Tag Archives: quotes


I found this quote yesterday and had to write it down. Not just pin it or screenshot it, but actually find my pen and a piece of paper and write it down. That, in itself, was its own kind of therapy. That my phone’s camera ombre-d the paper was a happy accident. All-in-all, an excellent 10 seconds in my life.

We are home from 9 nights of tent-camping in Sleeping Bear Dunes. In the past 10 years, I think we’ve missed one year of camping over the 4th of July there. It’s a well-beaten path for this family. Before that, the 3 kiddos were with my folks in Texas. And before that, we were all in Cleveland for my grandmother’s funeral. Including last night, the kids have slept in their own beds twice in the past month. They clapped when we pulled into the driveway last night. Abby yelled, “This is mine’s house?!”

Yes, love. We are home.

I have struggled more than usual lately with my summer writer’s block. Once I get off-track, I get really off-track. My voice and my heart seem to be… wandering. I started keeping this online journal 9 years ago this month (July 2005. OH MY LANTA). I do so very much still need to write. And the structure of a self-imposed twice-a week “schedule” keeps me somewhat focused. It makes me show up. I am continually trying to remember to leave the seeds in the soil and quit worrying about how they’ll grow.

I just… well, I just need to catch my breath.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.

While we’re catching up, let me give you a quick update on our calf situation:

We’ve had 2 of the 3 babies since June 2nd. Abigail had a (gorgeous) boy and Lindy (dear, sweet, Lindy) had a GIRL! We’re just waiting on Safari wt have her calf and then I’ll draw for the winner of the free t-shirt. If you’ve already ordered your t-shirts but haven’t received them yet, they’ll be in the mail this week. I’ll be putting in an order for a second batch of shirts early next week, so let me know if you want to jump on that bandwagon.

See you Thursday, rain or shine.


2013 garden update


A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust. •Gertrude Jekyll 

garden update

Alrighty. We’ve had a full month’s sun and rain on the 2013 garden and here is where we stand:

The broccoli is simply amazing. Awesome. I’ve never succeeded with broccoli before and have no clue why it worked this year, but I know have a couple of quart bags of broccoli florets in my freezer. I soaked them in saltwater first to remove any hidden insects and then blanched them before freezing them. [link to preserving fresh broccoli]

The onions? Can barely see them. Their potato neighbors have grown to be 5-feet tall and have kept the root crop avenue crowded but protected… like Franklin Street. Both crops are doing well with no bugs thus far. I can’t let Abby in there, though. If she got in the potato patch, I’d never find her again.

Cherry tomatoes and canning tomatoes are doing well. Lots of green fruit on the vines which I expect to ripen this week and next. The plants grew exponentially while we were camping. I thought I’d left twice as much space as last year between plants to have room for weeding and walking. Right now, half of each plant is staked and the rest of the giant is crawling along the floor heavy-laden with fruit. Staking now will surely break the plants. I’ll have to let it go and see what happens.

No sign of the wretched tomato worms. Yet. And that is all the press-time we will give them.

The Roma tomato plants did not fair well this year… probably due to location next to the beans and excessive weeds. There are 3 or four fruits ripening, but I think 2 of my four plants are goners.

The green peppers that usually hate me? I have 4 little guys growing and looking normal. I am not convinced yet, but it’s a promising sign. The poblano peppers… I forgot to look for. They are behind the mammoth broccoli. Which reminds me that the cilantro plant was lovely and perfect… used for several meals before vacation… is now lost in the potato jungle.

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.
• Ralph Waldo Emerson

The four kale plants are also doing very well. Kale is a very pretty plant. Who knew? I’ve yet to make anything with kale… advice or direction?

The green bean teepee is a huge success. As Rylie says, “WHOA.” No beans yet, but we were late to start so I am expecting those to start this week.

Yellow raspberries are blooming but are being eaten by bugs. We’ve managed to snatch a couple of fruits here and there but are not trying super hard to save the crop.

Blackberries are past flowering and nearly ripened. Almost all the green fruit is beginning to color. Last year’s crop was so large and so lovely… my mouth is watering. We’re hoping the raspberry bugs don’t hop plants.

Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.
• H. Jackson Brown, Jr. 

In summary: everything doing well. Everything needs intense weeding. Our week of 100˚weather also brought very low motivation to do anything other than swim in Trace’s pool. I’m not mad about that.

My children are still completely color blind. Lots of green tomatoes were picked last night out of excitement. BUT, they love the garden and I love that they love the garden.

Chad mentioned in the last garden post that my plant markers would grow legs and I am here to say he is a prophet.

The baby chickadees grew up and flew the coop. Two days later, a mamma robin moved in and laid 5 eggs. They are in their awkward feather-growing stage, but are easily the most-loved things in the garden.

Before planting this year, the garden received about 3 loads of composted chicken coop shavings and poo. Before our 10-day camping adventure, 2 blessed-angel-moms and their kiddos came out and worked for 3 hours with me prepping the coop and garden for the upcoming neglect. Fresh everything: fresh shavings, washed water bowls, weeding, staking plants, shaving mulch spread all over the garden. When I returned? Both the coop and garden looked exactly as we’d left it nearly 2 weeks before. Pretty as a picture. It was amazing. Again, things can change quickly, especially with a couple weeks of humidity and little weeding in daylight hours, but the garden has definitely received more loving care than ever this year and the crops are thanking us. I am hoping I can get out there and prune/clean/weed a bit this week and get things under control.

The best place to find God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.
• George Bernard Shaw 


2012 reading highlights

I love words. I dream words. When I read, I think, “MY LANTA, that was an incredible sentence.” I do.  One of the perks of reading on a Kindle is that it keeps all your highlights online so you can pull them back up at a moment’s notice… like, perhaps, when re-capping your year through books.  These are the special truths I found in pages this year.

Now, a few superstars are missing. I read some incredible words the perfectly old-fashioned way… but those quotes shall remain in the books, like the should-have-been photos of the lovely day when you forgot your camera. Those specials are for re-reading and re-finding another day.

I hope you find some laughter and widsom and beauty below.

What was your favorite book this year?

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

(The boy had a skinny, tiny-eyed face like a rat. She was twenty-five before it occurred to her that she could have insulted him back, but the rule of life was that the boys got to decide which girls were pretty; it didn’t really matter how ugly they were themselves.)

Hope for the Weary Mom: Where God Meets You in Your Mess {Expanded Edition} by Brooke McGlothlin, Stacey Thacker

Ephesians 3:20-21:   “God can do anything, you know―far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. . .
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” C.S. Lewis
Why do we seek Him? Is it so He can perform for us, take care of all our needs, bind up our wounds, raise our dead? He is that God. He sees us. But if we only follow Him because of what He does, there will come a time when we feel like He doesn’t. And then we must choose if we will turn away or follow through the times when life hurts too much because of who He is, the God who bends down to listen (Psalm 116:2), and gives up His all to give us life.
We are mistaken if we believe our good parenting moves God in any way to act on our behalf. And while it’s not wrong of us to long for the salvation of our homes, it IS wrong for us to believe God brings salvation in response to our behavior.   Everything God does, He does for Himself.   “Thus says the Lord God: ‘It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of My holy Name.’” (Ezekiel 36:22)
I’m pretty sure God allows suffering and challenge in our lives to bring us to a place of raw dependence.   I’m NOT saying my child, or Tracey’s, died just so we could be more like Jesus. But I AM saying it would be a waste not to let them make us more like Jesus . . .
He had been able to repress every disrespectful word; but the flashing eye, the gloomy and troubled brow, were part of a natural language that could not be repressed,—indubitable signs, which showed too plainly that the man could not become a thing.
In the book of John, the disciples saw a man who had been blind since birth. They asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus replied, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:1-3). I believe in a God who is sovereign over all—sovereign from the first second that James existed, growing inside me, and sovereign over every decision I made for him, the good and the possibly bad. Instead of living in the “what-ifs” and “should haves,” I have to move on. I have to trust that through James’s life, the works of God might be displayed.
Having a team of therapists has benefited James because when there is an issue, each member of the team looks at it from a different perspective.
Outlander: with Bonus Content by Diana Gabaldon

A man killed with a musket was just as dead as one killed with a mortar. It was just that the mortar killed impersonally, destroying dozens of men, while the musket was fired by one man who could see the eyes of the one he killed. That made it murder, it seemed to me, not war. How many men to make a war? Enough, perhaps, so they didn’t really have to see each other?
There comes a turning point in intense physical struggle where one abandons oneself to a profligate usage of strength and bodily resource, ignoring the costs until the struggle is over. Women find this point in childbirth; men in battle.
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

It was the first story she’d ever trapped on paper, and to see her thoughts and ideas turned concrete was curious. It made her skin seem unusually sensitive, strangely exposed and vulnerable.
I want them to press through the anxiety and stress of placing their creation in front of an inevitably critical audience. And when the repast doesn’t earn rave reviews from all the mealtime judges, I want them to learn that their worth should never be tied to success or failure.
Early on, I realized that even though the role of Enforcer doesn’t come naturally to my laid-back personality, I couldn’t let it bother me that the kids didn’t want to work; the fact was, they needed to work.
Nothing was being asked of him that he couldn’t do. Plus, I’m always there to help—probably too often and too much. It really boiled down to the fact that he only wanted work based on his terms. Isn’t that how we all want it to be?
In our society, children are generally not required to do meaningful work to help their families. Going to school, pursuing their extracurricular activities, and staying out of major trouble is considered their function. In the old days, boys (and girls) had chores and roles that were vitally important to the survival and functioning of their family unit. These roles gave children a sense of self-worth, vitality, and importance. They knew that they were an integral part of the survival of their family and that without their contribution, it would suffer.”
Cleaning methods are a frequent bone of contention between parents and children. A parent’s insistence on “the right way” can add another element of conflict to the housework issue. The answer? Avoid this by focusing on the “good-enough” job. A 10-year-old’s skill with the vacuum cleaner will increase with practice … if he’s not derailed by arguments over too-high standards or demoralized when a parent redoes the work.
No, in life, like in school, the best time to do our best work is the first time. It is what is asked of us, it is how we are gauged, it is the expectation for the job at hand, and if we can’t perform at that level, we may be asked to step down. Or worse, we will be an inhibitor to a company or a ministry. The Lord is clear in Scripture on the topic of work. In Proverbs 21:5 we are taught, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” …
The stronger my faith (resting in what is known rather than seen), the more I listen, the faster I respond, the less I complain and push back … the deeper my intimacy with God, the more often I’m called to serve, the greater my peace and contentment. The lesson for me, and the one I’d love for all my kids to grasp? Be the go-to, uncomplaining, submitting, teachable worker. In a counter-intuitive sort of way, peace and freedom accompany that path of surrendered obedience.
A dollar lost is more compelling than a dollar earned.
Dan Myers’s book Biblical Parenting, which I thought sums up our job well: In a nutshell, the answer to child-rearing is to love one’s children, use good common sense, and be guided by the Bible, not worldly standards. For parenting, “Do as I say and not as I do,” is not sufficient. You must be the person you would like your children to become. Jesus, Matthew 22:37–39, said you can do this by (1) loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind and (2) by loving your neighbors as yourself.… Remember that the goal of parenting is not to provide a successful childhood but to grow your child into an adult who is a good person.
Hospitality is the virtue which allows us to break through the narrowness of our own fears and to open our houses to the stranger, with the intuition that salvation comes to us in the form of a tired traveler. —HENRI J. M. NOUWEN
people tend to participate more eagerly when they help set the agenda rather than simply executing ideas that have been pushed upon them.
Parents must stand united, not “against” the children, but in leadership “before” the children. It is the obligation of parents to make sure children feel loved and respected. It is not the obligation of parents to ensure children feel happy. —Dottie Jones
Work is the vehicle through which God cares for creation (see Genesis 2:15). The satisfaction that comes from accomplishment, from demonstrating responsibility, from making even a small difference in our world is written into our DNA. My role as the parent is to love these kids, nurture them, and teach them how to embrace what they were created to do.
Home to Woefield: A Novel by Susan Juby

The personality I’ve got naturally is not your all-occasions variety.
She smiled. Her teeth were extra white and probably not from bleaching but from inner purity or something.
I debated whether to tell them I had long since abandoned my writing career and moved into radishes and fraud, but decided the timing was wrong.
I’d promised everyone that we would put up proper fences and build a barn before winter, but I didn’t have enough money and I knew when I made the promises I was not being entirely truthful. Lying had become habitual since I became a farmer.
Oh My Stars: A Novel by Lorna Landvik

From what I can see, miracles are built from love, and as far as love is concerned, I am a true believer.
Esben was convinced that because she did things she didn’t want to do and did them joyfully, her Christian heart was beyond reproof, whereas Leola was of the mind that if the thoughts were rotten, everything that sprung from them had to be tainted too.
She sang along with two songs she had learned from the past night’s concerts, but when they started improvising again, urging Violet’s participation, she declined, choosing instead to sit back and listen. As exhilarated as she was, she was bushed; they had traveled less than sixty miles today, and yet Violet felt she had crossed several borders.
It’s funny, the family heirlooms we pass down to kids—bone china, jewelry, cash, real estate—but we can’t bequeath them the really important things, like friends. The really important things they have to find themselves.
“Acting your age” as an eighteen-year-old meant acting like an adult; we weren’t coddled and didn’t have the luxury of stretching our adolescence into our thirties, as seems to be the trend now.
Of course you don’t get to be my age without learning that “Why?” is the million-dollar question—the who-what-where-when-and-how questions reporters try to answer are a piece of cake compared to the why. If you’re able to explain the why, you’re able to explain everything, and when’s the last time you were that smart?
For parents, there’s nothing sweeter than seeing your child fight her demons and win.
Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay

There is an ancient rule: actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea—“the act does not create guilt unless the mind is also guilty.” That is why we do not convict children, drunks, and schizophrenics: they are incapable of deciding to commit their crimes with a true understanding of the significance of their actions. Free will is as important to the law as it is to religion or any other code of morality. We do not punish the leopard for its wildness.
Life goes on, probably too long if we’re being honest about it. In a long life there are thirty or thirty-five thousand days to be got through, but only a few dozen that really matter, Big Days when Something Momentous Happens. The rest—the vast majority, tens of thousands of days—are unremarkable, repetitive, even monotonous.
The Talk-Funny Girl: A Novel by Roland Merullo

There are some kinds of sorrow that words can never reach, certain kinds of things you can never hold in the box of your thoughts, certain kinds of pain you can’t soften in other people.
All that bruise and confusion, all that guilt and shame and buried anger: I wanted to go back and hunt it down and close the hurt-museum for good, though I discovered you cannot really do that. What you can do, what you have to do, is not pass too much of it on. If you can stop that trouble from flowing through you onto your children and husband and other people, or even if you can dilute it, then it seems to me your life ought to be pleasing to whatever kind God it was who made you.
The Language of Flowers: A Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Before I realized I was crying, a tear dropped from the tip of my chin onto the baby’s cheek. It ran in a thin line to the edge of her mouth, and her red lips puckered in surprise. I laughed, and the tears ran faster. The open forgiveness in her eyes, the uncensored love, terrified me. Like Grant, my daughter deserved so much more than I could give her. I wanted her to carry hawthorn, laugh easily, and love without fear. But I could not give her this, could not teach her what I didn’t know. It would be only a matter of time before my toxicity would taint her perfection. It would leak out of my body, and she would swallow it with the willingness of a ravenous infant. I had hurt every person I had ever known; I wanted, desperately, to save her from the dangers of being my daughter.
If it was true that moss did not have roots, and maternal love could grow spontaneously, as if from nothing, perhaps I had been wrong to believe myself unfit to raise my daughter. Perhaps the unattached, the unwanted, the unloved, could grow to give love as lushly as anyone else.
Maybe she would be scared, and maybe I would feel overwhelmed, but we would try again the next week and the one after that. Over time, we would learn each other, and I would learn to love her like a mother loves a daughter, imperfectly and without roots.
Earl, for example, comes into Bloom asking for flowers that will make his wife “happy”—but when pressed, he realizes it isn’t happiness at all that he’s looking for, but rather connection and communication. So many people walk around with a vague feeling of discontentment without ever understanding what it is that’s making them feel dissatisfied. Through her conversations with her customers, Victoria helps them become clear about what it is they want in their lives. The bouquets she creates for them are physical manifestations of these desires, and when customers leave her shop with flowers in their hands, they do so believing change to be imminent. In my experience, it is this belief that has the power to transform lives.
severe attachment disorders were thought of almost like a life sentence. Study after study illustrated that early relationships between caregivers and infants actually shape the circuits of the brain and lay the foundation for later developmental outcomes—from academic performance and interpersonal skills to physical and mental health. But new research out of the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University shows that the brain retains its ability to change far into life. Learning to securely attach at any time in one’s life—to a caregiver (as Victoria does with Elizabeth) or even to a partner (as Victoria does with Grant)—has the ability to “rewire” circuits in the brain. This is hopeful research for those like Victoria, who are determined to overcome the trauma they have experienced and learn to love themselves and others.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I was raised among books, making invisible friends in pages that seemed cast from dust and whose smell I carry on my hands to this day.
“Presents are made for the pleasure of who gives them, not for the merits of who receives them,” said my father.
Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic by Martha Beck

no matter who was around me, no matter how helpful and loving people tried to be, I was still going to end up facing my fears alone.
It is a frightening thing to love someone you know the world rejects. It makes you so terribly vulnerable. You know you will be hurt by every slight, every prejudice, every pain that will befall your beloved throughout his life.
We go around like Queen Elizabeth, bless her heart, clutching our dowdy little accessories, avoiding the slightest hint of impropriety, never showing our real feelings or touching anyone else except through glove leather. But we were dazed and confused when the openly depressed, bulimic, adulterous, rejected Princess Di was the one people really adored. Living with Adam, loving Adam, has taught me a lot about the truth. He has taught me to look at things in themselves, not at the value a brutal and often senseless world assigns to them. As Adam’s mother I have been able to see quite clearly that he is no less beautiful for being called ugly, no less wise for appearing dull, no less precious for being seen as worthless. And neither am I.
He’s got that way of believing his opinion is the truth, but he’s not disagreeable about it. He’s too sure he’s right to bother being disagreeable.
I think you learn more if you’re laughing at the same time.
Isola exaggerates, but only enough to enjoy herself.
All those people I’ve come to know and even love a little, waiting to see—me. And I, without any paper to hide behind. Sidney, in these past two or three years, I have become better at writing than living—and think what you do to my writing. On the page, I’m perfectly charming, but that’s just a trick I learned. It has nothing to do with me.
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

A miracle contradicts the will of earth.
Fair is whatever God wants to do.
Rules of Civility: A Novel by Amor Towles

I had the house salad—a terrific concoction of iceberg greens, cold blue cheese and warm red bacon. If I were a country, I would have made it my flag.