Concert Sunday!

Amazing news! My son, Tim, will be performing in a concert Sunday. It is free and open to the public. Here is the promo video and the poster. Hope you can join us! (There will also be some surprise guests!)

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arch architecture art blue

Photo by Pixabay on

I had scheduled this day for writing several weeks ago. Little did I know how much I would need it, not just for writing but for resting and processing all that’s transpired on this emotional rollercoaster over the past month. I’m not usually home during the day, I’m substitute teaching.

A few minutes ago, I heard a car pull up and two people talking. I looked out the window to see a nicely dressed man and woman getting out of the car and heading up the driveway. The man was holding a briefcase out to the side as he adjusted his scarf. I usually meet them at the door and listen, even if our beliefs about God don’t align. They are kind people. But today I just couldn’t.

I stepped out the door and called out good morning. I told them today was not a good day. Is everything okay? The man asked, concerned. Yes, it’s just not a good day. He asked if he could give me something to read. I was expecting him to open the briefcase and hand me two thin booklets. Instead, he said Isaiah 41:10. We bid each other good day, and I went inside to look up the scripture. Here’s what it says:

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
What just happened was that God used a kind person I don’t totally agree with–and I
wasn’t even going to take the time to talk to–to share God’s own word of comfort with me. That further confirms to me that God is unstoppable. As Job learned, God’s plan will not be thwarted and, as we read in Revelation, God opens doors no man can close and closes doors no man can open.
Right now, I’m thanking God for His wisdom in opening and closing those doors.
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February Promises


Looking out on my snowscape in late February, I picture the transformation to take place in a couple months. To look at it now, you wouldn’t believe that anything could grow here. But if you’ve lived in New England, you’ve witnessed the miracle of winter’s transformation to spring.

It’s about faith.

Believing good things will happen.

Believing the promises of God.

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The Gift of One Word


“Order brings peace.”

~Saint Augustine

Welcome to my office.

I don’t know what your standard of tidiness is, but now when I peer into my little nook in the northwest corner of our house, I smile and say ahhh. It brings me such peace, and I can’t wait to get started.

It wasn’t like this two weeks ago.

See, I love words.

That’s a blessing and a curse. A blessing because, well, words are everywhere, so unlike, say, yacht-collecting, harvesting scrumdillyumptious words is simple and affordable. So simple, in fact, that I had copied down a bunch of words on scraps of paper and stuck them everywhere.

Right in front of my face.

Taped them all over the window frame so they would inspire me.

Then, of course, there were the story ideas, word pictures, and seeds of ideas

I just had to jot down on more scraps before they grew feet and bolted out of my mind.

My desk was cluttered.

As a result, I was too distracted to get anything done.

Then I remembered my word for 2019: Simplify.

I removed all those delectable quotes from my window frame and stuck them in the box to my far right (behind the coffee mug in the photo) for when I need them. I took all those seed ideas and stuck them in a manila “Writer’s File.” (Thank you Word Weavers!)

I cleared my desk.

The only thing left to do was start writing. But where to begin?

I’ve always been a list-maker. At this point, I have to say I am pretty good at it. One of the things I’ve learned when making a list is to make it manageable. Don’t overburden yourself. You only get twenty-four hours, and eight of those should be spent sleeping. Get something done, but if you can be efficient about it–ahh!–that’s the key!

I take an 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of recycled paper and cut it into quarters. It’s the perfect size for a manageable list, and I haven’t killed another tree because I actually rescued the paper from the trash.

See that small paper hanging from a clip on a tack on the window frame? That’s my list. I taped a label over it that says: What’s Next? Now I always know where to begin when I sit down to work.

This way I can do one thing at a time. But actually DO it.

And, like Hemingway, when I leave my desk for the day, I know where I will begin the next day.

To me, that’s honoring my writing time, being a good steward of my days.

My word-gift for you today is: SIMPLIFY.

(No point in ignoring the elephant in the room. Yes, this is my first post since July. I’m not ashamed or apologetic. Life happens. But it was because I prioritized my writing to-do list that I was able to write this today. I share this with you not to boast, but when we find things that work for us, don’t we owe it to each other to share? I mean, that’s how Pinterest started, right?)

Until next time. . .

Be blessed. Bless others.




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Even So. . .

I finished my breakfast of eggs and avocado, a bowl of yogurt, took another sip of coffee, and just sat for a minute, looking out the window.

What shall I do now?

An hour and a half until I leave for the appointment.

Do I clean some things out of the fridge? Work on the magazine article? Pull some weeds out of the garden while the soil is wet and loose?

Then the words came to mind, to heart.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Dear child, you don’t have to do anything. I love you now

Yes, God, I know but I should. . .

                                          I have to. . .

                                              I want to _____ more.

                                                  I want to be more ______.

Beware the “more,” child. Hush for a minute and listen to Me. I love you before all that, despite all that, regardless of all that.

I love you simply because you are Mine. 

That I get. I have kids. We have been up, down, over, and through some tough stuff with those kids. And despite all the stuff that was less than perfect, I love those kids almost beyond my comprehension. Simply because they are mine.

I know no matter what happens today, at the end of the day, my love for them will be the same as it was in the beginning.

And so it is with God.

How blessed are we that we should be called children of God.


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A Timely Surprise

There was some excitement on the mountain this week.

Our family is vacationing at my in-laws’ cabin in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom like we have every year around the Fourth of July since they built the place 30 years ago. This year we came up on Sunday, but our oldest son stayed home in Connecticut to work. He drove up on Thursday to join us here. When he came, he brought the mail.

I was washing the dishes when my husband quizzically handed me this beautiful glossy magazine:


I knew the Woods Reader was going to publish a story I had submitted, but I didn’t realize it was going to happen so soon. I quickly dried my hands and flipped through to page 24, and there was my story! I was thrilled! The magazine is absolutely gorgeous. It only began last year, and it’s filled with all the things we love about the woods.

Incidentally, my story is about this cabin and the reasons we return to these woods again and again. I had written the first draft several years ago. I thought it would find a home elsewhere at that point. Little did I know, years–and many revisions–later, it would be nestled snuggly in amongst the pages of this beautiful publication. A better place indeed.

When you find your passion, keep working at it.

Even when it gets tough or mundane or doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

The joy is in the journey.

And who knows what tomorrow holds?


porch magazine

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Back to the Ice Age


(Published in The Green Mountain Trading Post on January 11, 2018)

In preparation for the arrival of our new refrigerator, I removed the magnets and school calendars and shopping lists and coupons from the old refrigerator door. I found a horizontal surface for all the paper and stuck the magnets on the file cabinet in the office for the time being.

The new fridge arrived all shiny and promising. Since I never seem to mind what we get because I’m not fussy and my treasures aren’t here on earth anyway, I let my husband pick out the new appliance. Of course, it’s stainless steel. Sleek, modern, metallic. It’s what everyone is getting these days. I think he enjoyed picking it out. My daughter enjoyed filling it up. Then it was my turn to finish the job. I would stick the magnets and papers back on the fridge. I gathered everything I had relocated and brought it into the kitchen. I picked my favorite magnet, the one I bought for myself at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Museum. It has a picture of a stamp bearing Stowe’s portrait along with the quote: “There is more done with pens than with swords.” I held it up to the fridge door to stick it there forever. It didn’t stick. I tried the magnet bearing Tim’s soccer photo from when he was seven. That didn’t stick either. Neither did David’s little league photo magnet. None of the magnets stuck. My heart sunk. We now live in a time when magnets and memories don’t stick to refrigerator doors.

When did we decide it was ok to sterilize the kitchen? Pretty soon all kitchens are going to look the same. Stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, and no personality.  It used to be that when you went over a friend’s house, the first thing you did while they fixed you a cup of tea was examine their fridge, and by taking in the  baby pictures, kid’s artwork, and grocery lists, you learned their story. You learned what they cherished. Now if you want to know someone, you have to look inside their fridge. That’s way more intrusive.

The fridge was a place of honor.  If you got an A+ on a spelling test, it would win a place there. It was a place to post the news: a cousin’s wedding announcement, an invitation to a party, a wish list for Santa. It was a place to express yourself. All newcomers to Grama Shirley’s would know she was smitten with Tom Selleck and a member of his fan club when they saw Selleck raising his bushy brown eyebrows at them from the photo on her fridge.

Some people were spare in the items they chose to post there. Their news was always timely, their photos always current. They used magnets to keep things tidy. Others had photos and papers stuck on there with magnets but also stuck with scotch tape. Some would cover the entire refrigerator doors and even the side.

If we no longer need magnets to adhere memories to our appliances, what will buy for Grama as a souvenir on vacation? She had lighthouses from Maine and moose from Vermont. How is it that these things that I grew up with are going to start showing up in antique stores as Americana?

We could express ourselves with what we stuck up there and with the appliance itself. We used to be able to choose the color we wanted to coordinate with our room or our personality. Remember the gold and avocado refrigerators of the 70s? Now everything is stainless. Some would call this progress, but it reminds me of Henry Ford saying of the Model T in 1909 “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it’s black.”

And they call it stainless, but who are we kidding? As soon as you touch it, your fingerprint shows up. The old models could hide a little dirt and some chocolate smudges. It made it easier to get away with things like food thievery and maybe putting off wiping down the doors for a while. Now we can’t get away with anything, but its saving grace may be that the smooth semi-reflective finish does make it easier to dust for prints when someone helps themselves to the last scoop of ice cream.

My son is sixteen and the day we replaced the fridge he told me he already missed the old one we had placed by the curb for some lucky passerby in need of a new used icebox. I asked him why he missed the old one. “It was warmer,” he said. I’m just now realizing the pun in that. At the time, I was caught up in his budding nostalgia. He meant the look of the off white appliance was warmer, and with its lived in look, more friendly when you walked into the room. His follow up remark about the new fridge was “This one looks like a cryogenic freezer.” It was a good quote. I’d like to post it. Since magnets no longer stick to refrigerator doors, I think I’ll use tape.


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