A Few Things I Learned In November

One of the things I love about blogging is writing in community with  writing friends. One of my favorite “writing groups” is over at Chatting At The Sky where Emily Freeman just comes up with such clever ways to write in community. For a few months now I have been participating in her monthly wrap-up where we share “A Few Things We Learned…..” during the previous month.

Here is my wrap up. I may have more fun here than you. So if you don’t have a hankering (great Southern word) for random things, or if you don’t like lists, step away from the computer now. Or stick around and see if you are up for a little November list of what I learned in the last few weeks.

1. I may learn more about humanity, spirituality, kindness, the human condition and what it means to be part of the “sea of humanity” when I visit the Dollar General than anywhere else. I have seen, heard, and witnessed some amazing things in this little place. And I  have written about some of it here.  I am very likely to write more about it in another post. It is where I am getting some of my best “writing inspiration” as well as where I meet some really neat people.

2. Sometimes you can touch a soul by “paying it forwards” or “sideways”.  After lunch after church last week, as we were checking out of another little store in our little town, we noticed an elderly woman had forgotten her money and was unable to complete her purchase of an allergy medication. She left the store without her medicine so  we picked up the tab in an effort to help. My daughter ran out to the parking lot, gave her the package and told her we understood as we have allergy sufferers in our family. That one small moment reminds me to pay attention, to be available in the small things, and some of life’s sweetest lessons for our children are taught in the classroom of the real world. True that? And that her gratitude and reaction will never be forgotten by one teenage girl.

3. Sometimes you cannot fathom in your wildest dreams (well that is a bit of an exaggeration but hey, I am going with it) that you would get a song stuck in your head repeatedly. Well now said song has a new version which is on you tube which now allows you to have the song stuck in your head 23/7 and the cool video version from the Florida State Accabells. See what you think. And tell me how many times you want to watch it. Be honest…

4. True Confessions….this little girl has stolen my heart. I love the look of the little boy beside her who doesn’t get a word in edge-wise, not one, because she totally steals the show. I learned that there are some advertisements that just totally knock it out of the park and I might stay in the room, and turn up the volume and  enjoy the ad more than some slash most television shows.

5. I have just finished a 12 week writing workshop over at Tweetspeak PoetryIn the
“The Writing Life” my expectations were surpassed ya’ll. In every way. And I met some of the most amazingly talented writers. Trust was developed, friendships made, and a writing group was formed, consisting of women spread out all over the country. From coast to coast, literally. On those days when I want to throw the internet under the bus, an opportunity comes along to provide me with a virtual classroom and the internet is redeemed. I am once again amazed at the ability it has to make my world better and smaller. On a good day. As in the last 12 weeks. I am a believer. For now. I am also apt to change my mind. Ya’ll if you have an opportunity to join a workshop at Tweetspeak, go there, do that, and then come back and tell me how over the moon you found it to be.

6. Have you ever heard a word cuter than peabiddie. Yeah, me either. My good friend Shelly Miller, who blogs at Redemption’s Beauty sent me a message last week in which she recommended a read a book by Flannery O’Connor entitled “Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose”.  Shelly,  who lives a hop skip and a jump from me, knows my love of “Southern voice”. She may not have known that I have a mild obsession with peacocks, which paired with my obsession with words is a match made in heaven when you stumble back on the word “peabiddie.” Ya’ll it is too precious. I learned when a friend, especially a writer friend suggests you get your hands on a book, get you hands on that book. And discover how well you are known.

7. The night that you want to skip your new “bible study” which isn’t a bible study but rather a couples group which is studying a book on simplicity is always the night you were meant to be there. So I learned again that your internal desire not to so something will align in direct proportion with the ways you will be touched and impacted and changed.

8. Many slash most experts recommend blog posts not exceed 500 words. That means I may have just lost many of my readers back up there on an earlier number and so I should wrap things up here.

9. I need the “bible study” I am taking on simplicity.

10. And I am reminded again of my love of poetry which may help my prose in terms of brevity and word economies. Just saying.

11. People never really grow tired of being thanked properly.So…. Thank you for being here. You have a hundred and one things you could choose to do with you time. Thank you for choosing to be here.

12. If your husband invites you to go for a walk in the mountains, down a road that you’ve never been down because you are guests of friends at their mountain home which you have never been to, GO. When he says he wants to show you the rabbits he found on this road, he meant it. He means it. And you will have the beautiful opportunity to feed a rabbit the carrots you brought on the “rabbit” walk.

bio pic

Some Things I Learned In September

For several months I have been joining Emily over at Chatting At The Sky for her month’s end review. We look back, a big group of other writer/bloggers, Emily  and yours truly on some lessons, information or even observations we can claim as “new” in the last month.

This is fun, surprising and often very random. Here goes. Um, okay, what have I learned in the past month that I would like to “process” with you. It’s both my way of sharing and processing stuff my brain has stored and registered as intriguing, odd or well, random.

Thing one:

 1. It is hard to mess with a classic. I was perusing Pinterest the other day and nothing stands out more than an exquisite black and white photograph from the 1960’s of Jackie Kennedy Onassis.  In a sea of sameness, extreme oddness and wildly fashionable on trend photos, there she is. Well that is also how I see mascara. Odd segway I know but bear with me. If you have ever met me “in real life or IRL” as bloggers like to say, I wear a lot of mascara. And I have tried dozens of brands over the years. It is just really hard to beat the pink and green one. You know which one. The classic, iconic, pink and green “old school” one. So here I am back with the classic. It is kind of like macaroni and cheese. It is hard to beat a good staple, a classic. It is also hard to re-invent the wheel or beauty or the best way to get really black long lashes.


Leave me a comment in the comment section if you have a mascara you like better than the “pink and green” one. (photo credit Jackie Kennedy Onassis: Wikipedia.org)

Thing two:

2. Two people can watch the same man for hours on television and have a serious debate over whether the man’s bald head contains a tattoo of hair or real hair braided into a pattern. I swear to goodness unless I google it or write a fan letter to Parade Magazine or The National Enquirer I may never learn the answer. Heck, its going to remain a mystery. Just in case you were wondering, I was the one who thought it was a tattoo. And yes this particular bald head is on “The Voice” on Monday nights. And I can’t keep up with what other nights it comes on, Are you ready for thing three. I thought so.

Thing three:

3. Never underestimate the power of observing things astutely. I am learning this lesson well. I feel it is branding itself into my soul. It is my joy to be approaching Week Five of a twelve week workshop I am participating in through Tweetspeak Poetry. This week we have been writing about and discussing the art of noticing. I am challenging myself to take it a step further as I try to hone my writing skills, particularly my poetry. So beginning October 1 I am joining The Nester for her 31 Days Of Series. I participated last year. You may remember. This year I am designing  a writing journey entitled 31 Days of Noticing. Oh I hope you will come too. I may notice if you lag behind. Please join me for some or all of this trip into the world of fine-tuning our awareness of the fine points of all that God-beauty that surrounds us. I am excited. (Did you notice I didn’t center the “button” for the series. Just a gentle switch up to see if you are alert and preparing yourself.

31 days of notiing

Thing Four

4. Sweet and savory things combine forces to make the most delicious salads. Have I included a recipe every month I have participated in this link up at Emily’s. Okay here we go. This one is fabulous. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A bed of arugula,  topped with watermelon pieces, crumbled  goat cheese,  fresh jalapenos, sea salt, pepper, heirloom cherry tomatoes with a splash of olive oil and red wine vinegar. You will thank me.

Thing Five

5. I am a big repurposer. I don’t think that is a word but I am going with it. Recently I have found myself back in my car A LOT. If there was a double bold key, that would have gotten double bolded. I don’t think that is proper English either. Anyway, my car is now my thinking studio. And it is becoming my observation on the sky capsule. It is like a planetarium on wheels. You will see clouds and sunsets show up a lot in poetry this fall.  And it is where I study the crazy lyrics of songwriters and seek inspiration for my own songwriting. If you would like to review lists from the previous months, I have mentioned my dream of writing songs several times. Okay. I think if I come up with one phrase and repeat it three hundred times I will have a hit on my hands. Example, “you know you want it” and  “we’re up all night…..blah blah blah”.  Really?

Thing Six

6. I don’t think I ever learned how to conjugate stink, stank, stunk. Just saying. My husband brought home some beautiful flowers the other night. Yes, it was our anniversary. And yes, he does bring flowers home for non-occasions too.!!Ya’ll are just like me. You want to know all the details. (See, we’ll have fun during The Nester’s 31 Day series in October)He opened the plastic sleeve, presented them to me and placed them in a vase. And man did they stink. I mean they really stunk. The whole house was stunk up. It turns out there was something in the soil or in the root system, some chemical reaction which caused the stench. But after they sat in water for awhile, thankfully it slowly faded. I am only telling you in case your husband brings you flowers and they stink. You will thank me. Oh and make sure you thank him and ignore the odor.

7. October is going to be loaded. Like a little too loaded. I am a woman of wide margins, usually, normally typically. It is going to be a wild ride for this chic. I am learning to step out of my comfort zone. You might hear about it at the end of October when I post “Somethings I Learned in October.” That is if you are still around. The best way I know to describe October is when you go through the salad bar and put everything you like on one plate and it all runs together and looks a heck of a lot less appetizing than it would have separately. And it becomes a conglomeration. An amalgamation. And a blur of goodness. Well…..

And if you know how to conjugate stink stank stunk, leave it in the comment section.

A Few Things I Learned in August ( And Am Willing To Share)

You may have stumbled here. Welcome. Or you may follow along. Thank you. What a gift to have you reading.  This is where I mix it up a bit. It’s the end of August and I am joining my friend Emily P. Freeman (I love that she uses her middle initial. Someone else I know does the same thing. 🙂 ) from the blog, Chatting At The Sky . We are taking a look back at last month, recalling some things we learned  during August. Here are seven things I have chosen to share. You should see the ones that didn’t make the cut. They may show up in their very own blog post or poem.

Get out now. Well I really would rather you stayed but I am trying to sort of warn you. It gets very very random from this point forward.

This was fun in June and July. Follow the link to go back and review the summer highlight reel with me.


1. I learned what a “Dirty Chai” is.  One of the recent things I have done slash happened upon which made no sense in hindsight involved lots of caffeine.  At my favorite coffee shop one day around ” tired 4:00 ish pm”  I asked if Chai Tea had caffeine in it. And the barista answered yes. And I then asked how can I make it more caffeinated and he responded “we call that a Dirty Chai”. Oh, ok. So one shot of espresso wasn’t enough so I ordered two. And a small wasn’t enough so I ordered  a large. And the rest is sleepless history. It was deliciously caffeinated and I was really tired the next day. You’re welcome for the heads up.

2. So I am a big fan of Downton Abbey.  Which opens up all sorts of other British drama possibilities once one goes looking. I am now a huge fan of “Call the Midwife.” I mean I am kind of NUTS about it.  As in I may, may like it better…..no I can’t make that judgement. It is like picking a favorite ice cream or favorite child.  After you watch an episode or two you can tell me what you think. Here is the trailer from PBS. The music is fab too.  I believe we are up to Season 3, but don’t quote me. How do you like the royal we there. Oh and I follow them on twitter and facebook. So can you.

3. Parenting isn’t for weenies. And if I elaborate on this you will end up with a “War and Peace” ish tome on that very subject. I am just guessing, but I don’t think you signed up for that here. But I may be writing about it soon. #parentingisnotforthefaintofheart. I wonder if I can add 23 plus 18 plus 17 and round up since the birthdays are soonish and if that equals how many parenting years I have under my belt. #feellikeanewbie

4. Parenting isn’t for weenies. (that one needs to take up two line items of learned knowledge

5. I have decided I want to write music. Mildly obsessed with this, really. Maybe one day I will. But you all are so precious to listen to my dreams. It is number 5 because I sort of ran into this piece of knowledge. I mean, it kept haunting me. Finally, I said “Dream, nice to meet you. I think I will keep you.”

6. I am learning to seek poetry in more places. And I am increasingly fascinated by Instagram. Once a skeptic, now a big fan. (Should I rename this post “Some Things I Am  A Fan Of This Month). Here are some fun peeks into my Instagram world. Am I following you on Instagram? I am @graceappears there.


The salt creek and brown pelicans will never grow old. To my soul they deliver joy and utter fascination.

I love this church at the end of my street. And though I am not a member, I love to visit. I don’t know why I want to giggle at The Chapel Of Ease, subtitle? It is probably really good theology. What if all Churches were chapels of ease, and grace and love and sweet warm invitation. Holy gracious goodness. I love this picture, this church and I love the front doors.



7. The “teacher” on Scrabble is sort of a show off. I have learned a lot from him/her and I do feel challenged by her skills. I play a two player Scrabble game where I take turns with myself. So after every move she grades me and says Outstanding, Excellent, Good or HMM. It’s when she says HMM that I get a little grumpy. And there are words, really, really that are words. Did you know “aa” is a word. And I could go on and on. Here are a few words I learned from the “Scrabble Dictionary”. I probably won’t be using any of these on my blog. And I just learned while I was looking up random weird words that I was using the British (Collins) dictionary. I switched it to the English (TWL) dictionary. Great. That should make a big difference. Aa,ab,ae,ag,oo,ee are all words and it gets weirder. She knows so many multi-syllabic words that I have never, ever heard of that it makes my head spin. Seriously, words I will never ever use in a sentence or a blog post. But I was taught not to question the teacher. So whatever. I think its like the casinos in Las Vegas. I am just guessing, the house always wins.

8. And 8 is my bonus item. I know I told you there were 7 but I learned that my neighbor’s parrot might be imitating me calling my dogs at night. I am going to post a video on Instagram of the parrot imitating me and then  you can decide if you think it is me calling my dogs or the parrot. It is a hoot. When we were newly married, we had a parrot that imitated my husband calling me “Elizabeth, Elizabeth”.

I warned you it would get random here. 🙂 You all are good sports.


This is so much fun, don’t you want to share a random thing you learned sometime recently in the comments. I would love to hear. Tomorrow it is back to poetry, but this rocks my world. Can’t wait to go to Chatting At The Sky to read some of the dozens of posts up over there. I love being a life-time learner. Life is never boring.

Body-slammed By Grace ( And A Poem)

Some weeks just feel more grace-filled than others. Maybe they truly are. Or maybe it is our perspective. Perhaps grace comes in waves. Flowing freely some weeks and dripping slowly drop by drop during some drier seasons. Or maybe it is a matter of the lens we use to view this wild and crazy grace laden life we each are given to live.

This week was full and long and lovely. And I was body-slammed by grace. Felt the weight of its glory bearing down on my soul.  Washing over me like a tidal wave of wonderful palpable moments. Sweet and savory, a sensory overloaded stretch of amazing grace. A covering of a canopy painted in shades of neon and pale, brilliant and faded, but always, mercifully blanketed by it. Exposed. Receptive. Receiving. Surprised. By Grace.

elizabeth's path


Vingettes of Grace

I got lost really turned around in circles lost. In a fog figuratively and in the rain literally. Bound and determined to eventually find the T-mobile store. I know, don’t judge. I needed a new phone. But what God had in mind was for me to be touched by the words I exchanged there with a total stranger. This is a story. This is a poem. This was the heart of human connection at a soulful and spiritual place. It wasn’t deep but it was wide. I brushed up against the cloth of his garment. He embraced me, this tall and dark stranger. He asked me if I was a Christian. This is a story. A very long one. But it left me dazed by grace. And in awe of what was waiting for me in the rat’s maze of my lost wanderings in a city I don’t yet know well.

Robert Lewis Stevenson

I left town for a week or so and I am now on my fifth week away from my family, with my family of birth. I am lonely but not alone. Filled with joy, but torn into pieces. By the separation from pieces of my heart that are a five hour drive from here. This is a ministry but  I am being ministered to. A paradox. A new paradigm of love.  While I am serving in a small way I am healing.  This is my Africa. This is my foodbank. This is my shelter.  I am where I was called to go. I am home but I am not home.  I am body-slammed by the ministry of presence. And I am the receiver of the gift.

I am wearing a new hat these days. I am a book editor and a proofreader and on the team of a book launch. My mother wrote a book. For ten years she invested in this project of the heart. A story that was handed to her in the form of letters over 100 years old. She weaves the tapestry of this story. One of a girl whose parents send her to Virgina while they serve as missionaries in the interior of Brazil in the late 1800’s. It is beautifully told by my mother who doesn’t remember writing the story. Dementia took that part of her journey from her.  Over two hundred pages, Homeward is a historical novel based on the letters of Esther, her great-grandmother who is separated from her family who remains in Brazil while Esther is sent to school and to extended family. This is a story. This is a poem. Here in  an eruption of grace, in the birthing of the book and the dedication of my father to have it published lies a love story. You will read more from me of the unfolding of book and its journey to be published. A grace explosion right before me. I am glad that I stayed. I like this hat. It fits me. Maybe not well.  Amazed, truly, it even fits me at all.

the glider

I had my words go a couple of places this week. Humbled and honored that they have wings.  That they were invited to  fly out of the nest. I stand under the shower-head of rushing grace to think that they, my little fledglings are journeying elsewhere. I would be honored to have you see one of the places my poem “I Was Just Wondering Because I Am Weird That Way” landed. It was written a couple of Sundays ago after I visited a church with my parents. It is the overflow of my heart after a worship service in which grace was manifested, moistening  my wide-eyed windows to the world. Click this link:


And Tweetspeak Poetry ran a little piece of mine this week under their “Literary Tour” section. If you missed it you can read it here. I enjoyed the experience that lead to writing the piece, and even more so the comments and feedback from readers. Thank you. If you haven’t visited Tweetspeak, maybe now would be a great time to check out the words, the wit, the wonder that awaits at this fun home for poetry. And you can add to my joy.  It would drip grace over me if you have time to read and leave a footprint over there. Thanks friends, in advance.


A Poem

I joined Tweetspeak Poetry this week for their poetry prompt “Bottled and Canned”. The creative folks over there threw this one out.  Clever., huh? What a fun way to be stretched creatively.  Here is my poem:


Canned Hands

We played with the long green veins
In church
Ran our fingers down and up
While he preached the sermon
Children, restless
Intrigued by the vessels big and raised
Called them worms
Back in the days
Of her youth and ours
Now she reaches out for me
I count on them to be there
Wish I could bottle it up
or can it, place it on the top shelf
That warm feeling
We knit fingers, grasp and clasp
I want to save those ten digits, flesh and bone
Preserve the love found in them
Can the goodness
Preserve her love
Better than any bottled potions that the Ride Aid sells
A mother
And her aging love, suspended in time