all is bright

December has held true to its expectations this year.

When I think of this month, I can feel the cold and cloudy days. The sun rarely shines in my mental image of December. It is almost as if the year realizes that its age is showing, so it avoids any bright light that could shine on its plainness and point out the barren places.

Somehow all that deep green foliage that miraculously became those gloriously colored leaves in the fall is now all gone. Fallen and blown away, leaving behind twisted sticks and branches that overlap and intertwine but have nothing to hold on to. The brown grass and rusty colored sage cover the lawns and fields and show few signs of life. Even the evergreens droop in the cold and the heaviness of the dark.

The days wake up late and are snuffed out incredibly early in the afternoon. The sun becomes low and  distant, even when the clouds are parted. The cold surrounds and envelopes you, and creeps into your bones and your being.

In the cycle of nature’s year, this is definitely the low point. I cannot imagine a world where this is the sum total of all there ever is.

And so it makes perfect sense to me that Christmas comes at this time. Even though Jesus’s birth may not have historically occurred in December, that’s when I need – we all need – that good news the most. God, through His Son’s birth, brings light into this dark world. He looks at the bare bones of our existence, and shows His mercy to a world dark and drear.

Led by the light of a start sweetly gleaming

With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.

It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.

God brought His Son into a simple world in a lowly place. He placed a bright star in the sky to show the way to a true Light for our lives.  His Love, as always, comes when we need it most.

Since that time, this dreary time of year holds a shimmer and a glow that covers the dullness of the world around us. The lights from candles and bulbs, as well as from smiles and open hearts, guide our way in the darkest of days. Enduring this time of year is possible because of our memories of lighter yesterdays – and our hopes for brighter tomorrows.

Merry Christmas, one and all! The days are already getting longer and God’s love surrounds and warm our souls.

All is calm, All is bright.

This is a repost from three years ago. I have been rereading to find inspiration to start writing again. But I found something more when I read this, and perhaps someone else needs to find that as well. I wish you all Merry Christmas and much hope for a bright New Year.

why I write

Today is the National Day on Writing–an initiative supported by NCTE and the National Writing Project. It seems a little silly for me to post this, because I haven’t written any posts here since April. But writing remains a vital part of my life.

I write because the process helps me organize my thinking.

I write because being able to do so is a gift and an opportunity that I don’t want to miss out on.

I write because there are opinions and perspectives that I think need to be shared.

I write because it makes me feel happy, and satisfied, and complete.

I write to help others along the way,

I write to find out more about who I really am.

Why do you write?

old ways

Today as I was running errands I saw the lights flashing and the guard bars coming down at a railroad track crossing.

“Rats!” was my first thought, and then I realized I was actually early for my next stop and I could have time to sit and wait without worry.

Then I remembered what we would do when I was young and there were many more trains blocking our roads from time to time. We would count the cars, mostly freight cars, and try to be the one among friends who had seen the longest train. So I determined I would enjoy my wait time and count the cars again.

In just a minute the engine came into view, and there was a second engine behind the first. Lickety-split they sped by! And that was it. No cars to count after all. Soon the lights stopped flashing and the bars went back up. I guess I was a little disappointed.

I come from a family of “railroad men,” including my father and both grandfathers. I guess it is a good thing that no one in my family has to make a living in this dwindling industry anymore. Something about that saddens me, but maybe I am getting old and out of date as well. And most of the time I am very thankful that I don’t have to sit and wait at railroad crossings anymore!


are we still welcome?

My current pet peeve is having someone answer my “Thank you” with “No problem.”

Should whatever they have done that I am thanking them for be a problem in the first place?

If I am at a restaurant, isn’t the waiter being paid (and tipped) for his/her work? If so, bringing my food to the table or refilling my drink is an expected task, not a problem.

If someone holds the door for me, could that be a problem for them? If so, I would rather them not do it than to tell me it is “No problem.”

If I check out at a store or order something over the phone, and I thank the person who helped me, is the work they have done a problem for them? Again, I thought it was their job, something that they were paid to do. So when I thank them, I shouldn’t have to be assured that their doing their job isn’t a problem – for them or for me.

I know most of the time these workers are mimicking what they hear in today’s culture, but really, can’t we stop and think about what we say and not just be parrots or echoes?

I like being told, “You’re welcome” when I thank someone. It is much better to me to be told that my thanks are welcomed and appreciated, rather than to be told I am not a problem.

Or maybe we are not welcome anymore….

eyes to see

Long ago my students read a story each year called “The Day Nothing Happened.” It was a tale of two children in the Arctic, walking across the frozen tundra, bemoaning the fact that they lived in such a ho-hum place where nothing ever happened. The subplot, however, was  a recounting of several animals and their adventures that the children passed on their walk, some in struggles for survival. Yet the boy and girl saw none of that. It was a good lesson for us to keep our eyes open for things around us that could be easily overlooked.

arctic tracks

Our son and daughter-in-law  lived with us for several months while their house was being built. She liked watching for the albino squirrels that live in our neighborhood (we have two). Last Sunday on our way home from church she asked about them and I told her I hadn’t seen them in quite some time. I had heard that people had seen some in the park down the street and I told her they might have taken up residence there. Just as we were about to pull in our driveway, she said, “There is one of them!” Sure enough it was in the yard across the street. They have probably been present often, but like the Arctic children in the story, I have failed to notice them.


The best thing about the March writing challenge is that it causes me to keep my eyes open and my mind aware of things in my life worth noting. This year I have written 31 entries, but didn’t get them all  posted on time each day. Still I feel like I have succeeded because once again this month of writing has opened my mind to possibilities. Many thanks to Two(+)Writing Teachers for sponsoring the March Writing Challenge again this year.

orange-SOL Challenge

May we all continue to have eyes to see…


where do they go?

bringing life into longed-for view

turning bare branches into clouds

then… making snowfalls on windy days

petals from the blooming trees

where do they go?


soft and small and delicate

deep dimples and precious pats

then… stretching, slimming, learning skills

baby feet and hands

where do they go?


understanding someone else completely

thinking each other’s thoughts

then… spending long days in hospital stays

years of married life together

where do they go?



step one

I am a procrastinator of the highest order and I am NOT proud of it. I hope that admitting my problem the first step towards a remedy and cure.

  • Sometimes I put off things simply because they are things I don’t want to do.
  • Sometimes it is because I don’t feel capable of doing them well – yes, I am a perfectionist too.
  • And sometimes I don’t do things in a timely manner because I run out of time – I plan too much and aim to high.

Yet I continue to be a list maker and I derive much satisfaction from crossing things off that list.

Yes! What a good feeling to get things done!

But I often do certain things and “hold on to” other things on my list that I am procrastinating finishing. These tasks appear day after day on the daily list. So even though I am completing some items and feeling good about that, this masks the fact that I am still putting off other undesirable jobs. Ugh.

So that’s my admission. Now… I need to get to work on some things that MUST be done!