Weathered Nesting Box Watercolor



Shelter, the defense against elements.
From scorch of sun to bite of frost;
From blast of wind to deluge of cloudburst
This haven worn by diligence,

Nature does not relent,
Sweet but fierce,
Power by intent.

Some say the signs are in the sky,
I say it’s from what’s left behind.


This watercolor was done from a picture I took a few years ago. I was struck by the story of the nest box. The elements carved out such character, that its story had to be told.

Did you know that it is a myth to take down your birdhouses for winter? Birds need protection. You should clean out the old nest, but leave the house up. Better yet, you can make or buy a roosting box and put it up for the winter.

What is the difference between a birdhouse and roost box? The roosting box has the entrance hole near the bottom to conserve heat. It also can contain pegs inside for multiple birds to roost.

Here is a link to an easy roosting box blueprint from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, if you would like a nice weekend project.

Rainy Autumn Morning Watercolor


Raindrops pummeling onto the concrete outside my window awakens me from a deep sleep. My eyes open, but I do not want to move. This time is to be treasured.

I will not let that voice which asks, “What time is it?”, steal this moment.
I will not let my cell phone sitting on the nightstand,  rob the rain its due.
I will not let my wandering mind kidnap my attention.
Just listen.

As if an audience is clapping their hands in great excitement, a clamor of drops fight to be individually heard.

I hear you… some high, some low.
Some clank on my window.
Some trickle down the gutter.
Some slap patio furniture.

Can raindrop sound compete with raindrop brilliance?
The few remaining leave on the tree outside my window has illuminated in its soaked state. An autumnal glow against a dark sky holds my gaze.
Leaves quickly fall like bricks, carried by a steady stream.
Just watch.

The drencher causes commotion in the air which wafts a lovely aquatic aroma to my nose. I breath it in.
Just smell.

O, how blessed is this time to be treasured!

Clarity in the Clearing – CITW Part 3 Final


I woke on my second day to bird chatter. At the feeder, 4 house sparrows (♂♀), 3 black capped chickadees, 1 nuthatch, 1 northern cardinal (♀),  and a tussle between 2 chipmunks below. I am excited to head out on the trails.

Before I begin, I make a conscious decision to invite the Father with me on my hike. It may sound ridiculous….I am walking on His ground, but I find the solicitation alluring.  Perhaps because of this He will speak to me? Perhaps He will reveal my purpose in this world? That’s my goal here; In the midst of solitude, to find who I am and to find my purpose.
We head out to the grainery.


The grainery is quiet. It is a rustic shack. I enter inside, not knowing what I would find. Inside there is a cot with a simple cushion and a chair with an end table. On the end table are journals wrapped in plastic. Similar journals are also in my hermitage. They are the voices of souls from past retreats. Hundreds of them. I will not read them now, but save them for later.

I continue on the trail. It is perfect out, sun- maybe 70°F, breezy with cotton ball clouds quickly moving from the north against a crystal blue sky. Butterflies bask in the sun. I find them on chairs, on leaves, in bushes, with their wings outstretched in the sun.


I find a seat in the shade and have lunch: salami with mustard on whole wheat, banana, iced apricot green tea. I sit up and look behind me (I don’t know what made me think to do this). There is an inch worm the size of a piece of thread, inching across the chair. He is so fragile, so delicate, but not insignificant. He makes giants stop what they are doing and take notice.

This place is bursting with wildlife. A boisterous band of blue jays compete with “clucking” from chipmunk. My lunch time entertainment.


I reflect on my life and the decisions I’ve made. I see shortcomings and wish I could raise my children all over again. I do not see where I am going but I know where I don’t want to go. I want to live in the moment, beyond emotion, with purpose, intention, and obedience to the Father. So where is it? Where is my direction?


I find a swing in the clearing. It has a tiny log for a footrest. I sit on the swing but kick the log aside, for my feet do not reach the ground (which is rare for my height) and I feel as if I’m a child. Back and forth I swing as I look out over distant hills. Those cotton ball clouds cast shadows here and there on the hills. The shadows keep up with the clouds and quickly race across.The sun is hot on my skin and I soak in warmth.

On the swing that doesn’t allow my feet to touch the ground, I feel a message. I’m not ready to learn my purpose. Like a child that wants to drive a car without lessons. It’s not time yet. I feel the Father figuratively pulling me a step backwards and I hear: Do you see the place you have here? Solitude, Peace, Prayer, and Contemplative thinking? Make such a place as this at home and visit Me often!


Okay, I will. This makes sense. I am so busy in life that I have neglected my prayer time and my focus. I have let the craziness of the world, the business of day to day life, rule my emotions therefore preventing me from hearing direction.

My time at Christ in the Wilderness was too short, only 43 hours, less than two days. As per their rules, you must make the bed for the next retreatee with clean sheets provided. I find this very spiritually therapeutic. I am thinking about the next person. I am praying for them. Praying that they find the peace that they need and the One who prescribes peace. I am making the bed look perfect for them, just like it did for me. I am sad to be leaving but hopeful bringing the concept home with me.


So the story doesn’t end here.
With a new fire in my belly, I grab two large bed sheets to create a space in my basement that has never existed. Stapling sheets for walls into the ceiling, I have created a sanctuary.


Inside here is a place for solitude, peace, prayer, and contemplative thinking. I don’t need to be here to talk to God, He is everywhere, but I find the invitation alluring. I now purposefully make time for prayer.

I hope you have enjoyed this journey to my retreat and are able to take a part of it with you.
May God bless you.

Stormy Welcome, CITW Part 2


Arriving on the first day, I was greeted by a gentle storm. I love storms. I love the excitement and the unknown. The mood is a little more reverent. There is a certain amount of waiting involved…watching the sky, listening, pausing. So I was beyond thrilled to encounter dark skies on my first night. God knows I love storms.

Sister Julia warmly greeted me in the parking area upon arrival. There are three hermitages at Christ in the Wilderness. They each have their own private hiking paths to traverse on to be able to gain access to the residency. Signs labeled “Private”, make others aware that they should avoid this trail. It is charming to have to walk to your place of stay. With rain drops trickling down leaves overhead, we made our way to my hermitage: Paul of Tarsus.


Nearing the end of my private trail, seeing Paul of Tarsus put a huge smile on my face as my dream is to have a tiny house off grid. Well, it is not off grid (there’s electricity and plumbing) but it is a tiny house. Delightful.


With a few simple instructions and handing over the key, Sister Julia was on her way back and I was on my way to solitude.

The very second I was alone, my brain went into a billion different directions at once:

  • Oh! Put the food away…not messy – neatly! Perfectly line those cans of soup!!!
  • Oh! Hide your clothes! This place looks like a mess already!
  • WAIT! No, take a picture before you wreck it!
  • Make some tea!!
  • No, WAIT! Listen to the rain!

I am amazed at how my spirit couldn’t settle down. My mind literally could not focus on one thing. Earlier in the day, I had a lot of running around to do before I could start on my trip. Many errands went wrong, I had to improvise, and it made me nervous running out of time. Perhaps that’s why I was so distraught?

But then I felt a feeling in my heart say, “Let’s just stop and sit for a bit, Christine.”


Okay, let’s.
I am sitting on the chaise lounge of the screened-in porch, surrounded by ceiling to floor windows. What started as a few sprinkles has turned into a steady stream of rain. There is a bird feeder across from me. A male northern cardinal takes shelter under the shrub close to the feeder.


The rain is making a beautiful song. The steady crash on the leaves makes a low chorus and the light dribble coming off the house makes a high pitched melody.

Suddenly I feel another inclination….another feeling….
Go! Go into the wilderness!! Go play in the rain!

I put my raincoat on and race out the door. I refuse to put my hood on because the rain is warm and I do not need to impress anyone. Let the rain soak my hair. Let the rain ruin my make-up. I am free.

The sky makes a gentle groan. Not a grumble, not a rumble, but a weak groan far in the distance. The light is escaping as I find my way to a creek.


A chair and a gigantic wooden spool makes companions to the tiny stream. The spool for a table has lichen and different color mosses growing on the top. What a magical place for an intermission. I continue on the trail and notice sitting spots in every nook and cranny.

I hear more groaning from the sky. My hair is drenched. Raindrops running down my scalp feels like the Father stroking my hair….perhaps it is.


Around the corner of the trail, I frighten some deer which in return frightens me as I was not expecting them. Then I laugh.

Walking back to Paul of Tarsus, I feel as if I am in a fairy tail. I have the enthusiasm of a twelve year old as I jump over the narrow creek and head home. I pray:
Thank You for helping me to settle down.
Thank You for helping me to live in the moment.
Help me to hear You and obey.

My Strategic Withdrawal, CITW Part 1


Sometimes in life you need to retreat. You need to reach over and hit the pause button so that you can regroup. Current events becoming too overwhelming? ….pause button.  Work driving you mad? ….pause button.  Feeling like you’re spinning your wheels not getting anywhere? …pause button. Family/Friends/Children acting irrational? ….pause button. Feel like you’re losing yourself? ….pause button.

When you find yourself wanting to hit pause more than play, it’s time to go on a retreat; A voluntary withdrawal.

I found such a place. A magical gem, so hidden, so secluded, Christ in the Wilderness is a place for spirit repair. God is the doctor and solitude the necessary ingredient for rehabilitation.  You do not have to be of a particular faith. There is no program. Just three tiny hermitages and open trails enticing you to take the first step towards restoration.


This time allows for a brain adjustment. Something I desperately needed. For the next few days I am going to describe my time at Christ in the Wilderness and how it has helped me.


I have lovingly called this place, an Introvert’s Paradise. No TVs, no internet, no cell service, no socializing. For me, it is exactly what I needed to be able to hear myself think. Living in a loud world, I tend to get lost. Or more descriptively, I tend to get lost in its current.


So I hope you will take this journey with me….an exciting pilgrimage to clarity.