Monday, January 30, 2012

14 Reasons I'm Showing Winter Some Love



  1. Your cold drink stays cold in the car.
  2. There's a good chance you will find money in your coat pockets when you pull the coat from the closet for the very first time.
  3. You can go to the store in your PJs...because they are under your coat.
  4. The grocery store does not have to be the last stop on your errand run because your frozen stuff will stay  frozen in your trunk.
  5. Your outdoor furniture will last longer (if you don't leave it out in the snow).
  6. The soup and hot chocolate experiences are enhanced by cold weather...I never want a big bowl of Beef Barley soup when it's 80 degrees outside?
  7. You can have homebody days wearing your pajamas as a uniform, without worrying that you are "wasting a sunny day".
  8. While I realize that Christ was born in a land of sand and palm trees...I still like snow on Christmas.
  9. Snow angels are the best...grass angels just lead to laundry challenges.
  10. Winter weather and snow help me appreciate summers...and capris...and flip flops...and open windows.
  11. While I'm not obsessed about the painting of my toenails...winter really allows me to let it slide on the priority list...because they are not showing.  Don't even get me started on how less often you really need to mow...I mean...shave your legs.
  12. Sledding, snowman construction, snowball fights...all much easier in the winter.  And I can read peacefully while the kids are outside screaming, having fun...because I'm inside behind the closed doors and windows.
  13. It's easier to avoid wearing a swimsuit during the winter...if you are into avoiding it.
  14. We are called to be content..."But godliness with contentment is great gain." (1 Timothy 6:6)...so quit the winter belly-aching already...it doesn't change the weather outlook.  You can only change your outlook.

Update: Another reason...I have a walk-in freezer/refrigerator (depending on the temperature) during the winter...some of you may call it "the garage".  A great asset during the holiday season!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Good Ol' Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

I like to cook...I like to try new recipes.

My kids like to eat...but they do not always like new recipes.

Few things make them happier than to find out we are having good ol' grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Have to confess...few things make me happier than to have good ol' grilled cheese and tomato soup. 

It's easy to prepare.

No one complains about it.

Reminds me of being a kid and liking it when my mom served good ol' grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Regarding picture...sorry...didn't think to snap the shot while there was still some good ol' grilled cheese remaining.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Friendship...One of Life's Treasures

Such a special treat today...to get to visit with one of my college roommates.  It had been a while since we have actually been able to lay eyes on one another...touching base periodically through Facebook or email.  A lot of life has happened to both of us in this relatively short time...and it was great to re-connect and share a hug.






A friend loves at all times, and a brother (or sister!) is born for adversity. ~ Proverbs 17:17

As iron sharpens iron, so one man (or gal) sharpens another. ~ Proverbs 27:17

"If I had to sum up friendship in one word, it would be comfort." ~ Terri Guillemets

"Friendship is not a big thing, it's a million of little things." ~ Anonymous

"Friends are kisses blown to us by angels." ~ Anonymous

"The better part of one's life consists of his Friendships." ~ Abraham Lincoln

"A friend is like a four leaf clover, hard to find and lucky to have." ~ Anonymous

"I awoke with devout thanks giving for my friends." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"True friends are those who care without hesitation, remember without limitation, forgive without any explanation and love with even little communication." ~ Anonymous

"Count your age with friends but not years." ~ Anonymous

"Ah, how good it feels...the hand of an old friend." ~ Mary Englebright (I mean 'old' in the best way possible.)

"In a friend, you find a second self." ~ Isabelle Norton

"Never shall I forget the days spent with you.  Continue to be my friend, as you will always find me yours." ~ Ludwig van Beethoven

"You can count on me, 'cause I can count on you." ~ Bruno Mars



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Forgiveness

Just before heading out the door this morning, I remembered that I needed to help the 6-year-old  clean up her pony tail.  Comb in hand, I hurriedly tried to remove the elastic band already in her hair, accidentally pulling on her hair a little too hard.  As she winced and vocalized the pain I had caused, I immediately expressed my apology and remorse for causing her discomfort.  I then asked her, "Do you forgive me?"  She answered without pause, "Not yet."



A few minutes into our car ride that followed the incident, I asked her again..."Do you forgive me?"  Again, the response was "Not yet. But I will before we get to Grandpa's house."  And as soon as we turned the corner, with their house in sight, she shouted out from the backseat "All right, Mom, I forgive you."

I took the opportunity to explain to her that when we do something wrong, God forgives us the instant that we say we are sorry.  She acknowledged my lesson and went off on her merry way.

But my mind remained on our topic.

Our sins are way more unsavory to a Holy God than they would be to any person.  Yet, the other sinner that you may have wronged will be much more indignant, self-righteous and slow to forgive than the Heavenly Father...as though they have never made a poor decision or reacted emotionally or sought forgiveness for their own actions.  And I can say all this as the person who has struggled to forgive...as the person who voiced forgiveness but internalized anything but forgiveness...as the person who has sought forgiveness sincerely...and insincerely, rationalizing my own actions...and as the person who has forgiven, even when no forgiveness was sought.

Forgiveness is taught throughout the Bible.  Remember the parable of the Prodigal Son?  Check it out in Luke 15.  In his letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 4:32), Paul instructs "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." In his letter to the people of Colossus (Colossians 3:13), Paul teaches "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you."  In what is commonly called The Lord's Prayer, Jesus teaches us to ask God to forgive us as we forgive those who have sinned against us. Evaluating your ability to forgive, would you want that same level of forgiveness from God?

Forgiveness is not easy whether an apology is sincere, insincere or even provided.  But we are to do it anyway.  And when you really forgive...when you hand it off to God...you will be blessed with peace...a peace knowing that you have vacated the poison from your mind and heart that comes only from anger and indignation, created by a wrong and the process of dwelling on that wrong...and a peace from knowing that you are doing as God has instructed us to do...and as He has done for you.



Monday, January 23, 2012

He Will Direct My Paths

I was reminded today...that life is hard...the answers are not always easy...I'm not in control...and that just pertains to myself and my role/responsibilities.  And it becomes more complicated as additional people become entangled.

When I'm overwhelmed...unsure...here is where I find peace.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

Now to make it mine...pardon me while I take some liberties with Scripture.

"I will trust in the Lord with all my heart, and lean not on my own understanding (I often have none!); In all my ways, I will acknowledge Him, and He will direct my paths."  Amen.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

I Remembered

She was waving her pompoms...hopping up and down...spinning in circles...her ponytail bobbing with a life all its own...wearing a smile that was two miles wide.  All I could do was give thanks.

It was the first official game day for our local Upwards endeavor...a gym filled to the brim with families, basketball players and cheerleaders.  As I watched the six-year-old bounce along with her squad, I couldn't help but remember this same day last year.

We were barely a month past a car accident in which one of her vertebrae was fractured, landing her in a form-fitting, rigid, plastic back brace.  I remembered the initial fears and questions as her diagnosis and prognosis unfolded.  I remembered  her attitude and fortitude rising way above what I expected when we first met her new accessory.  I remembered the motherly caution and concern I felt as we walked into her first cheer leading practice.  I remembered watching as some of her movement, in comparison to her teammates, was restricted.  I remembered hoping her uniform would fit over the brace.

And yesterday, as I watched her bend to and fro shouting "We've got spirit...yeah, yeah!", I remembered to give thanks...thanks for healing...thanks for what happened...thanks for what didn't happen...thanks for lessons learned...thanks for blessings revealed.

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


Friday, January 20, 2012

One Regret

I understand that I should try to live my life with no regrets.  And, I promise, I do try to keep that in mind with each choice. But, I confess, that I will breathe my last breath here on earth with at least one...that I did not start eating guacamole at a  much earlier age.  I enjoy it so much that my eyes are now open, looking for other ways to enjoy avocados (Thank You, Pinterest!).

I'm not sure that I have enough time in this life to make up for all the years in which I did not liberally add this green happiness to tacos...and enchiladas...and quesadillas...and nachos...and...well, you get the picture.  But the Bible teaches that life in the Father's kingdom will be so much better than the earthly life (e.g. no tears, no pain, etc. as told in Revelation 21:4). So, while I certainly have plans for the two beauties you see below in the coming days...my eyes are set on the uber-guacamole that just has to be served at the banquet table in Heaven.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

15 Lessons I've Learned from Pinterest


In no particular order...and certainly not complete...
  1. There is more than two ways to braid hair.
  2. A person's "pins" are the perfect way to gather gift ideas for said person.
  3. The girl with no head, hands or feet sure does look great in all those outfits.
  4. My three daughters will be limited to three Pinterest-inspired wedding ideas.  There is not enough time or money to do it all.
  5. Apparently, some people can see a coordinated paint palette in just about anything, like an acorn.
  6. There are infinite design possibilities when it comes to painting your fingernails.
  7. There are a lot of recipes that use avocados.
  8. Almost anything can be re-purposed/recycled into something useful or beautiful.
  9. It seems you can make a homemade version of any household cleaning product.
  10. Crayons are not just for coloring anymore...they are for melting into art projects.
  11. Scarves can be worn in many ways.
  12. There are some completely ridiculous shoes out there.
  13. Ordinary t-shirts can be turned into various scarves or trendy tops.
  14. There are gobs of creative and inventive people out there.
  15. I could be better organized, more crafty, more fashionable...or fashionable period.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Love Surprises

The Hero had a field trip to Detroit yesterday for work. He brought these home from a bakery in Greektown...not just cannoli..not just chocolate cannoli...but Chocolate Chocolate Cannoli. They were the perfect treat!



Note:  I had to tag this with the "Health" label as a joke...because it was there in my history of labels used previously.  And it is healthy...right?  Who really cares...they were yummy!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I Love Popcorn

This is one of my treasures acquired over the Christmas holiday...a Whirley-Pop...after years of testimonials from my sister.  I believe that my affinity for popcorn is genetic.  While I can't testify as to the earliest ancestor to salivate over the salted airy goodness, I do know that my Grandpa loved it.  I can still remember his metal electric popcorn popper.  While my grandma usually handled the cooking duties, this is the one snack that he officially had charge of.  He would ask "Sister, do you want some corn?"  The answer was always "Yes!" And he always made it salty.  I can't help but think about how much he would love the treat created in the Whirley-Pop...way better than anything combusted in the microwave.  While I do think I inherited the love of popcorn from him, it is too bad I didn't inherit his willingness to share.


Monday, January 16, 2012

A Sample of My Life

If you want to get just a little peek into someone's life, try going through their pics on their phone.  I was sitting at cheer leading practice for the 11 year old tonight...taking a break from reading...and decided to clean out the photos on my phone.  I really wish it had occurred to me to share many of the pics here...but the subject of my blog post for today had not formed yet.  So, while I have some to share below, you will have to trust me on the rest of them.  Here is a list of just some of the pics, going back to last summer...
  • Sunset over Lake Michigan at Ludington State Park
  • Pile of petoskey stones found in Torch Lake
  • Our new roommate, a dachshund/beagle mix named Lucy
  • Dog food labels with prices as we researched the best choice for our newest roommate
  • Cover of a drawing book the 14 year old had found and wanted to remember for purchasing later
  • Some gift ideas for loved ones
  • Various crafts and decorations that I'm sure I can make...or that someone I know could make
  • Our new camper
  • Various pics of the kids...on a road trip to North Carolina, on a hayride, in class at our homeschooling co-op, at a cousin's wedding, standing next to a vintage purple slugbug
  • My grandparents headstone
  • Pics and notes by the kids
  • And these...
When my parents and my in-laws leave town in the fall for warmer climates, I inherit what is in their fridge.  This year, the haul from my mother-in-law's kitchen included a head of cabbage.  The pic above is a simple recipe I found online via my laptop.  Not wanting to print or haul my laptop into the kitchen, I just took a picture of it.

I remember taking my firstborn to a special Santa breakfast with friends and we made crafts.  I remember taking my eldest and second daughter to the mall to meet Santa and have photos taken.  This year, I lucked out...there was a Santa just walking around the local JoAnn fabric store.  He gave them each a candy cane, asked them what they wanted for Christmas and then asked me if I wanted to take a picture.  This is it.  Check mark!!
This is just a small corner of a slice of heaven called "Charming Charlie".  I found it during a visit to one of the malls while Christmas shopping.  I had to take a pic and send to my sister in California, proposing to pay this bling-y wonderland a visit together while she was home for Christmas.  We did visit...twice...and we scored some treasure.
As I flipped through the various pics tonight, it was fun to recall details related to each...other memories from a trip, the comment made right after the picture was taken, or the thorough discussion over what was the best nutritious, yet economical dog food to buy for the dog.

Can't wait to see the scrapbook I unknowingly put together on my phone for 2012.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Life Lesson, Courtesy of the Toilet

We had arrived home from church, each heading to their respective rooms to don Sunday afternoon hanging-at-home clothes.  It wasn't long before the 11 year old was calling her dad to the bathroom, her friend exclaiming, "Oh my goodness!" in the background.

Apparently, the 6 year old had made a stop in the bathroom prior to changing clothes.  After finishing her business, she flushed.  And when the water was not receding, but rising...she decided to keep flushing until it worked.  As you can imagine, the water level reached the top of the bowl and spilled onto the floor.

After the problem was resolved and the cleanup was finished, I pulled the 6 year old aside to explain that you only flush once and if it doesn't work, you seek help.  We went on to discuss that this is true of many of the challenges we have in life.  If you are trying to solve a problem, and the first solution does not work, you need to seek another solution or assistance.  Don't just keep trying to flush...the problem is just as likely to get worse, besides not going away.

Note:  With the subject matter of today's post, I've decided not to include a "pic of the day".  You are welcome.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Gift

I have a devotional book that I received from my best friend back in the mid-90s. Each page assigned a calendar day and some faith-based message. Some are heavy and some are quite humorous. I keep it in a convenient place (i.e. my bathroom) where I am almost guaranteed to lay my eyes and hands on it each day, as long as we are home.

Back in 2006, I started writing the current year on the page if I had read it. I set some rules for myself...no turning pages back to a missed day or jumping ahead if I know I will not be home to read it. I can only read the current day. And if something of significance happens on a specific day, I make sure to note it. This gives me the chance to give thanks on those specific anniversaries for lessons learned and unexpected blessings.
 
I always have a pen handy so that I can underline any statement or phrase that convicts me or gets my brain to working.  It's interesting to notice each year what has seemed previously underline-worthy and what was not...all evidence of my new location in life's journey.

This book has been such a precious gift to me...and I hope that it will be a precious gift to my daughters someday...a keepsake sharing my faith and life events with them, a place for them to visit each day to relive a Bible verse or lesson through my eyes.  I also hope to plant some seed in them to always spend some time with their Creator and Savior each day...even if it is only for a few minutes...even if it's in the bathroom.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Snowpalooza

I must confess...I stole that title...from my 6 year old.  With this only being the second accumulation of any snow for the 2011-12 winter season, the 1-2" total snowfall felt like a wintry festival to her.  As a former 6 year old myself, I can understand her excitement.

As I look at the fresh, undisturbed white blanket outside my windows, though, I can't help but recall Isaiah 1:18..." 'Come now, let us reason together,' Says the Lord, 'Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.' "

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for your perfect plan of salvation for me through the sacrifice of Jesus.  A mercy undeserved...a debt I can never repay.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Friendship

Her friend moved to another state over fourteen months ago.  Today marks the fourth time they have seen each other in that time. And I love that they are always able to pick up like there has been no gap since their last visit.  While I understand this may not be a stretch for six-year-olds, it is the perfect opportunity to start understanding the gift of friendship.  I am so thankful for the special people God has placed in my life...ladies who teach me so much about faith, marriage, parenting and serving others. Because we are all so busy with our families and current seasons of life, our 'girlfriend' time is a rare opportunity. But it is always treasured...full of laughs...sometimes sprinkled with tears...and I love that we are always able to pick up like there has been no gap since our last visit.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cat Herders

I'm sitting at my first grader's second Upward cheerleading pactice, and I feel compelled to give thanks for that special group of people...the volunteer coaches.  I am thankful for their organization.  And for their efforts to make it all fun for the kids by shouting out "Hands on hips! Smiles on lips" and for incorporating technical terms like "razzle-ma-dazzle".   I'm sure they don't always feel up to the task...I'm sure that many of us parents are no picnic...but they still reach out to bless those kids.  And I hope they are blessed in return.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Zumba & I

I am not what you would call a Zumba enthusiast.  A handful of years ago, a friend had loaned me some Zumba DVDs to try out.  I tried this workout for a few minutes...until the music built up such a craving for chips and salsa that I had to make up a dish to enjoy while I watched the DVDs.  Since that time, I have avoided Zumba opportunities...because the chips-and-salsa craving seemed counter-productive.

I can't help but pause here and wonder what kind of music would inspire a carrot and celery craving for me. 

Anyway...

This Christmas, I received the Zumba package shown below, to be used on the Wii game.  I've decided to try it long enough to, not only rid myself of the chip-and-salsa craving caused by the music, but to also develop the impulse to break out into my best Zumba moves every time I have chips and salsa.  My kids are going to love this...especially at our fave local Mexican food joints.


One thing I did learn today from my animated Zumba instructors...every song requires a wardrobe change.  

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Steeples

I love church steeples!! I love the way they stand tall in a small town and the way they adorn a cityscape. Someday I will have the time to stop and take photos of these architectural beacons that I so often zoom by during this season of my life. Until then, I will continue to appreciate their steadfast position in changing times and 'developing' communities...and use them as a reminder to give thanks for Jesus, His love for me and my own church family.

This steeple rests atop Berean Baptist Church, Grand Blanc, MI.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Head Curtain

For the last month or so, the 6-year-old has been sleeping under an open umbrella, draped with blankets.  I figured it was just a phase. But when Christmas shopping adventures found our family in the local Bed, Bath and Beyond store, she made sure that I understood that she wanted a head curtain.  She was ecstatic when she opened a gift from her grandparents to find one with feathers...and thrilled when she arrived home today to find it in its proper place.  I love that she calls it a head curtain...that's way more descriptive than "canopy".

Friday, January 6, 2012

January in Michigan

Check out that temp...on January 6, 2012...in Michigan. Pure happiness...and I was hanging with my mom as the cherry on top!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

WE GOT SPIRIT!!..

YES, WE DO!...WE GOT SPIRIT!...HOW 'BOUT YOU?!
This week kicks off 11 weeks of cheerleading practice with Upward!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Good-byes...Ugh!

The day started out wonderfully...bellied up to my parents' dining room table where you could pick your poison...biscuits with gravy or biscuits and chocolate syrup (I confess that I had one of each!). This was my sister's final exam after being schooled by my dad on making the gravy and my mom on creating the syrup. She passed with flying colors, launching us into some sisterly shopping time...getting her Haloburger check mark before leaving town...and hanging in my kitchen as I made potato and leek soup, the Pioneer Woman's macaroni and cheese recipe (my nephew's request) and buttermilk pie (just because my sister was curious after I had mentioned it). We ended our day just as we had begun them...with full bellies and the warm, fuzzy feelings of good times spent with loved ones...but also with the heartache of farewell. As my sister (visit her here) and nephew return to California, I'll begin counting down the days until our next visit. Adios, Falula!!



Monday, January 2, 2012

What Do They See?

I'm sitting at the 11-year-old's first Upward cheerleading practice, reading "The Help" on my Nook.  As practice approaches its end, I started to close my reader down when I see the drawing below.  It was composed by our 6-year-old and given to me as a gift...a portrait of her dad and I. As we look forward to celebrating our twentieth wedding anniversary this year, I am thankful that this is how my daughters see us.
P.S. Never mind the big panda staring from behind us.

Starting 2012 the Right Way

It's not every year that January 1 lands on a Sunday. What a blessing that it did so this morning...the kickoff for 2012. Our pastor highlighted the verse Phillipians 1:21 in which Paul wrote "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." He explained that Paul lived passionately to please God rather than man, seeking to glorify God rather than himself, and sharing the Gospel with as many as possible.  I have to confess that this is a verse that I have probably skimmed over many times, never taking the time to consider its message.  Today, as I consider so many of my failings and opportunities to get better, I am thrilled to launch my 2012 and any efforts to drop bad habits and develp good ones on the foundation of Paul's words.
An unrelated side note...in an effort to get the creative juices flowing and spend more time here, I've decided to tackle the lofty goal of sharing one picture per day for 2012.  Some may be meaningful...some may be mundane...and I'm sure many will be last minute panic-driven snapshots just before I hit the pillow. But today, I will feature the verse I shared above.