Big, yet simple

Trying to live big. Trying to live simply. Can we do it? For us, this is what it looks like the past few days. Me with a warm cup of creamy coffee. Jason with a glass of nice dry wine. Emma with a Gatorade, Glacier Freeze. Blankets and pillows loaded up. We drive west a few miles. It doesn’t take long until we find wide, open spaces. There’s no trees. No buildings to block our view. Just a vast expanse of blue sky at dusk. We park, facing west and watch the sunset. Good music coming from the speakers and we just be. We just are. We just observe.

Afterward, EK drives sitting in my lap. It takes a lot of convincing from us. She doesn’t dance near the fire. Mostly, she stands back and watches the flames. But she trusts us and we convince her that she will not be doing it alone. We are right here. We will always be right here. There is nothing to fear. The sunroof is open. Above us, a black abyss of stars. She’s a good driver and keeps us on the road. Music wafts upward and outward and inward to our souls. And we drive on dirt roads in the dark. Living big. Living simply.

Another day instead of blankets, pillows and drinks it’s two very excited wagging, panting dogs we load up. We drive East, it doesn’t take long until we find a small pond. The day is cool. We are wearing jeans and hoodies. The wind is strong and cold. The dogs are panting. Their tongues loll about. We stroll around the water. Ducks swim undisturbed. Clouds sail across the sky. Cows in the next field are curious. They come to the fence. They’re excited. The dogs are excited. Even J-Dub is excited. He walks right to the fence and sits with them reaching through the barbed wire. Their nostrils flare trying to get a better scent of him. They crowd into one another. The dogs whimper and prance wanting to take chase, but knowing better. Every creature is curious of the others. For a little while.

The dogs walk the water’s edge. Dipping their tongue as the walk. Their paws are muddy. Their legs are wet. They venture out further. Then without warning they sink up to their shoulders. EK finds it hilarious. So we all do. Laughter is contagious. We walk a bit more. It is quiet. It is just us. We are still, yet moving.

Afterwards, we have two tired, still panting, sopping wet, and now very smelly dogs to load back up until their next adventure. Everyone likes to go every once in a while. Living big. Living simply.

I sit on my patio in the morning. My coffee is full and hot. The sun is full and hot. It beats down on my face, legs, and arms. Spring is bursting. I only need to look around and observe. Cycles of life continue. The world has not stopped just because the people have. How little we are in control of. The sun does not rise at our command. The birds build nests, not because we say so, but because they know that’s what they were put here to do. The spider weaves his web every day, knowing he’ll have to make repairs. The flowers bloom. The cows calve. The gigantic pink full moon casts its healing light on our planet. We cannot stop it. We can not force it or make it cease. We think we have so much power, we think we are in control. We must only open our eyes to see how foolish we are.

I close mine. I breathe deeply. I feel my body relax. My thoughts slow. I am still. I just be. I just am. I hear the words come to me.

I am right here. I am always right here. There is nothing to fear. I smile. Is God a poet? Of course He is. He is in all things. He is all things. Big. So Big. Yet, so simple.

Winter Around

Today I will look for God.

Just like I do everyday, at least on the days I’m not too harried.

It is easy to find him in spring with new life imminent.

It is easy to find him in summer with its long, lazy days.

It is not hard to find him in autumn, with its glorious bursting colors.

But winter.

In winter I find him on the branches of seemingly dead trees glistening with ice.

I hear him in the birdsong as they bravely carry on, encouraging one another.

I find him in the crunchy blades of grass under my boots.

I feel his breath on my cheeks and nose.

I see him in a multitude of grackles pecking a frozen ground.

I hear him in the heavy silence all around. Be still and listen.

In the winter season, he is still there.

Seek, then find.

Ordinary, yet precious

Life is made of moments. Many are magical. Most are merely mundane.

Ordinary life. But within every second of mundane and ordinary, lies the power. The power to be present. The power to choose your words carefully. The opportunity to connect with others. The opportunity to love, show love, and be love. All we really have is this moment.

Life is made of moments. Some day, the moments will only be memories. Time is precious and people are precious and that’s really all we need to know. Treat both as such.

Hiking the PCT

I woke up this morning moaning.

The first thing that came into my mind was, “oh my neck, oh my back.  Oh my neck and my back”.

It’s nothing more than a mass of knots and pain.  Caused from carrying EK on my back yesterday on a hike in the woods, you know in one of those backpacks that holds kids.

This one to be exact.


You see, I read a book called Wild, by Cheryl Strayed and it’s kind of sent me into a frenzy.  I can’t explain it.  The book is a memoir about a lady who hiked the Pacific Coast Trail by herself.  If you’re not familiar with the PCT, like I was, it is a stretch that runs from Mexico to Canada, through California, Oregon, and Washington.  It took her three months, carrying everything she needed to survive on her back, living, eating, sleeping, and pooping in the wilderness.  All alone.  A switch went off in my brain.  A desire to do the same.

Then a flash of reality went off in my brain reminding me I am 1) married 2) a mother 3) nearly forty 4)  smarter than that.

So me and my brain, we compromised.  I may not be able to hike the PCT, but I can go hike in the woods around me, my own personal PCT known as Perk Canyon Trail.  So me and EK decided to do just that.

I strapped her on my back and we headed up.

About 14 steps up a very easy trail, I questioned my decision.  It wasn’t easy.

It proved to actually be pretty hard.  And I was reminded of a poster that hung in the Dyslexic teacher’s classroom at my former school.  In big bold letters it read, WE CAN DO HARD THINGS.

I can do hard things, I kept telling myself.

In the book, Strayed keeps mentioning the weight of her pack was heavier than most backpackers.  She never said the weight, but said it was at least half of what she weighed.   I’m figuring an average 26 year old lady at about 120-130 pounds, so she’s probably carrying at least 60 pounds.  Me, on the other hand, I’m carrying probably 25–30.  And it ain’t easy for me.

A little ways up the trail, the air became a little nippy, so I stopped at a log to remove EK and put her jacket on her.  It was a welcome relief.  She then wanted to walk a little ways, and I was glad to have to only carry the pack without the added 22 pounds.

It is a real joy watching her exploring the woods, considering how she’s gonna cross this bride.

With mama’s helping hand of course.


Even getting off of logs proved to be a challenge.


Of course she had to stop and tie her “untie able” shoes after watching me tie mine, since she had been the one to bend over and untie mine, of course.


Later, I strapped her back in and we continued on.  The leaves this time of year are remarkable.  The colors are vibrant, although pictures don’t really do them justice.



The silence surrounds you.  The only sounds are the crunching of your feet, the occasional call of a bird or flutter of their wings, and the rush of the water in the nearby stream falling over the rocks.

Eventually, EK fell asleep, her head bumping into mine, forbidding her to get a good sound rest.  She finally laid her head against mine, pushing my neck forward, causing the tension in my upper back to increase.  I lifted up on the pack, adjusting it, trying to relieve some discomfort without disturbing her, but it was only temporary.

It was a great time.  It wasn’t the PCT.   Thank goodness.  It wasn’t 3 months but only shy of 3 hours.   But it was enough.

If my back didn’t hurt so badly today, we might even do it again.  Maybe.

I hope EK learns to love nature.  There is just something about it.  Something everyone should experience.  We need to escape this modern world every now and again, and find solace in the wild.


And sometimes, we need to trade in our hiking shoes for some heels.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

****The youngest to hike the real PCT was 9 years old.  Something to think about.


Our baby girl loves it outside.

No matter the mercury reading, she hasn’t learned to complain about the heat yet.


We haven’t cut her hair to look like a mohawk on it’s way to growing out, it’s just the way her hair, well is growing out.  Possibly one of the reasons she’s mistaken for a boy frequently.

The chickens are as curious about her as she is of them.  But everyone’s on their best behavior so far.  No pecking or feather pulling have occurred.

I just love everything about her.  The birth mark on her forehead that reminds me of Australia, those lovely long eyelashes framing her deep brown eyes, the way she smells like “outside” after only a few minutes.  But heck, so do I.  Even the little skinned place beside her nose where her fingernails got her.

Oh, and I mustn’t forget  her two brand spanking new pearly whites.

In Memory of My Dad #36–relatives

I’m so glad to have discovered a story from my dad to share with you today.  Months ago, my sister sent via her husband, a large canvas box filled with Tahlequah Times Journal newspapers from the years my dad worked there.  I thought I had shared all the “stories” and was left with sports articles of how the Tulsa Hurricane Little Leaguers won the Championship or Arnold Palmer’s hole-in-one.  But today, I uncovered some more commentaries.  This one was written on Sept. 14, 1996 by my dad Bob Briggs.  I miss him dearly.  I wish he were here with me this morning, stoking the fire, listening to some classic rock, drinking coffee on this frosty December morning as we look forward to little Miss Emma Kate to arrive in  six short weeks (give or take a day or two).  He would’ve liked this day.

She was always a heroine of mine.  I admired her from day one when we were attending a small country school there at Briggs, Oklahoma.  We walked the long miles to school together and talked of many things, of the many dreams that two country kids knew the outside world held for them.

She, being a couple of years older than me, always took my part when I got into a skirmish with the older boys.  You know how kids on kids are?  That’s the roughest kind of play there is and the girl was also a pretty good rough and tumble fighter herself.

She never had much time or even the chance to be a child herself.  Her mom worked at many menial jobs trying to hold her small family together after the girl’s father left.  She was regulated to the task of caring for her younger sisters and brothers—so there went her childhood.

Then, one day, the girl was gone from the small house on the south side of town where she had lived with her siblings and hard-working mother.

She had married a young man and moved out of state.  She was 16—so there went her teenage years.

When she could have been readying herself for the prom and having fun with her friends, she was busy having children of her own and keeping house for the man she chose to be her lifelong mate.

I don’t recall seeing the girl smile much as a child.  There weren’t many occasions for her to smile in later years either.  The man she married, though a boy himself, drank to excess and was generous to a fault.  But I’ll say this for him, he never missed a day’s work.

The three children she and her husband produced, grew into teenagers and faced the typical teen problems of today, but she went the extra mile to see the kids were raised up with Christian values.

I guess I was always proud of the girl that became a woman more out of necessity than the process of growing.  She went back to school and earned her diploma and learned to drive a car after she was married.  She worked for a newspaper in west Texas and stuck with her husband until he quit the whiskey.  And mightily fought the drug demons along with her son.

Now she and her husband have a house full of grandchildren and three well-adjusted children.  And when she should be kicking back and enjoying the fruits of their labor, she is girding her loins for a battle the doctors have no name for.  She’s been religious most of her life and I hope it carries her through these trying times.

I’m writing this on her birthday so she’ll know that my love and prayers go with her.  Happy Birthday, sis.  May you have many more years of happiness.


Speaking of relatives, my brother surprised me a couple of weeks ago by inviting me to his place for a T-bone dinner.

Being the type that haunts fast food places and convenience stores I readily accepted.

He put the potatoes on to slow bake and the corn-on-the-cob went into a large pot on the stove.  Then he peeled the lid from a bottle of Jim Beam and we retreated to the patio where the coals were just beginning to turn a nice shade of grey and plopped two inch-high steaks on the grill.

The hour we waited for the steaks turned into three and we talked of new cars and old friends.  Relatives make good fodder for conversation when you’re in the process of getting into the cups and non of ours (except unknown grandfathers and our three sisters, who are saints) escaped unscathed.

Cousins, uncles, aunts and brothers-in-law all were praised or caught hell with equal zeal and fervor as the levels dropped steadily on the bottle.

About mid-night, I was treated to one of the finest charcoaled steaks I’ve ever laid into.  My brother rummaged through his lower cabinets until he found a long forgotten six-pack of Busch and we talked on and on till the early morning.

My brother became so adament on one point of the conversation, he said, “That’s the truth, brother, and if it ain’t, I hope that moon up there comes flying through the air and crashes into the earth.”

Later on we slept.

I was awakened by the pattering of rain of a passing storm.   My brother slept peacefully in his chair as Sissy, his chowdog, slept at his feet.  I looked through the branches of the huge evergreen that graces his bakyard and saw the low flying rainclouds as they made their way toward Adair County.  The clouds broke a little and there was that moon—-that sucker hadn’t moved a bit.



The Whisperings of God

Each morning I take a 30 minute walk.  Except when it’s raining; which is never.  During that time of awakening my bones and joints, I lift my eyes up and talk to God and He oftentimes awakens my spirit.  Some mornings, it’s just me talking to the wind and the sky, but once in a blue moon, I hear him whisper back to me.  It might  just be in the sunrise or the birds singing, but I hear it just the same and a deep calm covers me.  It’s the only way I make it through this world somedays.

On Tuesday during our visit, I was a bit whiney.  I was focused on the dry conditions and asking for rain.  And in my desperate spirit I told him I felt like he’d forgotten about us.  Was he listening?  Did he care? 

He didn’t respond.


But afterwards during my morning facebook ritual, I read a post by my friend Chantelle.  And although it was her typing the words, and although the words came from Restoration Place Ministries Word, it was HIM speaking to me.  And this is what he said.

I Am restoring the things that were assigned to your hands by Me. I call forth destiny over you. The things that seemed to be delayed are now ready to be released. There have been moments when you felt downcast, you thought that I had passed you by. Look up into My eyes today & be refreshed. Look & see the provisions. Look & see the outcome; I will triumph in you. You will see great victory for this battle belongs to Me. I own it; it is Mine.

Reading that, it could apply to a million different scenarios that you might be facing.  But to me, it spoke RAIN.  It spoke showers of blessings.  I said “Thank You Lord.  You haven’t forgotten about us.” 

That evening, JDub and I drove over to a neighboring town for some business and supper.  During supper, my mom called to tell me that it was pouring rain.  The power was out.  The rain was coming down in sheets.  The wind was howling.  Sure enough, facebook was exploding with pictures from the townfolk of the rain, the winds, rushing water down the streets, and children playing in the gutters afterwards.  It was awesome. 

Although we missed the storm, we certainly saw its aftermath.  It was a storm, I tell you.  Out here at our place, a tree had fallen over into the barbed wire fence, my lawn furniture was a tangled mess blown across the yard, and  my niece’s little playhouse was in about 20 pieces strewn across the pasture.  When we moved here, there was a little structure left that appeared to be built for a child’s fort.  My nieces took to it, hammering it, painting, it, decorating it.  But it is no longer.  Ash doesn’t seem to be too upset about it, which is good.  She is the optimistic one who says maybe we can build a new one.

We received 8 tenths of an inch according to our raingauge, but other places reported an inch to an inch and a half.  And now this morning, as I sit in my dark living room typing, I hear the thunder rolling, I see lightening flashing, and raindrops are hitting the rooftops and windows.  The things that seemed to be delayed are now ready to be released.  Praise be to the Restorer!  God’s promises remain.  And I’m standing on them.

Have a beautiful day wherever you are.  Look for your blessings and you’ll find them.



Update on life

I know. I know. I know.  I’ve been bad about blogging.  It’s just that I’ve felt quiet lately.  I wonder if you can relate.  Sometimes you just don’t have much to say, until you don’t say much for too long, then you have way too much to say.  This originally short post  turned into a novel.  Sorry and thanks for bearing through. 

I dearly appreciate all of you who click over here to see what is going on in my boring little world and tell me what is going on in yours.  And the truth is I miss you. 

Here’s a recap of my life:

J-Dub and I just returned from a relaxing few days in the Rocky Mountains.  The Texas Panhandle Drought of 2011 had just about beaten both of us down to a nub and we desperately needed a break. 

When we got married, we agreed that each summer we would take a vacation to a new place.  Because of money issues, we’ve tried to take a more expensive vacation every other year, and take a quick, less expensive vacation on the opposite years.  Recently, our summers have just been quick, less expensive get-aways and we almost let this summer slip past us altogether.  But we scrimped and searched, and dug under couch cushions for a few nickels and dimes and were able to have one of the most enjoyable vacations yet. 

We drove up to a place called Winter Park, Colorado.  It’s a big ski resort town in the winter, but we were looking for a cool (weather-wise) hide out and it delivered.  The drive was beautiful.  We avoided the Interstate and took the back roads.  If you’re not in a hurry, it makes the drive so much more pleasant.  We stopped for lunch and homemade pie up around Castle Rock, and I got goose bumps in the restaurant, the first of several during the weekend.  The higher we ascended in altitude, the higher our spirits seemed to lift.  The mountains were majestic, the air was fresh, the temps were comfortable, the views were breathtaking, the flowers and the colors were astonishing, the rushing streams and rivers were exhilarating.  

We ate delicious food, we hiked mountain trails, we dipped our hands in ice-cold streams, we communed with nature, and we even caught a free rock concert with Warrant and Skid Row, which  left me convinced that I don’t wish to watch another rock concert as long as I live.  J-Dub and I got more entertainment from the aged crowds reveling in their youth than we did the aged band members.  Some hoisted their small children on their shoulders and taught them how to fist pump to the beat.  But hey, to each his own.  Although it was a free concert, J-Dub and I scored V.I.P. tickets, which basically gave us two free drinks and special seating.  I owe it all to the Bob Ross  t-shirt I was wearing.  While everyone else was sporting leather and black, and skimpy t-shirts tied under their bosoms, I accidentally threw on my happy accidents that my buddy Erin gave me. 


When people see Bob, they know we come in peace, which in turn opens doors and happy things occur, like V.I.P. tickets at an already free concert 🙂

Our time away was much too short, but I am feeling so re-energized now.  I even turned on the water sprinkler this morning in a feeble attempt to add some color to my world here on this dry, dusty pasture.  Although J-Dub and I originally wanted to visit a new place each summer, we may just make Colorado an annual event.  What a beautiful place God spoke into existence. 

While we were away on vacation, I left the chickens in charge.  They managed everything quite nicely.  I did receive a phone call from my sweet niece Ash, informing me that they were passing through so they decided to stop and check on things.  They also found three eggs. For awhile, the dear chick that had first laid her eggs, took a little hiatus after I covered up the feeder and she couldn’t nest in there any more to lay her eggs.  But then, some little niece got a bright idea to put a different bucket of feed in the henhouse, and so she began to lay again in the new bucket of feed.  This morning when I checked there were two more eggs, one in the feeder, and one in a nesting box.  Imagine my surprise to find an egg actually in a nesting box.  Then as I was moving my water sprinkler, I found 2 more eggs in a flower-pot outside!  Soon I hope to have eggs running out of my ears.  Well, not literally, but you understand I hope.  There’s no telling where I might stumble upon eggs.  It’s a good thing I learned to walk gingerly back when the snakes were causing me to pee down both legs.

For those who may have missed my previous post, I am really and truly, positively, absolutely, undeniably pregnant.  And doing just fine considering.  Each morning, I thank God for my health and ask Him for a healthy baby.  My biggest complaint would be exhaustion, but that is subsiding some and I may even be confusing a little bit of it for just sheer laziness.  Thank you all for the well wishes, the prayers, and the congratulations.   My sister has already bought me a package of newborn diapers.  I turned the package over and over, wondering if I should open them.  Because, as much as I know that everything is going to be just fine, there is still a deep seeded fear of the “what if’s”.  But I succumbed and I tore open the dashed perforation, and I pulled out a little diaper.  I sat amazed at the tiny size of it, and I imagined a itty bitty little baby butt fitting inside.  Whether it has boy parts or girl parts is yet to be determined.  And then I did what most moms would do.  I put that diaper to my nose, shut my eyes, and breathed in the sweet smell of a baby.  It was a sweet moment.  And a rare one I’m sure.  Soon enough, the smell of diapers will permeate this home in a most unpleasant way.  The diaper is on my bedside table still, but the powdery fresh baby smell has all but disappeared.  I know because I checked this morning.  

I’ve decided it’s all going to be okay.  I’m slowly growing into this whole motherhood thing.  In more ways than one.

I hope life is treating you kind.  Leave me a comment and tell me about it.  I’ve missed you!

Summertime and the Living is Easy

School’s out for summer!

Sing it Alice, sing it.

Just in case you’re wondering, that’s not me on the last day of school.  That’s Alice Cooper, but even I admit the resemblance is uncanny.

Today I woke up and literally jumped for joy.  My beloved husband said, “Does this mean you’re going to be in a good mood every day this summer?” 

“Yes, Yes it does.”

(looking towards the heavens)  “Thank you Jesus.”

My moods have been less than good lately.  And summertime is just what the doctor ordered.   I enjoy my job.  I enjoy my students.  I also enjoy my time off. 
Plans for my summer consist of a whole lot of nothing.  My dad used to say in reference to his retired life, “Everyday’s a Saturday.”  Agreed, that is what my summer should be.  I’m not a vacationer.  I don’t care to travel.  I hate to fly, and that big old world out there holds no intrigue for me.  I’m a homebody, happy to sit in the yard and listen to the chickens cluck.  They’re beginning to cluck now.  They no longer peep.  Their sounds are lovely, lovely to my ears.

During Summer two thousand eleven:

I’m going to work on my writing and my figure.
I’m going to start and complete household projects.
I’m going to cook supper at least four times a week.
I’m going to spend time with my niece.
I’m going to buy a pool.
I’m going to pray and draw closer to God.
I’m going to relish each day.

I leave you with a favorite quote of mine. I’ve posted it before but it’s double post worthy.
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water or watching the clouds float across the sky is by no means a waste of time.” Unknown

Happy summer friends.

Wide Load

Easter Sunday when I posted this on my blog I was trying to be funny.

 Today, there is nothing funny about it. 

My butt hurts.  It’s the truth. 

Ashy and I decided to go for a bike ride yesterday.  A pleasant country bike ride on dirt roads next to green pastures. 

We headed south atop our cheap Walmart bikes, rode to the first county road that runs east and west, and took a left turn. 

Being married to J-Dub, he has taught me a couple of things.  One of which being,  there is a mile between each county road.  I hadn’t been out more than a mile down the road my house sits on and we were up for an adventure to see what lay beyond the mile marker.

So we pedaled east on an extremely rocky road for about a mile, took a right, and began pedaling down a tiny dirt road with nothing but cows on the left and oil equipment on the right.  I turned on my IPod and we sang Sugarland and Rod Stewart at the top of our lungs.  We saw a fearful coyote running from our melodies, cows curiously eyeballing us, quail skittering across the road, the green of wheat fields gently blowing.  Life was good.  But the road was long.  My sitting bones began to ache.  I hadn’t ridden a bike in, hmmm, let’s say, 3 years.  After riding the lengths of a couple of county roads, I cursed sitting on that tiny little pointy bicycle seat when what I really needed was a tractor seat. Plus a yellow banner across my backside screaming WIDE LOAD in black lettering. 

But what do you do when you’re a long way from your home and your house is no longer a speck on the horizon?  Do you turn around or continue on in hopes of a road soon?  We continued on, enjoying our afternoon and ignoring the pain.

Finally high wires and electrical poles came into view and I knew we were nearing another road running perpendicular.  Sure enough, the next road appeared.  We took a right turn to head back west.  Then Ashlynn needed to pee.  After a pit stop in the bar ditch, we walked our bikes a while on wobbly legs and sore keisters, gathering a couple of pretty rocks on the way.   Time was crawling by and we decided it would be faster to get back on and ride, to push through the pain like real athletes.  Then Ashy began developing a blister on her thumb from holding the handlebar and being jostled through dirt roads.  The  sun burned down on our necks, the wind gave us a bit of resistance, but the IPod was on shuffle, so we kept singing and kept on riding.

An eternity later we came to our road, made a right turn heading back to the south, completing a four mile square.  But before we made it home, first Ashy had to stop and pick some cotton from another barditch. 

With bulging pocket of rocks and cotton, our little trailer house on the prairie greeted 2 tired, sore, hot and thirsty wanderers as we crept up the lane.

It took us way over an hour and a half to ride 4 miles.  On a good day, if I book it, I  can walk faster than that.  It just didn’t make any sense to me.  Even with dirt roads, and stopping for walking, peeing, and picking rocks and cotton, it shouldn’t have taken us that long to ride a bike four miles.   So I hopped in my car today to measure the distance.  J-Dub hopped in with me.  Come to find out, on two of the roads, they didn’t have intersecting roads every mile, instead it was every two miles.  So our 4 mile ride that I thought we’d taken ended up really being close to 7 miles.  And boy let me tell you, my tail bones can account for  every inch of it today. 

But even with the soreness, yesterday held one of the most enjoyable afternoons I had spent in a very long time. 

The simplicity of sunshine, songs, and sweat does a body good. 

And a soul.