Perfect Moments

 

trio-plus-one
the tea party

 

IT IS MOST CERTAINLY not a stock photo, although it is just the perfect kind of moment such a photographer would hope to create. It is, instead, real life: four pals sharing a birthday tea in the pretty light of early November; four friends donning their Halloween best–which just happens to be a delightful lineup of jewel-toned princess gowns and a denim prince, slightly rolled cuffs, high-tops and all. There is the one bare foot (adorable), and did you notice? Every cupcake has a giant candle.

I’ve thought of this scene a thousand times since it first caught my eye, rolling along, as it did, amid countless others on my Facebook wall. I was captivated, and so I messaged its share-er, my sweet friend, Elizabeth, for details. The tea was a celebration of all their birthdays, she explained, the four friends having been born within weeks of each other. Their mothers met in lamaze class and formed a tight circle that continues today.

What a beautiful story, I thought. How happy I am to have come upon the photograph, to have asked.

 

IT’S GREAT TO LIVE in a time when such connection is possible, don’t you think? It’s remarkable to have such a view. Elizabeth is someone I treasure, a friend I rarely see because of the geography that separates us. But through Facebook I feel a part of her world. I get peeks at her life and loves including a beautiful daughter, Catherine, and a pretty-in-pink granddaughter, Arya.

Just yesterday we had a message exchange that brought me so much joy I thought I might burst.

Is all well with you, my friend? I wrote.

Yes, Elizabeth responded. My life is just about right–my get up & go falls right in step with my desire & destination.

My life is just about right.

That, my dear ones, is perfection.

 

XXOO

 

I’d love to send you an email each time there’s a new post on The Daily Grace. Just leave your email here.

The Right Words To Say

Still one of my faves 18. Open #fms_open #fmsphotoaday #latergram

 

IT’S THE KIND OF POST that gets me to click right away–the promise of just the right words to say, or how to comfort a friend who is hurting or three things we all need to hear. There’s something I’m drawn to in the possibility of a neat little word package I can tuck away, then call on anytime my mortal old self just can’t seem find the right combination.

What a gift that would be in a world with so much woe.

It’s certainly not what I expected when I clicked on the link to an essay by Hannah Brencher via her Monday email #94 titled, quite simply: Abide.

She gets me, Hannah does, young as she is, and so wide open and unfiltered. (In all honesty, I know it probably takes the girl hours to achieve the level of spontaneity her posts suggest.) Still there’s a real beauty to her unsettled spirit, a twenty-something young woman out there preaching her own gospel of a life filled with longing, searching out the things that matter most. It’s a quest she’ll continue for years to come–that’s what I want to tell her–the answers changing color and intensity and texture as she moves from one life season to the next. It’s a quest she’ll find as terrifying and rewarding in her 56th year as in her 26th.

But oh what she gains by being brave enough to ask the questions.

 

SHE ANSWERED TWO OF MINE in her ABIDE essay is the point I want to make. Touching a soul spot in her lament over the need for greeting cards with genuine, honest sentiments, she writes:

The world needs more cards that touch the hard stuff, the crappy situations, and the days when you wish you could escape out of your own skin and be someone else. I know I have those days. I know a lot of other people who have those days too and they’d probably appreciate some sort of card showing up in their mailbox that says, “You’re not really feeling it right now. I get it. I’m with you. It won’t be like this forever.” 

It won’t be like this forever. How powerful is that simple sentence? How many times in my life have I needed to hear it? How many times could I have brought comfort just by saying it?

 

HANNAH OFFERS ANOTHER wished-for card saying in the post, one that touched me so immediately it tucked itself up and has hung close ever since. It’s a phrase that came to her as part of an answered prayer, a God-wink that appeared when she asked for a sign. I’ve thought of it a thousand times as I’ve moved through my own week planning, wondering, worrying.

Be where your feet are.

That’s the message God brought her, she wrote in her Monday Morning email, a message that packed its own powerful punch when it landed with me. I, too, battle to stay present and to live in the moment and to accept what is rather than pressing the forward or rewind button of my life. But this little sentence so direct and true makes it easier, somehow, less overwhelming and theoretical, and more real life, here, now. Be where your feet are.

Hannah goes on to write:

He didn’t say, “pack your suitcase and go.” I would have liked that. Instead, it was this gentle reminder: stay with me. Don’t run wild in your head looking for answers and solutions and trying to solve problems that aren’t yours to solve. Just calm down and stick close.

It’s God’s reminder not to run from that which is refining you, she says.

How I love that thought. How I needed to hear it.

Thank you, Hannah Brencher. Thank you for your light in this world.

 

Note: You can follow Hannah Brencher’s blog here.

 

Want more Daily Grace? Just leave your email here and I’ll be happy to email you when there’s a new post!

 

 

Oh my. Spring.

 

I’ve spent my birding hours by and large obsessed with the sweet Bluebirds. And no wonder–they are treasured friends with whom I have shared the immense joy of two successful nests and the heartbreak of so much else: abandoned nests, overnight attacks, snake annihilation. And so I’ve been tickled this spring to have another birdhouse family to watch. It’s a precious Chickadee couple who’ve taken up residence in a newly placed nestbox placed in perfect view of my dining table bay window. How they dart about, those Chickadees, making my heart sing.

So much so, in fact, I’ve hardly mentioned the front porch nest identified by my cousin, Meg, who knows about such things. She’s a Phoebe, Meg said, when I complained that it was probably a sparrow who would do nothing more than make a mess and attract snakes.

(Still, we’d kept the porch light off and have tried to respect her privacy.)

Until this afternoon, that is, when I made my bird rounds.

First I visited the Chickadee who was hunched down on the nest and didn’t flinch when I opened the viewing hatch.

 

mama chick
Don’t you love her?

 

The bluebird eggs looked fine, but Mama Blue was no where around. This concerns me, I have to say, as she’s abandoned the early nest so many times. (She knows best, I realize. But still.)

 

blues

 

And then I cajoled my husband into bringing the big ladder to the front porch where I might get my first good peek at the other nest.

You could of knocked me over with a feather, so to speak.

 

tucked in close behind the front porch lantern

 

A whole pack of precious baby birds right there at my front door.

 

how many are there?

 

and they're hungry!

 

There they were, tucked in behind one of the lanterns that flanks our front door. I can hardly imagine how she built that nest, much less successfully incubated them!

There’s lots of Phoebe feeding to come. And lots of growing to be done by a whole peck of babies in a tiny, tiny space. There’s also a great risk of nest attack, this I know.

So I will keep my fingers crossed, this time for them all–Phoebes, Bluebirds and Chickadees alike.

Oh, Spring. Oh, my. Spring!

 

I’d love to send a notice each time there’s a post on The Daily Grace. Just leave your email here!

 

 

The Question To Ask When You Don’t Know What To Do

 

A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO I mentioned my lenten walk across the internet–a bit of a dichotomy, I recognize, and one that still seems silly to acknowledge. And yet it is a journey that continues to bear fruit. My reading list now includes a handful of writers/bloggers who open my heart in ways beautiful and lasting.

Case in point a recent post from Kelly Chripczuk of A Field of Wildflowers. It’s worthy of a read for the title alone: “What I Wanted and What Love Offered.” Oh, and the subtitle: Grace and the Salt and Pepper Hang-over.

(Right?)

Kelly writes beautifully about the stifling disappointment of morning-after, not-enough-sleep, {we’ve-all-been-there} regret.

I had ruined that which I was looking forward to, my morning of writing and stretching, the feeling of forward momentum and accomplishment as I checked off my list of goals.  But it was what it was and I worked hard to not attach to the thoughts of judgment and condemnation that flew around my brain like a flock of scattered birds.

Instead, I asked myself what Love would do, what I would tell my kids if, when, they find themselves in the same predicament.

Love offered a nap.

Love said, “It is what it is.”

Oh, yeah.

 

IT IS THE QUESTION that’s come to mind a thousand times in the week since I came upon Kelly’s post, the answer to a hundred dilemmas as they’ve come in and out of focus. There is a lot going on, after all, considerable change as life moves from one season to another, as I navigate waters that churn and chop like a boat making a decisive turn. It’s the thought that comes as my own hopes and fears come into direct contact with those of the people around me, people I love, as well as people with whom I have no particular relationship but a passing one–the overloaded dressing room attendant, the distracted young waitress at a new restaurant, an acquaintance with an email request I don’t have time for. Since reading Kelly’s post, what has come to mind with each interaction and decision, each response or action I’ve needed to take is this:

What would Love do?

 

heart-cloud

 

THERE IS ONE OTHER THING worth mentioning, another thought resurrected by Kelly’s post and brought back to my soul’s center from which it had slipped but where it most surely belongs. It is the great truth also espoused by the spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle in his powerful work, A New Earth:

Love What Is.

Oh dear friends. We can go a thousand miles on that one.

XXOO

 

Want more Daily Grace? Leave your email here and I’ll notify you when there’s a new post!

Seems Like a Perfect Day for This. #surprisingHawaii

polulu

 

We made the hike down into Hawaii’s Pololu Valley, a steep, rocky path that offered grand payoffs like this.

 

pololu-2

 

At the base we found a black sand beach and one of the prettiest views of our trip. (My photos do not do it justice, I assure you.) Then you merely needed turn around to see this.

 

this photo does not do it justice, I assure you
the view to the valley

 

Oh, Hawaii. Surpising Hawaii.

 

XXOO

The Promise of March

And just like that, the world turned green and Spring arrived. Thank you, March, for the joy of friends, the love of family and an abundance of little fat birds–both in the studio and all around Bickley’s Pond!

 

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Free slideshow design made with Smilebox

 

(I love to play along with Australian blogger Fat Mum Slim’s daily photo prompt on Instagram. Join me for April! You will find your Eyes Wide Open as you keep watch for possibility in the world around you–which will also open your heart!)

 

the lenten desert

IT HAS BEEN my desert during this lenten season, my place of wandering. This is something I didn’t realize until this moment as I write this post, and it’s something that feels strange and awkward to admit, even to myself. But the truth is in these past few weeks I’ve spent a great deal of time online discovering an unfolding world of seekers who make keen observations about our profound need for grace and love and kindness in a crazy hustle world.

My journey began when, in rather typical and wildly random internet fashion, I came upon this sentence in a blog post last February. Since then it has stuck to me like brittle autumn leaves on a wool coat:

We come not because we must but because we may.

It was a story about an intimate Communion shared by Carolyn Watts and her spiritual director, a sharing of the bread and the cup that so affected the writer she wrote about it on her blog Hearing the Heartbeat. She went on to say:

I’m pondering, these days, the various habits in my life that have arisen out of a must.

Carolyn makes a beautiful point about her God-call to stillness, something that has become more than a practice for her, now a life center.

 

THE COMMUNION PHRASE HAS CLUNG TO ME, TOO, insisting I take it another place in my own world. The thought arises every time the “I must” sentiment enters my head or leaves my mouth: I have to finish this work task; I have to fold that laundry; I have to get that workout in. Ugh.  My day–every single day–is weighted down by a long list of I must tasks that define my attitude and my existence.

But here is my truth. How fortunate I am God has given me the ability to do these things. How blessed I am to be able to walk on the treadmill and participate in a Pilates class, that I have clothes to wash and a machine in which to dry them and a closet in which to hang them. I have a car that drives me to the grocery store where the shelves are stocked, where I simply need put things in my cart and bring them home to peel and chop and roast and eat, foods that nourish my body.

Oh, yes, what a privilege it is in this life that I may, rather than I must.

 

IT IS STILL COMMUNION, this being open to God’s presence in the ten thousand tiny tasks that make up my day, my week, my life. He is there and ready to meet me, this I know–not just on the altar, but at the kitchen sink, in my weed-filled garden, as I fill the car with gas.

Blogger Emily P. Freeman (through whom I found the Carolyn Watts post) encourages “small moment living” through a practice she calls Simply Tuesday. She writes,

Real life happens in the small moments we find on the most ordinary day of the week. Tuesday holds secrets we can’t see in a hurry–secrets not just for our schedules but for our souls.

It’s a practice I want to emulate, and so I will join with Emily’s followers in posting “an ordinary moment” each Tuesday on Instagram and tagging it #itssimplytuesday. The point, of course, is neither the photograph nor the Instagram sharing. Instead it is the mindful attention required to notice and celebrate that which is so ordinary in a greatly blessed “I must” day.

 

bubbles
my nieces, in an ordinary moment I love

 

THERE ARE A MILLION other flavorful nuggets I’ve found as I’ve walked through this digital desert, a wonderful community of folks out there looking for grace in the everyday. What a gift it is to find them via the internet where it requires merely a click to connect person to person, heart to heart, soul to soul.

And that in itself is rather miraculous. Wouldn’t you say?

Not because we must but because we may.

Yes.

 

XXOO

 

Want a notice whenever there’s a post? Just leave your email here.

The Bird Feed

keeping watch over the nest box
keeping watch over the nest box

 

First there is the miracle of the sweet chickadees moving (voluntarily) from the bluebird house to their own new box. Their little nest is made of soft green moss and topped with a downy fuzz, so tiny and precious. It is also, unfortunately, difficult to photograph. (Too bad for me, that is. I am sure they are quite happy about this.)

And now there is this. The bluebirds have reclaimed their home and have finally built a nest!

Which means I have two couples to watch over, two broods over which to obsess and fret until, safe from the snakes and the heat and other (sometimes) aggressive birds, their eggs hatch and their babies flourish and fledge. I’ll bring you updates and photos, as usual. But since I expect there will be twice as many, this time I’ll share primarily via my Daily Grace Blog Facebook page. So if you don’t want to miss a thing, be sure you follow the page here, then click on the Like button and on the drop down beneath it, select “See First.” That will help ensure the post makes it into your Facebook feed.

(Don’t want to miss a thing? You can also select “Notifications” and that will give you a notice via the globe up in the right hand corner.)

Until then I’ll leave you with this joy!

 

mamagoesin
Busy building

 

mama-head
Mama just hanging out

 

Meet you there!

 

I’d love to send you a notice whenever there’s a new Daily Grace post. Just leave your email here.

House Hunters (2016)

You know all that work we did to make a new home for the bluebirds? The one that’s as snake-safe as we can make it, and that (now) has its own built-in sun shield, thanks to my handy husband? The bluebirds have checked on it day after day after nearly-spring day, this being their third nesting season with us on Bickley’s Pond.

 

12030455_10209090786371738_8525616686241268844_o
I’m liking this new addition.

 

Then out of the blue (so to speak), this happened.

 

chick-one
You looking at me?

 

A sweet chickadee couple got to building the cutest little tiny moss green nest in the bluebird box. Which created a real dilemma for me. I mean, what’s not to love about a chickadee!

 

chickadee
They are so good-natured!

 

So we rushed to put up another birdhouse, one with a tiny opening and a smaller nest cavity in the ridiculous hope they might abandon the bluebird house and move on over.

You simply can’t believe this. They did!

 

new-chick-home
This is more our style.

 

Now we’re just curious to see what the bluebirds do. My beloveds  seem both 1) a little late building, and 2) not too worried their house was temporarily claimed. I mean, they have visited each afternoon but through the entire ordeal have never shown any aggressive behavior toward the sweet chicks–even when there was a mossy nest being built in their living room.

 

reconsider
Well that’s curious. It seems to now be empty.

 

So we wait. And watch. And hope. Which now that I think of it seems to be the story of my life when it comes to this precious bluebird couple!

Happy spring,

XXOO

 

More Daily Grace? Just leave your email here!