Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Here She Comes!

2008 has pulled up her anchor and is slowly sailing out of our sights. I've emptied her cargo of memories to keep in my heart and will thank her tomorrow evening for being a good year.

While I was watching a Hallmark movie with our wisdom-teeth-less(as of this morning) daughter , my husband was beginning plans for Alaska...emailing this person, brainstorming, and dreaming. I've been thinking of Alaska 2009, too, as well as other things I want to do and accomplish in this brand new year.

I can't say that I love January, but I do love a brand new anything...including a new year. And as my squinting eyes are seeing 2008 disappear over the horizon, I see 2009 -- all bright and shiny -- sailing my way.

So with that said, here's a crack at some things I'd love to accomplish in 2009. Call them resolutions if you want,
but I think every new year deserves some new thinking.

In no random order, some things I'd like to do in 2009...

-read at least one book (start to finish!) each month
-stop what I'm doing and look at my children when they're talking to me
-nourish the Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) by daily soaking in the Word
-stop wasting food
-help our eccentric neighbor more
-shop less
-pray more
-designate a laundry day (so I'm not doing laundry all week)
-put away folded clothes (instead of moving them from our bed to floor to bed...)
-have coffee or lunch with an old friend once a month
-maintain a dreadmill routine again
-play the piano more
-eat healthier
-make my dentist appointment
-get up earlier
-serve a meal at a homeless shelter with my family
-help a friend in need anonymously
-entertain family or friends once a month
-ask God, regularly and sincerely, what He wants us to do in Alaska this year
-Listen to God
-be grateful more
-visit my Dad in Florida
-organize cds and dvds in new organizing system
-give away stuff I don't absolutely love
-visit family in Nebraska
-incorporate new things at work
-love Jesus more today than I did yesterday
-lay out boys' church clothes the night before (no surprises upon arrival!)
-remind my mother-in-law how much I love her son
-call my Dad once a week (on laundry day!)
-make an appointment for my mammogram
-take our daughter out -- just she and I -- once a month
-remember no matter how big my kids grow, they're still little

Resolutions. Some big. Some little. All do-able.

Hello 2009 -- it's so good to meet you!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Laughing All The Way

I have a mirror hanging over our kitchen sink (mirrors in smaller homes are a wonderful thing), and as I was doing dishes on Christmas Eve I noticed that I am getting (ok, have) some serious puppet wrinkles/laugh lines around my mouth. But after a moment of "aw, man, this stinks" thinking, I decided I wouldn't trade them for anything.

If I only had one word to describe this Christmas? Laughter. My family is funny. Very funny. And I'm so glad that laughter is a permanent guest whenever we gather. Trouble? Didn't even knock this year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Spring and a Smile

The Sunday before Christmas...I hope you have a spring in your step...

And a smile on your face...

As you anticipate celebrating the birth of Christ!

*Beautiful children brought to you by Nicole and Brandon.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

This and That...

I'm most certainly a goose girl. Not to be confused with the kind of goose girl in Shannon Hale's fantabulous book (The Goose Girl). I found this pretty thing (she weighs a ton) at an eclectic shop for 10 bucks (!). She used to be gawdy with her bright blue feathers, but a new outfit of cream paint and she's the lady of the house now. I think she likes her Christmas berry garland, too!

Once upon a time there was a beautiful cream bedspread with burgundy needlework that lived on my parents' bed when I was a child. Several years ago, no one wanted it because it was in need of repair. Ever the sentimentalist in the family, I took it...and had it made into Christmas stockings!

McMaster and Storm (http://mcmasterandstorm.com) ribbon which was nestled in with my ordered treasures a few months back. I love it on our tree and if I ever win the lottery, no fancy-schmancy cars or boats for me. Just a monthly trip to this "petite department store".

The Christmas view from the front door.

How do I love Home Goods? Let me count the ways...1) this beautiful vintage-looking St. Nicholas box. And the surprise? It's an ornament holder! The inside (two compartmentalized layers!) looks handmade with beautiful vintagy paper. Be still my beating heart.

I made this card for my husband's secretary. Inside I wrote "A basket for Cindy with warm Christmas greetings." And the next photo shows the finished basket...a huge loaf of French bread, a Panera gift card, a jar of homemade caramel apple butter (by a friend who has her own jam company), an evergreen "door charm" (on clearance at the grocery), and holding it all is a thrift store metal tray!

Thanks for stopping by and catching up on some this-and-that.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sacred Ground

They were singing on sacred ground yesterday. Our daughter and a dozen or so hand-selected members of her choir. They had been hired to sing Christmas carols at two different homes. They've done this many times in the past few weeks as a way to help with the expenses of taking a 40-member high school choir to Europe next summer.

But these two gigs were different. Inside each of these homes lay a dying man and a wife who loves him. And someone who loves them understands that music is healing and so these dozen kids, whose lives are bursting with sunshine, agreed to walk alongside some people who are walking in the shadow of death.

No corporate holiday party with fancy dress and catered food. No Christmas tree lighting for politicians. Just two ordinary houses where the scents of sickness overwhelm the scent of pine.

I was stirring rice when she came in, looking graceful and beautiful in her choir dress. A woman standing before me, no longer my little girl. She told me she was glad she went even though it was terribly sad. An immature boy made a comment about the smells which made her angry. One of the wives requested a particular Christmas carol the kids didn't know. Our daughter couldn't recall the name, but said the woman told them it is a song about giving up all hope but then remembering that God lives. And God provides Hope.

I guessed the carol to be "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." And indeed, that was the song. I stopped stirring the rice and explained the lyrics and the songwriter's frame of mind when he wrote it. And then my grown-up little girl and I stood in the kitchen and cried.

No, God is not dead, He doth not sleep...peace on earth, goodwill to men.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Thank you, Lord, for Christmas.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Saturday, December 13, 2008

13 on the 13th

December 13, 1995. The day we met our first son. Those were magical days after coming home from the hospital. Days I vividly recall rocking him in the middle of the night while listening to softly playing Christmas carols. My eyes would leave his beautiful face only to gaze through frosty window panes at our neighbor's twinkling Christmas tree. I felt a special kinship to Mary that year as I rocked my baby in the night quietness. All was calm. All was bright.

Tonight we will celebrate by treating him to a professional hockey game. We gave him the choice of who to take with him as we bought four tickets. Of course, Dad goes because he's the driver...but typical of our son, he chose his little brother and me for the other two tics. And here's the most touching part (as if that weren't touching enough), he is most excited about surprising his little brother who thinks (because his brother told him) we're going to a Christmas activity at church. Big brother is hiding their hockey jerseys in the back of the van so that when we pull up to the arena, they can don their jerseys.

Last night he won $25 playing poker at a friend's house (each boy brought 5 bucks to the party), and tonight he gets to watch hockey while eating his hot dog and popcorn dinner. Turning 13 on the 13th has been pretty sweet so far.

And beginning in 1995, December 13 is one of my favorite days of the year, too.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shallow (but exciting) Post Ahead

Is it a secret code? Is it some set of computer commands, you ask? It's neither of those, but it's message is so important that after I finish typing this I'm putting this piece of paper in our fireproof lockbox. Hmmm. I should have you all guess. Are you thinking? Ok, here's a hint...the code was written by my hairdresser, Karla. I made her write it down in front of me. Then I made her read it to me. When I asked about the safety of where she keeps her client cards, she made a copy for me. I love Karla.

Alright, here it is.

The secret code is the recipe for my hair color. No, I am not kidding.

You see, I have been feeling frumpy and schlumpy...counting good hair days these past few years on one hand. But yesterday the clouds parted as Karla mixed, stirred, and then slathered my head with her wondrous gunk.

I'm telling you when she turned that chair around, I felt like I was on some kind of makeover show.

Now I know this is all quite shallow. And truly, I am fairly low maintenance when it comes to my outer appearance. (Recall Alaska posts and no running water?) But heavens-to-Betsy my spirits soared when I caught a glimpse of myself in that mirror. And the horror of going back in a few months and having Karla say "hmmm, I can't remember what we did last time" was just too frightening.

So there you have it. The Colonial has his secret recipe and now I have mine. I think instead of locking it up, I might frame it instead.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Room to Breathe

I'm not sure what it is that makes me want SIMPLE this year when it comes to feathering our nest for Christmas. Is it the fact that I'm getting older? (I no longer laugh at the thought of my grandma pulling a sheet off of her living room Christmas tree each Thanksgiving...I'm now giving her props.) Perhaps I crave simple because I'm being inspired by the calming creams and whites on others' decorating blogs. I think both these reasons are valid. But I'm wondering today if there isn't another reason. A more basic, instinctual reason I want room to breathe.

Nothing hung on the walls of the cave where Jesus was born. No frasier-fur-scented candles burned in a corner. No choo-choo train made a clanging, circular journey around a decorated pine tree.

I think God is calling me back to the simplicity of that first Christmas. And reminding me that Jesus is more than enough.

Simply. Divine.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Preparing for Christmas in the house.
Preparing for Christmas in our hearts.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Geese

Our Thanksgiving Table where we got to dine and laugh with Sissy and her wonderful family. I chose my new geese as centerpieces (love them!) Didn't have any matching tapers so I used little cream pumpkins from Halloween. Dishes are done, kids in bed, and now I'm turning in. Hope yours was joyful, too!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Well With My Soul

I ran into a neighbor at the grocery store early this morning. As we stood in line, we talked Thanksgiving recipes and how many guests we were each expecting. "The number keeps getting smaller," she said sadly. I was quiet for just a moment before I quietly agreed. And then she told me about the last Thanksgiving her Dad had on this earth and how she burned the turkey. Bad enough to call 9-1-1. We laughed our way out of the store.

I've been thinking about the empty chairs around our Thanksgiving table this year. How I miss my loved ones. I miss them all the time, but the missing is right there front and center this time of year. No escaping it. But even if I could, I wouldn't want to escape my grief. A grief that has matured and changed over the years, a grief my children would be surprised to know about, lives quite comfortably with happiness.

The poet Shelley was right, I think, about our sincerest laughter being fraught with sadness. In a weird way, it's that sadness that makes my joy complete.

Thank you, Lord, for everything. It is indeed well with my soul. Because of you. I love you!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Well, I'm going.

Opening night. Premiere. Im not sure what it's called because I usually watch the "Now on DVD" movies.

Starts at midnight. As in 3 hours past my usual bedtime.

Tickets sold out within a 40 mile radius of our city.

Time with our fun-loving daughter and her friends seeing book characters come to life...well, that makes it all worth it.

It is not your usual vampire book.

Coffee's ready. Gotta run.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Yesterday I met a man named Stakwell Yurenimo from the Samburu tribe in Kenya. I wept when he shared how he came to know Christ. I was inspired by how God is using him. I felt a stirring in my soul as he spoke, and I sometimes felt like (and my family observed it, too) he was speaking just to me. The fragrance of Christ in the room...filling it!

I wonder if our meeting yesterday, seemingly a footnote in a normal day, was in reality a chapter title in the book of my life. The words of the chapter to be written sometime in the future, but the title now stands. Waiting.


The dryer upstairs is whirring. The kitchen mess, from last night's pots and pans and this morning's assembly of school lunches, wait for me. Right now, I have a family to raise, neighbors to care for, students to teach and love.

But someday, when the kitchen stays clean and the mountain of laundry is just a small hill, I wonder if husband and I will find ourselves sitting in Kenya...across the table from Stakwell and his family laughing and breaking bread together.

I don't know what God plans for my tomorrows. But yesterday I feel like God gave me a little wink as He watched the Spirit in me connect with the Spirit in Stakwell.

This is the great adventure of following Christ.

There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise. Romans 5:3

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Young Messenger

You'll need to do 3 things right now.

1. Turn my music off -- down and over to the right. Hit the pause button next to the arrows. Good.

2. Get a kleenex ready.

3. Push the "play" button.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don't have any clean laundry, because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life?"
-author unknown
Thus the reason my 6'5 husband used a handtowel after his shower this morning. It's becoming more common and still, the man never complains.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Bird in the Living Room!

I got this bird decal awhile ago from one of my favorite stores on earth (McMaster and Storm). Kind of pricey, but the rest of the project was cheep (cheep).

$3 for this gold framed mirror behind the pillows.
$4 for a can of black spray paint and my own free labor...and Voila!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

And They'll Know...

...We are Christians by our Love.
The problem is not a certain type of legislation or even a certain politician; the problem is the same that it has always been.
I am the problem. I think every conscious person, every person who is awake to the functioning principles within his reality, has a moment where he stops blaming the problems in the world on group think, on humanity and authority, and starts to face himself. I hate this more than anything. This is the hardest principle within Christian spirituality for me to deal with. The problem is not out there; the problem is the needy beast of a thing that lives in my chest...the thing I realized on the day we protested...was that it did me no good to protest America's responsibility in global poverty when I wasn't even giving money to my church, which has a terrific homeless ministry. I started feeling very much like a hypocrite.
Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz
Lord, help me to look in the mirror everytime I feel the urge to judge. Amen.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Please Come In!

Welcome! It's Friday morning which means it's time to dig into God's Word with friends and neighbors. About 7 of us gather at my home each Friday...won't you join us today?

Yes, the fire is crackling again this morning...just for you. What? Your morning stressors are evaporating? Goody! That's my hope and prayer whenever you come to my home.

Listen to us, laughing already!
I know, laughter feels good after getting a family out the door in the morning. That's why I love my sign here in the living room--you go ahead and read it while I take your coat.
"Trouble knocked on the door but hearing laughter hurried away." (Ben Franklin)

Come on in...you know where you're going by now...

You may not go upstairs...it looks pretty from here but up there it will scare you...clothes everywhere, unmade beds, dirty laundry, dust. But if it will make you feel better about your own house, go ahead and visit the mess. I won't mind. The whole house looks like that on Thursday nights, you know.

Here we are (I'm glad you didn't go upstairs. It would have been traumatic for you.)
Pumpkin Spice Cookies (recipe from Present Past Collection). Your coffee cup is waiting. Go ahead--help yourself... creamer's in the fridge.

Nice and hot...perfect for this chilly morning!

Got everything now? Let's head downstairs for our video teaching done by a good friend (well she doesn't personally know any of us, but our "friendship" is by faith. Many of us have known this particular teacher for years!)

Pumpkin spice candle--that's what smells so good. I'm glad you like it, too.

We're all women...you remember where the powder room is don't you?

Candles make even the most functional room in the house look inviting...and these are battery operated so I can forget about 'em!

Careful on the stairs. Watch the dog! Here we are...downstairs with our big tv.
The dog is waiting to choose one of your laps to sit on this morning.
He's there by the table, see him?

He chose me again, this morning. Ok, actually I chose him so he'd quit bothering you.
You're so nice to pretend he doesn't bother you.
It is funny when he starts dreaming during the closing prayer.

That's it? We're finished already?

Oh, I hate when Friday morning turns into Friday afternoon so soon. Our discussion was so good again today...thank you. Keep safe until next week!

Ahhh, one of my favorite "home scenarios"...company dishes in the sink.
I love making our home a haven...for my family and for you, my friends.

I'm so glad you came along today...come back again soon, won't you?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

This is our street. I love this time of year when the trees form an umbrella of sorts over our roads. We call our part of town "Mayberry" because everyone is always out in their yards, on their front porches, or walking kids and dogs.
"Hello!...how 'ya doin?...what kind of dog is that? where's the baby today?"
And if I travel a 1/2 mile north, I get to see this...
This house takes up a city block...it can't even fit in one photo!

Ohhh, I love this one....
And while our neighbors in this part of town are wonderful, I usually see more service personnel than homeowners.

Up on the hill is this beauty...

And it's handsome neighbor, here.
I love these beautiful homes, but it's always good to drive back down our Mayberry alleys, park in our one-car detached garage, and put my key in the back door.
It's a beautiful day all over the neighborhood.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Baby

This is a photo of my husband, circa 1965.
He is listening to the dishwasher.
My husband is now 6'5.
My heart melts every time I look at this photo.
I love that baby.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Birthday Trifecta

Today's marks the birth day of my husband and me...and my sister. Yep. No joke. My husband and I are born on the same day, same year, hospitals an hour apart.
My sister had to go to Grandma's and got a baby sister for her 7th birthday.

My decorating diva friend, Nicole, made this beautiful nest for me!
I love it.

I picked these birthday candles up today. They're real wood!
And I had a blissful day spent here ... my favorite barn in the whole world.

We just finished one of my husband's most beloved meals, homemade chicken pot pie and we're pausing in front of the fire before cake (from our favorite bakery) and ice cream.

Life is good.
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