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.
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
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!
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
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
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.
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
Kaylee had been the one with the power. Toys, balls, treats, anything she wanted she simply took. That was until the day Zoey had to wear the cone, otherwise known as an Elizabethan collar. You see, we have two puppies. Kaylee is 11 months old, and Zoey is 6 months old.
Whereas Kaylee tends to be a bit fearful, Zoey is fearless. You may have read my earlier blog about Kaylee’s experience with the cone. Now it was Zoey’s turn, and she wore the cone like it was a special honor. She quickly discovered that it gave her power over her big sister. Since Kaylee was afraid of the cone, now Zoey started taking away the toys, balls, and anything else she wanted. She’d march right up to Kaylee and nudge her with the cone and take what she wanted.
I also had to reinforce our free-standing dog gate, since Zoey discovered that she could use the cone as a battering ram to move it out of the way! When it snowed, Zoey had a blast using the cone as a snow plow to gather, then eat snow. All in all, wearing that cone has been a fun adventure for her.
This gave me a different perspective on cones and limitations. Are they limitations or opportunities for new adventures? As G.K. Chesterton said, “An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.” What inconveniences have you turned into adventures lately?
By the way, Zoey is done wearing the cone, and the power is now more balanced between our two puppies. The adventures continue!
Turn your inconveniences into adventures.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” James 1:2
It started about half a century ago, with a young mother, a glass Aunt Jemima syrup bottle, and an idea. The mother was my own, and her idea was a new Christmas tradition celebrating that Jesus is the Light of the world. She washed out the syrup bottle and placed a tall candle in it. Each day of December the candle light was there reminding us that we were celebrating Jesus’ birth, that He is the light of the world, and that He loves us. Over the years, it got more and more beautiful, as the colorful wax drippings covered the glass.
My mom had a way of making Christmas so very special. In the midst of all the busy preparations there were always smiles, singing, and laughter. Actually, she had a way of making life special, with her quick laughter and joyful heart. She knew how to savor each moment. This will be the seventh year that she is celebrating Christmas with Jesus in heaven. I can’t even imagine how amazing and wonderful that must be. It makes my heart rejoice for her, even though as I write this, a tear is dripping down my cheek.
What traditions do you have as you celebrate this special season? I’d love to hear about them. After Mike and I got married and eventually moved into our own place, we started our own Christmas candle. As I light it each day, I think, “Happy birthday, Jesus, and thank you, Mom!”
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12
The ease with which she laughed. The way she loved playing in the snow. Her constant encouragement and faith. The way she loved everybody, no exceptions. The sparkle in her eyes. The way she utterly and completely enjoyed life. These are just a few of the things I am thankful for about my mom. Yesterday as I was peeling apples, memories of her came flooding over me. That seems to happen particularly on baking days. I suppose it’s because we did a lot of baking together, and those were always happy, laughter-filled days.
Now baking days are still happy and laughter-filled. I am so thankful for my sweet daughter, Amy, and her little girls. Yesterday we baked three apple pies and three pumpkin pies together, using my mom’s recipes. In other words, we made more happy memories together. What a treat to see the joy in my granddaughters’ eyes as we mixed the pie crust dough together. How funny to watch them sneakily pop some apple slices into their mouths. I’m already looking forward to cookie baking day!
I have very much to be thankful for
each day. One tradition my family has is hanging a sheet of paper on our refrigerator
each November 1st with “I’m thankful for…” written across the top.
It isn’t long before it’s filled with little and big things written down by
everyone. I highly recommend it, because it’s a great way to cultivate a grateful
heart. As Thanksgiving approaches, what are you thankful for? Please feel free
“Give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
It was a surprise, so Mike insisted that I put on a blindfold. Then he started the truck, and 0ff we went. To where, I had no idea. Of course, I tried to figure out this secret location by noting the turns and such, but soon I was hopelessly confused. When we arrived, Mike stopped the truck, had me wait (still blindfolded) and then he gently led me out of the truck and walked with me, holding me steady. Now I could take the blindfold off. My eyes opened to see a picnic table right next to a beautiful pasture with cows grazing alongside a creek and a pond, an incredibly peaceful spot. On the table there was a cheery, red tablecloth, and sitting on top of it were delicious looking hoagies, potato chips from the Herrs Factory right down the road, and ice-cold drinks. Aaaaaaaaahhhh. It was just the break I needed.
That’s my Mike. He reminds me to have
fun, to stop and take a breather, to slow down and enjoy little things, like a
picnic with some cows. I’m so glad for Mike. He adds life to life! Are you
allowing joy in your life? Are doing something or some things that you really
One thing that I really enjoy is writing and taking pictures. I put together a little book for my granddaughters called “God is with Me When…”. It includes pictures of them having a variety of fun. My hope is that they will always know God is present with them and wants them to enjoy life. I’ve included the PDF file so you may have a look, if you like. I hope it will inspire you to invite more joy into your life. Feel free to share what brings you joy.
Clear away all the weeds, brush, and
My husband, Mike, was cleaning up the
area just behind the fence in our backyard. This was not an easy feat. It
required walking through tall weeds to get to there, then maintaining balance
on about a 1 ½ foot wide space on top of a retaining wall, while using an ax
and a saw to destroy thorny bushes and weeds that were invading our yard
through our back fence.
I love how he prioritizes things. He
has a clear perspective on what is important and what is most important. He
also has good balance, literally and figuratively. He has always been the one
to get me to take breaks and make time for fun stuff. He adds life to life! He
knows what it means to live for what lasts. Do you? When was the last time that
you took time to have a catch with a football or dance in your kitchen or stop
and watch the sunset or…well, you get the idea!
Thankfully, Mike achieved all three
of his goals. Now we can play tag in our backyard with our granddaughters
without running into branches filled with thorns, which is exactly what we plan
“So we fix our eyes not on what is
seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen
is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18
To be quite honest, my first reaction was to defend myself. I even told people who weren’t involved, simply so I could justify my actions. My second and later and better reaction was to examine the situation and see if there was any truth in the criticism I had received. There was. I actually stopped and considered what I could have or perhaps should have done differently. I learned from it. I am constantly learning, and I want to remain teachable. However, as Russ Taff sings, “I long to learn, but I’m so slow at being taught.”
This is just a small glimpse into one
of many failures, bad choices, bad reactions, etc. Thankfully, none of it
changes God’s love for me. I think of how much I love my granddaughters even
when they pout, fight, get mad, or don’t listen. God’s love is like that.
Nothing changes it. Nothing.
Here’s a little poem/action rhyme I
often share with my sweet granddaughters. Perhaps you will want to share it
with the little ones in your life or just read it to remind yourself of God’s
I love you when you’re standing up and when you’re sitting down.
I love you when you’re being still and when you’re moving ‘round.
I love you when you’re right side up
and when you’re upside down.
I love you when you’re laughing and
even when you frown.
I love you – all the time!
(Author unknown, please feel free to identify
the author if you are able to)
“This is love: not that we loved God,
but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” I