Saturday, July 30, 2011

Changing me

"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself."
 ~ Author Unknown~

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Black Forbidden Rice

A new food for forbidden rice.  Higher in nutrition than brown rice.

Internet Addictions....

In the news right now there is discussion about how Internet addictions.   "Internet as addictive as alcohol, tobacco - A new study shows that the Internet can be as addictive as alcohol and cigarettes as deprivation may lead to feelings of unhappiness."   This kind of hit home to me after Emery and I mused over the fact that last weekend, I was sitting in front of the PC with a laptop to my left, on and functioning, with my iPhone to my right.  On my chest, a motion sensor to see how much time each day I am active or just sitting.  I was surrounded.    Last week I read where there are now vacations you can book that are Internet/cell phone free.  You leave your gadgets at the desk and discover what we had before we had all this stuff.  These vacations are gaining popularity.   I could use some of that.  Here it is 10 am and I have accomplished very little other than my facebook updates and a few computer searches.  I am not happy about that, but the reality is, the Internet is really interesting, captivating and yes, I believe addictive.  Perhaps my family should plan an intervention, but if the truth be told, they are all as bad as I am and it would be hard for them to pull themselves away from their connections long enough to intervene.  Of course, I am exaggerating here but there is a seed of truth to most exaggerations as we all know.  I guess for me, I am just a bit too aware of my dependance of these gadgets to ignore.  I want to take back my productive time.  I want to walk away from "updates" and news stories and spend more time in the kitchen, or with my knitting needles.  Get back to the place where "instant" is not expected and demanded.    But...and here come my excuses....its such a hot summer, can't be outside in this record breaking heat spell and certainly its too hot to have the oven going.  "The heat has drained my energy".   So, logically, sitting in front of the computer makes good sense in this summer heat.  Well, there is such a thing as reading, crafting etc.  The reality, many of us have become slaves to modern technology.  Me included.  Its exciting stuff.   But, deep inside me is this nagging feeling that I am loosing more than I am gaining by sitting in front of a screen for so many hours a day.   The need to step back, look long and hard at my time spent and re-evaluatel things.   Simplify.  Be a bit more old fashioned once again.   

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


The more steps I take forward in this life, the more I want to step back and live as simple as possible.


Mei-Ling with her waldorf doll I made her
Yen with his waldorf baby I made him
Elizabeth and Victoria

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ducks Bath Time

after the mud, the ducks enjoyed a morning bath

Ducks love mud

Our ducks had fun this morning in the mud

Photos of My Day

The Heat and The Drought

Texas is in dire straights concerning our drought.  Most of the state is under the category of "exceptional drought".   In our area we are just "extreme drought".  To me it sounds bad whichever term you use.  The leaves are falling off our trees.  The ground is cracked.  Our gardens are gone.  Too hot, too dry.  Today we are expecting temps of 106 and honestly I don't even want to know what the heat index will be for the day.  It will be our 24th day in a row of 100 or above temps.   We are over 30 days for the season of just such days.  1980 remains the record holder though.   When I was outside working this morning, I kept thinking how blessed we are compared to the pioneer days.  Our garden is gone, but we can shop for food.  We are not dependant on our crops for maintaining our lives.   Peoples wells are drying up but we have water all the same.  Our house is not as cool as some but its still comfortable.  We keep it about 85 inside.  I visited an old home in the next town, and saw where so long ago, someone penciled on the wall of the closet that it was 114 degrees that day way back in 1902.   We have much to be thankful for these days.   I am reminded of Jeremiah 17:7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. 8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”  To trust in the Lord, gives us life.  Its easy to see the lesson right now in these verses.  The contrast is real between being by living waters and living outside of that place.    My heart goes out to the farmers and ranchers whose livelihood depends on rain.   We are living in troubled times, yet faith and hope sustain us.   

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Journey.....

The journey I am on, is simply one of living each day, looking for the blessings, living with gratitude in my heart and spending much time in prayer.   Learning to want less, need less and see the magnificence of all that is around me.  Learning more to "count it all joy" and accepting Gods plans when they don't go my way.  Spending more time appreciating all the love that surrounds me.   Learning that I don't need to understand how everything in the universe works and smiling at the thought that faith often means not fully understanding things.  Smiling while often repeating, Deuteronomy 29:29  The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

Bread Baking Day and The Heat

Even though we are having a horrible heat wave, bread still needs to be baked.   The little air conditioner in the dinning room window cannot keep up with the heat of the oven, but it is still cool in the kitchen compared to the outside.   We use two 110 window units in the summer to cool the house and they do a good job except on baking day.  Usually I spend one entire day a week in the summer cooking and baking, so that the house is nice and cool all but one day a week.  We talk about some day putting in central heat and air, but its not pressing to us.  We love our wood heat in winter and keeping the house at 78 in summer works for us.  Our needs are simple.
Yesterday was bread baking day.  We have grown to love rye bread so that's what I make.  Yesterday though, I changed things up a bit and added dried cranberries and pistachios to the dough.  It smelled so good baking and this morning I tried some toasted.  Wonderful.  I use a simple rye bread recipe from my old Betty Crocker Cook book that I got as a wedding present nearly 33 years ago.  I double the recipe so I have enough bread for a week.  Emery takes it to work for his peanut butter sandwiches that he has eaten every day for as long as I have known him.  He doesn't get tired of eating the same thing, day after day.  I would, but he is a man of routine as far as eating habits go.   I feel blessed to have a husband that is what I call "an easy keeper". 
We are heading for our 21st day in a row of 100 degrees or above. The record is 42 days in 1980, with temps at or above that mark .  I hope we don't get close to that record.  Today7 will mark the 28th time this season (record 69-1980) with triple digit heat.  I am dreaming of winter and counting the days until summer leaves us.  Its too hot to do anything outside.  I do all my walking on the treadmill, which is not my favorite thing.  Its kind of boring.   Wishing for windows open, sweater weather and most of all some rain.  No garden this year, too hot and too dry. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Yen dancing

My grandson Yen, age 18 months, dancing with so much joy

The Simple Life

The simple life allows for the important things, the things you can take with you, in your heart and in your mind.   The joy of watching clouds drift by.   Time to see the changes in a child's life day by day.  Time to look across the table at your loved ones, no waitress around, no check to come at the end of the meal, but at a meal prepared with love at home, healthy fare.   A simple uncomplicated life is void of having to impress others, keep up with the Joneses or fall asleep at night with your last thought being about what you want to buy next.   The simple life allows one to notice the changes in the seasons.  I often think about the ancient places across the globe where celestial calendars exist and think if we had to build one today, who would have the time to just watch where the stars are at night or measure where the sun and moon are each day of the year.   In living simply,  one can hear the different songs of the birds, know what creatures make up the night sounds.   The simple life lets one know the pleasure of sound and peaceful sleep.  The simple life demands that you stop and smell all the flowers, not just the roses. 

Serenity, Hope, Joy, Peace and Love

Recently, my personal prayer time took a huge turn in direction.   Often times people ask us to pray for them regarding some specific issue and yet we feel uncertain as to know how to pray for that particular issue.  For most of my life, in such an instance, I simply prayed whatever the request was and added something like, "according to your will God", which is fine  but I honestly I wanted to pray deeper than that.  It seemed a bit like an old worn out cliche or an easy way to handle something I had no real connection to.  Yes, I had the right motives etc but it just felt as though I was skimming the surface of what could be prayed.     The other night as I prepared to sleep, which always starts with laying flat on my back, breathing deeply and clearing my mind...I thought about the idea of loving your enemies, I don't think I have any enemies per say, but there are a few folk in this life that just seem to want to make my life unsettled.   I lay there thinking about their lives.  Loneliness and discontentment came to mind at the first thought of them, so I prayed right there that their lives be flooded with hope, joy, peace, love and a deep sense of serenity.  I prayed the words slowly, imagining each one, feeling the concept of each word.     As I meditatively prayed for all those I know in the same manner, choosing to carefully pray for what I knew to be their greatest need of these five things,  I began to feel a profound sense of serenity, deeper than I have ever know.  I feel peaceful quite often, but feeling a sense of serenity, that has a holiness attached to it.  Something profound.  In praying for someone that was ill, I prayed for them to feel joy, and hope first and then the other things.   At that point I knew no matter what their health issues were, they would be able to handle them.   God does not heal everyone, for reasons we do not understand, but He will show them how to feel hope, and joy if they will open their eyes to see it.   These things are not dependant on relationships with others, they can even be found by the hermit living in a cave.  They are the gifts of God that can live in a frail body or a healthy body, in the person looking for love, or the person well loved by many.
In praying for these things, I found myself thinking of one person after another, the list grew long, but my mind never wandered, my desire more pure, when I finished praying, I felt all those things in my heart.  Serenity, hope, joy, peace and love. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Enjoying lifes waves of transformation

Life is full of change and I personally embrace change, embrace transformation, enjoying the waves as much as a surfer might.  There are waves that take your breath away because of the beauty and then there are waves that are so much bigger than you expected and take the breath out of you simply because they are overwhelming.  You see lots of folks that just get on the boogie board of life, riding the small waves only, never moving much further than the shallows, and others seem to just fight each waves of change with anger and resistance that is indeed futile.  Seems to me, the best way to embrace the changes that come to us, just as sure as the waves come to the shore, is to learn to enjoy them, learn how to ride them with grace with an element of adventure.   I was thinking today about all the changes in my life and how each one has brought with it a gift, a transforming aspect that has made me wiser, better able to cope and given me a greater understanding of where others have been.  Waves give us a ride, take us closer to the shore and allow us to grow in strength and wisdom.  

Monday, July 11, 2011


We are as humans, fueled by energy.  Every cell in our body works by way of energy.  Energy is light.  You can change energy but you cannot destroy it and you cannot make it.  I have always seen energy as the ultimate gift from God, I personally believe He breathed energy into Adam at creation.  If ever you have asked a person who has lost lots of weigh, how they feel now, they so often tell you they feel so much "lighter" and will follow that up with something like..."lighter as in light, not only lighter as in weight."   I came to realize this past year that being overweight has kept me from letting the light, the energy inside me show, or perhaps a better way of saying it would be, letting that light fully experience life, let it shine.   We all know what happens when we put a drape over a lamp, it defuses the light, dims it.   I think for me, having extra fat is like that drape over a light.  It dims the light that should be brighter.  I have even imagined that this center of energy, this life force, this light is kept within my heart, causing it to beat, to supply the needs of my body, and around that heart, is a drape of excess weight, dimming the energy, harming it.   This would make it so our excess weight hides us and does not allow the real us, the authentic self to shine its brightest.  We are to be a light, to shine brightly.  To maintain optimal conditions for the energy to drive us where we are meant to go.   Our purpose in life has a clearer road, a more defined direction when we have not dimmed the lights.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

My New Toy "Fitbit"

My cousin told me about this new wireless personal trainer she got and how much she was enjoying it so I jumped right on the band wagon and got one too.  I am in love with this little gadget.  It tracks your steps, it will even monitor your sleep to see how well you actually are sleeping.  You log into your fitbit account on line and it will add your activities to your personal page and keep track of them.  You just need to be within 15 feet of the little dock that is hooked to the computer for it to be read.   It also has a display on the little gadget so you can check your steps, miles etc.  On line you can record the food you eat and it will tell you the calories, fat content, sodium, carbs etc.   You can keep track of your weight too.  If you are diabetic, there is a place to write down your blood glucose levels.  I can keep track of my heart rate, blood pressure and measurements on the site too.  The little monitor does not monitor those aspects of your health, but its nice to be able to log everything in on one site.    I am loving this thing.  Keeps me mindful of how much I sit too.  The little monitor thing clips onto your clothes, I hook it to my bra so no one even sees it.  Its tiny as you can see in the photo.   I found myself walking a circle around the kitchen table a few times yesterday and today at the store, I decided to walk the perimeter before I actually shopped for what I needed.  Exercising just became more fun !
FitBit is going to change the way I live my life.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Wandering the Wilderness for 40 Years

There have been many times I thought about the Israelites wandering the wilderness for 40 years on a journey that should have taken much less time.  It was only a 240 mile journey after all.   I have often mused that the journey was not a measure of time or distance but one that involved emotional baggage.  It took that long for some folks to dump the junk they carried and for others it ended up their death sentence that they could not put the past behind them.  They cherished things they shouldn't have and those things kept them from the promised land.      Earlier in the week I was reading something on the web about finding our authentic self and as I read it, I was struck with something...our authentic self according to this definition was indeed exactly what Christ tells us we should be as believers.  This definition was exactly the sum of the words Jesus spoke when he said "unless we become as little children".   It went on to explain how our authentic self feels peace, no fear and no anxiety.   That sounded very familiar to me....Psalm 119:165 "Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble."  We have only to look as far as the words of the Beatitudes to see that we are not to fear or be anxious because this loving Father of ours is more than willing to raise us in pure love, without any parental mistakes.  Perfect love, the kind that casts out any fear.      I read further in this information regarding finding your authentic self that we need to forgive those who have wronged us in order to arrive at this place of peacefulness.  We need to see ourselves as beautiful and whole.  We need to put the past behind us.  See ourselves as wonderfully made.   We need to dump all the attitudes that are not good for us, dump the behaviors that are not working for us and to see life not as a wounded child, but as an adult.   This is sounding mighty familiar to me and I start to realize that I have been walking the same walk as the Israelites.  Wondering the same road over and over, looking for a new route, an easier one perhaps.  I have been passing by those same landmarks over and over, too caught up in the destination to see what the journey is all about.   I am not ashamed to admit my shortcomings, after all, everyone sees them clearly anyway.   I read these verses this morning with the authentic self search in mind.   Colossians 3: 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
It is the very directions I have been looking for.  It was in front of me for the past 40 years and I knew it well, but wanted to find out if there was more, if there was another way.  Find out why I wasn't finding the results I wanted to find.  I wanted to make a simple journey a long drawn out one for some reason.  The recipe seemed old and worn out and to be honest I knew very few folks that had the level of inner peace I seek.  Plenty of folks knew how to talk the talk but not to walk the walk and I guess I am looking for something tried and true.  I thought a lot about how National Geographic did a study on happiness in the brain and concluded that Tibetan Buddhist monks had the best happiness brain waves.  Why not Mr Big Preacher who shouted peace, love and brotherhood from his pulpit each week ?  Why was it not the congregation of plain folk down the road ?   Why was it not the lady that is telling everyone she will pray for them when trouble hits ?  How come those folk didn't come up the happiest people in the world ?  After all, that road should give us perfect peace, life without fear and anxiety.  The Tibetan monks have their troubles.  They have family members get sick, they have complete poverty.  They own no McMansion in the subs.     So you see, my journey in the wilderness was looking for a sign that someone out there has arrived at this level of peace and harmony we read about.  Lots of words to describe it in all spiritual traditions and modern psychology.    For me, it seems I have made a loop around it all in this journey of mine.   Inner peace is not elusive, but it does take work.  Lots of it.  Its not found in reciting texts or handing out trite sayings that sound good but in reality are quite hollow, not because the words are hollow, but because the person saying it, is not walking the walk and we all see it by the fruit their life bears.  Inner peace means going down to the core of our being and seeing that authentic self for what needs to be changed in us.  Seeing clearly the person God made and then dumping all the junk we tried to add to that.  The hypocrisy, the anger, the stupid fears, that include all the "what if's" and pride that makes us never wants people to see us as we really are.   We need to just dump the layers that hide the light that should shine from us.  So, now that I know I too have been wandering for the last 40 years in the same small area, looking for the promised land and not seeing that its right in front of me, a little bit further down the way, too bogged down with the heavy baggage I choose to hold on to, that blocks my vision.  The next step awaits me.   The I willing to leave all that junk I have been hauling around with me and discover that I never needed it anyway ?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Journey is today

Soft music, wind chimes outside the window where I am painting, dance in the summer breeze.  The two sounds mingle in pleasantness.  Incense burn, creating an atmosphere of a spiritual nature.   Paint brush in hand I work on finishing up the living room.  Over the weekend I redid the ceiling.  Joint compound thinned to the consistency of pancake batter, rolled on and then textured using a slap brush technique.   After it was done, we painted it.   Emery put up a new light fixture in the living room too.   What struck me with all this work, was that this too is part of life's journey.  This quote came to mind as sweat rolled off my forehead...."Before enlightenment - chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment - chop wood, carry water." ~Zen Buddhist Proverb

The destination of this journey I have begun in earnest is indeed the journey itself, the work of it, the work of life, the day to day.  The awakened awareness within me of my actions.  That no word is insignificant, no thought that doesn't result in some kind of action.   I am seeing with deeper clarity the things in me that I wish to change.  Why did I say that ?  What made me feel envious ?  What made me wish to appear different than what I am in my deepest core ?   Why am I not seeking full health at every turn ?   Why does something that happened in my childhood still hold me in its own worn out grasp ?   What makes me talk about another soul in a negative light ?   No, I am not being hard on myself here, I am seeking to see clearly the things I wish to change about myself.  The things that hold me back from being that enlightened soul I want to be.  To be free from the stuff that causes me to regret.   So, as I go about my work, it is that hauling water and chopping wood experience, the very same experiences that we do throughout our lives....perhaps though, as we grow on this wonderful journey, we look at our work with a higher value put on it for what it does for our authentic self.  It is part of the journey.  Awareness is awakening. 

Our 4th of July

Mei-Ling, Yen, Melanie, Casi, Emery and I, all had a wonderful 4th of July !

Friday, July 01, 2011

A Milestone on the journey

Watering the gardens this morning gave me plenty of time to think, to pray and to reaffirm what I already know.  Life is amazing.  Life is good.  Life is full of joy.   In the early morning, the hot air has not arrived in its fullness which makes it pleasant to be outside working.   I discovered this morning, with a fresh view, that I love a simple life that is filled with old-fashioned ways.   It is in this life, this homestead existence that I feel the most at home, the most peaceful and the most connected to the Creator.  It is a milestone for me on this journey of life to reaffirm what I love.

Much To Catch Up....

In mid January, we saw the passing of my father and after nearly two years of caring for him, it was so hard to see him leave u...