Endless Gifts September into October

joy: hearing him play piano,all the pieces so familiar to my soul- and all the unexpected grace; sitting in first string lessons and being privy to all the artistry, care, and soul. Truly, it is such a privilege.

her sweet face – unhappy – seeing her so run-down with an illness, and the grace that I noticed and pulled her close for the whole day, held her and remembered how she has always needed to be tucked in for a bit for peace, spurred her creative mind and took dictation for her creative writing, listened to her stories, and delighted in her sweet, blond head tucked next to me, and then I suffer with that same illness. And all is well. All is perfectly well.

messages from college of all sorts; texts, phone calls; polos. I love it all.

a gift of pens from a sweet and thoughtful one

messages (online) that speak to my heart and speak to my mind- too hard to link here- but

Joel Clarkson on Instagram; Sarah Clarkson on Instagram; The Cultivating Project; Christy Purifoy on Instagram

all for some good words to nourish mind and soul.

her 1000th day #amazing


Crash Hot Potatoes on a Wednesday and Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Breast

Salad with hard-boiled eggs and home-made thousand island dressing that harkens me to my childhood and my mom

Matt Maher flooding the house

all the ways music connects me to the hearts of my people and how much, how much I have enjoyed every season; The High Kings; The Gray Havens; Andrew Peterson; Josh Garrels; Fleury; John Mark MCMillan; Grits, NF (note: some! NF); Titan; GAWVI; (and so many more-  songs I adore whose names I don’t even know);  playlists curated just for me. Blessed.

Standing on Lehigh’s campus with my sister; my nephew and my son (same age) and jolted by that life two decades ago that brought me here. Who would  have ever known? Certainly not 21 year old me.


Following behind a little bevy of daughters heading to the van to load up for lessons… and my heart thought: the next generation (on cello, viola, and violin)… they had their music bags slung over shoulders and instruments in hand, and they are so small- they were manfully dwarfed by the bags- and my wee cellist was holding her own clad with stool, cello, and bag!

the peace of slowing down for family dinner and family bible and feeling my soul and body restore

giving space for the writing life in my life and squeezing in a bit of reading, too.



the way a bundle of mini carnations- less than five dollars in cost- light up my soul and my life

Homeschool days:





Powersheets and a dear friend in the journey

a wild, windy day

college boys home on Fall Break and back again and all the driving, driving, driving


it is a bit of a blur in a not so good way; I wobble to anchor my soul

I learn I can drive to Lehigh and back in one day- but then continuing on with a night full of driving- is monumentally not a good idea; my little girls are road warriors; I am grim determination.


we look tired- cause we are… so tired.

output (2)

words that made my heart sing from a son at school

batch after batch of chocolate chip cookie bar

standing at Morgan Run with water and rock and leaf and sky and love and joy

October’s gold, and its gilded and… someone else said that, too, and my heart leapt

cozy in gray, so cozy


night soccer games on a blanket under the lights


opposite missing teeth (twins)IMG_20191009_092704211

Everyone’s missing teeth!


Taking time to breathe and think and ponder and pray.

Endless Gifts. It’s Fall.





















I See Thou Know’st Me Not – The Things They Say

Been working some things out with my boy.

Having some good talks- and some moments of realizing how very proud I am of who he is and how he handles himself in life:

Tonight, we were having a car talk. One of my favorites with my people. The van is the perfect cubicle for deep, personal chats.  More on that another time!

He shared some insight about how he navigates a couple of social settings that have caused pain to other family members who have gone before him in those same settings.

He said he determines to go in and make it a brighter place, and he doesn’t expect to necessarily find a close friend amongst the people there.  He recognizes it has been a place of pain for people he cares about so has a caution there.

Then, he shared one of his profound quotes with me (which, frankly, caused my literary soul to soar with joy!!)  He shared that he memorized a line from Shakespeare that he keeps at heart for his own, personal narrative:

He ruminated that at a certain point, it is important to realize that your critiquer doesn’t really know you; the real, true person that you are. And honestly, this is especially true/significant when you are dealing with any kind of personal struggle.

And- with that in mind, he recited a line from Romeo and Juliet ( a play he recently read) because he deemed it so appropriate to social situations, roasts, and unkind comments – and in particular this context where there has been a bit of verbal mud-slinging.

“I see thou know’st me not…”

Act 1 Scene 3 Romeo and Juliet

And he said, “At some point, you just have to realize that the person making the unkind comments, remarks, or ‘jokes,’ doesn’t really know you.”

That person doesn’t have the key to the inner heart where the real person lives, breathes, and feels. This line serves so well as the final word (whether spoken out loud or in the heart!) in a verbal spar that has no good ending.

So, shrug your shoulders (deflect the comments), and move on. They know you not (and they are missing out! -says the mother!!! 🙂 )

Wise, wise words my son, and words that I need to take to heart for myself!

The Things They Say

(My darling, sixteen year old son memorizing and quoting Shakespeare to me. Love!!)


Endless Gifts from beginning August

…found these waiting in my drafts…posting because I don’t want to ever forget….

Endless Gifts

Pachelbel’s Canon being worked out on the piano- O, peace; O, beauty!

playing dolls with my little one and chatting about this and that

finger knitting madness

a wee pink octopus (knitted) on my night stand

purple and white mini carnations for love and beauty

Chrysaline on a drive with my boy-on an absolutely beautiful day, and lemonades, and an invigorating Super – Walmart (home of the above carnations,favorite whip cream(s), and marvelous fruit)

his steak on the grill

a garden step-stone, wee bird house, and tiny fairy garden house placed carefully by three small girls








September 1st: End of Summer


Bonfire Night 

Summer night

that brands our minds

with a rivulet of gold


like the ruddy flames

that flicker upward

from the last bonfire

glowing at our feet.


The sparks singe

and disappear

pinpoints of light

radiating north


unlike the memories

of celebrated days

marked by summer’s



which instead, nestle


aflame forever,

heart, soul, mind, memory:

Bonfire Night 2019.

The Writing Process_ 20 Steps to Paper Writing Success for High School!

Today has been a long day. Long. But I just created this, and I thought I would post it here for a memorial stone, a reference, a banner waving high in the wind.

This checklist is for the student who needs explicit steps and training in the writing process. Students need to be encouraged to take their time, pace their work, and pursue excellence through diligence and effort.

*note: an outline is not included in the steps listed here, and it also does not include thesis building as that has its own, specific steps.  I really do read the prompt again, and again, and again when writing a paper{and when tutoring/assisting students with papers},and I personally do not have any writing struggles academic or otherwise. Truly, one can’t revisit the prompt too much!

Explicit Steps for High School Academic Writing:

Helps for High School Writing: Academic writing is like building a puzzle or a Lego Creation. All the pieces need to fit together to create a unified whole. Build the pieces (sections) one at a time. Then, fit them all together and smooth out any rough edges.

20 Solid Steps

  1. Carefully Read the Prompt
  2. Prepare For Pre-Writing: Choose and set up Graphic Organizer (mind map, table, Venn Diagram, color-coded doc)
  3. Read the Prompt Again
  4. Begin Filling Out the Organizer/Take Notes on all aspects of the prompt (answer all parts)
  5. Include direct quotes and notes (paraphrases from books, articles, and so on) with citations in the organizer
  6. If needed, set-up a separate Works Cited Draft Page and paste source entries to be polished, alphabetized, organized during format draft
  7. Copy and Paste Graphic Organizer Notes into Word Document
  8. Read Prompt again
  9. Paste prompt at top of document for easy reference
  10. Begin to form paragraphs and sentences from the graphic organizer notes based on prompt. Make sure your paragraph order reflects the order of the prompt. Use your own words and use citations for all sourced material. Include at least one direct quote per paragraph. Cite everything.
  11. Read the Prompt again
  12. Create Intro and Concluding Paragraphs
  13. Delete any unnecessary headers/extra words/ “junk” from Word document that came from graphic organizer or structuring helps. Delete prompt from top of paper if not required. Keep Teacher Guidelines/Prompt/Instructions nearby/at hand.
  14. Add transition words to help paper flow from paragraph to paragraph. Move sentences around. Move paragraphs around, if needed. Copy, paste, and cut as needed. Check each paragraph for a topic sentence and a concluding sentence. Check intro for a “hook” or interesting opener. Check conclusion for an ending impact statement.
  15. Format paper and double space; check length and format requirements from Instructor’s guidelines; Format Works Cited Page if needed and add to the end of paper
  16. Create Title
  17. Print paper and read out loud to person (Mom ). Make changes as needed.
  18. Print paper or share google doc and have paper reviewed by another person (mom, dad, tutor, sibling, etc). Make changes as needed.
  19. Polish and refine based on suggestions and corrections; Double Check Format requirements. Double check paper against Instructor Guidelines. Read out loud one more time to check for flow, clarity, meaning and that the paper answers the Prompt; revise as needed.
  20. Submit to Instructor per their guidelines (in person/online/etc)


*The heavy focus on the prompt and the oral recitation of the paper is highly intentional.


Endless Gifts

Endless Gifts

winding Maryland roads and the butterflies floating up in glimmering sunlight like the campfire sparks fly up against the backdrop of quickening summer darkness

Cunningham Falls and swimming at Courtney’s and the way she welcomed us in on a day close to a trip


so many swallowtails this year, so beautiful


traveling on varied Lehigh Shuttle buses up campus and down and grateful for my brother who successfully got us on one in the nick of time by watching the amazing app that tracks the buses in real time! How things change!!! Everything bigger- but O! the memories -us, wilted with heat and sweat, hanging on for dear life on those wild Lehigh buses, – Campus Connector, MOOV-In, Packer Express- the very names make me laugh out loud

And the sweet lady who chatted us all the way up the mountain and escorted us right to the foot of son’s new dorm- and impressed emphatically upon our VERY MINDS to stress the importance of NOT losing his I.D. card to our son- so, so funny. We show her the ID card holder we bought for him and were about to give him. She nods her approval.

the way I narrowly escape an infamous parking ticket; it’s all grace

Being able to talk math classes and calculus with my brother and my dad- and that one moment rising out of a speech at the Arts and Science convocation that suddenly galvanized me to action

the wonderful “hotel” bed at my mom’s (you know who you are!) and condoling with two long episodes of never before watched Call the Midwife (yes, yes, I did) the night of Move-In Day

Two new Lehigh mugs- and somehow I accidentally like his better than mine. Oops.


My Dad uncovering an essay from my freshman year of college- that I have often wondered about and remembered- a photo analysis- and the subject was my sister

the deep grief of a certain trouble I can never seem to escape

a big bowl of salty popcorn and Mary Poppins Returns

a recognition of a fleeting deep-seated peace of us all together- I didn’t ask for that peace or even really recognize I was missing it- and I know and knew its very fleetingness- but it was still real. It was still there.

The way he saved three tiny root beers and tossed them out to his brothers in a manly spirit of kind generosity and how he chose to buy snacks for sibs on the car ride home

The way one of them fingerknit a red head band for her cousin, and I came home to little cousin adorned with it

Joshua’s art work


a visit to Grammy Helen and PopPop John



Coffee and generous dollops of coconut whip cream on the first, hard day

an orangey sunset and sweetest friend and the way I see her photographic eye and the orange on orange on orange

deep, singing words that feed mind and soul

Enter the Worship Circle playing loud and singing with my heart as we away, away

a silver BAM cello case


my darlings gather round in strong support- and I wonder how I can keep breaking this heart again, again- they way I broke my body open, the way I laid down my life, I know it will get better as I stumble dimly and wonder why

Asher at the helm with diplomacy and action- I watch in wonder; those little girls joyfully do all the chores with him


and I am grateful for this gift this particular day was for me

the way, months ago,  my dad told me that no matter what, it would all be alright- and how did he know I would need those words?

the way the light gleams on a tended, tidied houseIMG_20190821_182330276

the way things will never be the same


Endless Gifts


The Things They Say

The Things They Say

It’s been a long day coming. Too long. But, it is time and-
we are headed to the new abode of Todd’s grandparents. 91 and 94 years old. They are amazing.
It’s been about a year since they moved out of the home they owned, where they raised all their children and also some grandchildren, and even sheltered and played a part in caring for great-grandchildren.
Now, they live somewhere new. Somewhere that provides support and care while still allowing Grammy to live with and care for PopPop.
None-the-less, it is a different drive through Bethlehem- heading to this new place. There are some small people in our big van who are a wee bit confused.
We pull up to the curb outside the expansive building.
There is little girl chatter behind Todd and I…. suddenly, we hear, rising above
the conversation, a clear, distinct voice-
I look back and see one small girl looking out the window
she  states
clearly- announcing and explaining to her sisters:
“Now she lives in a hotel….”
Todd and I laugh out loud. We laugh long and full of joy. It does look like a hotel. It does have some of the same amenities. It is clean and well-tended.
The things they say.
Note: they sent us out with armfuls of provisions: juice boxes and water, Grammy made sure to have on hand just for us. Cookies for Todd. I ponder their love, and her generous hospitality.
I will never forget.