Everything is Different

I have my husband, and Shane & Shane to thank for the title of this post. It’s exactly how it feels lately. Lots of change, and everything is different. Yesterday marked the beginning of a significant transition for us, and for the entire congregation and staff at the church where we work. Our pastor and friend preached his last sermon in our pulpit, said goodbye, gave his parting hugs, and will now embark on a new ministerial adventure in Tennessee. I didn’t quite know what to do with yesterday. It was emotionally-charged to say the very least. Bitter. Sweet. Joyful. Sorrowful. Paradoxical overall. It was hard.

So Nathan and I sat and reflected together after the day came to a gradual end, at one of our favorite cafes in old Littleton. We are coming up on two years as staff members at the church. Jeff has been our boss, pastor, mentor, and friend for almost the entire time Nathan and I have been married. Along with many others who oversee the operations of the church, Jeff gave us our first opportunity in ministry as a couple. Supported us, believed in us, gave us the chance to experiment with new programs, new ideas. I described it to Nathan as the following: “It’s as if we were two young seedlings that Jeff, and many others, graciously gave a plot of earth to. An unexpected plot at that! We were given a place to grow, to spread out, to bloom. And all the while, Jeff tended to us as our leader under the good Lord. And now, our friend and gardner is setting out to a new plot, to help other seedlings grow, and to tend to them as he did to us.”

HaleyNathan&Jeff

It’s hard to conclude such a special season of our lives under his leadership. But we are forever grateful for the time we’ve had, and we will no doubt see the imprint of his care and pastorship in our lives over all the years to come.

So we begin this next week with gratitude for changes in abundance. A new-to-us car. A new season (as yesterday marked the first day of autumn), and a new era as staff and worshippers at First Pres. of Littleton.

New is not always comfortable, but it is necessary. So let us welcome the changes and seasonal shifts in our lives.

I would like to end this post with a prayer of St. Francis of Assisi~

Rev. Jeff’s hero of the faith, and a model to us all.

LORD,

make me an instrument of Thy Peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow Love;

Where there is injury, Pardon;

Where there is doubt, Faith;

Where there is despair, Hope;

Where there is darkness, Light, and

Where there is sadness, Joy.

O, DIVINE MASTER,

Grant that I may not so much

Seek to be consoled as to Console;

To be understood as to Understand;

To be loved as to Love;

For it is in Giving that we receive;

It is in Pardoning that we are pardoned;

And it is in Dying that we are born to Eternal life.  

Amen.

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Rediscoveries & Anticipation

Earlier this week, I spent an evening with my parents, while Nathan had to wrap up some work at the church. I was greeted by the two “piglets.” Scooby and Honeybun–two fawn pugs. Scooby, a slim, barrel-chested brute. And Honeybun, a round waisted dame. If you know me, you know about these two pet loves of mine. They snort, snarfle, and cling to you like two shadows. If not for their hyperactivity as a duo, I would think them to be the best therapy dogs ever. They always brighten a dreary day and bring a lot of laughter and smiles.

Scooby&Honeybun

So I greeted my little friends, and spent a nice while chatting with my mom. We began to sort through some remaining items in the closet of my old bedroom, laughing at many that have hung there for years, each taking me back to a specific time and place in life. “This is SO my Freshman year at ORU.” “I wore these for Easter that one year…” “Here’s my graduation gown from college!” “I wore these shoes on my trip to Israel ” and on and on. My closet represented years of memories, important moments in my life, and a few embarrassing moments too. Can’t do without those. (Smile).

I also grabbed a zip up trunk of jewelry that I had left in a drawer, reminding myself that I have been meaning to take that home with me for…uh….almost 2 years!! Ha. As I went through the pairs of earrings, necklaces, bracelets, etc., I was reminded again of different seasons of life, places I’ve lived, styles I loved, jobs I’ve done, and all the lovely people along the way. I spotted a bag of some treasures that I had too easily forgotten. Several pairs of sterling Navajo earrings from Santa Fe that my mother had purchased many years ago. Many with beautiful turquoise accents. Mom polished them up for me and I took them home, excited about my rediscovery.

Isn’t it sentimental and entertaining to look through the past via clothes, shoes, jewelry, pictures, keepsakes? It’s amazing how much we can forget until we rediscover! Some things can take you right back to a specific moment, on a specific day, and a specific occasion. When leading a grief group this past spring, I used a lot of literature from Alan Wolfelt, a grief “guru” out of Fort Collins. He talks about linking objects–those things that tie us to a person and remind us of him or her. An old shirt, a wedding ring, a picture, a certain song, etc. I don’t think that linking objects only apply when we lose a loved one in life, but they apply even to us and our own keepsakes, or things from family members that hold special significance. They fondly remind us. They tie us back to a previous time and place. Sometimes pleasant, sometimes sorrowful. Regardless, they are special because they speak of a life that we have lived, and speak mysteriously to our future as well. So in recent days, I’ve thought a lot about sentimentality, rediscoveries, and anticipation.

Candle&Cross Necklace

In a similar vein, Nathan and I parted with his 2004 blue Prius on Wednesday night. Sold to the brother of a friend, who randomly found our listing on Craigslist. From the first phone call to the parting signature on the bill of sale, it only took 2 days. There were LOTS of memories in the Prius, affectionately known as Trish (thanks to our youth group). Nathan picked me up for our first date in the Prius, we ventured on many a road trip on her 4 wheels, stuffed her to the gills when moving, and more. All cleaned out and spiffed up, we signed it over and watched Trish drive away with her new owner behind the wheel. Last night we got our new Prius , passed down by Nathan’s dad to us. AKA Trish 2.0! As a good friend of mine has said, a new car seems to always signify a new season. Tis true, I believe. So let the new road trips commence, the new date night drives to movies and restaurants begin, and the whole new slew of memories get going!

So I sign off with anticipation of new things to come, and marvel at the rediscovery of treasures forgotten.

Happy day to you all,

Haley

“Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards.” ~Anonymous

Rain & frittata

Another rainy day here. (I’m beginning to think we live somewhere other than Denver…Seattle perhaps?) I have been especially mindful and prayerful about the masses of people who are continuing to be affected by the floods. The images are mind boggling; the damage immense. Nathan and I were glad to host a lovely couple for the last two days who needed a place to stay in Denver, after they risked getting down from a mountaintop in the Boulder area. They just moved here last week from Virginia, and were welcomed by days and days of storms and the astounding results. Water, and more water. It’s amazing how drastically different the conditions have been in Littleton, compared to several communities just north and east of us. I saw today that S.E. Boulder had received 18.55 inches of water in the last several days! If converted to snow, that would be close to 18 FEET!! Can you imagine?! So we remain in prayer for our new friends and the MANY others who are trying to navigate and get situated after the flooding.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. ~Psalm 34:18

So given the ongoing rainfall, and the good kind of tiredness that followed this morning’s church work duties and Sunday School kick-off, we decided to stay in this afternoon, and stay warm. Sweatpants on, rain on the windows, and the Broncos scoring a win on TV. As we thought about dinner, I began to wonder what I could drum up from the odd assortment of items in our fridge. I began to think about breakfast foods. Pancakes? Eggs? Turkey bacon? We remained indecisive until I remembered that dish I’ve been wanting to try. FRITTATA. It’s supposedly easily made, and effortlessly comprised of eggs, milk, and whatever else you have in the fridge, obviously with some exceptions, ha.

I’ve never made a frittata, but after watching Morning Glory a while back, starring Rachel McAdams and Harrison Ford, who is a quite abrasive and unruly news anchor, I randomly decided that I wanted to get a knack for making the dish. Why? Because that was Ford’s signature dish in the movie, and he made it look divine.

And so…I used the trusty Google search to find an easy frittata recipe. And successfully I found one. “Frittatas in 5 Easy Steps.” Simple, and open to your own interpretation and what you have on hand. I decided to use some mini sweet peppers, broccoli, and onions as my add-ins.

Frittata VeggiesCooking Frittata

Sautéed and then topped with a whisked mixture of a few eggs, a couple egg whites, salt, pepper, and a bit of milk… it cooked into loveliness in a skillet. Mmmmm. Then I simply followed the recipe’s instructions, slipped it into the oven to broil after I topped it with some shredded cheese, and ta-da! Dinner was ready to serve. It smelled amazing and tasted oh-so-good.

Eating Frittata

And so, we ate and enjoyed. And for the remainder of this evening, I plan to watch a movie, be shamelessly lazy, and enjoy the peace and calm before the start of another week. But even as I do, I am prompted again to keep those in mind who are not able to cook in their own kitchens tonight, be on their own sofas, in their own beds, or with their own belongings. Displaced by floods and wreckage.

Prayers for all those affected in the recent days.

I sign off with the twenty-third psalm on this rainy night:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures, 

He leads me beside the still waters,

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me.

Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies,

You anoint my head with oil, 

My cup overflows. 

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

Clay in his hands

I was struck by a devotional this week, read in staff meeting by our dear friend and church secretary, Elinor. It was titled “A Bit of Clay.” The whole reading was narrated from the perspective of a lonesome bit of clay, lying for ages on the side of a Galilean road. This clay, seemingly useless and made for no exact purpose, became the tool in Jesus’ hand to heal the eyes of the blind man in John chapter 9.

Clay Hand

The clay asks the reader, “Are you thinking there is nothing you can do? Oh of yourself that is true […] I was that way until the Master touched me long ago on that certain day. His touch made all the difference. And if he could use me, a bit of clay, he certainly can use you, too.” It proclaimed that it too was helpless, useless, and lifeless prior to the touch of the Master, and just as it was transformed in His hands, so too His touch transforms us.

Aren’t you that bit of clay, just as much as I? Truly, we await that sacred touch. That moment when he nears us, bends down to pick us up from the ground at his feet, and then forms us into something beautiful in the safety of his hands. 

It makes me think back to a small group activity I experienced years ago. Our group leader gave us each a small canister of Play-Doh. She asked us to form the small glob into something that represented us and displayed our personal journeys in life–including the hurts as well as the joys and points of growth. We all took a perfectly shaped cylinder of the Play-Doh out of the little yellow containers and began to mold. The heat of our hands and the grip of our fingers began to shape and form something new. People pinched small portions of the dough and removed them from the rest, signifying parts of themselves that they felt were hurt or taken from them in pain. Others took clumps of the dough and demonstrated adding them to the rest, showing what they feel they have gained and learned. Some formed cracks in their dough, while others made symbols of restoration. All were different. All were significantly personal.

I thought back to that activity as Elinor read the words of that devotional piece. We are the clay in the Potter’s hands. Sometimes we feel his grip, his molding force, his stretching us. Other times I think we focus more on the warmth and security of his hands, as there is no better place to be.

So I thought about some simple pieces of pottery that I own, and how they began as clay–simple, brown, and shapeless. But through the skill of the potter’s hands, they became these gorgeous pieces.

Pottery

If you are interested in the devotional I spoke of, simply click here on A Bit of Clay

Blessings to you all, my bit-of-clay friends.

Haley

Saturday biscotti & babble

Biscotti suppliesBiscotti in oven

I decided to bake some homemade almond biscotti today after seeing a delicious recipe in one of my cookbooks. While a few of them turned out a little too crispy for my liking, they were a success and I will thoroughly enjoy dipping them in my coffee over mornings to come! I have  also had a hankering for Vietnamese coffee as of late. So… my loving husband offered to venture up onto Federal Blvd. to locate a Vietnamese coffee maker. It will be a nice addition to our ever-growing coffee accessory line. (Smile).

Cut biscotti

If you’ve never tried Vietnamese coffee, you must! Strong brewed coffee, dripped slowly into a glass, atop a rich layer of  condensed milk, then mixed with ice/or enjoyed hot. Delish! I will show you how below…and if you think it might be something you’d enjoy, you can visit the Little Saigon market on Federal (or your own local Vietnamese market) and pick up a maker for appx. $7.00.

Here is how I make Vietnamese coffee. Make a note that you can enjoy it hot or cold! I ended up icing ours today.

V. Coffee Supplies Start with a can of condensed milk (appx. 3-4 teaspoons of condensed milk per glass/mug),  ground coffee (I used our Starbucks dark roast today), your Vietnamese coffee maker, glasses or mugs (depending on if you want it iced or hot), and boiling water.

Water on V. Coffee

When using a Vietnamese coffee maker, you put roughly 3-4 teaspoons of ground coffee into the coffee maker. You then loosely screw on the next filter with the rod sticking up (as seen above). Pour a slight amount of boiling water into the maker to let the grounds expand. Wait 10 seconds or so, and then pour water into the maker until it reaches the top of the coffee maker, OR to the point that your glass/mug can hold (with room for ice, if you’re making it cold). The coffee will drip through into your glass on top of the condensed milk. You want to set the lid on top of the maker as it drips, so it can steep properly.

V. Coffee Making

Once it finishes dripping, remove the coffee maker. Place a spoon into the glass (if putting in ice), and then stir the condensed milk into the coffee. Then E.N.J.O.Y!

In addition to my Saturday kitchen adventures, I have been taking my own advice lately on creativity and I decided to make a simple, yet adorable votive candle holder. You know me and candles! So I made a pit stop in Michael’s the other day, picked up a $1.50 mason jar, some tan and cream colored baker’s twine, some brown satin ribbon, and a small decorative fall wreath to go around the bottom.

Homemade Candle Holder

I wrapped the twine and ribbon around the top of the mason jar, along the ridges of where the jar lid would thread on to seal, then tied a simple and loose bow, inserted a scented votive into the jar, and voila! Cheap, cute, and easy! Took all of 5 minutes to complete. And there are SO many options as to how you might do this. Different colored ribbon and twine, different colored mason jars (I saw some light blue ones as well as the clear), and different decorative touches to put at the bottom. I even thought about putting some coffee beans in my jar to support the votive, but opted to keep it simple and leave the beans out this time. But the options are endless!

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So I will leave you today with these random food and craft ideas, and I will now venture into an afternoon of rest and relaxation.  The bulk of our September busyness is quickly approaching, so I will relish in the enjoyment of Saturday biscotti and babble, and the opportunity to be at home, with the smell of baked goods in the air, college football on the tube, drinking Vietnamese coffee with my hubs.

Much love!

Haley

Creative juices. Are they flowing?

Left brain: logical, analytical, systematic. Right brain: creative, artistic, intuitive. We all tend to function more in one than the other, though we can tap into both hemispheres and their innate strengths!

Depending on your personality, your God-given wiring, roles in life, and the occupations you may fulfill, you may camp out on one side more often than the other. Sometimes we have to be technical and linear, and that’s perfectly necessary. Other times we have to access the out-of-the-boxness of our brains and venture more into the creative epicenter of the right.

So I have been pondering the effects of tapping into the creative. This blog is a part of that for me. I get to wordsmith fun phrases, manipulate themes, colors, and pictures, and design in my head. It’s a free association of sorts; a catharsis. Other times I want to get more hands-on creativity bubbling! I am no artist, by any stretch of the imagination, but I still like the feel of painting, drawing, or doodling to express my thoughts beyond words. Or at times I like to decorate and design a space, wall, or corner of a room. Randomly mixing and matching colors, prints, home/office accessories. It’s all about using the creative juices to form something unique, beautiful, and fun!!

Some people do this through cooking masterpieces on a plate. Some do this by writing and recording music. Others do this by creatively assembling outfits. Others photograph. Some write. Some dance. Some sing and play. Others craft and collage. Some bake. Some sew and knit. Some decorate. Others sculpt. I could go on forever!

What’s your creative endeavor as of late? Do you have a way to tap into the less systematic side of your brain? When is the last time you did something creatively fueled and threw off the structured grid of the left brain?

There is fun and freedom in the occasional creative effort, when you can bypass the who-what-why-where-when-and how’s and simply DO and CREATE. In therapy I enjoy the moments when I ask a client to draw something on the spur of the moment, without time to think, process, and plan. It’s not about perfection and strategy…it’s about getting to the “stuff” behind all that. Don’t think, just draw. Don’t think, just dance. Don’t think, just write. Don’t think, just paint.

Creative and simple suggestions for the week~

  • Start with the simple–pick up a pad of paper and a pen. Then draw, write, doodle, or sketch. Don’t think too much about it, just start. Sometimes it helps to pick a word or object and use it as your muse. Maybe pick the mood of your day or moment–happy, sad, excited, frustrated, hopeful, discouraged, afraid, etc., and draw or write about whatever comes to mind. This is not an art class or english seminar assignment. It’s for you. So don’t be critical, don’t overanalyze. Just give it a whirl!
  • Get creative at home or at the office–this does not imply a renovation project or all new decor. I am talking about simply moving around a piece of furniture, or taking a naked wall and making it more of a focal piece. Picture what you might like in the blank space and put your creative touch to it! My style at home is warm, but eclectic. I like the olive greens, country yellows, navy blues, and rich reds. But within that scope, I like to add some variety and accent colors. So every so often, I add some new, random piece to a wall or a new item to a shelf. Some of my favorite “randoms” include a thrift shop sailing print that I picked up in California. It looks retro and doesn’t quite match my general scheme, but I love it! Another is an antique set of opera glasses passed down to me by my grandmother in Tulsa. They are GORGEOUS. I am not a big antique collector on my own, so these are extra special to me and add a touch of class and family history to my mantle. I am also into my fairly new set of R.C. Gorman tiles–a Navajo Indian artist. These beauties were a church yard sale find this summer! All were added to our home to bring variety and a creative touch.  See what you can do! Move a painting, switch a chair, or add a simple accent.

Opera GlassesR.C. Gorman Tiles

Sail print

  • Get on Pinterest! If you don’t have the time to head to the nearest craft supply store, or time to bake an apple pie today (I sure don’t!), just log onto Pinterest and admire the many creative efforts and ideas of zillions of other people worldwide!! Open up your mind to the possibilities of ALLLL the many things you could create and challenge yourself to dream. Recipes, crafts, DIY projects galore, and on and on! Create a board on a random idea, style, or motif! The options are endless and it just takes the simple effort to browse and select with the click of a mouse. While this is not the most hands-on suggestion, it is easily accessible and fun! “Happy Pinning!” as Pinterest so often says.
  • PLAY! As I sat in staff meeting today at the church, I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion that arose after Nathan read a quote for consideration: “The true object of all human life is play.” ~G.K. Chesterton. We then spent an hour talking about how play is creative, flexible, open, free, and unbound. It is the opposite of the structured, predictable, and organized functions of our typical days. We sat and pondered how play is a part of our lives currently, how it could be incorporated more, and how we might play more in our personal, work, and ministerial lives. Play is not reserved for 10 and under. It should be a lifelong essential. I admit that I am not the most spontaneous person. I like to plan and proceed with ordered steps. But after so long, the orderliness can become drudgery. So I have to flip the switch and engage the right brain! I have to tap into creativity, fun, and flexibility. So I offer you the challenge as well: PLAY! Your play will be your own, and different from any other’s. Your play could be attending a Red Rocks concert, or throwing a themed dinner party, or going on a hike, or roasting marshmallows, or staking out a big leather chair at Starbucks with a new book in hand. You choose, you enjoy!

I would love to hear from you. What allows you to break out of the set and structured, and into the realm of creativity and play?!

Many FUN blessings my friends. May your creative juices flow in abundance!

Haley

Share some words of honey, Honey

In recent months I have increasingly considered the power of words. Yes, this has a lot to do with my profession as a mental health counselor. I tend to think a lot more about how I ask questions, phrase things, and approach sensitive topics. In fact, one of the very first things I learned in my counseling training was to listen well and to ask questions well. Questions that open people up to answer beyond a simple yes or no. Questions that point to a deeper meaning or experience in a client’s life. So, naturally, this is partly why I am more aware of words on a daily basis.

But I am also much more aware of the power of words since getting married. (Smile). Nathan and I are balancing forces to one another. I am extroverted, talkative, outspoken and quick to comment on whatever is being said. My mind is a busybody–and might possibly resemble a 4-way intersection in the heart of New York City, with cars honking and rushing, and others swerving and pushing through the crowd like yellow cabs trying to speed to the next stop. There’s not a whole lot of down time in my head. Thoughts sweep through, followed by critical analysis and internal comment, and inevitably some sort of spoken statement. Nathan, on the other hand, is much more thoughtful and patient. He doesn’t tend to use his words quickly without having processed them first. So as you can imagine, our opposite traits require work on both of our parts in order to communicate well. And as I am a first-hand witness of, words have a lot of power in relationships. We can either build up or tear down by means of what we say. Sometimes it just seems easier to shoot of the cuff and make a snide remark, doesn’t it? It takes a lot less energy, control, and character. It feels good to bite back, to accuse, to shame, and to snarl. But the repercussions, though often unseen, are significant.

Speak Life

James 3 relates the tongue to a rudder on a ship. Though small, it steers the whole vessel and the course it will take. Likewise, the tongue is a small thing, but it has the ability to defile the entirety of the body through its “great boasts.” Boy, doesn’t this ring true?! Am I the only one who has stood amazed at the power of a person’s statements (and my own many a time!!) and the impact they can have on another’s life?!

Destructive words tear down, injure, and break a person’s soul.

Kind words lift up, heal, and restore a person’s soul.

Kind words are like honey — sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. ~Proverbs 16:24

So with this in mind, I consider the implications of my own .W..O..R..D..S. It seems we cannot dismiss the little pink, flappy muscle in our mouths, and especially the heart and its motives that determine the fruit of it.

I ask myself, then, and you as well… Which do we choose—Words of honey, or words of poison? Words to heal, or words to injure? Words of life, or words of death?

Cards

I love to collect cards. I can stand in a Hallmark or Papyrus store for a long time–reading, smiling, swooning, and leaving with a handful to add to my collection of “must haves.” But I especially love to keep cards that I’ve received from loved ones. Cards filled with kindness. My quilted bulletin board is covered with keepsakes, like these in the picture above. They are reminders of many good times, of special occasions, and of relationships that I share with so many dear people. The kind words are sweet like honey to my soul.

Have you tried writing a card lately? It’s so typical to avoid the old snail-mail and jump right to the internet for all communication these days. I love the advantages of technology, but I also know that sometimes there is no better thing than to receive a handwritten love note, an ” I miss you,” a vote of confidence, or a “thank you for everything.” To open a letter that’s traveled from 3 states away, or from a country abroad, marked with signs of a journey. How lovely, how nice!

Remember the days of pen pals?! Update letters from distant relatives? Such communication seems SLOOOOooooOOW these days, when compared to the FAST FAST world of smartphones, email, Facebook, video chat, etc. But I believe there is no replacement for the occasional sentiment shared by pen and paper. Ink on a page. Swirling letters on a line, reflecting one’s style, personality, and thoughtfulness.

Give it a try. Think about whom you might like to write this week. That person who needs a good laugh or smile, or an update on your life. That loved one who will croon when your note peeks out of the mailbox. Share those words of honey, my friends!

Love letters

Blessings to you,

Haley