Monday, April 30, 2007

Sorry about the lax posting lately........ we were at a festival all weekend and the weather is so lovely, I can't make myself sit down at the computer for very long. :)

But I wanted to leave a brief note and draw attention to my brother-in-law's blog in which he showcases his new hobby of painting. He is a very talented potter, but doesn't have a kiln where they are living now and has started painting as an outlet for his creative juices. If you have a moment, go check his site out: "Square Paints" .

And I'll put up a new post soon.... I promise!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Girl That Nobody Wanted........
( This is a continuation of my experiences at the MD Salem Children's Home and School . Former entries are here and here . *Names changed for privacy......)

*Ella is not your typical thirteen year old. While most girls her age are starting to distance themselves from the adults in their lives and shy away from public affection from grown-ups, Ella likes to snuggle up next to me under an afghan when we watch movies. She likes to lay her head on my shoulder during our church service. She WANTS to stay with me at the mall instead of hanging out with friends..........

I first met Ella when I went back to work at the Salem School part-time when my son was almost three. She was a new resident in the residential program and was in the classroom where I spent most of my time as an aide. She was only ten then. Her dad had brought her to Salem, stating that she was "troubled" and was threatening her new stepmom. He then skipped town without leaving a new address or phone number.
We later found out Ella had first been living with her mom, who's new boyfriend didn't like kids..... So mom sent Ella to live with her dad. But Ella didn't get along with Stepmom, so dad brought her to Salem and never contacted her again.

During Ella's first several weeks at Salem, many days found her curled up under her desk sobbing. A ten year old girl feeling abandoned, lost, and in despair. Her teacher would often crawl under the desk and hold her. We didn't force her to get up or do her work during those early weeks......we let her mourn. That is part of what makes Salem such a special place........ a teacher can hug a child, pray with a child, and cater to each child's individual needs and circumstances.

As Ella eventually started to adjust to her new setting, I spent a lot of time teaching her and another boy, *Jay, individually. The class she was in was full of some very explosive children at the time, with Ella and Jay being the exception. So, many days, I would take their schoolwork outside and we would sit at the picnic tables or on the swingset and have class.... just the three of us. It was during this time that the bonding between Ella and I began. Ella wasn't used to consistent affection and it showed. She really had NO idea how to show affection....not only that, but she was afraid to. Her heart had been broken and it was slow going letting someone else into it. She would always hover close to me and other staff she really liked, but she would be really sarcastic and tease. Sometimes her words were almost spiteful. But we all realized it was her attempt at trying to be close to someone. She preferred being with staff rather than with other kids.....especially female staff. We reminded ourselves that she was only ten, such a young and vulnerable age where most girls are still very attached to their mothers. We went out of our way to give Ella LOTS of hugs....sometimes just putting our arm around her while we talked to her. She would lower her head to try to hide the ear-to-ear grin. And, eventually, she started coming to us and initiating these hugs or touch.

Ella often earned lunches out with her teachers because of good behavior, and relished the one-on-one attention. And on top of her relationships at the school, she was receiving loving structure and consistency in the house she lived in through the residential program. Ella began to thrive, even amidst a deep longing to go home. Unfortunately, there was no home for Ella to go to.... and her social worker really had no long-term plan for her because no relatives were coming forth to express interest in taking Ella except an elderly grandmother who didn't have the means to. Children like Ella would thrive in a foster home, but like most areas, there is a shortage of them. Salem fills in the gap for these less troubled children, providing them the closest thing to a home-like setting until one can be found.

As the school year began to come to a close, my husband accepted a job in another state that required us to move over an hour away. It wasn't a place either of us were really excited about moving to. After seven years of making a life and niche for myself in my husband's hometown....and the many, many children who had become a part of my life through Salem, it seemed a lot to uproot just to move an hour away. But we really didn't have an option. The last weeks of school at Salem were also the REAL last weeks for me to say good-bye to all the children permanently, after almost seven years of my life with them. And there were a few, like Ella, that made it an especially heart-wrenching ordeal. One night at our home, I finally broke down in front of my husband and cried for hours. I felt I was one more person who had come into their lives and then left. I felt I was abandoning them. Although I stopped working there for a couple of years after I had my son, I maintained contact with the children and we were a resource family for a couple of the kids. Even as I write this, I have to hold back tears, as the emotions are still so raw and strong from seven years that changed me and will linger inside me forever.

The farewell cards I received from the children are a treasure to me, even now....tucked away in a manilla envelope in my bedroom. So many expressed words of thanks, love, and affection that I never thought capable of coming from them. And Ella, through her card, pleaded with me not to leave and told me to please come visit as much as I could. I didn't know how I would maintain contact, but I knew I would. And I didn't know what Ella's future might hold, but I knew God had a plan for her life..... a plan to prosper her and not to harm her.... a plan for hope and a future. God says in His word that He places the lonely in families and that He will bind up the broken-hearted, and that is my continued prayer for all the children at Salem. I may not be with them physically anymore, but I can pray and plead and intercede on their behalf before their heavenly Father, who loves them way beyond what my human heart could.

Ella's story does not end here.....and neither does our intertwined life with her. But this is all I can write today. God DID have a plan for her and a miraculous thing is in the works... a story that seems to have a happy ending and will be forthcoming. In the meantime, won't you join me in interceding before God for Ella and the thousands of children in the world like her? Pray that God WILL place them in families, heal their wounded souls, and bring about redemption from the evil and darkness of their former lives. Pray specifically for Ella's circumstance...... and I hope to share good news about her future soon.....

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I was standing lost, sunk, my hands in my pockets,

gazing toward Tinker Mountain and feeling the earth reel down.

All at once I saw what looked like a Martian spaceship whirling towards me in the air.

It flashed borrowed light like a propeller. Its forward motion greatly outran its fall.

As I watched, transfixed, it rose, just before it would have touched a thistle,

and hovered pirouetting in one spot, then twirled on and finally came to rest.

I found it in the grass; it was a maple key, a single winged seed from a pair.

Hullo. I threw it into the wind and it flew off again, bristling with animate purpose,

not like a thing dropped or windblown, pushed by the witless winds of convection . . . .

And now when I sway to a fitful wind, alone and listing, I will think, maple key.

When I see a photograph of the earth from space . . . I will think, maple key.

When I shake your hand or meet your eyes I will think, two maple keys.

If I am a maple key falling, at least I can twirl.

-Annie Dillard

( This photo was found on the web.......but for an incredible, original nature photo and post, check out Fragments From Floyd today...."Carrion Without Me"- It's amazing what comes along when you take the time, like Fred, to lie on your back under the sky and wait.....)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Mountains and Rivers........
Even with a yucky headcold, I was able to enjoy the 70 degree weather as we picnicked at this park yesterday. It sits along the Potomac River and is near one of the offices where my husband works. We had spent the morning looking at real estate and this was a nice reprieve for Sir Laughsalot after riding around in the car all morning. Not a bad view, huh?

As I am feeling a little under the weather and don't really have much to post, I'll refer you to my friend Elise and THIS wonderful, moving post on some cherished time with her daughter. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Little Local Flavor.........

One philosophy I subscribe to in life, for many reasons, is buying local. It is not only more environmentally friendly, as so much gas and diesel fuel is used shipping food and other products in from the outside....but it supports small businesses and farmers and puts money back into the community. We buy our eggs, meat, and grains from a local mennonite grocery that carries these products from local farmers who don't use hormones and whos animals are free-range....not raised on a factory farm. We also try to purchase most of our fruits and vegetables from our farmer's markets and roadside stands during the summer months. Living in a rural, farming community, we have an abundance of resources for fresh, whole foods.

We have a little mom and pop toy store that carries high-quality, albeit a little more expensive, toys that engage the imagination and don't require batteries. I always go there instead of Wal-mart when I need to buy a gift for a child.

And one of my favorite specialty shops is a converted train depot that sells handicrafts and food that is all made by local artisans and craftsmen. It is a treat indeed to look around this shop......from gourmet coffees to handmade rugs to handblown glass. This is also a place I frequent when I need a gift for someone. I like to get gifts that are it's fun to be able to send a gift and let the person know it was handmade by a local artisan.....

Two good websites about buying local are Sustainable Table
and Local Harvest . These two are mainly about buying your food locally. But, if you look around, usually there are a lot more products that are made locally and are available to purchase. Yes, sometimes it is a little more expensive than going to a big box store, but I think the service done to the environment and your community outweighs the extra expense.

I'll probably feature all these "favorite" stores of mine at different intervals. The photos on this post are all from the Depot gift shop that I mentioned.

Anybody up for a little shopping? :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

In Mourning......
For all of you who pray, please be praying for the students and families from Virginia Tech and the community of Blacksburg, as they are in the midst of the horrible tragedy that happened on their campus yesterday. My blogging friend Colleen, who lives near Blacksburg, has a moving post and tribute to this community here. We have been there several times, and it is a wonderful mountain community, somewhere that is an unlikely place for something like this to occur. Join me in praying for healing, courage, and strength for Blacksburg, all the victims, and their families......

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Real Beauty?

Some Sad Statistics....

-70% of girls ages 15-17 aren’t even bothering to participate in
normal every day activities due to a lack of self-worth

-Today’s “beauty ideals” create “appearance anxiety” for 86.9% of all
teenaged girls

-92% of the young women in the USA want to change some aspect of their
physical appearance

-By age 15, clinically depressed girls outnumber boys with depression
2 to 1

-At age 9, at least half of all girls report having been on a diet.
Eighty percent of eighth grade girls say they are on diets."

-7 million girls and women have eating disorders, compared with 1 million
boys and men.Ten percent report onset at 10 years or younger; 33
percent ages 11 to 15.

-Research also shows that messages girls receive from the media can
damage their feelings of self-worth and negatively affect their
behavior. More than one in four girls surveyed feel the media pressure
them to have a perfect body.

I admire Dove for their Campaign For Real Beauty. Someone needs to expose the fashion and beauty industry for what it is. How did we get to a point in society where over half of 9 year old girls are already on diets? I've read elsewhere that even by the age of 5 or 6, girls are already worried about their looks. My weight and appearance were the last thing on my mind during my elementary school years.
Girls with low self-esteem are far more likely to suffer depression, have eating disorders, abuse drugs and alcohol, and get pregnant in their teen years. I'm glad the discussion has started so that we can come up with a plan to reverse this trend.....

In the meantime, hug your girls and other women in your life and let them know how beautiful they are! :)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

"Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me, Starlight and dewdrop are waiting for thee."
- Stephen Foster "Beautiful Dreamer"

"Stars shining bright above you, Night breezes seem to whisper "I love you" ,
Birds singing in the sycamore tree....
Dream a little dream of me"- - - - Gus Kahn "Dream A Little Dream of Me"

"Was it a vision, or a waking dream? Fled is that music: - do I wake or sleep?"- - - - John Keats

" Dreams are ... illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you."- - - - Marsha Norman

"I arise from dreams of thee, In the first sweet sleep of night.... When the winds are breathing low, And the stars are shining bright."- - - - Percy Bysshe Shelley "The Indian Serenade"

I have been in a dreamy mood as of late...... maybe it is spring with all the new life and color. Or maybe it's the rain and fog we have been having. Or it could be that I have been staying up too late and tend to be in a haze during the days because of it. Whatever the reason may be, the beauty of the Appalachian mountains that surround me has not been escaping my senses....... it has all taken on a dreamlike quality and has been resonating within me.....
The photos are from various seasons here in the wildness, but all reflect how I am feeling. My friend Anna seems to be dreamy lately, too..... as reflected in THIS wonderfully romantic photo...

Wishing you all a wonderful, dreamy day!!!!

(sidenote: My sister, Motherskylark, has just put up a post after a long blogging hiatus. If you have a moment, stop by and welcome her back....her link is in my sidebar....)

Monday, April 09, 2007

I am currently on a blogging "Spring Break" as my parents are in visiting for an extended Easter stay. I'll be back in commission towards the end of the week, but for now I won't be making the rounds or posting. Hope every one had a wonderful Easter weekend and we'll catch up soon! In the meantime, here's a photo of the happy family on Easter morn....

Friday, April 06, 2007

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul! What wondrous love is this, O my soul! What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul, To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down, When I was sinking down, sinking down, When I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown, Christ laid aside His crown for my soul, for my soul, Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.

To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing; To God and to the Lamb, I will sing. To God and to the Lamb Who is the great “I Am”; While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing; While millions join the theme, I will sing.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on; And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on. And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be; And through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;And through eternity, I’ll sing on.

Words: Alexander Means. Music: William Walker, 1835.

This hymn is one of my favorites. It is especially beautiful when sung in the traditional shaped-note tradition here .......... As in most shaped-note sessions, they sing the notes first, then the lyrics.
Wishing you all a Wonderful and Joyous Easter as we celebrate the risen King!!!!

(photo: taken along a road in Ireland........)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Spring Has Sprung....


April 4

Father, set the lonely in families. Specifically I pray for Jose, that he would be adopted by a loving, stable, faithful, and encouraging forever family.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Last week, Anna from Anna's Photo of The Day let me know that she had bestowed on me a "Thinking Blogger Award." Apparently, this is a tag going around in which you choose 5 blogs that you enjoy and that make you think....I felt very honored and humbled by the kind words she said on her post about my blog. Well, lazy blogger that I am, I hadn't gotten around to accepting the Award and posting.... so I just received news from Elise at A Path Made Straight that she had given me the award, also. Needless to say, I was especially shocked and again, humbled, to receive it a second time. So, thank you, Anna and Elise- you both inspire me so much as well....both as mothers, and as creative individuals. If you haven't visited these two amazing ladies, I highly recommend a stop-over at their sites.

So, here I am..... and I must only choose 5...... a very difficult task. Just to note, Anna and Elise would have been on this list if they hadn't already been tagged. So, here it goes.....

1. Fragments From Floyd : If you have been reading my blog for a while, the name Fred First will be familiar to you. His was the first blog I ever read and I discovered it at a time in my life when my "cyber" visits to his front porch on Goose Creek were just what I needed. Writing from his old, white farmhouse in a narrow valley of southwest Virginia, his writings flood me with memories of my childhood....growing up in an old , white farmhouse on 65 acres in Kentucky. He is a wonderfully gifted writer and photographer, and he has an incredibly amazing gift of drawing attention to the small, simple, and beautiful details of the natural world around us. He also, through this gift, encourages good stewardship of the earth and always has great resources to check out. I have dubbed him "the Blogfather", as I feel he is somewhat of a blogging pioneer...... and through his 5 or 6 years of blogging, he has produced a wonderful book titled Slow Road Home. A great read for warm summer mornings while sitting on your porch drinking coffee.... :)

2. Loose Leaf Notes : Colleen Redman has also been an inspiration to me and I asked her advice before starting my own blog. She had the same reservations as me when she first started blogging, so she was a great resource. Colleen is a witty, intelligent, free-spirited woman who also happens to be a great writer and poet. I never know what to expect when I click over to her site each day, and that's what I love about it. We are on opposite poles in regards to politics and certain other subjects, but that is part of the fun. It's a bore to me to always be around like-minded individuals. Colleen makes me think, makes me smile, and moves me on a regular basis. She also keeps me in touch with that little bit of bohemian free-spirit in me that tends to get buried as I grow older....

3. The Creativity Blog : Tom Atkins is the consummate romantic, poet, and photographer . He is currently taking a blogging sabbatical, but I had to tag him because until then, he gave me my daily dose of poetry. He sees poetry in everything......nature, people, photographs, life. Anyone that can write poetry every day, and good poetry, at that, is high on my list. He has plenty of poetry still on his site, so go over and take a peek.

4. Lilies Have Dreams: Christianne is a blogger that I have crossed paths with over the past several months. I think the name of her blog fits her perfectly....she is a blooming writer and a lovely flower. She is honest and open about her life as a young woman trying to follow her dreams and calling within the context of being a Christian. She is a dreamer and an encourager....... and I know she is going to be blossoming within her giftings and writing as she continues to hold it up to the Light.....

5. Lattes and Rainy Days : Kirsten is a package deal with Christianne :) ....I "met" them both around the same time and through each others blogs. First, let me say that anyone with the word latte in their title HAS to be a kindred spirit. Kirsten is also a wonderful writer and encourager. She has recently bought a camera and has been gracing her blog with wonderful photos of the Pacific Northwest.... a beautiful part of our country that is still foreign to me. Kirsten keeps me in touch with my young, hip side and I love her stories about her adventures with her Comedian boyfriend.

There are SO many other great blogs out there, as most of you know. The blogging world has opened up so many windows for me and it has been so cool to come in to contact with people from all over the world that I would never know otherwise. I have enjoyed all you guys that I visit regularly and who visit me....

For those I tagged, The participation rules are simple:
1) If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2) Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3) Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

YAY........I Did It!!!!

Performed at a local Spoken word and Songwriters night, that is...... For those who have been reading a while, in December I posted about going as a listener to a local Songwriters night and how much fun I had and how inspiring it was. I noted that maybe I'd practice and be brave enough to participate the next time. There has been one since and I chickened out, but finally got up the nerve to do it this weekend.

I have been singing and playing music most of my life, as my parents are musicians. I rarely ever perform solo in front of people, though. I've always played with other musicians or sat in on big jam sessions. There's a huge difference between sitting on your porch with the local neighborhood kids for an audience and playing in front of a packed room full of other adults, many of them writers.

L.L. Barkat recently did a post called "Desirous", in which she talked about dreams and desires and how they are starting grounds for creative growth. She responded to a comment I left with the question, "What do you desire?" I had to think about it for a while because so many of my desires and dreams have been buried and put on back burners since becoming a wife and mother. I haven't felt in touch with that creative side of me for a while. Music, though, and the pusuit of it IS a desire in my heart, although I have rarely picked up any of my instruments or written songs since my son was born.

I have always loved playing music, but tend to hoard it. It's a very vulnerable feeling to get up in front of people and pour your heart out in song. I haven't written many songs, but most of the ones I have are filled with strong emotions and memories for me. So I never know how they are going to affect me when I'm singing them.....or how someone else might respond to them. But, that said, I want to grow both as a musician and songwriter......I am very lacking in so many ways......and I tend to grow the most when I am around other musicians and by putting myself out there.

So...... I did it! I almost chickened out again, but my husband and friends urged me on. I was nervous as all get out...and it wasn't my best performance ever...... but I'm glad I braved it. I received lots of encouraging words afterwards and was invited to come to the Writer's Group that hosted the evening. And, maybe...just will be a tad bit easier next time..........

(photo, compliments of my husband.....)