Friday, June 29, 2007

"No Sweat Girl," No More!

When I was a kid, my Dad affectionately referred to me as his "No Sweat Girl." When I was young, I chafed at this label. I didn't like that it sounded like I was lazy. I didn't want that identity. But there was a lot of truth to the nickname: I really didn't like to sweat! REALLY didn't like it.

I didn't like being hot, or clammy, or uncomfortable. I detested yard work (still don't love it!) and I hated weeding the garden. I didn't like sports; running around a track in circles seemed futile to me. Watching my siblings on their various outdoor sports teams was fun, as long as I was with a friend and it wasn't blazing hot and sunny. When we went on vacation and the weather got hot and humid, as it invariably does in upstate NY in August, I was miserable. I preferred a quiet, shady spot with a breeze, a book and my dolls, or later my music and a book. And working out? Fah-gedd-a-bow-dit! I've never stuck to any workout routine, EVER! Give me some AC and a chilled glass of sweetened tea and I'm a happy camper. Better yet, throw in a suspense novel or a romantic comedy and I'm good to go.

But recently, I've discovered the addiction called Curves. In April, I was solicited to participate in a free three-week trial at my local Curves. And given that I've been struggling with the same 7 lbs. on and off since I moved to the Philly suburbs, and that I'd struggled all winter with the blues (in my case, they were blacks and grays!), and that I was starting to be really concerned about the encroaching 40's (AAAACK!), I thought I'd give it a shot. The gals in my Weight Watchers class all seemed to love it, but I was wary, as most of them are in their 50's+. But free for three weeks? Awwww, what the heck, I'll give it a chance.

Well, I am hooked. I can't say that I love all the music, but I have grown in the past 10 weeks to love the increased heart rates and the sweaty brow and the serious sucking of air. And I come home sweaty. Not just a mild, lady-like perspiration. I'm seriously sweaty, reeking and drippy. My work-out clothes (which I must admit, are actually kinda cute!) actually stink! And my t-shirts are getting sweat stains. Real sweat stains!

I'm so hooked that while I'm driving home, I'm mentally reviewing my calendar to see when I can get back there next. And a couple times a week, I actually do the circuits for an hour. AN HOUR! I know they recommend a half hour, three times a week. But I have so much fun, and I feel sooooo STINKIN' (pun fully intended!) good that I either do three full circuits or an hour. And I go 4 or 5 times a week. In ten weeks of working out, I've only worked out for the 2.5 circuits (which equals 1/2 hour) two times. I'm hooked, I tell ya, hooked!

So, now I'm the "Sweaty Girl!" And I'm proud of it. I'm proud of myself for stickin' with it and I'm proud of myself everytime I peel off my icky t-shirt and hang it to air out. I'm seeing good results, and I feel really good about myself. And if anyone has a great tip for removing sweat stains, I'm all over it!

Favorites Friday

I haven't been posting much, because I've been working really hard to get all my "Mommy" and other Domestic Engineering duties done by lunch time. Including my times at Curves and church-related duties. Although I've often felt terribly crunched for time from the hour I wake till the hour I crash pool-side, it's been worth it to spend time lounging and laughing with the kids. So today, I'm dedicating my Favorites Friday to summer time!

My Favorite Things About Summer Break!
  • For the most part, I am able to live "ALARM CLOCK FREE!" This is huge for me, as I really feel that nothing good ever happens before 8 a.m. NOTHING!
  • I get hours by the pool to read whatever I choose: light-hearted fiction, life-changing non-fiction, or comic books.
  • For three months of the year, I get to be the FUN parent! You wouldn't believe the pleasure I take in yelling, "Suits on, it's time to swim!" and that rush tides me over almost all year, until about April when I'm tired of yelling, "Hurry, the bus is coming!"
  • Our pool allows me to be the "hostess with the mostest." My nieces and nephew love coming to Aunt Tracy's and I love to be able to invite different friends over for a day of fun.
  • Summer break gives me hours to hang with my gang - again, we love the lounging and laughing and enjoying spontaneous outings to mini-golf, the mall, ice cream shoppes and libraries. We only really look at the clock to check when The Boss gets to join the fun.
As I'm writing this, it's pouring rain outside and everyone here is glued to Handy Manny on the Disney channel. It's a peaceful, quiet morning with my coffee. Just the way I love it!

What do you love about Summer?

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Perfect Date With LadyBug

Today I took my little LadyBug to Sears for her (belated!) 8 year old birthday picture and a girlie date at the mall. She asked me to curl her hair in a cute little flip-out and wore a sweet summer dress and her new "high heels." Her pictures turned out fabulous (shout out to our very own Miss Marie!!) and we had a ball strolling through the mall, talking and looking at all kinds of stuff. She helped me find a new bathing suit, which was a fairly painless process this year. She has excellent taste and is heartbreakingly sweet while being honest in her evaluations! Then we searched high and low for the perfect stuffed animal, played a while in the Disney store, and she even let me spend some time in my favorite store, Christopher and Banks. I scored big there: bermuda shorts for $5, capris, and two tops - all for only $2 over my Christmas gift card. (Yes, that's my miser instinct of holding on to gift cards again!!)

Then we headed off to Macaroni Grille for a late lunch together. We played the favorites game, giggling back and forth about the things we both loved and the things that were different in our tastes. We're more alike than different in most of the areas that this particular game covered, so we were laughing over how often we said the same thing. Then our waitress offered us the dessert menu. I was going to say no, trying to be cautious about the bottom line and my waist line (after all, my new bathing suit doesn't have the adjustable waistbands!); but LadyBug wheedled and giggled and said, "Mommy, it is my birthday date?!" Well, off the waitress went. I thought she was letting us decide. But no siree! A minute later, she came back with their chocolate ganache-frosted cake with a pretty little candle in the middle and a co-worker at her side. Before LadyBug could blow out the candle, the co-worker sang Happy Birthday in beautiful opera style Italian! LadyBug was a hundred shades of pink, and couldn't stop smiling. I gotta admit, I got a little misty. And forgot about the $6 that cake would add to my bill.

And wouldn't you know it: after the cake was DEVOURED (by both of us, I know, I'm so weak!) the bill came and the beautiful cake was free. So I gave the waitress the $6 I'd already resigned myself to pay and thanked the Lord for the joy and the beauty of A Perfect Date With LadyBug!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Following Up. . .

Well, I'm not exactly sure that I've gotten more clarity on the "good stuff" that is brewing here. I was looking over my archives (short as they are!) and wondering at the sense of loose ends I still feel regarding this post. I can tell you that since this was written, it has felt like our life has become "A Series Of Unfortunate Events."

I've been reading and re-reading Genesis 22 since this sermon was presented, and with all that has been brewing in my mind and how close I am to it, I can't really tell if these events are truly out of the ordinary for our life. Or if I'm just hyper-aware of them as I'm processing and grabbing a hold of what the Lord's trying to teach me through this season. I will say this: at this point, I'm trying to adopt the attitude that there's no such thing as coincidences and that I must NOT let it all steal my joy. After all, like I've said about my parenting goof-ups: if you don't learn to laugh about this stuff, you'll just cry about it. Crying messes up your makeup. And in my case, leaves huge unsightly splotchiness all over my face and neck. It's just not a pretty option.

Here's a sampling of what's going on around here, since about the first week of May:
  • Our basement flooded with 9" of gross, slimy, oily water.
  • The furnace was fine, but the freezer perished in the flood.
  • The Boss's day off was spent cleaning the basement instead of hanging out with me and Baby Blue Eyes before the Men's Retreat.
  • Our insurance covered the cleaning and drying, but we had to pay for the freezer.
  • Three days later, I ran over a spike and flattened a tire. Not covered by insurance!
  • My cell died while trying to phone for help. Picture me just laughing hysterically in the parking lot of my local Curves.
  • My cat developed a UTI because she couldn't get to her box in the flood.
  • Then the fans and de-humidifiers scared poor Maggie so badly she couldn't pee even though she wanted to!
  • The Boss got sick with an ear infection - that required serious pain meds and an antibiotic fit for horses.
  • The Boss has now been sick for 4 + weeks. And let's just say, when Daddy's sick, the whole house feels it!
  • The cat got sick again. May be chronic urinary tract disease.
  • Our AC broke, the night before The Boss and Dr. Doolittle left for a weekend camping trip.
  • In the midst of it all, we found a couple bills we forgot to pay (ooooops!) when we were consumed with cleaning the basement and drying it out.
This brings us to today. I chucked my "To Do" list, indulged myself in an hour at Curves and a long hot shower. Then I took my kids to play mini-golf (on a 1 year-old gift card! I know, I'm such a miser!) and out to eat. Not my normal Saturday, and certainly not how I've been coping with all these crazy events thus far. But "thus far" wasn't working, and laughing over Baby Blue Eyes whacking his little blue golf ball into the water at every other hole worked just fine for me.

So, I'm still brewing. And this loose end is still loose. And the way we all played on the mini-golf course, I'm sure the family behind us thinks we all have a couple screws loose.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Favorites Friday

Today is The Boss's 39th birthday, so I'm dedicating this edition of Favorites Friday to my wonderful husband!

My Favorite Things About The Boss:
  • He's not really bossy. He's a servant, and leads our home by his example of service to us, to our church family, to our extended family and to his co-workers.
  • He's very funny. He has a wide repertoire of silly voices, wise-cracks, and imitations of the world around him that keep us all laughing. Even when we've seen him do it a hundred times before!
  • He's a great dad to our 4 kids. With the boys, he's wise and discerning, strong and loving, and rough and tumble all in one great package. And with LadyBug, he's gentle but firm, cuddly and sweet, and her Prince Charming - without the worldly facade of charm.
  • He's my best friend. There is no one else I'd rather be with, through hard times or happy times. I love just hanging out with him, working on our home with him; and he's the one I love to escape with when it's time to "get away."
  • He works hard at being more like Jesus. And takes his faith seriously - at home and at work. His desire to be found faithful in all things is a great example to me and the kids and to his staff at CHOP. It makes him a great husband, a great dad, and a great boss.
Colossians 1: 9-12 (from The Message)
"Be assured that from the first day we heard of you,
we haven't stopped praying for you,
asking God to give you wise minds
and spirits attuned to His will,
and so acquire a thorough understanding
of the ways in which God works.
We pray that you'll live well for the Master,
making Him proud of you
as you work hard
in his orchard.
As you learn more and more how God works,
you will learn how to do your work.
We pray that you'll have the strength

to stick it out over the long haul -
not the grim strength of gritting your teeth
but the glory-strength God gives.
It is strength that endures the unendurable
and spills over into joy, thanking the Father
who makes us strong enough
to take part
in everything bright and beautiful
that he has for us."

Happy Birthday, Hun!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

One Phone Call

I was musing today about how much the world has changed. As I mentioned in a previous post, my brother-in-law is on a missions trip to Cambodia with his Master's program cohort. I've been thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to learn more about the world through Paul's eyes. I've also enjoyed reading the various comments posted about his experiences.

One comment in particular has had me musing a lot. My mother posted a comment about being able to share Paul's day to day experiences via the blog. She contrasted this with only hearing from my dad one time by phone in the whole 12 months he was stationed in Viet Nam. This is what I was musing about: ONE TIME to hear her beloved's voice. ONE TIME to catch each other up on the daily existence of a life lived separately just months after pledging to become one flesh. ONE TIME to say all that was in her heart. One phone call.

I had a little "a-ha!" moment over that. A little moment where my respect and admiration of my mother soared to yet a newer level. My mom has a lot about her to admire. Frankly, though, most of what I admire about her are products of years of wisdom and life experience. Products of hours spent laboring alongside my Dad, serving their local church and learning as they go. I love her people skills, her sense of humor about life, her patient ways, her creative mind in dealing with hard-to-love people. But she learned that stuff the hard way: she lived through it all, one experience at a time.

But this little "a-ha!" was the realization that she was a 22 or 23 year-old kid when Dad left for Viet Nam. A newly-wed, young and untested. Think about what YOU were like as a 22 year-old. I was immature, arrogant, and completely unaware of the great, big world around me. NOT that I knew that or would ever admit that to anyone then. But at 22, my mom married a soldier. Went off to Officer's Candidate School with her soldier and said good-bye when that handsome, strapping soldier went off to war. She wrote long love letters, sent care packages, and built a life for him to come home to. But she didn't know if he was coming home. And she didn't get to hear his voice, cheering her on or lifting her spirits or whispering his love every day. Or every week. ONE TIME. And she was just a kid.

So, as much as I'm enjoying Paul's trip and Paul's experiences, I'm eating a bit of humble pie tonight too. I'm such a wimp. I complain when The Boss misses his train. Or when he forgets to call and say hi. I needed that little kick in the pants - so much so, that it took me two days to process just how ungrateful I can be.

So, thanks Mom! For your sweet comment to Paul. And for yet another thing to admire you for - you ROCK!

*And if you want to read about Paul's experiences in Cambodia, click here! The team could use your prayers and if you care to, your comments of encouragement and support.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Favorites Friday

I am a hymns junkie. I confess, I confess!

I was privileged to grow up in an home that treasured the idea of heritage and legacy. We knew where in Ireland our ancestors hailed from. We heard stories of my great-grandfather carving out a life for his new wife and family after they left Sicily. We knew about our family's part in the history of the nation. For instance, there is a family legend (never totally proven, but it makes a great story!) that my grandfather used to play checkers with the neighborhood kids on Harriet Tubman's front porch in Auburn, NY. HARRIET TUBMAN!

So it naturally followed that when my Dad got saved and plugged in to his local church, he became very interested in church history and studying his newly discovered roots. I'm a lot like my Dad in that way. I love the old hymns of the church - I can rarely make it through one without getting totally choked up over the idea that this faith is so much bigger than me. That I am just a little piece of a huge picture that God's been painting since the beginning of time. That this love story of HIS has been running through generations and generations and I GET to be a part of it. I GET to be a part, no matter how small, in the race that has been running since My Father breathed life into this planet. These hymns remind me all at once of how small I am, how great HE is, and how much HE loves me. They tell me where I fit in this grand plan of HIS. And they make me proud to be part of a Kingdom that overcomes darkness and evil, as it has been doing for hundreds and thousands of years.

My Five Favorite Hymns
  • How Great Thou Art, words & music by Carl J. Boberg & R.J. Hughes
  • Great Is Thy Faithfulness, words by Thomas O. Chisholm & music by William M. Runyan
  • Power In The Blood, words & music by Lewis E. Jones
  • O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing, words by Charles Wesley & music by Carl G. Glaser
  • O Come, O Come Emmanuel, compilation of various antiphons (hymns, chants and verses from a traditional Catholic Latin mass) translated by John M. Neale, arranged by Thomas Helmore
I could probably spend every Friday, posting my favorite hymns from various time periods of history. Or favorites from Fanny Crosby, then Charles Wesley, then Martin Luther. Or telling you the stories that prompted these rich and powerful worship songs. But today, this is my list. I may visit this topic again in the future. After all, we have a rich, long and victorious history and these hymns of ours tell a magnificent story. It's worthy of several visits!

What are your favorites? What do they speak to you?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

An Epic Journey

My brother-in-law, and pastor, Paul left today for a two week trip to Cambodia as a fulfillment of the final requirements for his Masters of Divinity program. It's a missions trip, put together to help the students in his "cohort" learn about foreign missions, and how to do them. He has been a student at Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, PA for the past three years and this trip represents the culmination of a very long, arduous journey of learning and growing for him and his family.

Won't you please join me in praying for Paul and his team members on this trip? They are specifically asking for prayer in the following areas:
  • safety and protection
  • physical health and endurance
  • openness to the Lord's leading and teaching
  • divine opportunities to share the love of Jesus in the midst of their classroom experiences
Additionally, I'd like to add that my sister and her kids could use some prayer for peace of mind, protection and good health, and comfort for their hearts. The kids are young and missing Daddy already!

I've posted the link to Paul's blog for the trip, if you are interested. I think you might really enjoy reading about the trip, especially if you know Paul. But if you just love stories about the faithfulness of the Lord and the cultures around the world, you will enjoy it too.

Check him out at:

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Jubilation and Exaltation!

Today was the last day of school for Shaggy, Dr. Doolittle, and LadyBug. We are all giddy with the sense of relief and the excitement of possibilities stretching before us. In fact, Dr. Doolittle was sooooo excited that the kitchen could not contain him.

So, he ran out the side door to the front yard. As Shaggy and Baby Blue Eyes sat at the island eating a celebratory grilled cheese sandwich, they spied Dr. Doolittle running back and forth across the front yard. Through the open glassed door, they watched him jump and leap and yell and sing. We all watched, laughing at his antics. He reminded me of those lambs that get set out to pasture in the early spring, to cavort and kick up their heels and bleat to their hearts' content. Until he started flashing the neighbors.

Seriously, he was so full of joy and excitement that he kept lifting up his shirt as if to take it off. But since it barely hit 70 here all day, and there was a stiff breeze kicking up, he'd drop it right back down - all while jumping about 2 feet in the air and running around. Then he'd do it again.

Do you know how hard it is to remind your 11 year-old son about basic rules of modesty vs. semi-nudity, while trying not to laugh your head off? Or trying not to cry with the pain of holding said laughter in? One little smirk from me and we were all lost. I couldn't help it. We all lost it, laughing and crying at his freedom of expression.

Truthfully, we were mostly laughing and crying because, if we were all a little less self-conscious, we wanted to be out there with him. Maybe not flashing the neighbors, but certainly running around cavorting with the sheer joy of 2 1/2 months of freedom and fun ahead. No alarm clocks. No homework. No Science Projects with creepy crawly bugs in soda bottles. No school lunches that cost an arm and a leg. And gosh, if I'd done some jubilation laps with Dr. Doolittle, I coulda skipped Curves this morning.

But I did get a great ab work-out, laughing with my kids over his crazy antics and over the fun that awaits us all! So that's something. Maybe it was enough something to erase the onion rings I ate at our "School's Out For Summer" celebration meal at Applebees. Maybe not.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Somethin's Brewing Here

The last few Sundays our church has been in a series called "What's In a Name?" We're studying the attributes of God, using His covenant names as the starting point for each week's sermon. For those of you who have known me for a while, you know I love names and their meanings and I feel strongly about using names (as in your child's name) as a prayer tool and a resource in parenting. For this reason, and many others, I've been really pumped about this series.

Two weeks ago, our regional overseeing pastor, Pastor B spoke on Jehovah Jireh: The Lord Our Provider. It was probably one of the best teachings on this topic I've heard. I'm not sure why yet, but the words he shared have been brewing in my heart for this whole two weeks now. We are certainly going through a lot of things right now as a family where we need to see Our Provider come through for us, but I've never once doubted that He will do that. That He IS doing that. So that's not necessarily why it's percolating. But it's bubbling and brewing nonetheless, so I'm working through it here and trusting HIM to reveal what He's pouring in my cup. And maybe, in my process, you'll be blessed with a new cup of the strong, hearty brew too.

Pastor B spoke from the story of Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22:6-14), where God commands Abraham to sacrifice his only son in obedience. And Abraham sees the amazing provision of God as a result of his obedience. He said that this story represents the pinnacle of Abraham's faith and trust in his God. But then he posed the question: "how did this relationship of faith and trust come to this point of provision?" The following are the steps that Pastor B led us through in the story, as a model of all of Abraham's life. I paid a lot of attention, because Abraham is called a "friend of God." I've always loved that name for Abraham. And I want to place myself in the shadow of men (and women) like that: friends of GOD!
  • Revelation (vs. 1 &2) - God revealed to Abraham the task before him, the test or the trial that He was setting out to perfect Abraham
  • Preparation (vs. 3) - Abraham had things to do to prepare for the test of obedience. To hear and obey is the complete point of the Christian walk.
  • Separation (vs. 4&5) - Abraham and Isaac left the others behind to put themselves on the path of obedience.
  • Dedication - (vs. 8&9) - This is where the rubber met the road: Isaac was THE promise God had fulfilled in Abraham's life, and he was wholly dedicated to seeing this task through. Even though it meant the death of the promise.
  • Proclamation - (vs. 10-14) - When his obedience wrought the work of God's provision and the ram was caught in the thicket, Abraham renamed the mountain he was on. He said "God sees and attends to me. He is my Provision."
  • Restoration - (vs. 15&16) - God gives back to Abraham the fulfilled promise - his son, Isaac is his again
  • Confirmation - (vs. 17&18) - God reiterates the promise that Isaac represents and confirms the work of obedience in Abraham's life. It IS completed!
I'd like to say that I have enough clarity to know which step in the process I keep going back to, to mull over and think and pray over. But really, this whole story has captivated me anew. And I keep going over it and over it. It's as if there's something coming, like the smell in the air when the coffee maker goes on. The pot's not done yet and the smell is permeating the whole house. In fact, it drew me out of bed this a.m. It's steeping in the brew basket and I don't have the taste in my mouth yet. But, like any self-respecting coffee addict, I know it's coming. I can smell it and I know that this one will be brewed to perfection. It's coming and it won't be any old mini-mart brew. This one's gonna be the "good stuff."

I'll keep ya posted. In the meantime, what struck you about this view of Abraham's process?

P.S. Yes, I am now a coffee addict. Thank The Boss - I finally caved to his "come on honey, have a cup of coffee with me!" after 16 years. Now, I'm hopeless and completely embracing it! But I'll save my posts on that topic for another day. . .

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The suspense is killing me!

Thank you all for the hilarious walk down memory lane - I got a really fun response from the Favorites Friday post this week. Aside from Shaggy's mockery of our really cool selves, it was fun to remember all those really rad songs, big shoulder pads, and gnarly hair styles - wasn't it? Your comments created quite the buzz around here as we laughed over crazy things we remembered about where we were and what we were doing when those bands were big deals.

One thing I NEED to know: who is "pups n' horses?"

Never mind gang - I answered my own question, about 10 minutes after I posted this. Pups n' Horses is one of my new friends, a really cool, really real gal that has been a blessing and joy to me as we've explored our new friendship. It took me all day of thinking and she's totally proud of herself for tripping me up with her little mystery. But since she loves Keith Urban and Josh Groban as much as I do, I'll let her off easy! Good one, MR, good one :)

Friday, June 8, 2007

Favorites Friday

We recently switched to new phone, internet and tv service - big savings for a combo plan. Ordinarily, I don't enjoy a gazillion channels to choose from. I hate feeling like I might be missing something good and I just can't watch it all at once, no matter how fast my fingers! But I was over the moon with excitement when The Boss showed me that we now get music channels. I've spent the past three weeks immersing my kids and myself in Smooth Jazz during homework hours. Now Light Classical or Singers & Standards set the mood during dinner. Big Band & Swing accompanied me to creating the world's yummiest fruit salad last weekend. And Contemporary Christian and Today's Country have rocked the house during job time, probably just cuz my kids can't wait to get the work done and escape Mom's tune-less sing-along! But when I'm alone, folding laundry or cooking dinner I indulge in my guilty little pleasure. Yup, I tune into the 80's.

Today's Favorites Friday features five of my favorite 80's groups. I couldn't pick five songs - my head is spinning with the choices. But you can guarantee, when one of these bands comes on the screen and the beat begins to drive, my granny-undies fold faster and my towels and socks do the Wave all through the family room. So far, nobody has caught me, but believe you me: I'm feelin' FOOTLOOSE!

My Favorite 80's Acts
  • Chicago - really, who's more timeless than these guys?
  • Survivor - "Eye of the Tiger" - need I say more?
  • Journey - soulful pledges of eternal faithfulness - you betcha!
  • The Police - I'll be watching YOU - mmmmmm, hmmmmm!
  • Billy Joel - the man is a genius, pure genius - decades of greatness

I could go on and on . . . and on. But for those of you who are children of the 80's - you know what I'm talkin' about. You have your favorites, that may or may not appear on this list. But for us, these guys wrote the songs that made our whole world sing. Wait, that's a Favorites for another day.

I'm off to hit Curves to the beat of more 80's dance tunes. And Robert Palmer, Taylor Dane, Rick Astley? Let's hit the mats and sweat it out together! Happy Friday to the rest of you . . .

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Great Reads

I am a voracious reader. I crave books much like The Boss craves time to work in his yard. Or my sister craves time to quilt. Or my brother-in-law craves his ice cream. (You know who you are!) I find myself sneaking away in chaotic moments to grab a couple quick pages, especially when the homework hour has begun or when the house settles down for a quiet night ahead.

So imagine my delight a couple years ago, when I hear from several friends about this great library at a local church that is open to the public once a week. Imagine my further delight when said library undergoes a move, an expansion and a transformation while the church is adding on to its building this spring. And all in warm, rich fall colors to boot! With a cute little cafe and flavored lattes for sale in the lobby. And a play area for Baby Blue Eyes to enjoy while I sip my iced vanilla chai latte. Bliss, I tell you. Pure bliss. But I digress . . .

In preparation for the coming hours of (anticipated) pool-side reading that I wish for you all, I've decided to share today a list of "great reads" that I have thoroughly enjoyed. While not all of them may be "your style," I encourage you to give them a try. Some are light-hearted, fun fiction; others are meatier life stories. I certainly don't agree with everything I've read, but I've learned a lot this past year. I thought you might like to see what's been going on in my head. Scary as that may be :)
  • C. Hope Flinchbaugh - Daughter of China & Across the China Sky
  • Michael English - The Prodigal Comes Home (jury is still out, I'm just starting it now but like it so far!)
  • Ryan Dobson - Be Intolerant, 2 Die 4, & 2 Live 4 (excellent especially for those of us with teens or pre-teens)
  • Robin McGraw - Inside My Heart
  • Stephen Baldwin - The UnUsual Suspect
  • Randy Alcorn - Safely Home
  • Karen Kingsbury - Redemption series, FirstBorn series, Fame series (Let's just be honest here, anything that this woman writes is a favorite of mine. She's talented, compelling, convicting and has a unique way of sharing the heart of God for His people!)
  • Helen Doss - The Family Nobody Wanted (the book that sparked the dream of adoption in my junior high heart - re-read this year for the first time in many years!)
I have many, many more "entertaining" reads that I could share with you, but this list represents the most compelling that I've worked through this year. I'd be happy to give you the gist of the individual books if you are interested. Now I'm off to grab a couple pages while the kids play football and we wait for the chicken to grill . . . Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Happy Anniversary

Yesterday, my parents celebrated 41 years of marriage. That amazes me. And inspires me. And overwhelms me a bit too. But it also helps me remember that marriage is like a tapestry. It's a product of patient and faithful weaving of lives and ideas and wills and hearts, all with one common purpose of expanding HIS kingdom and being more like Jesus and less like me. It's about tying off my selfish desires and joining threads with the one God has given me. It's about taking the focus off the color that my threads can bring to this life and thinking about how HIS picture can be presented in the partnership in which He has placed me. One stage of life at a time. One day at a time.

You see, I'm a big picture thinker. I love to plan for the future, think about where I want to be and who I want to be "someday." I like that about myself, and I am content that this is how God has wired me. But when I look at my parents' marriage, I realize that it can't be all about the somedays. Much of the hard work that goes into making marriage last and thrive in the lasting is about the todays.

For example, my mother was great about reminding us to be grateful for today, that today is a gift. That how we use today can and will change our tomorrows. And that we look for opportunities to change someone else's today by a kind word or act of service toward their needs.

Dad was adamant that today not be wasted: that we think carefully about the choices we make today; that we point ourselves in the direction of the Cross, today. And that the choices we make today will impact our tomorrow, . . . and our kids' tomorrows, . . . and their kids' tomorrows. That today can change history.

Together, they have beautifully woven their todays into a wonderful and bright tomorrow. They have the tomorrow because they paid attention to the todays. This tomorrow tapestry has for 41 years created a safety net and covering, not just for us four kids, but also now for our spouses and their grandkids. And through it all, they've been weaving this beautiful, safe, and warm blanket that also covers a church family whom they have served faithfully and diligently for over 25 years of todays.

I am supremely confident that what they have done in these 41 years of marriage will stand the test of time and that their faithful todays are impacting lives for eternity. They are changing todays, one day at a time. In their faithfulness to God and to each other, they have changed the course of our eternity. They have given us the gift of tomorrows.

Happy 41st Anniversary, Mom and Dad! You are an inspiration to me and I am grateful for your beautifully woven life in service to each other and to your God.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Favorites Friday

Today's list of favorites comes from my all-time favorite Disney character. **Warning! :) This post is not spiritually deep, or terribly impactful on the larger world out there. But I find him incredibly uplifting and I wish more of us were like him (myself included!). So, maybe that is a bit deep!

My Five Favorite Things
  • He's orange. Orange is a happy, cheerful color!
  • He was born the same year I was - now there's an interesting bit of Disney trivia, all hidden and wrapped up in "Favorites Friday!"
  • He's energetic and upbeat and the happiest of all the friends at Pooh Corner
  • He gets to spend his days in a beautiful forest with his best friends, playing and exploring - how cool would that be?
  • He sings all the time, cheerfully and exuberantly. I love that. And he doesn't sing well, but that never stops him. I love that even more!

When my kids were much little-er, we used the Pooh's Corner friends to help them guage their attitudes. There were no Eeyores allowed to sulk or pout in the common areas of the home, and Rabbits were instructed to tone down the bossy-ness and speak more kindly. Piglets were prayed with and reminded to pray for themselves, to give over their worry to Jesus. Pooh and Tigger were okay by me. It may not have been the best model of spiritual growth, and I've never seen it in a parenting book. But it worked for us, and sometimes, we all still need the reminders. These days, when I use this "toddler tool" of years gone by, they now smile indulgently at me and move on. But they get the meaning and they adjust accordingly. And it makes us all remember fondly the early years.

So, my friends, have yourselves a Tiggerific Friday! And I wish for all of you the "spirit of Tigger" in your weekends with your families :)