one thing

It's impossible on New Year's Eve not to reflect on what's past and cast hope for what is yet to come.  I feel poised on the edge of something, and I'm ready to make 2012 happen in a very good way.

A few realizations from 2011 -

 - Now that I'm 50, I'm not nearly as concerned with looks as I am with attitude and perspective.
 - I'm more easily able to turn off the self talk that's played in my head for years (about myself and others) and I'm happy to see it go.
-  I really do remember how to drive a stick shift.
 - I'm amazed at the power of the mind and how it influences and determines every choice we make, from what's on our plates to what we believe about ourselves (right or wrong).
- God can be trusted through thick and thin, and is with me 24/7.  No one else can make that claim.

What is one thing you've learned in 2011, and what's your highest hope for 2012?

the best way

A bolt - a movable bar or rod that when slid into a socket fastens a door, gate, etc.

To bolt - a sudden dash, run, flight, or escape.

The same word, but with two very different meanings depending on the small word in front of it.  And the "to bolt" is what I've been using food to do for a good part of my life.

In Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth, she devotes her third chapter, "Resist the Inclination to Bolt", to this concept.  She aptly describes how we easily use food to escape the moment, get away from reality, and avoid facing what is going on right in front of us (and of course, we can put other words like money, drugs, or work in place of the word "food" above).  The more I re-read this chapter that I had read a year ago, the more I see myself blatantly in those pages, in those words. 

It is much harder to stay in the moment than to placate it with chocolate.  It is much easier to run to the kitchen than to face the emotional heartbreak that keeps coming through the door some days.  It is more difficult to watch your or your loved one's world crumble without eating it away as a temporary salve to the pain.

But the food doesn't fix a thing.  It can't.  That's giving it a power it doesn't have.

The good news is, we are more resilient than we think. If we will choose to do so, we can stand strong during the worst of moments and find ourselves still standing (and our cupboards still full and undisturbed) after the storm has passed.   Our answer is in Joshua 1, where God tells us, "Be strong and courageous!  I will never leave you nor forsake you." 

It stands to reason that if we have nowhere to turn, we will most likely consume something to conquer our feelings.  As believers, we have somewhere to turn.  We have somewhere to run.  We have somewhere to bolt. 

It's to God's everlasting arms.  

Try Him the next time circumstances have you reaching for the cookies.  I guarantee the results will be better than what food could ever give you.

(If you struggle with this food issue as I do, I'd love to hear from you.  Leave me a comment below and you will be read and prayed for.)

permanent christmas trees

I drove past our local garden center yesterday.  Their outdoor sign read, "Permanent Christmas trees."  Hmm.  That phrase made me stop and think a minute.  Permanent Christmas trees.....or, how about, permanent Christmas?

Every year, thousands of people go and buy a beautiful, live, cut Christmas tree to display in their home.  And every year after the season is over, thousands of people haul said tree out to the woods or the trash and dispose of it in a timely manner. 

It's served its purpose, done its duty, and is now to be tossed.  The same icon that was so necessary to herald in the season is put out to pasture, soon to be forgotten.

I'm afraid sometimes I do that with Jesus.  I feel the desperate need for Him for a season, and then things get better, easier, and I tend to take over.  And while I don't exactly haul Him to the dumpster when simpler days come along, soon there's a bit of dust on my Bible and I find myself shooting up quick prayers of apology that I don't have more time to spend with Him because life is good again and I'm just too busy.

Just like a permanent Christmas tree can be taken home, invited in, and planted in soil to root and grow, I need to remember that because I've asked Him to be there, Jesus is a permanent resident in my heart.  It's always Christmas, because the gift of Him is always there, walking with me day by day.  As He takes hold of my life and I find myself rooted and growing in Him, it becomes clear that there's no other place I'd rather be.

He's found a permanent home in me.

christmas light

Where are the Christmas lights?”
In my pre-dawn just-getting-up haze, I wondered why my sister who lived two hours away was texting me about holiday decorations.
I blinked the blur out of my eyes and looked at my phone again.  This time I was able to read her question.
“Where is the light that is Christmas?”

I knew exactly what she meant.

At this time of the year, when all seems merriment and and caroling and sleighfuls of joy, life still has ample room for grief and loss, sadness and pain.  Death has no calendar of holidays to avoid, and those left behind can find it hard to swing back onto the carousel of festivity that everyone else seems to be riding. 

Decembers can be difficult.

I've asked myself a similar question at times ... "Why is this happening? Where is the good? How can this possibly be Your plan?"

When I was growing up, at this time of year there would appear on the horizon a light far in the distance that we could see from our house.  I remember learning that it was the light on a Christmas star that was put up each year on an old lookout tower quite a few miles away. 

As a young girl I looked for it each December, and when I could gaze out our dining room window and see that little light, I knew the holiday season had arrived. 

For me as a child, it was the light that was Christmas.

Often in those Decembers there were rainy nights, snowy nights, foggy evenings. I'd look to the horizon and search with my eyes only to come up empty.  I couldn't see the light.  I knew it was there, but there were obstacles blocking my view and I just had to be patient and wait until the next night or the night after that when there would be clearer weather and I could see the twinkle of that star's illumination once again.

When I did, it made me smile.

In the December winter of life, be patient.  Jesus, the one true Light that is Christmas, is still there.  He hasn't moved.  He didn't leave.  He isn't going away.

You just need to wait for the weather to clear, and you'll see Him shining brightly once again.

And I bet it'll make you smile.

half a century

I'm 50.  Today. That's according to years. 

I realize there are different ways to say it.

I'm 5 in decades.

I'm half a century if you're going by that time frame.

I don't even want to know what I am in months or days though, thank you very much.

There's that phrase, "It's not the years in your life, but the life in your years that counts."  I can honestly say that is true. 

Someone asked me the other day how I felt about this landmark birthday.  I told her I was thrilled- I will wear it like a badge of honor.  To get to 50 really feels like something. 

Something accomplished. 

Something to be remembered. 

Something to celebrate.

Only God knows how many more birthdays I will have, so until that time....I plan on continuing to put life into my years while I remain close and thankful to Him. 

Now off to live my 51st year.....

Under the Wrapping

It should have been easy.  I had a small package to mail to my daughter but I was missing the right kind of paper to wrap around my makeshift box so that it could actually make the trip. 

I hunted.  I searched.  I cleaned out closets.  I tried cutting a brown shopping bag down to size but it came out too small.  I was getting frustrated.  Such a simple thing- mailing a package.  Such a frustrating roadblock - not having the proper supplies.

I remembered I had some hot pink wrapping paper stashed away.  She loves that color, I said to myself, and got out the roll.  Wow, I thought.  This will catch some attention in the mail room.

The first wrap around the package looked gorgeous, but the paper was so thin I knew it wouldn't hold up.  Thinking maybe a double layer would do the trick, I grabbed the edge to get a larger piece. As I unrolled it, out came the stiff center paper that was the core, the innards, the hot pink's support system.

It was sturdy.  It was thick.  It was brown.

It was exactly what I needed.

I realized the irony of the situation.  Who knew that underneath the bright color that caught my eye was the material I was seeking - what I'd been searching for all along.  I had to get to the end to find it, but when I did, I knew it was the answer.

How often do I wrap my life in the pretty stuff, trying to hold it all together, when actually what I am depending on is too thin to adequately enable my package to make its entire journey ?  If only I'd strip away all the surfac-y material that just looks nice but actually serves no purpose, I would get to my heart, my core, the me God created, and realize that He was there all along and has always been supporting me.

And that's how I want my life wrapped.

giving grace in a turkey moment

"Great things come in the unexpected".
That was a quote I profoundly came up with after a wonderful start to my week where the days were good, fun surprises just kept coming around every corner, and the world was my playground. Ah, what a life. I should have known that days spent floating on the mountaintop meant the valley couldn't be far behind.

Lucky me. One day not long after, I found out that not so great things also come in the unexpected.
This particular November mid-afternoon found me struggling with an issue that I couldn't have possibly seen coming. I was blindsided. Stunned. Incredulous. A "this can't possibly be happening" feeling overwhelmed me. It overwhelmed others very close to me too, and I felt their pain. With one phone call, my day had turned on a dime and my sunny outlook turned grim. Hello, valley.

After working things through with the involved parties at the end of that day, life leveled out a degree or two and I was just starting to regain a slight sense of balance the next morning when the second blow hit. This time it was a daughter in tears on the phone, unable to register for spring semester classes at her college due to lack of a required physical, thereby blocking her online records and her ability to do the urgent task at hand. As I sat in my desk chair at work listening to her, I was completely at a loss as to how to help her from 100 miles away. My head started to pound with this new pressure being set squarely on top of the tension still fresh from yesterday that had barely started to clear. Could this much really be happening in such a short period of time? Seemed so, because “happening” it was.

Whereas dilemma number one's resolution hadn't yet fully materialized, problem number two had God showing up in a big way and fast. At the time of my damsel in distress's phonecall, I had approximately 20 free minutes at school between classes. Still doing accomplishable work tasks while I set up command central on my cell phone, I placed call after call to various sources trying to help her. My husband offered to make as many 100 mile round trips as needed to get her home and back if she needed to see our family doctor. Finally, phone call number three for me was the charm- the health services office at her university assured me that if she placed a call to them, they would waive the restriction and off to registration-land she could go. My panic lessened; solutions were on the horizon. I called her, she called them, and in minutes she had a spring schedule and was on her way to the rest of her day.
And my 20 minute window had just expired.

Fortunately as that day continued it held no more surprises good or bad, which was fine with me. After a quick dinner out, I stopped at the store. i proceeded to get in what appeared to be the shortest checkout line. (If you've ever shopped, you know what's coming next.) The woman in front of me was trying to redeem her grocery store coupon for her free turkey. She had a lovely looking bird there, but as I caught the conversation, I could hear the store employees telling her she had picked too nice a catch. Her choice was definitely a turkey upgrade from what the free coupon allowed for... instead of getting the nice fresh gobbler, I think she was supposed to have chosen the frozen block of meat that resembled a bowling ball.

They tried voiding the purchase. We waited.
They tried voiding the whole order. We waited.
They tried fooling the register into thinking that she really had purchased the right fowl.
We waited some more.
Five minutes passed. A store employee went to get another turkey, and when she reappeared, it sure looked to all of us in line like the same brand of turkey that had just been denied only minutes before.
So, again we waited.

As all good responsible shoppers do, the lady who was trying to buy this bird turned to us line-waiters and got very apologetic.  Sadly for her, the line was getting longer and longer, the employees were running out of options, and the cash register was still locked up. What to do, her eyes pleaded; what to do?
For me, this waiting was not a bad thing. I had been in constant motion and on my feet all day, so to stand still in the same place for five to ten minutes wasn't bothering me one bit. In actuality, it felt great to not complain and just enjoy my extra time between the candy and the magazines. When Mrs. Turkey Buyer turned to me and started bashfully apologizing for how long this was taking and how she was holding things up, I seized the opportunity to spread a little Thanksgiving cheer. I just looked at her and said, "Hey - if this is the worst thing that happens to me all day, then I'm doing pretty good."
She looked relieved.
I continued, "After what I've been through in the past twenty four hours, this is nothing. I don't know about the rest of the line, but I'm in no hurry; I'm fine. Take your time." Her face showed extreme gratitude and appreciation, and inwardly I felt that I had just learned that it's all about perspective. I was tired and looking for a rest; she got the wrong plucked piece of meat and had held up the entire checkout line. Together, we had the perfect storm.

On a different day, if I was late and pressed for time, I might not have reacted quite as gracefully (shame on me). But it didn't happen on another day; it happened to me on a day after a very bad run of life events.  It gave me a new sensitivity; I could sense that Miss Mis-turkey needed a break, and God knew He had taught me enough in the past twenty-four hours to put me in the position to give it to her.
It was then I realized it had been worth going through all I’d gone through in order to be able to give a little grace in a turkey moment.
And I can only hope she would have done the same for me.

the accidental tourist

I took this picture as we were sitting outside the bookstore at the Grand Canyon a few weeks ago.  We had seen two Amish families inside with their children, perusing the items and being tourists just like we were.  I love this picture- the non-straight walk of the little boy as they go off hand in hand into the sunset, just like any other Grand Canyon visitor coming out of the bookstore that afternoon.

Except that they were Amish.

It was very refreshing to me that this time, they were the tourists. 

Where I live in Pennsylvania, I'm used to the tourists going to them. 

Now I know where they go to get away from it all..... 

the gift of getting it all done

I'm breathing a little easier.

I think I finally got it all done.

For now.

October was a wild month- an 8-day missions trip smack dab in the middle of the month surrounded by full time work before and after; an-all day women's workshop event two weeks after our return (with my part having to be cancelled due to the freak East Coast Halloween snowstorm, thank you very much); four college application processes to go through with my high school senior before the end of the month, plus the daily grind of, well, the daily grind.

During the craziness, I would come home from my workday and start right in at my home office and work until I needed to sleep.  Every day had a list - a long one- of things that needed to be tended to, paid, written, applied for, or called about.

I was getting exhausted.

But as of last night, it was all done.  All the catching up, all the running around, all the phonecalls and bills and applications.  And I could look back and say- this free time I have now is truly a gift.  I can appreciate it completely because of the burning-the- candle-at-both-ends kind of schedule I had to keep up these past few weeks.

And I learned that for a season, I can work at an intense pace and still be nice.

Through it all, God gave me grace to handle it.  I ran out of hours before I ran out of patience;  I had everything I needed just when I needed it; I didn't sweat the small stuff or the big stuff, but instead I barged ahead and kept going figuring it would all work out.

It did. God is good.

Time to go enjoy my gift!

getting real

I apply my Maybelline foundation like war paint to hide any flaws or imperfections as I get ready to face the day.   I want people to think that what they see is the real me- very together, with no crow's feet, laugh lines or wrinkles. 

(When you find a foundation that actually pulls off this magic act, let me know).

I walk away from the mirror feeling confident, yet fake, knowing that I'm hiding behind a thick layer of medium beige from a bottle.  Who am I kidding anyway?  I'm almost 50 years old - nobody at 50 years old has perfect skin anymore, unless it's been photo-shopped on.  And it's really ok.  The laugh lines are there, thankfully, because I've laughed.  The freckles probably because I've had a lot of summers to spend time in the sun.  The crows feet because I've lived long enough to have....well..... crow's feet.

And this is all good.

It feels better to be real.

Better than being beige from a bottle.

It's the same with who we are.  We have a hard time being real.  We're scared to tell our story.  We're leary of letting on who we really are.  We're afraid of sharing what we've been through.

But, why?

Where is the unwritten rule that says we have to have it all together to be happy, popular, liked, loved, accepted, adored?

I am much more endeared to a person when they share their story, their struggle, their heart.

Because then I don't feel so alone in what I've gone through.

I've found that encouraging women to be real is one of my passions.  Encouraging them to do so and then listening and supporting them - no matter what they say.  Accepting them no matter what.  Hearing their hurt and thereby hearing their heart.

I love to hear what they have to say and watch them get bolder and stronger for saying it.  The fear goes away.  God uses the hurt.  And hearts get healed.

So throw away that bottle of beige.  Show those wrinkles.  Enjoy your laugh lines.

Be real with yourself, your friends and your God.

You never know who needs to hear your real story in order to deal with their own.

local flavor

We loaded in the van at 3:30 pm yesterday with our guide, Leslie from CHIEF, and she took us on a tour of the mesas where a lot of the traditional Hopi live.  They are simply named First Mesa, Second Mesa, and Third Mesa, in order from east to west.  It's amazing that there are communities up on these high plateaus and the people there count a lot on tourism and selling their wares (pottery, carved wood) to make a little income.  We were not allowed to take pictures on top of the mesa (due to it being traditional sacred ground) but we got some great shots on the way up and down!

They saw us coming (somehow) and three men walked down the hill to try to sell us carvings and drawings.

 And here's the hill -

Even tho we weren't allowed pictures on the top, Leslie knew one family well and asked permission.  Savannah was giggling as I showed her my phone and told her I would take her picture and then let her see it right afterwards.  

We were running out of daylight so it was time to come down and head home for a traditional Hopi meal being prepared for us by Kay.

On the drive home, we caught the moon coming up over the canyon.


away for the week

I'm posting this week over at News from the Mesa.  I am living on a Hopi Indian reservation with 7 others from our church, and the two of us women along for the ride are responsible for supporting the working men by providing meals, helping out where we can, documenting the trip through photography and keeping in touch with folks back home via the blog.

Of course, I have my own ways of communicating with back home...

 if is stand in just the right spot and don't move so as to keep my cell service!  It's hard to break those mom ties completely, even for a week.

I'm getting to do things I love to do...

in amazing surroundings worlds different from where I live.

So, check out News from the Mesa and we'll see you there!

out of town

Blogging with photos this week over at

Having a wonderful time in Keams Canyon, Arizona!

Stop over to the other blog and check it out - see you there!


On Saturday, I'm headed to Keam's Canyon, AZ for a week-long mission trip with the Hopi Indians.

So, among other things I'm doing to prepare, I'm....


It's always a stressful dilemma for me.

One of this and two of that.

A bunch of these and oh yes, some of those.

Did I get it all?  Will I have enough?

What if it's hot during the day? What if it's chilly at night?

Am I prepared?

Whoa.  Slow down. Wait a minute.

Am I prepared....that's a really good question.

The answer isn't in the luggage.

Or in my carry on.

Or in my laptop case.

It's in my heart.

Am I asking God to go before me on this trip and prepare the hearts of the people we will be ministering to and serving?

Am I praying for the team that I'm a part of?

Am I spending time in His word getting to know Him better in here before I go out there?

Good questions.  Tough answers.

For now I'm done packing my suitcase.

I need to work on packing my heart.

westward bound

This Saturday I will be heading out to Arizona to spend 7 days on a Hopi Indian reservation.  I am part of the team that Davisville Church is sending out to cooperate with CHIEF missionaries in the area.  There are 6 men on the team who will be doing repairs to the Hopi church and some other community buildings.  My friend Jo and I will be responsible for providing meals for the men, documenting the trip through blogging and photography, and possibly leading a women's bible study there one night.  We will also be supporting the work and construction in any way possible - even if it's just hauling the trash!

It will be quite an adventure; for starters I know there are currently no available showers (until our guys put them in - we made sure that was their first project), we cannot drink or cook with the water as it is laced with arsenic, and our nearest large store will be over 3 hours away making it impractical to do any "runs" to such a store during our week there.  We will land in Phoenix, pass through Flagstaff, and in doing so pick up all supplies, food and items we will need for our next 7 days on the reservation.

Did I say challenge??

At home is my comfy bed.  Awaiting me there is an air mattress and sleeping bag.

At home is my familiar routine.  There, I will need to be flexible to do whatever I need to do whenever I need to do it. 

At home is a closet full of clothes and a fridge full of food - there I will hope and pray I packed the clothing and will most likely make daily trips to the small local food mart to get what we need for that day.


This is what "out of my comfort zone" looks like.

But this also excites and encourages me that I can do more than I think I can.

God goes before the whole team, and it should prove to be an amazing time.  If you like, you can follow us here -

We would ask for your prayers as we go forth in this God-sized task!!

Plant life

I have this plant.

I can't remember the name of it, but it was gorgeous when I got it.

I nurtured and cared for it, watered it, gave it food and light.

One day it started to look saggy.  It must need more water, I thought.

I watered.  It looked worse.

Aha! It needs transplanting, I thought. 

I went to A.C. Moore and got an adorable oversized teacup planter.

I repotted my plant in it, watered and waited.


It still didn't look good.

Life got busy, and I forgot about my wilting flora.

By the time I remembered to water the now-dry soil, my whole plant looked better. Perkier.  But that would be crazy backwards, I thought. 

So I watered it more.

The next time it got bone dry, I noticed the same thing. A happy plant awaited me. Right before I gave it some water.

Finally something told me that enough was enough.  I decided I would wait it out and see if my theory of dry soil restoration would prove to be true.  I resisted the temptation to dump on it from the watering can as I quenched the obvious thirst of the plants around it.  I forced myself to walk away.

When I could stand it no longer, I got in close to inspect how my experiment was going.  There in the crumbling, dusty, hard-as-rock soil were large shoots of new growth, fresh leaves, and buds ready to bloom.  The existing foliage was looking greener than ever, and instead of draping lazily over the edge of the teacup, the flowers from before were starting to spring to life and head towards the sky again.

The parched soil was enabling life and growth to flourish.

How often we are there.  Life can be dry sometimes.  We think we are spinning our wheels, just waiting to be watered again, but oh my, what's happening in us and in our hearts during the dry spells.  That's often when we learn the most and the best about God and how awesome He is.

The water will come. 

Growth can happen in the hard rocky soil of our lives and our days.

And we flourish.

cat nap

Flooding or no....

a rainy day is always a good day....

for a nap.

Be safe and enjoy!

golden trust

My poor Lucy.  She had chewed the fur off a spot in her leg and now bare skin was exposed. I sensed there were going to be physical consequences if left unattended, so our vet gave me an alcohol spray to spritz on the area twice daily. 

The first night I sat on the floor and called her over, spray in hand.  When she sat beside me, I aimed the medicine at the bare spot and squeezed the trigger.  As it hit her skin, she jumped and pulled in closer to me.  Knowing I didn't get enough on, I sprayed it again, and this time the pain was so great that she pressed into me hard enough to knock me off balance. 

And if she hadn't knocked me off balance, the sheer irony of the situation would have.

You see, I was the one currently responsible for causing her pain.

But because of our relationship, she knew she could trust me and sought to find comfort in me.

It blew me away.  Instead of running from me, she sought my protection.  Instead of lashing out, she drew closer.  Instead of blaming me, she wanted my love.

I thought about what I do when I sense that God is allowing some pain to pass through His hands and into my life.  I realize that I

run the other way,

     let Him know that this is not part of my plan,

            usually have a hard time cozying up to Him because I now feel life is unfair; this should not be happening to me.

I don't usually body slam into Him for comfort, love and protection. 

But according to my dog, that's exactly what I'm supposed to do.  

And once I'm there close to His side, God will do for me exactly what I did for Lucy that night - put His arms around me, tell me He's so sorry but this present pain is indeed necessary, and stick right beside me until the hurt starts to diminish.

And show me that a healed wound is better than an open one.

Shadow Mover

   I sat in the chair, my heart heavy with concern over relationships that needed mending and hearts that needed healing.  I was praying but I felt as if my words were only audible to my ears.

  I’m not usually in the habit of testing God, but that day I let my Bible fall open to wherever it wanted and asked God to show me something that would give me hope, that would give me truth to cling to.  For the first time, I read this passage in 2 Kings 20 -

   Isaiah answered, “This is the Lord’s sign to you that the Lord will do what he has promised: Shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or shall it go back ten steps?”
  “It is a simple matter for the shadow to go forward ten steps,” said Hezekiah. “Rather, have it go back ten steps.”   Then the prophet Isaiah called on the Lord, and the Lord made the shadow go back the ten steps it had gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.

  A shadow going backwards? What a miracle that would be; like something right out of Tales from the Supernatural.   It was the opposite of what should have naturally happened. 

 We all know it’s easy for the shadow to go forward.  Piece of cake.  Normal everyday occurrence.  And to be honest, that’s how I’d prefer all my problems to be solved.  I’d like my difficulties to work out in the midst of ordinary, daily activity that doesn’t take me out of my way or make me late.  I’d rather not have to do anything special on my part in order to see God work or move.  I just want to live my life and assume that He’ll show up, fix everything and on we go.

It’s simpler that way (for me).

But for a shadow to go backwards?

That takes patience and effort.

That means I’ll have to stop what I’m doing and look specifically for God.

And that was exactly what I needed to do.  

I asked God to be my shadow mover that day.   I had no idea at the time what that was going to look like or what I even meant when I said it.  But since I’d already tested God a little and hadn’t been struck by lightning (yet), I figured I should keep driving right through that open door and ask Him for just a wee bit more while I had His attention.

I’m glad I did because He showed up big time.  Not only did He move the shadow, but He knocked down walls and healed hearts along the way.  It was like a 3-for-1 sale in the miracle aisle.

I learned that day that God is my shadow mover.  He doesn’t ask me to do the extraordinary, only to look for it and give Him the credit. 

Simple enough, even for me.

Photo Credit

Guest blogging on (in)courage today!

As I busily scribbled thoughts in my journal one especially difficult morning, the more I wrote the more I thought, "This is the stuff of a blog post".  It was one of those wonderful it-all-came-together times where sentences and ideas flowed as I joined all those thoughts together and created what I sent off to (in)courage for submission.

It's my great joy to see it on their website today, and I'd be thrilled if you'd stop by!  See you there!

Joy, joy, joy!


Wonderful news!

On Friday, September 2nd, my post will be featured on (in)courage.  I'd be pleased as punch if you take a minute to stop by!

If you've never been to (in)courage, well, you just don't know what you're missing.  It's the online beach house for women, the pull-up-a-chair-and-let's-chat cyber getaway where we gals can meet and connect and share. As they put it, it's home for the hearts of women.  I couldn't agree more.

See you there and.....don't forget to bring the chocolate!

beginning of the end

As the new school year starts, a lot of us moms are lamenting how fast time passes.  I'll join right in with my rant since tomorrow my youngest becomes a senior in high school.  (I have no idea how this has happened, being as I'm still 29). 

This should not be - just last week I was sending him off to first grade, terrified he wouldn't be able to navigate the hallways by himself and praying he'd eat his lunch.  Today he navigates roadways as the driver of a car and is currently at China Buffet paying for his own dinner.  My, my, my.

One day they depend on us, the next day not so much.  And there we stand, mothers without a children's world anymore.  Moms with no need for back to school lists and lunchboxes.  Momma bears that have more free time on their hands than ever and are looking around for something to do.

It's all the way it's supposed to be, and I get that.  And if you've been here before and read what I've had to say, you can see this is a (slightly) recurring theme with me.

Because it blows me away.

Because time moves so fast.

Because I so love being a mom.

It's time for me to shift a bit.  Handle a little emptiness, listen to a little quiet.  I can do it.  I'd rather not....but I can.  Now to see what God's going to do next....

Keeping track

I walked.  She ran.

I had on baggy summer clearance items from Kmart.  She looked stylish in her spandex leggings and tank top with sparkle trim.

I was squinting in the sun, while she wore large square Foster Grants that completed her outfit.

I felt less than trim and fit; she had my dream figure already but was still working out.


We all do it (especially us women), and it's deadly and dangerous. 

If I had allowed myself to dwell on the differences between this gal who I shared the track with and myself, I would have felt defeated within moments.  The more I looked at her, the more I felt inadequate.  And that simply isn't the truth.

I don't know this woman or her circumstances.  She may be out running because she has to battle the depression she faces over losing her job.  She might be killing time because she can't deal with another evening alone in an empty house where there used to be family.   Or, she might be like me and just simply getting some exercise before heading to the store to buy groceries.

Fortunately, age and experience has taught me to not play the comparison game.  I'm better than I used to be at silencing those contrasting thoughts and realizing that I'm summing someone up by appearances only.  As a child of God, I know that my acceptance and worth is wrapped up in being His child, and I need look no further than up to know that I am wholly and fully loved.  Just as I am.

And that frees my soul to keep walking.

21 today

21 years ago today I was getting ready to be driven to the hospital to have a baby, that girl drove herself out of here to return to her apartment at college.

I'm not sure how this is humanly possible. 

Her old bedroom (which used to be my old bedroom) is now my office;  I can decorate and accessorize it to my heart's content. 

Yet there are many days I wish it were still filled with curling irons, styling spray, contact lens cases and various bottles of perfume.

She's loud and occasionally obnoxious and a bit bossy.....

But I miss hearing her sing to her stereo and yell out my name a hundred times a day.

I always tell my children I didn't have them so that they could grow up and leave me, but....

they do anyway.

And amazingly, that's the way it's supposed to be.

Just takes a little getting used to.

guest blogging today

Exciting news!

I have the honor of being the guest poster today at Melinda Todd's "Trailing After God" blog.  Here's the link -

Stop on over and I'll see you there!

don't tweeze and drive

I'll admit it.  Sometimes when I'm driving, if I glance in the rear view mirror and see a stray piece of eyebrow that needs to come out, I'll reach for my tweezers in my purse and start plucking.  It only takes a moment for me to shimmy myself up in my driver's seat and get as close to the mirror as I can and, with one eye on the road and the other definitely somewhere else, take care of those stray hairs that are ruining my look.

I always see it as getting two things done at once....driving and beautifying.

Works for me.

But I'm sure it's putting others at risk.

Which brings me to the word "multitask". 

Wouldn't it be great if either: a) my life were simple and uncluttered enough that I never had to do more than one thing at once or b) I had so much time in my day that I never had to double or triple up on tasks- I could do and focus on one at a time.

Are we better because we can and do multitask?  Or are we worse off because instead of giving one project (yes, tweezing is a project to me) 100% of our attention at one time we give two or more 50% or less?

I'm not sure there's a definitive answer, or will ever be one.  And the answer may change depending upon the situation we find ourselves in.

But I know for sure that when I tweeze and drive, there's no way I can pay full attention to either task.  This is surely a no-no for my face and for traffic.

I need to remember what's important.  What needs my full attention.  In the age of needing/wanting/trying to do many things at once, I'm still not sure that's how God designed any of us to be. 

What say you?

motherly advice

Since our youngest got his driver's license a month ago, now we have three children who all drive and have their own car.

We have 5 cars that need space in our driveway.

Someone's gotta park on the grass.

This wasn't a problem when I got my license back in 19(you fill in the blank).  My mom had a car and my dad had a car.  Simple.  And for me that meant that if I ever wanted to actually take advantage of my license, I needed to borrow a vehicle from someone.   Usually that someone wasn't Dad because he had to go to work all day.

Default loaner car = Mom's big green station wagon.

Yay me.

Since my mother didn't work outside our home, it generally wasn't a problem to get the car for an hour or a day.  The problem was that I didn't have much income, and the station wagon's gas tank took a fair amount of income to keep it filled even back in those days.  I did the best I could to help out on my meager summer-job salary, but I can remember being in a quandry one night over needing to give the wagon some juice because I wanted to go out with my friends, but not having any cash on hand.

My mother in her wisdom said to me,

"Maybe you'll have to tell your friends you can't go because you don't have enough money to put gas in the car."

Oh. My. Gosh.  The truth was out.  My mother really was from another planet.

I can't remember what happened that evening, but I'm sure I begged, borrowed or stole so that I could drive away with my head held high because there was no way a statement like that was coming out of my mouth.

Somehow my kids keep their cars running, gassed up, and on the road. I don't ask; they don't tell.  But if they ever need my advice, I've got some ready to give.

Thanks, Mom.

best and worst of friends

Lucy is trying to be good.

She's doing her darndest to be the best Golden Retriever ever.

But she's being taken down by a 10 pound cat.

It all started on Mother's Day when I got the gift of my not-so-distant-past dreams, a homeless cat from the SPCA that I had seen the week before.  As our family took turns renaming the kitty to make her our very own (they all thought "Lady" was a dumb name), I gazed at her black and white fur and said, "Moo.  She looks like a cow and we'll call her Moo." 

My kids were glad it was time for dessert so that they could have a reason to leave the room.

My cat/my name, I told them.  And Moo it is.

Lucy had been top dog here, literally, in the pet department.  Ever since Tiger died last August (another creatively named feline as you can tell), she'd been the only animal attraction on the property.  She got all the love, the hugs, the kisses, the bones and most of the water. 

Until Moo moved in.

That cat can hiss.  She can arch her back like the steel in St. Louis and spew enough venom across the room to kill us all.  And to see our 75-pound furry fourth child cower in fear, not wanting to come out of her crate in the morning because prima donna fuzzball is eating her Fancy Feast nearby, just saddens my heart.  And also makes me laugh.

Over the weeks we've watched their proximity grow.  Instead of living on separate floors, they now both live comfortably upstairs, preferably at least nine feet apart.  When Moo saunters in, Lucy watches her with a closely trained eye to see where she's going to nap next.  And I've caught Lucy sniffing out the house to see where Miss Kitty has gone so that she can curl up on the floor somewhere underneath the cat's current perch of a windowsill or easy chair.

Lucy means no harm.  And Moo means no kindness.

Maybe one day, they'll be friends.

You just never know.

happy birthday to him

He sits in his room shooting hoops, except the basketball is an item of clothing from his clean laundry pile and the basket is the top shelf of his closet.  With a throw that resembles magic in motion, he lands each piece precisely where he wants it without ever leaving the comfort of his desk chair.  This chair swivels as well so as I watch him from the doorway, I inquire, "Is that how you put your laundry away?" He refrains from gracefully arc-ing yet another tshirt in the air and seamlessly turns to me saying, "Yep".

Seventeen years old tomorrow this Michael Jordan of the laundry will be.  I reminisce back to 17 years ago today- I was waddling, hot, waiting, ready.  I was about to have child #3 and then we would be done.  But with children numbers 1 and 2 already having taken over the house, I knew the longer this one stayed unborn the easier my life would be, even if I was more uncomfortable than a whale out of water .

The next day the doctors decided that 2.5 weeks was a little too overdue and that this baby was going to be meeting his parents in just a few hours.  As I walked in my lovely gown into a sterile environment, I looked over at the waiting warming tray that was about 21 inches long and knew that although I felt fine at the moment, soon I would be plunged into the laborious kingdom and would have to follow through until child #3 joined us in the room as a participant in this whole adventure.

I was ready to run.

The story has a happy ending as Spencer came into the world just before lunchtime on July 6, 1994, which was a very good thing as I was mighty hungry that day.  And when child #3 goes home from the hospital he just naturally blends in with #1 and #2 and before you know it, he's driving his own car and shooting his own hoops of clean clothes.

And his mother is standing at the doorway just taking it all in with a smile.

Happy Birthday to my youngest!

Grounds for....

...sculpture, fortunately.

An interesting place with interesting art in Hamilton, NJ.

A very cool place on a humid afternoon!

a father's day evening

A quiet night spent at the wildflower preserve.  Hope it was a good Sunday/Father's Day for all!