A Civil War Prayer

For Thanksgiving: The prayer of an unknown confederate soldier. He speaks the kinds of blessings that most of us aren't brave enough to request.
Like the unknown soldier, may you discover your own richest blessings in unspoken prayers. Happy Holiday.
Soldier's Graves at the Battle of Manassas (Bull Run), 1861
"I asked God for strength that I might achieve.
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I may enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything that I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among all men, most richly blessed."
The Prayer of an Unknown Confederate Soldier
Pictured: "Soldier's Graves at the Battle of Manassas (Bull Run)"
This Original Civil War photograph, and others, can be found at:
Mike Ely Naugh

A New Moon

This just in ...
Tuesday, 6:30pm, Thanksgiving Break.

Tonight, we were pondering going to a very popular teen girl flick, newly released in theaters this week. Isaac (14) wanted to go to the movie, but then he discovered that he had to go with his parents and explained (this is a direct quote):
"this could be socially destructive to my ego."
As a solution, he requested that we go to a theater that isn't here in town.
We are not going to a theater in a different town. So, Steve and I are going by ourselves. Somehow we just earned ourselves a date night. Excellent. Turns out, there are benefits to having teens.
'More reason to be grateful!

What Might Have Been

Thinking about gratitude...
A fearsome list of possibilities, and a thankful prayer about things unseen.

In a house with four boys, there are an infinite amount of probable crises that might happen, at any moment. Our days have contained skate ramps, new drivers' permits, rocket experiments, zip lines, sleeping bag stairway races, rock climbing, snow sleds racing downhill between trees. And that's just a short list. Somehow we've made it 19 years without one broken bone or any stitches among 4 brothers. There isn't a reasonable explanation for that fact. And every time I speak it, I also say, "And, surely, this must be our year." With so much daily potential for disaster, I am grateful for the many things that didn't happen.

A Scarey Fall. A few years back, my two oldest sons were back country skiing up on Pikes Peak. 'Back Country' skiing or snowboarding happens on less-traveled trails in National Forest or 'back country' -- not at a ski hill or resort. Equipment get loaded on a backpack and open downhill space is found by hiking into the mountains. While traversing across the top of a long slope in search of a good run, Andrew and Ty hit black ice. Ty's foot slipped. He was sent sliding down a steep slope toward sharp rocks. He grabbed an embeded boulder and came to a quick stop. Andrew had reflexively reached to grab Ty during the slide. His foot also hit ice hidden under the snow. The older son slid past the younger and kept going, speeding toward the boulder field. Long story short, Andrew was also able to grab a boulder and stop before falling and slamming into a rock field. Dangerous injuries didn't happen. The brothers ice-picked their way back up to the trail and called it safely 'quits' for the day.

My list of things that might have been includes stitches, broken bones, and death on a mountain. But it's so much more .... terminal illness, a son stolen from the bathroom at the mall, a crippling fall from the tree house, the car that didn't stop in the school crosswalk, the fatal poisoning, the devastating house fire, and that long deadly slide my two sons made down black ice on Pikes Peak. In that list I begin to glimpse all the possible things that could have happened, but didn’t. And, I am grateful for many bullets missed.

My list of "might-have-beens" contains things that have actually happened to some of you. Your list probably contains some things that have happened to me. We have all had our share of tragedy, heartbreak, and challenge: some, a lot more than others. But so much more hasn’t happened … so much.

So, in response,
I want to express an out loud prayer of thanks to my generous God.
I am grateful for all the uncountable gifts of protection that have gone unseen,
granted by an invisible hand for unknown purposes.
I am thankful for all that might have been,
but wasn't.


Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
~William Arthur Ward

Gratitude is the memory of the heart.
~Jean Baptiste Massieu, translated from French

Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy -- because we will always want to have something else or something more.
~ Brother David Steindel-Rast

Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.
~Oprah Winfrey

We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.
~Charles Swindoll
He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.

Praise the bridge that carried you over.
~George Colman
In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A simple grateful thought turned heavenwards is the most perfect prayer.
~Doris Lessing

Clicks and Scribbles

It's been a crazy couple of weeks with one thing after the next. Pages of my random scribbles and notes are waiting to be deciphered. They are my only hope of remembering much of anything that zoomed by these last days. I'm not kidding. My brain acquired a small memory leak when I hit 40.

Benjamin Franklin said, "A small leak can sink a great ship." So I'm thinking my prognosis is not good.
Pen scribbles and notes-to-self are my only hope of gaining wisdom from days that have quickly disappeared in line behind me. And hopefully, at least some small part of my notes will translate into something worth sharing. We'll see ...
In the meantime, random clicks of my computer's camera are all I have to offer.

Three goofy pictures and many thanks for stopping by. 'More actual thoughts later ... really. ~Kleigh



'Itching to read something more 'spill-ish?

Look to the right. Center column. Go ahead ... browse through

My Latest Real Life Spills.


My Space

Creating a Space of Your Own. It's hard to be creative and cheap. And, it's a challenge to find personal space in the home of a big family. In case you are looking for your own, here's how I found mine.

The only place available in our full house is a rectangle at the end of my bedroom. There is a picture window and sunshine. It works. But initially, the jumble of bed space and studio made the room feel like one big & crazy visual mess.


A Divine Line. My friend Shelly found this big wooden louvered window-shade-thing at a garage sale. I adopted it for my writing space and hung a curtain. Now two different functional spaces are separated. The room is full, but a little more calm because, when you walk in the door you can't immediately see THIS...

My friends Adina and Shane helped me retro-fit a former executive secretary desk into window work space, storage for my wild piles and the cat. (Can you find the cat napping on the window shelf? Or, the autographed pix of Huey Lewis on the corkboard?) The busier I am, the messier it gets. It's a visual barometer of the pace of my life. Maybe you relate.

I call this my Desk-From-God because a couple years ago I literally prayed for a desk. I made this ludicrous proclamation -- more like a challenge than a request, really. "God, if you want me to write, you need to give me a bigger desk. And it needs to be free."

And here it is, free and perfect, an act of God. I'm letting you see the honest mess of it -- so you can feel more normal, or better than me. 'Which ever works.

The favorite landing spot. The green flowery couch came from an estate sale. Wow, it sure is ugly, and I sure love it. You can read about it in DIRT. And, watch for this homely loveseat in the upcoming website Tattered Couch. It's an exciting project that I'm working on with Laura from Cereal for Dinner. It's due to launch in February. I'll keep you posted.

And lastly,
the cat isn't dead. He's just demonstrating how I feel right now. And that's exactly why, even if not in a deliberately curtained space, it's good to have a place to take a breather. We all need space to stop, refocus, rest, pray or meditate when days are long and demanding. So, if it's needed, I hope you can find your own space today, too.

Click here to see the cat get a Holiday Bath.


The Goodnight Thing

Continuing in a series about my artist friends ....
today, a shameless plug for a really great children's book.

Rarely does a bed time story model healthy positive touch between father and daughter. As the rare exception, the simple words of "The Goodnight Thing" are sweet holistic inspiration. Rich Hurst captures a spiritual and physical bond between parent and child. And, the sweeping, rollicking illustrations by Lois Rosio-Sprague are worth the price of the book! These pictures both engage and soothe ... a perfect bedtime balance.

With Christmas fast approaching, I recommend this bedtime book as a perfect gift for children and grandparents. And, maybe, we could even arrange an autographed copy ( I haven't cleared this idea with Lois yet.)

Interested in purchasing an autographed copy? Leave a comment!

Order a regular copy of "The Goodnight Thing" on Amazon.com
or contact Lois Rosio Sprague's website directly.

Sunday Thought

The power of words spoken by a child.
"I am Somebody."

Sheep Market

Even the most talented artists end up doing the most unlikely side-jobs. Making a successful living as an artist usually demands a Whatever-It-Takes attitude. Before Mona Lisa, Leonardo DaVinci also worked as a scientist and an inventor. For a time, Renoit was a shoe-tailor and a dress maker. And before his multiple 15 minutes of fame, Andy Warhol made greeting cards and designed graphic rain drops, suns, and clouds for TV weather reports. Whatever-it-Takes.

My friend Lois recently stumbled upon an unexpected side-job which I find hilarious. Lois does all sorts of things as a professional artist. She does live art murals during concerts or private events. She re-designs rooms. She illustrates books. Sometimes she'll randomly get a job to paint a watercolor rendition of a beloved guitar or bike. And on her own time, she quietly paints memorial portraits for parents who have lost children. She has a whole portfolio of children who have passed away. Lois' heart spills into her portraits of human forms and facial expressions.

So, when she recently hooked up with a couple of exclusive gallery owners, it seemed only natural that she would create more pictures with humans. However, she was quickly informed that humans don't sell. Right now, sheep sell. People want art with sheep.

So, Lois put on her muddy shoes and brought her whatever-it-takes attitude out to a friend's sheep barn in order to do photo studies and sketches. Lois spent a lot of time learning sheep, then got to work capturing them a huge framed pictures. Her first sheep picture went to the gallery and a few days later, Lois got a call from one of the owners. Three women were in the store, arguing about who would get the sheep picture. It sold to the highest bidder. And, there is still quite a sheep demand. So now, among her many other artistic things, Lois is also in the business of sheep. And it makes me laugh out loud.

Turns out, sheep sell. 'Who knew?

'Whatever it takes.

All Rights Reserved.

Stream Works

Continuing in a series about the artists in my life, and the way their art impacts my world.

"We seek out campsites by rivers and streams. The flow becomes gurgling white noise for tent sleep. The water play becomes the work of sons and brothers." ~Kleigh

Stream work has always been Steve's job. He is a Dad who gets in the stream with his sons. This running tradition would not exist without him. The boys dig sand and dirt, move rocks, and redirect waterways. It is a child's practice of adult work. And my husband plays alongside them. This is how it has always been, still is, and perhaps always will be. I know the memory of each son will contain at least one mental snapshot of 10 feet and hands in the water of their childhood.

A few years ago, I had an actual photo of stream work on my fridge. It was a 4"x6" snapshot of time spent along the stream in a tiny southern Colorado town named Dolores. We were headed home from the Grand Canyon, sun baked, content, and in the slower pace of a summer week. Steve and the sons were working at play and I had a moment to stop and really see it. It was one of those times. And, my camera captured it.

A fridge magnet held my little water picture in place as the door opened and closed. During snack hunts and meal prep, it was a well-placed reminder of beauty. My friend Lois came over one day and saw the picture. Something about it struck her.

Lois Rosio Sprague is a watercolor artist. She does a wide variety of things non-watercolor. But her main passion is human figures and faces in the drippiest medium. She asked if she could borrow my photo. It went with her to a watercolor class she was teaching. And, in the process, my little fridge photo morphed into a big framed 3 1/2 ft. by 4 1/2 ft. portrait on my dining room wall. I gave it to Steve for Christmas.

If my house is burning down, I will grab this picture first. It is a freeze frame of streamworks. It contains a magnified version of my husband as a Dad in the water of life with his sons. And, for me, that is the best art of all.

Interested in the portrait work of Lois Rosio Sprague?
Go see her website:

Table Art

Boys on the Table.
My friends Lois and Adina had a furniture painting business. In the past, they have also collaborated in designing and painting backdrops for the Thin Air Theatre Company, at the Butte Theatre in Cripple Creek, CO. They used to spend hours in an abandoned casino, painting realistic scenes, doors, and walls for stage productions. One time I went to go visit them while they were working, and found myself surrounded by old casino bling, and the props of Dr. Jekyll's laboratory.

Anyhow, for me, their furniture venture was an answer to a couple problems; my unorganized family photograph jungle, and my beloved-but-ugly furniture. This project became a permanent home to several random boxes full of family baby and boy photos. Lois and Adina came over one day, took the pictures plus our old coffee table and music cabinet, and loaded them in their truck.

"Brothers." Both pieces of furniture now contain all things brother. They are full of aspen, leather, brother quotes, and a small history of our sons growing up together. Our years of daily togetherness under one roof are gone. But the furniture will stay.

Some of the Brother Table Quotes:
  • "We few. We happy few. We band of brothers." ~ Wm. Shakespeare
  • "Let brother help brother." ~Plato
  • "Brothers, our love must not be a thing of words and fine talk. It must be a thing of action and sincerity." ~ John. The Bible.
  • "Let brothers agree, no fortress is as strong as their common life."
  • "Sons of one father."
  • "Ye are brothers! Ye are men! And we conquer but to save."
  • "The highlight of my childhood was making my brother laugh so hard that food came out of his nose." ~Garrison Keilor.

Certain art has the capacity to capture our history in lasting form. I don't have cool scrapbooking albums. For good reasons, I probably never will. However, in the living room, everyday, we have the faces of small babies now grown, and sweet great-grandparents now gone. They are smiling at us; quietly reminding us of younger times. I'm grateful to have these pieces of past set down in the middle of the floor where we live. From now on, there will always be brothers on the table at my house.

Thanks, Adina & Lois.

Art Spill

by Adina

Maybe it's the mountains that attract this type. Maybe these people have an inner magnetic that just irresistibly pulls me where they are. Maybe it's because my brain is so grossly lop-sided to the artistic and abstract right-side. There's no making sense of it, but a bulk of the people I know and love are artists. They are painters, sculptors, writers, dancers, and musicians

The next series of the Spill will be the art that surrounds my life. I want to share the language of my friends with you.

SPILL. (above) My tall friend Adina Hendersen decided to splash an homage to this blog and named it "SPILL." Adina's Grampa was a sculptor. Her mom went to high school with my mom in Virginia. Oddly, we became friends in Colorado without a clue that our moms had done the same decades earlier, hundreds of miles away. You can imagine our shock when we quite randomly discovered this small-world mom-commonality years later. "Our Moms what?!" Funny.

Adina does enormous wall murals, and tiny watercolors. She paints doors, furniture, and stage backdrops for theater. You never know what she's up to. I knew Adina for a long while before I found out she is an artist. They first time I saw a painting of hers, it made me cry -- in a good way.

I'm grateful for her take on The Spill. To me, it's a good example of how spilling stuff interacts and impacts. The blending, splattering, and mixing of colors is somehow, to me, a great picture of the messy challenges and transformation that come with living in community. If you come out unchanged, you aren't really living in it.

Thanks for this Spill, Adina.

What art offers is space -
a certain breathing room for the spirit.
John Updike