Monday, May 30, 2011

Photo of the Week 5-30-11

Here come the sunflowers! Or as I like to call them-- happiness on a stem. Can't wait!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Love of Ty

Yesterday my sister Jody and her family drove away from Texas in a loaded UHaul truck. They are moving to Vermont. For me, this is some of the most amazing news ever. But of course, there are many people they are leaving behind who don't love this news as much as I do. Among them are my Mom and Dad, who love and adore their grandchildren better than anyone I know. Jody and Jon are moving 3 of their grandchildren about 2000 miles away from them. This is hard for them. My parents are some of the most supportive people in the world, and they are happy for my family and for Jody's family for so many reasons. It has always been the desire of mine and Jody's hearts to raise our families together. My parents know this. And it makes them happy. BUT that doesn't mean their absence won't hurt. A LOT.

And so there were tears. Of course. Lots of tears. And as Jody and her family were driving away, my nephew Ty from his pure and precious little 6-year-old heart said, "Mom, Grandmom's tears make my tears happen automatically."

WOW. That's just love, y'all. No pretense. No manipulation. No drama. Just a little boy who loves his Grandmom so much that when she hurts, he does too.

I wonder how many of us do this as often as we should. If we don't, I'm thinking maybe we don't love like we should. Just a thought.

Happy Birthday, Macy!

I first fell in love with this sweet thing over 10 years ago before she was even born, and she has made every single day of my life better since then.

We didn't have a digital camera until she was 3 or 4, and I haven't converted all of my old photos yet, so these don't go ALL the way back, but here are some oldies of that sweet face.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I'm wondering what is the first thought that comes to mind when someone reads that word. Used. Certainly it can be a loaded little word sometimes. There are all sorts of negative implications related to human relationships. Employers using employees for skills they don't have themselves and then not compensating fairly. "Friends" using each other for a whole array of reasons. Men using women for sex and women using men for money (or vice versa). The list could go on and on, and in those instances it is certainly a negative little word. But that is a discussion for a different day.

For the purpose of this post, what I am referring to is the way it relates to material and physical things. Used cars. Second-hand furniture, etc. I'm guessing most people don't necessarily mind *some* used things, but I would also guess that if money were no object, most everyone would prefer new to used. For most of us, buying things used is just a way to save money, I think. So again "used" is not the preference here. Not a terribly negative word in this sense. Just not the first choice.

As a lover of all things old and used and passed down, etc. , that second part is really interesting to me. Especially when I begin to consider the ongoing implications. By that I mean the desire to not only buy new things, but to keep everything looking as if it is brand new.

Why? I mean, I understand being clean and taking care of things so that they last, etc. I get that. That makes sense to me. But what doesn't make as much sense to me is the desire to have things appear as though they are always perfect and never used. A house that looks like a museum. A vehicle that looks like a showroom piece. Or even a face that looks like a molded plastic doll. What does the appearance of "new" accomplish in these examples? Does it make your family, guests and children fear to touch anything in your home? Does it make you so uptight you can't even smile when your kids pile into the car because you're so concerned they might get a speck of dirt somewhere it shouldn't be in the process? Does it make you miss out on all sorts of fun adventures because you avoid any situation that might cause your hair or make-up to get messed up? Seems pretty backwards to me.

I submit that we work to change the connotation of this little 4-letter word as it relates to material and physical things. Let's make it so that when someone walks into our house or climbs into our car, they feel immediately comfortable because they can tell that time and again, this place is "used". Not that it's dirty or cluttered--don't misunderstand. Just that there are signs of life. People spend time here. Lots of people. And when they do, they're comfortable and happy.

And not only that, but let's also be proud of our "used" bodies. Scars, stretch marks, laugh lines, whatever. Don't these represent experiences, most of which you would hopefully never trade? Would you give back your children to erase a few stretch marks? Would you eliminate every memory of laughing yourself to tears to get rid of a few laugh lines? I sure hope not. And even the scars. Maybe a few of those memories would be better forgotten. I don't know. But then again, could they serve as reminders of God's protection and healing in your life?

Let's not waste our energy preserving things that don't matter. Let's treat life as the adventure it is and "use" all the things surrounding us to make the adventure that much more enjoyable. And if everyone can tell how used all of your things are, maybe that just means you're having the most fun. Don't you want to at least make 'em wonder? ;-)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Good List 5-25-11

10. Freshly painted toenails. Especially when they're blue, green, or purple.
9. So You Think You Can Dance is back! Starting tomorrow!
8. Charles Barkley. The boy ain't right, but he makes me laugh.
7. This giant naked tree (it's so much bigger than it looks in this picture). Sadly, I'm pretty sure its nakedness means it's dead, but even so, I find it quite grand and stunning.
6. Playoff basketball. It's still not football, but a few of those games could have used pads and helmets for sure. ;-)
5. Llamas. They're so weird and awesome.
4. The approximately 1 billion and 72 earthworms I've become acquainted with over the last couple weeks, because I'm told this means we have good soil. YAY!
3. The train ticket to New York I just booked to go spend a few days with my Mom, my sister, and my niece (and also my sister's mother-in-law, who is just as sweet as can be). SO looking forward to our time together, and I *might* be almost as excited about the train ride as the other parts of the trip. Something different, ya know? ;-)
2. Friday nights like last week. Hanging with the best kind of friends. You know, the relax, be yourself and get comfortable kind. (We love you, Carrs and Miserocchis!) We shared a joint effort yummy dinner, played games, talked and laughed until our sides hurt. Good times. Good times.
1. Watching people come back to life. Not literally, of course. I just don't know any other way to describe it, but I can assure you it is an extraordinary experience.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Buy some Pretty Stuff, Send a Missioner to Uganda

This is Emma. She is awesome.

Emma goes to our church and we are very proud of her, because she was recently selected to join a Samaritan's Purse/Operation Christmas Child "SPY" team on a mission trip to Uganda this summer.

In Uganda, Emma's team will conduct six Operation Christmas Child shoebox distributions throughout the country. They will also work with the Samaritan's Purse project office on two projects:

Livestock Programs
After families are given an animal, they are required to reimburse Samaritan’s Purse with the animal’s offspring, allowing us to distribute animals to new beneficiaries. All families receive basic training in improved livestock production.

Household Water Program
Poor access to safe drinking water and a limited knowledge of hygiene and sanitation can negatively impact health. Bio-sand filters, shallow well protection, and rainwater harvesting used in conjunction with education and training has improved the quality of life in many villages in the Kamwenge district.

Emma needs to raise around $4,000 for this trip. Our church is paying the bulk of this expense, but due to some recent medical expenses, Emma's family is in need of help raising the remainder of the money needed. So she's fundraising. And this is where you and I come in. I want to help her raise money by giving you the opportunity to help her receive money. :-)

If you'd like to contribute to Emma's trip to Uganda, you can do so in many ways.

You can purchase something pretty from my zazzle store. 100% of my royalties from these items will be donated to Emma until she is on her way to Uganda. Just click on the sidebar to the right to shop.

OR you can
make a donation of any size via PayPal using our church's email address: MSCChurch AT gmail DOT com
Please indicate in the note portion "For Emma."

OR if you'd prefer to snail mail a check, you can send it to the following address:

Middletown Springs Community Church
PO Box 1187
Middletown Springs, VT 05757
(please write in the Memo field "For Emma")

All contributions to Middletown Springs Community Church are tax deductible.

Thank you for helping us help Emma and therefore helping children and families in Uganda by bringing hope for a healthier life but even more importantly the hope of Jesus.

Prayer Time 5-24-11

So far today my prayer list has more praises than pleases on it. I admit with conviction that this is highly unusual. If I had better perspective, it would always be that way, but I tend to focus on the "Lord, would you please?" more than the "Oh, Thank You, Jesus!" when it's prayer time. I don't know why. Maybe I should pray about that. ;-)

What else would you like me to pray about today? Let me know in the comments field if you're so inclined. And as always, comments on this post will not be published publicly for the sake of those concerned with privacy.

May Jesus hug you tight today.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I'm Pretty Sure. . . .

. . . this is the best thing you will see on the internet today. Awesome.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Don't Even Play


Check out this boulder I dug up out of what will soon be my flower garden.

And if you're not impressed yet, let me assure you, it is much heavier than it looks. Especially when it is buried deep in the cold, cold ground. At one point, I was upside down with pretty much my entire torso in the hole with the rock trying to pull it out of there. I'm sure this was quite a sight for passers by to behold. ;-)

But I won. I ain't scared o' no rock. You may now refer to me as Wonder Woman, Super Girl, or She Who Will Not Be Taunted by Deeply Buried Rock. Yes, it was that heavy and hard to dig out. :-D

And now I must find a place to use it as an ornamental reminder of my adventure today.

There is another one in what will eventually be my vegetable garden. It better be scared, 'cause I don't even play, y'all.

Oh, and don't miss the big fat earth worm Gracie was very proud of. That's the biggest one she found today. Gotta love digging in the dirt.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Good List 5-18-11

10. Finding new ways to help my family enjoy fish. Last night I served panko-parmesan tilapia, and they all loved it!
9. These. Awesome.

8. The words "Thanks, Mom!" So simple, but it makes me smile really big every time I hear this.
7. Paul Simon's new. . . . . I don't know. What are we calling it these days? Album? CD? Download? How 'bout for this one we just go with Collection of Brilliance in Musical Form? It is just that. :-D
6. Serving breakfast for dinner. I can't really explain why, but for some reason it always makes me feel all warm and cozy inside. (And yes, for the record, I am already aware that I am a weirdo. Just roll your eyes and move on, k? Thanks.)
5. My very own strawberry patch that I planted yesterday afternoon and that I am positively giddy about.
4. The amazing and fabulous Diane Lowell, who took the concept of "helping me with my yard" to a whole new level of awesome. She dug up shrubs and plants (and even a tree!) from her yard, brought them over to my house to help me plant them, and even tilled up two nice big beds for me so I can get even more loveliness into the ground soon. Also, the plants for the strawberry patch came from her. (I TOLD you she was fabulous!)
3. Jody and Jon have a place to live!!! And the entire scenario is nothing short of miraculous. It's a loooooong story, so you'll just have to trust me. :-D God is so good, and I'm so grateful for people like Margaret (Jon and Jody's new landlord) who so graciously share his love.
2. These sweet faces. You wish you were close enough to smooch their cheeks, don't you? ;-)

1. Realizing how silly it is that I continue to be surprised when God does something amazing in my life. He has done it so many times, I should be used to it by now. I'm so unworthy. But so very grateful.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Prayer Time 5-17-11

Ladies Bible Study this morning. Viewing a house for my sister right after. And then coming home to plant pretty and healthy things in the ground (namely flowers, strawberries and tomatoes.) Seems like the perfect time to chat with God. Let me know if there is anything you'd like me to talk to him about on your behalf.

And as always, comments on this post will not be published publicly for the sake of privacy.

Blessings in the Gospel today.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Photo of the Week 5-16-11

Sweet little chickadee we encountered on the Appalachian Trail last week.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An Open Letter to Whom it May Concern

The Ladies Bible Study group I'm a part of is just finishing Beth Moore's To Live is Christ study. Next week we'll watch the very last DVD session from Beth, and then we plan to watch the Visual Bible Acts DVDs as sort of a final summary of some of what we've been studying. I have enjoyed this study tremendously for so many reasons.

I mean, that Paul is something, isn't he?

Passionate, fiery, stubborn, steadfast, loyal, unwavering, unapologetic, uncompromising, and incapable of sugar-coating, he might also be the most loving character in all of scripture short of Christ himself. Which seems like a weird thought since his words many times come across as not loving at all; certainly not "sweet". But I say this because I believe whole-heartedly that it is his very love of Christ, his love of the gospel and his love of people and desire for them to know the gospel that fueled all of those other characteristics in him. He loved. Therefore, he couldn't bear the thought of a world without the gospel. And therefore, he let people know in no uncertain terms what might become of them without the gospel. It was his sole purpose for living.

Rich gospel teaching and challenging life lessons permeated the entire study, and I am left with an endless well of truth to reflect on and dig deeper into in the coming weeks as I continue to process all that we learned. What a treasure!

In the meantime, one of the things that has been fixed in my mind for several days now is this idea of writing letters for the sake of the gospel. I mean, that's exactly what Paul did for much of his life. When he wasn't traveling or physically present with people ministering to them in person, he was writing letters either to remind them of what he had already taught them, to prepare them for what he was coming to teach them, or simply to teach them through his written words if he couldn't be physically present with them. Letters. To the Corinthians. To the Galatians. To the Ephesians. To the Colossians. To Timothy. To Titus. To Philemon. And so forth. You get the picture.

And as I think of all those letters, my mind is fixed on this-- What would I write? If I had one chance via letter to capture the attention of a group of people and offer them the single most important message I could think of, what would it be? Hmmmm. . . .

Well, I've come to the conclusion that there's a reason Paul was Paul and I am not. :-D Nevertheless, I feel the need to work this out and see what I come up with. My hope is that each time I try this again in the future, the letter will reflect a deeper maturity in the gospel, a richer love for my Jesus, and a greater passion for drawing people to him. But for now, this is what I got--

Dear friends and fellow seekers of the Gospel--

I am writing with hope that this letter finds you chasing after Christ with your whole hearts. I am learning daily that this is truly the only way to live abundantly. So many distractions tempt and taunt me away from that focus regularly, but the satisfaction they bring is so shallow and so brief, it never even remotely compares to the deep fulfillment I find in Christ. He is everything. Absolutely everything.

Life throws challenges at me every single day, some easily manageable and others not so much. I'm sure you face this reality as well. But I'm learning that none of it is ever a surprise to our Almighty God. Not only is he fully aware of all that I am facing, he is in fact fully in control of it. All of it. This brings me so much comfort and freedom. The less I try to control my life, the more I find rest and peace and joy and contentment in fellowship with Christ. This is a difficult lesson, especially for "planners" like me. Sometimes it's so hard to let go. It's even more difficult to understand where to draw the line between just not doing anything and trying to do it all. Where is that line? How do you know when to work and when to sit still?

I think this is something you understand better through a daily walk and a daily dialog with Christ. It's all about communication. If you need guidance, ask for it. Talk to your Father. He delights in your voice. And in the meantime, go ahead and make smart decisions. God gave you a mind for a reason. If they are not sinful and do not conflict with scripture, go ahead and pursue your plans. HOWEVER, ALWAYS hold them loosely with an open hand so that the Lord might reach in and add, remove or rearrange whatever he chooses. And when he does, don't behave as though he has inconvenienced or punished you in some way. Be grateful for his intervention. His plans are better than yours. I promise.

Learn to realize that anything that captures more of your heart than Christ is an idol. Christ and Christ alone should be foremost in your heart. This doesn't mean that you can't enjoy other things. By all means-- eat, drink and be merry. Kiss your spouse and hug your children. Delight in the sound of a baby laughing and the smell of warm chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven. Be overwhelmed by the sight of a sunset in the mountains. These are all gifts from God, but give them their due attention and move on. Don't worship them. Nothing should hold more of your devotion than Jesus. Nothing. Even seemingly "good" things like studying scripture and serving at your church. These things are good and necessary, but even these are not more important than your ongoing love for and fellowship with Christ. Make him the treasure of your life. I can assure you there is nothing more valuable in all the world, and what is so special is that you'll find that the more you treasure him, the healthier your perspective will become toward your potential idols. You will learn to love them appropriately rather than depend on them for your happiness. You'll enjoy your spouse rather than wondering why he or she can't read your mind and fulfill your needs perfectly. You'll delight in your children rather than feeling burdened by all that they need from you but rarely have the ability to give back. You'll see your talents and gifts as something to be shared rather than something to use for personal gain and attention. The list goes on and on.

This is not to say that life will be an easy and effortless float through the clouds. It won't. God himself promises through scripture that this world will bring trouble, but he also promises never to leave or forsake us. This is key. A much smarter person than me (who I happen to be gratefully married to) once wrote, "Brokenness will find you. Be holding hands with Christ when it does." Oh, how I love that phrase! This is the answer to everything, isn't it? Life is hard. But God is good. Life will break your heart. But Christ will heal it. Life will burden you. But Christ will free you. So walk with him, talk with him, learn to hear his voice, find fellowship with him in any and every way you can. And once you have found him, you will know and believe that He is bigger, stronger, more gloriously satisfying and more breathtakingly real than anything this fallen world has to offer. Cling to him with all that you have. He will prove himself worthy of your devotion over and over again.

May you find blessings in the gospel and hope and healing in his embrace today and always,


The Good List 5-11-11

10. The not quite Boston Creme Pie I made last week that has about 1/10 the calories of the real stuff but about 99.9% of the taste. Super simple. Super light. Super yummy.
9. The sweet little starling eggs we found in our grill. (Special thanks to Nana for the bird identification. I assumed these were robins, but I now think they must be starlings.) Grilling has been temporarily postponed. ;-)

8. The pavers in our front yard that Macy and Grace like to paint with tempera paint. That way, every time it rains, their canvas is washed clean and they get to start all over again. :-D
7. The King's Speech. One of the best movies I've seen in awhile. Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush are both excellent.
6. Japanese music. It's so gentle and calming.
5. The papier-mache mask Macy made for me in art class. Impressive!

4. Springtime in Vermont. Exquisite.
3. Picnic lunches with special friends.
2. Being almost a landlord!!! Ok, so to be clear, it's not so much that I necessarily wanted to be a landlord, but to have rent coming in on the house in Nashville will definitely be a huge help. Paperwork is finalized and tenants are scheduled to move in Saturday. YAY!
1. When Macy sings.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Good List 5-4-11

10. Shorthand software. I've been doing some transcription work, and I can't begin to quantify how many hours of my life this program has given back to me. Good stuff.
9. My new favorite after workout meal: a banana/pineapple smoothie and grilled chicken breast.
8. Amy Adams in Enchanted. In that role, it's entirely possible she's the most adorable adult human individual of all time.
7. Macy and Grace's BRIGHT new shoes. Just one more way they color my world. (Thanks, Nana and Papa!)

6. Wind chimes. And WOW have mine been getting a workout lately! There's some crazy wind in them there mountains!
5. My kids cheer when I make asparagus almost as much as they do when I make dessert. Awesome.
4. Date night with my baby last Wednesday to go see Brian Regan at the fabulous Paramount Theatre in downtown Rutland, VT. I don't know why he would come to such a small venue when he could pack a house 10 times that size, but I'm so glad he did. What a fantastic show!
3. Always having childcare options because we have such awesome friends. Special thanks to Jeff and Anne Miserocchi for hanging out with the munchkins last Wednesday during the Brian Regan show, to Kim and Dale Carr for entertaining (and feeding) them Saturday so we could attend Forge, to Connie Eaton for taking them to lunch, the Loyalty Day Parade and then dinner at her brother's house on Sunday, and to the Krohns for having Macy over for a sleepover last Friday. WHEW! It's been a busy week in the funnest way possible! :-D
2. Finding these kinds of pictures hanging all over the place. A house with that kind of wallpaper significantly reduces opportunities for "bad days."

1. Hebrews 1:1-4. This is exquisite.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Prayer Time 5-3-11

There is a concert of bird voices serenading me at the moment. That's never a bad way to start the day. I'm off to Bible study and then home to pray to this lovely background noise.

If you have any requests you'd like me to remember on your behalf today, please list them in the comments section. These will not be published publicly for those concerned with privacy.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Photo of the Week 5-2-11

My sweet nephew Jack. I love everything about this picture, even the hint of his "big cousins" over his shoulder. He couldn't quite keep up. ;-)