Amazon) and it was a lovely, “dreams come true” story. The main character in the story, Mrs. Harris, is a light-hearted woman with a lovely disposition. A war widow, she makes her living as a hard working housekeeper for upper class clients. While at one of her clients’ homes, she spies a stunning Dior couture gown hanging in the wardrobe. Instantly, she is entranced by its beauty and resolves to own one someday. She was on a mission! She scrimps and saves at every opportunity. Finally, she has saved enough to make the trip to Paris to visit the renowned House of Dior. She is ready to make a purchase! She endures a few twists and turns, but as fate would have it, everything falls into place for her. She is seated in the viewing parlor ready to observe a private showing of the beautiful collection of couture dresses. Spoiler alert… She purchases a beautiful gown and the process to custom fit her dress begins. She proudly owns a Dior gown! I

The Unraveled Thread

An unexpected package mysteriously appeared at my door. It came in the mail, and it was a complete surprise. When I opened it, my heart was profoundly filled. In the package, was a book about slow stitching. Now that probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, but it was for me. I had been thinking about slow stitching as something new to try. A practice to help me slow down and use my creativity, too. I told no one about this desire. Yet, the book appeared and when I read who it was from, I wasn’t surprised. A dear friend, who lives across the country sent the book to me. She said something inside of her knew that I  needed  to have this book. I don’t talk to her very often, but I know we think about each other. Somehow, she seems to have a sixth sense about things, and she had a sense about this book and a sense about me. She didn’t know that I had thoughts about stitching, but God did. And when I saw the book, I was speechless. In my spirit, I was overwhelmed. I don’t think I am

Beauty in a Box

  The work of a floral designer can be perceived as dreamy and romantic. The truth is, it’s really not like that at all.  It’s a satisfying form of creativity and just like any other art form, a great deal happens before the “beautiful” emerges. What isn’t seen is the messy process that precedes the beautiful outcome. If you’ve ever worked in a floral shop, you know what I mean. Flowers arrive to a shop packed in boxes. They are strategically and protectively arranged to protect and preserve them from damage while in transit. If mishandled, flowers can be bruised. The job of the floral designer begins here. The goal? To carefully unpack the flowers and transfer them to another safe place, a cylinder container filled with fresh water. Before the stems are submerged in water though, essential things need to happen. As the flowers are unpacked, the stems are cleaned, then given a generous new cut. This is done so that when they’re put in a bucket of water, they can “drink up”. The new

A magical way to get rid of wrinkles...

I don’t like wrinkles. Lucky for me, my clothes dryer has a nice feature on it called wrinkle prevent. Once the original drying cycle is complete and the dryer stops drying, the wrinkle prevent feature kicks on. This feature is intended to prevent wrinkles from settling into the clothing. Within a few moments, the dryer powers up again and tosses the clothing inside around and around with the goal to keep them wrinkle-free. The dryer continues this intermittent process for a very long time.   The magical intent of this feature helps me when I know I won’t have the chance to empty the dryer once the cycle is complete. It’s a feature I use often. However, while this feature is really nice, I’ve noticed that it doesn’t completely deliver on its promise. Some wrinkles still happen. Perhaps not as badly as they could if left sitting in a heap for hours, but still, they are there. I can choose to live with the wrinkles or try to smooth them out. One takes work, the other not so much. It give

A Silly Little Prayer

Years ago, for the very first time, I read the gardening section of the newspaper. I found myself attracted to an article about hummingbirds. According to the article, it was hummingbird season and time to keep an eye out for these tiny creatures. Fascinated with the information, I found it hard to believe that hummingbirds existed in my corner of the world. I had seen them in movies or TV specials, but never in person. And so, I sent a short, simple prayer up to Heaven. “I would love to see a hummingbird, Lord.” I forgot about my prayer until a few days later. I was admiring the flowers I had planted outside my door. I planted beautiful impatiens that spilled out of two large terra cotta pots. I was excited with the results, excited because the flowers actually grew! I was pleasantly surprised with my beginner’s luck. Suddenly, without warning, a tiny, green bird flitted magnetically to my flowers. I had to take a second look. Was it a hummingbird? I wasn’t sure. I kept look

Frustrated or fulfilled?

Discovering how God created you leads to living your  purpose and mission with strength. Frustrated or Fulfilled?  That was the question I heard on a radio program years ago, and it caused me to stop and think. At the time, I wondered…which am I and why am I feeling this way? Admittedly, I was both. Frustrated because I knew there was more and oddly, at the same time, content with the status quo. But that little frustration part was bugging me. Why was I frustrated? When I thought about feeling frustrated, it wasn’t in the material sense. Rather, it was a persistent sense of knowing that there was more to life. Could there be more? Was the best yet to come? And yes, of course, Heaven is the ultimate “best to come,” but how do you get to that “more” in the everyday? How do you get to a point of relishing each day instead of just trying to get through it? I am reminded of the lyrics in Steven Curtis Chapman’s song,  More to This Life . In it he sings, “Make the most of your own journey f