Friday, October 28, 2011

a dance in the clouds

 -A gorgeous wintery-looking sky.  (Yes, I'm playing around a bit with photo editing on my mac.)  I loved the silhouette of trees against a cloud-dominated sky.

-Driving by a train, listening to its forlorn whistle and admiring the beautiful graffiti as I zoom past it.  It feels a bit like different periods in time colliding.

 -Seeing those fun nieces of mine today:  Olivia all cozy and contented after a bath...

having a cuddle with her mommy.

 (I believe this picture is mid-hiccup.  So expressive!)
 Gianna preparing for Halloween by giving herself quite the beard with the help of oreos.

 She only likes the cream in oreos, but apparently makes good use of the cookie part as, er, makeup.  She looks like she's wanting another one.

Natalie only wanted her feet photographed, but kept moving those happy feet so much this was the best I could do.  She later serenaded us with her own original music, including songs about alligators, rainbows, hotdogs and princesses.  My sister and I danced along, to the delight of all of us.  What fun.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

sock it to me

-Receiving an incredibly thoughtful book.

-A butter-yellow butterfly fluttering past my face.

-Running into a shop for some socks (thrilling life, I know) and the sales clerk asking me if I was the "secret shopper" who covertly checks out the store.  I laughed, and said that I was not.  Perhaps I should've replied more cryptically with "Maybe I am and maybe I'm not..."  It was an amusing conversation.  Apparently, I exude a strong sense of purpose in my sock purchasing.

Monday, October 24, 2011

morning, noon & night

-Enjoying sitting under the trees in the afternoon with my little helper and cleaning up/restoring this beautiful mirror.  Once I'm done, I think it will be just lovely over a fireplace.

-Waking up at 6am wide awake and ready to go, and then letting myself drift back off to sleep for another hour.

-A harvest moon peeking out from behind mysterious clouds.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

hug it out

-Natalie (3 year old precious niece) watching me get ready for a meeting and holding up my watch saying, "I put your watch on you??" in the same cooing tone of voice that adults use when speaking to babies.  I said yes, please, and she put in on me with a proud grin at being such a big helper.

-A man with fluffy white hair sipping on pink lemonade.

-A movie-style hug, where a good friend and I rushed down the hallway to each other to say hello.  Presbytery meetings always feel a bit like family reunions to me.

-Coming downstairs to the aroma of fresh coffee made by my sister.

-A kind woman after this morning's service coming up to me, looking me straight in the eye and declaring, "I like you!" before giving me a heart-warming hug.  Apparently, we Presbyterians tend to be huggers.

(Remember those blogaversary pumpkin cupcakes?  The recipe is now on my Wild Honey food blog.  I recommend them for celebrating a blog milestone, or just an ordinary Monday.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

starbucks & songbirds

-I'm in Houston this weekend for a presbytery meeting Saturday and a service on Sunday, and so am staying with Ash and Clay (yay!).  My parents are looking after Hayden for me, and my Mom sent this picture of him, doing some reading apparently.  (I think he was interested in the cake on the cover.)  Such a regal little guy.

-I took my sister to pick up her car at the shop, so we came back to her house in two cars and made a quick stop by the Starbucks drive-thru.  When I pulled up to the window (after my sister), the barista grinned like she was in on some private joke, handed my cappuccino to me and said "Your sister already bought it for you."  So thoughtful!

-Being stopped at a light and watching dozens of birds soar in formation, in perfect time to the song that happened to be on the radio.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

orange you glad it's thursday?

-Wearing a cozy oversized orange sweater that kept me warm enough to read outside this afternoon.  Honestly, if this weather was in Belfast, it would be cause for shorts and sandals, but in Texas we call it fall.  You can probably guess where I picked up this cozy cardi.  I'll give you a hint: it starts with "good" and ends with "will."

-The fun of writing sermons in the coffee shop.  Also, the fun of free refills!

-Finishing a book and being shocked by the ending (in a good way).  I'm so glad it's only book one of the series (Game of Thrones) and that I have several more to savor.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

welcome warmth

-Weather delightfully cold enough to wear flannel pj's.  (Hayden would apparently like a pair.)

-A stimulating discussion.

-A delightful pumpkin spice latte.  I love this time of year.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

opening windows

-Weather so autumnally awesome that the windows could be left open all day long (without turning into the Sahara or inviting a plague of mosquitos to inhabit).

-A woman telling me about her four-year-old daughter, with her face lighting up as she described how helpful she is.  The woman happens to be blind, and I helped her take an exam at the college this afternoon.  Her husband picked her up after she finished and grasped her hand, not just out of necessity, but out of love.  You could tell.

-My friend Tom telling me that he's decided to start a blog of gratitude (a bit like this one).  Tom contributed the stunning photo from his Irish drive to work for my blogaversary.  Today, he's grateful for a friendly comic book store owner and the discovery of several great second-hand dvd's for a bargain.  It's going to be fun keeping up with his blog.

Monday, October 17, 2011

smiley & breezy

Whoa, lady, that picture's a bit too close for comfort!
-The way Hayden always looks like he has a little contented grin on his face.

-A woman driving with a broken window and door duct taped together, with her hand dancing outside the open window in the breeze.  Now that's making the best of things!

-The feel of soft grass on my bare feet.

{Thanks for celebrating with me today, y'all!  It's been a fantastic blogaversary.  I'm so glad your glimpses of grace were a part of it.}

here's lookin' at you, cupcake.

My 5th Blogaversary celebration continues with divine, fragrant pumpkin cupcakes.  If they weren't amazing enough, I topped them with cream cheese frosting, which makes everything better, and toasted pecans.  Yum, yum, happy blogaversary, yum!  I'll post the recipe soon on my food blog.  It's very simple.  And they are such a delicious way to celebrate five years of glimpsing grace.

 Moist, autumnal, creamy, sweet.  Do you think I can eat five to celebrate five years?  And speaking of cute pumpkins...

My precious nieces hanging out in a pumpkin patch.

I'll share some glimpses of grace from today later this evening to round out our festivities.  Hope you've had a better-than-ordinary Monday!  Wish I could invite all of you over to devour these delightful pumpkin cupcakes with me.  I suppose I'll just have to eat one for you. :)

5th Blogaversary!

Hey, blog buddies!  Welcome to the party.  My lil' inquisitive, grace-full, joyful blog is now 5 years old.  Let the festivities begin!  Our 5th Blogaversary party begins with sharing the glimpses of grace you all sent me.  I know everyone will enjoy them as much as I have.

My Dad, in Texas:

A walk in the moonlight when you were a child. The air crisp with the feel of Fall. Drifts of brittle leaves crunched beneath and drifted around our feet as we worked our way toward the wooden span of bridge leading into the park. A gibbous moon rode high competing with the vast velvet darkness of a sky dusted with stars. Your hand would, occasionally, clutch fiercely at mine as you navigated your way through the stillness.

A gentle tug drew my eyes down to see the frosty breath framing your tiny face. "Look at the moon, Daddy"!

Smiling, I took in the spectacle overhead.

"Isn't it beautiful?" you inquired.

"It's amazing." I responded.

"It's so white!" you exclaimed.

"So very white." I responded.

"Why?" was your question.

I was completely lost in the attempt to answer that question in terms of refracted light, dust particles and reflected sunlight. That night I learned the amazing power of that same question repeated after every answer I gave. I was helpless before it. It grew to dominate so much of your life. From sand lions, to frogs, to rainbows, you always wanted to know why and how things worked. You see magic in a dancing flame. You sense wonder in the music of life.

Your soul soars and you carry me along.

You see what is not, but might be, and ask... "Why not"?

You are grace and I love you for it.
Love you, too, Dad!  Thanks for never tiring of all my questions.  I remember being a child and asking on a long car trip (and continuing to discuss it for a while), "Who made God?"

Neil in Belfast:

A glimpse of grace that sits on my desk everyday with memories of Greenhill.”
Neil's a buddy of mine who was a youth volunteer when I worked at Fitzroy in Belfast. Greenhill was our annual youth retreat camp, and the little mirror was given to remind us that we reflect God (or something along those lines). Neil says “it's a reminder of a great weekend and the best bunch of folk I have the privilege of working with.”
I still have my mirror, too, Neil.  Those weekends at Greenhill full of good chats, walks on the beach and hilarious banter will always be among my favorite memories.

My Grandmother, in Texas:

I was very early for Morning Worship while on an out of town trip, so I sat all alone in the large, beautiful and very quiet Sanctuary. I began to sense a lot of movement behind me but there was no sound. In just a moment a young man came down the main aisle hurling his body toward the Altar in the most perfect cartwheels I had ever seen! Before I could even phrase "WHAT in the world?......" in my mind, I began to think about what I had just witnessed. Insight took charge and I knew that I had just seen a young worshipper entering into His gates, overjoyed at the prospects. What a way to go!
A wonderful observation, Grandmother!  As we pastor folk say, "That'll preach!"

Jessi in Tennessee:

Back in January a close sorority sister of mine gave birth to her first child, a daughter, Riley. The only problem being that Riley was due in April. She was 4 months early. She was barely 20 weeks which in baby land gave her about a 50-50 chance. We prayed hard, our group of friends pulled together and prayed constantly. There were rough days and nights and even rough weeks. And then one day I got an email that seemed to turn everything around. Riley had turned a corner, gained weight and things were looking up. This past weekend, for my birthday, I held Riley for the first time. She's now 8 months old and PERFECT. You'd never know that she almost didn't make it. We walked and talked, she giggled at me and I was in heaven. I had 2 1/2 days of Riley and it was a true miracle. When I look at her I know there are miracles. When she drooled on my shoulder it was the best drool I'd ever seen. I can't have bad days looking at Riley pictures. I don't doubt God's real presence in our lives. I don't doubt miracles or grace knowing that there were days when I begged God to let Riley make it. Now she is perfection and I will spoil her rotten!!!
Jessi, you know I was born three months early (actually on the same day as Riley!) and so this story is really special to me.  Thanks for sharing it.  Riley's lucky to have you.

My Mom, in Texas:

I've known Charley almost as long as we've lived in Victoria. He was among the first we met at church; a gregarious old newspaperman and an interesting character--proud of his Hispanic heritage, strong in his faith, obstinately loyal to his Longhorn football team. We liked each other from the beginning, bantering back and forth, he with his beautiful, melodic Spanish and me with my inept, chopped-up attempt at Espanol. He laughed a lot, always ending our chats with a 'Hook 'em Horns' hand sign, which I countered with a 'Gig 'em Aggies' thumbs up. The passing of years has been a challenge for Charley as he faces the slow grip of dementia, slipping quietly away from us. Recently he hasn't always recognized me, so I was thrilled when I ran in the Fellowship Hall at church yesterday and found Charley alone, waiting for his wife to finish with her Circle meeting. He jumped up, grabbed my hand and said, "Bonnie, I've been meaning to call you! How's your mama?" I was stunned at his enthusiasm and clarity--Charley Bear was back! I told him Mother was great and that I was so happy to see him. We chattered in English and Spanish a bit, and then slowly his eyes became distant and he began drifting away. About that time his wife walked up to him and gently took his arm, saying, "Charley, let's go home." They walked hand in hand down the hallway, and then Charley slowly turned around one last time and flashed a 'Hook 'em!' gesture to me. For a brief, grace-filled moment, I had a glimpse of Charley.
Mamacita, what a beautiful tribute to Charley.  I'm betting you're his favorite Aggie.

Lynn in Georgia:

God's beautiful world. This is what I call a "glory" shot. Taken from my car window in Decatur, Georgia.
Just gorgeous, Lynn!  And I think I know exactly where you took this picture. :)

Ed in North Carolina:

Our dogs give us a Glimpse of the unyielding love of God.
My dog does, too, Ed.  Such unconditional, constant love.

Jen in Oregon:

This was taken at Bring, a place that helps people reuse and recycle just about everything you can imagine. Their store ( re-sale shop for bits and pieces left over from demolition projects primarily) is called a "planet improvement center" and this is a picture of the chapel they have built in their courtyard out of some of the objects that have been donated to them (aka - trash). I LOVE that it occurred to someone to build a chapel out of someone's cast offs - to me it is a holy place reminding me of the cornerstone that was rejected, that nothing (even junk) is too secular to be sacred, and that even tree hugging hippies like to have a place to pray!
I love this, Jen!  How creative and powerful.

Tom in Dublin, Ireland:

When I drove to work from my old house, I used to have to contend with busy lanes of traffic through rush hour for 20 minutes, but a year ago I moved to a new house where this view accompanies my current commute to get to work. Every time I turn out of my street straight onto this quiet road by the sea I'm struck by the beauty and by the hand of God that put it there, and so thankful that this is what I get to look at every day instead of the back end of someone's car.
What a view, Tom!  I imagine it's hard to get the Monday blues looking at that on the way to work.

Our festivities continue with some delicious pumpkin cupcakes (yep, they deserve bold status) this afternoon.  It's not a party without some baked goodies...wish I could mail one to each of you.  And later, I'll share my own glimpses of grace from today.  If you didn't get a chance to send a glimpse of grace to me, but would like to, go right ahead ( and I'll post it later today.

What a fun day!  Thanks for being a part of it and this journey of grace the past five years.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

sit down and take a load off

 -Light filtering through a stained glass window to illumine one particular spot in a pew.  The little church I preached at this morning was charming.  I knew it would be when I arrived and, within minutes of meeting the organist, heard her whole-heartedly laugh as she told me a story.

-Fluffy, cottony clouds in an endless sky of blues, ranging from calm cornflower to astounding azure.

-A stout cup of tea to revive me before heading out to do a brief service at a nursing home this afternoon.  There's nothing like a wee cuppa to get you going again.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

splendid Saturday

What a restful Saturday this is!  It started off with a trip to one of my favorite places, where brave souls trudge through racks and racks of clothing and mountains of furniture for a glimpse of something worthwhile:

Today was half-price day, which is just that: everything in the store is half-off.  They open early on these days and it can get pretty packed, so there I was bright and early at 8:30 (with my to-go cup of coffee in tow, of course).  Today's loot was light: simply a cozy oversized cardigan in an autumnal shade of rust, for the humble price of $2.

Then, I went with the folks to have breakfast at a local Mexican place.  This is a glorious, spicy chorizo taquito.  Delicious.

After stuffing ourselves with Mexican munchies, my mom and I headed over to the Methodist church (I do love ecumenism) to see their pumpkin patch and stroll around their craft fair.  It was apparently the place to be!  Everyone enjoyed the (slightly) cooler temperatures and plethora of handmade goodies.

 Isn't my mamacita lovely?

Hanging out with some pumpkins.

 I just love the strange knobby ones.

 LOTS of pumpkins.

 Downtown is such a historic, relaxing place to stroll.  And now onto our (crafty) loot:

 I was charmed by this simple little pressed flower on vintage-looking (but surely not) polka dot paper.

We also found an adorable pumpkin hat for our adorable punkin' Olivia.

My mom bought me this really fun wine bottle/light. Note the label. :)  I love it.

And, even Hayden got a treat.  Peanut butter dog biscuits that honestly looked good enough for me to eat (don't worry; I didn't).  He loved them, of course.  But I'm pretty sure he would love cardboard if I smeared peanut butter on it!  All in all, a relaxing day.  Now, to read over my sermon, write a prayer and perhaps take a nap with my little peanut-butter-loving pup.  Hope you're having a recharging day!

**You can still send me your glimpses for my 5th blogaversary festivities on Monday!  Email them to  I have a diverse and creative collection so far.

Friday, October 14, 2011

from dusty to dazzling

As the song goes, there are a few joys I count as "my favorite things": coca cola in glass bottles, spontaneous laughter, the way my dog cocks his fluffy ears at an inquisitive angle when desiring a nibble of whatever I'm eating, cooking something adventurously new or comfortingly old, and painting furniture.  I love taking something with promise and making it one-of-a-kind.  Here's my latest project: a coffee table my good friend Ashley picked up for me at Goodwill for the handsome sum of $2.50.  I've been looking for a coffee table, preferably something with a geometric, Moroccan feel to it and she discovered this diamond in the rough.  Here  it is when I first received it.

 And here is it after a bit of cleaning up, without the glass top.  I think it's lovely as is, but a bit bulky feeling all being brown wooden.  So, I decided to jazz it up a bit!
 Inspired by this beautiful Spanish cabinet from the 1940's, I decided to play up the star-like shapes on the top of the table and make it look a bit like an old Moroccan door.

After multiple coats of paint, gold gilding, distressing the wood and then cleaning the heck out of that glass, here's the finished product!  (Hayden's checking it out.)  It actually looks a bit Egyptian to me, and I love it.

Doesn't the golden top look like a bit like gilded stars?
I'm really happy with it.  And there's just something so cathartic about painstakingly adding coppery gold paint brushstroke by brushstroke (yes, I had to use a teeny brush on the top — whew!) and transforming it into something totally new.  What a rewarding little project.