Thursday, December 12, 2013


There is much talk of 'gifts' in these days that lead up to the Christmas holiday. I will confess that most of that talk causes me a great deal of stress. I go to the local shops or mall (S.T.R.E.S.S. in that, alone) and I look for the 'perfect' thing to give to my loved ones; something they will value and maybe keep for awhile; something that says I love them. That is a lot to expect of a 'thing' that can be wrapped in paper and shipped. I rarely shop. I do not like to shop. In fact, when I went shopping both of the past two days, I ended up sitting in my car, frustrated and stressed, with tears running down my face, both times.

You see, the people I shop for really do not need 'things' and they all already know that I love them to the ends of the earth and back. So rushing about in sub-freezing weather, discovering that the 'thing' my grandchild has said he/she wants is either just sold out or is more than I am willing to pay, or is something that I know will be at the bottom of the toy chest, forgotten in just days... all that makes this 'gifting' tradition seem quite questionable to me.

My greatest joy on these shopping excursions is seeing the Salvation Army bellringers, always smiling, even though it is only 12 degrees outside. And they are always delighted with the few dollars I put in each of their buckets, and I know those small gifts are appreciated, and will be useful.

As for myself, I am not a person who is in need of anything, so it often stresses me to think someone is spending money on some 'thing' for me, as well. (Though I have received some lovely, thoughtful gifts from loved ones, which I still use and enjoy.)

But lately all this has, though stressful, not been what I have been thinking of in the 'gift' arena. As a Christian, I have heard much about 'gifts' and 'spiritual gifts', and we are usually considering the talents we have been given to use for God and for His work here when we speak of or study about these things. But, again, this is not where my focus on gifts has gone.

I have been spending a lot of time, and have been using talents far beyond my own meager ones, in the music and praise portions of our church worship. I help lead the singing in our early worship service and I have begun 'directing' a small choir of people who, like myself, love to sing praises. This has been a gift to me, a surprise gift, at that, as I certainly never would have expected to be doing these things. Yes, I put that correctly; it has not been a gift FROM me, it has been a gift, a beautifully wrapped up present, TO me. When I am stressed, from shopping or thinking about shopping, or cleaning (or thinking about cleaning) or decorating (or... well, you get it), I go grab my guitar and belt out a carol or two, or just practice chords or even scales. The gift that God has given me in my love of music and my attempts to create it is immeasurable. There is no way that what I give back can be considered a gift in return to Him.

My favorite song this week (which I'm sure my husband and pets are sick of) is Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer's "Go Tell the Fox." I have loved that song for years, and have hoped to find chords for it someday. (You can hear a bit of it here.) I have finally reached a level of competence that I could sit down (in a high stress avoidance time) and figure out the chords myself! I love this carol so much, that I am sure it is one of the reasons I included a fox in the Nativity tapestries. That song, and that fox;  both lovely gifts to me.

So.... in this time of stress, when I wonder why we do the things we are doing, supposedly to celebrate Christ's coming into our world, I have been thinking of those Gifts and Presents (also spelled 'presence') that I have been given. Right now, music is the gift - almost a toy, really- I'm playing with and enjoying most of all. But I look forward to a quieter time, when I can again go into the studio, where many lovely gifts await for me to use.

I am a lucky person. I have a Father who loves me to the ends of the universe and back. He gives me such wondrous presents! And some of them are truly unexpected surprises. I can hardly wait for what He will give me next!

Monday, August 5, 2013


Today I am alone for the first time in a week-and-a-half. Oh, I have had moments alone; even an hour or two, here or there. And, when not alone, I have been delighting in the company of my favorite people in all the world. But I am a person who needs solitude. True solitude, where I know I will not be interrupted by anyone elses whims or attentions. Perhaps that is why I have chosen to weave time-intensive tapestries on a loom that takes up so much space that nobody else really fits in the room with it and me. My hours of solitude refill me when I feel used up and exhausted.

I feel guilty to need such a selfish thing as time to myself. Or at the very least, I feel guilty for admitting it. But even Jesus needed time away from all the people who surrounded him, and even time away from his closest followers, family, and friends. So, taking Christ as my example, I admit that I am delighting in my alone-ness this morning, as we are home from a wonderful family time, and my husband has gone back to his work. The pets respect my need for solitude (most of the time.) They allow me the wilderness of my studio. I have work awaiting me there, and a cup of tea to take along for my solitary sojourn.

My breath is beginning to expand. The work and the quiet are beginning to refill me. Thank you so much, Lord, for showing us how important it is to find quiet solitude in the busyness of our times and lives.

Friday, June 7, 2013

You Are What You Eat....

Click to enlarge. Be sure to look at these flavors!

We are all pretty aware of what eating the wrong things can do over time to our bodies. I don't know of anyone who would feed their children just sugar. And we know how important it is to exercise our bodies, as well, even when we may not do as much of it as we would like to or as we should. But many people act as if the body is the only thing they need to mind; to care for and feed in a healthy way and to exercise. Not so. There is much more to us than our bodies. In fact, I believe it is more important to feed and exercise our SELVES; our spirits and souls, for lack of a better term. Perhaps the word character works, just as well, with better understanding for more people.

I have been trying to meditate more lately. It is a discipline I have almost as much trouble with as I do aerobics, I admit. But, in truth, we meditate all the time. We 'think on' things. And what we feed ourselves with, what we see, and hear, and read, and discuss, and look at; all these things influence what we are meditating on. What we 'think on' becomes so easily who we are. We have all seen the studies about the kids who play nothing but violent video games and who watch violent television and movies and then become kids who act out in violent ways.

There is so much to look at and to fill our minds and hearts with that is the moral equivalent of junk food, at best. Those things do our character little good, and often much damage.

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." (Prov. 4:23) We are responsible for the things that we 'think on,' just as we are responsible for what effect it has on our behavior. "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45)

If our body is 'a temple,' surely our minds and what we put in them is the most precious part of that temple. We don't have to sit in an awkward position and chant unknown phrases to meditate. We are meditating when we drive around town, running errands. We are meditating, feeding our character, when we sit at the computer or the television and decide what to look at and to allow to feed us.

My favorite scripture speaks of the 'healthy diet' for our souls and character:

..."Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (Phil. 4:8)

Photos taken at the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, CA by KSpoering

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

All will be well.......

I imagine you have seen this image of our friend and neighbor in the past day. It has 'gone viral' on the internet, following the bombings in Boston. I have decided to post it here anyway. The Boston tragedy was too close to home. I have a wonderful son, a beautiful daughter-in-law and two precious grandchildren in Boston. They have friends and colleagues who were at the Marathon. I know the street where it happened; I have walked that street. But even if that was not the case for me personally, a tragedy like that is always too close to home.

Yesterday was the kind of day when I needed a kind friend like Mr. Rogers, a longtime and familiar friend in our house. My father had been taken to the hospital the night before. And then Boston...

But my friend Fred Rogers is right. There is always hope to be seen within tragedy. There is more good than there is bad, and I am convinced with all that I know to be true that Good will overcome the evil in the end. If it has not happened yet, then it is not the end, as has been said by others. All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing shall be made well. My heart goes out to the beautiful city of Boston, and to those who suffered loss there. My heart is full of gratitude for the helpers who helped there, and to the helpers who are caring for my Dad right now.

My heart is encouraged by those whom I know to be praying, and by those who work with their hands to help, offering up their work as their prayers.

I will be gone for awhile, spending some time with my parents in California. So my loom will not be where I am sending up  my own prayers for a bit, though my heart will stay active in prayer.  I will be looking for helpers wherever I am. And I hope that those who are also looking for helpers might just look around and see me doing what I can do to help, too.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Risen, Indeed!

I don't think I have ever seen the power of resurrection as clearly in the past as I have this year! Last Sunday afternoon, we traveled half-way across the mountains to meet our son and get our grandchildren, who spent the week with us. We drove through snow and below-zero temperatures. On their side of the mountains, our son's family had almost a foot of snow. It was grey and winter still had a firm hold on Colorado. On Thursday, before they were to go home on Friday, the kids hunted Easter eggs in our yard, where it was warmer, but all was still grey and brown.

But this morning, on our early way to the sunrise service at church, I told my husband we were seeing an "Easter miracle!" Our neighbors have a row of daffodils along the hedge between their house and the one next to it. The flowers usually bloom a few at a time, over several weeks. None were open yesterday. But this morning I truly believe every single one of them was open, showing a riot of new life!

When we got home a few hours later, I pointed out to my husband that our forsythia bush and the apricot tree are both blooming, the forsythia stretching up into the old apricot branches. I know they were not in bloom when I worked in the garden yesterday!

All around the yard, around the neighborhood, and through the town, trees and flowers are bursting  back into life after their winter death. What do the seasons tell us, especially this season? They tell us that life will come again after death, and it can be even more beautiful than what we now know.

He is Risen. He is Risen, indeed. And all will be well, and will be very well, because of that resurrection.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Ain't Gonna Study War NO More!

Just to make your day, as it has made mine!

(Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and handsome company. Man, I want a back-up group like that!)

Thursday, February 7, 2013


We are experts at putting up barriers, at shutting down, of protecting our closed (and often tightly locked) doors. We have put up barriers between ourselves and God, and between ourselves and other people. Our 'busyness' helps us justify our barriers. And we try to fool ourselves that we do, too, have people close to us; just look at all our Facebook and Twitter Friends! Look at all those we 'know' all around the world...

But, in reality, I can count on one hand the friends who truly know me, who take part in my  daily life, who share my worries and my small delights. I think of my Grandmothers, who lived in such a tiny world in comparison to the one I live in now. Especially, I think of my maternal grandmother. She lived in a tiny Kansas town that didn't even justify a dot on most maps. There were maybe 150 people in the town in the good years.  But all of those people knew my grandmother. They knew her habits, and if she hadn't walked 'to town' to get her mail, there would be several to call and check to see that she was OK. They had eaten homemade bread in her small kitchen. They knew who and where her children were, what was growing in her garden, who was coming to visit. If she had rough spots, they knew it and helped her get through them. They were neighbors and friends in the very true sense of the word. She did not lock her doors. She did not build barriers. Her life was open to those around her, and I believe it made it easier for her to live a life open to God, as well. She had very little material wealth, but she was a very rich person.


We build barriers because we are afraid. We are afraid that, if we open our doors to God, there might be nothing behind the door. If we open ourselves to other people, they might hurt us or take advantage of us. I love to watch people, but it is a rare thing anymore that anyone looks back at me. And occasionally, when someone looks up and catches my glance and my smile, they look almost shocked or embarrassed to see someone interact with them in that small way. Most people walk looking down, or into their cellphones. Many keep headphones on, or chatter away on their phones to someone at a safe distance. They have huge DO NOT DISTURB signs written in their body language, that speaks to everyone around them, and to God. If we cannot love man, whom we have seen, how can we love God, Whom we have not seen, and Who is best seen in our interactions with other people? (1John 4:20)

You know best the barriers you have built. If you are like me, there are some pretty big and strong ones surrounding you. I am not a person who lets down the barriers very well. I am socially shy, but as I type that, I know that it is also an excuse, a barrier I have put up. If I can just let the cracks in my stone walls open up little bits at a time, I do believe that God will help me in tearing down some of my barriers. He will let His Son shine in, and beautiful and risky relationships will come in to make my life the rich one He wants me to have.

(A note: The photos in this post were all taken by me in Paris last spring. )