Appreciating Little Dreams

I have some big dreams.  We all do.  Some of them, I believe, will come true along the way, some will never happen, some will evolve into different pictures and weave their way into my life at least partially.  Every once in a while the world feels scary and fear grips my heart as I wonder how we’ll make our dreams come true for our children, especially.  Of course, all we can do is our best, leaving the future to the Lord.  But with so many big things out of our control, I’m learning that I am happier if I notice the little dreams that come true in my life.

Last weekend I made my family our favorite fall dessert:

my rustic pear tart.

I pulled up my post to make sure I remembered the measurements correctly and a sentence in that post caught my attention.  “Pears at the end of the summer, fresh from a local orchard.”

My heart stopped for a minute.  That’s not the story of this pear tart.  This pear tart carries the tag, “Pears at the end of the summer, fresh from my backyard tree.”  A feeling of warm happiness washed over me as I realized with total clarity that the fulfillment of a dream is embodied in that statement.  It’s not a huge, grand dream, and it certainly isn’t a dream that most people have.  It won’t pay for college or be the defining characteristic of my children’s upbringing.  A lot of people I know grew up with it like I grew up with a lawn in my yard.  They would never label it a dream; it was just part of life, something they didn’t have to think about, always there.   But I had it, the happy picture in my heart of my home with fruit trees in back.  The happy picture of our family carrying baskets of fruit inside together.  This is why I love my cherry tree so much.  It’s part of the picture I treasure.  But pears?  Pears are something special.  A little dream, come blissfully true.

When we sliced that tart into ten pieces and ate it together, what I felt was reverence.

Another little dream:

Saturday afternoon my daughter and I began harvesting my lavender for the last time this season.  I let it go too long, but I was enjoying the sight of the bees so much, and leaving the color in the yard made me smile.   The plants have done well this summer, growing large and beautiful, covered with more lavender than I anticipated.  Harvesting lavender is a happy activity.  There you are, arms, hands and face surrounded by the heavenly scent of fresh lavender, enjoying the silvery green color of the stems against the rich purple blooms while the bees work around you in happy companionship.

Saturday night I popped into a local shop for a minute.  The owner came up behind me to say hello as I placed an order for a favorite drink to take home and share with my husband.  We talked about some tempting lemon cookies on the counter and then her face grew serious as she put her arm around me and told her girls behind the counter about my lavender shortbread cookies .  I smiled and promised to bring her some, then said, “Just this afternoon I was outside cutting my lavender for the last time this year.”  I watched the look on her face and realized, “I’m living a dream.  It’s a small dream, on a small scale.  It’s not a lavender farm, but it’s my lavender.  It doesn’t help with the laundry or the cleaning, but it’s a dream and I’m lucky enough to live it.”

I walked to my car feeling terribly blessed.

Those two realizations opened my eyes to so many more little dreams come true.  The joy of a three year old curled up in my lap reading Goodnight Moon with me.  The discovery of a book that moved me to tears.  The happy closeness of my husband who is my life’s greatest dream come true.  The dream of motherhood come true all around me, growing and bulging until it’s so huge I sometimes forget it’s a dream.  A stack of freshly washed and folded white towels.  Having a guest room to share with family.  Pumpkins on the front porch.  Driving down a tree-lined street in the fall.  Prayed for growth and development happening in a child’s life.  A quiet evening at home laughing and playing UNO with my family.  When I really look for them, I realize there are little dreams come true all around me and it fills my heart with gratitude.

Gratitude is a nice feeling to live with.

Evening light & a few thoughts


The glories of spring are in full swing around here, one day a mere bud and the next a flower.   The timing couldn’t be better with Easter coming on Sunday.  It seems that everything is in a hurry to bear witness!


Tonight I glanced outside and saw the setting sun illuminate the blossoms on our cherry tree.  It was so white, so radiant, that I stood in awe for a moment.


The same light seemed to bathe our home in beauty as I walked from room to room.  Simple objects were changed by the glow as they reflected the day’s last, intense rays.


I’ve been reading Sheri Dew’s new book, Amazed by Grace.  I’m almost done (it’s very short) and have enjoyed it immensely.  It’s been excellent preparation for General Conference and Easter.  I suppose it’s also why the evening light struck me so powerfully tonight, illuminating simple things like cherry blossoms and glass vases in a way that made me realize how often Christ’s grace does that for my simple, meager efforts.


Other random things:

1.  My office/sewing room is also our guest room.  My to-do list has taken up residence there in the form of small piles I need to do various things with.

2.  Eric and I went on our Friday night date at 3 pm today.  It was the best time to get away with all our kids tend to have going on Friday nights, and also guaranteed that we’d be awake enough for intelligent conversation.

3.  I put my pajamas on tonight before 6 pm.  All I want to do is sleep (and hope I can knock this junk I’m fighting)!

4.  As beautiful as spring is (and it certainly has been!) things are awfully brown.  With so little moisture this winter, parts of our lawn are looking really bad.  It made me unreasonably happy to turn on the sprinklers tonight!


5.  I have a number of gifts I need/want to sew before the school year ends.  I hope I can start over spring break.


The week has been a good lesson for me in remembering the difference between essential and necessary things.  It’s Friday night and I find myself falling into the weekend like I fall into bed at the end of a long, hard, good day. Exhausted, relieved, wishing I’d accomplished more, hopeful for tomorrow, grateful it’s time to rest.

Gig Harbor

I suppose we all have our special places.  Places that are paradise to us, not just in beauty, but also in feeling, experience, and memory.  No matter how the years pass, they retain a sort of magic for us, or are perhaps a balm to our souls.  We may have more than one, or several that each represent a different stage in life or memory.  At least I hope we all have them, to one degree or another.


I have Gig Harbor.  It’s not my only special place, but in many ways it stands alone and above all the others.

Two months ago I went back.  I hadn’t gone on a trip alone since before I was married and it was both wonderful and strange to leave.  The wife and mother in me felt guilty for leaving but deep inside I knew it was the right thing to do.  I’d known it for years.

My friend Wes passed away on December 31st, 2014, and on January 24th a memorial service was held in Gig Harbor, Washington to celebrate his life.  Twenty years ago in January I first went to Gig Harbor as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and met Wes shortly after arriving there.  I spent seven months in that area, and the impact both the people and the place had on my life was profound.  You see, one of the reasons I was sent to Gig Harbor as a missionary was to meet Wes.  It turned out that my association with him was life-changing, both for me and for him and probably for a lot of other people too.  His wife asked me to come and tell the story at his funeral.


I worried a little.  I’d never spoken at a funeral before.  It was a story I rarely spoke of, as it seemed too sacred to speak of often, and somewhat embarrassing.  They all knew me as a young, energetic college student in her early twenties; now I’m a forty-something mother of 8 children whose long brown hair has turned mostly gray and blonde.  I felt like a sorry substitute for who I once was, and as happy as I was to go back, I was also afraid.

It was one of the happiest weekends of my life.  Everything was familiar to me, as beautiful as I remembered it, unchanged and yet improved, magical still.  The longer I was there, the larger my smile grew and the love, the overwhelming feelings of love that permeated my days in that city so long ago seeped back in and filled all the cracks and holes in the deep corners of my heart.


The funeral went well.  I spoke easily and the story practically told itself.  Those wonderful people who loved me and invited me into their homes and trusted me so long ago welcomed me back with more love and sincerity than I could have thought possible. All the changes I was afraid they’d dwell on meant nothing.  They loved ME.  They were happy to see ME.  I was still Sister Sheffield to them.  In a moment of total wonderment I considered the possibility that THIS might just be what it will be like to go home when we leave this life.


I drove and walked as much as I could, stood on my favorite street corners, breathed deeply of the scent, laughed with joy at the rain, teared up at the fog, stared at the skyline.  I grinned like a giddy little girl at the Tacoma Narows bridge.


On Sunday afternoon I drove down Peacock Hill toward the harbor after a precious hour visiting with another couple I taught all those years ago.  The sun had come out and it was a brilliant, blue, beautiful day.  As I approached Harborview Drive I remembered the night I drove down that same hill and was literally overcome by the beauty of the place.  In that moment I had the distinct realization that ALL the good I could do for the rest of my life couldn’t begin to repay the Lord for just the gift of THAT beauty on THAT night.  To borrow from my all-time favorite book, it was my waters of Mormon.  The scenery of Gig Harbor fed my soul in unspeakable ways and it’s never really left me.   To be experiencing it again so many years later seemed almost too much.  With these memories in mind I turned the corner and looked to my left… hoping.

And there it was.  Mount Rainier in all it’s beauty, bigger, more luminous, more magnificent than I’d remembered, better than any of the photos or paintings I’ve saved.  I literally shouted for joy, feeling like the luckiest of people.  Remembering the doubtful laugh of the woman on the plane when I’d told her I was hoping for a glimpse while there, I shook my head at the kindness of our Heavenly Father.  Such a gift, such a perfect, personalized gift.


I went to pay tribute to a most amazing man and came home more whole than I’ve felt in years.

This post has been half-written for seven weeks.  Today it was time to finish.  Today is also Palm Sunday, and as I have pondered the events of that day, my heart rejoices.  I rejoice that Jesus Christ is who and what he claimed to be.  I rejoice that  because of Him, death has no victory.  I rejoice in his infinite ability to give good gifts, in his ability to give us eyes to see those gifts, and in the masterful way in which the gifts are delivered alongside the chastening and stretching and everyday experiences of life.  Sometimes I feel like the good, bad, fun, happy, sad, frustrating, easy and difficult things of life are packed so tightly together and then mixed around so vigorously that I hardly know which way is up.  But I DO always know that I can LOOK up, and help always comes.  On this Palm Sunday, I joyfully claim Jesus Christ as my king of kings and Lord of Lords.  And I thank Him most gratefully for being at work in my life – in spite of me – and for not giving up on me.  For giving me Gig Harbor – more than once.  For giving me my family.  For helping me discover what it means to be me.  I am forever indebted.


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