evening sunset

As in most homes, sunlight comes in our house differently in the spring and summer  - back windows that in winter months don't get to frame a sunset now see slanting shadows and beams of light at the end of day. For me, since I live in the house where I grew up, seeing that evokes memories of when I was little, when the evening light after dinner was shining through those very windows.  As a young girl, it could only mean one thing. Summer was soon upon us, the end of school was near, and I had hours still to play outside.  Sweet.

I've heard it said that smells can be strong memory-joggers and I'm finding that light and its patterns can be  too.  There's a certain amount of comfort in seeing the setting sun come through the windows tonight in the exact same way it did in this house 40 years ago.  It's proof that earth is still in orbit and we haven't moved off course even a speck.   But aside from that blessed surety, in an instant the shafts of light and shadows can take me back.   Circa 1969. Warm spring air.  Even warmer in the house as we had no air conditioning.  My dad sitting on the far end of the sofa watching the evening news after dinner, while my mom did the dishes in the kitchen.  I found comfort in the predictability of our days, our routines, our family's life. 

And now my husband and I have raised three children here, with different daily lives than when I was growing up,  but attempting to maintain predictability and routine nonetheless.  Perhaps someday if one of our children lives in this house, they'll stop and see things that bring back their childhood.  Who knows?  Maybe they'll notice the slanting light of a summer sunset coming in the back windows, and remember how it used to be.  I hope for them that it conjures up the fondest of memories.

Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals

Today's blog post comes from Chatsworth Consulting Group's Thoughtful Minute -

Big Hairy Audacious Goals. We often coach and coax our clients towards setting these goals for themselves - the ones that alternately excite and scare them - and then we coach them through breaking down these goals into things that they can actually do.
One recent client knew what she wanted - that was very clear to her. However, whenever she set out her goal she found herself nearly running in the other direction. It seemed too big, too scary, too insurmountable, and instead of taking a stab and failing, she would give up before she even gave it a go.

As a team of two we sat with her goal...and broke it down into small, doable steps. One day all she had to do was make a list; the next day her task was to make three phone calls. Each day she had a job, a task - something that seemed entirely possible to her. It might be a challenge, but still she could see that she could do it...and that by accomplishing each of these actions steps she would move, albeit slowly at times, towards her goal.

What we want, in the long run, might seem Big, Hairy, and Audacious. However, when we take this desire and chop it up into small bites that we can accomplish, we find ourselves moving towards our final destination. That's the secret.

Where are you frozen by the hugeness of what you're trying to accomplish? How can you break it down into manageable pieces?

Set your BHAG – and break it down into smaller bits that you can do. Now do them.

sneak peek

You know how you sneak in the baby's room when you haven't seen him for a while and even though he's sleeping, you've just gotta see him? I did that to my firstborn early this morning before I left for church.

He's 22 years old.

Yesterday was his cross country drive from college in Illinois home to Pennsylvania for the summer.  He didn't get in until 2:30 this morning, so I only saw headlights come down the driveway and a heard a car door close before I knew I could relax and go to sleep.

But I hadn't actually seen him yet.

So this morning, on my way out to my car, I peeked in the window of the door leading into his room in the garage.  There he was, sound asleep.  It was really him; he was home and he was fine.  I stepped away with a satisfied smile.

Some mama habits never change.


   I'm waiting.  I really don't like it, but it seems to be a necessary evil right now.  There are things to wait for.

   A letter from our daughter's school stating whether she met her major's entrance requirements or not.

   Responses to queries I sent to agents for my picture book manuscript.

   Word from an editor of a large publishing house regarding the submission of a different manuscript co-authored with a friend.

   My son to get home from his cross-country drive from Illinois.

  I suppose my list could go on, but I don't it want to sound like I'm complaining.  I'm not.  I'm sure you have a wait list of your own.  To be sure, there is strength, patience, and refining of vision to be gained during this time of uncertainty.  And I realize that I could be waiting for more serious things. 

But when they're your waits, they're big.

What are you wanting to find out about today?

weekly wrap up

  As I sit here on a Friday night, I'm reflecting on another week that has passed.  This week has had its highs and lows, its struggles and its joys as well as its unexpected twists and turns; some painful, some worthy of celebration.

This week we found out my sister's PET scan showed no signs of cancer.  This is truly a miracle after all she's been through.

This week, my path unexpectedly crossed directly with an education professional who offered her expertise, and now I'm on a course to get my teaching certificate re-activated through classes and credits.

This week, I learned things about myself that I have to work on to change so that I don't frustrate those I love.

This week,  I laughed with the children I work with in the elementary school and watched them hop and skip and run and smile.

Those are just a few of the things that made up my week.  How was yours?

Another week begins

     Monday again....time to go to work for me- only 4 more weeks of school left and then I get to enjoy summer vacation.  We're headed to Montana for a vacation this summer- big sky, ghost towns, plenty of downtime.

   But for now, there's still work to be done.  Enjoy this day.

Ice Cream Night

A beautiful night for ice cream at our local place, and a walk across the bridge spanning the Delaware River  taking us from Pennsylvania to New Jersey.    The sun was setting, and the evening light was soothing. Nice way to end the weekend.

On our way back my daughter noticed the fuzzy ducklings coming out with their mamas- seemed to be family night all around.

Hope you all had a nice weekend.

A Saturday

It was a great Saturday from start to finish.  Lots of sorting, organizing, filing, storing, and things of that nature to get a wonderful space set up for myself in our newly carpeted finished garage.   I will have a work area where I can spend time on the three things I love to do - scrapbooking, photography, and writing.

The weather was perfect, the company was grand, and spring had sprung everywhere we looked.  None of us wanted the sun to set or the day to come to an end - it was good to be together, and good to be getting things accomplished. One of those days you wish you could bottle up and experience again at a later date.

And tonight, my heart is full with all of the wonderful things God has given me in this life.

Happy Saturday!

One Sentence

There is nothing as constant as change.

Play along! Suzy Hayze is running a one-sentence contest on her blog today.  Enjoy!

Direction in Life vs. Control

"But, most of all, continually give over your words, your talent, your craft to the Lord--allowing Him to direct you in the way He wants you to go."

Those words were written by another blogger on http://wannabepublished.blogspot.com/2010/05/dann-and-leslie-say-goodbye.html, but they echo the thoughts that have been rumbling around in my head and in my heart for the past few days. 

I realize there is nothing to this writing that I love to do if He's not guiding and directing my paths.  As a matter of fact, there's not much to anything I do if I don't recognize that He's in control of everything and all I feel is actually just an illusion of control. 

It's as if I'm finally embracing that fact daily, after all of these years.  It's a great place to be.

Where are you being directed to go?

Girl Power

Since last Friday night I've been busier than usual.  I've been out to eat, to the mall, to Target, watched "Hoarders" with quick switches over to "29 Dresses", cooked a real meal on a weeknight, done tons of laundry, and have watched as various bottles of hair and body products line up in increasing numbers around my tub's edge.

Why all this frivolity, you ask?

My daughter's home from college for the summer.

It's really an event to prepare for.  She's our spunky, give 'em a run for their money middle child.  She's the one who, when she was little and it was summertime, I would send inside because she made so much noise outside I was afraid the neighbors would think something (or someone) was seriously wrong.   She's the one who, when she comes home, can instantly change the climate of our house from almost-empty-nest to constant got-the-music-or-the-tv-on-while-I'm-talking-on-my-phone-in-the-family-room status.

I should not be surprised.  After all, that spirit in her was evident from the very beginning.  This is the girl who came down with spinal meningitis when she was 4 weeks old, and learned to smile as a result of constantly seeing her own reflection in the metal crib rails as she laid there hooked up to wires and tubes and beeping machines.   To her, she was just doing what came naturally - responding to life around her as she grew, and smiling was the next step.

Now, that's spunk.

An All Time Lowe

"Customer assistance needed in fashion plumbing.  Customer assistance needed in fashion plumbing."

I looked at Dan, my Lowe's salesguy, who was dutifully keying in my carpet install order.  Curious to see if I'd heard the overhead announcement correctly, I asked him,  "Did they say 'fashion plumbing'?"

"Yep," he replied, never looking up from his computer.

I pictured pink curvy S-pipes with high heels and matching accessories.

"What exactly is fashion plumbing?" I felt compelled to ask him.

Dan wheeled around to face me. "You know, shower doors, sinks, toilets, tub surrounds...but none of it is actually very pretty."

Exactly.  I mean really.  Let's call a spade a spade.

Thinking I was safe from Vogue magazine pulling up at any minute, I glanced at some of the carpet samples to pass the time while Dan was estimating my child's college fund away.  It was then that I noticed that the last set of Berber choices were on a large wooden frame entitled, "Fashion Forward."

Where was I, anyway?  Wasn't this the toughest and brawniest hardware store with the highest ceilings known to man?  Seemed like it was becoming a little soft around its hardscaped edges.....

I looked back at Dan (who was medium-fashionable) and he yawned.  "What a day," he moaned. "So busy, kinda stressful."  I only had time to utter an "Oh man, that's rough," when he put his hand up to stop me from saying anything more.  "Don't feel sorry for me, " he said.  "At least I have a job."

He stopped me dead in my verbal tracks.  I loved his viewpoint.  Instead of moaning and complaining about his long hours, unnecessarily large workload, or hectic schedule, he didn't want any pity because he realized there was none to be had.  He knew that he was one of the fortunate ones;  he was gainfully employed.

And that took my respect level for Dan, the Lowe's salesguy, to the next level.

Go ahead Dan.  Estimate away.  I'm here to say you've got the right perspective.

A very long sentence

How long does it take a teacher to ask the children to gather 'round?

Here's a recent example from an excellent professional with eyes in every part of her head:

"Boys and girls - get your head out from under there - I'd like you to - no, this way, come down here - come up - please get off the table, thanks - and sit under - it's only a stinkbug, it won't hurt you - the Smart Board - stop chewing on your shoelace - so that we - honey, keep your hands off the computer - can - RIGHT NOW! - do the lesson - yes I know we did this last week but we're doing it again.  Thank you!"

It's truly multitasking at its finest.

Plan B by Pete Wilson

   Plan B is the guide book for those of us who have ever said, "This isn't how life is supposed to be playing out." (I think that encompasses all of us.) Or if you thought by now you'd have that degree/job/marriage/child (fill in your dream) that you'd been hoping for. Perhaps you got to where you wanted to be only to have your success toppled by loss, illness, unemployment, or any number of other dream-crushers. Life has turned on a dime and now you find yourself constantly wondering where God is in all of this disappointment.  After all, isn't He aware of the plans you have for you?  Why won't He just show up and make it all okay again?

 In Plan B, Pete Wilson takes our questions, struggles, nagging doubts and moments of faithlessness and sifts them gently through wise teaching, real-life experiences and Scripture.  The book uses examples of other believers who have endured overwhelming and unexpected plan B life-altering situations, as well of stories of Moses, Joseph, Job, and more who throughout biblical history experienced their own plan B's centuries ago, and how God worked in all of these situations for His glory.

I loved reading Plan B.  It was a hard book to put down because the more I read, the more I recognized myself in what I was reading, and the more I came to realize how universal this concept must be among people; surely there are scores of us living lives different than the ones we dreamed of.  This book offers hope and direction to those of us who wonder, "What's next?"

There's nothing as constant as change.  Be ready. Order your copy of Plan B today!

 Just so you know.... I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”