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i asked my son, now 21, to text me when he arrived safely back to school, less than an hour away. i realized a few years ago, i have no idea how he and his brother are living at school… save what they choose to tell me. so after multiple trips home and multiple episodes of “mooOOOoom…” and declarations of their age and independence, i acquiesced to their plea … and negotiated for the initial text that they have arrived safely. i told them, what happens after that i don’t need to know (unless they chose to share), but that i did need to know they had arrived safely from our home to theirs.

so as he was leaving from christmas break, and i reminded him to send me that text, he smirked (smirked, not smiled, but smirked) his cute little smirk, playfully rolled his eyes, and said oh-so-snarky, yesss, mooommm. and i told him in the most loving way possible, you know what? i’m 51 and my parents still ask for a call that i’ve gotten home safely so get over it. this isn’t gonna end any time soon, and consider yourself lucky you have peeps who love you. so text me. because i love you. 

and goodness, do i love those peeps of mine.

i was blessed to be able to stay home with them, and raise them up and be a part of their daily lives. {their leaving (even my 16 year old daughter, who, although she still lives here, is rarely ever around) has been nothing short of heart-wrenching.} it was my goal that they feel loved. then and now. it’s easy to do things like buy their favorite toy (within reason) for a birthday, or take them to their friend’s house for a visit, but i’m not so sure that says i love you like acts of service, shared time, and most especially an attentive disposition. (it’s my personal belief) nothing says i love you like a great big warm welcome into the house or even into a room, with voice {saying their name}, with eyes {full, held, smiling eye contact} and with touch {hugs are the best, but touching their arm, shoulder, hair, face}. more than anything else i’ve tried to instill in my children, it is the gift of feeling loved that is most important to me.

+ so in honor of valentine’s day, here’s a short list of things to do to help make sure your loved ones feel loved :


  1. tell them
  2. tell them again. and again and again and again.
  3. make them pancakes {or cookies or popcorn or whatever your family’s special treat is-ours was pancakes from scratch} at odd hours… during playdates or sleepovers, after baseball games, for a change of pace for dinner during the week
  4. allow for special moments, out of the ordinary events… like sleeping in the living room, eating in front of the tv during a special broadcast or movie, or setting up a tent on the back porch
  5. discover {search and discover} what is important or meaningful for your loved one, and provide it  {so getting out of bed just after my husband does, making him a cup of coffee and leaving it on the bathroom sink while he’s in the shower is a morning ritual here}
  6. tell them. {did i mention tell them?}
  7. be a historian. reliving memories of good times together strengthens bonds and warms stressed relations. and children love to hear stories about their childhood, moments when they were the star.  it makes them feel important and loved to know you remembered or documented.
  8. turn off. turn off the radio in the car. turn off the tv at dinner {as a practice, but remember #3}. turn off the cell phone, especially during these few and precious moments when they are still with you. turn off the stress of your life, even if just for a few moments – it will serve you both, and help you to keep perspective.
  9. make special occasions special. life is too short to not celebrate special occasions.
  10. make ordinary days special. it might be a little lofty to make every day special, but sometimes, for no reason at all, aside from the fact that you love them, make an ordinary day special. during their early elementary years, i used to take my kids out of school for a special one-on-one lunch date with me. they loved it, but i think i loved it more.



How do you make your peeps feel loved?


*i was invited to describe what i do to show my loved ones love. this is an uncompensated post and completely my own thoughts and opinions, but i am hashtagging to participate in this project, hosted by Bloom Nation, a marketplace to list or discover uniquely handcrafted bouquets, in case buying flowers is your way of showing love.

  • February 12, 2016 - 4:17 pm

    Southern Gal - Our older two children are married and are still asked to call/text when they get to their destination and when they return home. And my husband and I still call our parents. 😉 Your children are blessed to have had the love and care you provide for them. Sweet post.

+ i searched for words as i crossed the short distance between our houses. the last time i saw her, she was in her housecoat, in bed, fighting pain and the cancer that caused it. i fully expected her to be the same, if not worse, and i just didn’t know what to say.

i climbed up the steps to her back door and knocked twice. almost immediately, the door opened and there she stood, one hand still on the door. she was dressed in jeans and a button up blouse. her hair was held back in a headband, and dangly earings, her signature statement piece, flitted as she spoke. 

Hi, Patty!! 

her voice was happy,



i asked, whaaaat are you doing??

she motioned me in, waving her canning tongs toward her kitchen, and as i passed by her, hugging her, of course, i noticed the boxes. thirty pounds of tomatoes. and the jars, and the pots… this was clearly a project, and she was right in the middle of it.

canning tomatoes! what else?

this was not the woman i had seen weeks before, but definitely the woman i had known since the day we moved in next door. she was stubborn and willful, resilient and so full of energy. she not only canned tomatoes (and everything else good under the sun), she grew them. and then she made delicious meals with them and shared them with the neighborhood. 

i just expected… it’s just that… the last time…

i stammered, stuck between the initial thoughts that escaped my mouth before i could stop them and wanting to express my concern for her well being.

i’m canning tomatoes – because what choice do i have? i can lay there in bed and wait, … or i can can tomatoes. i’m canning tomatoes.

so let this be her legacy. to inspire any of us who face a challenge to not lay in wait, but to live fully. to continue to do what we love to do. to not give in. to be resilient.


in sweet loving memory of my neighbor and friend




i spied him through the drive-thru window… dark-rimmed glasses sat heavy on the bridge of his nose, bleached tips at the ends of his short, dark, spiked hair and big holes in his earlobes, filled with black plugs. he was maybe all of twenty years old. maybe.


he smiled as he took my cash, and handed over my iced coffee. we exchanged pleasantries, and as i began to pull away, he rested his hand on his countertop, made direct eye contact with me and said,

make good choices today!


his words sat with me all day. it’s what we always told our children when they were little, make good choices. it gave them power over their day. my husband especially, would say, you ARE going to have a day. this day is happening. you can [pout/be angry/be sad/be sick/etc], or you can make it a good day, but this day is still going to happen. make good choices.


and i wondered as i made my way through my day, sipping my iced coffee, how i forgot that, the most simplest of instructions, the most basic building block of a good day. focus on the little choices. understand that there ARE choices-that i am never trapped. as an adult, i know that there might not be a great choice, but one choice will always be better than the other and there is always, always a choice, even if the choice is simply my disposition in the face of chaos.



+ *all photos taken at the salt flats in salt lake city, utah

  • August 24, 2015 - 10:27 am

    Southern Gal - Yes, this: “as an adult, i know that there might not be a great choice, but one choice will always be better than the other and there is always, always a choice, even if the choice is simply my disposition in the face of chaos.” As an adult, I have the ability and responsibility to make good choices each and every day. Thanks for sharing this, Patty!

    (We always tell our children to make good choices. And we add, “All choices have consequences. Good or bad, choices have consequences so think them through clearly and carefully.” Am I telling myself that? Hmm.)

  • August 25, 2015 - 9:45 pm

    Julia - I was just thinking about you today. So I pulled up finding serendipity. And here you are 🙂 Gorgeous photography. Good choice of pictures 🙂 and words!
    So true- thank you for sharing- Good to see you on here again.

  • August 26, 2015 - 7:51 pm

    lisa - Oh my, the only thing more beautiful than your photos are the wise words that accompany them. I wonder how many people were told the same thing but dismissed his advice based on his appearance or age. Wisdom comes in many forms….and from many sources. Yes, we all need to think about the choices we make. For ourselves and the little eyes that watch us.

  • November 25, 2015 - 2:40 am

    Liz - You were on my mind today as I haven’t seen anything from you in my blogroll. I miss joining up with 1440 but know there must be a reason.

    Wise words and a great post. I hope to see you back posting soon! 🙂


hello, august.


you’ve been dangling in front of me, the golden carrot that urges me on, for months…

once the building is finished
once we move out
once we move in
once we’re up and running
once the boys are home (or once they go back to school)
once she’s driving
once the fourth of july is past
and the refrigerator is fixed

you know… in august.


in august, the sun shines bright and warm

the flowers are mature, and grow rich in color and weave tendrils deep into stakes and stone

in august, the grass is green, as green as i can remember, and smells of childhood, happy and limitless


the water is warm and sky, well, the sky – the august sky – she is so lovely


it’s always the New Year to me, august     and i think long and deep about resolve and resolution     opportunity excites me again and refreshes the tiredness that comes from day-to-day monotony

and i dream big

+ *all photos taken with my very full so very slow iphone 5s  
and edited in camera+ ap

  • August 14, 2015 - 11:12 am

    Southern Gal - Hello, you! August holds much promise and some disappointment as I look back at all I had planned for the summer. I didn’t get nearly any of those things done, but I do have a 13yo who prayed last night thanking the Lord for a good summer. That changed my perspective a little. 😉 I pray you find that place in the Lord where all you can see, feel, taste and hear is Him.

    Gorgeous phone photos!!

  • August 24, 2015 - 10:00 am

    Weekly Wanderings – Pierced Wonderings - […] Hello, August – Finding Serendipity. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed these posts. I can just breathe it in and feel the relaxation and joy spread through my soul. I want my photos to feel like that. […]

  • August 25, 2015 - 9:42 pm

    Julia - Patty- these pictures are just stunning! Beautiful! Do you ever sell any of your images? For peole to use for cards or to frame? How could I go about doing that?
    Thanks so much- Julia


Alice::  How long is forever?
White Rabbit::  Sometimes, just one second.
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland


i stretched and yawned and tried to figure out where i was. and how i got here. it was my bed in my room in my house, and yet, it was so unfamiliar. it seemed… clear. correct. as it should be. it had been so long since i could see it this way that it seemed new and crisp, like someplace i was seeing for the first time.

my bedroom. my bed. the things that are most intimate to me and still, unfamiliar. is this what they mean when they say the fog has lifted, clear your eyes, see rightly?


i love believing we create our own reality. it gives me power to make my life beautiful. but every now and then  i see things as they really are… crisp and clear. reality smacks hard. steals my sunrise. then seeps back into the crevaces from which she emerged. and i don’t know that i’m brave enough to face it. owning the truth requires strength,  crazy strength, to endure what breaks us, to believe in the worth of picking up pieces, to march on.

forever is gone in a second, and suddenly we know.

but we march on, anyways. we always do.


what else is there?


  • May 21, 2015 - 10:50 am

    Southern Gal - I pray your journey is full of God’s blessings, especially when you can’t see them clearly. And when you can, I hope the boundlessness of His love keeps you in awe. Hugs.

  • June 12, 2015 - 2:10 am

    Julia - I loved this so much-
    Thanks for sharing. I think your photography is gorgeous!

  • July 18, 2015 - 4:19 pm

    Liz - I can totally relate to this… In fact, I had been missing your posts and linking up with 1440, that I came to see if you were back posting.
    I have had my own huge crash to reality over the last 5 years and I have been feeling so incredibly lost of late, and hoping that I would wake up and discover it was all a dream… But alas, this is now my life and I need to adjust and accept that this is my new “normal”. I hope and pray that you are blessed beyond measure.

  • August 3, 2015 - 11:30 am

    Southern Gal - Missing the view from your camera, Patty.