Sunday, January 27, 2008


Change is hard.

Two homeschooling message boards where I frequent changed formats this month, within a couple of weeks of each other. Homeschoolers may be avant gard in many respects, but wow oh wow, do we get set in our ways, too. The changes were drastic on those boards and so was the reaction. Many posters took to the new formats like returning fish long separated from the sea. Others were more like fish yanked from their comfortable waters. There was a whole lot of wailing, weeping, and gnashing of teeth. Some women posted that they were too *old* to learn something new. Shocking, I know. Mostly because most of them are younger than I am. LOL

All the turmoil, plus a Bible study I'm leading, got to me thinking about change.

The first kind of change is the simplest, like loose change in your pocket. All those dimes, quarters, nickels, and pennies don't seem important, but they can add up significantly. Early in our marriage, I worked a year in a bank. One fella brought in bags of coins to run through our coin sorter/counter. At the end of the process, he had over a thousand dollars to deposit in his account. He had tossed his loose change into a container every day for several years. Not only had it added up, it had made a serious impact on his bank account.

Little changes add up in our lives, too. Parking at the other end of the parking lot, so we get a few more steps into our day. Cutting out one negative thing from our diets may help us loose a few pounds over time. Dropping an encouraging card to a friend boosts both of you and requires little time. Spending fifteen minutes a day studying a topic can make you an expert in twenty years.

An example of a second type of change is a pickle. You know how pickles start out, don't you? As a cucumber. I spent one summer a few years ago, pickling everything from our huge garden. Cucumbers, squash, okra...all got dumped into various chemical concoctions to transform them into spicy, savory bites of flavor with outstanding results.

But the cucumber doesn't get to choose this kind of change. Outside change is hard for us...this is the cancer diagnosis, the pink slip, the divorce, the car accident, a move, a death. All those forces work on you and change you whether you like it or not, but what is the alternative? You have to cope. Hopefully, you learn, grow, and conquer, too. None of it is easy, but the result, hopefully, is becoming a person of compassion, depth, courage, character, and strength.

The last type of change is the internal transformation. In my women's Bible study, we are studying allowing God to change us from the inside out. As our symbol of this change, we are using a butterfly. From ugly human caterpillar, to graceful, beautiful butterfly, we hope to emulate the same type of metamorphosis in our spirit. This change often takes some cocoon time, some effort, and a serious re-prioritizing our actions, thoughts, and goals. I also believe it takes the Creator's touch to fully achieve.

We don't like change. That is unless *we* are in control of the change. Control, however, is an elusive thing. Often grasped at, but seldom grasped. We chuckle ruefully over maxims like 'nothing is constant, except change' but know in our hearts that there is truth there. It often seems that we are one heartbeat away from falling into the pickle vat. Have courage. Whether you are weighted down by lots of nagging changes, whether you find yourself in a 'pickle' of some sort or whether you already have unfurled your butterfly wings, remember this bit of wisdom...Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Change is growth. Just like a plant is stimulated to grow after being pruned, we realize we can grow in new directions after significant changes, too. Never give up growing and learning. Never become too old to change. This world needs more people of compassion, wisdom, joy, and strength.

Friday, January 25, 2008

What Happens When It Doesn't Turn Out Right?

Frozen bird bath girl
You know the feeling.

You've poured time, effort, and skill into a project that simply doesn't work out the way you wanted. Or you're pleased with the results of your efforts, but public reception is, shall we say, lukewarm, at best.


I hate that feeling, even though I know it is a part of life. Especially a creative life. Right now, I'm tired. A creative project took up most of my time and energy this week, but the total results were less than stellar. I'm disappointed to the point of grouchy depression.

Here's my methods for dealing with the disappointment:

1. Get some rest. Often after a big project which has taken enormous effort, I'm plain and simple exhausted.

Out of gas.


Time for some quiet time. Read, doodle, swing on the porch swing, or go fishing. Sleep in or take a nap. Rest. Eat well. Everything looks better when you are not emotionally, physically, or creatively exhausted.

2. Get some perspective. Maybe the endeavor turned out better than the first reactions indicated. Review your writing. Take another look at your painting. Look over the project. What did work out well? What are your favorite parts? You initial disappointment might be tempered by realizing what was right about what you created.

3. Get real. Sometimes its true. What we did was awful. Not up to snuff. Poor. Acknowledge it, analyze it, learn from it, and move on. The first few times I read a piece at my writer's group, their critique was tough to take. Especially if I'd polished the words quite a bit before taking them out for an 'airing.' After the buzzing in my ears quietened down and I looked at my work with a fresh eye, I had to admit my critique buddies had point. In fact, I could reluctantly admit, they were often right. I absorbed the new knowledge, learned from it, and put it into practice with my next writing session.

Yes, I'm disappointed in this week's challenges, but I will not think of myself as a failure. I *choose* to think of myself as a student, always learning. With rest, and time, I'll be able to properly evaluate the situation's results. Next time I take on this particular project, the outcome will be different. Until then, I'm going to be kind to myself.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Happy National Pie Day!

According to my local newspaper, today is National Pie Day! Ummmmmm, is there anything better than pie? Maybe ice cream....pie and ice cream together, now that's heaven.

Coconut cream is The Pilot Guy's favorite. Lemon Meringue is mine. Unless you count The Pilot Guy's Mom's Cherry Pie. Yum, so good. Or the rustic apple pie The Pilot Guy makes. Then, there is the luscious chocolate pie recipe that is too good to be true. Did I mention we love pies?

Here is a favorite and easy pie recipe you can celebrate the day with. (This one was part of a newspaper contest last spring.)

Deb with pie

Storm clouds over Head Pie

Storms in the Texas panhandle can be vicious. Hail, high winds, flooding rains are all part of a spring storm. As a newlywed, I lived with my husband in a mobile home on a farm thirty miles from town. Storms are loud and rowdy in Texas, but from within a mobile home, they sound much worse than they really are. Every noise is amplified by the metal roof. To keep my nerves from coming unraveled, I learned to bake pies during storms. Sometimes, I’d make three or four pies if the storms lasted a long time. With a gas oven, I could cook even when the power went out. With the radio blaring weather reports and the storms raging outside, I baked good, old-fashioned comfort food.

Storm Clouds Over Head Southern Chess Pie,

1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon of flour
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons milk
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
1 unbaked pie shell

Mix brown sugar, packed, granulated sugar; and flour.
Beat in eggs, milk, vanilla, and melted butter.
Fold in 1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped.
Pour into unbaked pie shell.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes, until just set.

Pie Crust—
Better than my Mother’s Pie Crust

Makes two 'generous' crusts.

3 Cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 ¼ cup shortening
5 Tablespoons Water
1 egg
1 tsp. vinegar

Cut shortening into flour and salt until it looks like coarse cornmeal.
Beat water, egg and vinegar together.
Stir liquid mix into flour mixture.
Gather into a large ball.

Pinch off enough for a crust, roll out to fit pan.
Bake one crust 10-12 minutes at 425 degrees.

This recipe can be kept in the refrigerator in a covered container for 2-3 weeks.

My mother never could make good pie crust. Eventually, she quit trying and simply ordered pies from a shop. I wanted to master the art of the crust. As a newlywed, I found this recipe. We’ve been enjoying it ever since.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Art of Life

"I think that in everything we do, in every style of life, there is art to be found. Not just in the studios of talented artists, but in the gardens, homes, relationships, spirits, voices, and fashions of people you see everyday." ~Amy Butler

This quote sums up so well how I see my life and my creativity. I'm creative not only in my writing, not only in my photography, or in my decorating, gardening, or teaching, but also in how I dress or keep house or cook. The idea reaches even further into how I react to and with other people. And, of course, how I react to and with myself.

Creativity is a way of thinking. A way of doing. A way of being. I often doubt my own wealth of creativity until I see someone without the gift. Oh yes, I'm creative, maybe not as much as I want to be, but it is there.
Horse in Amy\'s Garden

A life filled with creativity overflows into every thing you do. My friend who does western art had a home decorated with such flair, style, and warmth that you never wanted to leave it. A young mom at church has such a flair for fashion and design, she and her daughters always look charming. What a gift she has with fabric and thread! My gardens are a riot of color and bloom. Creativity flows from us into all aspects of our lives.

Especially if we let it.

Today, indulge your creative soul. Do something colorful, joyful, and unexpected.

Whether you think you are creative or not, whether you make an income from your creativity or not, today choose to be creative.