Friday, December 21, 2007

What Do You Want for Christmas?

By Marlene Depler

“What do you want for Christmas?”

As Christmas approaches each year, this is a common question in our family. Sometimes we have great ideas of what other family members would enjoy, but when we don’t know, we simply ask each other. We want the recipients of our gifts to find delight in what we wrap and place under the tree.

It occurred to me the other day that perhaps I should also ask Jesus what he wants for Christmas. After all, it’s his birthday celebration! So I began to ponder the question, “What would the Messiah want as a gift from me this Christmas?”

The only recorded gifts given to Jesus in the Bible were brought by the Magi. Matthew 2: 11, says, Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts and gold and of incense and of myrrh. I seriously doubt that he wants me the same gifts from me as the wise men of old. So what kind of gifts does the King of Kings wish for this year? It seems the gifts he most desires cannot be wrapped and placed under my Christmas tree.

Companionship: Jesus desires my companionship, which is sustained by time in His presence for honest communication.

Compassionate heart: Jesus desires a compassionate heart that will propel me to reach out in my words and actions to those around me in His name.

Commitment: Jesus desires my commitment to the process of rebirth and renewal—and to the long walk of faith.

Courage: Jesus desires for me to have the courage to obey—to take risks when necessary—and to stand for what is true.

Confidence: Jesus desires for me to have a quiet confidence in Him, knowing that he will keep his promises—and that he will continually be my strength and my refuge.

Calm spirit: Jesus desires for my spirit to be calm—for me to give up my hurried pace and rest in Him.

Contentment: Jesus desires for me to be content with who He has made me to be—where I currently am—what I have.

To my amazement, I realize that it is I who am truly blessed as I begin to offer my gifts to the Christ-child.

(c) 2007 Marlene Depler (To reprint in any form permission must be granted my author)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Running Away to Find Christmas

By Marlene Depler

It was barely fall, and I already dreaded the upcoming holidays. It was difficult for me to admit my true feelings of frustration and resentment. I wondered, Am I the only one who feels this way. Isn't Christmas supposed to be the season of great joy and festivity? Then why don't I welcome the season?

For nearly two decades, I assumed that it was my responsibility to give everyone around me a delightful and memorable Christmas. I worked for weeks cleaning, shopping, wrapping, decorating, mailing cards and letters, planning menus, and baking. I baked for school parties, for church activities, and for home. I decorated dozens and dozens of sugar cookies, as well as baking several other kinds of cookies, candies, breads, and muffins to freeze. Our family regularly entertained extended family from out-of town. My multitude of shoulds made for very lengthy to-do lists. I went into my Superwoman mode until everything was done, and I was exhausted, irritable, and even resentful.

One year in the midst of my all-out efforts, my youngest daughter Lisa said to me, "Mom, why don't you just get in the Christmas spirit?"

I wanted to give an angry retort, but I held back harsh words and cried instead. Why did Christmas have to be this stressful and hectic?

With that memory still piercing my heart, this year I longed to break free from all the cumbersome expectations and excessive responsibilities that had for years left me disappointed and depressed when Christmas was over. I wanted to give my children a happy mom! What could I do differently to set myself free from my holiday bondage?

Then I had an idea! We could leave town—go away for Christmas! If I was not home, I reasoned, then I would not have to entertain anyone, nor would I be expected to do many of the holiday tasks. Initially, I felt both excited and relieved at this possibility. Yet I also had twinges of guilt and fear. I knew this wouldn't be an easy task for a world-class people-pleaser like me. What would my husband and children think? Would my extended family be upset?

I shared my frustrations with my husband and hesitantly suggested that we spend Christmas in Estes Park, Colorado, with just our children. Much to my surprise, he heartily approved of the idea.

"I think that's a great idea. Let's drive up to Estes sometime in the next few weeks and see what accommodations might be available," he suggested.

Later that fall, we drove up to Estes Park and found a vacation home that was available over Christmas. It was high on the side of a mountain with a spectacular view. After the arrangements were made, we proceeded to tell our three teenagers about our plan. At first, they were surprised, and perhaps, even somewhat bewildered.

After a few minutes of adapting to the idea, our son Drew, the oldest, said, "Sure! Let's do it! It should be fun!" Our two daughters, Paula and Lisa, appeared to like the idea as well. Now all I had to do was tell everyone else that we would not be home for Christmas.

I began to actually anticipate the coming of the holidays. It was like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I still baked our favorite cranberry-cream cheese bread and a small batch of frosted sugar cookies. We decorated our Christmas tree even though we knew we wouldn't be home. I purchased gifts for my family and wrapped them with care. We listened to Christmas carols throughout the season. I made my choices and commitments with care.But I didn't do the endless list of things that I had done in years past.

On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, we packed our bags, gifts, games, movies, music, and food for simple meals into our Explorer, along with our five bodies, and headed for the mountains. When we got to the rental, we were surprised. Someone had put up a Christmas tree! What an unexpected bonus! It was simply decorated with red bulbs and white lights, and it sat in front of the large picture window that framed majestic, snow-covered mountain peaks.

We unpacked our bags and put our gifts under the tree. That evening, Ray built a fire in the stone fireplace. We gathered around its light and warmth to sing carols about the birth of our Savior and open our gifts. We stayed up late to watch Fiddler on the Roof. That night when I put my head on the pillow, I felt content and peaceful. This was exactly what I needed.

On Christmas day, we had pancakes for breakfast. Then we played games, snacked on Christmas goodies, and listened to music. We took turns exclaiming over the view from the window—blue sky and snow swirling in the wind between the peaks. I stayed in my robe until almost noon.

After our mid-day meal, we drove up into Rocky Mountain National Park. The park had long since been vacated by the hordes of summer tourists. A quiet solitude enveloped the mountains and valleys now covered with pristine glistening snow. What a glorious sight it was.

The next day as we drove home from our getaway, I felt refreshed and content. The whole family had enjoyed themselves. I was grateful that I had had the courage to try something new—even though it was difficult for me to break free from my self-imposed rut. Somehow I sensed that this was only the beginning. Holidays would never be the same again.

Looking back, I see that this Christmas was a significant turning point for me. After our Christmas away, I began to examine my perfectionism and my unrealistic expectations.

I learned that I didn’t have to meet every expectation that others might have for me. Yes, I could survive without having the approval of everyone. I even learned that little two-letter word that is so difficult to say—no. I also learned to delegate more and to ask for help. I began to embrace the things that were truly important to me, letting go of things that were unimportant. Most of all I learned that my happiness did not hinge on having the "perfect" holiday. After all, Christmas is only one day out of 365.

In the years that followed, I have had many opportunities to help other women who struggled with the same issues. Jan no longer buys Christmas gifts on credit. Kathy no longer sends Christmas cards. Instead, she telephones those who are near and dear to her. Sharon told me recently that her past Christmas was the best, most relaxed she has ever had. She no longer rigidly schedules the family "fun." And my eyes still fill with tears when I think of helping a friend, who was dying from cancer, find the strength to observe her last Christmas in a way that was meaningful to her.

Running away for Christmas seemed to be a radical decision at them time, but it has paid big dividends since. Now that my children are all grown, they look back on the Christmas at Estes Park as one of their favorites. Paula said not long ago, "Mom, let's all go to Estes Park for Christmas again! It was such fun!" Perhaps we will.

Christmas will soon be here again. I must once again resolve to observe the holidays in a way that is meaningful to me. No more vain attempts to have a Norman Rockwell or Martha Stewart Christmas. I will continue to release my unreasonable expectations. My desire is to focus on a humble birth and enjoy my family. I know full well that my greatest gifts will never be found under the Christmas tree.

NOTE: The names of women were changed.
(c) Marlene Depler Permission must be granted to reprint in any form.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Heavenly Lullaby

By Marlene Depler

For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you. He is a mighty savior. He will rejoice over you with great gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will exult over you by singing a happy song. –Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

“Sing song—‘nother one,” my two-year-old granddaughter says as we rock back and forth. She enjoys having lullabies sung to her, and for me it is pure pleasure.

I treasured the moments of rocking and singing to my children when they were small. Now it’s the same with my grandchildren. For a few moments, I pull them close to my heart and look into their precious little faces. I express my delight and love for them by singing a melody. The soothing tones usually bring comfort and calm. Often, they fall asleep.

In this Scripture we are given a wonderful word picture to help us understand our tender Heavenly Father. The mighty Creator of the universe desires to calm our fears and sing to us. Now that is hard to comprehend. Nevertheless, God wants us to see ourselves as infants in his arms, carried close to his heart. He longs to quiet our frustrations and anxiety with his love. He so delights in us as his children that he bursts into a heavenly song.

God’s joy over me spills out into song!
(c) Marlene Depler (permission must be granted by author to reprint in any form)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Seasons Hand in Hand

Summer and fall have walked hand in hand longer than ususal this year. It's wonderful to have the trees turning and still have summer flowers. One couldn't ask for more magnificant weather.(All the photos above were taken on a neighborhood walk a few days ago.)

We haven't had a frost yet, but I'm sure it won't be long now. Today it is raining. The weather forecast shows 33ยบ for tomorrow night. Fall will soon have to bid farewell to summer.

In honor of autumn, here's a poem I wrote several years ago:

Autumn Leaves

By Marlene Depler

Crimson, purple, orange, and gold,
trees so glorious to behold.
Such beauty never does grow old.
Old Winter is knockin’ at the door,
these colors he must deplore
for he will send the dark and cold.

Fluttering, dancing, floating leaves
landing softly under trees.
Jack Frost has been here with a freeze.
Old Winter is knockin’ at the door,
but I still ask for more---
a bit more sunshine, if you please.

Leaves swirling, twirling in the wind
as tree limbs gently sway and bend,
acquiescing to Summer’s end.
Old Winter is knockin’ at the door.
I wonder what he has in store.
What arctic blasts will he send?

Leaves raked neatly in a pile---
I'm not sure that's worthwhile.
A gust of wind---they’ll blow a mile.
Old Winter is knockin’ at the door.
I’ve heard this knock before.
Oh, I’ll ignore him for awhile.

(c) Marlene Depler (Permission must be granted reprint or reproduce in any form)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Remebering Why I Write

By Marlene Depler

I crawled in bed at my normal bedtime, but for some reason, I couldn’t sleep. (This happens to me occasionally if I have had caffiene or my mind is preoccupied. However, I hadn’t had any caffeine and my mind wasn’t racing.) After lying there for quite some time, I decided not to fight it. I slipped quietly out of bed and went downstairs.

Maybe I would find something on TV to watch while I waited for the sandman. But Ray had shut the DVR off in preparation for going away for a few days. I didn’t want to mess with it since I am technically challenged. Then I guess I’ll find something to read, I thought.

So I crawled in my wing-backed chair, put my feet up on the footstool, and picked up Julia Cameron’s book, Walking in This World: The Practical Art of Creativity. I opened the book to page 230 where I had left my bookmark and began reading.
The words and phrases began to leap off the pages and into my heart. I was reminded that creativity (writing for me) is a “spiritual and not an intellectual transaction.” God is the Creator, and in turn we are intended to create. Through it we touch “the divine and allow it to touch us.” “When we let God be God and work through us, we experience both a sense of serenity and excitement.”

I lost track of time as I began to remember the joy of writing—of creating with words. Somehow I had lost the delight of letting words, thoughts, and ideas tumble out of my head and onto the page. Why?

The next page hit the nail on the head. Julia said,
The ‘market’ is the golden calf. When we worship it, we deaden our souls, risking, over time, our attunement to the work that would move through us. Commerce has its place, but that place is not first.
I could relate to that for sure. And frankly, I was weary of the constant reminder to “know your market” and many of the other shoulds of writing. The business side of writing had taken its toll of me.

Focusing to much on the marketplace combined with personal loss had nearly extinguished my love for writing. Now I could feel it come rushing back. It was exhilarating. I remembered some of the things I had written for sheer joy. When I thought about it, the things I had written from the heart were the pieces that ended up selling the best. Yes, I indeed must write—and write what I WANT to.

I wouldn’t have missed this “creative high” for a few hours of sleep. I thanked God for this unexpected reminder. I slipped back into bed filled with anticipation and delight and promptly fell asleep.

The next day while we were traveling, I wrote a draft of a poem—something I hadn’t done in a very long time.

Yes, I must not lose heart in my creative adventures. Creativity makes life itself an ART!
(c) 2007 Marlene Depler (permission must be obtained to reprint or reproduce in any form)

Monday, October 01, 2007

Wide Open Spaces

By Marlene Depler
Vast canopy of cloudless blue
stretches from horizon to horizon.
Blanket of endless prairie grass
unfurls as far as my eye can see.
Sky meets earth beneath.
Earth greets sky above.
Random windmills spin and twirl.
Not a tree anywhere.
Threads of barbed wire are stitched
to the earth with narrow fence posts
bordering miles of ribbon highway.
Not a soul in sight—
save the one beside me.
Quietness settles over me.
External expanse invites internal thoughts
to roam free and unconfined.

(c) 2007 Marlene Depler (Permission needed from author to reprint in any form)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My Very Own "Ruby Slippers"

I did it! I finally went out and did it! I purchased dark red shoes—and a matching purse. Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz had her ruby slippers. My own version of ruby slippers was long overdue.

I’ve always admired red shoes, but I’ve never owned a single pair in my 56 years. Perhaps I haven’t been confident and bold enough to embrace who I am and what I prefer. And then there’s my practical nature that just couldn’t allow me to buy shoes that wouldn’t match with everything. Thus, I’ve owned a multitude of black, brown, and white shoes.

A few weeks ago, a strange phenomenon overcame me. I decided to shop for a pair of red shoes. I’m not sure inspired me to lay aside my practical nature and honor my own preferences and desires. Perhaps it is understanding that life is much to short not to enjoy such a simple thing as a pair of red shoes.

Last week-end my eleven-year-old granddaughter helped me scour several stores looking for just the right pair of red shoes. Together we looked at every pair of red shoes in three huge stores. Most of them were high heels. That wouldn’t do for someone who rarely has a place to wear high heels—not to mention that comfort is still a high priority for me. We enjoyed the adventure, but came home with only a belt for my granddaughter.

This week-end my husband accompanied me to another store for my continued search. Up and down the rows of shoes I went until I spied a pair that caught my eye. I found my size and tried them on. Nice and comfy. Something that would go well with jeans and my typical casual style. Yes! These were the ones. Next I went to look for a matching purse. Sure enough! I found one I liked. And to top it off, my practical nature was satisfied because both shoes and purse were 40% off. I walked out of the store elated over my purchase.

We all need color. It fuels our creativity and energy. So consider adding a little splash of your favorite colors to your wardrobe, your home, your world!

Monday, August 27, 2007

At My Fingertips, Under My Nose

This morning I decided to put my vanilla yogurt in a lovely cut glass dish and top it with granola and fresh blueberries. Normally, I eat it out of the container, but not today. I thought, I have these beautiful dishes that my stepmother gave me, why not use them and enjoy them. And thus, I had a breakfast that was definitely more elegant and pleasant than my normal fare.

I find I overlook many things that are easily accessible to me—things that are at my fingertips and under my nose. Ever since my last blog entry, I have continued to think in this vain. (I talked about having the gorgeous Rocky Mountains so close and deciding I needed to enjoy them more often.) I asked myself what I might be missing. What little blessings and opportunities are waiting for me to notice and take advantage of them?

Often we think we don’t have the time or money to go here or do this and that. So we wait for the planets to align. Yet in reality, there are multitudes of ways we can enrich our lives, many of which cost nothing (or very little) and take very little time.

I came up with several things that I will chronicle in photos below. Some I have already enjoyed, while others are on the horizon. I have some wonderful experiences to look forward to. So read below and be inspired to open your eyes and come up with your own list of opportunities that you can’t wait to take advantage of. Don’t miss out on a thing. Seize every opportunity.

There are only three public rose gardens in the state. Longmont has one of them. Even though it's five minutes from my house, I hadn't been there in several years. So on my birthday, my younest daughter, granddaughter, and I went to enjoy the fabulous blooms and sweet fragance of dozens and dozens of roses.

In the course of my busy days, I fail to enjoy my upstairs deck. Late one afternoon, I decided it was time to take advantage of my shady deck and enjoy the view. So I made a glass of iced peppermint tea (see below) and had a 20 minute vacation without ever leaving home!

This is the view from my deck. Isn't it great? I think I should enjoy it more often.

This is my peppermint patch in my garden. Rarely do I ever use the peppermint even though I'm a fan of peppermint. I decided to change that. See next photo.

I picked some fresh peppermint and made iced peppermint tea. Delicious and refreshing on a hot summer afternoon!

I walk by my bicycle everytime I go in and out of the garage. Yet it's been years since I've gotten on it and taken a spin. So in the next few days, I plan to go for a ride.

I have lived here for 0ver 18 years and have never taken the time to visit our local musuem. I intend to remedy that very soon.

I haven't been to the public library in ages. I have plans for a book of fun fiction very soon. And it won't cost me anything!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Sunday Afternoon Drive

Andrea's---restautant in Lyons, Colorado

The historic Stanly Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado

Just one on the many rivers and streams.

Plein air painter

Rocky peaks taken at the entrance of MacGregor's Ranch

More peaks taken in a different direction (Notice the rain clouds moving in.)

Bed and breakfast in Glen Haven, Colorado

My tendency is to allow myself to be a slave to my to-do list. However, yesterday, I reminded myself that God ordained a day of rest and that perhaps I needed to honor what he has ordained. So I ask my husband if he wanted to go for an afternoon drive in the Rocky Mountains up toward Estes Park, Colorado. He readily agreed.

First we ran a couple of errands. I wanted a few last minute items (vanilla, cumin, dental floss, and erasers) to send to our family in Bosnia. I also needed to buy a birthday gift while it was on my mind. Then we started up Highway 66 towards the mountains. We stopped in Lyons at Andrea’s for lunch. We both had sauerbraten, spaetzle, and red cabbage—our favorite meal at this restaurant. Then we drove on up into the mountains to savor the scenery.

People come from all over the world to enjoy the beauty of the mountains near here. On almost any summer day, one can spot license plates from nearly every state in the U.S. in and around Estes Park. In a few seconds time, I saw plates from Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, and California! Sometimes those of us who live here get to busy to enjoy what is right at our fingertips. I wonder how many other things I fail to enjoy or appreciate that are easily accessible to me.

Over the course of the day, we drove down highways and byways and dirt roads. We saw a plein air painter painting lily pads on a mountain pond. We found an old, perhaps now abandoned, youth camp where my husband and I had attended a retreat together not long before we were married. So we also took a trip down “memory lane.”

Much of the time we had our windows down so we could hear the rushing streams and smell the freshness of the pines. My eyes took in the delights of everything from majestic mountains to tiny purple and yellow wildflowers. Such beauty in creation always causes me to acknowledge and praise the Creator.

As we started back towards home, I knew the afternoon drive was exactly what I needed.
I am left to reflect on the importance of moments of rest from all my doing and striving. I will also consider what other things (or people) might be right at my fingertips that I need to savor and enjoy more.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Company for Dinner

Zinnias from my garden in a pitcher my daughter's bought for me in Croatia.

The table is set: placemats from Wal-mart, napkins from a gift shop, and flowers from my garden.
We are having friends over for dinner this evening. If it wasn't so hot, we would eat out on the back patio. But I think we will all be more comfortable inside in the air conditioning. Maybe we will take our strawberry shortcake outside after dinner if it cools off.
Does having guests for dinner stress you out? I hope not. Sometimes we spend too much energy worrying about everything being just right instead of just enjoying the preparation. I have tidied things up a bit, but I haven't cleaned the entire house. I have come to the conclusion that a stressed-out hostess doesn't create the warm, friendly atmosphere that I desire for my guests. Family and friends will generally overlook a little imperfection when the mood and food exude a welcoming environment.
Here's a good summertime potatoe recipe (I'm serving this tonight!) that is good served warm or at room temperature:

4 boiling pototoes---peel and slice 1/4 inch thick. Boil in salted water
until tender. Drain and add to the following mixture. Toss.

1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons olive oil, either light or extra virgin
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley (If I don't have the fresh
parsley, I use dried parsley or dill.)

If you have leftovers, make some pototoes salad with it! I rarely have any left, even if I double the recipe.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Mid-summer Slump, Time for a Little Umph!

A butterfly enjoys my zinnias!

My bed of zinnias. I cut these for indoor bouquets.

My greenbeans will soon be ready!

This time of year most gardeners get a little weary. If you are like me, you are not as inspired right now as you were in spring and early summer. Early on we can't wait to get outside, get our fingers in the dirt, poke a few seeds in the ground, and plant our flowers. But then our enthusiasm gives way as summer wears on and the temperatures soar. We find a plethora of reasons NOT to work outside---anything to escape the heat.
Over the years, I've found that just when I start to get weary of yardwork is the exact time to give it one more push. So I have been out weeding, deadheading flowers, and fertilizing my potted plants. As we move into August, this last bit of "umph" pays off with more blooms and a nice garden. So another few hours out there sweating profusely---then I will rest a bit. I know I will be rewarded for my efforts.
As I think about it, life is often the same way. Many endeavors such as education, jobs, marriage, and raising kids are started with great enthusiasm. Then over time we often tire of the energy these things require.
I started writing several years ago. I began with gusto! My excitement was obvious to all who knew me. As time has gone by, that excitement has waned, and I am less inspired about writing. I am wondering if this might be the time for me to invest with a little more umph. A little spirt on energy might get me through!
How about you? Is there something that you need put your shoulder into? Could it be that the dividends of a little exhertion physically, emotionally, relationally, or spiritually might be worth it?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Returned to Sender---Sixty-Two Years Ago

This is a photo I took of a stack of letters that were returned to my father that were written to his younger brother Alvin during World War II. Across the front of them is handwritten deceased.

I just finished reading these letters as well as others written by both my father and an uncle I never met. There were also some notes from my grandmother to her son. What an up close and personal history lesson! I am keenly aware of the sacrifice famlies made for freedom around the world before I was ever born.

The last letter included both a letter from my dad and my grandmother, dated April 9, 1945. Here is a quote from my dad's letter:

"Dad just came with the news that you were wounded in action, slightly. I sure
will pray hard for you.... I hope the war is over in a few days, and you don't
have to see anymore action. Take good care of yourself, and stick with the

Here is a quote from my dear grandmother:

"...Dad called me after he got the telegram saying you were slightly wounded
the 28 of March.... I do hope you are not in pain tonight. It is very hard to not
know, but not as hard as it is for you to be in this awful battle. ...if there
was any way I could be with you I would. With much love, Mama."

My grandmother said she had saved a poem to send Alvin before she new he was injured. She enclosed it with her letter. This is the poem she sent:


I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea

Come drifting home with broken masts and sails:

I shall believe the hand which never fails,

From seeming evil worketh good for me;

And though I weep because those sails are battered,

Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered,

"I trust in Thee"

I will not doubt, though all my prayers return

Unanswered from the still, white realm above;

I shall believe it is an all-wise love

Which has refused those things for which I yearn;

And though at time I can not keep from grieving,

Yet the pure ardor of my fixed believing

Undimmed shall burn.

----Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Her son died before he read her letter or these words. How little did my grandmother know she would indeed grieve and yet continue believing in an all-wise love.

I am overwhelmed with emotion at this glimpse into the past.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Very Big and Very Small

My husband and I just returned from a vacation with our son and his family. We went to the coast of Oregon and then to Northern California to see the giant redwoods. This is my third time to see these mammoth trees, and yet their size still amazes me. It was fun to share this natural wonder with two of our grandchildren. The trees are quite the contrast with the smallest harbor! Enjoy the photos!

The world's smallest working harbor is in Depot Bay, Oregon. Quite a contrast from the Giant Redwoods!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Coming to My Senses

By Marlene Depler

Yesterday morning we were blessed with light showers. By afternoon the sun appeared, so I decided to squeeze in a walk even though I was busy doing laundry and housework. I headed out the door with a myriad of thoughts running through my mind.

Step by step my senses gradually came alive. The fragrant sweetness of the late-blooming Japanese lilacs awakened my sense of smell. Then the aroma of something freshly baked wafted from one of the homes I passed. Brown sugar and cinnamon, I thought. I was tempted to stop in and ask for a taste.

It wasn’t long before I noticed the hum of a lawnmower along with various tweet, tweets and chirp, chirps. Then there was the whir of tires on pavement as cars headed toward home at the end of a work week, and a train whistle in the distance.

My eyes couldn’t miss the giant pink and white blooms on the peonies, the little puffy clouds that looked like tufts of cotton, or the beautiful blue of the sky. I examined every yard for anything and everything that was blooming.

The sun warmed my skin. I reached out to touch the soft new green growth on a pine tree.

Yes, little by little I came to my senses. And as I did, my appreciation for those senses increased. I was reminded to experience life fully by enlisting each of those senses.

Perhaps you need a gentle reminder to do the same.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Everything Pink---Well, Almost!

I had to laugh at myself yesterday when I was hanging up my shirts from the laundry at all the shades of pink, burgundy, and red with a little lavender thrown in for good measure!!! While I do admit that every shade of pink imaginable can be found in my closet, I really do where other colors, such as blue, red, purple, black, white, green, and yellow.

Next time I shop I will try to branch out a little more!

Sunday, May 13, 2007


By Marlene Depler

I listen to the cricket chorus
and the crickets beckon me
to a time that was
and never more shall be—
when sultry summer days
seemed to last forever
mud pies, marbles, jacks,
dill pickles and blackberry cobbler
dangling bare feet that didn’t reach the floor

I hear the call of the whippoorwill
And I am transported
to days and years that where
and never more shall be—
open windows, oscillating fans
banging screen doors
barefoot in cotton dresses
hide and seek with cousins
catching fireflies, and oh, those chiggers

My heart cries out when I’m alone,
longing for my mother.
She cannot answer me.
I yearn for all the days that were
and never more shall be—
fresh baked bread after school
her floral house dresses
her gentle hands and listening ear
a heart that cared more than I knew

I call out to God and He whispers back to me,
Reminding me of what now is and what is yet to be.

(c) Marlene Depler (Authors permission required to publish or reprint in any form)

Note: My mother died six years ago. Life support was removed on Mother's Day, so I always think of her today with sadness and joy intermingled.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Allured by Spring

My new hanging basket! I can see it from my kitchen window!

Lilacs are in full bloom! The fragrance is amazing!

It has been way too long since I posted! My apologies. I shall try to do better.

First, my husband and I went to Missouri to visit my dad and his wife, as well as my oldest sister and several aunts, uncles, and cousins. Then when I returned, I was allured outside by spring! Couldn't help myself!

The days have been sunny and beautiful, so I have been pruning roses, planting my garden, and anything else I can find to do to stay outside. I love to visit the various garden centers and nurseries this time of year. The colors of blooming things are intoxicating.

The bird baths are filled with fresh water. My porch swing is hanging on the front porch. Want to stop by for lemonade or iced tea?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

You Can't Journal Wrong!

Photo of my current journal

By Marlene Depler

I've lost count of my futile attempts at journaling. In my adolescent years, I started several diaries. After detailing a few monotonous days or my latest crush on some boy, I soon tossed the diary into a drawer and promptly forgot about it.
As an adult I tried numerous times to capture a portion of my life on the pages of a journal. Once again my attempts tuned into unsuccessful endeavors. For a few weeks or a few months at best, I managed to write every day. But life happened—things like having a baby or moving to another state. I missed a few days that turned into months. Eventually, I gave up—temporarily that is—until my next fitful attempt. Over time I quit trying altogether.
For many years I made no effort to journal. That is until I heard Luci Shaw say, "You can't journal wrong!"

Her statement led me to approach journaling in a new way. Keeping a journal has become a rewarding and sustainable experience. But first, I had to confront the misconceptions about journaling that had sabotaged my success.

Misconception 1: Journals must be kept the right way.

I unknowingly believed there was a right way and a wrong way to keep a journal. I just couldn't quite decide what the right way was. There were so many types of journals—travel journals, gardening journals, prayer journals, etc. What kind of a journal should I keep? What topics should I write about in my journal?
I didn't know the right formula. This belief was rooted in the black-and-white thinking that often accompanies perfectionism. The way in which a person chooses to journal is not right or wrong. It is strictly a personal choice that may change from day to day and year to year as we grow and change. We are free to include or exclude anything we choose without being rigid.
So as I began to journal once again, I often reminded myself, You can't journal wrong! Now I include anything I choose in my journal. I write observations and reflections about life or nature. I sometimes complain and sometimes I dream. Writing ideas germinate sometimes before I even realize a seed was planted.
I pen heartfelt prayers and questions for which I currently have no answers. I talk about my feelings, thoughts, and struggles. I give a voice to both joy and sorrow. Humorous things my grandchildren say and do make their way onto the page. I include meaningful quotations from books or even friends. I no longer worry about whether it is right. My journal is simply whatever I want it to be on any given day.

Misconception 2: One must journal everyday.

Another misconception I held was that I MUST write every day—no exceptions. This belief set me up for failure. It didn't allow for real life with all its uncertainties and interruptions. If I missed a few days or weeks, I gave up. Now I just return and jump right in. It's OK if a few gaps occur.
I now view my journal more like a friend or companion. Sometimes I confide in my journal more than once a day. When I have been away for a few days, I can't wait to spend time with this friend. I write when I choose to, not because I must.

Misconception 3: Entries must be error-free.

If I was to journal successfully, I needed to discard my compulsion for "error-free" entries. It may be normal to desire a certain degree of neatness, but I had to learn to live with a few misspelled words, grammatical errors, and crossed-out sentences. Of course, I attempt to write well, but if I make a few mistakes, so what? After all, I'm human! I might as well embrace my humanity and allow for some imperfection. So now, if I make some type of mistake, I draw a line through it and move on.
Discarding my tendencies toward perfectionism has made sustained journaling attainable for me. And journaling has enabled me to live and write more fully. It has become a richly satisfying experience.
For others who may be considering a whirl at journaling, I highly recommend it—that is if you are willing to give up your misconceptions—and your perfectionism. Remember, "You can't journal wrong!"

(c) Marlene Depler

To publish in any form, permission must be granted by author.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Motley Friends

Just a few of my favorite books!
By Marlene Depler

Companions old and new;
tall and short, thick and thin.
Some don jackets, colorful and bold;
the attire of others—simple and plain.
Well-known and obscure,
yet each a friend to me.

Standing in rows, leaning, or stacked,
both hardback and paperback;
fiction and non-fiction;
favorite children's books-
first read to my children-
now to my children's children.

A world without books—who could imagine?
No Holy Scriptures, no C. S. Lewis,
no Harriot, no Hemingway,
no Dr. Suess, no Robert Frost;
no feasts of syllables and sentences;
no food for soul and spirit.

For the printed word, I'm grateful—
the various volumes in my possession:
cookbooks to commentaries,
thesaurus and assorted travel books
on castles, catacombs, cathedrals,
Paris, Pompeii, and Pearl Harbor.

These books reflect who I was,
who I am now, who I am becoming.
Each mirror a part of me—
where I have been and what I know.
If you know the company I keep,
you will also know me.

(c) Marlene Depler (Must have author's permission to reprint in any form.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bear with Me

I have been in the hospital with pneumonia. I'm home now, but please bear with me while I recupperate and say "good-bye" to my daughter and her family as they leave for Bosnia. I'll be back soon.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Bring on Spring!

Swollen buds on my lilac bushes.

First tips of crocus amidst some dead leaves.

Daffodils shoots in my rose bed.

Weeds always show up! But at least they are a sign of spring!

Nothing like a nasty cold and cough to make me ready for spring! (I have coughed until my muscles all ache. And I have taken more drops and teas and concoctions than I care to innumerate.) Then we have had so much more snow this winter than normal. I think we had snow at least once a week for eight weeks straight---some of them were biggies.

Yes, bring on spring! I am ready for green grass and leaves. I am ready for blooming bulbs in assorted colors.I am ready for warm sunshine streaming in my east windows. I want to walk in the fresh air and talk to my neighbors. I want to shed the heavy coats and turtlenecks.

I'm delighted to begin noticing the first signs of spring. The daylight lasts longer. The daffodils and crocus bulbs are pushing up out of the soil. Buds are swelling on the tips of my lilac bush. I see a hint of green in the lawn. These little traces all give me hope for what lies ahead.

I think we all need something to look forward to. Anticipation gives us the spark of hope that moves us forward. Maybe you are like me, awaiting the arrival of spring. Or perhaps you are anticipaiting a trip, lunch with a friend, or finishing a some project. Regardless of whether these things are big or small, we must cherish them, knowing that they infuse us with a small morsel of hope and joyful anticipation.

In a little over a week, I will once again be saying "good-bye" to my oldest daughter, her husband, and their three darling children as they return to Bosnia. Now that---I am NOT looking forward too. I hate how much that hurts a grandma's heart! In spite of this difficult hurdle in my near future, I am trying to find things to look forward to after that. Perhaps a little anticipation in other areas of my life will get me beyond the feelings of loss.

Blessing to all of you!