Sunday, December 31, 2006

Prayer for the New Year

By Marlene Depler

(I wrote this last year, but it still applies for this coming year as well!)

Dear Heavenly Father,

A year of glorious days stretches out before me. I am filled with anticipation and a twinge of apprehension about the uncertain adventure ahead. Nevertheless, I am choosing to walk in faith.

As each day unfolds, may I become more and more the woman you have intended me to be. Live in me and through me. May I do your bidding.

Still my thoughts and my hands long enough to hear your voice and to find rest for my often weary soul. Meet me in the deep places of my heart. Hear my heart cries when words won’t form.

Let your love penetrate every fiber of my being. Bring hope, courage, and healing. What I receive freely from your hand, let me in turn give freely to others.

Teach me your ways. Give me an undivided heart. Reveal and transform my misconceptions and distorted perceptions with the light of truth.

May I always delight in the wonders of your creation and the little blessings of each day. And when the sun sets on the final day of the year, may I rejoice in your continued faithfulness.

(c) Marlene Depler (reprint in any form only with permission)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Open Hands, Open Heart

By Marlene Depler

Open heart, open hands,
I receive God's lavish gifts---
love, grace, forgiveness,
provisions for body and spirit.

Open heart, open hands,
let me give a smile to the lonely,
kind words to the discouraged,
a loaf of bread to the hungry.

Oh, that my actions
will light a path to the cross
where God will again pour out blessing
into an open heart and open hands.

(c) Marlene Depler (reprint in any form only with permission)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

White Christmas a Bit Early

What a snow storm! Over two feet of snow! Most businesses were closed today. A good day to stay inside and play games. The grandchildren did venture out for some fun in the snow while the men cleared snow.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

White Chocolate Christmas Party Mix

1 package (10 oz.) mini pretzels

5 cups Cheerios

5 cups Corn Chex

2 cups salted peanuts

1 pound Christmas M & M's

2 packages (12 oz. each) vanilla (white chocolate) chips

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Combine first five ingredients in a very large bowl. Melt chips and oil in microwave: medium powere for two to three minutes, stirring once, then 10 seconds on high power. Stir until smooth. Pour over dry mixture and mix well with a large spoon, being careful not to crush the mix. Spread on waxed paper. Cool and store in airtight containers. For gifts, scoop into cellophone bags, use a "twistie" tie and then add a colorful ribbon.

This is yummy! Just the right blend of salty and sweet! I made two big batches yesterday. They are ready to give to neighbors and friends.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Weather Outside........Burrrrrrrrrr!

We have entered the "deep freeze" in Colorado! A warm coat is a must! This is my littlest angel in her cozy coat.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

All I Want for Christmas: Less Stress, More Joy

By Marlene Depler

My "want list" has always been quite simple. For just one day, all I want is no financial stress, no time pressure, no physical exhaustion or illness, no
loneliness, and no sadness.

For just one day, all I want is to give the perfect gift to each of my family and friends—beautifully wrapped, of course.

For just one day, all I want is for my house to be decorated like the photographs in House Beautiful and a fabulous dinner straight off the pages of Bon Appetit.

For just one day, all I want is for everyone to just get along—no tempers, no pouting, no whining, no controlling, no insensitivity, and no arguing.

For just this one day, all I want is smiling faces near a glowing fire
with snow falling gently outside the window—my own Hallmark moment.

I guess you could say that all I want for Christmas is
perfection. Is that too much to expect? After all, it's Christmas!

For years I was caught up in what a friend calls "irrational holiday hype." I believed that if I worked hard enough and fast enough, I could capture the perfect holiday. My fictitious presumptions and absurd expectations always left me frustrated, disappointed, and exhausted. By December 26, my spirit was worn and threadbare. I felt guilty because I hadn't enjoyed the holidays more. I expected far too much from one day out of the year. Little by little, I am discarding my unreasonable pursuit of Christmas perfection.

Why is it that we outgrow our belief in Santa Claus, yet often cling to the myth of a magical, perfect Christmas? Christmas perfection exists only in our imaginations, in movies, or on the pages of glossy magazines with their skilled marketing departments. Nevertheless, many of us have adopted the faulty perception of this romanticized, glamorized, commercialized Christmas. Here are seven ways to reduce holiday stress and increase our Christmas joy:

RELEASE unrealistic expectations and rediscover what you really love about Christmas.
How many different kinds of cookies and candies must we make? Does every room have to be decorated? Must we attend every holiday function? Is it really necessary to send out Christmas cards or write holiday letters every year? Is there a better way to stay in touch? If we choose to cling to our unrealistic expectations we can expect to feel frustrated and disappointed over and over again. Wouldn’t it be better to do less and enjoy what we choose to do more? Let’s rediscover what we love about Christmas and release the rest.

EVALUATE current resources (time, money, and energy) and establish your limits.
Everyone has a limited supply of time, money, and energy, which often varies from year to year, based on current circumstances. Honoring our limits isn't about deprivation. It's about liberation! Our schedules must be realistic and sane. Is it wise to go in debt for Christmas? What do we want to model for our children? Often we persist in attempting to buy happiness and relationships with gifts we shouldn't buy or can't afford. Crazed spending and an irrational flurry of unending activities only leave us empty, exhausted, disappointed, and perhaps even depressed.

ENJOY the simple things—the small, often overlooked ordinary moments.
Some of the most wonderful holiday blessings aren’t written on our calendars or wrapped under the tree. Many joys are found in the unexpected, unplanned moments that happen along the way—that is if we aren't too stressed to notice. A phone call to a family member that we haven't seen in a long time. Popping corn and playing games on the floor with the kids. A cup of coffee with a friend. Watching birds feast at the feeder. Taking a walk in the crunching snow. If we are alert, many ordinary moments and small blessings can fill our hearts with joy.

OBSERVE and honor your own personal need for rest and renewal.
In the midst of an impossible to-do list, we often ignore our own need for rest and renewal. Frayed nerves and short fuses are sure signs that we aren't honoring our own needs. When holidays leave us exhausted, something is wrong. It's important to replenish ourselves along the way. Seek out small doses of healthy self-care to renew your body and soul..

INITIATE change with care.
Change can be positive when we carefully consider our options in advance. It’s important to include other immediate family members as we sift and sort family traditions and expectations. A little wisdom will help us to avoid knee-jerk reactions.

CONSIDER options for handling difficult people and situations.
We long for relationships that are loving and peaceful. Yet Christmas has a way of bringing up any unresolved issues with family members. What we have ignored all year long suddenly resurfaces. Whatever our relationship problems, they won't magically disappear just because the calendar says December 25. It is important to take a long-term view of our relationships rather than hoping for a quick fix for the holidays. Past behaviors are a good indicator of future behaviors. With that in mind, we can prepare ahead of time our response toward hurtful, immature, or difficult people in our families. We may need to address an issue with someone BEFORE holidays. We may need to set a boundary around a particular situation. Remember we cannot change others, but we can change ourselves and the way in which we handle situations. Act instead of reacting.

EMBRACE meaningful traditions; eliminate burdensome or meaningless traditions.
Family traditions have the potential to give rhythm, continuity, and stability to our lives if they are indeed meaningful. However, traditions that are no longer important to us need to be eliminated. For many, changing holiday traditions can be painful and guilt inducing. Yet if we persist in making wise choices for our families and ourselves, our choices have the potential to bring healing and freedom. It's OK to allow traditions to evolve over time.

Christmas won’t be perfect at my house this year. And I’m guessing it won't be perfect at your house either. Nevertheless, Christmas remains a wonderful season to spend time with those we cherish and to reflect on God's gift of his Son. Let's exchange our crazy-making, mindless madness for something less stressful this year. As we release our misconception of a perfect holiday, we just might experience more joy.

Do less, expect less, and enjoy it more.

Copyright Marlene Depler (reprint in any form only with permission)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Grace of Gratitude

By Marlene Depler

Thou who hast given us so much,
mercifully grant us one more thing—
a grateful heart.

-George Herbert

"Count your blessings."

"Look on the bright side."

"Cheer up! Be thankful. It could be worse."

As a child, I heard responses like these from many adults in my life. I'm guessing that these comments were an attempt to make me feel better. But that wasn't what happened. Instead, my feelings of sadness, disappointment, or frustration felt negated. Even though there was an element of truth in what was said, this type of response only caused me to feel diminished and dismissed. It didn't seem to matter that a teacher had been unfair or that I wasn't invited to the slumber party. Whatever my difficulty, struggle, challenge, or pain, it seemed unimportant. My feelings were brushed aside and minimized. I learned to bury them. Eventually, I became the one who chided myself with the same kind of responses whenever I encountered anything that adversely affected me.
In my late thirties, I slowly learned to stop pretending and denying my current struggles and past hurts. I began to validate my own experience and feelings. If someone hurt me with harsh words or if I experienced disappointment or difficulty, I no longer tried to brush it off. In this place of honesty, sometimes I felt like a first-class whiner. Fortunately for me, I had a few patient listeners.

I needed this season to learn that it was okay to be honest about the reality of my experience and to learn not to minimize my pain. However, over time, I concluded that this honesty could comfortably co-exist with gratitude. So I made a choice to incorporate gratitude into my life, not because of someone else's "guilting" remarks, but because I saw the personal value of it.
The intermingling of both has given me a greater equilibrium—a more balanced perspective. All of life is not bad, and neither is it all good. Life is much like my rose garden. The roses are beautiful in color and their sweet fragrance permeates the summer breeze. Yet these same roses have sharp thorns that have often brought me pain. I accept both.
At first I attempted to keep a gratitude journal as suggested in the book Simple Abundance. For a litany of reasons, I was inconsistent at best. Then I decided on a plan that worked for me. Each night in the quiet darkness just before falling asleep, I recount anything about the day that I found pleasant or enjoyable, anything for which I could be thankful. As I recite in silence a list of things both great and small for which I feel grateful, I am reminded that life itself is a gift.
Last night I thanked God for a pleasant lunch with a friend, my evening walk in the freshness of spring, my unexpected gift for my new office, and the valuable information that I learned from my writing mentor. Before I knew it, I had drifted off to sleep with a heart filled with gratitude.
I would be the first to admit that there are days when it is much more difficult to find things for which to be grateful. On those days I’m thankful for things like indoor plumbing, the end of the day, my bed, and soft flannel sheets as I pull them over my head.
As unlikely as it may seem, I even found reason to be thankful in the midst of great pain. When my mother slipped away unexpectedly from this life. In my sadness, I could thank God that she didn't have to experience prolonged suffering—that she didn't know she had breast cancer. (The test results from the biopsy came back the day she died.) The kind and capable nurses were another reason for which I felt immense gratitude. I was also grateful I arrived before she died, and that I was able to be at her side when she drew her last breath. In my anguish, God gave me many things for which I could say thank you. I did not use my gratefulness to minimize my pain. Rather I used it as a rudder with which to navigate through the pain.
A few years ago, I received a newsletter in the mailbox. The front-page article was about the physical health benefits of gratitude. (And for that article, I am grateful!) Dr. Christiane Northrup states that feeling thankful for as little as 15-20 seconds causes many physiological benefits, such as a decrease in stress hormones which enhances the immune system, the oxygen level in the tissues increases as breathing becomes deeper, and the coronary arteries relax which increases the blood supply to the heart. Northrup concludes, "No matter what's going on in the world, the economy, or the news, you have the power within you to create the biochemistry of gratitude right now."[1] I had no idea that gratitude was good for my health!
I won't be presumptuous and tell you that you SHOULD count your blessings. Rather I hope that by sharing my story a seed of possibility will be sown for you. Consider a "gratitude journal" to record the things that have brought you blessing or joy today. Or choose something else that fits your personality. Perhaps you may first need to explore the roots of your unhappiness or depression before you can genuinely move toward thankfulness. It's your journey. Proceed at your own pace.
As for me, I have come to believe that gratitude has the power to change me, so I will continue to nudge myself to practice this graceful attitude while still honestly acknowledging the reality of my daily difficulties. I desire to appreciate and say “thank you” for all that is good in my life. Yet I will also acknowledge the sad and the bad. A grateful heart—my heart's desire.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
-Melody Beattie
Copyright by Marlene Depler
To reprint in any format, by permission only

[1] Christiane Northrup, M.D., "Cultivating Gratitude," A Grain of Salt, Spring 2002, Happiness Press, Asheville, NC.
[2] Melody Beattie, The Language Of Letting Go, (New York: Harper/Hazelden Books, 1990), p. 218.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Fall Decorations

I am enjoying the fall decorations that so many have displayed on their front doors and porches. I took these photos out on a walk a few days ago. The last photo is the wreath on my front door. Can you believe that next week will be Thanksgiving?!?!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Image of Bible cover

Ok! I finally figured it out! Sometimes my gray matter works rather slowly. I took a photo of my copy of the Bible and downloaded it! Here is the front cover of the Women's Devotional Bible that I told you about in the post below.

New Women's Devotional Bible

Zondervan has just released a new Women's Devotional Bible. I wrote some of the devotions for this project, so I wanted to share this news with you. I had hoped to add a picture of the cover, but I haven't been able to used the scanned image that I have. SORRY! The cover is squares of green with a coffee cup on the front of it. Here is a link where you can view the Bible and even download sample devotions:

Perhaps this would make a good Christmas gift for someone on your list---or for yourself.

My oldest daughter and family have now gone to Minnesota/South Dakota to visit with her husband's family. They will return for Christmas. (I promised the grandchildren that I would have stockings hung for them when they returned!)Maybe I will be more regular in making posts over the next several weeks.

Blessings to all!
Marlene Depler

Friday, October 13, 2006

Fun Times

Happy baby!

Getting in on the fun!

Four grandkids---camping IN!

In the Leaves and Loving it!

Five darlings feeding their faces!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Snapshots of life

Purple Autumn Ash in all its fall glory! (Taken in our front yard.)

Littlest angel!

Sweet granddaughter smelling fragrant rose!

Two grandsons on the move!

A fall sunrise in all its splendor! (Taken behind our home yesterday.)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

To Everything A Season: A Time to Plant and a Time to Harvest

Today I'm guessing that I gathered my last harvest for this season. The nights are definitely getting cooler. Tonight—maybe our first frost.

In some ways I hate to say good-bye to summer with its long hours of sunshine and green-leafed trees. I’ll miss the profusion of brilliant flowers—pink zinnias, yellow marigolds, purple clematis, assorted roses, and more. The fresh tomatoes and juicy watermelons...I’ll miss those, too. And I will really miss wearing sandals and light-weight summer clothes.

And yet there is a part of me that is tired from my summer labors: the watering, weeding, pruning. Yes, a part of me is ready for fall. Ready for what comes next. Especially, when what comes next is a visit from my daughter, Paula, along with her husband and three precious children. (They have been living in Bosnia for the past year and a half.)

I haven’t seen them in about a year. The last time we saw Jacob, he wasn’t even walking. Now he is almost two. He was only seven months old when they left. He won’t remember Nana and Papa’s house. Guess we will have to give him something new to remember! Rachel will turn four next month. And Brent is nearing six.

I can’t wait to scoop up my “babies” and smother them with hugs and kisses. The cupboards are filled with special snacks. New jackets and a fall outfit are laying out for each of them. The toys are ready. The books are arranged where they can be reached by little people.

It will be wonderful to have time with Paula and Jason as well—to catch up on their adventures. And Paula and I definitely need some mother-daughter time!

It will be great to have all of our children and grandchildren for meals and family fun. We have several things on the calendar: a day in the mountains, a trip to Chuck E. Cheese (pizza), and our own fall festivities.

Laura will get to meet her cousins, aunt, and uncle for the first time. David will get to have extra special guests for his eighth birthday later this week. Alicia wants to teach Rachel how to make "button soup," something she always liked to do when she was younger.

Thus, as I say farewell to summer, I will say hello to family from afar.

Monday, August 28, 2006

When Day Is Done

When Day Is Done... Posted by Picasa

Shadows lenghten. The sun slips down behind the mountains. Soon a sliver of a moon slides out from behind the clouds. Day is done.

Sometimes I wish the day was longer, as there was more I intended to accomplish. No amount of fretting extends the hours in my days. Other days, I welcome nightfall. Pulling the soft sheets up over my weary body is a welcome thought. Tonight it is the latter. My work for today is done, and I will soon slumber.

Here is a poem I wrote:

"Nocturnal Bliss"
By Marlene Depler

Sleep---who can resist the summons
of nocturnal bliss? Pulled out on gentle tides
into a pool of dreams.

Sleep---welcome relief
from life's persistent problems.
Demands, decisions melt away
in this realm of the unconscious.

Sleep---a wondrous gift;
restoration for weary mind and body.
slumber beckons me away until morning.

(c) Marlene Depler

Monday, August 21, 2006

Tablecloths finished at last! Posted by Picasa

If you read my post a while back about all those yards and yards of fabric, I am happy to report that I have finished making two large table clothes---one for the table with one leaf and another one for when the table has two leaves. The remaining fabric is enough to make some cloth napkins.

My indoor and outdoor projects have distracted me from blogging. I will try to do better at making regular post for those four or five of you who are my fan club! Ha!

Note: Alice asked for a close-up of the fabric, so I added it to the post.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Sunset last night! Posted by Picasa

My Birthday Morning

Sunrise this morning! Posted by Picasa

Today is my 55th birthday. I can start getting my senior citizen discounts. Wow! That's a scary thought. The discount at Kohl's department store will be nice, especially when I'm shopping for the grandchildren.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Double Rainbow Posted by Picasa

We have had rain two evenings in a row. What a blessing! This photo, taken from our back door, is a double rainbow after yesterday's rain moved through.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Letting Go!

Butterfly! Photo by Michael Jastremski

Several friends of mine are in the process of launching their children! It has reminded me of my days of trying to let go. This is a poem I wrote when my youngest daughter left the "nest." After you read the poem, you will know why I picked this photogragh.


By Marlene Depler

From the safety of the chrysalis,
you struggle to be free.
I watch your wings unfolding
in early morning light.
The color—the beauty—
as you flutter your wings,
and cautiously ponder solo flight.
You seem surprised
as they lift you into the air.
With steady gaze, I marvel
as you dance from rose to rose.
At last you catch a gentle breeze
of self-confidence, flying high
into nearby maple tree—until a gust
of uncertainty and fear casts you
to the ground below.
I gasp and hold my breath
for what seems like eternity.
I long rescue you
from life's harsh winds,
but I must not damage fragile wings.
I cannot watch, and yet I must.
When I think I can bear it no longer
your wings move up, then down,
and once more you soar into the sky.
Fly—fly high little butterfly! Feel my prayers beneath your wings!

(c) Marlene Depler

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Blonde Moment or Senior Moment?

I decided to make a tablecloth for my kitchen table, so I measured the length of the table and added a few inches to hang over the ends. Seven feet---that's what I would need. Then I headed over to the fabric store and found this wonderful toile fabric. I promptly took the bolt to the clerk and told her I needed seven yards.

After she had made the cut, it dawned on me that seven yards was a whole lot more than seven feet! Yikes! What had I done! I paid for the fabric and left the store with twenty-one feet of fabric. Fortunately, the fabric was marked down and then was on sale for 40% of the mark-down price.

So now I can make three table cloths. Or maybe I should make chair cushions and an apron. If you see me, who knows, I may have on capri pants and a shirt out of this fabric!!! (Just kidding!!!) Maybe you would like for me to make something for you.

On days like this, I don't know whether I am having a blonde moment or a senior moment. Maybe it's both!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Fourth of July

Today is Independence Day. We are celebrating the Declaration of Independence and the founding of the United States of America. Flags and fireworks will abound all over this country today. Some towns and cities will have parades. Many will gather with family and friends for a picnic or a cookout. And most will wear clothing in either red, white, or blue. For me it will be a red shirt and white capris.

While I put out the flag and don my patriotic colors, I want to reflect of the freedoms that I hold dear. Often I take most of my freedoms for granted, but today I want to think about the high price paid in the past by others for the freedoms I enjoy today. Freedom is a glorious gift. Let us be grateful and thank God. (Yes, for many of us, in God we still trust!!!!)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Summer---and Lovin' It!

I’m a gardener, so of course, I like summer. Today I thought I would share the things I enjoy about summer:

Long hours of daylight—it lifts my spirits
Blue sky
Green lawns and shade trees
Gentle breezes
Every brightly blooming thing!! Pots, hanging baskets, flower beds, shrubs.
Eating outside—picnics, BBQs, and patio dining
Long walks in the morning or evening
Iced tea and lemonade
Popsicles and ice cream
Farmer’s markets with all the wonderful fresh produce
Porch swings and porches
Light weight clothing (No coats, bulky sweaters, etc.)
Mountain drives
Finches and robins in my bird baths
Air conditioning and fans
Cacophonic bird symphonies
Chatting with neighbors
Children playing outside

Note: the photos above are of my daylilies and wild columbines in the Colorado mountains.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Celebrate Summer

Today my husband took the day off from work, and we had our two oldest grandchildren over so we could officially celebrate the longest day of the year. In the photos below, you will see a portion of the fun we had today. We will finish off the day watching David's baseball game.

For those of us who are married to our "to do" list, we would all do well to remember to take a little time for fun. Work is never done anyway, so why not set it aside every now and then. Time for laughter and play never hurt anyone. Celebrate summer. Celebrate life.

Blueberry popsicles! Posted by Picasa

I have always made popsicles with fruit juice for the grandchildren---just like I made for my children.

Preparation for "War of the Rose Petals." Posted by Picasa

Too much fun! Posted by Picasa