in the mountains

theview

 

We sat there on the deck not really talking, not doing much more than casting our eyes out across the long view, trying to take it all in. Such a vast look across so much nature is so big, so powerful–mountains that roll and climb and dip for miles in every direction, land meeting sky in a huge and gentle reckoning of the earth’s majestic glory.

And then without fanfare the fog rolled in, an unannounced guest at our high elevation gathering.

 

in-the-fog

 

And suddenly we were cocooned in light, the world no bigger than the field and trees before us.

 

XXOO

 

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for love of april

It’s an interesting thing to take photos every day then to look back over them as you build a monthly slide show. My guide is blogger FatMumSlim’s daily prompt, an exercise I really enjoy because it forces me to keep my eyes open and to look at the world in new ways.

April found me celebrating my husband’s return home after more than three years working in Mississippi, where he traveled each Monday morning and returned to South Carolina late Thursday night. It also found me in Great Falls, Virginia, spending a gleeful five days with my dearest high school friends. There was a gathering of college besties, a couple of trips to the mountains, and plenty of sweet Little Bit time.

(I even got a day or two with my sweet Eliza.)

There were bird nests, bird eggs, and baby birds galore. What a happy, happy month it was and how I love looking back over it all with a full, grateful heart. There is so much to love about April!

 

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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

 

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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!

 

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(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!)

 

Watching for the Light of Advent

IMG_4297
I’d like to make you a promise.  If you watch for the Light of Advent, it will come to you in unexpected and beautiful ways.

It’s a practice I started three years ago at the prompting of the rather fabulous Winn Collier, a pastor whose writings fill my heart throughout the year. He wrote this:

Oh, yes.

 

I’m sharing my journey via Instagram (@thedailygrace), Facebook (TheDailyGraceBlog) and Twitter (@thedailygrace). I hope you’ll join me. Just tag your images #lightofadventDG so we can find each other.

Blessings to you as we walk through this holy season together.

XXOO,
Cathy

 

Halloween, I Love

Several years ago my sweet husband decided it would be fun to have me standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon the day I turned 50. It was a great big item on my life list, after all, and so I was quite happy to oblige.

There was so much I loved about that trip, not the least of which was this fabulous find.

Jerome, Arizona October 2009
Jerome, Arizona October 2009

 

How fun it is to have a birthday nudged right up next to Halloween!

Here’s wishing you a night filled with ghosts and goblins of the friendliest kind.

Day 17: Sweet, Slow Summertime

 

will and cat FB
William and me, circa 1965

 

It may seem an impossible thing to name your favorite photograph of all time. But not so for me. This shot is hands down the one I choose, a single Polaroid moment that represents so many days I spent with my little brother, William, when our family lived in a simple little house in Gay Dawn Acres, plastic on the lampshades and Country Squire in the driveway. Glass bottles of milk were left at the front door by the milkman, and if Mom wanted a loaf fresh white bread, we simply needed flag the Bunny Bread truck as it passed down our quiet street. On special occasion afternoons we’d walk to Spradlin’s store for penny candy–a distance of, it seemed, a thousand miles. And we road bikes. For hours and hours and hours, we rode our bikes.

They are memories of summer slow and sweet, nothing but time on our hands and the invention of fun our greatest obligation.

~~~~

Just last night my dear friend, Teresa, came over for an emergency viewing of the movie that happens to be her all-time favorite, To Kill A Mockingbird. The previous night she’d discovered I’ve never seen it (at least not since the 1960s) and she rightfully insisted we correct that wrong swiftly and decisively. I’m sure I don’t even have to mention how much I loved the film, I mean, Gregory Peck. But of all that moved me in this gorgeous Harper Lee story, there was a line that laid out right over my heart and has reclined there since, hanging on like the smell of oleander in the summertime:

A day was twenty-four hours long but seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County.

 

Watching Scout swing from a tree in the big round tire and Jen lounge like a lazy lizard on the fence railing and Dill pass the time making up superlatives to add height to his small stature–all of these reminded me of the long ago summer days my brother and I did little more than hang around, making fun from nothing, sporting our bathing suits as if any minute we planned to head to the back yard for a swim in a cool, wet pool that never, ever existed.

It was such a happy childhood.

How lucky we were.

 

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

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Day 16: Eyes Wide Open

I regularly run into people who comment about something they’ve read on The Daily Grace, and it surprises me every time. It’s silly, of course–this is a published blog and the analytics show me just how many people are reading and what posts strike their fancy. But numbers are not my motivation, and so it’s something I rarely think about when I write. Instead, I get a thought in my head–something that lands there and hangs a while, rather than passing through–and when it doesn’t let go, I sit down to write about it, to discover what it’s here to teach me, how I feel about the thing.

This is not a novel concept. Joan Didion said:

I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.

Yes.  Exactly.

Nevertheless, a kind mention about something you’ve read here means a great deal to me. And you folks are so generous.

~~~~~~

A couple of weeks ago a friend from college left this sweetness for me:

Cathy…I was thinking of your 30 days of fun yesterday when I spied this beautiful orange and pink zinnia by our pool. It has orange petals that turn hot pink before they end in the yellow center. As I leisurely swam my laps I reminded myself of some of your blogs and to start looking for things that make me smile.  Low and behold, a spirited hummingbird stopped by the same flower! I left the pool light-hearted and grinning.

Thank you!
Betsy M.
I asked Betsy if she’d allow me to share her photo with you here, and I’m so happy she agreed.

 

zinnia2
Magnificat

 

I think Betsy’s zinnia is the perfect reminder God has filled the world with beauty–sometimes small, sometimes grand–and always worthy of notice. All He asks is that we take a tiny moment to acknowledge its glory and the awe of it will move through your body tips to toes, sweet and slow, like a cold sip of lemonade on a hot summer day.

It also served as the perfect reminder for me (thank you, Betsy) that we are all here together sharing this journey, lifting each other up, cheering each other on, from time to time reminding one another to smile and sing and laugh and play and just enjoy the ride.

 

 

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

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I love camp.

I do.

I’ve loved camp since I was 10, packing up my big blue trunk with everything a girl needs for two, three, five weeks away from home; kissing my parents goodbye, choosing a bunk bed (top please), swimming in the lake, weaving lanyards, learning dances, riding horses, laying a trail, idolizing counselors, eating in the dining hall, ringing the morning bell, roasting marshmallows, writing letters home, reading by flashlight, performing silly skits, catching lightning bugs, making Best Friends you will remember forever and ever. And then crying all the way home knowing Camp is over, knowing another year will pass before summer will come round again.

Camp is all that and so much more to the kids who come to Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge, Geogia. It’s a respite from the world for children who face difficulties I can hardly imagine, be it complicated home situations, significant medical challenges, life-threatening illness. It’s where my brave about-to-be-a-college-graduate daughter, Eliza, is spending the summer giving her all to children who need so much–children, she says, who give her way more.

 

CTL

 

We spent last Saturday there, Tim and I, and Eliza was determined to give us the full Camp experience. First we met her friends, fellow counselors I immediately loved who are changing the world one camper at a time with grand gifts of love and normalcy.

 

camp-girls
Don’t you love them?

 

Then we spent two hours on a golf cart traveling the entirety of Camp Twin Lake’s grounds. I was overwhelmed with it all, from the fabulous HGTV-style treehouse (my favorite) to a full working farm to two lakes to a boundless playground to the rock climbing wall to the ropes course to the arts and crafts building to the rimless pool. There is so much to see and do and the most remarkable thing of all is these activities are adapted for people with physical challenges.

I’ll never forget one of the first times Eliza called to tell me about camp. “Some kids may not be able to walk, Mom, but on our Zipline they can fly.” Yes, yes, yes.

 

campsigns
this is but a small sampling of their camp activities

 

We were thrilled to try our hands (legs?) at Paddle Boarding, something that’s been on my life list for a while. It was so much fun!

But the very best part of the day came when we visited Eliza’s cabin. At the last minute she pulled from a plastic tote this letter, which she’d just gotten from a camper the day before.

 

eliza-letter

 

I’m proud of my daughter, but I was even more touched by the words this child chose as she considered her Camp Twin Lakes experience.

You are important to me.

Isn’t that the most perfect way to begin a letter? Or a conversation? Isn’t it like having the other person look deep in your eyes to say I see you in there, and I mean this just for you. It’s a sentiment I love, and a phrase I vow to use in my own life in the future, just one of the many lessons of my day at Camp Twin Lakes.

You are important to me.

Yes.

 

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Moments that take your breath away.

 

We were sitting out on our big screen porch not doing much of anything, mostly just looking out at the yard, talking over the sweaty work we’d done there during the weekend. We’d spent some time in my much-neglected patio herb/flower garden pulling weeds and transplanting the orphan zinnias–now in the third or fourth year since the first planting, they had scattered their own seeds hither and yon and so brought a rather haphazard appearance to my (originally) well-planned garden. In fact, several danced way beyond the borders, their unbridled enthusiasm contagious if unkempt. I knew I needed to tidy up a bit. (It was getting out of hand.) Still it seems to me a flower that hell-bent on growing deserves every chance at success. Thus, the transplanting.

Anyway, I was sitting back in my white wicker armchair with a chilly Blue Moon when out of nowhere it started to rain. Just a sprinkle, at first, the kind of pitter patter that had us looking at each other saying Where did that come from? And then it came harder, more intense. The sky to the east was dark, a large bank of clouds spreading tree line to lake. To the west, though, was sun, pouring over and into our little portion of the earth like it was the very last chance it’d have to shine.

I’ll bet there’s a rainbow somewhere I said to Tim, loving this time, relishing the ordinary-ness of these moments, grateful there was not a big problem to be discussed or solved or managed. Just us, looking out over this yard, together.

Then just like that a rainbow appeared! Majestic and magical, arching over Bickley’s Pond.

Look at that! I said. And we did, counting the colors in the spectrum.

Then a bright yellow canoe paddled out from behind the trees at the bend in the cove, taking remarkable to extraordinary.

You couldn’t have planned that I said, and Tim agreed, and we sat there, looking at the pond, thinking how gorgeous it is to be alive, to live here on this pond, to be a witness to everyday miracles.

 

rainbow
May 31, 2015 on Bickley’s Pond