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A photographic recap of 2013.

Lemons on my lemon tree

yellow lemons

Ducks at Furman

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tulips copy

Flowers by the lakepeace


bee on lemon flower


honey pouring 2

A breakfast made by a sister for her brotherbreakfast


My parentsIMG_5819copy



My Whitten familyIMG_6100 copy





Hay bales

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A father helping a daughter with algebraalgebra


sleepy bunnies



The beach at sunsetIMG_6477 copy

And there was so much more…


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The “perfect” gift

I love gift giving!  Very little thrills me more than finding the “perfect” gift. Unfortunately that seems rare. A “perfect” gift is something that says something about the other person. It is something that will be long lasting, at least in the memory. It is a rare and precious. So it doesn’t happen every year with every person on my list.

One person on my list is difficult to buy for. He’s picky and unpredictable about what he would like. He says he doesn’t want anything most of the time, and when he does have a request, it is practical. For example, this year he has asked for this: stihl-fs38-petrol-strimmer-large


Not very exciting! It doesn’t say anything about him except that he is tired of cheap trimmers.

So sometimes gift giving is practical, and that’s okay. It’s not a perfect gift, but as I said, perfect gifts are rare. Maybe they come along only a few times in life.





When I around ten or eleven, I asked for something very odd – not for Christmas or my birthday. It was something I wanted dearly, so I asked and my daddy gave it to me.  This gift ended up being one of the best gifts I ever received.

It was a hay bale. It was a perfect gift!


Being one of three sisters sharing a bedroom, I longed for a place of my own. The hay bale served that purpose. It became my retreat, where I did homework, where I dreamed looking up into the expansive sky, where I thought about God, where I cried, and where I wondered about the future.

It was a perfect gift because my daddy didn’t laugh or dismiss my desire as silly or a passing whim. He went out in the field and brought it home, put it down outside the backyard. It was for me. Even as a kid, it meant more to me than just having a hay bale. It meant love and validation – the perfect gift.




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I don’t remember ever losing sleep or being so disturbed over a “study” before. So let me share it with you. (I read about this in the book called Quiet.)

Apparently a man named, Solomon Asch, conducted experiments regarding group influence between 1951 and 1956. In his study he gave a test to a group of people asking questions about their perception of pictures of lines. Easily 95% of the folks answered all the questions correctly individually. Then he planted people in the group to throw out the same incorrect answers. When that was done, only 25% of the people answered all correctly. A whopping 75% of the group went along with the wrong answer to at least one question. Why??? Why would people who can think, who know their right from their left, who have all their senses choose obvious wrong answers?

Well, for years they didn’t know the Why. Then a neuroscientist, Gregory Berns, did another similar study. On their own, individuals answered only 13.8% wrong answers, but when answering as a group, they agreed with the wrong answers 41% of the time. But Berns also wanted to know why people so easily conformed. Using an fMRI scanner he found that people’s actual perception of the problem was changed by the group. They just didn’t say to themselves, “I’m just going to go with the flow even though I know it’s wrong.” Their belief in what they saw changed! That is just amazing and frightening to me.

So I’ve been thinking, this is how all the the atrocities in history happened and continue to happen. The crucifixion of Jesus, the witch trials, the Holocaust, and so on. What is so clearly wrong is thought right.

We probably think we are above believing it is okay to kill innocent people, but our minds are altered by our culture nonetheless and the innocent still die. People are swept away by what our culture says is right, what is cool, what is smart. We don’t seem to have a foundation anymore. Even Christians are putting aside what the Bible clearly states as wrong and deciding that there are exceptions. Homosexuality is condemned in the Bible and because a person’s daughter or son is homosexual, their perception of it changes. “It’s okay. Maybe it was wrong then but not now.” The Bible says God created the world and made man in his image. Yet, we dismiss this by entertaining ideas and theories contrary to God’s word because it seems smarter to us. Life is precious and to be protected, but if it is inconvenient then our law says it is okay to get rid of it.


We think we are progressing in our thoughts, we are cool, we are more enlightened than our grand parents, but we are a group of lost sheep, following  what could cost us our soul and our lives. We must choose the right answers despite the group and despite the pain. But I wonder if we know what the right answers are. Has our perception so altered that we can’t see what is right? The Bible says men will call evil good, and good evil. And that’s is where we are. Seems hopeless.

But thankfully it is not because we have a God who loves us, who calls us to repentance, who covers our sin by his son’s sacrifice and makes us his children. My prayer is that God will open our eyes to our wrongs and give us courage to do and believe what is right and good.

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My chicken dream

Chickens were lined up sitting on a conveyor belt.

One chicken that can’t seem to sit up straight sadly thinks to herself, “I can’t do any better than sit sideways.”
Eventually this chicken neared the end and was sitting straight up, “Finally, I am sitting upright!”
Then she plunged off the conveyor belt.

chickens coloredThis was an actual dream I had one night.

Possible take away lesson:

  • Don’t worry if you are out of sync with everyone else. It’s really okay to lean a little this way or that way.
  • Life isn’t long enough to be so introspective. Enjoy it before it’s over.
  • When you do find happiness, it might not last too long. 😦



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house porchI love B&Bs!  This is the Inn on York Street in Chester, SC where Daniel and I went for a little get-away. It’s a small, quiet town where you can go to do absolutely NOTHING! And that is just what we needed. 🙂 I loved the quiet and peacefulness and just being with my man alone. We are coming up on our 19th wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe that it has really been that long.

house broomOur room. Comfy bed and large bathroom.

house front yardThe view from the front porch. Our host and hostess, Mark and Sandy, were a lovely English couple. I wish we could have gotten to know them a bit more. They gave us hugs when we left. Sweet people!

house rabbitWild rabbits nibbled the grass in the yard. Lots of birds and squirrels peppered the yard as well. And the honey suckle was intoxicating.

peace boatWe did take a boat out on the lake at the state park. No, not a canoe or kayak as we would have preferred, but a nice fishing boat.

peace Daniel boatDaniel thought we would go faster if he stood up and paddled. And we did, but it was a funny way to navigate a fishing boat.

peace trailAfter our short boating trip across the lake, we decided to hike around the lake. Quiet and peaceful – until I saw a snake on the trail. I screamed, grabbed Daniel’s arm and frightened him. Daniel doesn’t expect his country wife to scream over a black snake. The poor snake quickly slithered away.

peace DanielA tree you can see through. Hello, Daniel.

peace flowers   peace daisy

Pretty flowers along the trail.

peace KarenWatching my husband meandering in a snake infested area so he could see the creature that was croaking so loud.

house coolhouse cool metal tower









A cool house with a metal roof and turret along our route.


peaceDaniel and I had a lovely time together. It’s hard to convey the delights of a peaceful, beautiful time, but it was truly a delightful time with my husband of 19 years (almost). 🙂

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Since Cassie is down at the state capitol learning all about our government and Daniel has a three home inspection day, Alex and I decided to have a bit of fun as well as a challenge.  We hopped on our bikes and rode two miles to the Swamp Rabbit Trail and then to Traveler’s Rest. It’s hard for a mother to find interesting things to do with an almost teenage son. You can’t just go shopping or paint your nails or go get dessert and talk. Well, the dessert idea may work out okay. But generally it needs to be active – and sometimes that’s hard to do for a mom.

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I love the Swamp Rabbit Trail!  We saw so many bikers, runners, walkers and some people that looked like they just wandered onto the trail accidentally. And it’s beautiful! Lovely dogwoods, wisteria, and lots of green. I love spring. I have missed green.

srt 2Alex rode circles around me. I would rather run up a hill than bike up a hill, but Alex can do both and not break a sweat.

srt 3I begged to take a break when we got to Furman. We had been riding for about an hour, and I knew that I had just made a huge mistake. My body ached and my legs were burning, but TR isn’t much further and I didn’t want to disappoint that kid of mine.

srt 4We took a bit more of a break and admired the beautiful campus of Furman University.

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We stopped to watch the ducks and this other creature, a beaver, maybe.

srt 7We finally made it to Traveler’s Rest and stopped in here to refuel.

srt 9This is me, so happy to be sitting on something other than a bicycle seat! Can you see the pain in my face and the relief?

srt 8Alex – he didn’t really need a rest. No, that kid doesn’t tire. Just don’t let him run out of water and he’s good to go. And go we must.

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But first we bought a couple of shirts because we felt we deserved them. Okay, I felt like I deserved one.

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Thank you, Swamp Rabbit, for letting us ride your trail. It was lovely and great fun.









But now I know that I should never think I can hop on a bike and ride 22 miles in one day when I haven’t been on a bike in forever. I just hope I can walk tomorrow and sit down. 🙂

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Coffee first

I woke with a massive headache, so I stayed in bed – a long time. All the other occupants of the house went merrily on their ways to help a friend move and to help a neighbor with firewood. These people that I live with are such good people! Anyway, I eventually convinced myself that getting up and drinking a hot cup of coffee would dispel the pain raging in my head.
I started the coffee, poured cream into my coffee mug, and noticed three little notes left on the counter by one of those good people that I live with. Apparently he needed help. So while my healing tonic steeped, I tackled a little paperwork. When I finished with that, I went back through the kitchen and noticed some dirty dishes, so I put them in the dishwasher before tackling item number two on the little note left for me. When that was finished, I anticipated my hot coffee, the hopeful cure to the war inside my head. But where was my coffee mug with the creamer in it? I looked everywhere. Then I recalled the “milk” I poured out of a cup that I presumed one of those good people had left before going about their good deeds. Aaauuuggg! I poured my creamer right down the drain! That means that I would only get one cup of coffee because there had been only enough cream for two cups. I can only hope one of those good people can bring home some creamer as I see that it will be at least a two cup morning.
What I learned: Coffee first, always put coffee first!

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