I interrupt this blog....

...to take a trip out west to Montana.  It'll be quiet on the set here for at least the next 6 days.  I know I am not a daily blogger, and rarely even a weekly blogger, but just in case you stumble across my humble little site and wonder where I am and what I'm doing, I thought I'd let you know. Vacation is happening.

 I'm not taking a laptop; just my husband and my Olympus Evolt 510.  (Although I will have my iPod touch along to get the free wifi and check email...and status updates....certain things just cannot wait until I return next Friday).

  Until next time- happy blogging! 


the times, they are a'changin


  This week feels like a Sunday night.  Everyone here is on the horizon of a new chapter in their (summer) lives.  My senior-in-college son started working at his place of internship today, a marketing firm in Princeton.  Dressed in business casual with the official hour for lunch, this morning when he left the house he reminded me of Jim from The Office; tall and handsome with a winning smile.   This is new territory and I'm excited for him.  Makes me proud.

   My youngest son is taking the final exams of his high school sophomore year this week.  That must mean that school is ending.  That must mean that next year he'll be a junior.  That must mean that soon we'll be looking at colleges...which in turn must mean my husband and I will soon be empty nesters.  This I cannot believe. ( This same son also has a Pennsylvania driver's manual sitting on his desk to be studied for his permit test.  That must mean soon he'll be driving ....which is yet another item on my "unbelievable" checklist for life.)

  My middle child, a daughter, heads to camp orientation this weekend in preparation for her second year as a counselor.  I've never seen someone so content to go work in the 90 degree heat all day - she loves that job and is blessed to have it.  Once camp starts we don't see her much anymore except on the weekends, but it's part of the deal.  Experience and paychecks come in exchange for time spent away from home on a daily basis.

  For me, I'm about to enter one of my favorite times of year- my job at the elementary schools takes a break for the summer, and I get to be a full time mom to my three kids for a couple of months.  I love the comings and the goings, the cooking and the cleaning, the hanging out of laundry on the line like my mother used to do, the late night fires and s'mores, and having time to sit by the pool soaking in the sun.  There's nothing quite like it.

  But I do believe the crowning glory will be the first vacation my husband and I get to take alone next week as we travel west to Montana. Five glorious days looking at big sky, open spaces, and ghost towns.  We have no agenda.  We will have no computer.  We will have a car. We will go exploring.  We will eat out- a lot.

We will leave all three children at home.

And that, my friends, is a definite new season for us. 

Brake or Swerve?

   Driving last night to drop my almost 16 year old son at a friend's house, I was following a truck (okay, maybe a little too closely).  Out of the quiet, my son asked me, "If that truck stopped suddenly, what would you do?  Brake, or swerve to avoid it?"

   Ah.  He'd been reading the driver's manual I gave him in preparation for his upcoming permit test.

   Wanting my response to be good advice as he might use it one day soon, I played out the scenario in my head before answering.  I told him I would slam on the brake and try to stop completely.  I wouldn't swerve because that would take me into the other lane of traffic, increasing my risk of damaging yet another car (or two or five).

  This morning I thought of his question again, and made it personal.

  How do I react when the unexpected happens? 

  Do I brake and stop all together?

  Do I swerve and just try to go around it, hoping to avoid the situation?

  Like driving, the first option probably involves fewer casualties, although there will still be crumpled metal and exploded air bags. But swerving gives you all that and brings others into an already bad situation.

   In Genesis 12, Abram swerved.   He saw danger ahead, and instead of stopping with the brakes on full tilt and trusting God for what was ahead, he planned a swerve.  "Then a famine came to the land. Abram went down to Egypt to live; it was a hard famine. As he drew near to Egypt, he said to his wife, Sarai, "Look. We both know that you're a beautiful woman. When the Egyptians see you they're going to say, 'Aha! That's his wife!' and kill me. But they'll let you live. Do me a favor: tell them you're my sister. Because of you, they'll welcome me and let me live."
  When Abram arrived in Egypt, the Egyptians took one look and saw that his wife was stunningly beautiful. Pharaoh's princes raved over her to Pharaoh. She was taken to live with Pharaoh.
  Because of her, Abram got along very well: he accumulated sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, men and women servants, and camels. But God hit Pharaoh hard because of Abram's wife Sarai; everybody in the palace got seriously sick."

   It's hard to believe that after the amazing things God had done for Abram, he felt he needed a plan of his own.   God had led him on an incredible journey from one land to another, but it wasn't enough.  Abram plotted a swerve to make sure things were going to go well for him on this new road ahead.  Others were involved. Seriously so.

  Wouldn't it be great if we could know how God had planned to provide for Abram if he'd chosen to apply the brakes and let God do something big and grand and huge to protect his life?

  I swerve.  You swerve. 

 We all swerve.  It's what a friend of mine calls "human nature".  We want to avoid pain as much as possible.  But let me suggest that if we will choose to stop the next time the unexpected is on our road - even though we don't have a clue about what's next or how to get out of it - we'll be choosing to be stretched, challenged, strengthened and more than slightly amazed.  We might even be awed by what we experience.  When we stop, we get ourselves out of the way and let God do what He does best - work.  I believe that if we can avoid a swerve, we'll do less damage.  I believe we'll find that God is in the brake business.

It's all about control....

Tummy control, that is.  Seems like every swimsuit in the store that I looked at had a tag that read - "Instantly slimming"!  "Built-in control to trim your torso!"  "The suit that shapes you!"  Okay, I needed a new bathing suit and I liked what I was reading, so....I picked a few that were my size and headed into the dressing room.  

That was where the problems began.

As I stepped into the first suit, things went swimmingly until I put the straps on my shoulders and tried to stand up. Immediately it felt as if my shoulders were being driven towards the floor in an attempt to put me in a fetal position.   Apparently this suit was not only supposed to make me look skinnier, but had been designed to make me look shorter too.  Not sure why that was part of the plan.  And anything that wants to take my 5'6" frame and squeeze it into a spandex-like state that doesn't reach higher than the kitchen counter gets quickly tossed into the "I don't think so" pile.  I couldn't see buying this suit and only being able to look at my feet on the bottom of the pool the entire time I was in it.

My second option looked cute enough.  Pink with black polka dots and a solid black bottom half.  I put it on, stood up (at least this suit let my vertebrae line up correctly) and took a breath.  I didn't realize it would be my last. One breath was all there was room for as "torso control" took no prisoners and didn't allow for the lung expansion necessary for the quality of life I'm accustomed to.  Before I got too dizzy from lack of oxygen, I took the suit off, gasped for air, and threw it on top of the "Discover Your Shorter Self" version that I had tried on moments before.  Two down, one more to go.

As soon as I had squeezed into my final dressing room choice, I realized it had been labeled incorrectly.  Instead of "This Suit Slims You!", it should have read, "This Suit Will Push Your Liver Out Your Buttocks" and "You'll Feel Tightly Wrapped in Duct Tape" in order to set the mood.  Terrified that I would put extra kinks in my small intestine by wearing this suit for a moment longer than I needed to, I ripped option #3 from my body, threw it on the reject pile, and stared at my stretchy enemies in fear.

What had happened to the bathing suit industry?  Was it too risky to let it all hang out anymore?  Would women rather feel the claws of (tummy) control than the ability to walk upright and breathe normally?  If my recent experience was any indicator, then the answer would be "yes".

No matter.  I've still got one old suit in the drawer at home that fits just fine.  And if I stand up real straight, hold my breath and suck in my tummy, I've got all the control I need to get me from the back door to the water's edge.  Then I jump in quick.  Submersion is a wonderful thing.

water water everywhere....

"How Dinosaurs Really Became Extinct"

This was just too funny not to include.  I've been studying Noah this past week and when I saw this comic on Rachelle Gardner's blog, I knew I wanted to use it in this blog post.  Perfect!

I had run out of womanly/coffee time/start-my-day-with-a-thought kind of devotionals to use each morning as I read my Bible before heading off to work.  Feeling a little lost and out of sorts about that - probably because I'm relying too much on the devotionals to give me insight rather than God's Word alone - I decided to try a technique that my sister learned at a seminar on how to study the Bible - read it through chapter by chapter, and highlight only one verse that stands out in that chapter.  After reading completely through the entire Bible, take each verse that was highlighted and gather them all to one spot- and see what connections can be made.

So I started.  It's a challenge some days to pick only one verse that jumps off the page at me.  I got into the account of Noah and the ark, and it was fascinating to read it as a story from start to finish rather than just a verse here and a verse there.  It was because of this continuity that when I got to chapter 7,  I was feeling the weightiness of what went on as the flood came.  How horrific it must have been for Noah to realize the devastation that was going on around him as he and his family and the animals safely got into the ark.  How thankful he must have felt that he and his loved ones were spared, but how he must have ached for those left behind, knowing full well their fate of doom.  It was then that I came upon this sentence, "For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth."

Wait a minute.  I read it again to make sure I had it right.  "As the waters increased...they lifted the ark high above the earth."  Wow.  The same waters that were destroying, killing, desecrating and cleansing were also lifting, saving, rescuing and floating.  The force wiping out one nation was preserving another.  That's a powerful contrast - one that hit right at my heart.

God and His ways are not about only what we can see.  In the midst of horrible, tragic, unanswerable events, He's able to use the devastation to replenish.  We need to trust Him and and to remember that when we're in the thick of it, there's more going on than meets the eye.  Our line of vision stops at the horizon; His eyes roam over all the earth.

Aren't you glad we have such a big God?

You Can Be Everything God Wants You To Be- a review for Booksneeze

     Booksneeze graciously sent me (free of charge) You Can Be Everything God Wants You To Be by Max Lucado in exchange for a review. 

    This book was an easy and thoroughly enjoyable read with some very interesting points.  The book came to me with a sticker attached to the front that reads, "Perfect Gift for the Graduate", and while I agree with that statement, perhaps it should say "High School Graduate", because Max presents a lot of ideas in his book that could help guide a young adult who is deciding what area they want to focus on for their college career.  It's the kind of book I wish I had before and during my college days.

   The book focuses on the uniqueness that makes each individual special in their gifts, talents and abilities.   He gives some very specific ways that we can look at our strengths and passions and how they work together to show us our sweet spot, the area where we shine when we're doing what we love to do.  Even those of us who are approaching mid-life can learn a lot from his take on how to "read our life backwards" and trace events that made our pulse race and our heart skip a beat in order to find out how God made us to do what only we can do.

   Just as no two snowflakes are alike, Max writes to continually remind us that God put together a very special package when He made you and me.  The book exudes hope and encouragement - and will make you look at your life in ways you didn't before.

   If you ever wondered if you were created for a purpose that only you can fill, and if you'd like to find out how to go about finding that out, then this book is for you.  Enjoy!