Category Archives: Latest Post

Christmas Decorating … Less Is Good Too

Christmas trees are beautiful, even when standing on a tree lot for sale, or at a tree farm and when growing in the wild—-especially growing in the wild. I’ve always enjoyed painting trees in snow. I guess it reminds me of Christmas, because we always went into the woods and cut our tree. My husband and I cut our very first tree from the woods on his parents property.

Adding colorful, shiny balls and other traditional Christmas ornaments makes a christmas tree even more beautiful, but, one of my fondest memories was standing at a window and watching for my big brother, Kenneth, and my sister Floys ( the tomboy ) as they emerged from the thick woods several hundred feet beyond our house, dragging our Christmas tree home. When I spotted them with that huge cedar tree ( it took both of them to pull it across the snow covered field to our house ) I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such Christmas joy and excitement since that moment. That plain tree, with no decorations, couldn’t have been any more beautiful.

Hey, I was seven. The vision of that tree in the snow left an impression … the smell of cedar, the cold crisp air that swept into the house along with the tree … my minds picture of it is as clear today as it was that day. I always think of that tree every year as I began to decorate. And decorate I used to—every room in the house. From the time the children were small and right up until they become teens and so on for many years.

Regretfully, the years have changed things——and I shouldn’t even say ‘regretfully,’ for change is the way of life and nature. I only decorate a little now, a candle here, a candle there, some colorful balls in a crystal bowl and bits of greenery from the outdoors.

So, Christmas has changed at my house, but, so have I. 🙂

And as you can see, I still love Christmas, and I still have fun. In the photos I’m enjoying  the  season  at  Sundance  Square,  Fort  Worth, Texas.  I  even managed a  word  with  Santa!  🙂

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful, safe New Year!  Keep God in your heart and in your plans.  He  cares.

Until next time, MaryJ 🙂 🙂 🙂

Gratitude, at Its Best

Gratitude is always appreciated. But when it comes from a pure heart, no strings attached and is given abundantly, the joy it creates in the receivers heart can lasts a long, long time . . . hours, days and in some cases, is never forgotten. I’m thinking out loud this morning about something that happened several days ago. And I’m still smiling.

Meet Pebbles. She lives not far from me.


Her owner is a dear nephew——he knows how much my sister ( Ruthy ) and I love him . . . he really does. But, we fuss at him continually about Pebble’s care. Pebbles is fed, watered and on really cold days and nights, she’s taken inside. In nephew’s defense, he works odd hours and has his own struggles. Nevertheless, an animal needs affection and attention, along with food and water. It’s not good to get too busy to give that kind of care also——even Jesus said that man does not live by bread along . . . our animals need more too.

The Lord created man above animals. He put us in charge over them. Owning a pet is a choice. When we make that choice, we should not take ownership lightly. The bible tells us that one day we will answer for every word we speak and every action we take. Those are instructions not to be messed around with.

On to the story. Ruthy called me early the other morning, saying, “Lets go put hay in Pebble’s house. It’ll be warmer.”

“Okay . . .” I agreed. We bundled up and braved the cold, brisk Oklahoma wind. Pebbles greeted us with her usual tail-wagging exuberance. She didn’t mind the cold, it was company she wanted. Close to her doghouse is an old tractor tire with sand in the bottom. She likes to lie in the cool sand when summer temperatures reach the high nineties. But it’s cold in December. Ruthy and I padded the tire with hay, after doing her house and the ground around the doghouse. First she ran into the house and peeped out as if saying, “This will do nicely.”  As soon as we finished filling the tire, Pebbles jumped into the middle of the hay and rolled about, rubbing her head into the fresh hay.

Pebbles was one grateful little girl. We played a bit, and as Ruthy and I were leaving we waved and told Pebbles we’d see her later. As I looked back to see her sitting in the middle of the tire, settled into the hay, watching us, I heard her say, “Thanks, girls!”

Really, I promise, I heard her . . .  :-))

We can take a lesson from Miss Pebbles, and show our gratitude for the many kindnesses our family and friends show us. People need affection too——show some to someone you know. Until next time, God be with you. MaryJ 🙂 🙂 🙂

Walking on Water. . . ?

Sharing a photo I shot through my glass door, not good, but the streak of color drew me to to it.

My last post about the story of Peter walking on water, sparked a long, interesting conversation with my daughter, Gayle. But, before I forget, I want to thank a dear and loyal friend for pointing out that I used the wrong word for those beautiful, wild deer that run across the road in front of me. When I typed the word ‘dear’ a distant ding sounded in my subconscious, but in the throes of thinking, I kept on writing. I used the word for my dear friends that help edit my posts. Thank you, Treva Lolli, for the edit!

Thankfully my readership knows I’m a writer, not an editor. They are a patient and forgiving bunch.

On to the conversation with daughter, Gayle. We discussed the story throughly and one point we wondered about was why Jesus allowed Peter to start sinking once he had bid him come … ( remember from last post that Peter didn’t start to sink until he took his eyes off Jesus, and lost his focus ) Peter had to ask for the Lord’s help before he was saved. But scripture says Jesus reached out immediately when Peter called, “Lord save me!” He didn’t wait until Peter sank to the bottom and then pull him up sputtering and coughing, but immediately. Neither did Jesus laugh and say, “What made you think you could walk on water?”

Peter could have walked on water once the Lord said, “Come.”

Our conversation made me think of when my children were growing up. I was afraid for them on every turn. I knew the pitfalls and dangers. And being a concerned mother, I tried to reach out and save them before they had a chance to see and recognize danger and bad choices. Jesus never did that to his followers, and the Lord doesn’t do that to us today. We are free agents. He left us a complete and comprehensive guide book. All we have to do is keep our eyes on Him and ask for his help.

God bless our nation! May each of us do our part to keep our country great. Share your dreams and concerns with the Lord, he cares about you.    Until next time, MaryJ 🙂 🙂 🙂

Lost Your Focus?


One evening driving home from church I watched this magnificent cloud the entire twelve miles to my home—beautiful and most distracting! It was dusk, the time of day the deer come out to play, and I really needed to be on watch, for they cross the road at all times.

There’s not much traffic on my road, thankfully. So I foolishly kept taking my eyes off the road to study the clouds——occupational hazard for an artist. I meandered back and forth on my side of the yellow stripe—mostly on my side.

Until I heard tires against gravel——that got my focus back on the road, and set me to thinking. It’s so easy and so human to lose our focus . . .so many things to do

But the last few months I’ve been focused.  I’ve prayed diligently for our country, that the Lord would allow us to keep the leadership we’ve had the last three and a half years. The morning after election night, my first reaction was that of Chicken Little. The sky’s falling, we’re doomed! But within the hour shame took over and I went to the Lord and repented of my doubtful and fearful heart.

In the book of Matthew we are told to ask, not doubting. In the book of James we are told to ask without doubt in our heart, otherwise we can’t expect the Lord to honor our request. One of my favorite bible examples of faith, or lack of, ( Matt.14 28–31 ) is when Peter asked the Lord to bid him come to him on the raging sea. The Lord said, “Come.” Peter got out of the ship and walked on water to meet the Lord. I’ve tried many times to imagine that scene in my mind, the roar of the waves, water hitting against the ship, the smell of the sea . . . leave it to Peter.

But Peter didn’t make it on his own. If you remember, he took his eyes off the Lord and focused instead on the raging waves—which must have been a scary sight! Peter lost his focus. And he became fearful, he doubted. Did he doubt his ability, or the Lord’s ability to allow him to walk on water? As soon as he lost his focus and his faith, he began to sink. I’ve always found it interesting that the Lord didn’t appear to grab for Peter when he first began sinking—he waited until Peter called for help. The scripture says, the Lord immediately stretched out his hand and caught Peter, saying, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Why do we doubt? We know God is able to do all things and he’s promised to be with us—and still sometimes we act like we don’t really believe our God is able and willing.  I guess because we are human. I like to think that if I’d been in the Lord’s presence as Peter had, having witnessed the many miracles, the fishes and loaves, seeing the blind receive sight, the lame made to walk, that I’d have made it across the water to Jesus. I like to think that.

We always need the Lord’s help, and he waits for us to ask—no doubting. I’m asking the Lord to allow our country to keep Donald Trump as our leader. I’m asking Him to help our president have a more humble heart. I pray with faith, but I also pray that the Lord’s will be done, not mine. He knows the ending, I don’t. He knows what’s best, I don’t, so I put my trust in Him.

Until next time, smile and keep God in your plans, He cares.   MaryJ 🙂 🙂 🙂

Below is another reminder of our almighty and awesome God.

A look Inside?

A while back I painted a scene of pasture land down the road from me. We have scenes like this all around this part of the country. So I was a little surprised when a friend, looking at the painting asked, “Will people know what the dark area dividing the foreground and the background is?”

I asked, “Do you know what it is?” She said, Of course, I do, but I grew up here, and I lived in West Texas. I’m used to seeing them.”

I’m used to seeing them too. I loved walking in the bottoms of the really deep ones when I was a kid. It never crossed my mind that anyone wouldn’t know what it was. ( My depiction of a crevice may be at fault here )

We had an interesting discussion about the subject, and still thinking about our conversation the next day, I sent the image to my daughter asking her what she thought it was. She said it looked like a dirt trail to her…

I explained that it was a large crack in the ground. And how sometimes those large cracks would widened  into canyons. I thought I heard a sigh as she said, yes, she knew what crevices and canyons were. She reminded me that she’d played in them when visiting the grandparents in the country—it still looked like a dirt trail to her.

Curious, I pointed out ( doggedly ) that a dirt trail wouldn’t have the same characteristics as those of a crevice…she finally conceded that, well, maybe she hadn’t look closely enough…the image I sent wasn’t very large…and on second thought…maybe…( she wanted me to be happy 🙂 )

This made me think about how easy it is to see a thing only as it’s embedded in one’s own mind. My left brain knew it was a crevice and left no room for anything else. Again, I may have just painted a poor depiction of a crevice…whatever. I considered re-working it, defining it better. But as I studied my crevice, I decided, nah, it is what it is. The crevice, as is, would serve another purpose of art as well—something for viewers to ponder over and make up their own minds as to ‘what is that?’

Anyway, isn’t that what art and artists’ work is all about—interpreting nature and the objects of our world?

But, it also made me think that old adage of always trying to see the other persons side of things, might be a good thing to practice—in more things than art.

Until next time, thank the Lord for your life, for love and your liberty.

MaryJ 🙂 🙂 🙂 Don’t forget to vote!


Contrasts . . . everywhere!

I had to get up early to shoot this photo of the sun rising over the Red River. I love this time of day, so a few moments of less sleep was no sacrifice. I’m primarily an oil painter, but recently the call of watercolor sent me into the stockpile of images I’ve collected for years—a watercolor in waiting?

I’ll post the painting if it happens. 🙂

But painting is not what’s on my mind. The other day I’d had a long, busy day, and around 4:30 my automatic cutoff, cut me off. I fell into my favorite chair, muttered, “Whew, this feels good.” That got me to thinking about how things contrast and complement. If I’d been sitting in my chair all day, I wouldn’t have experienced the joy of sitting awhile. When the weather keeps us inside for days, we enjoy a walk outside even more . . . the low notes and the high notes are what makes music more beautiful, all low or all high would be boring. A painting needs the muted grays to make true colors exciting and lifelike.

Contrasts are everywhere in nature. We take for granted the differences, the push and pull that make life interesting. The sun is brighter after the dark clouds, rain is sweeter after a long dry spell, and eating is more pleasurable after the fast . . . one might think there had been a master planner . . . oh, wait, there was.

Until next time, keep God in your thoughts and enjoy the world He created for us.

MaryJ 🙂 🙂 🙂

Funny Conversations . . .

The picture of friendship . . . grazing along chatting . . .do you suppose?

I’m blessed to have family and friends who make me laugh and brighten my day. Often when my phone rings and I see it’s a friend calling, I smile, say hello and we both start laughing. We enjoy hearing from one another. And we know the next few minutes will be a fun conversation as we catch up and share our daily happenings, the good and the bad.

Recently I had a conversation with my daughter Gayle, who calls me every morning as she drives to work. We live far apart so her morning drive is our time to chat and stay connected. One morning we got to reminiscing about things and to a particular event she asked, “How old were you when that happened?” I said, “Oh, 50/54 maybe.” She laughed, “Do you wish you could be 54 again?” I thought for a second, “Nah, that would just bring on a slew of other things to wish for—mainly that I’d known then what I know now.  And of course that would’ve changed the way our lives are today . . . well, we went off on a silly tangent about how both our lives might have been affected if I’d known then what I know now. We had a good laugh and in the end decided it’s best not to spend time wishfully looking back.

Later I was talking with my son Greg. As we talked, he would relay something I’d said to his wife, saying, “Mom said . . . ” Finally I asked, “Do you ever put the phone on speaker so Julie can hear too?” He answered, “Sometimes.” He paused. “But not when I’m talking to my girlfriend.” I laughed, “No, that might not be a good idea . . .” He continued, “Julie doesn’t put the phone on speaker when she’s talking to her boyfriend either.” By this time we were both laughing, then he said, “But, I’m mad at her boyfriend.” Through my laughter I asked why. He answered, “Her boyfriend’s neglecting her, I’m getting too much time!” (I could hear Julie laughing too. Thankfully she has a good sense of humor. )

Then the time my granddaughter, Alana, had prepared and served Thanksgiving dinner to a house full of people. I complemented her on doing a wonderful job, she said, “I was beginning to wish I had a prozac lick.” I thought that was so funny because I grew up on the farm and I got a clear mental image of her hurrying around the kitchen swiping at a ‘prozac lick’ ever so often.  ( As a childI was fascinated by the cows and the salt lick. )

Oh, the fun of simple things. Live each day to the fullest, and laugh with those you love. So, until next time, find laughter where you can, and keep God in your plans—He cares! 🙂 🙂 🙂






Grounding . . . a new science?


 The air’s cool, the grass is still damp, and no this is not another ramble about the wonderful season of fall, although it could be. No, it’s Saturday morning and the neighborhood still sleeps. No sounds of lawn mowers or people hurrying to work. Just cool, quiet, peace as I sip my hot coffee and do my grounding.

Grounding is the simple act of walking barefoot or sitting with your hands on the ground. Modern research shows real health benefits of practicing this regularly. ( regularly means more than twice a month … 🙂 ) Not to mention how good it feels.

My mother knew nothing about grounding, but she knew she had a houseful of kids to keep shoes on. We went barefoot to save the leather for school and when we visited the grandparents. Life was good! 🙂 Growing up I think I went entire summers without shoes on my feet—Mother didn’t know she was grounding us!

But, if you think about it, the God of heaven created the earth first, then his people. Scripture says He created us from dust, the earth. Makes sense to me that my body and the earth are integrated—kinda like my children and me. And yes, we have a need to stay in touch, hmmm, yeah, grounded.

Check it out with Dr. Mercola and Clint Ober on youtube.

Hope you had a wonderful Saturday! Until next time, keep God in your plans. You’ll sleep better! 🙂 🙂 🙂





Just this morning . . .

I stepped outside to the smell of fall. A smell that raised my nose to sniff the air like a trained bloodhound. Only the keenest of noses ( like mine ) knows when summer turns the corner. I love smelling fall in the air, it puts me to thinking . . .

Wouldn’t it be something if we could smell, or feel when changes were about to take place in our lives as in the seasons? If one morning I shivered, rubbed my arms and said, “This is the day I win the lottery—the smell and feel of it is in the air!” ( That would be nice ) Or that a large painting I did three years ago was going to sell later in the afternoon? That would be nice too . . . but . . .

What if I could feel when there was going to be an accident on the way to the bank, or that the dog would run away and the freezer would go on the blink . . . hmm . . . talk about hiding under the bed twenty-four seven.

The changing of seasons is a natural thing, nothing to stress about when signs of it start happening. Some enjoy seasonal changes, others dread it depending on which weather conditions are preferred ( fall is my choice ). I feed the cat, smell the air once more and step back inside, thinking . . .

 It’s probably good that life plays out the way it does—unfolding by the hour, day by day with me not knowing everything that lies ahead. Probably? In Genesis I read that after each day of creation God looked and saw that it was good. Well, no wonder . . .

But I do like it when I wake with an unexplainable feeling of excitement, an anticipation of what the day may bring. Like this morning—I find the arrival of fall exciting. So, okay, I’m excited by small things.

What excites you in the mornings? I challenge you to name something . . .

MaryJ . . . bye until next time, and  keep God in your plans—things just go better. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Thinking Out Loud . . .

Have you hurried from one room to another only to screech to a stop trying to remember what you hurried there for? Just recently I did that and as I stood racking my brain, the thought crossed my mind that I could really use several more hours in the day.

If I had twenty-six hours a day, I’d still have twenty-four hours to get things done after wasting two hours on looking for things and trying to remember what I was looking for. So, is it fair that busy productive people are not given a few reward hours for using their time wisely? Think about it, does a time-waster really need, or even want more time in his or her day?

Bad thing is, with more time, a busy person might only try to cram more activities into the reward-hours. Us humans are kinda wired that way . . . give us an inch and we’ll take a yard . . . think of all that would get thrown out of sync if some folks were given two extra hours every day. It would be like Texas and Oklahoma on different daylight savings time—I think of this example because I live in Oklahoma right across the Texas border—I could leave my home one hour late for an appointment in Texas and still get there on time.

Leaving late to work and appointments and not having to apologize for being late because I wouldn’t be late could take some getting used to . . . ah, there’s where that phones been hiding!

Finding what I was looking for puts me back in real time and my mind clears. I really don’t wan’t two more hours in my day. It was only a mind game to play while my eyes searched for the phone. Actually, this world I live in and the way it works is completely to my liking. I know the master planner who created it and when he finished, scripture says he saw that it was good.

I confess, sometimes when I’m doing creative thinking, I feel like I may be just wasting time. But quite often I do the painting in my head before I ever pick up a brush. When I do that, the actual painting usually goes much better and faster—that painting in my head is part of my work—I need that time. And sometimes as I pull weeds in the yard, I’m also working on the next chapter of my book. Knowing my time allotment, I budget it pretty much as I do money. A big slice of my twenty-four hours goes to serious work, ( serious work is taking care of daily life cares ) then a portion to family and charity—leaving a bit for myself for fellowship with friends—and to do some creative thinking.

Time is like money, they can both be budgeted so neither is wasted. A good example of not wasting was when Jesus had the leftovers of fish and bread gathered up after he fed the thousands—even though it was easy for him to provide the food, he didn’t waste the remnants. Jesus clearly didn’t have the mindset of “Easy come, easy go.” And he often went into a garden alone to pray—and maybe do some creative thinking? I like to think so.

Sometimes we all need to be in the garden alone . . . and I’m convinced it’s not time wasted, but time very well spent.

Thanks for spending some of your time with me . . . until next time be happy, eat well, and keep God in your plans—He cares! 🙂 🙂 🙂 MaryJ

Susan, at the Dallas Arboretum.