Thursday, December 31, 2009


This year God graciously brought a younger woman to me and I've been able to share my faith-journey and life with her on a weekly basis. Right now I am reading the book Spiritual Mothering by Susan Hunt to find good advice on how to fulfill the role of "older woman" more impactfully than I do now.

In the forward alone were nuggets to share. It was written by George Grant.

It is women mentoring women. It is older women caring for younger women - teaching, nurturing, and encouraging them. She draws on a wealth of Scriptural material to illumine the righteous and venerable tradition of people actually investing themselves in people - rather than in programs, projects, or perspectives.

That struck me! We can get so caught up in a program or project that we miss the people. Generally, I would classify myself as a non-people person. Plainly speaking, I do not get energized by being with others, rather they just wear me out. I am invigorated by spending time alone - reading, praying, thinking. I can never get enough of it. I know God created me this way; however, I also know that He calls us to care for others. The life of a Christian is not about oneself, but about serving and caring for others. For some that is easier than others.

I'm an idea person. I literally have file box after file box of ideas all waiting to be discovered. I am beginning to see that possibly God has given me the personality and design to be a writer, but I feel woefully inadequate when it comes to expressing myself. Seeing that God has maybe designed me for a certain purpose gives me hope, but I can't get self-absorbed to the point that I forget about the people. There are my family members, my neighbors, my friends, my co-workers, my fellow homeschoolers, and so many more with whom I come in contact throughout my days. Who am I focused on? Them or me? Who does Christ call me to serve? Them or me?

1 Peter 4:9-11 (New International Version)
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Mr. Grant ends the forward with this quote by Theodore Roosevelt:

Do we see as we ought to see? Do we see the warrior witnesses round about us - or are we like the servants of Elisha, purblind and incognizant of the battle raging in our midst? Do we see the Savior before us - or are we like the disciples on the way to Emmaus, obsessed and possessed by our own concerns? Do we see - or are we casting about in darkness, flailing with sightless eyes? With what encumbrances have we ballasted the Gospel of grace with our lack of vision? Surely the Kingdom of Righteousness does not lack for resources. Surely the church is not bereft of ingenuity. Surely the just have bounteous opportunities. Yea and indeed, the single and solitary need - of the hour, the day, the epoch - is vision: the vision to see, the vision to do, and more, the vision to be. Lord of the Harvest, give us we pray: great men, great women, and great families. Lord of the Harvest, give us we pray: vision - the vision of gallant greatness.

My prayer is that you will have a blessed New Year as you strive to serve others in Christ!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Last Random Dozen for 2009

Join us for some question and answer fun. Just visit Linda at 2nd cup of coffee to link up!
1. Do you find it gross to share drinks with family? Friends?

Ehhh...yes and no. I might try a taste of something new with my family or share my Italian Cream Soda at Macaroni Grill with my girls (if they're well), but generally, I'm not about sharing. Friends - sorry.

2. What have you learned this year? (You didn't see a question of that weight coming, did you? At least not for #2.)

The brevity of life. We celebrated my grandmother's 80th birthday in May and she passed away in November. I had a cardiac event (like a heart attack, but with no damage) in August and that clearly painted the picture of how life can change in a moment. I think I've appreciated each day and lived more purposefully since then.

3. When do you dismantle the Christmas decorations?

On a good year during the week between Christmas and New Years (happened maybe once or twice!) Generally, I start taking it down on New Year's Day and it takes me a few days slowly puttering around to get it done. There's always a few items that I find later in Jan or Feb that somehow no one noticed though.

4. Something you wish to accomplish before the end of 2009 is:

A clean desk to begin the new year.

5. How do you feel about winter (after Christmas)?

I LOVE winter!!! LOVE IT! I get giddy when it snows. I love to bake when it's cold outside. I love the "quiet" of winter.

6. Have you participated in after-Christmas sales?

Does buying underwear online count? I do not go out into the fray of Walmart or the mall. I have a return to take back at Target, but I will wait another week or so to venture out.

7. Do you have plans for New Year's Eve?

We usually have a house full, but this year we can't find anyone available. Sad. We might go to my parents or we might go to a co-worker's party and try some international fun/food.

8. Is there anything special awaiting you in January?

My daughter's 8th birthday! She brings me such joy! She loves parties and I'm sure we'll throw a big one with friends sometime in January.

9. If your life this year was a movie, what category or genre would it be? (Romance, Comedy, Drama, Thriller, Suspense, Farcical, etc.)

DRAMA!!! (see question # 2), plus I have a college-age daughter who is seriously dating...DRAMA!!

10. How much time per day do you spend blogging? Please do not lie. I will know.

I go in spurts. At least one Saturday morning a month I will spend the whole morning writing posts for both blogs. I'll get 4-5 posts per blog and feel like I'm getting ahead. Ha! Some evenings I will just check my favorite blogs to read - under 15 min. total. Some nights I just read blogs for a couple of hours. I enjoy getting to "meet" new bloggers and it's a treat for me to spend time in the bloggy world.

11. Who runs your household?

Ummm...I'm the Chief Executive, but the Chairman of the Board is Mark. I keep us running, but the big decisions go to the top!

12. Share one hope/dream for 2010.

I want to reach out and make new friends in 2010...not worry about the house being perfectly clean, the food just right, etc. I just want to spend time with people and ENJOY them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Prayer Please

Update: The concert went well. I played Nathan's bells and our music pastor directed/kept time for our handbell choir. It went without a hitch! PTL!! Nathan's surgery went well and he's recovering.

Please pray for Nathan, a high school student in my handbell choir. He went into emergency surgery tonight to have his appendix removed. He was to play a vital role in our Christmas concert tomorrow morning and I have been "playing the air" trying to learn his part. Please, say a prayer for me as I try to fill in for him.

Thanks, Everyone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Devotional, part two: God's Timing

Back to Zacharias and Elizabeth...Luke 1 tells us that while Zacharias was performing his priestly duties the angel came to tell him he would be conceiving a very special son. Verse 8 states that Zacharias was serving "in the order of his division." I Chronicles 24 explains that the Temple priesthood was organized into 24 divisions, with each division serving twice a year for one week. Abijah's, thus Zacharias', division was the 8th. In ancient times the Lord had set the schedule for the priest's rotations. At some future date a descendant of Abijah is going to need to be on duty so that Gabriel can appear and tell him that what he has hoped and prayed for - a son - will finally come to pass.

Verse 9 tells us that Zacharias' lot fell to burn incense. This was a high honor. MacArthur's study Bible sheds light on the perfect timing of God. "Because of the large number of priests, most would never be chosen for such a duty, and no one was permitted to serve in this capacity twice. Zacharias no doubt regarded this as the supreme moment in a lifetime of priestly service. The incense was kept burning perpetually, just in front of the veil that divided the holy place from the most holy place. The lone priest would offer the incense every morning and every evening, while the rest of the priests and worshippers stood outside the holy place in prayer (v. 10)."

Zacharias had been born into a priestly family (the right job) and within a specific lineage (the right division, thus the right week of the year to serve). Then the lot (an unknown procedure divinely controlled by God) fell to him. He was given the honor to enter the holy place where Gabriel would bring him the good news.

Are you resting in the knowledge that God's timing in your own life is perfect? Maybe it doesn't seem perfect to you at the moment, but can you look back and see other events that, at the time, didn't seem timely, but in hindsight were perfectly timed by God? Psalm 18:30 reminds us, "As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him." James 1:17 encourages us; "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

I remember several years ago just after Katie had been born. Within the span of one month our landlord sold the house we were living in, Mark lost his job and we found out we would be having a second baby right on the heels of our baby-in-arms. My parent's graciously offered to let us move in with them. We knew God would use this time as blessing and restoration, but had any of us known it would last 10 1/2 months, we may have questioned our resolve. There was discouragement and faith-challenges during that time, but God's hand was evident. His timing would be perfect.

Let's return to Zacharias. This faithful priest enters the Temple to burn incense and off to the right there appears Gabriel, an angel. Gabriel shares how Zacharias' prayer has been heard and that he will bear a son. Gabriel tells him to name the baby John and shares how great this child will be in the sight of the Lord.

I marvel at how perfect the timing of the Lord is in this story. Not only does the Lord prepare the way for John's birth and future ministry, but the timing of John and Jesus' births also brought comfort and joy to Elizabeth and Mary.

Following the account of Zacharias in the Temple is the revelation of Christ's birth that Gabriel shares with Mary. In verse 34 Mary basically says, "How on earth is this going to happen?" A few verses earlier Zacharias has asked the same thing. Gabriel said that he was the sign as the answer to the long-awaited prayer and gently rebuked Zacharias by making him mute until it happened.

Zacharias was expected to believe.

In contrast (vs. 35-37) Gabriel explains to Mary that the Holy Spirit would come upon her (the how). One commentary says that Mary's was not unbelief, but wonderment. I don't know if there was a stark difference between their questions, but God gave them each what they needed to grow their faith and it didn't look the same. Gabriel also encouraged Mary's faith with something akin to "by the way, Elizabeth is also having a baby because" "For with God nothing will be impossible." That was quite a faith-boost to a young girl who has witnessed the longing and faithfulness of her dear relatives. Then Mary in faith says, "let it be to me according to your word."

God gives us all we need to trust Him. Zacharias' name means "Jehovah has remembered." He was not forgotten; He just needed to wait for the perfect timing of God. He lived faithfully, but he should have lived expectantly too. Easier said than done, isn't it!

My immediate family and my parent's recognized that God had given us a unique opportunity when we lived together for nearly a year. We did our best to maximize the time together and allow the Spirit to bring restoration/healing amidst a trial.

God has not forgotten you! Luke 12:6 says "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God." God is good and He is for you. Rest in faith believing that His timing is perfect, not only in the lives of Biblical characters, but in your life, as well. Remain faithful; God remembers you!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Random Dozen - Christmas Edition

Join us at Linda's blog for some Random Christmas fun!

1. Which physical trait do you now accept--maybe not love, but accept--and no longer feel extremely self-conscious about?

Hope this doesn't make anyone ill, but I've never felt extremely self-conscious about my physical traits(except the mole I got removed from my nose in Jr. High). My body has changed a lot, but I think I take most of these changes in stride.

2. This week Meredith Baxter Birney, best known as the mom on the favorite 80s sitcom "Family Ties" came out of the closet, which led me to formulate this question: Who do you think is/was the best TV mom?

Tie! Mrs. Walton and Mrs. Ingalls. Both dispensed wisdom with calm, both let their kids learn some things the hard way, both made the most out of what little they had, and both looked at life with a sense of humor. I miss those shows!

3. Do you speak any foreign languages? Are there any you'd like to learn?

I speak a LITTLE Spanish and German and I know some French lullabies (thanks, Mom!).
I would like to improve my Spanish skills.

4. Who is your personal hero?

Ugh, I saved this question to answer for last. I'm not a big "hero" person. I admire many traits about everyone I know; I struggle to find a "hero" in any ONE person, but the one person who keeps coming to mind is Peter, a disciple of Jesus. I identify with Peter's personality a lot. I can be impetuous, unreliable, passionate, adamant about truth and fallible. What I love about Peter is that as Christ's transforming work continues in his life, we see Peter become steady, reliable, while continuing to walk in truth passionately. Peter gives me hope that God can use anyone. So, I guess, that makes him a hero to me.

5. What is one holiday food that you find extremely difficult to resist over- indulging in?

Maybe Red Cake or fudge...yum!

6. Tell me about a Christmas decoration that has special meaning or sentimental value.

I inherited my grandparent's Christmas ornaments. When being stored they still reside in their original boxes which date back to the late 1920's and 1930's. They are delicate and beautiful. If for some reason I lost everything, Christmas would not be the same without a tree full of these family favorites.

7. How do you feel about snow?

Beyond giddy...I LOVE SNOW!!! LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT!!! We usually get our first snowfall on Dec. 5th (Really, it has first snowed on Dec. 5th about 7 of the 10 years we've lived outside of Wash DC!) My son shares with others that if I see a snowflake whirling in the air, we take the day off of school, break out the winter gear and get the hot chocolate ready. Snow makes me happy; I just can't help it.

8. On average, how many hours of sleep do you get each night? Not that I'm jealous of any number over three or anything.

7-8 hours; love my sleep too!

9. Tell me about your first crush.

I was in 1st grade (yep, I started early.) Mrs. Spencer, my teacher, had an 8th grade son who attended the same elementary school as I did. Mrs. Spencer's son, Tom, would spend his recess in our classroom grading our papers. I was IN LOVE! He was Sooooo Cute! I did my very best on every paper, because I wanted to impress Tom with my good grades. Ha! Can you imagine! When he was in our classroom, I just sat there staring...did I mention, soooo cute? :) Poor boy!

10. You're stuck in a room for 2 hours with only a chalkboard and chalk. What will you write/draw?

When I read this question, I immediately knew my answer. It's embarrassing. I would write whatever - probably the Pledge of Allegiance. I would be working on perfecting my chalkboard writing skills. Weird! I used to be a kindergarten teacher, what can I say.

11. Do you dress for the current temp or for the day's forecast?

Dress for the forecast. My kids have a cow when I make them wear a heavy jacket, knowing it will turn cold in the afternoon. Funny though, I never hear them complain about it once the cold weather gets here.

12. Favorite Christmas movie is?

I LOVE White Christmas. It is the only one I MUST watch (you know, "Snow, Snow, Snow, Snow!), but I love It's a Wonderful Life and Alastair Sim's A Christmas Carol too. It really wouldn't be a complete Christmas without all three.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Devotional, part one

Often during the month of December I spend my morning quiet times reading and meditating on the Scriptures describing Christ's birth. My first reading this week began in Luke 1.

Zacharias' story opens in verse 5 with "There were in the days of Herod...." MacArthur's Study Bible notes that this was Herod the Great, the first of several important rulers descended from the Edomites, offspring of Esau. "Herod was ruthless and cunning. He loved opulence and grand building projects, and many of the most magnificent ruins that can be seen in modern Israel date back to the days of Herod the Great. His most famous project was the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem [although it] was not completed until long after Herod's death."

The stage is set. In Jerusalem there are massive building projects, trade, worship - the hustle and bustle of a busy urban life. The scene opens on "a certain priest named Zacharias." We quickly learn that he and his wife Elizabeth were from the priestly line of Aaron, but more importantly "they were both righteous before God, walking [emphasis mine] in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless."

Can you imagine being recorded for the rest of human history as righteous and blameless before God? This couple's life was marked by faithfulness. Day in and day out they lived according to the Law. They faithfully worshipped at the Temple and sought to please God with their lives. Then the next word of verse 7 strikes me,


Luke records the faithfulness of two people, BUT the one thing in life they desired more than anything else - a child - they had not received. Then, as if to highlight the tragedy, Luke tells us "and they were both well advanced in years."

We, as 21st century Christians, know this story so well. We read over these first eight verses as the descriptive precursor to a miracle by God's hand, and although that is the exciting culmination of Zacharias and Elizabeth's story, there is much to be learned in the preamble.

When I was thirteen years old my mother took me to my first women's conference. I'm sure she just wanted to spend some time with me and give me opportunity to hear encouragement from a female perspective. Little did either of us know that by the end of that conference I would walk out with a calling of God on my life. The conference speaker didn't even address the topics of callings, and I was thirteen - what did I know about them? All I know is that I left that meeting knowing - completely assured - of what God was going to do in my life. It was quite a moment for a young girl.

I continued through my teen years, not focused on what God had revealed, but aware enough to not make any decisions that would exempt me from fulfilling God's will for my life. I went off to Bible college and began looking for opportunities to fulfill my calling. God, in His great kindness, gave me room to grow and I, like most college students, felt I had the world by the tail. It was all going according to the plan I had envisioned.

Then I got married to a pastor and we began working with youth and teaching in a Christian school. Life was hard, but again, God had put me right in the center of His will. I thought my life would be this way until death. BUT...

God delights in change. He loves to take a scenario in our life, and if it were recorded for history, it would include the word "but." It's as if God voices

"you may have thought this, but...",

"you may have wanted this, but",

"you may have gone here, but..."

Not only does this challenge our trust, but it challenges our faithfulness also. When those unexplainable circumstances in life come, are we faithful like Zacharias and Elizabeth? Do we accept the life God gives to us - trusting that He knows best?

In my early thirties my life fell apart and from my perspective, I thought the calling of God would never be fulfilled. Instead I was just beginning to be refined by fire. Oh, how I needed it! God had not shelved me, but it sure felt that way. All that I had been striving to accomplish went up in smoke. It hadn't been God's work through me. I had some God-sized lessons to learn.

In my late thirties, as healing continued, I realized that I didn't truly grasp foundational truths of God's love and grace. It's as if I had known about God, but didn't know Him. He patiently unfolded truths that had been so obvious mentally, but never truly experienced. God was real; He really loved me and there was enough grace to continue on.

Now into my early 40's I see the Lord's restoration in my life, but I've stopped striving for the calling in my own power. Like Zacharias and Elizabeth, my greatest desire is to be found faithful. Living daily by the Holy Spirit's guidance is by far the most challenging, but as I give up my own will and rest in what He calls me to do, I find that faithfulness manifests itself.

Like Zacharias and Elizabeth, God's calling will be fulfilled in me. I may be advanced in years, but God is faithful.

Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I encourage you to take some time this holiday season to think about where you are in your walk with the Lord. Do you need to be more purposeful in your obedience so you will be remembered as faithful? Maybe you're in the middle of circumstances that have you clinging to God's faithfulness. Wherever you are, Immanuel, "God with Us," is there for you. Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

100th Blog Post Give Away!

UPDATE: Congratulations, Traci, on being the only person to read my 100th blog post and win the handmade bookmark!

Thank You, faithful friends and family for reading my blog!

I've made it to the 100th post!
I've shared a mixture of serious and silly entries and you've been with me all along the way.

Let's celebrate together!

I would like to give away this cross stitched bookmark that I made this week for the winner of my give-away.

I Corinthians reminds us that charity, or love, is the greatest of virtues.

This bookmark is a small token of my love for you.

If you would like to win the book mark, please, leave a comment stating one unusual thing for which you're thankful. (get creative!)

I will randomly choose a name on Saturday night and post the winner.
Please, share the give-away with friends, if you'd like.

Weekend Washington Tour

Recently my husband and I took our two youngest daughters sightseeing in our home town, Washington D.C. We had just finished a unit study on Native Americans in school and thought it might be fun to go downtown and see the National Museum of the American Indian so that's where the tour begins.

The picture doesn't do justice to the sculpture. We enjoyed searching for different animals tucked into this 360 degree piece of art.

The girls learned about cradleboards when they were studying Indian culture.

After spending some time learning about Native Indians, we decided to hit a Washington DC landmark eatery...

Ben's Chili Bowl!

You can learn more about this amazing diner here:

Lunch was the perfect pick-me-up so we drove back downtown to the Library of Congress, just across the street from the Capitol.

Front entrance facing the east side of the Captiol.

One of my cherubs peeking out from behind the others.

The ceiling...

The quotes...

Handwritten music by Gershwin...

The Grandeur!

As you can see, the sun was setting, but we were still up for one more adventure.

We went to check out Eastern Market.

This is a public market housed in a 19th century brick building. It has the feel of an enclosed farmer's market and if you visit on the weekend, the market overflows with vendors and people enjoying a community breakfast together. The market was badly damaged by fire in 2007. Supported by the community it was restored and reopened in June 2009. It's an off-the-beaten-trail landmark of Washington D.C.

We visited on a quiet evening just as they were beginning to close for the day, but we came away with tasty meats and yummy cupcakes. It was the perfect ending to our sightseeing tour!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Random Dozen - Thanksgiving Style!

1. Are you sticking to traditional Thanksgiving foods this year, or are you being culinarily adventurous?

Tradition rules - turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, homemade dinner rolls, deviled eggs, olives, followed by pies - chocolate, apple & pumpkin.

2. Tell me something concrete that you're thankful for. (Something you can literally touch, see, etc., not a concept like "hope.")

Besides my family, I'm thankful for the first crocheted throw that I made and gave to my grandmother. It was returned to me by my mother today and it now lays over a chair in my living room.

3. You knew the flip side was coming: Share about something intangible that you're thankful for.

Memories. Losing my grandmother two weeks ago makes me especially thankful for memories.

4. Share one vivid Thanksgiving memory. It doesn't have to be deep or meaningful, just something that remains etched in your memory.

One Thanksgiving morning I went to take a shower and my usual clear conditioner was empty. Because it was a holiday and we lived 45 minutes from the nearest store, I had to make due with another conditioner that was used by my Dad and brother. All seemed fine, until as we were eating the meal I began to itch. I kept itching to myself quietly until one of my family members looked at me and gasped. I had hives covering my face. Actually, I had hives from head to toe - wherever the conditioner had touched me. It was the first incident that helped us realize that I was allergic to product dyes.

5. What is one thing that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt is going to happen this Thanksgiving because it always does, year after year?

My father and husband will eat too much and nap on the living room floor.

6. Do your pets get any left-overs?

Yes, when we had pets our dog got some turkey scraps.

7. Does your family pray before the big meal? If so, do you join hands while seated, stand, repeat a formal prayer or offer a spontaneous prayer? Who does the praying?

We pray before every meal, including Thanksgiving. We stand if it's a big crowd eating in different rooms and sit if everyone can fit into the dining room. It is a spontaneous prayer given by the patriarch, my father.

8. Will you be watching football in the afternoon? If not, what will you be doing?

There will be football games playing in the background, but we'll usually be playing games as well.

9. There are two distinct camps of people on this issue: How do you feel about oysters in the dressing/stuffing?


10. Do you consider yourself informed about the first Thanksgiving?

I'm a homeschool mom...that's a "duh" around here. :)

11. Which variety of pie will you be enjoying?

As mentioned above, I'll be making 3 kinds, but I'll be eating the pumpkin! I've been waiting for months!

12. Do you feel for the turkey?? (This is a humorous throw back question related to the 12th question in another Random Dozen!)

When I was a kid I felt sorry for the turkey. I wanted the President to pardon ALL the turkeys and I was mad at him for only choosing one. Now, C'est la vie!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

37 Days of Kindness

Wish I had thought up this great idea! Lysa TerKeurst posted a challenge about focusing on kindness, the kind Christ asks of us, each day leading up to Christmas.

Don't know about you, but I could use a re-focus right about now. Although I am going through a time of grieving, I'm struggling to find a way to stop thinking of myself. This just may be what I need.

I really want this season to be more quiet, more focused on Christ and a time when I can find quiet in the presence of the Lord. Looking for a little peace, I guess.

I'm determined to let it begin in me.

Care to join us?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Goals, Weeks 4 & 5

They should be called mere suggestions...wispy thoughts...fat chances. :)

Obviously, last week I did NOT keep a food journal or exercise on purpose. I spent almost 40 hours in the car traveling last week and I did not eat excessively. One does not feel like eating when going through the process of a funeral/burial. The last thing I could do was focus on me. right calf muscle was exercised on the gas pedal. Well, I did use the cruise feature a lot so I guess it doesn't count. My back aches like I've exercised, but I think we're back to those 40 hours in the car again.

I am also not keeping a food/exercise journal this week. I didn't stop traveling until Monday night and the past two days have been basically spent in my jammies just recuperating from sadness. I've got to snap out of it for the end of the week/weekend and I'm ready to do that, but again, just not focusing on the extras.

Maybe next might be good to get back to healthy living just in time for Thanksgiving! (and to end the 6 weeks on a high note.)

I said I'd keep you informed of my efforts...putting it out there has revealed a lot, but I'm being gentle with myself. (at least for one more week)

Random Dozen # 12

Linda at 2nd cup of coffee hosts this meme. Each Wednesday we share our answers to a dozen random questions. If you want to join in the fun, click here.

1. If you could master one sport, what would it be?

Ping Pong! You see, my husband has mad-skills at putting spins on his ping pong returns. Just once I'd like to showcase some talent and whip his pants! (all in good fun, of course!) Here's what I'm dreaming of:

2. When you make a major purchase, do you go with your gut instinct, or do you do research to make an informed decision? husband is great at doing the legwork, followed by gut instinct - which researched product seems like the best idea for us.

3. There is an old kids' game that says you can find out what your movie star name would be by using your middle name as your first name and the name of the street you grew up on as your last. What is your movie star name?

Michelle Riverview (she's the host of Mission Organization, btw!)

4. Would you rather give up your favorite music or your favorite food?

Uhhh...neither? Food and music are BIG in our house. It would be slightly easier to give up the music, I think. I could probably find a new favorite musically over giving up BBQ Chicken and Snickers bars.

5. There are two types of banana preferences. One is pristine yellow, almost to the point of being green; the other is spotty and more ripe. Which is your preference?

pristine yellow, almost green...a FRESH banana. so yummy.

6. Your favorite tree is?

I like a lot of trees, but my two faves - a freshly cut pine for our Christmas tree and Weeping Willow. I grew up with a Weeping Willow in our front yard and I could hide out under it when I needed a quiet place to go. It was so beautiful blowing in the wind. Sweet memories.

7. On a scale of 1-10, how tech savvy are you?

Ummm, I had to use the help button to figure out how to add a YouTube video. I did it though. Armed with a good library book, I'm a 5 or 6. Left to my own devices - probably a 2.

8. Has H1N1 touched your family?

Who knows? The little girls had minor flu-like symptoms at the end of October, but nothing traumatic. My oldest daughter's boyfriend at college got really sick around the same time, claiming H1H1, but I don't think he was ever clearly diagnosed with that specific flu...nice drama though.

9. Are you an analytical person, or do you just accept things the way they are without questioning or scrutinizing?

Mostly analytical; I rarely just accept anything, but my emotions cloud my judgment (or that's what my family tells me!)

10. Is your personality more like that of a dog, cat, or Koala?

I'm a cat all the way! I do things on my own terms, like to be with others when I'm interested, could care less if you like me, but can be perfectly charming when I want to be. A few eyes might have been scratched, but I'm in rehab. There's a sweet playful kitten in there too, lest you get the wrong idea. :)

11. Do you keep in touch with friends you made years ago?

I keep in touch with some friends. I'm faithful about connecting with a Christmas card and FB has helped me keep up with friends throughout the rest of the year. I enjoy writing handwritten letters and maintain communication with a few the "old-fashioned" way.

12. You are checking out at a grocery store. In the express lane, there are more people than the regular lanes, but of course, their load is less than those in the regular lanes. Which lane do you choose (assuming you qualify for the express lane) and why?

I inadvertently choose the slowest's a gift.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Wikipedia: Compassion is a human emotion prompted by the pain of others. More vigorous than empathy, the feeling commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another's suffering. ...the so-called Golden Rule embod(ies) by implication the principle of compassion: Do to others what you would have them do to you.

Two Sundays ago our pastor preached a sermon on compassion. I was in a mood that day, believing that the worship/sermon didn't really speak to me. That afternoon I joked with my husband that compassion wasn't my "gift" and that I liked my attitude of "buck up and deal with it!"

In the message Pastor explained that the way God grows compassion within you is to give you troubles, based upon the following verses:

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

As I was joking with Mark, I said, "So you know, since I'm sure compassion isn't for me that trouble is heading our way!" Within 6 hours my grandmother was dead.

Mark and I haven't spoken about my cavalier attitude, but, as you can imagine, the Lord has.

When we lose a loved-one it is always hard. My grandma and I were very close. I have cried every day since her passing. I will miss her beyond what I can describe to you. I realize that everyone else is busy with life and that we can't expect an out-pouring of love that could cover our grief. There would never be enough. However, I am amazed at who steps up to comfort at a time like this and who doesn't. I've tried to be mentally gracious to those who haven't expressed any heartfelt sympathy, realizing that I was one of those people just days ago.

I write this post today, not to sermonize or make anyone feel guilty, but to capture that moment when I realized how important a card, phone call, dish dropped by, a prayer, or even an electronic message of sympathy means to the one who is grieving. Just to know that someone is thinking about you when you can think of nothing but your loss. That's compassion and I needed to grow in it.

Although I miss my grandmother, I'm thankful for the timely sermon that will stay with me. If I can't take a little time to show compassion to those who are hurting, then how will they truly see God's love in me?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Prayer for Traveling Mercies

The kids and I head out tomorrow morning at 4am...only 6 hours away. We will drive straight through to Peoria, IL so if you read this, please, stop and say a little prayer for our safety & sanity!

The burial is on Thursday at 1pm. We will have a lot of extended family come in to town so I'm looking forward to seeing relatives I haven't seen in 20 years, but just wish it was under better circumstances.

We're all hanging in there. It will be difficult; she was a well-loved Grandma, but the Lord has given us peace and comfort through it all.

We'll be traveling back home on Saturday and Sunday, then I'll take my daughter back to college on Monday (another 6 hours.) Please, pray for our safety again, if you would.

We're blessed with many sweet friends and I'm thankful for all the support.

See ya' next week!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Goals, Week 3 & Funeral

This week I exercised two times and kept my food log up through Wednesday...part way there, but not all the way. We did a lot of traveling/sight-seeing at the end of the week so I was out of my routine. We spent Thursday afternoon/evening taking Rhett to Ashley's university for a weekend visit. Then the little girls, Mark and I went downtown to the Native American Museum and the Library of Congress on Friday. On Saturday the four of us went to Baltimore to the Maryland Science Center where we spent the afternoon. I'll, hopefully, post about this at a later time. I've got some great pictures I want to share.

Last night around bedtime I received the call that my grandma passed away. It wasn't a surprise, but it wasn't expected either. She was 80 years young! (just drove her car the day before!) I just wanted to let my blog-friends know so you don't wonder why you aren't hearing from me.

I'll write more after we return from our trip to the funeral in the Midwest. Please, pray for our safety and that we will be a comfort to those who need it most.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Random Dozen # 10

It's Random Dozen time...

1. It's early morning, about 2:00AM, and you're driving home. You come to a red light and sit there. There is no one in sight for miles around. Do you wait it out or run the light?

Such a rule follower...this has happened to me and I totally waited for the light.

2. If you had the chance to re-do the last 24 hours, would you change anything?

Go to bed earlier...maybe.

3. When you reply to someone's comment on your blog, do you reply in your comments or go to her blog and comment? (Or email her)

go to their blog and comment

4. Your favorite Disney movie is:

Mary Poppins, the first movie I saw in theaters with my Daddy.

5. Do you recycle?

Do you really need to know? No and I feel the shame, thanks.

6. Games of strategy or games of chance?

If I have to choose - games of chance, but I prefer memory games above all.

7. Do you have any recurring dreams?

Not now, as an adult. As a child I dreamt my family was being tortured in a "Dr. Suess" machine while I was being restrained and made to watch. They came out like little toothpicks. Wouldn't Freud have had fun with that one!

8. What did you learn from your first real job?

How to flirt with the delivery boys...oh, you might have meant something a little more honorable. Um, how to handle a large switchboard, and to be nice to nasty people.

9. Do you buy or borrow most books?

I'm a library frequent-borrower.

10. What fashion trend of the past did you say you'd never wear again but did?

Plaid pants

11. When do you start Christmas shopping?

In a good year, right about now. When I procrastinate - a week before Christmas.

12. Have you ever been so happy that you literally jumped up and down for a few seconds? If so, what was the occasion?

When my husband got tickets for my three girls and I to go see the Jonas Brothers in concert, three hours before the concert began! Here's a pic of their faces when the Jo Bro's came out.

Airing My Clean Laundry

Part 2...

A few days ago, I shared how I organize my dirty laundry here.

Where does it go after it comes out of the dryer?

Well, when I hear the dryer beep I head downstairs (or fluff the load because I didn't hear it, ignored it, etc.), throw the load in a basket and sit on the second to the last step of my stairwell, right in front of this narrow cupboard. (I'm taking the picture while sitting on one of the steps.)

Here I fold the clothes and stack everyone's pile in one of the spots on this mini-bookshelf.

Now the best part...everyone is trained to come get their own laundry and put it away! Really! They are also trained (except hubby) to put their dirty clothes in the basket in the hall upstairs and someone carries it down when it's full. (best case scenario...we all have those, right?)

I put the clean sheets and towels in a basket stored in my laundry room and when it's full I take it upstairs and put it all away in the linen closet. This then becomes the new dirty clothes basket upstairs. It's just a continual rotation of baskets.

The cupboard looks rough, I know, and someday I'll figure out how to refinish furniture and get it done, but until then, it's still very functional. Someday it will be as pretty as my clean laundry.

Got any organizing tips to share? I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Faith Challenge

One more post today...

I read this post by Angie Smith. It's such a thought-provoking post on faith - simple, and yet such a good reminder.

There is one line in the post that will probably stick with me for a while,

"It has nothing to do with the stirring, and everything to do with the stirrer."

So good! Thanks, Angie, for sharing your heart with us!

Thanksgiving Give-Away!

Just found out about this amazing giveaway at Melissa's Heart and Home. Click here to check out the beautiful gifts she is giving away for her 1 year blog anniversary.

Goals, Week 2

Goals, what goals? Oh, right...I was working on goals.

Last Monday morning I awoke with a full-blown head cold. (Thank you, my children.) I was completely miserable. Because I'm on new medication, I had to call the doctor to find out if there was anything I could take that would not raise my blood pressure. The answer...all the good stuff is bad for me. They gave me a couple of options and my hubby picked it up for me.

I didn't start feeling better until Friday, but have still been taking medication, even today, trying to abate the symptoms. There were a few other things added to the week that aren't appropriate to share with the world, but it made the week nearly impossible to keep my goals. So...NO, I did not keep a food journal (wasn't really eating much) and didn't exercise a wink - except to exercise my right to catch a few winks.

Katie ended up getting the flu and missed trick-or-treating, church and Awanas. Poor girl. It has been "general hospital" around here this past week.

However, yesterday began a new month and I made some goals for November. I've got my food journal ready to go for today and enough energy to get back to exercising. Hopefully, I can get back in the swing of things and have a great report next week!

Thanks for putting up with the whining. :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Angie's Favorites Playlist

This is what you'll find on my Favorites Playlist on my IPod:

Bubbly by Colbie Caillat
I’m Yours by Jason Mraz
Lucky by Jason Mraz
Viva La Vida by Cold Play
The Prayer by Celine Dion & Andrea Bocelli
While I’m Waiting by John Waller
Mighty to Save by Laura Story
What Would Life Be Like by Big Daddy Weave
Washed By The Water by Needtobreathe
The Motions by Matthew West
Alabaster Box by CeCe Winans
Shine On by Needtobreathe
Much of You by Will Pavone
I Will Rise by Chris Tomlin
God With Us by Mercy Me

What are YOU listening to?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Have I mentioned, that I love picnik?! Below are some of the props that were used at the Pumpkin Patch, a pic of my silly girls and a porch at the Frontier Culture Museum. They're all before/after pics, as you will see.

Happy Halloween, Everyone!

A woman was asked by a coworker, "What is it like to be a Christian?"

The coworker replied, "It's like being a pumpkin. God picks you from the patch, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off of you. Then He cuts off the top and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, and greed. Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see."

Maybe a little cheesy, but the transformation is true and what I chose to be thankful for today.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Airing My Dirty Laundry

For many years I used to just make piles on the floor when I needed to sort my laundry. I sorted it in the laundry room, bedroom, or hallway - wherever there was floor space that would be undisturbed. I used to long for those organized laundry dividers, but every time I actually went to search for something that would suit our family, I couldn't find the right organizer for the right price. Then one day while looking at plastic bins I had a light bulb moment! What if I used these $1.50 kitchen trash cans for my laundry bins (at Walmart several years ago.) I went home and measured the space I wanted to use and they would fit perfectly! Yay! I got the extra benefit that once a trash can is full it equals about one full load of clothes - bonus!

Here's how our laundry is divided up. I could have purchased a can for the sheets, but they really just lay on the floor for part of a day usually. We have to walk around this area a lot so this works best on any given day. As you can see with my Dark Colored/Cold pile I just keep stacking it on top even if the can is full. It truly is "Mount Never Rest" around here.

You can see that I lay my grotty wash clothes over the side of the whites can. Anything that is damp I just lay over the sides so they will air dry before getting washed. Please, excuse the floor; it is an unfinished basement and there is some kind of heavy duty glue on the floor that we can't get up. Not pretty, but functional.

When I started this system, I had two kids who separated their own laundry so I put labels on the cans. I was really high-tech - 3x5 cards, a sharpie and packing tape. They've hung on there for 6 1/2 years so I'm not complaining.

I love how lightweight the trash cans are and how portable each load is. I just pick up the can that I want to put into the washer, tip it over and in it easy!

After I get some wash done, I'll show you what I do after it comes out of the dryer.

What system works well for you in your house? I'd love to know!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Radom Dozen # 9

Linda over at 2nd Cup of Coffee has been doing a weekly random question/answer post. I've just been reading, but thought I'd join in this week.

1. Tell me something about your favorite teacher.

My favorite teacher was Mr. David Brown. He taught numerous business classes in the small college I attended, including Accounting. I truly cared for Mr. Brown, because he cared about me. I was usually a good student, but I really struggled with Accounting. I would go into Mr. Brown's office after hours and seek help with my homework. Often, I just didn't get it. He seemed confounded. I then explained, "Mr. Brown, when I look at the little boxes in the ledger where the numbers go, I worry more about my numbers looking pretty rather than if they are right." He gave me a knowing look and patted my arm and said, "We'll get you through it." Somehow he did!

2. Tell me about one pivotal moment in your life.

I was sitting in Chapel during my Senior year in High School. There was a visiting evangelist at my Christian school that was really ranting on and on about homosexuality. I had attended public school up through my Junior year so much of the Christian School "ways" were new to me. I remember sitting there just getting madder and madder inside. I was ready to jump up and start yelling and arguing with the preacher saying something to the effect, "Just get off it. They have a choice. It's none of our business. Why do you think a bunch of Christian High Schoolers need to hear this message?" Then a still small voice said, "Because it's sin." I was blown away. At that moment I realized that the public school system had brainwashed me with their socialistic viewpoint and that I had not been using the Bible as my source and guide by which to measure what is true. It was quite the eye-opener, to say the least.

3. About favorite colors--a lot of people will ask you what it is, but I want to know why it is. What feeling or memory does it evoke?

I adore pink and red...always have. When I was growing up my bedroom had pink walls, a floral canopy bed and red shag carpeting. I never tired of that crazy color combination!

I guess I like pink because it's so feminine to me. I look very good in pink and I just feel more cheery when I I wear that color. If you know me, cheery is a good thing!

I love red because I look good in that too. Ha! I love deep rich reds and pair it with yellow in my decorating scheme. It's just a warm color that is NOT drab. Red makes me happy too.

4. What's a sure sign that you're getting older?

What's with being all creaky when you've sat down for a couple of hours? I'll get up from my desk or from watching tv and I'm an OLD lady! I just get stiff too quickly. Plus, the gray hair...but let's not go there.

5. Please don't sermonize, but Halloween--is it a yes or no for you?

Yes!! We innocently celebrate in a fun way with our kids.

6. What's your favorite musical?

South Pacific..."Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair..." I just love her spirit!

7. Are you more of a city mouse or country mouse?

Hmmm...I have lived both and love both. I think I'm a suburb mouse. I'm really very content wherever I live.

8. Did you know that it is possible, for a small fee, to name a real star after someone? (It's true! Google it!) If someone were to name a star for you, would you appreciate it for its whimsy and romance, or would you say, "Are you kidding me? For $19.95 we could have gone to the movie and actually bought popcorn."

Well, before seeing the movie, Rocket Man, I would think you were crazy, but I love when the main character talks about the star he named as a kid. It's the only thing that makes me think it might be fun, BUT I would want to be able to SEE my star...none of this "it's out there somewhere."

This question comes from Paula at His Ways Are Not Our Ways.
9. What's the craziest thing you've ever been doing and texted during it? I only thought of this b/c I was about to try to text during my walking video but I didn't.

Church or, I hate admitting that. (texting so my family can find where we're sitting in church OR at a stoplight...not while actually driving...well, maybe once.)

10. "It's not a party unless _______."

There's good food. I'm from a Southern family, remember.

11. When you're stuck in traffic or a waiting room, what do you do to pass the time? PS: There are no magazines available.

I plan posts, schedules, curriculum, errands, to do lists. I love planning.

12. If you weren't yourself, would you be friends with you?

NO WAY! I wouldn't put up with me. Ha!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin Patch

A Day at the Pumpkin Patch

Would've been cuter without the signs, but the girls are adorable.

Most of the family coming down the big slide...Grandpa, where are you?

Ahh, hanging out with the kettle corn!

Katie & Grandma have a hay fight on the hay ride.

Can't leave without our honey sticks!

Goals, Week 1

On Wednesday I wrote this about being accountable to keep a food journal and exercise three times a week. Although my readership might be virtually non-existent (smile), it still gave me the impetus to make sure I accomplished my goals this week. I did keep a food journal (& it was ugly!) and I did exercise 3 times this week, working out on Monday and then procrastinating until the last two days to get the rest in. I did it, but just barely! It's good for me to admit it so that I will make wiser choices this coming week. If you think of me and my goals, please say a little prayer. Thanks!

PS. As I write this, my two little girls are taking a break from school, playing Barbies. One of them is Jesus and they are asking Him to rescue them and lift them up (I think up to the third floor of the Barbie house.) Interesting...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Beneath My Heart

I just happened upon a blog that I've now added to my favorites/follow list. It's Beneath My Heart. See here for a giveaway that she is hosting through today.

I was reading Beth Moore's blog and came upon a comment made by Traci from Beneath My Heart. She seems like a sweet sister-in-Christ and I'm looking forward to getting to know her better through her blog.

Spooky Picnik

Remember my "picnik'd" pictures? On May 22 I shared my spooky church, broken butterfly and little girl's bums. Now Ashley has come up with this:

If you didn't go play with the photo editor the first time, go play now.

It's so much fun!

**When you make something, let me know. Maybe we'll have a picnik photo gallery post!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Moment by Moment

I went to see the doctor on Monday and he said I made his morning with the good report on my health. My blood pressure has been in the normal range for a few weeks now so the meds are working. Praise the Lord! With my doctor's support I am modifying my diet and being accountable for my exercise with the intent of getting off all meds in the future. I've set a six week goal of keeping a food journal and exercising a minimum of three times a week. So now that I've told you, I'll let you know each week if I've kept my goals. They are "baby steps" on the road to healthy living, but still a challenge for me.

In the wee hours of the morning recently, Katie came to my bedside to tell me about her nightmare. It was just enough to fully wake me up. I then laid in bed for an hour stressing about the responsibilities that need to be covered this week. Ever been there? It can often be overwhelming. As you know, I believe the Lord has given me this heavy load to help me grow in grace and to know Him more, but that didn't stop the adrenaline from pumping and the mind from spinning. The Father, again, gently reminded me that I was right - I couldn't successfully accomplish His will in my life this week - only HE could. I just took a deep breath and prayed, "Yes, Lord. Thank you for reminding me." I then got up and spent time in the Word and in prayer.

I then made my "to do" list - which was too long to actually accomplish and then prioritized what had to be done. By the end of the day I did all I had to do, plus, a few more things. Was I super-woman? Could I awe any other woman with my prowess of multi-tasking? NO WAY! Did I please the Lord? I think so, because we walked through the day together. I tried to share HIS love with everyone I encountered. I'd rather be that woman any day than the raging control freak who looks good only from the outside. We know the right answer - that our goal should be to glorify God. What He thinks of us has eternal consequences. This life is a vapor so why should I be trying to strive for what the world says is successful? Chasing after a vapor? No thanks. Chasing after God? That sounds good.

Are you searching for that quiet walk with God amidst the busyness of life? Do you long for peace, guidance, and the ability to be quiet enough to hear His still small voice? There are so many women who want to find God in the middle of actually living...the laundry, meals, schooling, work, volunteering,'s all so busy. Here's a post that I hope will encourage you.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Blog Make-Over

Do you all like my blog make-overs? I love the autumn and thought it might be fun to change the blog background for the season. Just wait until Christmas...there are some cute ones out there! I also love my black & white design on my cooking blog - chic, I say!

I know some of my readers have their own blogs so I thought I'd share some of the great places you can get free backgrounds for your blog. Did you really want to dig through 17, 400,000 sites yourself?! Happy Decorating!

I'll start with the site that I chose a background from:

One that has cute, scrap-booking type pages:

Quirky little birdie:

Arts & Crafty looking, plus a few photo backgrounds:

Fun photo backgrounds:

I don't know, just unique:

Come to the dark side:

Lotsa Choices:

There's some unique backgrounds here: (keep scrolling down!)

I stumbled upon this one: (check out the textures! & I like their slogan)

Just like this one: (they may be my next site to borrow from)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Scents and Scents-ability

This is the first scent I can ever remember wearing...does it look familiar to anyone? It's Avon's Honeysuckle Roll On. If they came out with it again today, I'd buy me a case of it! Loved it!!

I then graduated to Love's Baby Soft! What girl of the 80's didn't wear this perfume? I even bought it for my oldest daughter when she was that powdery scent.

In high school I moved on to Ciara - a strong musky/vanilla perfume. I wanted to make a statement/be memorable, but it sometimes gave me a headache.

I then went through a Wind Song phase. When Walmart began carrying those faux perfume aerosol sprays I could smell good cheaply - always a plus in college.

During my sophomore year in college, one of my roommates, Kirsten, and I got very sick. We both came down with mono and pneumonia and we felt like we were gonna die. Seriously, it was traumatic. I remember using all our energy to walk down the hallway to the pay phone so we could call our mommies. I sobbed on the phone one day telling my mom that I doubted my salvation 'cause I was sure God wouldn't let one of his children suffer as much as I was suffering. Kirsten was so sick that while she slept she had me stand on a chair next to her top bunk and shake her every time she stopped breathing to wake her up. I just laid my head down by her and probably drifted in and out of sleep too.

One day a package arrived from Kirsten's mom. Enclosed was an adult sized pair of footie pajamas drenched in her mother's favorite perfume. It smelled heavenly! Kirsten's mommy was thousands of miles away, but this was her way of taking care of her daughter. It actually did wonders for both of us. The perfume...Blue Grass by Elizabeth Arden.

Soon after the two of us recovered, I went out and purchased my own bottle of Blue Grass and I've worn it ever since. I can only find it at one specialty perfume store in the DC area, but somehow that makes it even more special.

I've tried a few other perfumes and every once in a while I'll wear Anais Anais or Jessica McClintock, but Blue Grass will always be my favorite. It's my signature scent.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Annual Vacation

We recently returned home from our annual vacation - a week spent each fall at an off-season ski-resort in the mountains. This was our 5th year vacationing with my parents and we all marveled at how quickly we let the stresses of life melt away. The relaxation was almost instantaneous after that first step into the familiar villa.

An annual vacation to the same destination takes away the guesswork of what to bring or what to expect. We've already tried many activities over the past five years - craft classes, tennis, mini-golf, shopping, swimming, dance classes, yoga, scuba-diving, eating out, historical tours, hiking, wine tastings, massage, billiards, ping pong, playing at playgrounds, Bingo, basketball, magic shows and poetry readings. There's always something new we add each year to our activities, but it's the conversations around the table, the games, the cozy fires & movie watching and the feeding of the deer from our deck that cement the relaxation in body and mind. It's good food, good company and good times...and only 358 days until we get to do it again.

(daily swim lessons at the pool)

(playing with Grandpa at the Frontier Culture Museum)

(relaxation is in the air!)