Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Air Mail

This past Sunday night...long after the kids had been put to bed...I hear a door click open.  This is followed by some scurrying sounds that you know are trying to be kept covert, though unsuccessful.  Suddenly, on the couch next to me, lands a paper airplane...followed by a noisy retreat and a door clicking closed.  I opened the message to read the following..."DAD and MOM...My mom and dad are good...are very very big good."  Or she said we were "very very big goob" because her last letter was turned around.  But we prefer to believe that she meant the former.  Though it was well past the 7-year-old's bedtime, I was touched by her sweetness that capped the day.  We quietly sneaked into her room and kissed her head.

The next night...long after the kids had been put to bed...and just as we were getting ready to crash ourselves...our bedroom door opened and another plane sailed into our realm, followed by another noisy retreat.  This message said the following:  "MY MOM and DAD 2...My mom lets me play on her nook...My dad is fun...by Marrin".

Now I could get all wrapped up in how she was being so disobedient by not staying in bed...about how she was up too late on a "school night"...but it just wasn't in me.  I was blinded by this sweet act...that she could not rest her weary head until she had made her feelings of love and appreciation known.  And as time marches on rapidly, I know that I need to enjoy these moments.

I also learned a lesson from her...if it is on my heart to pour out my love to someone...do it...don't wait until tomorrow...don't wait until it's convenient...don't put it off because you are worried about the consequences. Perhaps they need to hear it.  When asked about the greatest commandments, Jesus first taught to love God with all your heart, soul and mind.  He followed this up with the instruction to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:34-40).  This instruction does not mean to just refrain from treating someone poorly (e.g. impatiently, critically, etc.) because we don't care to be treated that way.  It also means to treat others as well as we like to be treated.  If we enjoy it when someone heaps love and praise on us...then others will enjoy it when we heap love and praise on them.

Truth be told...I'm hoping that a "DAD and MOM 3" appears tonight.

Update 11/14/12: We did receive another note labeled "3 MOM and DAD" last night.  This one did have a slightly different tone that made us both laugh.

The night before, the 7 year old had taken the initiative to cut her own bangs, surprising me with them in the morning.  Prior to going to bed last night, her dad was teasing her with the moniker "Inigo Montoya" of Princess Bride fame because of the way her curly new hairdo looks.  Well, she had the last word.

The note said, "My mom is fun...my dad is not.  My mom lets me play on her nook.  Ha Ha for Dad.  I love my mom...my dad not so much...by Marrin."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

All God's Children Singing

That morning when we had all crawled out of bed, we had been a gathering of strangers...though Joel Juarez, our mission coordinator at Forever Changed International had reminded the group that God had ordained each of us, out of the entire world's population, to be there together at that specific time. By the end of the week, we had shared laughs, tears, hugs, worries over gastrointestinal issues, prayers, perspective and dish washing duties.  And our experience would kick off that morning in church...offering praise and worship to Jesus Christ...our common ground.

The church could fit into any city in the United States.  The lights...musicians...camera crews to broadcast online...children's programs.  And we found ourselves singing familiar songs...though in Spanish (thank goodness for projected lyrics!).  And I was reminded of a song by the Newsboys.

 The pastors at my churchRobert Dickie and Eric Stewart, often include petitions in their pastoral prayer that the sounds of worship rise to heaven as the earth rotates into the sun's light each day.  And as we began worship in Guatemala City...two hours after my own church had begun their service back in Michigan...I felt like I was living that prayer out...I was struck by the unity of the Body of Christ.  I listened to a message that could have been taught in my own church...taught from the same Scripture that I open up daily to teach my own children...I felt at home...3000 miles away from home.  It felt like a little peek of what the throne room of heaven will be like...with praise rising from many.  And now, I will always remember that...though sometimes it seems like our culture can drown out the message of the Gospel...I am not alone.  There is a body of believers spread throughout the Creation, offering praise, and living out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20 each and every day.

This entire memory came rushing back to me yesterday...exactly one month after that morning in church...as I darted around in my busy life back at home.  I was in the car with kids and Chris Tomlin's song "Our God" came pouring out of the speakers.  It was one of those "familiar" songs that we had sang.  And I was transported  back to Guatemala City... worshiping Jesus with my new friends from the States and my Guatemalan brothers and sisters in Christ.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Happy Campers

Well...put a bow on it...say good night...the fat lady has sung.  Summer 2012 is officially over.  On November 2, this may not come as a surprise to many of you.  But I have been a holdout...still digging out my capris and flip-flops if the temperature is over 60 and not raining.  Today, though, I must concede since we officially swaddled our camper for the coming winter weather.

We spent a total of 25 nights in our mobile vacation home, starting on Memorial Day weekend and wrapping up the last weekend of September.  Almost the equivalent of an entire month.  And we loved it.  We are grateful for that time as a family.  With our eldest approaching the age of 15, we know this time is waning.  So we treasure it and will cling to it for as long as we can.  Here's just a few of our special  moments.

We kicked off the summer with a rainbow...a beautiful reminder of just one of the Creator's promises.

We roasted strawberries, wrapped in marshmallow fluff, over the fire.

We were awakened one morning by hot air balloons soaring right over our site.

We celebrated America's Independence Day with fireworks on a beach along the Straits of Mackinac.

We painted rocks to leave on a beach along Lake Huron.

We climbed the great sand dunes resting between Lake Michigan and Silver Lake...by foot and by car.

We visited six lighthouses.

We watched a rainstorm across Thunder Bay.

We camped with a 24/7 view of the mighty Mackinac Bridge.

And we saw countless sunsets (no sunrises, though, because those occur too early in the day)...and splashed with cousins and friends...and explored with grandparents.

And now...with a rough winter predicted...we will keep our eyes on Summer 2013...counting the days until we can plan each new adventure ahead of us.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Lessons from Guatemala

It has been my pleasure and privilege to be visiting Dorie's Promise Orphanage, operated by Forever Changed International, in Guatemala this past week.  As my trip begins to wrap up, I wanted to share some lessons learned or refreshed.

  1. I take a roof that doesn't leak for granted.
  2. I take a roof that doesn't fall for granted.
  3. I take water that I can drink directly from our tap for granted.
  4. I take the privilege of being born in the United States for granted.
  5. I take space for granted...as I saw large family members crowded into one room   homes...and one room homes stacked nearly on top of one another.
  6. The list of life's blessings that I take for granted is long.
  7. Just because I can't see the poor and their communities...it doesn't mean that they cease to        exist.
  8. Our culture may "over mother" a bit, as compared to barefoot babies running among the dump community and toddlers given entire pieces of chicken (i.e. with the bones)...I'm just saying.
  9. A smile can bridge any communication gap.
  10. My high school Spanish FINALLY paid off.
  11. Even a little time invested into a life makes an impact.
  12. Praying for others is a blessing.
  13. The fatherless will find mercy in God (Hosea 14:3).
  14. For the Lord has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted (Isaiah 49:13).

Monday, September 3, 2012

Photo of the Day Challenge Update

Well, I did it...I completed the "photo of the day" challenge for every day of August.  It was fun...interesting...as I contemplated some prompts beforehand...trying to determine what they meant to me.  I'm going to keep participating...but they may not all be posted here.  I can post to Facebook and Twitter, keeping it short and sweet...whereas I sometimes struggle with the feeling of needing to be more descriptive and verbose here.  Also, I spend so much time posting the photos here...that I didn't write about anything else...even though I have some ideas, internal nudgings and actual drafts to do so.  So...follow my tweets at @CathedralBldr to catch all of my photo of the day offerings...some will make it to Facebook...and every once in awhile, some will make it here.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/31/12..."Hidden"

One of our favorite things to do when spending time on the beaches of northern Michigan is to hunt for petoskey stones.  But to find them...you have to get wet...even venturing out into the water... because their spots are hidden until they get wet.  But the hunt is rewarded.

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/30/12..."Card"

This was an easy assignment for me...I'd like to share my "feel good" basket.  Packed into this woven container are gobs of notes and cards I've received over the last several...and I do mean, SEVERAL...years.  Some are birthday cards...some are get well cards...many are "just because" cards.  And the purpose of this collection? I can get a small dose of love anytime I need to.  And, just by looking at it, I am reminded of the many blessings in my life whenever I want to focus on the potholes.  And its sentry?  A sweet little doll given to me by my husband (then, boyfriend) as a gift for the first Christmas of our dating experience.

Now that you are done reading this...go send someone a card.  Not a text...not an email...but something handwritten.  Someone needs to add your love for them to their "feel good" basket.

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/29/12..."Down"

Yesterday, my daughter and I ventured "down" to the yellow area that surrounds Detroit on the map.  Anytime we are in that area around a mealtime, we always try to hit a local favorite chain for lunch...Olga's.  I believe that a stray Olga's has been known to leak out of the area...falling into the yellow areas around Lansing and Grand Rapids.  We wish one would find its way into the Flint area...it could even turn the Flint economy around...maybe.  But until that happens...we will continue to visit anytime we are "down" in the Detroit area.

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/28/12..."Clock"

Today I enjoyed a "getaway day" with my 12-year-old.  She has had an interest in the Titanic since seeing some of the hoopla around the 100th anniversary of the ship's tragic sinking on April 15 of this year.  So, we ventured down to the Titanic exhibit at  the Henry Ford Museum in the Dearborn, Michigan.  We had a great day, with the highlights being spending time together, enjoying a very interesting exhibit, beating the GPS original ETA on the way to the museum and the way home...and spending time together.

Knowing that today's "photo of the day" assignment was "clock", I had hoped I'd be able to get a picture of the clock at the top of the replica grand staircase featured in the exhibit.  Unfortunately, we couldn't take pics inside the exhibit.  Needing a plan B, I had hoped there would be some important clock on display somewhere in the museum...actually imagining an exhibition wall full of historic timepieces...or maybe one featuring clocks set to different time zones.  Again...no luck.  If there was anything clock-related in that museum, I didn't see it.  So, as we exited the museum I was beginning to formulate plan C...and there it was...standing tall between the museum entrance and the entrance to Greenfield Village.  Thank you very much.

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/27/12..."Tap"

Tap?! Nope...had to POUND to break up the frozen toffee candy bar for butter brickle s'mores.  Now, it's time to add a toasted marshmallow...mmmm.

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/26/12..."Dream"

Today I was reunited with my 12 year old.  Rachael has been visiting San Diego with her grandma...hanging out with my sister's family (you can find my sister here).  It was a "dream come true" kind of trip for my daughter.  You see...she has been a huge fan of surfer Bethany Hamilton since seeing the movie "Soul Surfer".  And...on the third day of the trip, she found herself face-to-...er, board...with the actual surf board Bethany was riding when attacked by a shark.  And the swimsuit she wore when she returned to surfing.  Rachael was over the moon.  But it was just the beginning...because the very next day, her grandma treated her to surf lessons.  Who knows how long this interest will last?  But I'm so happy that she got to taste it up close and personal.

By the way...I can't take credit for this pic...but I love it.  It was taken on Rachael's camera by her grandma. But it qualifies for the topic...and I love it!

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Photo of the Day...8/25/12..."Fresh"

Started a "fresh" new book today...it comes highly recommended by my friend, Terri.  I started reading it at the beach, without the benefit of a pen.  This bummed me out, because I like to mark my books up.  So, when I returned to the beach after lunch...I made sure to bring a pen...and I started all over.  I've already committed one quote to memory and I guarantee that my kids will get tired of hearing it..."Hard does not mean impossible."

Photo of the Day...8/24/12..."Path"

I love my family...I love summer...I love making memories with my family.  One of our chosen approaches to making those memories is camping.  This weekend we traveled to Tawas Point State Park for what would be our seventh camping trip of the summer...and this is the path to the lighthouse at Tawas Point.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/23/12..."Pair"

"Pair"?  Have to admit that I was thinking about my fave flip flops, a gift from my sister, as the perfect representative for this inspiration.  But then I decided to make tiramisu to a meeting today...and my pair of bowls for the mixer were very appreciated.  One took on the task of being the vessel for the egg yolk mixture...while the other stood strong to handle the whipping of egg whites...all without having to wash a single bowl until the recipe was complete and assembled.  Yep...that's my fave "pair" so far today...but it's early.

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/22/12..."Home"

Last night, before falling sleep, I was contemplating today's inspiration for the Photo of the Day challenge..."Home".  My thoughts ran all over the place...

  • The theological aspect..."going home" after this earthly life passes
  • Is "home" where I grew up?
  • Is "home" just the literal location of where I live now?
  • Is there an analogy to the "home" key on my keyboard?
  • What about the "home" plate?
  • "Home"-field advantage?
  • My love for being a "home"body
And then it was settled...while I do look forward to an eternal life of being "home" with my Creator...a close second has to be being "home" with the most important person in my life...my husband.  And that is the perspective I can share now...because I have no idea what my eternal "home" will be like.  

"Home" isn't where we live.  For me, home is wherever he is.  Home isn't even dependent upon where my children are...because they will all leave me someday...but he will still be with me.  And "home" isn't a place, but a peace.  "Home" is a haven...unconditional love...acceptance...shelter from the cruelty of the world.  He has seen me at my worst...and has certainly been responsible for bringing out my best.  I've said it before...and I'll say it again (trust me)...he isn't perfect...I'm not perfect...but we're perfect for one another, as planned by our Creator.  And I am most at "home" whenever and wherever I am with him.

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/21/12..."Cool"

You know what's cool? Technology!! This week my 12 year old is in San Diego with her grandma, visiting family.  Yesterday, she visited a surf museum and was able to see the surfboard that Bethany Hamilton was riding when she was attacked by a shark.  Since seeing the movie, Soul Surfer, Rachael has read the book and anything else she can get her hands on about Bethany, surfing and sharks...so this was a thrill for her to see.  And, because of technology, my sister sent me a picture of the moment.  And today...thanks to technology...I'm receiving regular pictures from Rachael's first-ever surf lesson and experience.  Yep...technology is cool.

You know what else is cool...my parents...because today marks their 47th wedding anniversary.  Yep...that's cool too.

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Photo of the Day...8/20/12..."Today"

The prompt was "Today"...I didn't take the time to take a picture as we enjoyed our last morning of camping on the shores of Silver Lake in Michigan's northern lower peninsula...I didn't take a picture of our packing up process...or the travel home...but here's what my job was on our return home...laundry.  Are you impressed by my domestic version of Mt. Washmore?  I'm sure your life is changed.  Carry on...

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/19/12..."Hole"

Originally I had planned on sharing the hole in my kitchen where my old dishwasher used to live and where a future dishwasher will live...but then we visited the sand dunes at Silver Lake in Michigan.  This is the upper ridge of a huge dune...you can see my 7 year old scaling the wall after running to the bottom.  I remember watching her go over the edge, unsure if there was even a bottom to this hole as it was not visible from my vantage point.  Also not visible from my vantage point...my husband's biggest wipeout when he ran down into the abyss.  Shucks.

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Photo of the Day...8/18/12..."Inside"

INSIDE that tent are three teenagers...her sister and two friends.  And the 7 year old just wants to be INSIDE with them.  She finally had to reconcile that that space was off limits to her.

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/17/12..."Face"

See that face? I said good-bye to it for about 10 days, beginning last night.  While I'm excited for that face to spend time with the faces of her grandma, uncle, aunt and cousin in San Diego...I shall miss that face.

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/16/12..."Food"

We were low on some staples...not literally staples, but the food basics you should have in your pantry...like bread.  I mean...even prisoners have bread, right?  With their water?  So I made sure to make time to visit my local grocery store.  And while there, I managed to learn some things myself.  Here are those lessons...in no particular order.

I am a casual couponer.  I found I am intimidated by serious couponers...and they always seem to want to talk to me.

Engineering degrees are overrated...many a grocery shopper can defy physical science properties in the stacking of their cart.

I can't believe how long it took me to figure out to grab my TP and paper towels (aka huge packages that suck up lots of cart real estate) until end of trip.

I found I was talking to myself by the end of the visit.

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/15/12..."Ready"

The Photo of the Day prompt for today simply said "Ready".  As we entered the venue above, to kick off a birthday sleepover attended by 7 year olds, all I could think of was "Are you READY to rumble?!!"

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/13/12..."Simple"

See...I just had to let go of the pressure of getting a pic, inspired by the word "simple", and "Voila!"

The topic...getting back to the simple approach of getting things done...out of necessity.  Realized this morning that the water in the floor, near the dishwasher, was not evidence of need of further dog training.  Instead, it was water that had leaked from my almost-15-year-old dishwasher.  This trusted friend has lifted...or rather, washed...its load whenever called, sometimes more than once a day.  It may be time to retire it.  But, until I decide whether to stick with white appliances or to initiate the process of replacing all appliances with something other than white...I will return to the simple process of washing by hand...and my daughters will get the opportunity of appreciating the new dishwasher to come.  I imagine I will be mentally re-visiting all the memories of my sister's creative tactics to avoid or delay her role in this chore from our days of youth.  Good times.

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Photo of the Day...8/14/12..."Arrow"

I saw this sign this past weekend while travelling in southwest Michigan.  I couldn't help but notice that the graphic looks like a shark feeding frenzy...which is appropriate considering how one may feel when entering their first roundabout in a busy shopping area.

P.S. I realize that I have not posted a photo, inspired by the 8/13/12 prompt "simple".  As I have considered it, it has proven to not be so simple.  Still on my radar...not sure when I'll deliver.

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/12/12..."Spoon"

Poor spoon...decisions, decisions.

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/11/12..."Purple"

Other than a cast worn as an infant for some bone issue, that I have no recollection of, I had gotten to the age of 42 without ever having need of another.  And when I got to choose a color for this one...I chose purple.  I don't know why...I just knew that I liked it.

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/10/12..."Ring"

We have been camping a lot already this summer...loads of time at the beach...and this is my favorite tan line...the one made by my wedding ring.  Next month, we will be celebrating our twentieth wedding anniversary...and I'm already looking forward to the next twenty.  We had made a commitment to one another, for better or worse...and every day has fallen into one of those two categories.  And our commitment remains.  Marriage takes work...and it is worth it.  He isn't perfect.  I'm certainly not perfect.  But God made us perfect for each other.

Side note:  In this picture, my hand kind of looks like it is becoming webbed.  As I said...we've spent lots of time at the beach.

For more information on the photo of the day challenge, go here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/9/12..."Messy"

How many times have I squelched their fun...their creativity...out of the annoyance that it would be messy?  Far too many to count...way more than I would ever care to admit.

For more information on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/8/12..."Glasses"

I tried to put it out of my mind...but it would not go away.  The only logical picture to share...inspired by the word "glasses"...was my first school picture wearing glasses.  This is from kindergarten...loving the alphabet blouse!!

I started wearing glasses as a four-year-old...switching to contacts at the ripe old age of 13.  My sight is terrible...the last consultation I've had for corrective surgery (which was not recently) revealed that the best I could hope for would be the ability of being able to wear thinner glasses after surgery.

Someday...when my self-image can take it...I may share other school pictures.  It would be an insightful journey through the eye glass fashion of the 70s and early 80s (assuming, of course, that what I was wearing was actually fashionable)...wire frames...great big round frames...brown tinted lenses...and the classic initials in the lower corner of one of the lenses...in case I needed a memory jogger, I guess.  It would also be an educational course for photographers on what NOT to do to avoid glare in a person's glasses & still be able to get a good picture.  But...I'm not ready to provide that public service.  Maybe when I've moved on from this earthly life...and my family has quit laughing at the pics.

For more info on the Photo of the Day challenge, go here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/7/12..."8 O'Clock"

"8 O'Clock"?  What am I supposed to do with that as an inspiration?  Then it hit me...that's the times the polls in Michigan close.  Have you voted yet today?  If so, way to go!  If not, get to it...you have until 8 O'Clock.

For info on the photo of the day challenge, go here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/6/12..."Writing"

(Sigh)...Writing...my mind went a hundred different directions with this inspirational prompt.  Do I capture a pic of a beloved recipe written in my mom's handwriting because I love those kind of treasures?  Do I confess, as a homeschooling mom, how I have always struggled to find any love for teaching the skill of handwriting?  Is "writing" just a mechanical skill or is it the art of stringing words together to paint pictures for a reader...whether written by hand, typed in a document or shared as a Facebook status? Well, whatever it is...I love it personally!  I love to journal...sometimes I do so with pen and paper as shown above, sometimes I capture thoughts in Evernote, and sometimes I inflict it on the reader here at this blog.  Each are therapeutic to put the mind at rest...to unburden oneself, getting it off your chest in as peaceful manner as possible...to capture a specific spot in a person's journey through life...to express thoughts and emotions that are not as easy to verbalize.  And with this love of writing in mind, I, as a homeschooling mom, will persist in passing that love on as a treasure.  And if I don't succeed...at least they will have my journals to draw a laugh.

You can learn more about the Photo of the Day challenge here.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/5/12..."Logo"

Logo?  How do I just pick one logo?  My fridge is filled with logos...my cabinets are filled with logos...our streets are filled with logos.  And then I saw this one...as we were finishing up another great weekend of family camping.  Over the last 5 summers, we have almost exclusively camped at Michigan state parks.  They always seem to have the best locations...they must have some great connections.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/4/12..."Somewhere You Sat"

One of my favorite places where I have sat this summer...so far...on the shores of Lake Michigan.  And it was wonderful...just sitting...watching my family play...reading...soaking up some solar power...feeling my smallness in the greatness of the Creator.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/2/12..."One"

So, today's prompt to get the creative juices going in the Photo of the Day challenge is the word "One".  I considered different places where the number 1 is found...a die...a dollar bill...humming "One" by U2 throughout the process.  Then it struck me...the first verse from the first chapter of the first book of the Bible about the first thing to ever happen...Genesis 1:1..."In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  Yep...that should totally qualify.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Photo of the Day...8/1/12..."Outside"

Taken from a lounge chair at the Atlas Valley Country Club pool...beautiful day...beautiful sounds of kids playing...beautiful friends.

Update 8/1/12:  I was considering this photo today and why it was representative of "outside".  I realized that while you can take most items, usually found outside, indoors...you can't take the sky and it's inhabitants indoors.  I don't care if you are Disney or a Vegas mega-resort...you will never top the original.

Photo of the Day Challenge

Sometime last month, my sister (you can visit her over at A Minute with Falula) challenged me to participate in the "Photo of the Day" challenge found here for the month of August.  Really?!  I tried doing something on my own at the start of 2012 like this, but with no one bossing me around (i.e. providing suggestional prompts) I ran out of gas.  I don't promise to post everyday but I certainly promise to get a photo each day to post...when I get around to it.

And please don't make fun of my hair...that's after hanging out in a lounge chair next to the pool today...looking for the perfect "outside" shot.

Here's the list for August...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My Good News

"Hi, Tracey...this is Martha.  The results from your biopsy are in and they are negative." As I hung up the phone, standing in the middle of our family vacation on a northern beach of Michigan's lower peninsula, I gave thanks.  I pray often that God use me mightily for His glory...not a prayer I say lightly or fearlessly.  When I had learned of the need for the biopsy, 10 days earlier, I spent some considerable time leaning on God, trusting His plan for me...praying for His will to be done and He be glorified throughout...praying for my family...and praying about potential decisions to come.  After receiving the results, I have to admit that I heaved a sigh of relief.

Each morning of our vacation, my husband and I spent some quiet time along the beach...reading, waiting for the world (and our kids) to wake up.  The day following the phone call, I returned to my prayers of thanks.  Then I was suddenly jarred in my gated community of self-absorption.  While I received good news,  someone else's wife, mom, grandmother, sister or daughter was receiving different news.  I wondered about the lady that I saw exit just before my appointment, having undergone the same procedure.  What news did her phone call convey?  I was humbled by the undeserved mercy...mercy that I did not have to take on such a big battle...at least not at this time with three daughters to raise.  But somewhere else, someone else was facing the battle.  And they didn't "deserve" such a diagnosis any more than I deserved freedom from the same diagnosis.  I prayed for them...for God's will to be done and He be glorified throughout...for their family as they face the mountain together, continuously adjusting to new "normals"...for the decisions she would have to make about her body.  And it really drove home the meaning of the famous quote, "There but for the grace of God, go I".

What good news have you received lately?  Perhaps, given this economy, you were able to keep your job while the desk next to yours was emptied of family pictures and Subway coupons.  Perhaps the mechanic called you with good news about only a minor repair being needed, while another customer was in for a financial shock.  Perhaps you've been blessed with another positive pregnancy test while a husband and wife grieve another childless month passing.  We should all remember that every car that passes and every house on our streets contain unique stories...stories with happy chapters...and with tragic chapters.  No one is immune from heartbreak or guaranteed good fortune.  Be thankful when things seem to be going your way...be thankful when the road seems to have gotten rocky because God can use it for good (as conveyed by Romans 8:28)...be empathetic when seeing others struggle...and avoid envy when seeing others enjoying  victories.  We are all sinners...each deserving of all of life's troubles and undeserving of its mercies.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ten Years Ago Today...

Ten years ago today, I got up early in the morning and spent some quality time on the treadmill, as my two toddlers slept upstairs.

Ten years ago today, I was scheduled to teach one of our preschool classes at our homeschool co-op.

Ten years ago today, I dropped the two year old off at my parents' house and picked up a friend's preschooler for the day's class.

Ten years ago today, I was getting materials together for the class I was to teach.

Ten years ago today, I bent down to grab some items and lost my breath.

Ten years ago today, I couldn't get my breath back.

Ten years ago today, a friend, with a critical care nursing background, checked my pulse and recommended that I be taken to the emergency room.

Ten years ago today, another friend volunteered to drive me to the hospital.

Ten years ago today, they checked my oxygen levels in the admitting area of the emergency room and took me back immediately.

Ten years ago today, as x-rays were taken and I was given breathing treatments,  I fully expected to go home that afternoon.

Ten years ago today, they discovered three blood clots in my left lung and immediately restricted me from any movement out of fear that one could dislodge, possibly being fatal.

Ten years ago today, while I had known I was married to a great guy, the curtain was completely pulled back to reveal the superhero that I call mine.

Ten years ago today, I learned how truly blessed we are by the many family members and friends in our life.

Ten years ago today, God's hand of protection was over me, preventing any trouble until I was amidst those that could help me and care for my children.

Ten years ago today, God showed me that I don't have the final say over plans for my life.

Ten years ago today, my relationship with Jesus matured...moving beyond one in which I only invested time into it when it was convenient, like a casual friendship... to one where I fully rely on Him.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the last ten years and the years to come.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


As my 11 year old daughter wrapped up her fourth and final year with the Upward cheerleading program at a local church, I was reminded of the importance of example.  Through the weeks of practice and performance, Rachael found herself assigned the spot that was front and center of the entire squad.  From this position, she only had one person that was in her line of vision...the head coach who had choreographed the routines and performed them the best.  Rachael couldn't see the younger members who may have been struggling to keep pace or the girls who may not have been giving their best effort, thus preventing Rachael from developing any excuse for cutting her own efforts some slack.  She could only see the best in the room.  The result?  At the last practice and performance, wanting to see what the spectators saw when they watched the squad perform their halftime dance, the coaches told the girls that they weren't going to dance with them.  But, if they got lost in the routine, to look to Rachael because she knew it.

I once heard a speaker say that example is not the main thing, it's the only thing.  And this recent experience gave me reason to pause and audit the list of those that I allow to influence and teach me in my various roles of a woman of faith, a wife, a mom, a teacher, a leader, a friend.  Who is in my line of vision as I practice and perform?  I am blessed by the people that God has placed in my life.  I am surrounded by wonderful examples in my family, friends, church and homeschool community.  But I also have to watch my influences when I'm not learning in the shadows of these people...what am I watching, what am I reading, who am I listening to?  Do I invite in any examples that allow me to lower my standards for myself (i.e. "well, at least I'm not that bad compared to...")? And, as I raise three young ladies, what example am I providing?  I'm certainly not perfect in all that I do, but what am I teaching in my response to those moments, too?

I'm so grateful for Rachael's experience.  It taught her to always seek the best when learning something new.  She also learned that she will be called upon to be an example and leader.  I'm also grateful for the refresher course it has provided me on the importance of example.  My hope and prayer is that I can always be mindful of whom I am watching to learn the "routine" of my roles...and that my daughters, and anyone else who has me in their line of vision, can look to me when they forget the next move in the performance, because I know it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

They Are Watching Us

The six-year-old created her own laptop...complete with keyboard and Pinterest page.  She made sure that I noticed that she "pinned" a dancing heart in the upper left hand corner.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Snow has been pretty sparse in Michigan this winter...and, to be honest, I've been totally fine with it.  But as today's winter weather warning winds down, I have to admit it's been a pretty cool (pun intended) day!

As homeschoolers, "snow day" doesn't mean a break from schoolwork  But the kids did sprint outside between subjects to build up their toboggan run off the deck as the snow continued to fall.  When the Hero was done with work (thankfully he worked from home today), we all gathered together to enjoy "Mr. Popper's Penguins".  And we were blessed with the arrival of these snow birds.

They were first named Mr. and Mrs. Snowbird...then they were just called Dad and Mom.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Eve Has Nothing On Me

I was reading the daily page from a devotional book given to me by a dear friend..."A Cup of Comfort: A Women of the Bible Devotional".  And it was about Eve.

Eve is such an interesting historical figure to consider.  I often waffle on my feelings about her.  I honor...or, maybe, the correct term is envy...her privilege of a close, intimate, personal relationship with the Creator in the setting of the Garden of Eden.  I respect her as the first wife, the first mom, and all the other experiences that I share in common with her that she had to weather first, without the benefit of her own mom, sister or a best girlfriend on whom to lean.   And when I consider all that happens in the world today as a result of the fall of man at the foot of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, I get mad at her.  Because she succumbed to the temptation presented by Satan, in the form of a serpent, to know as much as God, the door was opened for sin, sadness, hunger, illness, death, poverty, greed and any other ugly thing you can imagine to enter the world (Genesis 1-3). And as a twenty-first century armchair quarterback, I may boldly claim at times that, if faced with the same opportunity, I wouldn't have made the same choice.

Give me a break...

Eve lived in the perfect place...had a perfect marriage...a perfect life.  And yet she still wanted what she didn't have.  Eve has nothing on me.

I can look at my perfectly comfy and warm home, furnished to the brim with many modern conveniences, and wish that I had a new living room set.  I can look at my closet filled with clothes...many I'm not even wearing at this very moment...and claim I have nothing to wear.  I can type away on my laptop right now...and wish that I had a newer computer with a faster processor or more memory.  I can take advantage of social media platforms...that are FREE to me...to keep in touch with loved ones, and get mad when it doesn't work like I expect it too. I can snap pictures on my camera, forgetting how excited I was to have it at one time...only recognizing what it can not do.  I fall into the trap of looking at what I don't have, rather than focusing on what God has so mercifully provided for me.

There are a few lessons in the life of Eve for me.  The first is to be content with what God has provided for me.  The Bible instructs us to be content (Hebrews 13:5). It doesn't mean that we can't have nice things...but that can't be where our joyfulness rests.  The second is to obey God (Acts 5:29).  He instructed Eve, with her husband, to leave that tree alone.  When we disobey God, bad things happen.  The third is to not judge (Matthew 7:1-2).  If God had cast me in the role of Eve, my life and choices are evidence that I probably would not have made any different choices than she had.  And, even given the benefit of Eve's experience...that disobedience of God leads to bad happenings...I still manage to find many creative ways to disobey Him.  Just a few ways in which my waywardness is evident... it's on full display when I judge others...when I choose impatience and anger as a response...when I set my heart on worldly things rather than the heavenly...when I turn away from those in need....when I audit my actions/words/thoughts against man's measure instead of God's...and the list could go on and on.

So...when I am caring for a sick child...when I am mourning the death of a loved one...when I am angry at the injustice so prevalent in this modern world...when I mentally berate Eve for those troubles she brought onto women specifically...perhaps I need to focus a little less on Eve and her actions which made these troubles possible...and focus instead on how my own actions continue to give these troubles life.  

E-motion Sickness

During our weekday lunches, it is not unusual for the kids to throw a DVD on for our viewing pleasure.  It will often be a DVD recorded at our homeschool group's talent show or maybe a play.  Today's choice was something that I haven't seen in almost 5 years...when I burned it for my daughter.  It is a collection of videos and pics taken by my daughters, their cousins and friends in 2007 using my eldest's video camera.  While there were certainly plenty of moments when I needed a motion sickness remedy due to the filming method of the videographer...there were times I experienced E-motion sickness too...a real roller coaster ride between joy for my many blessings...and sadness over the times forgotten...and laughing at the girls' antics...and disbelief over the haste with which time flies.  

As I sat there, I saw my toddler sitting at the dinner table making farm animal noises at her sister's prompting.  There was a long video of the girls touring the Detroit Zoo's reptile house with their dad...all voices, shoes and reptile habitats.  There was loads of video from my kids' annual trip to Torch Lake with their grandparents and cousins that summer...and some featuring the eldest's karate class.  I sat watching them...mesmerized by these young faces, toothless smiles, diaper-padded bottoms.  And a special treat...a video featuring my grandma (affectionately known as Granny) who went to meet Jesus face-to-face two years ago this month.  

What a special treat this was today...and I didn't even know it was coming when I started my day!  This collection is something that I will forever...and ever...treasure.  Here's just a sampling...you may want to make sure you are sitting down...or at least have a view of the horizon...and a tissue for me.

All three girls playing Ring-Around-The-Rosie

Filming herself practicing her cartwheels

Look at her artwork...on her legs.

Love her hat!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Perfect Day for Soup

With a few packs of short ribs to use up, my eyes have been on the hunt for some recipes.  I found a recipe for beef, barley and leek soup via Pinterest and tackled it a couple of weekends ago.  Some of my changes...I added fresh mushrooms (sliced); I sauteed the leeks and mushrooms in some bacon drippings (I keep a jar in my fridge); I chose to use beef stock; I made sure to remove as much fat as I could from the short ribs after cooking for three hours and cooling; and I increased the barley.  Today, I was so happy that I had put some away in the freezer...the perfect meal for a wintry Michigan weekend.  I've already received a request for it for the coming weekend.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Favorite Homeschooling Tool

One of my favorite tools for homeschooling is Google Earth.  After reading about ancient civilations in Mesoamerica this morning, we woke up the laptop, did a quick search for our desired destination and traveled from home to far away lands. We've zoomed over the Great Pyramids...tracked down the Colisseum and explored the length of the Nile...all done while we remained in our PJs.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

One Reason He's Lucky To Have Me

I grilled burgers tonight for dinner...and I stuffed them with blue cheese first.  I took a bite of my sandwich before the Hero had even finished piling his with fixings.  I went ahead and said a preemptive "You're very welcome"...because I knew he was going to be very thankful.