December 19, 2009

Angel Hero


My oldest son was given a sheet of black scratch paper--the kind that you scratch to reveal the colors underneath.  His art teacher wanted the class to make Christmas trees, but he asked if he could make an angel.  I think the result is amazing. 

I love the nativity scene, especially the angel.  We are accustomed to seeing folk-artsy, female angels on crafts and such, but that is not the way the Bible describes them.  I think they are more like my son drew--strong, valiant, bold, and manly.  I'm grateful for my boy's artistic talent, but even more than that, I'm thankful for his insight and discernment--and the fact that he can go against the flow!

August 20, 2009

Babies Are Sweet

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I just love little coffee shops--especially when they are in historic homes packed with character. On this particular afternoon, the Blue House overflowed with women and little girls celebrating a baby.


Kristyne is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Kohen this fall. She's always cute, but she is absolutely glowing right now.

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Her sister Kate and friend Tara hosted the shower. They hung baby clothes and baby pictures in the window on a clothesline. The effect was amazing--the sun shone through the pictures and made them look like they were printed on vellum.

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Bags of jelly beans proclaimed that "Babies are Sweet" and thanked guests. These were especially popular with the little girls at the party.


Kristyne received lots of adorable baby things, and everyone enjoyed visiting. The thing I enjoyed most was watching her brother Tom take pictures. I learn so much from watching others compose their shots and seeing how they use their equipment. Plus, I just think it was really sweet that he braved all those women to photograph his sister's baby shower!

August 8, 2009


DaySpring is launching a new site called (In)Courage. It features some great bloggers including Lisa Leonard, Kristen of We Are THAT Family, and Tsh Oxenreider of Simple Mom. Over the next few weeks, the bloggers are writing about courage, and they have asked readers to write about what encourages them.

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John Wayne once said, "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway." I think that sometimes we equate courage with a lack of fear. If we aren't afraid, though, we really have no need for courage.

One of the greatest battles I fight is against fear--fear of big things, fear of little things, fear of things that would sound ridiculous to most people. I take great comfort in the fact that the phrase "do not fear" appears 365 times in the Bible. That's once for every day of the year. The fact that the words are found in the context of the stories is significant as well. God wouldn't waste words telling someone "do not fear" unless they were truly afraid. All those great heroes of the faith...they were trembling in their sandals!

I was raised on a cattle ranch. Cattle, horses, and cowboys were just part of everyday life. On days when my family worked cattle, everyone was up before dawn. Spurs jingled as the horses were carefully saddled in preparation for the work ahead. They saddled up because there was work to be done, and they intended to do it.

"Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway." It means it's all right for me to be afraid, but I shouldn't let it prevent me from doing what I need to do. Sometimes I'm trembling in my boots, but God whispers to me, "Do not fear." He is always there for me, and with that encouragment, I can saddle up.

August 7, 2009

We Thought You Was a Toad

Have you ever seen the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou"? It is the Coen brothers' take on Homer's "Odyssey". It's pretty funny. In one scene, the men are trying to communicate in whispers at the "picture show". One repeatedly tells another, "We thought you was a toad!" It's funny. You can see it here.

My husband has a job that sometimes requires the use of radios. One of his co-workers will wait until a quiet moment and drawl, " toad!" It's one of those things that's funny no matter how many times they do it. My husband laughs every time he thinks about it.

I was out on the ranch a few days ago and saw this:

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It's a horned lizard, but we have always called them "horny toads". Obviously, it's not a toad, but guess what popped into my head as I snapped this shot.

" toad!"

August 4, 2009

Sticking to Routines

Ready or not, my boys go back to school in just two weeks. That means we are back on a schedule, and we have to be sure we are ready to head out the door on time each morning.

One of the best ways I keep my kids on task is by ensuring that they do their routines. They have simple routines they need to do each morning and each evening. However, they are easily distracted and tend to forget to do things, so I created a system to help them "stick" to their routines.

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I took two little pails and stuck stickers on one to designate it as routines that are finished. I bought craft sticks at Walmart and wrote a routine on each of them. I also drew a simple picture because my little one wasn't reading yet. These are their morning routines. Each child gets a color, red or blue.

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As they complete a routine, they move it to the "finished routines" bucket.


Their morning routines include getting dressed, making their bed, eating breakfast, brushing their teeth, folding their pajamas, emptying trash cans, etc.


Their evening routines work the same way. One child has green sticks; the other has yellow sticks. As they finish a routine, they move it to the "finished routines" pail.

Their evening routines include homework and getting their things ready for the next day. They also have to clean up their room as well as take a bath and brush their teeth.

I can check on my boys' progress with their routines by looking at their sticks. In a glance I can see which ones each child has done and what remains. Sometimes I simply ask "Have you done your sticks?" They know exactly what I mean.

When it comes to getting kids out the door in time for school, routine sticks "work for me"! For more great tips, check out the"Best Back to School Tips" edition of Works-For-Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family.

July 31, 2009

Chance of Showers

I don't give my kids an allowance. They have certain chores that are their responsibility, but those are simply their contribution to our home. If they want to earn some money, they know they must do extra tasks that are above and beyond the daily chores. Their favorite money-making opportunity is cleaning my car.

My boys have learned to wash and dry the exterior as well as vacuum, wash surfaces, and clean windows inside the car. They like having an opportunity to earn some money; I like having a clean car.

At any rate, they recently asked if they could wash the car. They gathered the supplies and went outside. Later I stepped out to check on them and found this:


My oldest had my umbrella from the trunk. Had a sudden rain shower begun on this sunny July morning? Hardly. The source of the rain was my youngest who was busy directing a steady stream of water over the umbrella.


Naturally I ran to get my camera, laughing as I went. I thanked God that I have hard-working little boys who know how to enjoy their work.

July 28, 2009

Clutching to the Vine

Welcome to "Clutching to the Vine"!

There are two very good reasons behind the name of this blog. For one thing, it is a word picture of how some of the difficult days of mothering feel. Sometimes I feel like I am nearly drowning in piles of laundry, toys scattered on the floor, and the feeling that everything I do will soon be undone. It is as if I am hanging on by a thread...or a vine. If I could draw a cartoon, it would include me sinking in quick sand in the middle of the jungle. I would be frantically grasping to a vine hanging from one of the trees.

Since I can't draw, I asked my ten-year-old son to illustrate it for me. He is all boy, though, and he thought a tiger would be much more exciting. I considered it and decided he was on to something. Here's his picture:

As I thought about it, I decided that the day-to-day struggles of motherhood are like quick sand. However, there are other things that are our tigers. Sometimes it is medical issues. Other times it is family problems. It can be a bully who torments your child, the house on the market that doesn't sell, or something that should be simple but isn't--like potty training. Ugh.

The second reason behind "Clutching to the Vine" is the remedy to the first. It relates to something Jesus said in the book of John:

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."--John 15:5 (NIV)

These words are a picture of my desperate need for Jesus. It is a beautiful way to say that I am a mess without Him. Some days it is a matter of "remaining" in him--continuing on step-by-step in sync with Him. Some days, though, I'm clinging in desperation to Him with the certainty that the Vine is all that stands between me and complete disaster.

That's what it's all about--clutching to Jesus. Moment by moment, day by day. It is my hope that this blog is a reflection of that, and that with each post I learn to trust Him more. In the meantime, I need to remind myself of the following:
  1. Don't let the quick sand bog you down.
  2. Watch out for tigers--they'll sneak up on you!
  3. Hang on to Jesus. He's holding on to you.

July 13, 2009

got milk?

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This is Raven. She is a dogie--a motherless calf--on my parents' ranch. She has to be fed with a calf bottle twice a day. It's a treat for my boys to feed her because they don't get to very often. It's the sort of thing that can quickly become a chore when you have to do it all the time. I suppose lots of things are like that--the novelty wears off quickly and becomes ordinary, even mundane. What do you think?

July 10, 2009

Aplomado Falcons


These are young aplomado falcons. (Aplomado is Spanish for "dark grey".) They were bred in captivity in Idaho by The Peregrine Fund as part of their Aplomado Falcon Restoration Project. Local Peregrine Fund biologists drove to Idaho to get the falcons as well as several freezers full of quail to feed the birds.




A large group came to see the four birds that were going to be released on my parents' ranch.


The biologists built two hacks for the birds. The hack is a ten-foot square platform fifteen feet off the ground. A box for the birds is on the top. The biologists added mesquite branches as well.


The biologists, a photographer, and special guests climbed up on the platform. One by one, the birds were placed in the box. Two hack nest monitors will feed the birds and record data relating to the falcons.

After several days, the birds are released from the box. They learn to fly and begin to hunt, although the hack nest monitors will continue to provide quail for six weeks.

The four falcons shown here were later joined by four more at the other hack. Two more groups of birds will be released later this summer.

This has been an incredible experience for our family. Not many children have held an endangered species in their hands, but my boys have. They now have a better understanding of the need for us to be caretakers of the land, and it has given them a glimpse of one of the amazing wonders of God's creation.

June 27, 2009

Country Garden

I'm loving photographing flowers right now. I'm learning to use the macro setting on my camera, and I've also been working on getting down among the flowers and finding just the right angle. Each of these shots was taken in the morning in my parents' yard. The first one is my favorite. What are you loving to "shoot" right now?

June 24, 2009

Laundry Lessons

They say practice makes perfect. As much practice as I get at laundry, I ought to be perfect by now. At any rate, I've learned a thing or two over the years:

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Lesson #1--Teach your kids to use a laundry hamper for something other than hide-and-seek. It teaches them higher level thinking skills. You know, as in the dirty clothes need to be higher than the floor. Putting dirty clothes in a basket is a good rule, except when it's not--see
Lesson #2.

Lesson #2--It is NOT a good idea to put WET laundry in the laundry basket. It gets everything else wet and stinky. Teach your kids that after a water gun battle, they should hang their clothes on the back porch to dry.

Lesson #3--Always empty little boys' pockets before washing. Be careful, though--you just might find something like a snail.

Lesson #4--Snails cannot survive a day in a little boy's pocket.

Lesson #5--Always empty BIG boys' pockets before washing.

Lesson #6--Jump drives can sometimes survive a washing machine cycle, but you're better off remembering Lesson #5.

Lesson #7--Always pre-treat stains. Sometimes this requires hosing them off with a high pressure hose.

A little mud never hurt anyone! What are some laundry lessons you've learned?

June 22, 2009

Clearly Seen


For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.--Romans 1:20 (NIV)

June 19, 2009


Spring is a time of new beginnings.  This is the first spring in our new house, which means this is my family's first garden here.  We don't know much about gardening, but I think the process of digging in the dirt and watching plants blossom and produce fruit is a good thing.

We don't have any experience with this soil.  Weeds grow well, but we cleared them.


We added some compost, peat moss, and manure.  It seemed like the right thing to do.


It was somewhat late to be planting around here, but we planted some seeds anyway.


Mostly we planted pots of plants--herbs, vegetables, fruit, and even a flower or two.


We planted everything on April 24.  Since then, we've watered and weeded and weeded some more.  Some plants have thrived, while others...well, they are still alive.  We've picked a few strawberries and a few peppers, but otherwise we're still waiting.  Hopefully, we will have an abundant harvest over the next few months.  But what if we don't?  What if the plants die or fail to produce?  What if the corn is underdeveloped and the melons bitter?  Will all our work be in vain?  I don't think so.  We will have learned something, and all the hours we spent working together as a family were a blessing, even if we don't have much to show for it.

It is in the same spirit that I begin to blog.  I've kicked around the idea for some time, but I think I was afraid.  I'm not sure anyone will read it, and even if they do, they may not like it.   I finally realized, though, that even if no one reads it or likes it, I will be blessed.  I love photography, and I love to write.  Both activities bring me joy, motivation, and a sense of satisfaction.  That is why I am going to try this--for me.  If others are blessed, that's great.  But this is for me.

Here's to gardens and blogs and beginnings!