Lost races

Late last year, hopped up on post-race endorphins, my husband and I registered for a half marathon at the end of August, a race that would be at the perfect point in my training for a December marathon. “It’ll be great!” we told each other.

My body wasn’t on board with the training schedule, though. Thanks to a nagging injury, I spent the last six weeks in a boot and am just now getting back on the road to recovery. I’ve lost a lot of strength and a lot of flexibility. And I’ve lost both the August half marathon and the December marathon.

My husband and I had been anticipating the weekend getaway, though, and cheering him on would be fun, if bittersweet. Our hotel was near the start/finish area of the race, and I decided to walk part of the course, scream like crazy when he ran by, and take photos along the way. It was a beautiful, chilly morning, and I enjoyed the slow walk.

missedrace2016_7ft

Along the course

A few tears threatened to fall, though, when I saw the pace group near where I should/would have been at that point in the race.

Continue reading

In the gardens of my friends, final week

For he has sent to us in Babylon, saying, “The exile will be long; build houses and live in them and plant gardens and eat their produce.” —Jeremiah 29:28

We’ve reached the last day of August (can you believe it?), and we’ve come to the final virtual tour of my friends’ California gardens.

My husband and I feel very blessed to know the couple whose garden we’re touring today. We share much in common, and from the earliest days of getting to know us, they began sharing food with us. Fresh fish caught in the Pacific. Tamales at Christmas. Garden fruits and vegetables throughout the year. You get the idea. We’re blessed.

While our friends focus their efforts on vegetable gardening, they have lovely flowers, too:

Friendgardens20165_FT8

Beautiful pops of color for the back patio

Continue reading

In the gardens of my friends, week 2

They will come and shout for joy on the height of Zion,
And they will be radiant over the bounty of the Lord—
Over the grain and the new wine and the oil,
And over the young of the flock and the herd;
And their life will be like a watered garden,
And they will never languish again.
—Jeremiah 31:12

I hope you enjoyed last week’s stop on my friends’ garden tour. This week brings us to the garden of a friend who leads a group of us fearless writers. She often opens her home so we can gather and spend a few hours in quiet, companionable writing. Depending on where I sit to write, I often find myself gazing out into her yard, enjoying the abundant beauty there.

She also happens to share my love of nurseries, and she introduced me to one of my favorite nurseries one weekend as we strolled and chatted, laughed to see hummingbirds buzzing about, and tarried over favorite flowers to dream about and plan our own gardens.

Friendgardens20162_2FT

My friend’s favorite flower, the princess lily

As we walked through the rows and rows of flowers, we talked of flowers that grow well here and flowers that grow well in North Carolina. I’m always delighted to find reminders of home in friends’ gardens: Continue reading

In the gardens of my friends

And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
— Isaiah 58:11

Earlier this summer, friends from North Carolina began posting pictures of their gardens on Facebook. Their posts reminded me of times we chatted about gardening or wandered through public gardens together or visited our favorite nursery for plants and lunch. (The best nurseries have cafes to encourage you to linger.)

Their photos stirred up a longing to visit with my North Carolina friends but also inspired me to reach out to California friends who have green thumbs. I asked if I could wander through their gardens and take some pictures. Most apologized for their garden’s appearance because of the drought, but I think you’ll see that, even in a dry land, beautiful gardens abound. (Sprinklers and less restrictive watering rules have helped this summer.)

August can be a tough time for gardeners. In the south, too much heat and humidity. In California’s Central Valley, too much heat and no rain since May. Whether your own garden looks a bit scraggly these days or is bursting with beauty, I hope you’ll enjoy touring these friend’s gardens with me over the next few weeks.

First up, the garden of a friend who welcomed me to California with the gift of a poinsettia the day after I arrived here. (A plant is a perfect housewarming gift, especially for someone who has moved cross-country and likely had to leave all the houseplants behind.)

Friendgardens20161_1FT

Continue reading

A virtual Easter basket

The last two weeks have brought some dark days for me. I’ve struggled with “Love thy neighbor” and the call to forgive. Wrath, fear and sadness have threatened to overwhelm me. Maybe you’ve been going through dark days of your own?

Holy Week marks Jesus’ darkest days but also His greatest triumph. Our messed-up brokenness nailed Christ to the cross but could not keep Him there. God’s grace is stronger than our greatest failings in ourselves and with each other.

Because of that first Easter Sunday, we are heading through the dark with a promise of light and an empty tomb on the other side.

I’ve been clinging to the beauty of Easter and its cheerful celebrations. Growing up, we always dyed Easter eggs and then hunted for them and for baskets full of delightful goodies.

Today, I give you a virtual basket of Easter goodies. There are no dyed eggs or foil-wrapped chocolates, but these Easter colors are vibrant and worth savoring. May they bring a bit of light into whatever darkness you’re facing, and may they remind you of the unconquerable Light in the garden of the empty tomb.

EasterColors2016_ 2FT EasterColors2016_ 3FT EasterColors2016_ 8FT EasterColors2016_ 9FT EasterColors2016_ 10FT EasterColors2016_ 11FT EasterColors2016_5FT EasterColors2016_6FT EasterColors2016_7FT EasterColors2016_ 1FT

Peace, blessings and joy to you this Easter, my friends!