I Would Walk 100 Miles

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Their noses were wriggling and their tails were wagging like crazy as they kept their faces to the ground, sniffing out every scent along the way. They were so engrossed in the ground at their feet that they didn’t notice the beautiful deer about a hundred yards ahead, right in the middle of the trail! The deer detected them, however, and quickly disappeared into the thick of the woods, leaving only another scent for the pups to investigate.

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Zoey (pink collar) and Kaylee (purple collar).

We did it! Kaylee and Zoey (our two puppies) and I completed the 100 by Summer Dog Walking Challenge. We walked over 100 miles from the first day of spring until now, traveling through gorgeous meadows, along various creeks, up and down hills, through woods, on roads, and more, savoring every step.

At times, as I mentioned earlier, the pups get so engrossed in the path at their feet that they don’t notice what’s right in front of them. In their defense, I suppose the smells they are experiencing are beauty enough for them. Their obliviousness to the deer made me think of a song Lauren Daigle sings called “Look Up Child” (Link to video in case you want to check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NAYz0zh_Es). It reminds me to look up and not get so engrossed in what’s at my feet that I miss the beauty all around me. That makes me think of the Flyleaf song “All Around Me” (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN0FFK8JSYE) . Another good message.

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The pups always look up to say hi to their favorite cow friend.

As you and I walk through life, we are invited to walk with God. How amazing is that?!? The One who created us desires relationship with us. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, please feel free to reach out to me. Whatever happens does not change who God is, and God is love. He wants you and me to walk with Him every step.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

Whatever happens does not change who God is, and God is love.

 

Peas Are A Problem

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It is growing! Lettuce is easy to spot, but now I can actually identify tomato plants, carrots, broccoli, and green beans. This may not seem like a huge feat, but as a new gardener, it’s a pretty big deal to me. I have so much to learn! I’m still trying to figure out the peas. The reason peas are a problem is because of the mountain. When my granddaughters, Senna and Adina, helped plant the garden, Adina decided to build a “pea mountain”. After placing the seeds carefully into the ground, she excitedly piled a large mound of dirt on top.

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Senna and Adina celebrating the planting.

Since this is a learning season, I let the mountain be. After all, having fun is part of the purpose, and I’ll be thrilled to eat even one vegetable from our box garden. However, I’ve been surprised by all sorts of green things popping up from that mountain. I haven’t identified pea plants yet, so I’ve just been pulling out anything that I’m positive is a weed.

My intention is to learn in every circumstance. So, here are a few things I’ve learned from my garden:

~ Weeds are much easier to pull out when they are small.

~ An inviting environment brings worms, and worms help gardens by loosening the soil.

~ Water is needed. Often.

~ You can tell a weed from a vegetable by knowing what the vegetable looks like.

~ Lots of stuff I don’t understand is happening unseen, under the soil. Good, growing stuff.

~ Plants need space to stretch out. If they’re too crowded, they won’t grow properly.

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Not a weed!

I’m learning a lot of life lessons from this as well, as you can probably figure out.

~ Weeds in my life are more easily gotten rid of before they grow big.

~ Worms may not be cuddly, but they sure are useful. Are there any “worms” in your life?

~ Water is needed. Jesus is the living water.

~ Knowing truth helps us spot lies.

~ Even when I don’t understand, I can have faith and trust that God is working.

~ There is plenty of space for us all to grow.

I love sharing this gardening experience with my granddaughters. What have you been doing lately, and what are you learning from it?

“Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5

Intend to learn in every circumstance.

Who Can You Help?

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You are essential! Do you realize that there is something you can do that no one else can? It’s true. You have a unique place, and you have an impact.

With this ongoing Covid 19 pandemic, I realize that some jobs have been labeled as “essential”. Perhaps other jobs have to be put on hold for a while, but that doesn’t diminish their importance. I realize this every time I look in the mirror at my unkempt hair! I’m concerned that this labeling has caused some to misunderstand or forget that every single person is of great value. That is why I’m glad people are reaching out to others during this time. Here are a few examples:

My son, Dan Riddle, and his friend, Kyle Ziegler, have put together a benefit album with all proceeds going to Feeding America’s Covid-19 relief fund. Aptly titled “Self-Quarantine”, it is a compilation of 23 songs from a variety of artists and bands. It is available through Bandcamp, and here is a link, in case you’d like to check it out:

https://self-quarantinecompilation.bandcamp.com/album/self-quarantine-a-collection-of-recordings-for-the-greater-good?fbclid=IwAR3YLGNnqfjEI-4pKQljCRGgQYwVm9cjiUnnq5CZ2KljINRANV9jARcPXq0

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Artwork by Daniel McGarvey

My daughter, Amy, has been using this time to create really fun memories with her daughters. They’ve gone on nature hikes, made s’mores by their firepit, and tons of other stuff!

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Amy and her girls.

My son-in-law, Dave, made “ear protectors” for masks for healthcare workers. These help a lot, especially when you’re wearing a mask for a 12 hour shift.

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Dave and his girls.

 

My granddaughters have been making cute and hilarious videos for us. We love them, and they really brighten our days!!

My husband, Mike, continues to buy donuts from our local coffee/donut shop and to get takeout from other local small businesses occasionally to support them. A little action can make a big difference! Each of us has an impact, one way or another.

Even though I’ve talked about doing in this blog, please know that our value isn’t from what we do; we have value because of who we are. God planned you, and you are so precious that God gave His only Son, Jesus, for you.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)

You are essential!

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Mike supporting Wholly Grounds Coffeehouse.

 

The ABZ’s

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Sheep have never helped me. They’re very cute, but they’ve been no help at all. Have you ever had trouble falling asleep? It seems that especially now, as we are walking through this pandemic, this may be an issue for some.  When it happens to me, counting sheep is not a solution. So, I do something I like better that I call the ABZ’s.

My son, Dan, and our pups took a break by a sheep/goat farm.

Here’s how it works. If I find myself lying awake in the night, first I pray and give everything over to God. Sometimes it’s as simple as that, because I didn’t realize something was on my mind. If I’m still lying awake, I think of a topic and go through the ABC’s, giving thanks for something that starts with each letter. For example, I started out with an easy one and picked food. I thanked God for apples for A, banana bread for B, chocolate chip cookies for C, donuts for D, and so on. Please don’t judge my food choices! Generally, I am sleeping long before I reach Z. This is good, because Z is always a tough one!

You can think of many different, creative options, and it turns your mind to gratitude. This is always a good thing. Let’s cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Some other ideas for the ABZ’s are people you’re thankful for, vacation or holiday memories, places you’ve been, and on and on. What topics can you think of? Please share your ideas. Recently I went through the ABZ’s, giving thanks for good things that have come out of this Covid 19 pandemic. It’s amazing how much there is to be thankful for!! Just thought I’d share this, in case any of you also have an occasional bout of wakefulness when you should be sleeping. Of course, if counting sheep works for you, have at it. Happy dreams!

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Below are just a few subjects of my thankfulness.

Through the Glass

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It was a happy scene unfolding before us, with smiles all around. There were decorations covering the walls, a special tablecloth, and a huge Happy Birthday banner hanging up, all with a Paw Patrol theme. Adina, my younger granddaughter, turned 4 years old! My husband, Mike, and I watched through their sliding glass door. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic and the necessary restrictions on social gatherings, he and I celebrated Adina’s birthday on my daughter’s back deck while they were inside. My daughter, Amy, is so extremely thoughtful that she set up a tablecloth, treats, and cake on a table out there before we arrived.

Even though it was a joyful celebration, how I missed hugging Adina and her sister, Senna, and gathering them close. That was hard. I miss snuggling with them, giving them kisses and hugs, and simply seeing them face to face. I am ever so grateful for the technology that allows us to video chat and send messages back and forth. I’m even thankful for sliding glass doors! All of this made me think that everything is different, but God is the same. He does not change. Ever. He is always loving and good, and He is always present. We truly can rely on His love. “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love…” (1 John 4:16a) I really hope you know this truth. It makes all the difference.

After watching Adina open presents, singing Happy Birthday, seeing her blow out the candles, and eating cake “together”, we said our goodbyes by putting our hands against the glass together. One day the glass will be removed and we will hug, hold hands, snuggle, and have sleepovers again. Until then and beyond, I will continue to rely on the love God has for us. He is holding me and wants to hold you, too!

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

Everything is different, but God is the same.

Flying Dirt

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The dirt was flying! Some was landing back in the garden, some landed in Senna, her sister’s hair, some landed outside the box. Adina (my almost 4-year-old granddaughter) was having a blast playing/working in our box garden. She helped dig out rocks and get the soil ready. I love her enthusiasm in everything!

My Mike built the box. I dug out all the grass and roots that I could see to get our garden spot ready. Mike and our two granddaughters dug out the rocks. As the box garden project continues, I am excited that I have seeds to plant: green beans, peas (Adina’s request), broccoli (Senna’s request), lettuce, and carrots. I hope to pick up tomato plants, too. Any of you experienced gardeners, I’d welcome tips, advice, and suggestions, by the way!

The thing about all that flying dirt is that it was messy and even chaotic, but so much fun! Life is messy, too. There are always things we can control and things we cannot. Everyone is in a bit of a messy situation right now, it seems. It will be okay, though. We will get cleaned up and move forward. It may not be easy, but it may actually lead to some great things.

On another day out by our garden, Adina and Senna were taking a break and sitting on top of some bags of soil we were getting ready to add to the box. Mike was digging and spreading out some dirt we had already added. Suddenly Adina called out in a loud voice, “Dig, I say; dig, I say!”. We were cracking up, laughing. Thinking about this afterwards, she is right. We should be digging, doing what we can, continuing on, planting, and enjoying it along the way.

Keep living. Do what matters. Do what counts. Jesus cares for us. He stepped into the midst of our messy brokenness and experienced it Himself. He loves us and intervened to rescue us for forever.  That is what the Easter season is all about. Jesus is with us and gives calm in the midst of chaos and peace in the midst of panic.

Later, on that dirt flying day in the garden, our granddaughters had just as much fun getting cleaned up as they did getting dirty. Let’s be like them and seek out the joy of living in each moment as it comes along!

Do what matters.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Dare to Do It

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I have never done it before, and I’m not really sure what I’m doing. Nonetheless, I’m excited about it. The “it” is planning and planting a box garden. Ever since we moved out of a townhouse into a house with a yard a few years ago, I’ve wanted to plant tomatoes and some other vegetables. A box garden is something I’d never heard of until recently. After doing a little research, a box garden seems like the best option for us.

My husband, Mike, can verify that I do not have a green thumb. At all. I once killed a cactus, and I didn’t even think that was possible. Apparently, you can over water or under water anything, even a cactus. Despite this poor track record, I am hopeful that this summer we will be enjoying homegrown tomatoes, peas, and green beans. I realize it takes more than wanting it, researching, and planning. That is all good, but it means nothing without action. I hope to take action soon, and I’ll let you know how it goes. By the way, feel free to pass along any tips and encouragement to help this novice.

The potential site of our vegetable garden.

Is there something you’d like to do or try? Go for it! Life is meant to be lived fully. Even if you’re unsure of the outcome, dare to do it. Just as I’m sure I’ll gain something from my gardening attempt, you will gain from branching out and trying new things. You may even find the joy of a new skill that you didn’t know you had!

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 14:23

Dare to do it!

A Valentine’s Mystery Follow-Up

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The mystery was solved. The two detectives had searched out each clue and followed through, eliminating suspects, items, and rooms as they went along. Our younger granddaughter, Adina, is only three years old, so she took many detours along the way. She stopped to play now and then and got distracted at times. Our 7-year-old granddaughter, Senna, however, was on a mission. She was completely focused and enjoyed figuring things out every step of the way.

Since some were asking for details on this fun event, I figured I’d share them here. I’d encourage anyone with young children in their lives to try this. You can also adapt it for older children. Our granddaughters are already excited for next years’ Valentine’s Mystery!

The mystery to be solved was who had taken what and hidden it where. We had suspects, items, and rooms – 5 of each. We created a list all the suspects, items, and rooms. We took pictures of each possible suspect, item, and room, but you could easily just write their names on an index card or paper. Next, we thought of locations to hide each of these clues. It was like a scavenger hunt, with each clue leading to the next one. We wrote the clues on the backs of the pictures. I hope this is making sense! Please write and ask me questions if it doesn’t!

The mystery board – the girls pulled off pictures as they uncovered clues.

For example, on the back of one clue, we wrote “Time for breakfast”. This led the girls to our kitchen closet, where they found the next clue inside an open box of pop tarts. That clue led them to another location, and so on. Each time they found a clue, they knew to cross that off the list. Gradually the list got whittled down, until they had their answer to the mystery. Next, we opened the envelope with the answers in it. For a prize, we gave them a little variety bag of fun stuff.

I really hope you will try this. It’s great for a rainy day, a party, a celebration, or even an “it’s too cold to go outside” day. You can define the day; don’t let the day define you. Of course, the prize can be as simple as a Hershey kiss or a sticker. You can also make the clues as simple as things like: “Where do you sleep?” or “Time to brush your teeth.”

Naturally, you can also make the clues harder! The important part is having fun. Life is meant to be enjoyed.

Let me know how your own mystery goes! In case you haven’t already heard, our answers were that our puppy, Zoey, took a Berenstain Bear book and hid it under her bed. We figured maybe she wanted to read it before bedtime😊.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Define the day; don’t let the day define you!

Banishing the Grumble

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It was at approximately 12:30am, then 1:40am, then 3am, then 4am. The first two times the older puppy needed to go out due to some digestive issues, the third time the younger puppy needed to go out, and the fourth time my youngest granddaughter was awake with a cough. Then came 6am when my older granddaughter woke up, and the day officially started. I’m sure you get the picture. There wasn’t much sleep that night.

I was all set to complain to Mike, my husband, about the sleepless, much interrupted night, when I thought, “Why?”. What would complaining accomplish? Nothing. The thought occurred to me – what if I banish complaining from my life? Then it became more than a thought, it became a goal. After all, the Bible tells us to “do everything without complaining”. Anyone willing to join me on this quest? It changes everything.

Instead of grumbling that morning, I thought about how grateful I was that our granddaughters spent the night and how much fun we all have with the puppies. It’s well worth little inconveniences, like interrupted sleep once in a while. We had so much fun together!! When I look back on days like that, it will be nice to have joy-filled memories instead of grumbling ones. It seems that as I focus on the good, the difficulties diminish. I’m not naively suggesting that there aren’t legitimate complaints. I just don’t want to be a complainer. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next sleepover, no matter how much or little sleep is involved.

“Do everything without complaining…” Philippians 2:14

Banish the grumble!

Here are just a few joys of my life…

Add Some Fun

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Adina (my three-year-old granddaughter) and I were swimming in my backyard about a week ago. Yes, it’s winter, and no, we don’t have a swimming pool. However, she has a wonderful imagination, and so we have terrific adventures together. I do think we must be great entertainment for our neighbors, as when we were waving our arms, splashing through our imaginary pool.

Adina!

Recently I’ve been involved in a Bible study going through the book of Joshua. At one point the leader was talking about how the Israelites were meant not to simply enter the promised land, but to enjoy it. That made me stop and think about being sure to enjoy life, and making time for fun. Life is so brief! I want to come to the end of mine with way more smile lines than frown lines.

Today Adina and I were floating together on an iceberg with our feet dangling in the icy water. Of course, we were wearing special shoes that kept our toes nice and warm. What will you do for fun today?

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Add some fun today!