Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Grandma's Day

Yesterday was a red letter day for me.  It was my first all-day babysitting gig for my granddaughter, Ella.  I'd like to pretend that it was due to my great skill that she didn't cry or fuss at all. But the truth is, I was probably just lucky...because she didn't cry or fuss at all!

I'd also like to say that when I got home, I was ready to clean my house, go for a walk and do a little gardening before bed.  But again the truth is, I was tired!  God knows what He's doing when He gives us our children when we're younger!

But I'm up for it again, whenever the opportunity arises!  How could I say "no" to a sweetheart who smiles at you from behind her pacifier when she wakes up from her nap...which only lasted five minutes? 

Sorry for this faint cell phone picture! She deserves better :)

The next time she fell asleep, I decided it was best just to hold her on my lap. At least, it was best for Grandma!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fashion Sense and Nonsense

I've spent the last few days with my sisters on our annual Whistler B.C. vacation trip.  And this year we have had the good fortune of enjoying gorgeous sunny days in the upper 70's and low 80's.  It's been great weather for hikes around the lakes, lazy walks along the "Village Stroll" and plenty of time for people watching... always one of my favorite pastimes.

One of the most entertaining things about people-watching is the endless variety of fashion choices that are on display.  Whistler seems to draw quite the international set, which no doubt adds to some of the, shall we say, interesting choices. 

Perhaps its due to the warm weather this year, or the fact that with most folks on vacation, they go into the "What-happens-at-Whistler-stays-at-Whistler" mode, but the revealing necklines and short shorts have certainly been in abundance. Either that or the Annual Hookers Conference has been meeting this weekend.  Okay...moving on.

Sometimes when I look at the combinations of clothing that some people are wearing, I have to stop and wonder, "Did you actually look in the mirror and think 'Yes! I'm lookin' good now'?" Then again, maybe they are looking at me with those same thoughts.  

I do know that there will be a few people going home with some really interesting tan lines.  One woman was wearing a pair of long leggings with an open weave design going down the outside of her legs.  I'm sure she ended up sporting some very unique leg art by the end of the day.

It's hard to even begin to capture the plethora of fashion choices that have been paraded up and down the streets of Whistler this weekend. Let's just say that there is never a dull moment.  And the number one fashion accessory?  The camera, of course!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Riddle

I have a riddle for you:  "When does a couch become an anchor?"

Before I give you the answer, I want to share a little background and then a conversation that I recently had with my daughter, Elizabeth. 

The summer before Elizabeth's senior year of college, she went overseas to serve in an orphanage in Ukraine.  It was during those hot summer days, surrounded by so many broken and abandoned children, that God laid claim to her heart and she has never been able to forget the poor and hurting of this world.

In the months and years that have followed, Elizabeth has tried different paths for her life. But it seems that whenever she begins to settle into the "expected" path of a job, home, family etc. God steps in and reminds her of another path; a path that He seems to have chosen for her.   A path that is more costly and possibly painful yet one that leads to peace.  

As recent newlyweds, she and her husband, Joel, moved to southern California in May.  This move hasn't come without some emotional struggles for Elizabeth.  Leaving behind family and friends hasn't been easy. It's been difficult to feel settled. 

Okay, enough with the background.  Now, on to the conversation.

Several days ago, I was talking with Elizabeth on the phone, and she told me that for some reason, ever since she and Joel moved into their little apartment, it had become really important to her to have a couch.  Their apartment is furnished with the few belongings they were able to pack into a small moving unit and some purchases from their favorite local Ikea store.  But she felt that if only she could have a couch, she would feel more settled. A couch had come to represent a home and a future.

Yet, Elizabeth said that when she and Joel talk about what their future might hold, there is always the possibility of them being called to serve the Lord overseas again, or perhaps in a poor area of the United States. So, while having a couch might help her feel settled, it could also guessed anchor.   An anchor that would, at least symbolically, hold them back from feeling free to go where God might be calling them.

It was with tears that Elizabeth explained how she had given up her desire for a couch so she could have the freedom to do what God calls them to do.  And in that decision, she found peace.

Now, for the really cool part!  Right after releasing her desire for a couch, Elizabeth got a phone call from her friend, Karen.  It seems that Karen is going to be moving into a house to live with a family for a couple of years and is putting her furniture in storage. And she wanted to know if Elizabeth and Joel might want to use...her couch for a couple of years!! Don't tell me that our God doesn't love to pour out good things on His children!

So here's the question I'll leave with you (and with me).  What is the "anchor" in your life that is keeping you from wholeheartedly saying "Yes!" to whatever God is asking of you?  He can be trusted with it, for He longs to give us good things.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


There are lots of changes going on in my life right now that will continue over the next several months.  While I survived the layoff at my work, my specific job is going away and I'm being moved to a new position.  New responsibilities, new people, new location, new challenges.  Not my favorite thing in the world.

So while I try to focus on my gratitude over still having a job, I'm struggling with what lies ahead.  And a large part of that struggle comes from having to leave my current coworkers and having to move to a new location where I'll be working closely with different people.

I know these people, and some of them I'm happy to be working with.  But there are others who would not be on my list of "Top Ten People to Spend Nine Hours a Day With." Yet I believe with all my heart that God has orchestrated this move, so I can trust that it is for the best. 

My good friend and coworker, Rene, has been very kind in listening to me voice my concerns and struggles, and she is quick to offer encouragement. She graciously reminds me that God is putting me with people where I can perhaps be a positive, encouraging influence and share His love.  That's good.  I really like that.  I want to help them.

But somewhere in the back of my mind, I keep hearing a small voice that says, "Or maybe, those people that you are not so keen on being with, are there for YOU.  Maybe this is an opportunity to purify and change YOU."

It's amazing how much nicer it is to see ourselves as the ones who offer help rather than the ones who need the help.  But God loves us too much to let us off the hook when He sees areas in our lives that need to be chiseled and burned away until we reflect Him rather than ourselves.

Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." That goes for women too.  And I have a feeling that this woman is about to experience some extreme sharpening. To God be the glory!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Gift of Hospitality

We received a wonderful gift this past week.  My husband and I had the great fortune to visit our dear friends, Paul and Martha, in their home, nestled in the mountains near St Maries (pronounced St Marys), Idaho. And while we were there, they gave us a most precious gift...the gift of hospitality.

If you are fortunate enough to know someone who is blessed with the true spirit of hospitality, you understand what a treasure it is.  Because time spent in their presence leaves you feeling like royalty.  And for five days, that's what we were - royalty.

From the moment we stepped into Paul and Martha's home, my husband and I were pampered.  We were fed delicious food that they had spent days preparing in advance so they would have the time to spend with us instead of working. 

We slept in a pillow-soft bed in a our own room with windows that opened wide to the starlit sky.  Every morning we sipped coffee out on a deck that looked through giant trees and down to a glorious, lake filled valley. We watched hummingbirds feeding so close we could have touched them.

If we simply wanted to read, we were free to simply read.  If we needed a little nap, our bed was ready and waiting.  We shared morning devotions at a sunny breakfast table.  We lifted each other up in prayer. And we laughed together!

And all of this was made possible because Paul and Martha truly have the gift of hospitality.  Now in retirement, they are blessed to be living on the side of a beautiful mountain.  And it is their greatest joy to be able to share this special retreat with people who need a time of refreshment, a time of renewal and peace.

So, to our dear friends, thank you for a much needed respite from a stressful life.  This post is a tribute to you!

Morning coffee on the deck

The first sunset, with a sliver of a moon!

Looking through the pine forest

Dutch Baby for breakfast.  Yum!

Friends enjoying the beautiful mountains

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Sad Story

One of my favorite movies is "You've Got Mail." It's a kind of David and Goliath story that pits the future of "The Shop Around the Corner," a small neighborhood bookstore, against the arrival of the big, bad Fox Books chainstore.  Unfortunately, in this story, David loses. The giant bookstore puts the beloved "Shop Around the Corner" out of business.

That movie was made in 1998.  Ironically, 13 years later it is the giant bookstore chains that are fighting for their survival and losing the battle to the Amazon.coms of the world. And that makes me feel just as sad as I did when Kathleen Kelly walked out of her beloved "Shop Around the Corner" for the last time. 

I love bookstores. I love to browse through row after row of books. I'll pluck a few random volumes from the shelves and take them to a quiet corner where I can sit down and read a few pages to see if they will capture my interest. Looking at the covers of the books is like taking a mini tour through an art gallery.

I nearly always end up in the children's book section for at least a short while. I feel a sense of joy as I look at the stories just waiting to become a child's favorite. And I reminisce about the books that were my favorites or my children's favorites. It is a sweet time.

Recently I received word that my local Borders Bookstore would begin their liquidation sale. Sadly I planned a trip to the store.  I didin't go with the anticipation that I was going to score some sweet deals on books.  I went for the memories.  I went because I don't want to let go of the experience of a real live bookstore.  It doesn't matter which bookstore it is.  It doesn't matter if it is large or small.  What matters is that it is an actual  place that brings me joy and pleasure in a way that I will never experience from browsing for books online.

I don't like to think of the rows of empty shelves that once housed classics and bestsellers alike.  I don't like to imagine the echoes of thousands of stories bouncing off the bare walls of an abandoned bookstore.  I don't want to shop for my books online.  I want my shop around the corner back.