Gone Fishing

When spring was trying sneak past winter, and I was still trapped inside due to the chill in the air, I sat down and thought, “I will make a list about fishing, all of the places Shane and I fished together in our first year of marriage.” I can say with certainty, we did not fish enough. Now, this was a list of us together. Shane  went with out me many, many times on the ice and a few times last spring. In the end, this is our list of places we fished as a couple, either alone or with friends and family, in our first year of marriage:

1. Moraine State Park

Okay, this one makes total sense. We could walk to this place if we wanted to. Lake Arthur is a body of water I have worn my hip boot into to practice fly fishing, a place I have walked on when it was cold enough, and of course, we have been out with the boat so many times I have lost track.

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2. Parker Dam State Park

This was the place that was always my go-to growing up. It was natural to share the excitement of opening day together with my dad and Leah this past year on the bank of Parker Lake, although we also hit Laurel Run in this park on the first day. Shane may not be into the “shoulder to shoulder” mayhem with those who have never fished except for on opening day, but we had fun none the less. I think that first day, with a crowded shoreline, can be humbling as you try to catch trout that aren’t that hungry and novices can out-catch you with in minutes.

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3. Frances Slocum State Park

Frances Slocum Lake was a little, but rewarding lake. We were on vacation, so why not just relax by a shoreline after hiking at Ricketts Glen? We set up bobbers and played cards and reeled in fish. This was when Shane commented that maybe once a year he would go bobber fishing usually, but that in that moment, the Sunday before Memorial Day, already gone twice, and he said he can see why people like it.

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4. The Grove City Ponds

This was a place Shane got me out onto the ice again! We had a lot of fun here once we got all set up in the rain in a little pop-up shelter he brought to keep me dry. We caught bluegills here and with his fish finder, we could see them coming in and how they were reacting to our bait. This was one of the most recent places he and I fished considering we are just coming out of ice-fishing season and why it made it over the next location.

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5. Spring Creek

This quick afternoon trip was made with Leah after she and I had been at the Creation Festival. It was a Sunday afternoon, and Leah wanted to experience fly fishing on a creek, Shane had come to the Saturday night concert and so I had told him to bring up fishing stuff so Sunday we could go out on our way home. Unfortunately, this fishing trip didn’t supply us with any catches at all. I just wanted to lay in the cool water, having been in the hot sun all weekend at the festival, so needless to say, with Leah having to head back to Connecticut, we stopped our attempts sooner than Shane probably would’ve liked.

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Sadly, those were the only places that we enjoyed fishing together. After figuring that out, I promptly told Shane, we had to go to more places, even if I had to drag him along kicking and screaming. (Of course, this would never be the case.) Now with the summer sun smiling down on us, looking out to a blue sky, another list has started up on my computer, a list of places where we could get to for a nice day trip and take the boat and Grizz could learn some boating manners.

It’s funny though, because this list reminds me that no matter what we plan, no matter what we have in store, we cannot plan for tomorrow. As it stands right now, Shane and I are with out a truck to haul the boat, and though we have canoes and hip waders and other ways to fish, the truck breaking down has dampened our spirits.

Proverbs 27:1 says not to boast about tomorrow, because we never know what tomorrow may bring, and with my longboard fall and the truck breaking down, we know that to be true. Another couple may be stressing out at the lack of a truck and the dilemmas that may bring as we need one to gather the materials for the new dog fence, haul a boat, or even just to move things with more ease on our property, but as Shane and I discussed what to do about a truck, we decided to just keep praying and waiting. As Shane put it, he has never not had anything he needed provided just at the right time. I love hearing that from him, knowing he is able and capable to wait on the Lord with me.

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendorwas dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 

 

 

 

Discovering Radiance

Living starts in-between your ears. It was something like this that my hometown pastor said during Sundays message. He was saying how sometimes before a week even begins, the list of things that must be done can be overwhelming and make you feel far busier or more rushed than you even really are. With my last post being about devotions or meditating on God’s word, for me through sketching, reading various books and making connections, I had to share my thoughts on “living between your own ears”.

In the evening, after that morning message, I was reading “Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art” by Claire Wellesley-Smith. I loved how she cited other artists and writers who, whether directly or not, seemed to have this call for the movement of Slow Art. We are surrounded by all these tools these days that are supposed to speed up processes of everything, from cooking to contacting people, but somewhere in that mindfulness has been lost.

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It has taken me twenty-eight years to sort of barely just figure out a little bit better how my own mind works. As an artist, introvert is often a blanket term tossed around, and I am comfortable with that term. Essentially, for me, it is being comfortable with solitude, being alone with out being lonely. In reading Claire’s book, I couldn’t help but connect my solitude, and working in it, with mindfulness. Taking the time to think through a project, a drawing, a painting, a series, gives me a chance to engage with it, sort things out beyond the project and get things sorted out between my ears. The author says something about the long amount of time it takes for her to regain concentration after engaging with external digital media, and I couldn’t agree more, as it can make me completely lose momentum in a drawing or painting.

Beyond my art, connecting more with the idea of lists or schedules like the pastor was pointing out, it can be so distracting to live fast. We can see twenty people’s opinion on a news story on Twitter in under twenty seconds, we can scroll through hundreds of pictures in less than a minute on Instagram, and we can start a group message with people all over the United States and get dozens of replies with in a matter of seconds. Actions that used to take a whole day, like to research or write to someone or about something now can be done in less than fifteen minutes. On this overload of media and images and messages, it can be hard to leave room to take things slow, to meditate on good things, or to be mindful.

Pslam 34:5 Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed.

This Psalm is how pastor finished his message, and I love it. In the context of today, we have all seen that person in distress from their hectic schedule, trying to keep up, they look exhausted. On the flip side, someone who has just taken the time to get a massage, or a weekend trip, or something, anything that is very deliberately un-rushed, always seem to glow, do they not? Well, what if every day, we took the time to meditate on Him, find that time to be mindful, make deliberate choices, wouldn’t we daily glow?

Start between your ears. Quiet your mind. Put the cellphone away. Pull out a pencil, a needle and thread, a paintbrush or a book and take it slow. You might just find yourself beaming!

 

Stillness

The rush of the holidays, like a swollen river eating away at muddy banks, is pulling and making the anyone and everyone’s time slip away. Just today, a short trip into town to pick up pictures lasted twice as long as twice the amount of people waited at the once photography now layaway and photography counter. My afternoon floated away giving me no chance to save it. So many eyes rolling at the store, so many sighs from shoppers pushing carts, so much frustration bubbled through the isles as people looked for anyone with a name tag to help them on what ever last minute search they were on. One thing no one was bound to find was more time.

In a desperate attempt to avoid a crowded isle and save time, I cut through the book department to try to get to where I was going. This was the wrong sort of short cut for someone like me, and I probably did not make up any time as I emerged with two books. I told myself not to linger, but two books for my nephews, at least not myself, caught my eye, and another title made me chuckle, but I didn’t pick it up. The title was “Waiting Is Not Easy!” and it seemed so very appropriate for a holiday shopping day. The little elephant on the front of the book looked as exasperated as I felt.

It occurred to me that we cause a lot of this exasperation to ourselves. Personally, I love holidays, holidays of all sorts, because I love the homemade traditions that go with them. I love watching cheesy Christmas movies at Christmas time, wrapping and making presents look pretty, decorating, and baking, but sometimes I think that I will miss out on the magic of the season if I do something out of order, not the same as last year, or not at all.

So despite not having watched all of my holiday favorites, having not baked anything in three days, or having all my gifts wrapped, this weekend I said to Shane, “Let’s go for a hike.” Which he interpreted as let’s go squirrel hunting. Tomato-tomahto. I was glad to bundle up and be outdoors with him and Jagger.

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Not to be too cliche, but all that kept running through my head as we walked through the snow was, “Be still and know that I am God.” The forrest was ever so still that day, it was so peaceful, yet every tree, every branch seemed to be crying out, “Oh glorious day!”

I hope you can feel that sense of stillness and quiet from these couple of photo’s from that day paired with Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Be Still and Know” lyrics.

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is holy
Be still Oh restless soul of mine
Bow before the Prince of Peace
Let the noise and clamor cease

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Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is faithful
Consider all that He has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that He will never change
Be still

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Be still and know that He is God
Be still
Be speechless

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Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is our Father
Come and rest your head upon His breast
Listen to the rhythm of
His unfailing heart of love
Beating for his little ones
Calling each of us to come
Be still
Be still

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Psalm 46:10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Being the Salt, Continued

Living on the border or coming into contact with decay are images we can rebuff easily. It sounds hard, it sounds dirty, it doesn’t sound like “living on an island” or “handling fresh fruit”. But if Jesus did it, why can’t we? He purposely walked the border, he washed the feet, he gave his life.

But I’m shy.

I get it.

I’m shy too.

I can sit for a whole evening enjoying conversation and not coming out of my shell. Then again, out of nervousness, I could talk your ear off over facts that are a little bootless for the current situation. Surprisingly, even though I am a teacher, a dance teacher no less, it isn’t my first instinct to get up and steal the limelight or make a scene.

So how can a shy person be the salt? Shy or not, how can we, creatures of habit, be the salt? My first excuse as to why I wasn’t “very good salt” was that I’m shy, but then I thought that is a poor excuse, so my brain promptly came up with a second excuse of I don’t have time to break out of my routine. My routine is generally wake up, tackle my to-do list at home, go to the gym some days, then work, then bed, repeat. But, another great book has challenged me the way “The Mercy Prayer” and the Family Talk podcast “Fight for Freedom in a Godless Society” have.

“Be the Gift” by Ann Voskamp is yet another beautifully written book by Ann that brings pictures to life with words and touches the heart. Though an easy read, I can only make it through a few pages before I have to stop and reflect. As it suggests, she challenges that we bring ourselves to be the gift, to give of ourselves, even through the brokenness. I could go on all day about her writing and this book, but what I want to look at in context to this blogpost is the “Gift Idea” pages in the back.

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What a perfect way to look at being the salt this time of year, a gift list. As you can guess, these aren’t things that are for yourself, but instead, it is ideas to give of yourself. With my love of all things list related, it seems conceivable to me that I could tuck a few of her ideas into my own to-do list. They are acts of every size, and depending on how shy you may or may not be, some that sound small may be very big, like number sixteen:

16. Choose the ministry of smiling at everyone today. It’s contagious!

Meanwhile, number forty-four makes it easier to live on the border while staying more anonymous:

44. Make a donation of any amount to a group or cause of your choosing.

Shy or not, routine oriented or not, I pray that these are some ways to kickstart your calling to be the salt and light in this world.

Matthew 5:13 ““You are the salt of the earth…”

 

While You Were Away

Okay, so it was me that was away for most of summer not writing, I just get so distracted with nice weather, places to go, things to do, I don’t take the time to sit in front of my laptop to write. You could say it is fall now, why the hiatus still, but it has been a really warm fall, so getting things done still keeps me from writing. Last weekend, while Shane road Scott’s four wheeler with friends in West Virginia, I stayed home and painted our dreary dining room.

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Our dining room is where I often sit and do things on my laptop, draw, and clearly cook and eat. With gold shag carpet, the unfinished dark red walls were feeling a little suffocating and enough was enough. With the dining room chairs that my mom had gotten refinished for Shane and I now in the dining room, I decided to paint the walls in a bright color that would compliment the Navajo design.

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So turquoise it was! Okay, so the paint sample says something like “Sailing Blue”, but it is a turquoise color, and I love it. To add to that, I had fun, a lot of fun, with texture. It was super simple too, just a little bit of paint on the wall, apply tissue paper, and paint over. Go big or go home they say, and being that I am home, I just went big then sat back and enjoyed my work, excited to show Shane when he got back.

The room is so much happier and I adore the texture. I ordered a southwestern valance, and soon we can check this room off our to-do list!

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To-Do’s and New Goals

Week two at home and Shane was actually called off to work again. This left me alone with my list of things to do and Jagger. Most of these “to-do’s” are everyday things, that, if not kept a handle on, would spiral out of control. Laundry, dishes, and we always have dishes to do with no dishwasher in this house, and vacuuming. I admit, I may be a little obsessed with vacuuming, but we have mostly carpet, a hairy dog, and I like running around in my bare feet and don’t like crunching on his kibble he somehow gets everywhere. “To-write” is not necessarily on my “to-do’s”, but it gives me a welcomed break between scraping off wallpaper borders and vacuuming up papery messes, filling in holes, and doing more dishes.

I love lists and I love deadlines. I thrived in college because of this; I would get a list of things to do at the beginning of the semester from some professors and I would begin on papers right then so that when crunch time hit, my day was still my normal day. Now I write my own lists, some last a day, some a month. Goals I set aren’t “get this paper done a week before it is due” anymore, most often they have to do with work and often art call deadlines. Generally, I can be organized enough to get a goal done once I set it, and that is a pretty big deal considering how distracted I can get.

A common goal we both have, though I think I have a little more drive to get it done, is our closet. If it were up to me, it would’ve been done yesterday. Meanwhile, I am pretty sure Shane could go on living the rest of his life with his clothes being in the dining room closet, but I would like that place that keeps our clothes organized, out of site, and all together. I like that lists help me, or us, get organized, and I like to have completion date goals, but I can’t get so distracted by the goal that I lose site of the people around me, and am I still being kind, using love, and being patient? Things will get done, and I shouldn’t compromise relationships just for a goal.

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Now my goals are different, and my “to-do” lists are different. They are evolving and including another person. So when someone asked me if I feel settled at my new home yet, I don’t. Not quite yet, and this isn’t a bad thing or a negative reflection on me or Shane and I as a couple. I am just still figuring things out.

With this in mind, Shane and I decided the closet was the first doable project, and while he was away, I got started on things. When I told my mom about the project, she suggested I set the deadline of my cousin Leah coming to visit to finish our closet by. Well, we only have one more weekend then she is here, so I don’t think that will be happening, which is slightly frustrating, as I would like it done ASAP. This is where that whole idea of patience comes in again, only this doesn’t feel like a little moment, like the whoopie pie moment, this feels like a big, all consuming thing. I have to work extra hard to remind myself, it will get done, don’t worry about tomorrow, just keep pushing forward.

Thankfully Shane and I each have an especially helpful family. Both sides are willing to pitch in and help out where ever, when ever. That meant that Saturday, before the men’s game feed at our church, my parents came up to help out in the closet. We knocked down walls took screws out, and really made some decent headway. At the tail end of their help, I began cooking our late lunch which included a venison skillet dish, orange smothered chicken breasts with gorgonzola cheese, lots of Jiffy spoonbread, and of course raspberry whoopie pies. Now the skillet dish made enough to feed a small army, and I automatically made double of the corn bread dish, and this all turned out to be a good thing as more family and friends descended to see our new home and eventually head off to the game feed right as the late lunch was ready to eat. We all ate together and enjoyed listening to kids giggle and got to explain future plans for our home.

This has taught me one valuable home make over lesson. Always have food. I can’t for a moment get hung up on my own expected deadlines for projects when, in all reality, we are doing an okay job fitting in filling in holes and tearing down walls between both of our jobs, and we are so fortunate to have family willing to come over and help in their free time. One way I can show my gratefulness to those lending a hand is by making food. To solidify this point, last night while I was at work, Shane’s brother came over and helped hang up closet things in another closet in the house and they ate the last of the corn bread and chicken.

So this morning I cooked up a hearty skillet dish with ham and turkey kielbasa. It may not be one for looks, as the white kidney beans didn’t hold their own too well, but it certainly is colorful with all the carrots. Because our beautiful 14 inch cast iron skillet doesn’t fit in our fridge too easily, I transferred it to this casserole dish to store until we eat it for dinner. If I am away at work again, and people come over to help, it is a one dish meal that will feed a small group of people of 4-6.

Skillet Cassoulet

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 8 oz turkey kielbassa
  • 8 oz fully cooked ham, cubed
  • 4 medium carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 15 oz can white kidney beans
  • 1 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • Pepper to taste
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil, add in turkey kielbasa, ham, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and cook until vegetables are tender
  2. Stir in beans, tomatoes, thyme and celery seed, simmer until heated through. Add pepper

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