Summer gladness

By now, my readers (and those of you who love summer weather) are weary of my whining about why I don’t enjoy this season. So I won’t subject you to another one of my summer time blues rants.

Instead, I’ll take a different road down the heated pavement of summer. What’s to like about this season? Sunshine – that’s for certain, always a big A-plus in my grade book of life.

With the sunshine, I find there’s one more thing to like about summer. Those gorgeous, multi-colored blooms in people’s yards, flower pots, and porch boxes. They do make a person happy just to see them.

Our front porch boxes boast some huge, beautiful red petunias. When I relax on the front porch swing on evenings cool enough to do so, I gaze at bright orange tiger lilies.

The perennial flower garden is full of bright yellow day lilies, purple balloon flowers, bright pinkish purple blooms on the butterfly bush, and clusters of tiny yellow buds on the yarrow plant.

The rose bush and the clematis also graced us with lovely colors and now the gladiolas have opened up as well.

My mom always had those tall spikes called gladiolas in her garden when I was growing up. She would pick a bunch of them, bring them inside and arrange them in a tall vase of water. My mom called them glads.

And you know what? When I see those particular flowers blooming in our garden in summer, I remember my mom and her glads and that makes ME glad. Yes, GLAD, even in summer! Shocking, I know.

When I photographed the gladiolas in our yard just the other day (because you know, in this time of staying close to home, what else is there to photograph??), it made me happy.

Glad. It made me glad! And when the word glad popped into my mind, my thoughts rabbit trailed as they often do. 

A Christian song immediately started playing in my brain and I can’t get it out of my head. That’s what happens when you get an earworm (defined as a “catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing”).

The song, Be Ye Glad, is an old one – I think from the 1980’s – and was performed by an a cappella group also named GLAD. If I remember correctly, the singing group was formed by male students from different universities in my home state Pennsylvania. But what I remember most are the words and the beautiful harmony of the song.

The lyrics, written by Michael Kelly Blanchard in the late 1970’s, are still very fitting in today’s world:

Words and Music by M.K.Blanchard
© Gotz Music/Benson

In these days of confused situations.
In these nights of a restless remorse,
When the heart and the soul of the nation,
lay wounded and cold as a corpse.
From the grave of the innocent Adam,
comes a song bringing joy to the sad.
Oh your cry has been heard and the ransom,
has been paid up in full, Be Ye Glad.
Oh, Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad,
Every debt that you ever had
Has been paid up in full by the grace of the Lord,
Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad.

From the dungeon a rumor is stirring.
You have heard it again and again.
But this time the cell keys are turning,
and outside there are faces of friends.
And though your body lay weary from wasting,
and your eyes show the sorrow they've had.
Oh the love that your heart is now tasting
has opened the gate, Be Ye Glad.
So be like lights on the rim of the water,
giving hope in a storm sea of night.
Be a refuge amidst the slaughter,
for these fugitives in their flight.
For you are timeless and part of a puzzle.
You are winsome and young as a lad.
And there is no disease or no struggle,
that can pull you from God, Be Ye Glad.

You can listen to the song, its inspiring lyrics, and beautiful harmony as performed by the musical group GLAD here.

Those gladiolas in my garden remind me that even in summer, my least favorite season of all, there’s something to be ye glad about – life and my faith in my Savior Jesus Christ.

“Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love, to work, to play, and to look up at the stars.” ~ Henry Van Dyke


Glad for the glads but…

blogIMG_5558We are past the dog days of summer.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the dog days of summer refer to the time period of July 3rd through August 11, supposedly the hottest and most oppressive period of the summer season. Once we pass that time period, summer starts to wane supposedly.

But we are still in its throes. Muggy weather and temperatures during the day that make it feel even stickier have been interspersed with some cooler days. Just not enough for me.

I, for one, am ready for summer to move on out, even though this summer hasn’t been as hot and humid as it often is. Summer is just not my favorite season. The heat and humidity we experience here in our neck of the woods is nothing like Southerners endure, but it’s still overwhelming and distressing to someone like me who likes temperate days with the windows of the house wide open.

When it’s sticky, muggy, and everything feels downright damp and the temps soar into the high 80’s and 90’s with humidity percentages in the same range, we must resort to air conditioning. And staying and sleeping inside an air conditioned home just seems so stale to me. I love my fresh air with windows wide open!

So I’m happy to see summer wind down and am hopeful it happens very soon. However, one aspect of the season that I will miss is the plethora of summer plants bearing their blossoming beauties.

We planted gladiolas this year in our perennial flower garden for the first time in the 18 years we’ve lived in this place. I remember with fondness the gorgeous, tall glads that beautified both my mother’s and my grandmother’s gardens, so this past spring when I saw some gladiola bulbs in the garden department of a local store, I convinced Papa to purchase and plant them.

We patiently watched for them to burst through the soil, but it seemed to take quite a while before any buds appeared on the stalks. And then…wow! They burst into radiant color. They and the lavender that we added to our garden have been a lovely aspect of this summer season.

I do so love the scent of lavender, so I pluck a stalk and take a little whiff of that pleasant scent often.  Lavender is known to reduce stress and anxiety and beneficial to promote relaxation and a good night’s sleep.

It’s true. When I take that little whiff of lavender, it makes me go “ahhh.” And anytime I’ve happened to inhale the scent of lavender essential oil, I get sleepy.

Sleepiness and sluggishness seem to go hand in hand for me in the summer season. I get bogged down by the heat and humidity and I just don’t feel like doing anything. Summer doldrums are real for me. I feel extremely lazy and lethargic and I don’t like it.

That’s one reason why I look forward to fall weather so very much. When the temperatures cool down and the humidity moves out, I’m such a happier person.

Fall weather, with its balmy yet sunny days and cool, brisk nights, perks me up, invigorating me to awaken out of my summer slump and get motivated.

Hopefully, it will entice me to write some more meaningful blog posts as well. So I’m ready to say goodbye to summer. I am glad for the glads, but this sweaty Mama is so ready to move on.

“It’s a sure sign of summer if the chair gets up when you do.” ~ Walter Winchell




We gather together


A little reading teepee  for rest in the middle of the children’s games

July. It must be the month for gathering.

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing; He chastens and hastens His will to make known.

No wait, that’s a Thanksgiving hymn and checking the weather coupled with the multi-hued shades of green leaves and bright-eyed colorful summer flowers out there, it’s certainly not November.

We gather together.

Nope, the calendar page boldly states it is definitely July.  July, the seventh month of the year, possessor of 31 days. Smack dab in the middle of the year.

And this year, July sports a special occurrence during palindrome (a word, phrase, or sequence that reads the same backward as forward) week July 10-July 19.  For example 7-17-17 can be read the same way backwards or forwards. Or July 10, 2017, written as 7-10-2017, is also a palindromic date – it’s symmetrical. Not going to happen this year in November, no siree.

We gather together.

But wait, it’s July, the month when typically temperatures get downright hot and sultry here in my neck of the woods, when the heat index and humidity start to soar.

So this month couldn’t be any different from that thanksgiving month of November if it tried.  Okay, I will admit, the two have one thing in common – holidays are celebrated in each month: Independence Day in July and Thanksgiving Day in November.

We gather together.

But it’s not November.

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing.

So why is gathering together on my mind? Here in this summer month?

With the Lord’s blessing, there have been lots of gatherings in my world. Family gatherings. Friend gatherings. At the end of the month, I’ll attend a gathering to shower a bride-to-be with gifts and good wishes.

We gather together.

But the latest gathering was just this past weekend when our church family assembled on a clear, summer Sunday morning at a nearby state park and held an outdoor worship service and family of God picnic afterwards.

Young and old alike – from one year-old to 85-years-old – gathered for a day of togetherness, worshiping God, the Creator of all nature surrounding us in the beauty of the park. 

We gather together.

We sang praise. We listened to our pastor give us a relevant and meaningful message. We feasted on tons of good, homemade picnic food for lunch – tables and tables full of food! We welcomed a family of strangers, campers from the park, to join us.

We played games, laughed, shared stories, enjoyed fellowship, and watched the youngsters shouting with joy as they ran good old-fashioned sack and three-legged races.

We gather together.

Later, we shared a simple supper of grilled hot dogs, leftover picnic fare, and the rest of the sweet tea.

Our day culminated with an evening vesper service as the sun slowly starting sinking into the horizon between the whispering maple and pine trees.

And as we once again sang praises to the Lord God, we murmured our words of thanksgiving.

For the gathering. For the blessings. For this July.

“To gather with God’s people in united adoration of the Father is as necessary to the Christian life as prayer.” ~ Martin Luther


Sips to savor

blogIMG_8028Oh, what a beautiful morning. Oh, what a beautiful day.

Those lyrics to a song from the musical Oklahoma waltz through my thoughts as I sit at my computer to write this. So far, the month of June has been glorious weather-wise and I’ve caught myself saying more than once to whomever is listening, “If every summer were like this, I’d enjoy the season a lot more!”

The balmy but sunny, blue skies with fluffy white cloud-filled days and cool sleep-with-the-windows-wide-open nights are just my cup of tea. Last year’s June was awful.  Even though I had much to be thankful for, the month and the entire summer was stressful and kept me wondering what was coming down the pike next. 

But this June -this glorious month of June – has been different. I enjoy sitting outside without heat and humidity. I awaken after a restful night’s sleep and greet the day with peace not worrying about what troubles the day may bring.

This June we celebrated both my birthday and my husband’s, not with any grand fanfare but quietly and simply, just the way we like it.  I enjoyed a couple pieces of birthday cake from one of my favorite bakeries and hubby got his go-to dessert, ice cream in the form of a cake.

A surprise package arrived at my doorstep one day from sweet friends of ours in Australia. Packages or letters in the mail always float my boat not because I desire gifts but because I love the thought that someone thinks about me long enough to care to send me greetings.  And to be honest, I just adore getting mail (but not bills!).

So inside my surprise birthday parcel was a lovely teacup and saucer as you can see in my photo above. Anyone who knows me well knows I drink tea, not coffee, and after water, it is my favorite drink – hot or iced.  The gift and the lovely thought behind it was a gracious gesture but the little saying printed on the teacup –“Savor every sip of life”– truly captured my attention.  

Savor every sip of life.

Because life is meant to be savored.  Moments are meant to be remembered. Every breath we take is meant to matter. Time spent with family and friends is meant to be treasured.

And each new day, especially like those I’ve experienced lately, are like a sweet cube of sugar plunked into my teacup of life.

It’s the reason I can turn my face up to the sunshine, close my eyes, smile, and feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude while a cool summer breeze gently wafts through my hair.

And it’s the reason I think to myself, savor every sip of life. 

Since classes are finished for the school year, no more substitute teaching until fall which frees up more precious time for me to savor. 

Time to devote to my grandbaby who is quickly becoming a toddler, learning and growing and giving me joy each day.   Just the other day, she and I passed a good portion of the morning exploring outdoors, blowing soapy bubbles into the air, swaying back and forth on the front porch swing, investigating dandelions on the lawn, rough bark on the trees, and weeds in the flower gardens, and sharing giggles and grins.

Time for Papa and me to visit with my recuperating-from-her-car-accident sister and her hubby playing card games, laughing, singing to oldies songs, and just enjoying each other’s company some evenings or Sunday afternoons.

Time to catch up with my family and their comings and goings like learning about our oldest daughter and son-in-law’s recent mission trip to Honduras, or listening to our middle daughter’s vacation plans, or hearing about son and daughter-in-law’s recent excursion, how their jobs are going, and more importantly, how the baby bump is coming along.  Yes, Papa and I are going to be grandparents again and we are so over the moon happy and excited!

Time to reconnect with dear friends, some near and some far.  Time for two and a half hour luncheons with one of my oldest (we’ve been pals for over 50 years) and dearest friends sharing our hearts and faith together in ways that cement our friendship even more.

Time to meet for breakfast with another busy friend and again share a heart to heart talk, coming away with that uplifting feeling when you’ve enjoyed conversing with and listening to a kind-hearted, like-minded soul.

Time to chat for hours by cell phone with yet another friend on the other side of the country, catch up on each other’s lives, and feel like neither time nor distance has changed our solid friendship.

Time to devote to quiet, earnest prayer for another life-long friend who recently received a serious health diagnosis and time to encourage and support her with love and care.

Can you tell I have been savoring the sips of life? And all of this does my heart glad, makes my soul sing, gives me sunshine on my shoulders. This summer is going to be different than last, I can say that with certainty. Putting the stress and angst of last year behind us, I’m moving forward with hope, and joy, and the remembrance to savor every sip of life, even if some sips turn out a tad bitter.

You know why? Because it will all pass by as it needs to do. I can’t stay frozen in winter with an ice-bound heart. I’m busting out of my dreary place and welcoming the sunshine of summer.  Not just welcoming it, but embracing it, because before I know it, this too shall pass.

“The way to live in the present is to remember that “this too shall pass.”  When you experience joy, remembering that “this too shall pass” helps you savor the here and now.  When you experience pain and sorrow, remembering that “this too shall pass” reminds you that grief, like joy, is only temporary.” ~ Joey Green


Is it summer or me?

blogIMG_1049Summer and I have not always seen eye to eye.  There once was a time when summer rocked my world.  I couldn’t get enough of the season.  But somewhere along the line, summer lovin’ became summer hatin’ and we actually became enemies.

When I was a kid, summer and I were besties.  I. Could. Not. Wait. Would count down the days until summer came beaming its sunshiny way in.  Warm weather prompted wearing shorts and flip flops.  No school.  Sleeping in.  Playing outside all day with neighborhood friends.  Big family picnics.  Lush green grass to sink into and run around in barefoot. Baseball games.  Splashing in the cold creek.  Bike rides coasting down hills with the wind rushing in your ears.  And enjoying all the Kool-Aid you could drink and popsicles you could eat before they melted slithering down your arm leaving a sticky trail.  And if you were lucky and Dad could swing the time off and extra money, maybe even going on a family vacation to someplace you’d never been before. Staying outside until long after dark playing hide and seek and catching lightning bugs in glass jars or lying on the cool, evening dewy grass staring at the smattering of shiny stars lighting up the velvety nighttime sky.

Back then, what wasn’t there to love about summer?  Yes, summer was my best friend and it dismayed me to watch it depart.    

Fast forward to my teen years.  Summer and I were still best buds.  No school.  Sleeping in.  Hanging out at the pool all day with your friends with the transistor radio blaring the popular music of the day. The smell of Coppertone and baby oil while toasting in the sun trying to acquire that sun-kissed tan on fair, freckled skin.  Long, uninterrupted daydreaming in a hammock under the shade of the apple trees while discussing love, guys, and futures with a best friend.  Loading up the car with a group of girlfriends and taking in the drive-in movies after the sun set or joining up with friends at summer carnivals, boarding the thrill rides and screaming your lungs out until you were dizzy with excitement while bright lights glowing in the dark spun around you. Staying up reading your latest favorite book until the wee hours of the morning when all the neighborhood lights were out and nothing could be heard through the open window but crickets and an occasional dog bark.

Summer, how I loved you and you were still my favorite season of the year.

“The summer night is like a perfection of thought.” ~Wallace Stevens

Even after jobs and marriage, summertime’s allure still beckoned.   Summer brought time off.   Picnics and bar-b-ques.  Adventures with family and friends.  And lounging by the pool, still chasing that elusive summer bronze.  

By the time our twosome became a family of five, I beheld summer through the eyes of my children.  Raising our three, we eagerly awaited summer’s appearance. No school.  Exploring.  Playing outside all day.  Neighborhood block parties.  Baseball games.  Sleep-overs. Wet swimsuits and towels hanging on the deck to dry.  And if you were lucky, a vacation might include a trip to the beach, soaking up sunshine, sand, and salt water.  Teaching little ones how to ride a bike and how to catch a firefly in the dark.  Showing them how to find the North Star and the Big Dipper and listening to crickets chirping. Falling asleep after a long day of mothering to the white noise whirring of a fan in the window bringing welcomed cool breezes.  

“Then followed that beautiful season… Summer….
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood
.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

But then came the rift.  Either summer was changing or I was.  Summer became a weary chore.  A long seemingly endless ordeal of scorching, sweltering days that no amount of ice water or air conditioning could quench and even longer, stifling, muggy nights when sleep couldn’t be found while air was so thick with humidity, the oppressiveness made me gasp for any hint of comforting relief.    

Summer seemed relentless and monotonous and the heat caused me to feel like I would literally burst into spontaneous combustion.  No longer did I look forward to summer, I dreaded it.  I counted the days till its demise and scoured the weather channel for signs that it would soon depart and my misery would cease.

“Heat, ma’am! it was so dreadful here, that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones.”  ~ Sydney Smith, Lady Holland’s Memoir

So summer and I became enemies in my mid-life years. I couldn’t wait until summer was shoved out of the way by autumn’s cooling ways.   “Bring on the snow,” I would retort.  “I’m ready for winter.”

Summer, that once loved, slower season of relaxation fell from favor faster than plummeting temperatures in the middle of January.  In the ranking of seasons, it came in dead last and stayed there.

Until this summer.  Summer is attempting to lure me in again.  This is the first summer in many years that I have not had a job to rush off to or major work projects to complete.  This is the first summer in quite some time that the temperature has hovered near 80 for the most part or lower.  Nights have been relatively cool and the whirring of my window fan instead of my once-overworked air conditioning maintains good sleeping weather for me .

The yard is covered with lush, green grass, not yet browning or withering away in scorching sun like most summers.  Flowers are in abundance as is the produce from the garden.  Our summer fare has included lots of rainy days but pleasant sunny ones as well.  I’ve been able to throw open the windows and breathe good, fresh clean air and enjoy being outdoors in daytime hours without wilting from smothering heat and humidity.  And last night while talking with Papa, I confessed this thought that has been rumbling around in my brain for weeks now: “If summers were always like this one, I might love summer again.”

Yes, something is changing.  I just don’t know if it’s summer or me.

“People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.”
~ Anton Chekhov