31 Days of Looking for the Little: Moments that Make Me Smile

IMG_3994 Griffin's cat

It only took a minute. Just a minute. My grandson told me to turn my head and watch his cat, Dexter. So, I did.

And what I saw made me want to laugh out loud! Only, I didn’t because I didn’t want to frighten Dexter — I wanted him to stand there forever, just looking with longing at the yard.

He soon moved onto something new, of course, but that moment salvaged an afternoon that had been tiring and occasionally upsetting. He’s just a small cat, and it was just a small moment.

But it made me smile.

And there is nothing small about that.

What are the little things that can bring a smile to your lips, even when you’re moving through a bad day?

Just Wondering

31 Days of Looking for the Little: A Single Tree

DSC01079 butterfly beach

If you’ve read anything in this space, you know that I love trees. All kinds of trees. Great gobs of trees.

But I also have a deep fondness for stand-alone trees. Just one, out there by its lonesome, looking majestic and powerful. No, trees are not ‘little,’ but somehow a single tree falls on the ‘little’ end of the tree-scale in my mind.

This one is a particular favorite of mine. It’s a Monterey cypress tree, and it hangs over one of my favorite places, Butterfly Beach. These trees have become almost iconic in California, adorning the 17-mile drive in Monterey and showing up along the coast in lots of different places. To say nothing of the great numbers of them that are used in landscaping around all the Spanish revival homes in this area.

They are not perfect, but then who of us is? They get brittle as they age and have this nasty tendency to drop their large branches on parked cars, garages, or people who might be in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

But they are beautiful and haunting, aren’t they? They may be solitary, but they still provide shade, a lovely profile and a welcoming home to lots of different kinds of birds. I like that in a tree — and in a person, too. 

Just Wondering

31 Days of Looking for the Little: Fuchsias

DSC02392 fuschia

When I was 12 years old, we moved to an old house in Glendale CA. Along the narrow side yard, which was pretty much in the shade all day long, there were long, brick planters filled with a variety of fuchsias.

I fell in love.

They looked like tiny fairies to me, like the ballerinas atop a music box. So delicate, rich in color, and unusual.

My mother, however, detested them. I never did understand why. She kept threatening to yank them all out, and I would beg her to reconsider. Apparently, she heard me, because they stayed in place until we moved to a different home about seven years later.

We have a few fuchsias in pots on our front patio, and my husband tends them carefully. Both of us love to see their blooms and to marvel over their delicacy. 

Fuchsias are small things, preferring to hide in the shadows rather than bust their buttons in full sun. I think that’s what I love about them: their fierce beauty, almost hidden in the side pockets of most gardens. 

I love coming across beautiful things in unexpected places, don’t you? I know people who are like these flowers, too. They don’t make a fuss, they refuse the limelight, they just sit quietly in the shade and radiate beauty.

I do love all the flowers that bloom in the sunlight, too. And you know — it takes all kinds to make a garden, just as it takes all kinds of people to make a good world.

Just Wondering

31 Days of Looking for the Little: Pelicans

DSC02107 pelicans

I am fascinated by pelicans. Though they are large by bird standards, in the scheme of all the things, from humungous to tiny, I’d have to say that they’re on the little side, wouldn’t you?

First of all, they are silent. Did you know that? Apparently there is no room in that generous beak/throat of theirs for a noise-making mechanism of any kind. Then, there is what they look like — almost prehistoric in their outline, like some fossils I’ve seen in pictures. 

What I really admire is their grace, and their incredible diving ability. They usually hang out with friends, often making a silent, long line like the one in the picture. And when I see them flying up or down the coastline, I always breathe a little more rapidly and begin thanking God for this visitation.

When I’m at the beach, I’m on the lookout for birds, especially for these strangely beautiful creatures. Pelicans are reputed to feed their young with their own blood during times of famine and distress, pecking at their breasts until blood flows and then feeding it to their chicks. The early Christian church often used pictures of pelicans in churches and in other art work.


Because such sacrificial life-giving spoke of Jesus to them.

I knew there was something special about these birds!

Just Wondering

31 Days of Looking for the Little: Playdates + a Giveaway!


Sometimes I read my friend Laura Boggess’s words and I wonder, “In some alternate universe, are we related?” Because this woman writes my heart, and she writes it beautifully.

And this little book is a gem. A GEM. Laura tells us stories about her life, she quotes lots of great authors, she plumbs mysterious and wondrous truths from the worlds of psychology, theology and ministry — because that’s who she is. She is a psychologist, a closet theologian, and a pastor.

I adored every page of this book, and I read it in one sitting. She asks terrific questions and she finds meaningful answers all the way through. I highly recommend that you order a copy today and plan to use what you find there as you walk out your days. She helps us to re-think how we live by doing one of the things I’m writing out during this challenge: focusing on the ordinary, the small, and discovering God, right there. Right there.

I received a free copy and I also ordered one and that one I am giving away! So if you would like your own copy, please leave me a comment and I’ll enter your name on a slip of paper into my famous name-pulling hat. It’s definitely a worthy read. A little book that can.

Just Wondering

31 Days of Looking for the Little: Bright Spots


IMG_4265 geraniums on balcony

I try to take my mom out to lunch about once each week. She lives ten minutes from us, in a lovely dementia care assisted living unit that is part of a much larger, 3-stage retirement community.

I pick her up, find her pink sun visor, and we begin our S L O W walk outside, up the elevator and down the long, covered, outdoor corridor to the new Life Center building.

Inside is a wonderful cafe, with a brick oven for fresh pizza, and a nice selection of sandwiches and salads. Her favorites are the cheeseburger and cheese pizza. Sometimes a hot dog.

These lunchtimes are a very mixed experience. It’s lovely to just sit with her in the outdoor, covered patio. We enjoy the food and each other’s company. But when she tries to make conversation, it can get dicey. She finds it harder and harder to tell me what she’s thinking. And she knows it. Sometimes when she’s struggling — and there is no way I can help her as I don’t know where she’s headed — I find my eyes wandering.

And these bright pink geraniums on a nearby second-story balcony are often what I choose to focus on. Why? Because they’re bright and beautiful, a reminder that life is good and rich as well as difficult and painful. 

Somehow, they always make me feel better. Then I can give Mom my full attention, tell her how sorry I am that it’s such a struggle for her, and together, we find our way to another quiet space. 

Where do you need a spot of brightness in your life these days?

Just Wondering