Monday, September 20, 2010

He Made Me Cry

Now, before you get all mad at him, please let me explain...

Yesterday, marked our eighteenth wedding anniversary. And, normally, my husband's more practical side is employed...whether it is a special occasion or a plain old ordinary Wednesday. He is an "Acts of Service" kind of guy (Have you read Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman yet? If your answer is no, then stop reading this and go to your favorite book selling website right now and order it...then come back.). He shows he cares by working hard for you, bringing home the bacon, taking out the garbage, organizing the fridge...and on and on. He doesn't care to go gift shopping and usually assigns any research/planning/arranging to his secretary...who would be me. Now, that doesn't mean that he isn't up for any just isn't usually a surprise. He did spring one on my twenty-first birthday...he arranged to have fresh cut red roses delivered to a campground, to the back of the pickup truck I was sleeping in while on a canoe trip. So, I knew he had it in him...that was before the internet even existed. And, while there have been little surprises along the way, nothing that has required the type of planning and orchestrating that that act and his scheme he fulfilled yesterday did.

We were scheduled to be in Milwaukee for the weekend. A few months back, I had tossed up the suggestion that we stop in Chicago on the way home for the night, since our return fell on our anniversary. He wasn't really interested. So, I figured we would probably just grab dinner out some night after we had gotten home.

We hit the road mid-afternoon. I did try one last time to score some Chicago time by mentioning the Cheesecake Factory...but he wanted to get THROUGH Chicago and eat after we got into Michigan. So, that was the plan I was operating under...wondering what kind of paper my dinner would be wrapped in.

It was a beautiful afternoon for a drive...we slipped into southwestern Michigan in the early evening. We weren't too far into the mitten before he pulled off the highway without saying a word. I knew the fuel was fine, so I figured this was a bathroom break since he had not even mentioned eating yet. But he turned away from the gas stations and fast food restaurants and headed into farm country. He drove purposefully...taking turns as though he had already been on this journey. The drive was hills...trees changing color...the sun going down. But I had no idea where we were going...I even joked about texting my mom so that she would have my last known location when she called the police...after all, we were way out there. After driving for 10 minutes or so, he turned into the drive of the Tabor Hill Winery and Restaurant. I'm sure I looked dumbfounded. I asked him what was going on. He then explained that he had been working on a plan for weeks to find an exceptional restaurant, off the beaten path. He had studied the map online for days so that he knew the route perfectly. And, since we were at a winery and would probably participate in some tastings, he went ahead and made lodging arrangements nearby...scheming with my mom to keep the kids one more night. And then I cried...because he had gone to all that trouble for me...because he knew that I would love it...because he hid all related stress over a possible blown surprise from me...and because he took care of every last detail (As a melancholy, he is excellent with details...if you don't know what that means then go to your favorite book selling webiste and order Personality Plus by Florence Littauer...and then come back). He made sure every base was covered, even when some events threatened his plan. So, sitting at the perfect table, we enjoyed champagne and some wonderful food...a crabcake appetizer, filet mignon and grilled lobster.


Completely full and happy, we skipped dessert and went to pick out some artisan chocolates with names like caramel apple, vanilla cupcake and cinnamon roll. We saved most of those for the drive home, enjoying one each half hour, letting the flavors linger.

Such a wonderful memory he created for me...and I am so thankful that he stepped out of his comfort zone to design such an experience for us. Even now as I write this, my eyes tear up a little. So he is still making me cry.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Where have the Summer...and I...Gone?

It is September is...just look above the title of this post. I can hardly believe it. It seems to have flown by. I am clinging tightly to our last few summer experiences. I promise to wear sandals and capris for as long as possible.

Now, I realize that I have not been by here in awhile. I can hear you saying "Bad, bad blogger! Bad!" I've been busy, though...doing summer stuff. Also, we have been managing some home improvement projects. We have camped a lot...all over the mitten. I do have a couple of posts brewing...honest, I do. And I will begin to share...soon. When I have a moment to sit down and put together a coherent thought. Meanwhile, check out this cool picture I took last week. And thank you for still labelling me as a blogger...although I really haven't earned it in recent, I mean...months. The grace you have extended to me, and continue to do so, is soooo appreciated....even if you are just playing along with my charade. that picture taken in my backyard. (I love it when the sky is that color of blue!)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Birthday, Granny!

Granny with my own Cinco de Mayo baby -- June 2009

This post has been a long time coming...I've thought of it often, not sure where to start...only confident in the inadequacy of my words. You see...Granny, my maternal grandmother, passed away on February 20. She had been dealing with various health challenges for over a year, with them worsening this past January. The days that followed that Saturday were filled with love for her, gladness that she was reunited with my grandpa who had left this earth over 21 years ago, peace that she was meeting Jesus face-to-face and sadness over saying our good-byes. It was therapeutic to revisit memories with cousins as we sorted through Granny's various treasures that she had kept for so long. It was heartwarming to hear the pastor, who was to conduct the memorial service, suggest that he center his words on the Excellent described in Proverbs 31.

She has left such a mark on my life...several marks even. She grew up with sisters so she could always empathize when my sister and I were having...hmmm...what's the word I'm looking for?..."difficulties" with one another. She loved her husband and was a great example to me of what a loving wife should be. She raised six children and was always willing to share her own parenting experiences and laugh at the antics of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The pastor described her as a homemaker in the truest sense of the word...someone who MADE a home that we all looked forward to visiting. She loved her family.

My sister and I made the trip to visit with her a week before she passed. What a worthwhile journey! We were thrilled that she recognized us and was so willing to chat. She would stare into our eyes and hold hands as we enjoyed our time together. At one point in the visit, her living room was filling up with several family members. I stepped into her room where she was resting and commented on how noisy her family was. She responded that "it's the best kind of noise". She loved her family. And what a testament to her and my grandpa that there have never been any chasms in the relationships amongst her family.

When my mom asked if there was any specific belongings of my grandma that I would want. I instantly thought of two of her bowls. I can still picture them on the table...filled with gravy or fried potatoes or banana pudding. These bowls represented to me what she provided for her family...a home in which to be nourished literally and figuratively. I am also blessed to have in my possession a Bible...given to my grandparents in 1960 by my mom. What a treasure to remind me of the three people who have played such important roles in my own walk of faith!

Additionally, I took possession of many items that I had given to my grandparents over the years. You will see in the picture the potholders that I made on my little plastic loom...doilies bearing my embroidery and my mom's crocheting handiwork...a painting that I believe I did during girl scouts. I have letters that I sent, while in elementary school, to my grandparents and an anxious letter I wrote to them the week before I left for college. I am so thankful that I gave them and so thankful that she saved them.

As I wrap this up, I must confess that I do not believe that this begins to be worthy of her and all that she has meant to me. As soon as it is published, I will have regrets of other memories and thoughts not shared. Not a day will go by that I won't be reminded of her. But I have that she is at peace and in that I will see her again in heaven someday. And I have responsibility...the responsibility of being worthy of her and her legacy...the responsibility of sharing her character with my own daughters as they grow up to be women of faith, wives and mothers. Granny was certainly a cathedral builder in my life and many others. And her influence will be felt for years to come.

Happy Birthday, Granny...I love you...I miss you.

You can read more about my grandma here. This is the post in which I introduced her to you last summer.

You can also read my sister's post about my grandma here. Yes...I was (and still am) quite intimidated that she wrote such a beautiful the airport...on the way home back in February.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Kid Art

The four-year-old painted this picture recently during a homeschoolers' class on the Impressionists taught at our local art museum. She created this using watercolors and "stamping" the paint using pieces of styrofoam. She has titled it "Spring"...quite appropriate with the and grass...and the butterflies.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Such a Nice Thing to Hear

The note on my Facebook "wall" said

I heard this said about you today, "She has such a heart for the Lord." and thought that you would love to know! Thanks for ALL you do.

Such a nice thing to hear about yourself. It started an interesting mix of thoughts and feelings for me as I considered it.

First of all, since we are called to be a light in the world, witnessing to others by putting our faith into action...doesn't it feel great when someone notices it? I considered all my blessings that make it so easy to have "a heart for the Lord"... a relationship with God because of the sufferings of Jesus, married to my own personal superhero, the blessing of being the mom to three beautiful girls, the world's best parents/sister/extended family (in-laws included), wonderful friends, the unearned privilege of being born in the best country in the world...and on and on and on.

But then I start analyzing...considering the comment made, am I joyful because I brought glory to God or prideful because I brought glory to myself? The analysis continues...I know what my actions and thoughts were for the entire I worthy of such a comment? I know that many (if not most) of my actions or thoughts on that particular day, and even this morning, were not for the Lord.

One of the weapons that Satan will use to weaken our faith and our relationship with God is doubt. While it is true that we, as sinners, are unworthy of the precious gift of salvation, that gift was still freely given. And I have to work at focusing on the love God has for me, to make such a gift available. I can't focus on why God shouldn't love me, but do my darnedest to be worthy of His love for me...a love so strong and deep that He planned for and allowed the sacrifice of His Son for me.

And when someone gives me a little "hat tip" regarding my faith in action, maybe that's God's way of letting me know that I'm on the right track and I'm growing where I've been planted. Because it is my heart's prayer that others see less of me and more of Jesus in all I do...that I can complete the work that God has given me so that, at that appointed time, when I enter into Heaven's gates, I hear "Well done, thy good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21).

Other verses to consider ~ Romans 5:8, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Slugbug Prayers

Allow me to begin by confessing that I have not YET mastered the discipline of getting up early every morning for some quality quiet time with my Bible...and a thorough prayer session. I realize that confessing the weakness is the first step towards overcoming it...please pray for me!

With that said, you can understand that I need as much help as possible to make the most of the power of prayer. So I have developed/copied/stolen various triggers and routines that will bring me into a prayerful moment. For example, I participate in a long distance slugbug competition with my sister in California and my cousin in Arkansas (and, now my mom...wherever she may be at any given time). When any of us sees a Volkswagon Beetle, we text the others, accumulating points for the day (no slugging...just the prize of daily victory). There are extra points for convertibles and vintage models (we call them "old school"). This may seem silly to some, but I don't care. What this does is keep us connected on a daily basis. And, whether I see a slugbug and text them, or I receive a message from one of them on a sighting...that triggers me to say a prayer of thanks for these special ladies...perhaps petitioning God on their behalf regarding something going on in their life...asking for blessing on them and their loved ones. This children's game reminds me to pray for them.

And I have other similar triggers in my daily life....while folding laundry, pray for each garment's owner, making each prayer specific because there will probably be more than one prayer said for each and mementos around my home remind me to pray for various family members and friends...see a news story or article, pray for those involved and that God's will be done...and, when I lay down to sleep, to quiet my brain from the day's activities and tomorrow's to-do list, I pray specifically over my husband and my children, and all that is going on in their lives. It's a chance for me to give thanks for all the blessings in my life and to hand over any burdens to Him who loved me so much that He gave His only Son so that I may believe and not perish (John 3:16). This allows me to enjoy peaceful rest.

Several years ago, I spent some time in the Bible study by Cynthia Heald titled "Becoming a Woman of Prayer" (you can order it here). I learned volumes about how God is He wants us to be persistent...that we can pray for anything. And I drew comfort from knowing that the Holy Spirit will lift up the prayers we really need when we may not know what to pray for. Prayer has given me comfort when moments of worry and doubt may be sneaking up on me. And I've seen the results of prayer in my the big life issues and the daily challenges that a stay-at-home homeschooling mom can face. I am thankful that Jesus tore the veil separating me from God...through dying for my that I can approach the throne of the Holy Father myself and build a relationship.

So, I recommend that you work on understanding the power of prayer. Develop your prayer habits. You will come to develop a peace that will help you manage life through any circumstance.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April Showers...

...Will bring May flowers.

On a Rainy April Day...

...This is my Headband of Optimism.

No comments, please, regarding the cleanliness of my Headband of Optimism. Remember...I have children.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Running the Race...the Right Way

During one of our Easter Sunday services this past weekend, our pastor, Pastor Robert L. Dickie, Jr., chose Hebrews 12:1-2 as the verses on which he would teach. Wow! I learned a lot...about verses that I thought I knew. Let me clarify...if pressed, I would tell you that I was very familiar with the first verse of Hebrews 12. And if asked to summarize, I would certainly mention the great cloud of witnesses (see Hebrews 11) and that we need to run the race before us. What?! Did I miss something? Isn't that it?! I learned yesterday that that certainly was not all to that verse. Paul, the suspected author of this letter to Hebrew Christian believers, included directions on how to run the race before us. How did I miss that?! Who knows...but I must have been ready to hear it this Easter Sunday.

So, what does Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, instruct us to do to run the race set before us? Looking again at Hebrews 12:1, we see that we are instructed to lay aside every weight. In this illustration given to us by Paul, this compares to a runner taking off any unnecessary clothing or equipment prior to running. Before Pastor Dickie gave his thoughts on what this description represented, I immediately thought of the weight of worry, excuses and doubt...anything that interferes with our faith in Jesus, prevents us from putting our whole weight upon Him to overcome obstacles and accomplish the work assigned to us by God. In my personal circumstances, this is anything that I let get in the way of getting healthy or fulfilling my daily responsibilities within my home and to my family, or interfering with positive deposits I can put into the relationships in my life. As my thoughts drifted in this direction, Pastor took me in another as he began to elaborate on this little phrase...and this one is no less valid than those I had just been preoccupied by. Pastor suggested that the weight mentioned represented all those things in our life that may not be sinful themselves, but distract us from becoming all that we were designed to be. For example, why is sleep too important to interrupt for quiet time in prayer and with my Bible? What do I make a priority over doing a puzzle with the kids? Why do I choose to watch a movie instead of reading a great book? Perhaps even too much time spent at the computer. Or, as the case is with many people, am I saying "yes" to too many activities...projects at church, various lessons for the kids, etc.? Activities that spread my time, talent and attention so thin that I don't do anything well...thus hindering the opportunity to glorify God. "Weights may be good things that are keeping us from great things," our pastor taught.

This verse then tells us to set aside the sin that does so easily beset us. This is tough stuff...because it's not just saying don't kill people and don't take things that don't belong to you in the literal sense. It is saying to refrain from hatred in your heart for others, regardless of their belief systems. It is saying that we should not judge others, for we all could be judged for something. We should not gossip...we should not envy or covet the lives/belongings of others. We need to be selfless, rather than selfish. We are to strive to live lives rich with the Fruits of the Spirit (from Galatians, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). We are to strive to be like Jesus...always.

Finally, Hebrews 12:1 tells us to run our race with patience (from the KJV, NIV uses the term "perseverance"). How do we do that? Look at the next looking to Jesus. When times are good...look to Jesus and give thanks. When times are tough...look to Jesus and rest in Him. As Hebrews 12:2 tells us that, despite despising the shame He would experience on the cross, Jesus endured it for the joy that was set before Him...a relationship with you and me. If you fix your eyes on that reward...a relationship with the "author and finisher of our faith"...can you persevere through the hills and valleys, twists and turns of your race?

As I said earlier, I must have been ready to hear this small part of Scripture this weekend because I do not remember it from any other moment of study in my life. My prayer now is that I am also ready to act on it...and I can do so by following Paul's instructions -- lay aside the my best to lay aside my sins...stay patient and persistent by looking to Jesus.

Special thanks to Pastor Robert Dickie, Jr. for his faithfulness to teaching God's Word. His blog is found here.

Note: Photo taken by the author...from a Bible given by her mother to her grandparents in 1960.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Last month, I was attending our monthly homeschool art program at the Flint Institute of Arts with my daughters. The gallery lesson was focused on the exhibit of the Quilts of Gees Bend. I have always loved quilts! I love running my hand over the careful stitching...sometimes that stitching is artistic, sometimes it is just practical. I love to think about the fabrics they have a history or were they carefully chosen and purchased for this project? After walking through the exhibit and looking through the related items at the museum's gift shop, I realized that I have the privilege of access to many beautiful quilts that are relevant to my life. All made by special ladies (real cathedral builders in my life)... from different branches of my family...some made in recent years and some made decades ago. All were made with love...what else could define the time it takes to plan and create such an item that can warm on a chilly item that can host a item that can provide hours of play as a fort or roads for toy cars. I would love to share those with you now. And, I hope, to build on this little mini exhibit. Please enjoy!

I must start with the quilt of which I have my earliest memories. This wedding ring quilt was made by my aunt, Jewel Overman Calhoun, and given to my parents as a wedding present in 1965. I have wonderful memories as a child of using the pattern of the quilt as roads for toy cars. I am in awe of the time it took to cut out all of those little pieces and sew them together.

Next, I would love to share with you a quilt that I received as a wedding gift. I remember the night I received it...the night before my wedding, after returning home from our rehearsal and dinner. I walked into the house with my parents and my sister and the quilt was draped over a quilt rack standing in the living room. I learned that my Aunt Opal, my dad's sister, had made the quilt rack herself. That is wonderful enough...but the story of the quilt...My Grandma Overman, my dad's mom, was killed in a car accident in 1961...before my parents ever met. My knowledge of her is limited to only what has been shared over the years by my dad or his siblings as we gathered for cookouts. But, my aunt, Opal Overman Shands, took a quilt top made by my grandmother and completed it for me. I am emotional now as I recall the tears in my dad's eyes when he saw it that night. I love this quilt because my grandmother, Eva May Meek Overman, planned its design, chose the fabrics and stitched it with her hands so many years ago. I love this quilt because my Aunt Opal...the dynamo of the family...held it in her own hands and finished it with care...for me.

These next few quilts do not play such a prominent role in my own memory...but they are special because of the creators and the obvious care and love that has been expended keeping them.

This quilt was made by my mom's paternal grandmother, Tabitha Garland. We don't know the exact time of its creation, but we know it was made prior to 1963, the year she passed away.

The following two quilts were made by my mom's maternal grandmother, Martha Ann Fletcher Head. Again, we are unsure when they were made. My great grandma passed away in 1967. The first quilt featured is a crazy quilt and the second is a block quilt.

Thanks so much for humoring me as I shared these special quilts with you. I have a few others to share in the future...those given to me when my daughters were born and some that weren't immediately available for pictures. In the meantime, I encourage you to treasure any heirlooms you have in your possession from those that came before you. They are part of your story.

Keep warm...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Kid Art

My four-year-old loves to color with markers. It would not unusual for her to print and color various coloring pages from the web throughout the day. Today, I was sorting through a pile of her pictures that had accumulated on the counter. There amongst the pictures of Little Kitty, various Pokemon and Bratz, I found this picture.

I asked her to tell me about the picture. "It's the squares and circles from my pillow!"

Of course it is...can't believe I didn't see it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Kid Art

The four-year-old created these two treasure last weekend with some markers and a spiral notebook. I just had to share! The first is titled "The Helicopter" and the second is a portrait of the artist with her two older sisters. She made sure that each of her sisters was wearing their favorite colors. Her wardrobe was inspired by the pajamas she was wearing at the time. Both were created on 2/6/10.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Lessons From This Week

I learned from the four-year-old, who was chatting with her two four-year-old friends in the backseat of the car, that she is the smartest person in our family. I think she is on to the fact that I have no idea what I am doing. Hopefully, she doesn't tell the other family members.

I learned that my alarm clock will let me snooze for only one hour. Then it gives up on me ever getting out of bed.

And when you are really looking forward to something (for example...seeing your sister, parents and grandmother), time reeeeeeaaaaaalllllly drags along.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

If God Can Forgive...

My grandmother's health has been rapidly failing for the past 13 months and someone has been with her almost constantly for that entire time. I am so thankful for the various family members who have spent time with her and helped care for her. While I know that this has certainly been a physical, mental and emotional burden for many...they do it out of love and honor for her...for the deposits she has made in their lives in the past. While we are instructed to cleave to our spouses upon getting married, we are also called to honor our parents in Exodus of the Ten Commandments. And it has been a blessing to me to see my family members carry this out in their lives. It clearly depicts how important our relationships are.

This made me begin to ponder what would happen to a person, in a similar health situation, with terrible family relationships. Would their children re-arrange their lives to help...would their grandchildren stop by bringing along a smile and a special treat? This made my heart break for those that may spend their last days in an inconvenience. When your health fails, will there be someone there to care for you, to help you? If one of your parents, grandparents or siblings suddenly needs special care...will you be there to help? Or will spats over what someone said at a picnic or didn't say at Christmas get in the way? Will the seeds of jealousy or anger or self-pity in your heart prevent you from showing love or having love shown to you? Are you feuding with a sibling? Have you considered what this is doing to the rest of the family? Is it worth it? Forgiveness is such a tough task for us sinners...we always want to be right. What if you are right? Does it feel good to be right and angry? Or would it feel better to forgive and let go of any not have an upset stomach every time your path crossed that of the offender? Despite His righteousness, Jesus took the punishment we deserved for our countless sins and God forgave us. Are you more righteous than Jesus? Are all the wrongs against you bigger and worse than those against God? If God can forgive...why can't you?

So, make your relationships right. Ask for forgiveness...a new start. Grant forgiveness...a new start. Your life will be richer for it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Defining Prayer...

From "Morning Jam Sessions" by Betty Malz...
Prayer is not conquering God's reluctance. It is not worrying out loud. Prayer is praise for what He has already done, then laying hold of His willingness to do more.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


My last post was December 18? Really?!! My apologies...I will try to get back on track here.