Do What You Love With Passion!

It's been said that if we do what we love, it stops being a job and becomes a passion. I love to write as much as I love to design jewelry. With this blog, I will share both with you!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Paying It Forward

PAYING IT FORWARD


Dear Reader,

It is a personal habit of mine to look for those quiet opportunities to do something for another person. I have been blessed with much in my own life, grounded in strong faith and spirituality. I have learned that 'things' do not matter. I have lived through years with little income and doing without to having more with less worry.

I believe that having good health is the richest of riches. Without it, life can be a struggle each day. As I get older I cannot help but be aware of my mind and body, trying my best to feed and nurture in good ways. 

I think the biggest lesson I have learned is to have faith, pray strongly, look for the goodness in each situation, count blessings, have gratitude in my heart.




Last week I wrote a blog about a husband and wife who helped me when my cell phone had died and I needed a gate code to drive the final distance to my daughter's home. I looked for an opportunity to do more than having left them with a verbal thank you that day.

Two days later I searched online and found their home address and Mike and Cara's last name. I took a pair of earrings from my inventory, wrote a thank you note on pretty stationary and printed a copy of that blog. I packaged all the items, printed a label and shipped it to them the next day.

I'm not looking for any kind of applause or good for you comments here. What I am trying to demonstrate is that I believe it is important for us to go that extra mile to say thank you, job well done, I am proud of you, whatever the sentiment is for the occassion.

I believe in paying it forward and hope that what I share here will be a small and gentle reminder that when we have the means to give, however that picture is defined in our own lives, we should. 

I had a conversation with someone this week who was questioning the meaning of faith tithing, the giving of ten percent of one's wealth. I reminded her that a church cannot operate without annual financial commitment from membership so that building mortgage payments can be met, pastor's salary paid, utilities and monthly expenses for a church office be provided for.

Commitments allow for expansion in our lives.

Would you accept a job on the basis that maybe you will receive a paycheck every two weeks? How could you plan a vacation getaway on the possibility that there might be funds to provide for it? How would you convince a bank of your credit worthiness without the guarantee of income?

It is a blessing to me each month that I can pay my bills. It is a joy to sit with my checkbook and online banking system and see that each item is provided for. Trust me, it was not always like this. Very lean years were a mental and emotional struggle because paying debt has been a commitment I learned years ago. 

I learned through faith to open my fist, release and let go of the energy. That as I give freely and with love, energy in whatever form (money, deed, word, action) flows freely, multiples, and returns! It is a law of action, a law of manifestation of the science of mind.

With this belief in mind, I open my heart and ask for opportunities where darkness may lay, that I can light the torch of love and kindness and offer brightness where it may be needed. I pay it forward, release and let go. No strings are attached to the giving or to the outcome. I know the energy I sew today blesses others and will return one day in another form, another meaning into my life.

Right answers have simple solutions. Pay it forward, sit back, watch what happens in your life!

May God bless you on this Mother's Day.
Namaste!







Thank you for reading and have a great day!
-Laren


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Don't Say A Word...


DON'T SAY A WORD...


Dear Reader,

It's been a busy week,
Creative ideas been a-flowin'

Found a pretty box,
Made some pretty earrin's.

Took a photo
With my camera
Added a few words,
Wishin and a-hopin'
To inspire you
To stay in touch
and see,

...A surprise is a-comin'!


June 1st is the date
So here's a lil' glimpse
Of what will be happenin':





Y'all come back now, ya hear?



...Please???


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Kindness of Strangers


Kindness of Strangers




My husband and I live ninety minutes from one of our two daughters. She and her husband live in the countryside in the Columbia Gorge. God's country, without a doubt. 




The drive there was surprisingly congestion-free for a Saturday. Interstate-5 can be very busy, week or weekend, with cars and trucks traveling the corridor between Portland, OR and Seattle, WA. (I-5 will take one directly South into California or North to Canada.) We left the house and headed South on our drive. Intermittent rain kept window wipers busy on my Toyota Highlander.

I have always loved to drive but don't get around as often as in the past. It's a joke with my family because my SUV is a 2006 with 43,000 miles registered on it. We have never lived this far from our girls and I miss not seeing them as often. It was a spur of the moment decision to go, when I called my younger daughter to chat and learned she was heading out to sister's home within the hour.

The Columbia Gorge separates Oregon and Washington states with numerous bridges connecting them. Running East to West the mighty Columbia River spills into the Pacific Ocean.






The Gorge is known for its scenic beauty that attracts tourists, for its miles of hiking trails, misty waterfalls, vistas of Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier, small towns and inns perched on hillsides, world class wind surfing, salmon fishing, apple orchards, and riverboat cruises. 

An hour later we were on the gorge highway heading East to Salmon Falls Road. The rain had washed everything clean. Tall firs and underbrush were lush and green everywhere I looked. A sense of gratitude washed over me as I felt transfixed by beauty of river and forests, happy that I had decided to make this drive today.

Bob broke the silence by acknowledging that he, too, was responding emotionally to the beauty surrounding us. I remarked how fortunate daughter Melodee and her husband were, that they enjoyed these views on a daily basis driving to and from their respective jobs.

I had my cell phone plugged in and charging during the drive. At one point, nearly to Melodee and Aaron's home, Bob thought he would call them and picked up the phone from the console. The device showed a message that charging was complete and to unplug the unit, which he did. He could not complete a call though and I said we were probably not in cell range.

I told Bob that I needed the code to the electronic gate and could not remember it. My mind was giving me an older code from a couple years ago that I knew was wrong. Oh, well, I had called from the gate before and would do it again. 

I always chuckle to myself when we arrive at the gate. It sits at the top of a mountainous area that has been completely logged without a single home in sight. It's the oddest thing to see this bit of technology that looks completely out of place miles from town. 

Because we have often driven out here with our other daughter driving her vehicle, remembering the code has not been a priority. It has always been nice to sit back and let her do the driving and input the code when we have arrived in the past. It's not so funny when you cannot remember the damn code and you realize your phone has become inoperable.

The phone came on and I could access my daughter's number but it would not complete the call. I was getting an error message that said the sim card was not registered. 

We live in the country and have no cell coverage at our home. Our home phone is a land line and internet and TV services are supplied by two satellite dishes. My cell phone is only used in my car and is there primarily for emergencies.

Here we are, on the top of a hill with no other homes immediately nearby or in view and I am getting rattled. My family is gathered seven miles down this winding gravel road at the bottom of this mountain and I cannot reach them by cell phone.

My bladder is full and I know a solution is not going to be found to get us through the gate and to my daughter's home before I need to void. I step out of the car and relieve myself, praying to God that no other car comes into sight in the next moment. We are totally exposed with no privacy because everything has been logged.

I got back in the car and decided we needed to drive to the nearest house where someone is clearly at home and ask to use their phone to call my daughter.

I am praying again for help as I back-track on the gravel road. It is a 'thank you, God' moment when the first house, the large white one with tall wrought iron gates and lions on pillars with a long u-shaped driveway, comes into sight and the garage doors are open! Yet, not only are they open, the gentleman of the house is in the garage because I can see him from the road! Hallelujah!

I pull in and stop near the garage, roll down my window and ask if he can help me. He tells me his name is Mike, reaches out his hand to shake mine and asks my name. Good first impression! He invited me to come inside to use the phone. I met his wife in the kitchen and told her my situation. 

She tells me that she not only knows the gate code, they know some of their neighbors on the other side of the gate. I recognized Andrew's name the moment she said it. I have never met him but know who he is and that he lives in the first home below the gate! Things are quickly looking up!

Since I am still rattled she offers to call Andrew and verify the gate code for me. I was literally having trouble remembering phone numbers at that moment and told her I would really appreciate that because I was having a senior moment and felt confused. She told me not to worry, she had those moments, too!

Bless her heart, she picked up the phone and called Andrew. "Thank you, God" once more, because he was home and answered. "Yes," he tells her, "that is the correct gate code."

I thanked them profusely and returned to the car. I told Bob that I am probably not going to forget the gate code, ever, and hope it is not changed again in the near future! I am going to write it down and put it in the glove box! Give me paper and pencil any day, thank you very muchSometimes technology is not a good thing!

With that, I drove back over the gravel road, approached the black box with key pad, punched in the code and watched as that beautiful gate slowly opened for us!

But for the kindness of strangers, we would have been sitting at the gate hoping someone would drive in or out. With only a few homes built on the side of that mountain, on the other side of that gate, we could have been there a long time.

After arriving at Melodee and Aaron's home, I relayed our plight to the girls. Cassie took my cell phone and rebooted the sim card by popping it out and replacing it again. It worked just fine! It had worked fine the weekend before when I was out with Cassie, so I am guessing that a glitch was created when Bob unplugged the cord after it had charged fully. If he had turned it off first before removing the cord, I doubt a problem would have occurred. My best guess, anyway!

To sum up the day, we had a wonderful time with our family and enjoyed a delicious dinner. We curled up on couches and watched the movie, Philomena. (I recommend it if you have not seen it; a profoundly true story of adoptions made through a Catholic convent and orphanage in Ireland decades ago and the lives impacted by the decisions of others.)

There is always a lot of horse-play in our family, much silliness and laughter. We chatted well into the night and headed for home about 12:30AM. It's always an easy drive home at that time of night with little traffic to contend with. We arrived home at 2:00AM and headed straight to bed. It had not only been a good day, it had been a better one, thanks to the kindness of strangers.




Thank you for reading, and have a great day!
-Laren


Saturday, May 3, 2014

May Flowers

MAY FLOWERS


We are getting a good start on the gardening this spring. The old John Deere that my husband has been using for some thirty years, a hand-me-down from his Dad, finally reached the place where it needed rest. No longer will it be used as a lawn mower, yet it is a good tractor for pulling the trailer with yard debris. It had seen better years a long time ago.

With a new and powerful tractor mower purchased in April, Bob has been mowing a lot. He is  trying to keep ahead of the rain and new shoots of grass that spring up instantly, the moment he turns his back.

Our grandson has been here helping us. The previous two days he helped me...no, I helped him...pruning wisteria. One in particular has been overgrown for years. Impossible for me to reach all branches, it was looking ragged. Today it looks like it made a trip to a barber chair, sheared back and groomed. Thank you, Brandon!

It had a habit of winding soft green tendrils around deck posts and across railings. I loved the shade and privacy it provided but it was clearly growing out of hand, beyond my control.

That's when the wisteria began growing onto the roof of our modified A-frame home. Bob agreed it was time to trim! I know it was looking at the silvery round satellite dish with relish and working itself in that direction, too. I could imagine it taking control of the dish like jungle cover! It would have been happy to overtake anything if we allowed it to. Yah, like I am going to let it interfere with my daily communication to the world - I think not! #noway

Let me share here that instead of the wisteria being the culprit, Brandon took care of that satellite situation right away. Yes, the shears came too close to the wiring and my internet went down without a whimper! He felt so badly that he insisted on driving thirty minutes into town to buy a fifty foot length of coax and make the repair himself. I told him I would call the company but I know he felt badly and wanted to get the dish running for me again. Bless his heart!

Nor did it help him when he chatted with his Mom and Auntie on the phone later in the day. He shared with them what he had done and the two of them laughed louder and longer than he could remember them doing, in a long, long time. Poor kid!

Brandon has always been such a hard worker and willing to help us. We are happy to have him here, paying him wages 'with room and board'. He's been trying to find a niche for himself and is now serious about serving in the military. He has the necessary forms to complete and has a few personal things to take care of before officially signing up. We are grateful and happy to have him come here on a weekly basis and give us a hand.

With all this on my mind, I was reflecting on the work he did about two years ago and found the photos to share with you. His hard work then was in the very same area where we were pruning the wisteria.

Brandon cut through concrete next to the house and dug a trench deep enough so that Grandpa could extend new pipe to replace an existing downspout. This would move rainwater further away from the house and eliminate having to step over a length of unattractive metal pipe lying across the concrete to the edge of lawn. It had been a temporary fix that needed permanent correction.




A lot of physical effort went into cutting that concrete, removing it and dirt in preparation for the new line.




Brandon carried a trench line around the end of the house so the pipe would carry all that rain water away and downhill. (We were able to see over the next six months that there was a positive difference.) The run-off benefits fruit trees below the house, receiving a new source of hydration.






The wisteria was beautiful that summer, lush and green, a little wild and climbing across the upper deck. Yet this past winter was cold and harsh and the wisteria looked terrible. 

I decided it was worthwhile to cut it back severely and get it off the roof. With a little fertilizer and new growth cycle, it will come back hardier than ever.










Final steps included back-filling the trench with dirt and putting sod back in place. Where the new pipe was installed from the corner gutter, concrete was poured and the job completed. What a team they were!





This is an example of the hard work our grandson has done for us and we are so grateful. It was far too much for Bob to do physically and they worked together well.

I hope that Brandon will savor the memories of all he has done to help us, all the hard work he has put into helping make repairs or improvements to our home.

Now, the next thing I need to do is get the terra-cotta colored flower boxes out, fill with potting soil and plant the seeds from several flower packets. They will look pretty on the deck, which is definitely in need of color. Perhaps picking up a tray of annuals at the nursery will be good, a little instant color while the seeds grow. May flowers will look pretty, for sure!




Thank you for reading and have a great day!
-Laren