Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Light of the World

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him; and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men." John 1:1-4

Happy Birthday, Jesus, the Light of the World!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Power of a Cover

A few months before RESTORED HEARTS was released, a woman approached me anxious to know when the book would be ready. I told her the manuscript was in the hands of my editor and would prayerfully be available soon.

The woman's son was grief-stricken and angry over his father's homosexual lifestyle. This mom was concerned that her ex-husband's behavior would destroy any hopes for a relationship between her son and his dad.

When RESTORED HEARTS came out, she bought a copy, read it, then passed it along to her son. I told her I would pray for healing and restoration in her family. The son made it to chapter three, but could go no further. He closed the book and laid it aside. The reality of what many homosexuals encounter was too difficult for him to swallow.

That was a year and a half ago. Even though I had not received any updates on this particular situation, I continued to pray as the Lord brought this family to mind.

A couple months ago, the woman approached me again, this time with a spark of hope in her eyes. She told me that her son was sitting on a park bench when a butterfly landed on his backpack. He did a double-take when he realized the insect was the exact same species as the one on the RESTORED HEARTS book cover. "Perhaps I need to go back and finish reading that book," he thought.

His mother reported that he did finish the book and told her he had changed his attitude toward his dad. He now wanted to seek healing and restoration for their relationship.

Sometimes, it's the small things--like a butterfly on a book cover revisited at a park bench--that God can use to make all the difference in the world.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Martians have landed . . .

The Martians . . . I mean, our family has landed . . . and I can't find my husband! Oh, there he is, hiding behind the ping pong table.

Monday, October 25, 2010

To my Grandchildren, Love is Spelled T-I-M-E

To my six grandchildren, love is spelled T-I-M-E.

T ouching: Lots of hugs are in order for the little ones who are currently ages 4,3,2,1,0 (two newborns). No, not blast-off, although some days it seems like we're ready to take off with all the noise and toddler activity on the ole' Rife homestead.

I nvesting: Chuck and I have discovered that investing time in our grandchildren's interests goes a long way in building a relationship with them. For Ethan, it's working with him to snap buckles. He loves to work with his hands. For Daniel, it's lining up toy cars and zooming them across the kitchen floor. For Kylie, it's building a Lego house or singing favorite songs. For Rebekah, it's playing dress-up or reading stories. For two-month old Hannah, it's holding her while she giggles at my face. For three-week-old Gabriel, it's praying for him from a distance and anticipating our reunion in just a couple weeks. And for all the grandchildren, well the ones who can wrestle and run, Grandpa Trap is a favorite game that teaches them to persevere and "Never give up!"

M aking memories: Seizing the moment to make a memory, whether at the park playing on the slide and swings or snapping pictures of the kids jumping in the leaves, is a treat that will carry us through when we are separated once again.

E ating fun stuff: Grandma and food seem to be synonymous, so better have some healthy, yet fun stuff on hand. For Ethan, it's Grandma's chocolate smoothies. Little does he know that I sneak a handful of fresh spinach into the mix. :) For Kylie, it's what she used to call, chocy milk. For Rebekah and Daniel, it's mac and cheese and whole green beans. An ice cream cone for dessert is a treasured treat!

All these pursuits take TIME, but this is what spells LOVE to my precious grandkiddos. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


How you counter the culture makes a difference in your child’s life.

During a recent camping trip with a few families from our church, I (Eileen) was adding more wood to the fire when I overheard a conversation among three of the boys.

“I wonder if there are any bears around,” Max commented, fear written on his face.

“You know, we’re animals, too,” Bradley said, stirring a stick through the dirt.

Max’s brother, Joey, jumped in, hands on hips, glaring at Bradley, “We are not!”

“Are too!”

Max rallied to his brother’s side, “We are not animals; we’re human beings!”

“Well, in school the teacher said that we are the highest form of animals,” Bradley insisted, to which Joey replied, “Well, this isn’t school, this is Bible land we’re standing on now!”

My Bible rested on the picnic table, so I said, “Well, let’s see what Genesis chapter one has to say. I read through the text detailing God’s creation and landed at verse 26, Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’

The boys listened intently. I had caught them at a teachable moment. Explaining that man was set apart from the animals because he was created in the image of God with intellect, emotion, and will and given rule over the animals, I pointed the boys to God’s Word, the Truth.

I left that encounter more convinced of the need to ground our children in the truth of God’s Word to counter the secular, humanistic culture in which we live. Perhaps, as a Christian parent, you desire to do the same, but just don’t know where to begin.

A good resource is The Truth Project compiled by Focus on the Family and taught by Dr. Del Tackett. A DVD-based curriculum comprised of twelve one-hour lessons, The Truth Project communicates the Christian worldview verses a secular worldview. Carefully researched, biblically sound, and masterfully presented. Every parent should go through this course, then lead their children through it before they leave for college.

Visit for more information.

Friday, September 17, 2010


A man wearing brown pants with beige dress shirt, sleeves rolled up to the elbows, stocked the cracker shelves as I swerved around the corner with my grocery cart headed for the saltines.

“Hi, how are you today?” I said, sweeping past him.

“Good, how ‘bout you?” he countered with southern drawl while shoving a box of Ritz into an available spot. An overhead light beamed off the baseball-sized bald spot on the top of his head.

“Oh, fine, just fine.” I said, torn between scanning the shelves for my selection and exchanging cordialities.

Chattering on as if he hadn’t talked to anyone all day, he spoke of everything from the weather to his first grandchild due the end of October.

A bell sounded in my head. This was a topic near and dear to my heart, for my husband and I now had five grandchildren, the latest born in our home only weeks earlier, and the sixth on his way the beginning of October.

The man’s glasses slid down his nose as he reached to unpack another box. His wiry, sandy-colored hair stuck out over his forehead like a visor. Somewhat stocky, his belly loped over his belt when he squatted to straighten the cracker boxes on the bottom shelf. His daughter, only nineteen, would give birth to a son, he told me, lining up a row of Ritz like new army recruits.

“I was just getting used to the empty nest, and now this—I can hardly believe I’m going to be a grandfather.”

I had been where he was four years ago. With two weddings in one year and two babies the next, I was still gulping for air.

“I know what you mean,” I assured, lamely glancing at him one second and squinting at the saltines the next.

“But you have to let them go. You do the best you can raising them, then you just have to let them go,” he said, forcibly brushing his hands together to illustrate his words.

I inched my cart down the aisle, but paused out of politeness when he continued talking.

“I wonder, though, young people today probably won’t discipline their kids the way I was brought up. It was a trip to the woodshed for me. Yep, I learned a thing or two with the strap.”

Nodding, I assessed whether to stick around and humor this stock boy—well, man—with more of my presence or make my getaway.

Was this a divine appointment the Lord had placed in my way on this sunny September morn?

As we conversed more about the need for discipline in our culture, a story popped into my head.

“You know, you’re right, discipline is so important for children. I remember a speaker I listened to once share how he decided to teach his children a significant lesson after they had misbehaved one day.”

The man’s eyes flitted to my face as he reached for yet another large cardboard box full of crackers.

“The father told his two children to come into the bedroom. Once there, he pulled his shirt off, handed them each a leather belt, leaned over the mattress, and told them to whip his back with the belts.”

A whisper of a frown passed over the man’s face as he cocked his head to listen.

“Well, as you might expect, the children were totally confused. ‘Daddy,’ they said in unison, ‘why do you want us to spank you? We’re the ones who did wrong.’”

“‘Yes, you did wrong,’ the father stated, “’but I want you to whip me. I will take your punishment.’”

“’No, Daddy, we can’t let you do that!’”

“By now big crocodile tears were inching their way down the children’s cheeks.

“’Please, Daddy, we can’t do this!’

“The father insisted, and the children struck him with the belts, over and over again at his command. His back, layered with red stripes, pulsed with pain. His children dropped to the floor weeping uncontrollably.

“The father turned, stooped and stretched his arms around his broken children. ‘That, my children, is what Jesus did for us. He took the punishment that we deserve when He died on the cross.’

“The children never forgot their father’s lesson, nor did they ever require a spanking again.”

With eyebrows arched like Howdy-Dowdy, the man stood frozen for a second, “Yep, that’s a powerful lesson, all right.” Shaking his head, he retrieved more cracker boxes and resumed shelving.

“Well, you have a good day now; nice talking with you,” I said, gripping the cart handle.

“Yeah, you too. Have a good one.” He waved a hand, signaling the end of the conversation. Yet, something in his eyes indicated he would be thinking on our visit for some time to come.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tell Me a Story, Grandma

While riding in the car the other day, granddaughter Kylie said, "Tell me a story about when you were little, Grandma." A frequent request by my grandchildren.

I proceeded to tell her the "sledding story."

One winter when the ground was covered with mounds of milky white snow, my neighbor, William, urged me to go sledding on Reservoir Hill with his buddy, Tommy. I agreed, and off the three of us trudged, William pulling a wooden sled behind him.

After we climbed the steep hill bordered on the left by barbwire fencing to keep the cattle on the other side from crossing, William looked at me with a gleam in his eye. An expression I had come to know as dangerous.

"Hey, I have an idea!" he said, flashing his pearly whites. "Since we only have one sled, how about all three of us go down on the sled together?"

It was more of a demand than a question, really. He was a take-charge kinda guy, and although I had definite reservations, his winsome way made it hard to refuse.

"Tell you what," he continued. "I'll get on the bottom; Tommy, you lie down in the middle; and Eileen, you stretch out on the top." We had played together for so long he knew I was ambivalent. "It'll be fun," he insisted with a nudge of his shoulder, hands in his pants pockets. "And, Eileen, you won't get hurt, 'cause you'll be on the top!"

I sucked in a breath of icy air, chewed on the corner of my lip, and finally agreed. What was the worst that could happen, after all?

I was about to find out. As we flew down the hill, William frantically clutched the rudder to maintain control while pieces of snow plastered our faces and hair. I opened my eyes long enough to see us inches away from the barbwire fence. Just as I squeezed my eyes shut again, William swerved the sled to the left, spilling me off the top and into a patch of melting snow mixed with mud.

As I stumbled to my feet, wiping my gloved hands over my brand new brown tweed Christmas coat, I glared at William. Sheepish, he shrugged, "I'm so sorry. Really sorry. Are you all right?"

"Yeah, sure, I'm all right." Technically, that was true. No scrapes. No bruises. No broken bones. No barbwire marks anywhere on my anatomy.

My outer body was secure, but my spirit was considerably rumbled, for my brand new coat was a muddy mess! And it was my only coat. I could hear my mother now.

"What in the world have you done? Look at this mess! Why, I'll never get this clean!"

A gash somewhere on my body would have been better than a dirty coat. This was bad, and I prepared myself for the tongue-lashing I would receive when I got home.

At snail speed I crept to my house, gingerly stepped onto the breezeway, and reached for the kitchen doorknob. The door flew open and there on the other side stood my mother.

I swallowed past the lump in my throat, fully expecting a maternal tirade followed by a paternal spanking that would warm my cold backside.

Instead, she gently nudged me inside the toasty, ginger cookie kitchen and helped me shrug off my brown tweed coat with the velvet collar.

She stepped back, turned her head from side to side, and frowned. "Hmm . . ."

Here it comes, I thought.

"I think we can take care of this. Why, I'll wash this up and it'll be good as new."

I believed her, 'cause mama had a knack at repairing, fixing, cleaning up, mending-- you name it, she could do it!

Next thing I knew, the brown tweed Christmas coat with the collar soft as puppy ears was hanging alone on the clothes line against the crisp snow, good as new.

When I finished the story, granddaughter Kylie piped up from the backseat. "Ya know, Grandma, your mommy sounds like Jesus."

I had never thought about that before. "Ya know, Kylie, you're right, she does."

And once again, a little child shall teach them.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gentle, Quiet

This morning during our "Date with Jesus," Chuck asked me what the Lord was doing in my heart.

I said, "He's saying, 'Come to me; I am enough . . . Gentle, quiet.'"

The Lord keeps leading me back to 1 Peter 3:1-6, particularly verses 4 and 6.

Whenever I get frustrated, angry, or overwhelmed with life, I hear the Holy Spirit whisper to my spirit, "Gentle . . . Quiet."

I am trying to be trained by those simple words. How huge they are really!

1 Peter 3:4 tells me that a gentle and quiet spirit is imperishable and precious to God. Wow! That's my heart's longing--to develop qualities that last, that endear me to the Father's heart in a special way.

In times past whenever I read this passage and honed in on the word, "Quiet," I would immediately equate it with controlling my tongue. "Just quit nagging and harping on the same issue over and over again."

Granted, that is part of the admonition to put on a quiet spirit. But note that it is a "spirit" that I am to put on. A quiet spirit of deep confidence in God's protection and provision as the Lover of my soul. So that regardless of the choices my earthly husband makes, I can maintain a posture of peace because I am relying completely on my heavenly Husband.

Thus I can fulfill verse 6, which states that I will not be frightened by any fear. My hope is so firmly fixed on God that I accept all things as tools to craft me into the image of His Son, who by the way kept entrusting Himself to the Father even in the midst of cruel treatment and misunderstanding.

Bottom line: When I choose to put on Jesus, my spirit is cloaked with gentleness and quietness, two attributes that will keep for eternity and be winsome to the heart of God.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Coconut water, anyone?

Dr. Gavin Munsfield, protagonist in JOURNEY TO JUDAH and RESTORED HEARTS, recommends drinking coconut water which provides an excellent blend of electrolytes, re-hydrating the body better than sports drinks.

Coconuts are plentiful in Chennai, setting for my Born for India trilogy. While visiting there, we would pull up to a coconut stand (a small open hut on the side of the road). Yep, coconut stands are India's version of "Sonic." The Indian merchant whacks a hole in the top of the coconut with his machete, sticks a straw in, and wah-lah, drink to go! And for a mere .75 US at that!

Rumor has it that coconut water was used as a plasma substitute in WWII. Indeed, coconut water seems to benefit the body, providing potassium and other essential nutrients, warding off fatigue, and providing a higher level of protein than cow's milk with less fat and fewer calories. It also contains lauric acid, which is present in human mother's milk. Now I know why the Indians kept handing us coconut water during our first trip to Madras 14 years ago!

Pass the coconut water, please!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I'm beginning to hear God's laughter!

When I padded to my kitchen rocker this morning, I sat talking to the Lord about the latest real estate investment crisis and He stopped me short with his laughter. Yes, I heard God laughing. . . in my mind and heart anyway, but it couldn't have been more real. He came up to me, threw His arms around me, tossed His head back, and with eyes twinkling, full of merriment, released a warm current of laughter. Comforting, not cynical.

Later, in my office, I couldn't journal the experience fast enough. My main point to ponder:

"And then God laughed, not to minimize my pain, but to bring perspective to it, in light of eternity."

He reminded me of the Genesis 17 account of Sarah's cynical laughter over the possibility of a pregnancy in her old age. I wonder now if there wasn't a hint of a giggle under God's breath even then. He knew the hilarious, joyful laughter that was to come in Isaac (literally meaning, "He will laugh"). In Genesis 21:6, after Isaac's birth, Sarah says for all posterity, "God has made laughter for me, everyone who hears will laugh with me."

The question the Lord posed to my heart in the early hours of the morn was, "Can you laugh even before you see the provision concerning the properties?"

And then I noted the ways He has already provided:

1. All our needs met today, and so much more!
2. Grace for the moment in this roller-coaster ride of "now we have a buyer, now we don't."
3. A greater dependence on the Lord as my Husband (Isaiah 54:5).
4. A closer relationship with Chuck.
5. Liberty modules

Then I turned to an Oswald Chamber devotional entry in My Utmost for His Highest, and the last line read: "The saint is hilarious when he is crushed with difficulties because the thing is so ludicrously impossible to anyone but God."

Okay, Lord, I'm smiling.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A few months before Rachel left for India as a single missionary gal in 2004, I had a dream. My little red-headed toddler was running across the lawn straight for the busy road. Cars were zooming this way and that. I ran after her, arms stretched out, reaching, grabbing desperately, but as is often the case in a dream, I could never quite get to her. At last, she plunged into the street. I knew for sure my precious baby would be hit and killed, but when the traffic cleared, I saw a lovely Indian woman clad in colorful sari on the other side of the road stooping and holding my little Rachel. She was safe.

As God would have it, there have been many Indian "mamas" over the last few years who have taken Rachel under their wings. In addition, the Lord provided my girl with a godly husband only two months after arriving in India. Nathan, a third generation missionary kid who had returned to the States, sensed God leading him back to India to serve. While there he met Rachel and they were married in June, 2005. Their love story inspired Book One, JOURNEY TO JUDAH, in my Born for India trilogy.

Through this account, God has affirmed Psalm 84:11 in my heart: "The Lord God is a sun and a shield; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly."

Yet often, it is a daily challenge to embrace those words and live on them. One moment at a time, that's all He asks as the journey continues . . .

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Plot Thickens . . .

"The silence between them was nibbling away at Maggie's nerves as she and Gavin lay in the darkness staring at the ceiling. They shared a bed, but not their hearts, at least not over the last three days since Tim revealed he wasn't going back to Boston."

Excerpt from RESTORED HEARTS, Book Two in the Born for India trilogy

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Aloha Ke Akula

Polynesian morning. Tropical paradise. God's love rising in the morning sun. Gentle breezes. No fog or heavy winds this peaceful daybreak. Hawaiian winds normally blow from the northeast and bring fair weather. When the winds shift to blow from the south, however, they are called KONA winds and often bring storms in the winter. But on this gorgeous Maui morning, God's love floats in on a subtle breeze, reminding me that He is ruler of the water (wai) and the heaven (lanai). He is Master of all--of the elements, of the animals, of all creation, of me.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle's flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so, He called it Dad.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Ants Came Marching Two by Two . . .

After a busy day of grading student papers, I trudged to the kitchen, weary and worn, to fix supper. Upon opening the cabinet above the stove, a host of creepy, crawly LARGE black ants scurried hither and yon--some leaping madly onto the counter, others wiggling to break free from the honey jar.

Enter crazed woman on a mission . . .

With hands balled into fists, I chased the critters all over the kitchen, smashing them and pulverizing them into itty, bitty black specks which littered my floor like carnage at Gettysburg. I felt like Ernie on Mouse Hunt who's fateful falling out with a gigantic roach left him more determined than ever to never let another vermin get him down.

By the time Chuck walked up the steps to supper, I was giggling hysterically. I could envision an enormous ant pinned against the wall, my fists clobbering his face like a punching bag.

Call it hunger, heat, tiredness, or just an extra helping of testosterone . . .

But somehow, it felt mighty nice to punch the lights out of those suckers! No self-respecting ant dare stick an antenna in my kitchen, or anywhere else in my house, for that matter.

That was yesterday. Anyone who drops by for a visit will be happy to know I'm feeling much calmer today with no ants on the horizon.

By the way, TIP FOR ELIMINATING ANTS if you don't want to use your fists:

Sprinkle grits around the threshold of doors. Place a small bowl of water nearby. The ants eat the grits, drink some water, and you got--BLOW UP!

Hey, it works.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Word of Hope

No matter how I feel; no matter how the world, the flesh, and the devil torment, my God has never changed and never will!

He STILL loves me.
His blood STILL covers me.
He STILL produces fruit through me.
He's STILL coming for me.
He STILL rescues me.
He STILL calms the storm in me.
He STILL provides encouraging friends.
He STILL speaks through my family.
He STILL holds my hand.
He STILL gives me rest.
He STILL walks with me.

You and You alone, Oh LORD, are my life, my survival, my hope, and my future.

Friday, May 28, 2010


If you’ve read JOURNEY TO JUDAH or RESTORED HEARTS, you know that the romance, adventure, and intrigue don’t have to stop when you’ve finished the last page and closed the book.

You can get together with your friends and use the Discussion Questions at the end of the books to generate thought-provoking conversation for quite some time.

JOURNEY TO JUDAH questions include:

•In what ways might Maggie’s journey be similar to the journey of Ruth in the Bible? In what ways are they different?

Journal where you are in your journey. What is God doing in your life? How does that make you feel? Are you willing to do whatever He asks you to do?

•When faced with a broken engagement, Gavin plunged into depression. What steps did Dr. Hauser suggest to help him regain emotional equilibrium?

•Read Psalm 37. List some of the things you can do when you don’t understand what God is doing in your life.

•Read Philippians 4. Describe God’s path to peace and contentment.

*And many more!

RESTORED HEARTS questions include:

•During one counseling session with Tim, Dr. Hauser says, “If you want to know what God thinks of you, look at the cross.” How did this statement help Tim? How might it help you?

•The word restore in 1 Peter 5:10 is the same word used to signify a bone that must be reset in order to heal stronger. How does Esha try to convey this message to Gavin ? Are her words effective immediately—or much later? Why do you think this is? How might remembering Esha’s words help you in your own life now, and in the future?

•During a counseling session, Dr. Hauser discusses the role of sex in marriage. He alludes to such Scriptures as Genesis 2:22-24 and Ephesians 5:31-33. Take a look at the headlines today re: approval of homosexual marriages in some of the states. Why do you think Satan is working overtime to destroy the marriage union between one man and one woman for a lifetime?

•At one point in the story, Dr. Hauser tells Tim, “Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why?

•What role do you think Dad’s letter might play in Tim’s and Gavin’s healing? How has it already influenced Tim’s thinking? If you could change anything about your own childhood, what would that be?

•The name Esha means “desire or wish” in Sanskrit. She longed for Tim, yet she demonstrated an even greater longing. What do you think that was? What are the current desires of your heart?

•And many more!

With questions included in each book, why not host a BOOK CLUB?

I’d love to come and share the story behind the story and answer reader questions! Contact me at

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What's fat and furry and in my garden?

Give up?

It's an otter! Yep, no traveling to the Peaks to see our famous Blue Ridge otters. He's come to me this year. And is he ever fun to watch! Since I've been tossing out the pulp from my carrot juicing, along with other veggie and fruit peel, he and the two Peter Rabbits (although I suspect one is Patricia Rabbit) are loving the regular meals. They don't seem to care a thing about my measly lettuce and spinach patch with that gourmet buffet in another part of the yard.

Now, where's my camera. I need a close up of my friend. Oh, and my sketch pad . . .

Monday, May 17, 2010

Chewing on these thoughts of late . . .

That I long for God more than I long for answers.

That God owes me nothing, yet has given me everything.

That I'm making progress in my Christian life when Bible reading and prayer turn from habit into hunger.

That marriage will test every fiber in my spiritual fabric.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hmm . . . where did Gavin and Maggie honeymoon?

RESTORED HEARTS, Book Two in the Born for India trilogy, opens with Gavin and Maggie honeymooning. Care to wager a guess as to where?

FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY to the first person who responds with the right guess.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ah, Human Hair

The squirrel saga continues . . .

So if you come to our house and everyone is bald, you'll know why. Just go look in the garden.

But be careful, you may not escape without a buzz, no, I'm not passing out high-powered drinks or drugs. I'm talking "haircut" as in shave your head. My husband already does this, so perhaps I'll follow him into the bathroom with a dustpan next time around.

Honestly though, the squirrels are so used to us, they may not care about hair in the garden, unless it's someone else's. Hmmm . . . rubbing my hands, eyes squinted, sinister smile . . .

Better lock your doors, I just went for the trimmers.

Planting Season is Here Again!

When I stepped out of the kitchen this morning with carrot clipping bowl in hand, I noticed a cotton-tailed bunny who I've come to call Peter Rabbit, zip out of the woods and head straight for the garden. When he spotted me, he came to an abrupt halt by the trampoline and froze. I proceeded to dump the vegetable clippings and pulp on the freshly watered dirt (it rained last night :) and nonchalantly strolled back to the house, eye peeled for my bunny friend. He was no where in sight, but I'm confident he will return, perhaps with a few friends, to check out the buffet he's come to love.

Which brings me to my dilemma . . .

Since we moved to this house eight years ago, I've ever only grown flowers. Now that I'm eager to try my hand at some veggies, I'm abit concerned. Our backyard is woods with only a small area that receives sunlight a major portion of the day. Chuck and I trimmed back a couple pine trees last Saturday to welcome more light into the patch. That's the first challenge: enough light. Check. I think.

The second and foremost challenge is the multitude of critters that call our backyard, "HOME." While fun to watch the squirrels scamper from tree to tree and carry old tossed out rolls in their mouths, it is disconcerting to think they will be foraging around among my newly planted carrots and tomatoes.

So, the age old battle continues between man and beast. I'm a woman on a mission . . .

A google search tells me that natural deterrents include cayenne pepper, curry powder, chili powder, and any other spicy powder, sprinkled, indeed poured, around the perimeter of the garden bed. The squirrels do not like to step in the stuff since it burns their tiny feet. (A collective, "Ah!") Coffee grounds are offensive to the little varmints as well. Hmmm . . . I'm beginning to wonder if I'm really going to save money by planting crops this year, or if I'm going to end up spending more by the time I dump massive amounts of spices.

Who knows? The verdict's still out, and I'm still determined to give it a go . . .

Anyone care to comment on natural squirrel and bunny repellents?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Things My Family Taught Me in 2009

Surprise someone you love.
A sloppy kiss on the mouth is better than no kiss at all.
It's okay to cry.
When you are afraid, trust in God.
A good book should be read multiple times.
The family table is about the best place in the world.
Cardboard and duct tape make a great stable for baby Jesus.
Christmas is ALL about Jesus!
Keep your promises.
A laundry basket makes a great mold for snow blocks.
The family table is one of the best places in the world.
A book should be discussed, preferably at the dinner table.
Simple pleasures really are the best.
Eating snow is one of those simple pleasures.
Clip coupons.
Care for someone less fortunate.
Show your appreciation.
Be available.
Be flexible.
Be sensible.
Hold all things loosely.
Never give up!
Finish strong.
Consistency pays off.
God will make a way.
Everything goes better with a cup of tea.
Nurture friendships.
Stay the course.

Take time for a hug.
Laugh often.
Embrace life--all of it!
Do something spontaneous once in awhile.
A beautiful sunset never grows old.
A picture truly is worth a thousand words.
Pray about everything.
Kitty cats are special.
Grieve, then move on.
Dance in the kitchen.
Make music whenever possible.
Leaves were meant to be jumped in.
Live well.
Love your neighbor.
Involve yourself in careful study of the Bible.
Involve yourself in something bigger than yourself.
Think before you speak.
In quietness and confidence is your rest.
Be frugal. Shop wisely. Look for the deals.
Life isn't a dress rehearsal--give it the best you've got.
Words matter.
Love Jesus with all your heart, mind, and soul.
Don't sweat the small stuff.
God will provide.
Mozilla Firefox is better than Internet Explorer.
There's more than one way to get there.
Home is where your heart is.

The End of One Story, the Beginning of Another

I flip through the calendar, a gift from my missionary daughter. Family face after family face jump off the pages. Grandkids roasting mar...