Christmas at My Age

In recent years many of my doctors have started conversations with these words: “At your age….” At your age I want you to take a baby aspirin (even though I have no family history of heart issues)At your age your teeth start to shift. At your age your eyes, your skin, your sleep…..

There is one childhood Christmas that sticks in my mind. It’s the year I asked Santa for an Easy-bake Oven.  I was 8 or 9 and the anticipation filled me with such excitement that I woke up in the middle of the night to peek into our living room to see if Santa had come. 

There is another year where I remember hearing the reports of where Santa and his sleigh were at that moment. I was a year or two younger and don’t remember the desired present but it was the excitement and anticipation of the event.

At my age, I’ve seen a lot of Christmases. Not all were happy or filled with excitement. We shift from the fables and presents and getting and think more about preparing and giving. We try to figure out ways to balance all the things without losing the reason we celebrate.

At my age I want the kind of Christmases where I still experience the wonder of the season. I want to be filled with the glory the angels sang about and know the joy of giving. 

At my age I want to hold dearly in my heart the memories of those we’ve lost while I hold the joy of their eternal peace and wholeness. 

I want to deck the halls and smile at the twinkling lights, to line our shelves with the Santa’s collected over the years, to celebrate the remnants of our past and the hope of our future.

At my age, I want to remember that Christ is being born every day, over and over in our life when we cling to his hope and peace and share his joy and love. 

Merry Christmas

Advent Ignores the Urgency of Now and Says Wait

We can’t wait for the oven to preheat to 350* and then more time to bake so we microwave.

Why spend time writing a note inside a card, finding a stamp and sending off in the mail knowing it will take days when we can email now?

We have 24-hour news services where we can get information from anywhere now.

My impatience grows sitting at red lights or with drivers who seem in no rush. Even when I don’t have a schedule I want people and things to move now.

This is why I need Advent to interrupt my hamster wheel life. My feet are peddling faster and faster only to be back where I started. My brain is thinking about the to-do list for tomorrow and next week and the parties and presents and everything I want done now.

But Advent announces an arrival we must prepare for. An arrival of hope and peace and love and joy. An arrival of promise that we anticipate and wait with the expectancy of a child before Christmas morning.

The Advent candles flicker slowly providing a visual calm for me because in the face of this slowing I am torn. Torn by duties and responsibilities to prepare and make pretty and spread cheer for those in our care.

Yet, I will pause when the candles are lit. I will listen as the words of the Christmas story are spoken and sing from my heart the rejoicing that Christ is coming. He comes now.

“Glory!” sang the angel chorus
“Glory!” echoed back the night
Love has come to walk among us
Christ the Lord is born this night

A Few Things I Learned This Summer

It’s been a while since I’ve written a recap of things I’ve learned. It started with Emily Freeman‘s invitation to join her in keeping track of the things. She started a monthly review over on her blog that has become a seasonal account. It’s not easy to recall the lessons but being intentional helps us see that we are always learning and sometimes the little things are the big triumphs.

  1. Henry and I were invited to participate in a wedding this summer. It was a privilege and joy to see the transformation and restoration take place in this young man’s life. The wedding was in Philadelphia which gave us a few hours to explore the city and wish we’d had more time. We spent an evening walking in the historic downtown and enjoyed the mixture of history, urban and northern scenery. Who knew?
  2. I took a break. I put blogging on hold and released myself from self-imposed pressures of social media. It was the best thing I did for myself. I realized (aka learned) I’d been focusing on the wrong things. I felt like I was chasing after approval and life isn’t meant to be a chase nor do I need man’s approval. (Still working on that one.)
  3. I discovered Tazo Chai Vanilla Caramel tea. Delicious!
  4. Art is saving my sanity. I am an over thinker. Anyone? The only shut off button for my mind seems to be busy hands. When I’m sewing or painting or taking photos my mind is focused on what’s in front of me. It’s deciding which color of thread to use and cutting the fabric straight. Or setting up a still life shoot or doodling. I’ve known this but when I cut back on blogging I rediscovered what adds peace to my life. And to the lives of those around me 😉 You can check out my photos on Unsplash, a free download site.
  5. I learned to make Apple Cider donuts. YES! First, cooking is not my gifting. I often find it confusing and stressful. But…..there are these apple cider donuts we buy every August from an Orchard in North Carolina. And We. Love. Them. The donuts and the orchard because there is just too much goodness there. This year I set out to learn to make them. My only criteria was they had to be baked. I ordered donut baking pans from Amazon. There is still a bit of tinkering to do with the recipe but it was a success! If you’re interested you can find the recipe here.

We are always learning something but it happens in such ordinary ways we forget the little strides we’re making. I’d encourage you to keep track of the lessons. Jot them down in your day planner or write them on the wall calendar. Make a “Learned” list in Evernote or tell Alexa to keep track but do it. (she says to herself) It’s a gift to yourself.


Five-Minute Friday {Celebrate}


“Celebrate”, she said.

“Today?” I thought.

Really, it’s not been a great week. I’ve tossed and turned carrying burdens of friends, feeling uncertainty in decisions that don’t have to be made now except for my lack of patience. I’ve been angered by injustice to others and disappointed in much, including myself. We haven’t even seen blue skies in the Sunshine State in two days and the forecast is for more storms.


Wait, I see a sliver of blue in the sky out back. There is a small part in the clouds. For now. The rains will come again but now there is blue so yes, let’s celebrate now!

Let’s celebrate when the sun peaks out and when the rains pour down.

Let’s celebrate when the answers don’t come or the answer is no.

Let’s celebrate when it doesn’t go my way, when another sleepless night comes and when you feel forgotten. Let’s celebrate in the middle of the mess.

I can’t celebrate without gratitude and gratitude is what I need now. A heart that is thankful for umbrellas and taking risks and knowing that God knows my need.

Let’s celebrate for friends who share their burdens and friends who ask for prayer and friends you’ve never met on this side of the screen and leave you words of encouragement and truth.

Let’s celebrate every day a God who sees inside our mess and calls us His own.

Linking up with a free-writing mob of bloggers in a weekly writing prompt hosted by Kate. Stop over and be part of the conversation.



What We Learned {August}


I nearly let this link-up go by as it’s just a busy week. But I was diligent in jotting down things I learned and it looks like August was a good month for boosting knowledge.

Basics that I probably should have known but, you know, now I do!

Who doesn’t use Google image to find pictures of anything but I never realized there was a way to pinpoint my searches. Once you’re in Google Image, look for the button that says “more tools” and click that. There you will be able to refine your search to file size, type and the best part, images that don’t have use restrictions. BONUS!


I’ve read about a lot of folks using Periscope so I had to take a look. It’s easy as it’s a free app to download, follow whoever you want and when they go live you’ll get a sound notification. You can watch it live or anytime within 24 hours. Most segments are 15 minutes or less which is perfect. You can even watch Emily Freeman on Periscope 😉

If you like photography and using filters, etc. I have found Rhonna Farrer tutorials on Periscope to be especially helpful.


                                               edited with rdmagic and rhonnadesigns apps


Here’s something else I’ve been seeing in print more and more: the word bespoke. I had no idea the meaning and the context wasn’t helping me so to the dictionary app I went to discover it means “made to order”. Huh, who knew? 😉

Swag – I think we all know the current meaning has been associated with swag bags as in the goodies you get at a conference, etc. At our nieces wedding the photographer was doing pics of the groomsmen when she said, “Show me your swag.” The men were a bit restrained but the two little boys quickly threw their arms crossed over their chest to their shoulders. So now I’m learning from a 5 and 7-year-old. Sounds about right.


Paul Kathryn_batchWatermark

                             My favorite of the day: my brother walking his middle daughter down the aisle.

Speaking of weddings, and photography, said niece asked if I’d take pictures at the wedding too. Since I wasn’t the primary photographer (we’re all friends so there was no threat) there was no pressure and it enabled me to focus on the candid and do what I love most: capturing the mood of the moment. What a delight.

August was the time for my husband and I to get our personnel review with the organization we’re with. That hour conversation about goals taught me I wasn’t prepared and needed to put more intentional direction in my life. I wrote about the results of that meeting here.

Linking up with Emily Freeman over at Chatting at the Sky for a monthly link-up of What We Learned.

Five-Minute Friday {alone}

The short refrain from The Lone Bellow rings loudly in my ears

“….you’re not alone, you’re not alone”

and I wonder if she knows that 3000 miles away she’s not alone.


a rare time the three of us are together Aug 2015

                                                         a rare time the three of us are together Aug 2015

Today is another birthday celebration for mama, another she won’t recognize and another my sister may feel alone in carrying the family weight of simply being there.

It’s something we’ve slowly come to accept simply because we have no choice. She is there, Washington state, our brother is in Dallas and we are in the tip of Florida, eyes on that “cone of uncertainty” watching another storm with a name.

Even with her three kids and supportive husband, with dozens of extended family nearby, how many times has she felt alone sitting with mama, answering questions of her care givers and showing up when others can’t?

Sometimes life is that way and while we’ve shared the tears we also share the smiles and understand when our laughter may not be understood by all. We know that standing alone does not mean we are alone and we ask God for that comfort that he gives, sometimes, in surprising ways….the smile of a knowing person, the email from someone who has walked this journey, the echoes of a song.


“By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third?
A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 the Message

Details, details

I took the full view of her in, barely seeing the wedding dress as her radiant smile stole the show.

Yes, it was lovely, white, some kind of satiny material, but it was my niece I was seeing, not the details.

That’s me. For an artist, I miss a lot of the fine points. Instead, I take in the nuance of the moment, the atmosphere of the room.

Paul Kathryn_batchWatermark

blurred flowers

Kathryn bouquet soft Edit_batchWatermark

candid bridesmaids framed cropped

Don’t ask me the color of someone’s eyes, even a good friend, because unless they’re brilliant blue or magical brown I won’t have any idea. But ask me if they have a smile that makes you feel like you’re the only person in the room or if they find laughter as easily as some see a speck of lint on a sweater and I’ll know that.

When I hold the camera to my eye, that’s what I’m hoping to find, to capture, are those details.

The niece sad, somewhat casually in that expected tone, “aunt Debby, you always have your camera so you’ll be taking pictures too.” She had a photographer for her wedding, a family friend who wouldn’t feel the least bit threatened or put upon with me off to the side snapping away. And I wouldn’t feel pressure being the primary photographer which gave me greater access.

I stood at the side and didn’t have to give directions. As family, I walked in the room where the bride and her attendants were getting ready with barely a notice of my presence. That’s the best.

Hannah photobomb sq framed

parents of the bride

parents of the bride

funny expression

Madisons Kathryn_batchWatermark

reception kiss

Daniel dancing

This is what I would photograph always: smiles and laughter, expressions of newlyweds and little boys invited to dance with the grownups.

There is One who knows the details. How could he not, he created our very being. Like I know our daughters crooked pinky fingers and our sons toes are long like mine, God know the external and internal of our lives. The miracle is, He loves us anyway.

“Not one sparrow (What do they cost? Two for a penny?) can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. 30 And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t worry! You are more valuable to him than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31 Living Bible


Linking up in a discussion group ‘On Being a Writer’ over at Kate Motaung’s place. Stop by.

A Time to Marry {for my niece}

wedding rehearsal

wedding rehearsal

Teacher: For everything that happens in life—there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven:

2 A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, a time to collect the harvest;
3 A time to kill, a time to heal;
a time to tear down, a time to build up;
4 A time to cry, a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, a time to dance;
5 A time to scatter stones, a time to pile them up;
a time for a warm embrace, a time for keeping your distance;
6 A time to search, a time to give up as lost;
a time to keep, a time to throw out;
7 A time to tear apart, a time to bind together;
a time to be quiet, a time to speak up;
8 A time to love, a time to hate;
a time to go to war, a time to make peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 the Voice

And so it is, this is the day our second-born niece and her fiancé have chosen to marry. Family has come from nearly all corners of this country to witness and love, to pray and dance and mostly to fill the space with joy we have for the one we know and the one we will now call family.

It is no easy thing bringing families together. It is no easy thing reaching across the unknown and saying, “Welcome”. We do it for her and we do it for my brother, his first daughter to wed. The first to leave home and chart this new way that won’t always look like the path we’ve walked.





We celebrate for my sister-in-law, for all the mother-of-the-bride has borne literally and figuratively. I marvel at her strength and resolve as this child who, though second born, was in charge from the earliest of days, chooses a mate and chooses life and gives the name she’s worn to another.

These are hard days for parents and they are days filled with hope and push us in our faith as prayers grow stronger.

They have been and will be surrounded by a love that always looks to Hope. This is the Love that will support them and has supported us.


Father and daughter

Father and daughter

In Searching for Sunday, Rachel Held Evans shares a chapter with thoughts on marriage. Several passages I’ve highlighted as she looks beyond the current debate on marriage we’ve seen played out in recent days.

My sweet, stubborn, niece, most that any of us can tell you about marriage is it has to be lived to know. But here are some words from RHE that, after 37 years of life with this guy also known as your favorite uncle, I know to be true.

“Marriage isn’t about sticking to a script; it’s about making a life together. It’s not a choreographed cha-cha, it’s an intimate slow dance. It isn’t a formula, it’s a mystery.”

The best one to mark your way is God. That will always be. Enter this mystery, slow dancing your way to His rhythm knowing you are loved. Always.

What’s good for you


It’s no surprise that I’m not a big show kind of person. Meetings that are overblown and overstuffed with things to make ‘us’ look good or look like we’re doing the most good and celebrating ourselves instead of our Creator.

While meetings can be overdone, I am over critical. Sitting in the crowd, trying to disappear and just get through.

We were going to a week of these big meetings. Thousands would be there from all over and I just wanted to go to England again and see it with family this time. The meetings would be an obligation.



Do you remember somewhere around Jr. High age when you didn’t want to go somewhere or be part of a school group but your parents kept pressing, assuring you it would be good for you?

Daddy always made me play in the school band. In those days I was often the only girl playing a brass instrument and I learned quickly how to ignore rude boys not use to a girl in their section. Especially a girl who wasn’t half bad.

I fussed, but turns out, it was good for me. I learned more about music, which in my opinion, is never bad. I also learned how to not let stupid remarks lower me to another’s level.

Funny thing about this big celebration in London, it was good for me too.




I forget that our coming together is more than celebrating our heritage, it is celebrating why we have this heritage.

We come together to blend our accents and languages in prayer and praise, to come away from the burdens of the everyday and soak up the affirmations that God has raised an Army of believers to serve the lost and last and least.

We come together to be reminded we are the lost, the last, the least, and God calls us through His power and Spirit to be grace and give hope.

We come to be reminded this mission is bigger than ourselves, bigger than our local units, it really is a world-wide Army for God.

We come from over 100 countries to this city where it all began. Where God called a Methodist minister to come away from the safe and practiced church and “Go for souls and go for the worst”.

He and his wife would fill their tent services and store fronts with men still stinking of alcohol, with the curious wondering what this odd lot was about.

“You’ve heard of The Salvation Army, what an odd lot of people they are.

They sing and they shout Hallelujah, as daily they march on to war.

They form in a ring on the corner, they kneel in the street e’er to pray,

While others tell out the sweet story, how happy they are night and day.”

from the song, I’m Glad I’m a Salvation Soldier

Catherine Booth said, “If we are to better the future we must disturb the present” and disturb it they did with their bands playing tunes heard in bars but the words replaced with words of salvation and God’s love.

They gathered on street corners and used military terminology and ranks to identify their ministers (officers) and members (soldiers).





150 years. 

William Booth was a visionary and if we are to be true to his vision, and God’s calling, change must come. But change doesn’t wipe out the past or our foundation.

So we celebrated our heritage and challenged ourselves to continue this war on sin. A war fought with love and mercy. Armed with truth and grace.

And it was so very good for me.

To view video clips of Boundless2015 International Congress, Boundless2015.

150 years and Counting


We are in London for the 150th celebration. These photos are just a few from the International Congress being held with thousands of Salvationists from around the world.

 From the song penned by the founder, William Booth, 

“O Bondless Salvation……the whole world redeeming”

May we love the unlovable and serve the least and the lost. 

May the world know we are Followers of Jesus by our love for all mankind. 

Renew our commitment, strengthen our resolve and guide us clearly putting you above self as we serve you in our daily lives.