One Tiny Shell


This one tiny shell is less than 2 inches tip to tip, half the size of its photo. Although I have a basket of shells that are larger, I keep this one on top of the gratitude journal in which I write every morning. I pick it up before I open the book.  It is almost weightless in the palm of my hand, yet it is heavy with stories.The shell is one of a number of True Tulip shells  collected when Joe and I went with  our sons out to the mud flats off Sanibel Island, Florida. We spent most of the time on the beach near our rental apartment, searching for shells, building sand castles and a tracking a hurricane! Our sons still talk about it.

We added this to our last few days on the island because of a disappointed 9-year-old son. Jeremy used his trip money at the local Wal-Mart to buy a throw net, a net with weights that can be cast out to bring in small fish and other treasures. After only a single use, the net was stolen from the area where he had carefully spread it to dry. We planned the trip out into the flats to gather shells to soften the loss, an adventure all of us would enjoy.

I had no way of knowing in 1980 that many years later, one of the smallest of the shells collected during that family fun would be held in my hand during my morning prayer time.  It is one tiny shell, holding the sounds of the ocean and the laughter of my sons.


photograph by Jeremy Parker

When I first saw this photo, I almost missed the tiny, solitary figure of my 11 year old granddaughter standing still to gaze at the beauty of this mountain lake in Nevada. She and her sister hiked here with their Daddy, my son. They fished for trout in the clear cold water. I am thrilled to see that Maddie also stood still and experienced the wonder of tall reaching evergreens, and glistening lake with its ripples and reflections. I like to think about the beauty she experienced here, the sounds and fragrance of the woods. I have seen her Dad stand still and wonder, too.  I believe moments like this do come suddenly, as glimpses, when we turn a corner. I am thankful I can experience this with her, prompted  by a photo, felt deeply in my heart.

We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes… –Madeleine L’Engle, from The Rock That Is Higher

Advent Blooms

paperwhitesMy first Advent post this year pictured the paperwhite bulbs Nora planted on the day her baby brother was born, November 26, 2016. My, how fast they have grown!


Today, almost 4 weeks later, Nora holds her growing leaves close and says she loves them. Their blooms should be ready to grace our Christmas dinner table!


She loves her baby brother even more!  Oliver has many adoring arms to reach for him. He has grown too, a much more amazing miracle than the paperwhites. It has been fun to watch growth and blooming. Tending the blooms and the baby has given particular grace and meaning to these days of Advent, to my reflections of another baby and the way He changed the world.

oliver3weeksOliver and his Papa Joe.




A cold dark day in winter, when spring’s arrival seems to be an eternity in coming, is a good time to force bulbs indoors. Paperwhite bulbs, green and growing, hearken toward the light and warmth of spring to come. A week ago, our 2 year old granddaughter and I placed marbles in this dish and added water, then nestled dry, brown bulbs on top. I watched her little hands as she worked on our project.  Today, we can see how the roots have grown and how much they have grown.


A few minutes ago, I helped the same little hands add a tiny cardboard shepherd girl to our vintage Advent calendar -the most powerful story of  light and hope and promise.



Blowing bubbles on the porch with my 2 year old granddaughter turns me into a child again. We laugh as we watch the bubbles float out over the grass and disappear. This batch of bubbles mysteriously decided to stay longer, lingering on a fern frond or hibiscus leaf long enough to amaze us.

globe of mystery

holding wonder.

I hold my breath.


More Feathers


I have written in earlier posts about finding feathers. I have chosen to believe when I find a feather, it is one way God says he is with me and providing for me. A feather is also a symbol that small things are important. My 9 year old granddaughter came to me this week with this feather.  She said, “Granmary, this is another feather to go with the others.”

I am grateful for this girl and her generosity. It is important for me to remember that what I do and say is seen and heard.  Small things are important.

Little Ones

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The Littlest Shepherd…

There is so much about Christmas days that involves children. In A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens  wrote “it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.”  

In the singing and ringing, the laughing, standing-on-tiptoe, eyes sparkling joy of children, we experience fresh joy ourselves. Each year when our boys were young, our family began and continued traditions that were then and still are important to all of us.  I love seeing many of those being carried into their own homes today. This is little Nora’s first Christmas. She delights in  the sights and smells and sounds, and trusts her parents, her grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins as we hold her and share this beauty. She does not expect it all, but she experiences it, learning and laughing. Trusting because she feels our love and care.

When I read the gospel message that we are to become like little children, I think of that quality of childlike trust.  I want to experience all of Christmas like Nora – laughing, learning, trusting.