The vanishing front porch

Welcome to the front porch

One evening, as my husband and I sat on our front porch, one of our neighbors walked by and called out to us, saying, “I love to see people using their front porch!” He was pointing out a rarity in our neighborhood, despite several homes having beautiful, welcoming front porches. Most of those porches sit vacant and unused. Even ours sits unused more than it should.

I think air conditioning has forever changed what used to be a sacrosanct aspect of southern hospitality: gathering on the front porch with friends at the end of a day’s hard work. After all, who wants to sit out on the porch battling mosquitos and suffering from the heat and humidity when indoors is so cool and refreshing, not to mention bug-free?

Maybe busyness has also changed how hospitable we are. And I don’t just mean those of us who live in the air-conditioned south. Continue reading

The marathoner’s psalm

I was out doing a really tough run this morning, not tough because it was the longest run I’ve ever done (that was last week), but because of the warm, humid conditions. While I was running, I kept thinking of something my husband said to me this past weekend. He advised me in his ever-so-gentle-way to find ways to think more positively as I run.

He’s right. Negative thoughts don’t usually creep in during my training runs, although there are hard runs where I don’t feel especially happy afterward. But in tough races, for reasons I don’t understand, a negativity sets up shop in my mind.

Then the grumpiness pours out along with the sweat. And who gets the brunt of that ill temper? My husband. And I’m usually at my grumpiest right when he sweetly comes back from his finish to run back in with me and cheer me to a strong finish. Not at all what he deserves.

So this morning, I tried to use the especially soggy conditions to force myself to think of positives. I found myself grateful for many things along the run: the ability to run at all, the time to run, a shaded path and much more.

Then – because I had a long time still to run – I started thinking of Psalm 23 and ways that it applied to my life as a runner. I started adding new words, and the result became my prayer of gratitude for the morning, a psalm for marathoners that I hope you’ll enjoy reading, whether you run at all or consider yourself an unrepentant couch potato. Maybe it’ll encourage you to take a challenge or negative mindset you’re dealing with and turn it into a psalm of praise: Continue reading

Two lives imitating trees

In last week’s post Two trees imitating life?, I wrote about two tree sculptures imitating life, or death, or maybe even tennis balls, depending on how you view the art. I promised to follow up this week with more about the blessed life being like a tree planted by water, and here’s a picture of some pretty cool tree roots to get you thinking of what the tree planted by water may look like:

Trees and their roots growing by a creek

The passage I shared with you last week actually describes two lives that are like trees, just very different kinds. One life is blessed, but the other is cursed.  Continue reading

Holiday wishes

I hope you won’t mind a shorter post this week, as I’m still catching up on rest after many blessings this Christmas: presents to wrap and open, many good things to eat, and a house filled to the brim with loved ones. Most especially – I found the blessing of forgiveness at our Christmas Eve service in offering a communion cup to someone who had deeply hurt me. The moment was the best gift for me this Christmas.

I wish these same things for you in the coming year – blessings that fill your home and heart to the brim, forgiveness for those who need it, and, most of all, the comfort of loved ones near you. Thank you for reading through the year. You – my blog readers – are a treasure to me.

A gift from a dear friend, a favorite “treasure” on this year’s tree

A different kind of Christmas tree

Tis the season when our thoughts turn to Christmas trees and mistletoe and glittery ornaments and garlands and wreaths and shopping and baking and … this list could take up the whole page, but you get the idea.

Some of my neighbors already have their Christmas decorations up. I’m usually one who gets around to decorating the second, or sometimes third, week of December, probably because when I was growing up, we usually waited until after my brother’s mid-December birthday to buy a tree and put up decorations. Or maybe it’s just because I’m a shameless procrastinator.

Which camp are you in: the early decorators or the waiters? Whether you’ve had your tree up and decorated since before Thanksgiving or are just now starting to ponder whether to go with a real or fake tree this year, I bet you’ve got Christmas on your mind. And rightfully so, but I hope you’re focusing on the best part of Christmas: the gift of Jesus’ birth and life sacrificed for us.  Continue reading