The joy animals give

Continuing with my promise to deliver images here that offer hope and break through despair and cynicism, today is all about animals.

Animal antics can amuse us, spellbind us, and move us. I hope you’ll enjoy these animals. May they lighten your spirit as you imagine what their next move may be.

I shared this first one with you last year, but it was the image for my August 2017 calendar. Though I’ve set aside August for one of my favorite months, I’m a little reluctant to put away this image. (My September calendar photo is a silhouette of a tree at sunset. It’s pretty but lacks the emotional appeal of this sheep.)

This next photo may not at first look like animals. My husband and I were driving past a meadow and saw what appeared to be sticks among the grass. Continue reading

Scenes to keep despair and cynicism at bay

In last week’s post, I made a promise to share images with you that inspire hope or serve as an antidote to despair or break through a cynical heart with their beauty.

With apologies to Texas friends who are understandably sick of too much water, today’s post shares some beautiful places along the northern California coast, where sea and fog meet rock and land. You’ll find these places (though never the exact same view) from Trinidad, California, north to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

While Psalm 23 talks about the restorative powers of still waters, sometimes you may need the ceaseless rush of the tide waters to recharge your soul.


Last week, I pondered the question “Will things get better?” By now, you’ve probably seen countless images of the devastation in Texas from Hurricane Harvey, but you’ve also likely seen moving photos of people helping one another.

A minister of mine once said that one of the best ways to beat the blues is to help others. Even if you aren’t in Texas, there are ways you can help from wherever you live.

  • UMCOR (the United Methodist Committee on Relief) is already there helping. Please consider donating to their efforts (this link takes you directly to the donation page to keep relief supplies flowing to Hurricane Harvey’s victims.).
  • The Red Cross is also on the ground there.
  • The Houston Chronicle offers other ways to help, too.

Will things get better?

I visited with a young friend of mine in the Bay area this past weekend. I have had the privilege of watching her grow into a phenomenal person, and now that she’s a young adult and living not too far away from me, we try to get together when time and schedules allow.

As we wandered through a bookstore, talking of books and more, she asked something along the lines of, “Will things get better?” I don’t remember her exact phrasing because the question caught and jangled around in my brain for a moment before I realized what she meant. Continue reading

When words fail

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. —Romans 8:26

I had planned to share with you another magical place on my recent journey to the California coast. But that’ll have to wait.

I don’t know which of the many words tumbling through my head I ought to share here. I don’t know which words to fling up to heaven, like the song of a caged bird. I’m relieved to have a Holy Spirit who will intercede with groanings. There are some prayers for which words alone do not feel sufficient.


One of my least favorite memories came screaming back this week.

When I was just out of college, I taught at an all-white high school in a rural community. The klan had a heavy presence in that community, and every so often, one of the teenage boys would ask me if I had gone to the march the previous weekend. Some of the students wanted to know when was I ever going to get married, because I was clearly teetering on the edge of becoming an old maid. I was an outsider to them, a woman who talked funny and definitely wasn’t from around those parts.

One young man insisted on carving swastikas in his tests and quizzes. He didn’t like me having the temerity to tell him to stop doing that. He bragged to another teacher that he was going to kill me. I remember one of the assistant principals asking me if I had any students in that boy’s classroom who would protect me if it came down to it. And that was the end of any conversation about the matter.


Of everything I’ve read this week about Charlottesville, the one line that keeps repeating in my head is from a Bitter Southerner article, The Perpetual Unpleasantness:

As for me, I find myself inextricably drawn to a simple idea: that the time for the benevolent but silent white Southerner is over. —Chuck Reece

Silent benevolence is not unique to Southerners. Racism isn’t, either. And so I would enlarge Reece’s call to include all benevolent but silent white people.

Reece’s words remind me of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s:

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.

So let me not be silent, but instead, find the courage to speak when necessary.

A white man filled with evil intent killed a young woman this weekend. He ran her over with his car, believing her death was better than trying to understand her words. He’s not alone in believing her death justified.

On Monday, one of my former college professors shared a link to an alt-right KKK site. The site listed several reasons applauding the young woman’s murder. I left the page after reading their number one reason. Do you know what their number one reason was? You should. And it should chill you. It was this: She was childless and, as such, a burden on society and therefore useless.

Now, y’all can just take a look at my Good Aunt series to know why that number one reason might have really grabbed my attention. So, no, I should not remain silent.

I get it. Silence is more comfortable. Easier. Safer, at least in the short term. But it does nothing to stop the spread of the disease of racism. To get to the root of what causes such intense hatred. To get us to a place of healing.

The number of voices crying out against what happened in Charlottesville gives me hope. My faith demands hope, too. My faith also demands bravery and wisdom and reconciliation. I hope we’re all up for the task ahead.

I’ve shared this image with you before, and I’ll leave you with it today.

The image includes the NASB’s translation of the verse, but perhaps the more heartening translation for this circumstance is the NRSV. It says:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

Winter roses

We’ve had a recent cold snap, and though last week I may have poked gentle fun at rainy day behaviors out here in California, I have to make fun of myself this week. I am quickly losing my tolerance for cold.

Monday’s cold weather brought a bitter wind, and all I wanted to do was hide inside—after a morning run, of course. I have to dust off the winter running clothes every now and then, right?

It was cold here over Christmas, too, and when I returned from balmy North Carolina after the holidays, I knew I had to tackle a winter gardening chore: pruning the roses. (Not my favorite gardening activity, I’ll confess.) I left three stems taller than the rest because small buds graced them, and I hoped they might bloom, despite freezing temperatures in December.

One bud finally began to open within the last week. So I cut all three buds to bring inside and finished the pruning chores.

winterrose_2016FT

To me, this is the exact color of dusty rose

Continue reading