The Woods are Lovely…

“Go outside to the fields, enjoy nature and the sunshine, go out and try to recapture happiness in yourself and in God. Think of all the beauty that’s still left in and around you and be happy!” ~ Anne Frank

Where have you been lately?

THE WOODS

THE SHORE

THE FIELDS

Go find a place to rest. I will be in Maui watching the sunset with my Momma.

xoxo

Ash

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Published in: on May 26, 2010 at 8:06 am  Leave a Comment  

Life is like a box of…?

Here is the scoop on my latest project. I am creating gift boxes, and with the help of my wonderful husband, I now have some awesome pictures to share with the world!

The idea hit me when I was on a mad search for a jewelry gift box last Christmas, of course, due to the holiday rush—the stores were entirely sold out. I couldn’t very well toss earrings in a gift bag, and all the boxes I had at home were huge. Long story short, I ended up at a thrift store buying a few old Nordy’s boxes…that weren’t in the best of shape.

After some TLC and determination, I ended up with a pretty-darn-cute-little boxes. So CUTE in fact—that wrapping was optional, but most definitely not necessary! This made me wonder, I bet other people had the same problem I did, and really if you think about it, wouldn’t it be great if you could just buy a box, and not have to even wrap it at all? Maybe the box could even be set out? It could be a small conversational art piece! Even if the box is just a reminder of a gift well given, then that could be really special too!

So please, let me know what you think. I am excited about this, and I am so thankful to Stu for taking the beautiful pictures for me, they capture exactly what these boxes are about, friendship, love, surprises, memories…and faith. To see more from my honey go here: www.stuartgrinnell.com

Hopefully between my Marmee, and my friend Jennah—and all of your help, I can drum up some interest.

Love,

Ash

Published in: on March 9, 2010 at 2:43 am  Comments (5)  

A Reason to Believe.

I often feel like I am standing on the edge of so many decisions. It can be mind boggling. I mean, the possibilities are endless. We can reinvent ourselves so many times. We want to fit in and yet we want to stand out. I know that when push comes to shove, I choose to shine. One of my favorite french poets says this in regards to taking the plunge:

Come to the Edge

Come to the edge, he said.

They said: We are afraid.

Come to the edge, he said.

They came.

He pushed them and they flew.

~Guillaume Apollinaire

I wonder where I will fly? For now, I look to the sky and set my eyes on Heaven. I hope when I get the chance, I will take it. Will you?


Published in: on March 4, 2010 at 7:58 am  Comments (2)  

To be Cherished.

Today I was thinking about how much of my day is spent alongside widows. So much of their life was buried with their loved ones who passed before them. I am amazed by their resilience. That quiet fire inside them. Their ability to get up every morning when so much is already lost.

Some might see wrinkles, but I see:

A Southern Belle getting ready to serve the best Gumbo known to mankind, to anyone with an appetite.

A pianist faithfully showing up every Sunday, decade after decade to lift a song of praise.

A little girl working on the farm, dreaming of someday becoming a nurse.

A dancer whispering a silent prayer right before the curtain rolls open.

A mother.

A sister.

A daughter.

A friend.

Each one with their own story, their own secrets to tell, their own failures to hide, their own element of mystery.

Take time to listen to the stories around you, and hold them close as long as you can. Can you guess who is four years shy of 100?

If you live to be a hundred, I hope that I live to be one hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.” ~Winnie the Pooh


“A woman’s whole life is a history of the affections.” ~Washington Irving

Published in: on February 25, 2010 at 5:31 am  Comments (3)  

Kindness that breathes…

In the world of ‘Senior Activities’, it is amazing the things one can learn! For example: Did you know that next week is National ‘Jello Week’? That’s right, bring forth the jigglers—we will be feasting on fruited jello molds and aspic.

Isn’t it funny how when something has a designated time or place we have so much more motivation to do it? On National Day of Prayer, we all gather to pray, but what about the rest of the week? During Independence Day, we celebrate our freedom, but do we truly live in freedom? It is easy to be thankful on Thanksgiving, but do our lives reflect gratitude?

I say all of this because I caught myself red-handed! Most of you probably don’t know this, but February 15th-21st is ‘Random Acts of Kindness Week’. I read about it, as I was planning activities this month for my oldies. The strange thing is, I remember telling myself, “Don’t forget to be randomly kind after Valentines Day!” I even thought about planning out ways to be ‘randomly’ kind. The audacity of myself! Now, you might be thinking how pathetic I am, but I wanted my utter honesty to be a reminder of hope. We don’t have to be randomly kind one week out of the year. We can live a lifestyle of kindness. We can say I love you more often. We can buy someone’s groceries instead of watching them fish for change in their wallet. We can give up the parking space that is closest to the store. We can donate our clothes to someone who might desperately need them. We can scan our pantry for excess food that we really don’t need. We can hurry less. We can pray more. We can live a life of true kindness.

I dont’ want to wait for the holiday to be more of something I can be right now.

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

~Mother Teresa

Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

~Mark Twain

Published in: on February 4, 2010 at 7:34 pm  Comments (5)  

A Rose in Bloom.

After a long week of feeling exhausted, and used up, I confided in my good friend Roxanne. I told her how I was feeling useless at my job, and just unnoticed. Funny thing is, of all the things she told me—she said, “Honey, you are sweet—if a rose didn’t have its sweetness, what would it be?”

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

~Shakespeare

Grayce’s Memorial is long gone, but I kept the flowers I used around my apartment. I picked a beautiful flower called ‘Movie Star’ that was one of Grayce’s favorite colors, it seemed to honor her, and embody her because—she loved to wear that salmon pink color.

Even though I have been periodically cleaning up around the house and dumping the dead flowers, and it wasn’t until today that I noticed one flower remaining. It is as if it hasn’t aged a day, and the water in the tiny bud vase is clear as ever. I have never replaced the water. The other vases were green, and murky like an old fish tank. The other roses wilted and died straight away.

I find peace in the fact that one rose is still blooming.

Sometimes I think we have to choose to BLOOM.


Published in: on January 28, 2010 at 8:44 am  Comments (5)  

Winter Blues…or Yellows?

Something about this time of year sends me in a spin. I find myself singing Christmas songs for no apparent reason and longing for Spring at the same time. Basically my husband goes crazy. I think it is because I am uncomfortable with the long gray days of January. Part of me craves the joyfulness of Christmas, and the other part just wants to rush ahead into warmer days. Instead, I settle for gray clouds and flowers. I have had this obsession with daffodils this week. Maybe it is because they are such ‘cheery’ little flowers. They always seems to smile back at me, when I look their way. I have a bouquet of them sitting on my kitchen counter right now. I read this poem to my oldies all the time, I believe that for a moment when they hear it, something about its beauty draws them out of their long, cold, winter.



  
The Daffodils



I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils. 

William Wordsworth 

Maybe today just for now, I will let my heart dance with the daffodils too.
Published in: on January 27, 2010 at 4:24 am  Comments (2)  

Forget-me-not

There is a song called ‘Miles’, by Nichole Nordeman that has been stalking me this week. It came to me out of the blue, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head ever since.

The song describes two women on their knees in prayer with needs so far beyond their control. One mother is grieving the daily battle of keeping her son alive. Everyday she watches her baby hooked up to machines, as she  pleads with God to change her circumstances.

Then by the second verse we see the other mother crying out to God in agony over the loss of her darling boy. One minute he is running, playing, and the next he was taken from her—ripped away.

The part of the song that I find so hauntingly beautiful is this line:

“One moment someone whispers thank you
just then another heart cries, how could you?”

When we are in the middle of our own personal battle, it can be so hard to see beyond our pain. How can we find peace? C.S. Lewis writes about true joy, and he describes it as an ‘inconsolable longing’, a ‘pang’, a yearning for a world out of reach. I love that he uses these feelings to describe true joy, because I look at real life situations, and they are gritty, heartbreaking, and sometimes seemingly unkind. I believe that in those dark moments, God is preparing us for ‘true joy’. He is reminding us that death is not an end, but a beginning. Sometimes our ‘unanswered’ prayer is someone else’s answer.

This song is not some carefully crafted ballad to lead you into your own personal sob fest. This is a real life story of two precious families in Sacramento, California. Sweet baby Alex passed away as the result of a ‘freak accident’, but his mother chose to donate her baby’s heart to another boy, named (Can you guess?)…Miles.

The song ends with this:

“It may be miles and miles before the journey’s clear
there may be rivers, may be oceans of tears
but the very hand that shields your eyes from understanding
is the Hand that will be holding you for miles.”

I don’t know what you are facing today, maybe you feel like life has dealt you the wrong hand. Maybe you don’t even want to get out of bed some mornings, but remember you will be held for miles…no matter how long the road is.

If you have the time copy this link into your browser: http://news.stanford.edu/news/2004/december8/med-year-hearts-1208.html

Or Google ‘Miles Coulson’ and follow the amazing journey of this precious little one!

Published in: on January 13, 2010 at 6:54 pm  Comments (1)  

Amazing Grayce.

Yesterday one of my dearest friends went to spend eternity with Jesus. I miss her, but I am happy to know she is free from all kinds of pain–safely home. Something about death makes me examine my life, in a way I think it is God’s gift to us. I read a poem by Ella Wilcox this morning that said:

With every rising sun
Think of our life as just begun.
What if that truly was the case? How different would my life be?
The beautiful children that I watch taught me a wonderful lesson this week. We have formed a club. You see it is not a club for the faint of heart, but a club for ‘ice-cream-flavor-makers’. This week we made a neon green ice cream called–wait for it–Green Brownie Surprise! Now, did the ice cream have brownies in it? No. Did it taste like brownies? No. Was it a surprise? I guess that depends on how you look at it! I watched as the kids eyes danced eating their creation, their minds went wild as they told me of all the flavors that they tasted! They saw something new in the plain vanilla ice cream recipe, they saw way beyond a few drops of green food coloring.
The Message Bible says in Matthew 5:13-

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth.”

I want to free my mind to be more flavorful. If every rising sun brings a new beginning…then today there is still time to bring hope.

My friend Angela gave me the sweetest journal that says on the front of it:
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
~ Alice Through the Looking-Glass

So here are six things from me:
1. Cinderella left her shoe behind on purpose, women like to be chased after.
2. Love is all you NEED- thank you Beatles.
3. Red is the new black.
4. A smile can change everything.
5. Dancing heals people.
6. There is water that makes you never thirst again.

So, let your heart be like a child. Be flavorful. Be loud with your love. Believe the impossible. Watch as a new sun rises on us.

Published in: on January 7, 2010 at 9:07 pm  Comments (6)