Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Elections - Who's in Control?

I know that in this country we are so privileged and blessed to have the right to vote.  Yet election time always leaves me feeling conflicted.  I'm not really a political person. In fact, the older I get, the more politics turns me off.  But then I think about the millions of people around the world who would give their lives to have a say in their future by being able to vote.  So the fact that I have that right, is a heavy responsibility and I try to do my best when it comes time to vote.

Last night I followed the various races and issues and when I went to bed, it was with a heaviness settling over me.  Sometimes it goes the other way and I feel awash with hope that things may change for the better.  However, due to some issues that were being decided and that impact me directly as well as indirectly, there was a cloud hovering over me as I slipped into bed.

This morning,  I drove to work struggling to find hope as I looked to the days ahead.  This country seems to be spiraling further and further away from any moral compass.  And as I drove through the dark morning hours, I felt that darkness engulfing me.  But then something happened. A song came on the radio that reminded me that nothing is truly out of control.

I was reminded that God is in control...and He always has been.  He was in control the day before the election, and He still is in control the day ofter the election. That has never changed, and never will.

So as I try to stay strong in the face of some of these political outcomes and wait for others still to be determined, I do so wrapped in the strong comfort of knowing Who is really in control.  And He will always get my vote.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Forgiveness. I like to think that I am quick to seek forgiveness when I have wronged someone and just as swift to offer it when someone requests it of me.  I like to think that.  But I'm not so sure that it's always true.

I know that true forgiveness brings healing and restoration.  But I also know it doesn't come without a price.   As humans, we aren't able to just forget something that hurt or harmed us.  God is the only one who can truly forgive and forget.  The rest of us simply have to choose to move forward from that place of pain or injustice even though we still remember what happened.

That's why forgiving someone isn't for the faint of heart.  It is difficult and requires a generosity of heart and mercy that doesn't come naturally to most of us.  In his devotional, "A Year with God," R. P. Nettlehorst stated it so clearly that it was actually painful to me when I read it.  He said, "Forgiveness is the granting of mercy to one who deserves anger.  Forgivness is a decision against justice.  Forgiveness gives a benefit to one who does not deserve it." Those words go against everything that we believe is fair and just.  Yet they are at the very heart of true forgiveness.

In this life, we will all do things that cause others pain. And as much as we might like to, we can't go back and undo those things.  Many years ago, my pastor summed up forgiveness in a way that I  have never forgotten.  He said, "Forgivness means being willing to live with the consequences of someone else's sin."  We don't live in a vacuum.  Our actions impact people and relationships.  May we all offer and receive true, mercy-filled forgiveness that brings restoration

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I Struck Gold!

I struck gold last Saturday!  No, it wasn't in the form of gold nuggets or jewelry.  Actually, it was in the form of a wonderful afternoon spent in the company of my long-time friend, Missy.  I'm sure you know the children's song that goes, "Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold." (Admit,'re singing it in your head right now!)  Well, every word of that song rang true as Missy, my sister, Martha, and I talked, laughed and reminisced our way through a delightful afternoon.

Missy, Martha and I went to college together.  And as close as we can figure, it's been nearly 15 years since we have seen each other.  But a couple of years ago, Missy went on a search to find me.  She tried looking me up on Facebook which didn't work, since I'm not on Facebook.  But with a little additional sleuthing on her part, she found my daughter, Elizabeth's Facebook page where there was a link to her blog.  So Missy followed the link to Elizabeth's blog and discovered a link to my blog...and there you have!  She found me!  And finally, last Saturday we reconnected over lunch.

Since our marathon catching up session, I've done a lot of thinking about how life leaves its mark on us.  The unique circumstances, experiences, people, trials and triumphs that we each live through constantly redefine and sculpt us into the people we are today.  This doesn't mean that the current version of "us" is any more real or valid than who we were years ago.  It's simply the latest "release" that includes the most recent updates from our life experiences.

But part of what made Saturday's visit with Missy so wonderful was the opportunity to reconnect with the people that we all were so long ago. Afterall, those were the people that everythng else has been built upon. Aside from my family, no one who knows me today knows that person that Missy knows.

So, who were we back then?  We were best buds.  We laughed a whole lot.  We spent way too much time at the Unversity of Washington's library talking instead of studying.  We piled groups of friends into Missy's Volvo, Garbo, to go out to eat...way too often.  We turned up the radio and belted out our own version of the 1972 song, "Stuck in the Middle with You," whenever we went anywhere.  Missy was always known as "the funny one" and I was known as "the sensitive one" and we both balked at those titles, knowing that we could easily reverse the labels. Missy always pushed me to try new things, knowing that on my own, I wouldn't do them   Later, we were traveling buddies and coworkers.  She was a bridesmaid in my wedding and another "daughter" to my parents.

Of course, we have all changed since those experiences of so long ago.  As a matter of fact, Missy isn't even Missy anymore.  For many years now, she has gone by her given name of Melissa. But in a gracious act of friendship, she's allowed me to continue to call her Missy...since that's who she always will be to me.

So, last Saturday I struck gold!  It was a blessed reminder of just how rich our friendships make us.  Old or new, friends are always treasures.

That's me on the left, Missy on the right and my sister, Martha, "stuck in the middle" with us! (And, uh, no...we didn't color coordinate our outfits. We just know what makes for a great photo op!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Have a Name!

It's finally happened!  My granddaughter, Ella, has finally figured out what she is going to call me.  "Fama." I'm overjoyed!

Several months ago Ella started talking and bestowing some of the usual names on other family members.  Daddy was "Dada."  Mommy was "Mama."  Grandpa started out sounding like "Bapa" (which we loved!) but in recent days seems to have slipped into the more traditional "Papa."  But Grandma? Nothing.

It wasn't always like that. Last spring I remember going to babysit and walking into the house while she was finishing her dinner.  When she spotted me, immediately her arms reached out and she yelled, "Mama!"  When I picked her up from her high chair, she wrapped her arms around my neck and put her head on my shoulder.  I was in absolute heaven!  After that, "Mama" slipped out a few more times, but soon the confusion set in. You could see the slightly confused and embarrassed look on her face when she called me "Mama."

You see, our girl is smart, and it didn't take long for her to realize that there was a problem here.  How could she call both her mommy, who she saw everyday, and her grandma, who was in and out, "Mama?"  Something had to go. And that something was a name for grandma. 

So I have waited, and waited, and this weekend, my patience paid off!  Finally, Ella, gave me a name.  "Fama." Now our connection is complete!

I was thinking about this whole name thing this week and I realized how special a name is to our identity.  I never feel like I know someone if I don't know both their first and last names.  For years, my job involved working with about 500 employees, but just their names. I rarely saw what they looked like.  So when occasionally I was able to meet the individual and put a name with the face, I felt like I had completed the connection. 

Whether we like our names or not, the fact is, they are deeply important to who we are.  They give us a framework upon which we hang the rest of our identity. 

In Isaiah 43:1, God says, "I have called you by name, and you are mine."  The fact that Ella now knows my name makes me happy.  But the fact that God knows, and calls me by my name makes me rejoice! So whether He's calling me "Fama," "Laura," or "Daughter," it doesn't matter. Because, anyway you say it, I am His!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Empty Your Pockets

For some reason, during my quiet time this morning, I had this memory of my dad emptying his pants pockets when he came home from work.  He'd go into the bedroom to change out of his work clothes and put on his jeans to relax for the evening.

The process involved emptying everything out of his pockets and placing it all on his dresser.  Out came his wallet, his keys, the loose handful of change, his comb and handkerchief. And all of it found its nightly place on the dresser...except for the handkerchief which usually made it into the jeans pocket.   In the morning, before Dad left for work, he would reverse the routine, putting the items back into his pants pocket to carry with him throughout the day.
But not everything made it back into his pockets.  If there were too many coins, he'd sort them out so the change didn't weigh so much.  Sometimes, he'd set aside a screw or washer that he had been carrying with him until he could go to the hardware store to find the replacement he needed for one of his projects.  But once he'd made his purchase, the old item got tossed. It was a quick, and effective cleansing that prepared him for his day.

This morning, I was surprised by the memory of my dad and this ordinary, insignificant routine.   But as I was thinking about it, God seemed to whisper to me, "That's what I want you to do, Laura.  Every night, I want you to "empty your pockets."  Sort through all the cares and burdens and leave all the weight and concerns with me.  I want to give you a fresh start each day. I will carry yesterday's burdens for you."

Today has been one of those days that I have felt weighed down with cares for several family members and friends who are struggling with some serious, and painful things.  I prayed for each, multiple times, and yet my "pockets" have felt extremely heavy. 

So, tonight, as I get ready for bed, I'm thankful that God whispered to me this morning.  He knew that I'd need to take Him up on his offer to shoulder the concerns I've kept stuffed in my pockets today. All I need to do is empty them out into His hands.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

News from the Summer!

We've had a pretty busy summer.  Some of it wasn't so great as I waded through several health issues that took some time and effort to pin down.  But for the most part, I'm plodding along pretty much the same as before all of that.

Fortunately, the summer also had some wonderful events. In July, Bud and I managed a much anticipated visit to our friends, Paul and Martha, in the mountains of Idaho where we visited, slept in, ate, read, watched the birds, visited, slept in, ate, read, watched the birds...AND played a few rousing rounds of Bananagrams.  It was AWESOME!

We also had a quick but wonderful visit from our daughter, Elizabeth, in August.  During her very brief stay, we were able to have am extended family get together as well as plenty of time for Elizabeth to reconnect with the ever-darling niece, Ella. So fantastic!

At the end of August, my four sisters and I headed out on our annual long weekend in Whistler B.C.  The weather forecast hadn't looked very promising, but we lucked out and the sun shone every day.  As usual, we ate, read, watched movies, gabbed and had a totally relaxing time (and I also talked them into playing Bananagrams too!).  I have great sisters!

My husband, Bud, spent a month putting in french drains in our back yard in an effort to turn it from the swampy mess it becomes during the winter, into a normal, usable back yard.  To say it was a major undertaking would be a HUGE understatement.  I could tell a few stories of just how HUGE, but it's best not to go there!  Just this morning, we finished filling in the trenches, slightly ahead of the predicted rainfall!  My husband is my hero!

And last, but not least...on Father's Day, we got the news that...

Yep, we're all pretty excited about that!  In just a few more weeks, we should know if it's another granddaughter or our first grandson.  Doesn't really matter, it will be wonderful!

So, as I get ready to close the book on another summer, I am once again astounded at how fast it went!  It's a bit hard to let go since summer took such a stinkin' long time getting here this year.  But there's that definite coolness in the evening that reminds me that autumn is just around the corner and a part of me is starting to embrace it.  Afterall, to everything, there is a season... so maybe we'll play Apples-to-Apples this fall!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Knock, Knock!

KNOCK, KNOCK!!  Is anyone still there?  Well, I wouldn't blame you if you're not!  I know it seems like I simply jumped ship and deserted this blog.  But, trust me, it wasn't intentional!

Life just kind of got in the way of blogging, and I'm not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.  Either way, it's what happened. But just so you know, I have written so many posts in my head during the past two months when I was missing...and they were fantastic!  Insightful. Humorous. Powerful.  Totally life-changing!  Uh huh. Well, they might have been if I'd ever made it to my computer to actually write them.

It wasn't just my blog that I ignored...I pretty much did the same thing to my email.  I simply haven't had the desire to sit in front of a computer any more than I already do at work. 

And I'll be honest, it was refreshing.  It was freeing to not even want to go online.  It was what life was like just a few short years ago before everything centered around computers, smart phones, tablets etc.  There used to actually be down time spent with the people who were right there with you!  Don't get me wrong, I love being able to stay connected with friends and family who are a far away.  But sometimes, I think that happens by sacrificing time with the people who are here with me now. It's good to find a balance.

I guess I can't promise that I'll be here on this blog as regularly as I once was. But I hope to get back into some kind of routine mostly because I love to write.  But also because I was surprised to learn that there are actually a few folks out there that read this, and have missed it while I was gone!  What a delightful discovery that was for me!

So, if you'll just open the door and let me in again, I'll try not to become just some lazy guest.  I promise to try and do my part by sharing with you what life continues to teach me!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

When God Rings the Doorbell

I have a dear friend, Gwyn.  We don't see each other very often which is a shame since we practically live in the same neighborhood.  I guess we let the busyness of our lives interfere.  But no matter how long it's been since we've seen each other, there is always an instant connection when we get together.  We are simply there for each other.

Today, I busy doing things around the house when the doorbell rang.  Not my favorite thing since that usually means someone is going to try to sell me something when I open the door.  But today, It was my friend Gwyn standing on the porch!  She stepped in the house and said that she couldn't stay long but she just wanted to tell us hello and wish us a Happy Fourth of July.  What a wonderful surprise! 

One of the things I love about my friend is that she is a prayer warrior and I know I can count on her when she says she'll pray for me.  And I need some prayer right now.  I haven't been feeling well for the past few days.  A trip to the emergency room didn't reveal anything.  Neither have two visits to the doctor's office.  But when Gwyn showed up on my doorstep, I knew that she hadn't accidently stopped by.  Whether she knew it or not, God had sent her over to pray for me...which she did! 

I still don't know what is going on.  But one thing I do know is that, sometimes, God rings the doorbell and when I answer it, there is a person standing there completely unaware that they look exactly like Him.

Happy Fourth of July!

There's something about the Fourth of July that I love.  It's a holiday that requires so little of me to make it feel like a celebration.  This year we aren't doing anything special at all except grilling some burgers for dinner and putting out our flag.  Even so, it feels special.  And it should.

We have so much to be thankful for as citizens of this country.  You've heard it all before so I won't bother going there again.  But it would be nice if, in the midst of all our activities and celebrations today, we stop for just one moment to remember how fortunate we are.  And maybe even say a prayer of thanks!

"From the mountains,
to the prairies,
to the oceans
white with foam.
God, bless America,
my home, sweet home."

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Who Knows the Future?

In the past few weeks, I've had a couple of conversations that had a common theme even though, at first glance, they seemed to be totally opposite from one another. 

The first one was with my 26-year-old daughter who was struggling with looking ahead and trying to figure out where she is headed in her life.  The other was with my sister (notice how nice I am...I didn't give her age!). She and her husband had been having serious conversations about when they can consider retiring now that the economy has tanked and totally changed their retirement plans.

As I thought about those conversations, I realized that, when boiled down to their bare bones, both conversations were concerned about the very same thing...what's going to happen in the future?  If we're honest, who doesn't think about that and have some concerns? 

When we're young, we want to make wise choices that will lead to happy, purposeful lives.  As we get older, we also need our choices to be wise as we prepare for our "golden years."  But it's so very hard because we don't know what will happen in the future.  So we stress ourselves out trying to examine every conceivable scenario and make every possible contingency plan.

A few days after my conversation with my sister, I was reading the lesson on a daily calendar that I have that is written by Charles F. Stanley.  It was so perfect; I had to call my sister and read it to her.  Here's what it said:

"You cannot predict tomorrow.  You cannot fully prepare for all of its contingencies. You cannot fully provide for all you'll need in your future.  God not only can, He already has!  God is never caught off-guard.  He is never taken by surprise.  He never comes up short.  So you do not have to live with anxiety about the future.  The peace-filled heart is the one that recognizes 'my times are in His hands.'"

I don't know about you, but that's an awfully good reminder for me!

Jesus Friend of Sinners

If there's one thing I can count on, it's that the musical group "Casting Crowns" will always nail it with the lyrics to their songs. They aren't always comfortable to listen to, because they always speak the Truth that's often hard to hear.  And that holds true for the song that I've been hearing lately, "Jesus Friend of Sinners." 

Listen.  Let the words speak truth to your heart as they do to mine.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cooking Lessons

I made Sloppy Joes for dinner last week.  It's been a really long time since I've fixed them and I had to stop for a minute to remember just what ingredients I needed. As I ran through the list in my head, I remembered an incident that happened many years ago.

I use mustard in my Sloppy Joes sauce.  And one night as I was serving them to my family, my husband made a comment that he wasn't all that fond of the mustard in the sauce. "Really? Well, I'm not that fond of the liquid smoke that you put in your sauce," I thought to myself.  And since my kids liked them and it was a recipe from my mother, I figured I'd just keep on making them my way... which I did.

The funny thing is that when we were first married, I stopped using my mother's recipe for spaghetti sauce because my husband didn't like the tomato soup that the recipe called for.  I looked until I found  another recipe which we liked, though I must admit that I missed my mom's recipe.  Of course all of that is a moot point, since these days, my spaghetti sauce almost always comes from a jar!

Now, before you get the wrong idea about my husband, just let me say that he is the easiest person in the world to cook for. He is very appreciative of the meals I fix and is extremely easy-going about what we have for dinner.  AND he jumps in and does some of the cooking himself.  So don't be hard on him.

It's just that as I made my Sloppy Joes last week...complete with mustard...I wondered why I had held my ground on the Sloppy Joes yet changed the way I made spaghetti. Both recipes had come from my mother and I liked them.

While I couldn't really come up with a logical reason for my choices, I did see a little life lesson.  There are times in life when we stand our ground...for whatever reasons...and other times when we are flexible and willing to change. Sometimes we sacrifice, other times we stand firm. It's all simply part of the give and take of life. And it's only when we each find the right combination of the two that we truly learn to live well with others.

By the way... last week, my husband ate a pretty healthy helping of Sloppy Joes...mustard and all!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I have a confession to make;  I might as well just lay it all out there. I have blogger-envy.  It's an embarrassing thing to admit, but it's the truth. 

I love reading other people's blogs.  I often lose track of time as I flit from one blog to another, relishing the insights, humor and advice that I find inhabiting the words of so many wonderful bloggers.   I love it!  And I hate it!

When I read a beautifully written post that encourages and inspires me I think "What?  Why didn't I write that?"  Or when I laugh at the humorous experiences of some hilarious blogger I wonder, "How come I didn't come up with that?"  It's painful.  It truly is.

The truth is, I am an accidental blogger.  I never planned on writing a blog.  But one Sunday night in November of 2008, my daughter happened to be home.  She had recently started blogging and thought that I should give it a try.  So while I watched with amazement and trepidation, she set up "In The Midst" and immediately handed over the keyboard to me. I loved it! And I hated it!

It's a joy to have a place to deposit the countless thoughts that swirl around in my head on a regular basis.  There is such satisfaction in pulling together ideas in a way that can be shared with others.  It's a pleasure, pure and simple. I love that!

But then there are other times, when nothing comes.  Zero. Zip. Not a single thing.  I struggle to think of something, anything to write. And I hate that! 

That's when I usually hit the other blogs.  And that's when the envy begins.  So there you have it. Blogger-envy. 

I hope that all of you wonderful bloggers recognize your role in this. If you weren't such great writers, I wouldn't have this problem.  But the bottom line is this:  I love you!  And I hate you...just a little!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Heavenly Thoughts

I never used to think about heaven very much.  Of course as a young child I learned about heaven in Sunday School. And as a born-again Believer, I rest in the knowledge that it is my future home.  But I've never spent too much time thinking about just what it will be like when I get there.

However, the older I get, the more I experience a sense of anticipation when I think of heaven.  Don't get me wrong, this isn't some morbid wish to be done with my life here, although there are days when the weariness of living in this world strikes deep into my soul.

Rather, it's simply that every now and then, God gives me the briefest glimpse of what it will be like to spend eternity worshiping and praising Him, and it makes me excited! I had one of those glimpses the other day.

As I drove to work on a glorious sunny morning last week, Matt Redman's song "10,000 Reasons" came on the radio.  While singing along with the music, I was suddenly overwhelmed with what it will be like when I am joined by countless other saints in heaven worshiping and singing God's praises forever.  It was breathtaking!  Yet it was just a preview of coming attractions, and I for one, can't wait to see the real thing!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Shore Thing!

We just got back from a long weekend at the beach with family. My husband, being from the East coast, would say we'd been to the shore, but we Washingtonians go to the beach! It would have been absolutely perfect had our daughter and son-in-law been able to join us from California, but they weren't able to make it this time.  But that just gives us the perfect excuse for planning another trip when they can come!

On Thursday morning, my hubby and I headed to Seabrook, Washington where we had rented a sweet little cottage called "A Shore Thing."  That evening, we were joined by our son, daughter-in-law, and nearly 15 month-old granddaughter, Ella, and that's when the fun really began.

We had planned for an ever-changing weather scenario by bringing layers of clothes, rubber boots and umbrellas but God smiled down on us and other than a little sprinkle on Saturday morning, we had plenty of sunshine and blue skies! 

Before leaving on our trip, I had been on the look out for the perfect bucket and shovel to bring for Ella's first sand-digging experience.  But every bucket I found, was flimsy and looked like the handle would be history by the time the first shovelful of sand hit it. 

But then I went to Costco and...SCORE!  They have the best 13-piece bucket set that is sturdy and fun!  Ella had a blast with it before we ever even got outside. So if you are in the market for a great bucket and shovel set, check out your local Costco.  They really should be paying me for this endorsement...

Anyway, here's a how the beach looked this weekend to our gang!

Heading out for our first trip down to the beach

Look at that fantastic bucket set!

Getting a feel for the beach thing!

You'd cry too if they told you that you had to leave the sand behind :(

Beautiful family!

Lookin' good!

Couldn't resist this photo op!

Ella liked Grandma's boots...

Blue skies and sunshine...sweet!

Oh yeah, this is the good life!


Our home, sweet home, away from home!

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Truth and Nothing But the Truth

I learned a little lesson tonight.  Children can't be trusted to tell the whole story. 

I was talking on the phone with my daughter, Elizabeth, who now lives in California, but a couple of years ago lived in St. Petersburg, Russia.  She was asking me about her cousin, Kevin, who is living in Mozambique where he is working with the Peace Corps (these world traveling kids!). She wanted to know the latest news from him.

I told Elizabeth that my sister (Kevin's mom) had told me that he had a friend coming to visit.  He was going to have to go to the city to pick her up and that would require a night in a hotel.  Since crime is so bad in the city, they were planning on putting a chair under the door knob for extra security. 

These words were no sooner out of my mouth when my daughter said "Kevin shouldn't tell his mom that kind of stuff."

"Oh," I said, "So what kind of things did you lie to me about when you were in Russia?"

"I didn't lie," she said. " If you had asked me if I was going to put a chair under the door knob for extra security,  I would have told you, 'Yes, I am!'"

The bottom line is, if you want the truth and nothing but the truth, you've got to know the right questions to ask.  Not all that reassuring, actually!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Scars Understood

Lately, I've been listening to a beautiful song by MercyMe called "The Hurt and the Healer" and it's gotten me thinking about some events of my life where I end up asking the question "Why?" "Why did I have to go through that painful experience?"  "Why did things turn out that way when I was expecting something so different?"  "Why does it have to hurt so much?"

At those times I feel like I need an answer in order to move forward.  In all honesty, I feel like a deserve an answer for the suffering I've gone through and the scars that I bear.  I seem to believe that if I could just know the "why" then I could make sense of it and move on.

It's not that I don't understand the value of trials and suffering.  They build strength, perseverance, and character.  Sometimes it may take some time before I see those results in my life, but when I do, I'm grateful for the pain I had to go through.  But there are those experiences that wound and I never see the benefit from the resulting scar.

A few years back, I fell and broke my hip which resulted in the need for two surgeries to repair the break.  Both surgeries left scars.  I don't question the reason for those scars because I understand the need for them. They brought healing to brokenness.

But sometimes we bear scars where we simply can't see any good resulting from them.  They make no sense to us and that in itself brings added pain.

The question I have to face at those times, is do I trust that God has a purpose for the pain and that someday those scars will be healed and understood when I stand before Him?  Do I trust Him enough to move forward with my unanswered questions , believing that He will use every bit of the struggles and pain that I surrender to Him, for His glory? 

As the song I've been listening to says, there will be a time "when the hurt and the Healer collide,"  and eventually, all of our scars will be undestood.  I want to move forward in that knowledge... beyond the scars and pain... to the glory that awaits.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It's Today!

It was 31 years ago today!  That's when my husband and I made that long walk down the church aisle to a new life together.  Friends and family gathered to help us celebrate that special day.

Then a few short weeks later, we headed south to a new home in the middle of the Mojave desert. As we drove down the freeway, my new husband said, "We're on an adventure, just the three of, me and the Lord!" That adventure took us to Twenty Nine Palms, California, home of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center.  A little bit intimidating!

But life in the desert had its charms...waking up to sun streaming in the window every morning, no traffic jams since the town only had one stop light, and best of all, a two year honeymoon for just the two of us...oh yeah, and the Marine Corps!

While I missed my family back home like crazy, I wouldn't have traded those early days of just "us" for anything, because it gave my husband and me the chance to become our own family.

Now, 31 years later, we look back and bask in the blessings of those years!  Family and friends who have enriched our lives beyond measure.  Heartaches and joys that have molded us into the people we are today.  And the continuation of that adventure with "just the three of us"... and everyone else we love!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Two Peas in a Pod

Today was delightful.  It was sunny and warm and included a shopping trip!  Doesn't get much better than that from my point of view!  My friend, Valen, and I decided that it was time to hit the outlet mall and see what bargains we could find. 

Valen and I have been office mates since December, and it didn't take long to discover that we are kindred spirits!  To start with, we are sisters in the Lord which gave us a firm foundation from the get-go. 

But then a short time after meeting, I discovered that she was about to become a first-time grandmother.  When Valen told me that her daughter was having a little girl in January, I asked her what the baby's name was going to be and she said...wait for it...ELLA.

 In case you're not a regular follower of this blog, let me just direct your attention to this post from last February and you'll understand the connection! So we are now both grandmothers to two beautiful little Ellas and we love to swap "Ella" stories and show "Ella" pictures.

Valen and I have another thing common...we love to shop for bargains! So a few weeks ago we pulled out our calendars, locked in a date and decided to make a day of bargain hunting. The outlet malls we were headed to are about an hour from where we live so we had a great time visiting on our way there.

When we got to the mall we shopped, then stopped and had a delicious lunch at a down-home style restaurant, and then we shopped some more.  We didn't go crazy or anything, but we headed home pretty satisfied with the day!

But there was one thing that I discovered that Valen and I don't have in common; she has "people" and I don't.  When we walked into Starbucks to grab a cup of coffee to take on the road with us, her "people" greeted her immediately and knew exactly what she wanted to order. I was impressed! And I admit that I'm a little bit jealous.  But I won't let that come between us.  Afterall, our Ellas still need their grandmas to find some great bargains for them!

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Year Ago Today...

...we were celebrating! 
 Happy first anniversary, Elizabeth and Joel!

Woo Hoo!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Heart Link

There has been a hole in my heart lately. My children have taken to wandering the globe once again.  And while I'm thrilled that they have such phenomenal opportunities to broaden their horizons and expand their experiences, my heart never feels completely whole while they are gone.

It's not like I see them every even lives in that strange-far-away-land called California...but we communicate regularly.  And even if we don't communicate on any given day, I know that we could.  But when they are travelling, communication is understandably brief, if at all.

There is just something about a mother's heart that tethers her to her children, no matter how old they are.  And I know from past experience, how painful, and lonely it can be when you are separated from them.

I've often wondered how mothers sent their children off in covered wagons to make new lives for themselves, knowing that they would probably never see them again and could only hope for some news of their lives.  I can't believe that their hearts were ever truly whole again.

At least today, there are ways to talk to those we love even if they are half way around the world, though it may take some planning and patience.  My sister lives for the brief moments when she can talk to her son who is serving in the Peace Corps in Africa for the next couple of years.  Life goes on, but so does that heart connection.

I'm grateful that no matter where my children go, or how long they may be gone, my heart will always hold them near.  It's simply what a mother's heart does.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

HE is Risen!

The battle has been won!  Life conquered death for HE IS RISEN!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Old Piano

Ella and her mommy spent the day with us and what a delight that was!  Oh, in case I haven't mentioned it in a while, Ella is our beautiful 13-month-old granddaughter and "mommy" is our wonderful daughter-in-law, Monika.  They shared lunch with us and then several hours of play time, much to our delight. 

One of the special things for Ella when she comes to grandma and grandpa's house is the piano!  Her face lights up when we lift her up on to the piano bench and a smile spreads across her sweet face as she tentatively plunks a few keys.  Then once she gets the feel for it, those little fingers really start making music...well, Ella music!

A musical genius in the making!
I was looking at our piano after the girls left today.  It's the piano that I took lessons on as a child.  It's the piano where I spent hundreds of hours in painful practice, sometimes with my mother sitting by my side counting out a song's particularly difficult rhythm. It's the piano on which I prepared for numerous fear-invoking recitals.  And I enjoyed very little of that!

However, the joy came later!  Because over the years, I have spent countless hours playing that piano simply for my own pleasure.  I have worked my way through many hymnals and praise songs and come away inspired and renewed by the music.  I never became a great piano player.  But I didn't need to in order to experience the joy of the music.

I thank my parents for persevering when my sisters and I grumbled over our piano lessons and practicing.  I'm pretty darn sure my mom, in particular, got tired of hearing us whine and probably, play!  But it was a gift for which I'm thankful.

So, I hope that Ella's face will always light up when she sees our piano.  And maybe someday, she'll become the talented pianist her grandmother never was.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Too Familiar?

I grew up in a house that had an amazing view of Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains.  One Sunday, my parents went out for a drive and came across a building lot at the top of a hill that looked out over this phenomenal view...and they fell in love.  Unfortunately, at the time, they were raising a young family on a teacher's salary and a view lot didn't exactly fit into their limited budget.

Eventually, they found a way to purchase the lot, but it was some time before they could afford to build a house on it.  When they finally did start building, my dad put in many hours of sweat equity to help keep the cost down.  It was a good, solid family home without a lot of frills.  But oh, that view!

From our living room window we watched tug boats pulling barges up and down the Sound and pleasure boats skipping through the glassy waters.  To the right, we could see the pale green Narrows Bridge stretching across the straits. And the Olympic Mountains' jagged silhouette framed the entire view.

But it was the sunsets that took your breath away! On clear evenings, a changing kaleidoscope of colors...reds, pinks, oranges...painted the mountains, water, and sky as the sun slowly made its way to the horizon.  And every night's light show was different! 

But the funny thing about all this beauty was that, seeing it every day, almost had a numbing effect on us. Sometimes we would walk by the window and barely notice the view at all.  It wasn't that we were totally oblivious to its beauty, but sometimes it took a REALLY spectacular sunset to make us stop and appreciate the beauty. 

Had the beauty become too familiar?  Did we simply take it for granted, because we had daily access to it?  Was our appreciation of it dimmed because it was part of our every day lives?

Unfortunately, I think that this is how we often respond to God if we have known him for a long time.  We take for granted His glory and majesty. We diminish the miracle of His love and forgiveness.  We lose sight of the wonder that the God of the universe desires a personal relationship with us!

Just because I have known God personally for a long time, I never want to be so familiar with Him that I become numb to who He truly is. I never want to just "walk by" and barely take notice of His beauty.  Instead, I always want Him to take my breath away!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Social "Not-Working"

This weekend my husband and I went out for breakfast at a little small town cafe not far from us.  Our efficient hostess seated us at a small table in a little area that had about four other tables in it.  After perusing the menu, we each made our breakfast choices and then settled back to visit and do a little people watching while waiting for our waitress to come take our order.

There were only three other people seated in this area with us; a man sitting alone at the table next to us and two young women sitting at one of the other tables. It was these two women who caught my attention. They had arrived before my husband and me and were already comfortably seated by the time we were shown to our table.  There they sat, facing each other from opposite sides of the table...both totally engrossed in their own smart phones and completely ignoring the presence of the other person! I nudged my husband and whispered, "How sad is that?" 

I know I'm climbing up on my soapbox here, but I'm so tired of how cell phones, tablets, computers and the whole technology thing has turned us into such rude, inconsiderate people. Somewhere along the line we seem to have lost the skills of face-to-face social interaction.  We spend our time catching up with other people on Facebook.  We are even getting to the place where it's too much trouble to place a phone call so we can actually speak to another person.  Instead we send texts back and forth, and back and forth. 

I am saddened by this turn of events and I fear for the future of interpersonal relationships.  You'd think that with the popularity of places like Starbucks that seem to be all about getting together with friends, that social interaction will remain as strong as ever.  But if you take the time to look around a Starbucks, a large percentage of the people there are absorbed in what's on their laptop or their phones.  Of course, there's some visiting going on, but it's often interrupted by someone constantly checking their phone.

This phenomenon has certainly made its way into the workplace as well.  I can't remember the last time that I was in a meeting where at least one person didn't pull out their phone to read a message they had just received, as if the world would come to an end if they didn't check it immediately.  It's rude and insulting to the people with whom you are meeting.  The worst example of this that I have witnessed was when a high ranking manager, who was welcoming a group of new employees, stopped mid-sentence to check his phone that had buzzed.  Really?

I'd like to say that I haven't been sucked into all of this, but I'd be lying.  My cell phone goes with me where ever I go and I check it frequently.  And to my shame, I have been guilty of ignoring the person I was with in order to read a text that just buzzed in on my phone.

I know that tweets, texts, blogs and Facebook walls are all suppose to be the modern tools of social networking.  But to me, it's social "not-working."  I am going to make a concerted effort to be more deliberate in how I interact with the people in my life.  I want to enjoy them.  I want to be available to them and I want them to know that I value them...more than my cell phone.

Okay.  Would someone give me a hand? I'm stepping down from my soapbox now.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Grace Upon Grace

In my devotions yesterday, the scripture verse for the day was John 1:16 which says "For of His fullness, we have all received, and grace upon grace." NKJV. It was that last part of the verse that caught my attention, "grace upon grace." I haven't been able to stop thinking about that.

In scripture, "grace" can refer to two things, the first one being God's saving grace that was manifested once and for all in the sacrifice of His son, Jesus, as the payment for our sins.  How grateful I am for that grace! 

But over and over again, the Bible speaks of God's grace toward us and it is referring to a different type of grace.  This grace is God's free and unmerited favor that he extends to us in spite of our sinfulness.  There is nothing that we can do to earn this grace or to deserve it. 

We live in a world where grace is in short supply.  Our imperfections and failures are rarely met with grace and forgiveness by others...even by our friends, and certainly not by our enemies.  It is a hard life, with little expectation of grace.

But then, in walks God. And with Him comes grace.  Psalm 86:15 says, "But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." Philip Yancey, author of the book, "What's so Amazing About Grace?" has said, "There is nothing we can do to make God love us more. There is nothing we can do to make God love us less." And it is because of this unfathomable love that God is gracious towards us.

I know that no matter how hard I try, I will never live a life that is deserving of such grace.  But the good news is that God is willing to cover my shortcomings and failures with His "grace upon grace."  He offers me forgiveness and showers me with blessings simply because that's who He is.   And the only thing that I can do in regard to this amazing grace is to accept it with a thankful, humble heart.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Holy Leap Year, Batman!

So today was it.  It was your bonus day! 

Only once every four years do we get this extra day.  Did you do anything special with it?  Did you even recognize that this was a special gift; 24 extra hours over what we usually have in a year?

I realize that it's not an official holiday or anything like that. No decorations are required or brightly wrapped presents or even chocolate...though that would be nice.  Simply February 29, an extra day.    But if you think about it, that's a pretty extravagant gift!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Moose War

I realize that with all the horrendous things that happen in the world, the story I am about to tell barely warrants a blip on the news meter.  But a few short weeks ago, my home was the scene of "The Moose War."  Here's how it went down.

One day, my husband told me about this giant stuffed moose that he had seen at Costco for "only" $37.  He raved about how cool it was...close to six feet tall... and how much our granddaughter, Ella, would love it!  Fortunately, he realized how unrealistic it would be for our kids to have a giant stuffed moose in their small home.

However, at this point his common sense flew out the window and he started suggesting that ours was the perfect residence for this overgrown stuffed animal because Ella could play with it whenever she visited.  This was when I cut him off at the knees, and told him in no-uncertain-terms, that we would NOT be bringing that furry behemoth into our home, end of story!

Before I go any further, let me just set the stage for the battle that was about to ensue.  My husband and I have two grown children whom we love dearly.  But an interesting phenomenon happens when your children grow up.  They leave your home much sooner than all their belongings do!  Can I get an "amen" from all you parents of grown children whose homes have become the unintended storage units of their childrens' belongings?

I am not trying to lay any blame here.  And our son would be quick to step in here and remind me that when he moved his bed out of our home and into a tiny basement apartment for his junior year of college, his dad insisted that he take everything else with him too.  I can still see the hurt look on his face when, 47 minutes later, his dad had turned his bedroom into "the office!" We love you, son!

But it didn't quite happen that way with our daughter.  Somehow, from the time she first packed her bags and moved to college, until we could reclaim her room as our real estate, seven years had passed.  And during those seven years, we had added many items (including a couch) that she "might need when she gets an apartment."  The only problem was that she didn't really get that apartment. 

When she finished school, she taught pre-school and worked as a nanny for a year during which her employers provided her with a small bedroom in their home.  Then the next year she went to Russia to teach for a year.  She could only bring two suitcases with her so that didn't do much for clearing out her bedroom.  Then when she came home, she got engaged, moved back into her "nanny room" and worked while planning their wedding. wasn't until late last spring, after the wedding and a move to California that the big U Haul box gave me my spare bedroom!

After the U Haul and my daughter and son-in-law drove away, I spent many hours cleaning and organizing this newly acquired space. I hauled the remaining stuff out of the room, rearranged some furniture and bought a new comforter. It still needs to be painted and a few more final touches but finally...we have a spare bedroom that can actually be used by guests! 

Now, fast forward to three weeks ago when I was talking on the phone with my sister, Lisa, and wondering what was taking my husband so long to return from filling the car up with gas.  Finally, I heard the front door close.  As I chatted with my sister, suddenly my husband appears in the doorway with a giant moose in his arms and a sheepish grin on his face.

I'm sure my startled sister wondered what was going on when suddenly she heard me yelling "No!" I quickly explained that I couldn't believe that my husband had just walked in with a giant stuffed moose !  "Is it from Costco?" she asked.  "Is that from Costco?" I asked my husband.  "Yes!  Isn't it cool?" he said. Then my sister said in my ear, "If it's from Costco, I know EXACTLY which moose you are talking about.  It's huge!" she said unable to keep the laughter out of her voice.

For the next couple of minutes...while my sister husband and I did battle over the future of that moose.  "It's going back!" I said.  "But Ella will love it!" he said.  "'s going back!"  "But it's so fun! I already have a name for it...Taloose the Moose."  "NO! It's not taking up my guest room for the next 10 years!" You see, that was really the crux of the matter.  I had waited too long to have that room and I wasn't about to turn it over to a giant stuffed animal.  Finally, my husband walked into the guest room and gently placed the moose on the bed.

This is a queen sized bed that Taloose is resting on so peacefully!
Eventually my husband resigned himself to the fact that Taloose was just going to be a guest in our guest room  But since the kids were coming over the next day, he could hardly wait to show him to Ella.  However, to his disappointment, that didn't turn out quite like he had expected.

Ella meets Taloose
Ella took a couple of minutes trying to take in this giant mountain of fur...and then turned back to play with the cute little rubber duckies I had given her.  Sometimes, less is more.

The next day, with only a few muffled sobs, my husband packed up Taloose and headed back to Costco.  As I look back on this whole episode, I realize that the Moose War was pretty much like every other war in was all about territory!

Farewell, Taloose!
With peace restored, life has pretty much gone back to normal with only a few whispered references to how much Ella would have loved that moose.  But about a week ago, I received a picture text from my sister, Lisa.  It was a picture of a giant moose taking up an entire Costco shopping cart.  It simply said, "Everyone is buying one!"  That's great...just so "everyone" doesn't include me!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

It's Been a Year!

What a difference a year makes...

Happy first birthday (and birthday cake), my darling Ella!

All my love, Grandma

(Even if I am a little late getting this posted!)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Passing Storms

Yesterday and today have been absolutely gorgeous sunny days...a far cry from what the weather was like two weeks ago when we were hammered by ferocious winter storms. 

Walking through my neighborhood yesterday morning, I soaked up the glorious sunshine that was working to take the chill out of the morning air and I was struck by the contrast. Two weeks ago, we were right in the middle of some really dangerous weather that caused so much damage in our area.  And yet there I was, a mere 14 days later, soaking up the sun. 

But as I walked through our neighborhood, there was no denying that we had recently been through a major storm.  Trees are still  leaning and scarred by broken branches.  Sidewalks are piled high with mounds of fallen trees and branches, waiting to be cleared away.  The landscape of our neighborhood has been changed by the storms.

As I picked my way past these countless piles of brokenness and change, I was reminded that this life is full of storms that we must walk through.  And while we are in the midst of them, it sometimes feels like they will never end. 

Yet, today's sunshine reminded me that, no matter how bad the storms are or how long they may last, there will come a time when they have  passed, and life will go on.  We will probably not be the same people that we were before the storm and the landscape of our lives may have drastically changed, but sunshine will come again.

If you are in the middle of one of life's storms right now, I pray that you be encouraged to keep fighting the fight and hang on to the knowledge that one day, the storm will pass. And most importantly, know that you don't have to go through the storms alone. God has promised to walk through them with us and to sustain us until we walk in sunshine once again.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Two Little Things

I don't have any great words of wisdom to share today. I just wanted to take a couple of minutes to express my gratitude for two little things that made my world a little brighter over the last few days.  So, here they are!

Over the weekend, I was working at my kitchen sink when I heard the sweetest sound that could have caressed my ears.  Somewhere outside my window a single bird was warbling its soft, melodic song! After last week's storms that tore our neighborhood apart, this sweet reminder that spring will come again was just what I needed!  So even though the skies outside my window were still  heavy and gray, I heard hope in that little bird's song. What a blessing!

And then today, I was working at my desk when my boss swooped in (yes, she truly does swoop!) and presented me with a lovely little bouquet of red roses and the kindest note of appreciation for what I do.  I was so touched.  She is one of the busiest people I know, yet she took the time to stop and buy me flowers and write such a kind note.  I felt valued as an employee and most of all, as a friend. 

I know that all kinds of small blessings are always happening around me, I just don't always tune into them and appreciate them like I should.  So for today, at least, I want to stop and be grateful for the sweet blessings that shower me daily!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Stormy Weather...

Perhaps I was counting my weather blessings a little too soon this year. From October on, I've been praying for the ice and snow to stay away.  And until this past week, there hasn't even been a threat of snow in any forecast.  Each day that brought me closer to spring without a snow threat was much appreciated.

But all that came to an end last week.  Starting last Tuesday, the Puget Sound area of Washington state got hammered with snow...then freezing rain...then an ice storm...then more snow.  Let me just say, it was a scene from my worst nightmare... made all the more horrendous when we lost power for three and a half days. 

I know that not everyone shared my feelings.  My husband thought it was "an adventure," and loved it.  My son thought it was great!  Not me. I felt trapped...and I was. 

Heavy snow hit first and then came the ice.  Everything outside was coated in a thick jacket of it. Before long, trees and ice-coated branches were snapping and falling everywhere.   It sounded like we were in the middle of a gun battle as the trees buckled under the weight of the ice and crashed around us.  Our roads were blocked with fallen trees and our yard was littered with branches. 

Fortunately, we have a gas fireplace which keeps our living room toasty warm.  My husband hung sheets of plastic over the doorways to keep the heat in.  Of course, that made for frosty sleeping since our bedrooms are upstairs...outside the heated zone.  We snuggled down under extra blankets for warmth, and I must say we slept really well! 

The hardest part of being without power was how quickly it got dark in the evening.  By 4:00 the light was fading in the house and before we knew it, it was dark and we were left with only candlelight and flashlights...tough to read a book by!

I am rather proud of myself for some of my creative solutions to life-without-power.  It was hard to find a way to stand our flashlights up on end.  Then one day, inspiration hit!  I won't tell you where I was when got my brilliant idea.  You might be able to figure it out...

I also found a new use for the little battery operated votives that were left over from my daughter's wedding last spring...

Yep...runway lights into a pitch black powder room with no windows!   They gave just enough light to let you see where you were going...pun intended!

With the power back on, and most of the snow gone, life is looking better again.  And I think I'll just need to double my prayers for no snow for the rest of the winter.  

But before I go, I want to give a huge shout-out to those awesome utility workers who worked round the clock to restore power to thousand upon thousands of people's homes.  As a matter of fact, they are still working at it.  They are definitely my snow heroes!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Music to Think By

This afternoon I was repacking my Christmas decoration boxes and had the time to listen to some music.  I don't do that very often unless I'm driving somewhere. 

But I put on some Chris Sligh and worked my way through the boxes. You may not remember that Chris was the tenth place finisher on season six of American Idol.

His album, "The Anatomy of Broken" has some pretty powerful songs on it.  And this is one of my favorites even though nearly every time I listen to it, it convicts me about how I'm living out my faith...or perhaps more accurately...not living it out.

Give a listen...

Only You Can Save

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Lesson from 2011

I'm not one for making New Year's resolutions. But I do like to stop a moment and reflect on the year that I have just bid goodbye.  As always, there were many challenges faced, but equally as many joys embraced.  That's the nice thing about usually balances itself out in one way or another.  Sometimes, it just takes longer than other times.

As I look over my shoulder at 2011, I know that it will be remembered as a year of extreme changes; even more so than usual.  Some changes were difficult, like the total upheaval and change of my work life.  But others were wonderful, like the expansion of our family through the birth of our first grandchild, Ella, and the addition of our son-in-law, Joel.

Through all of the changes in the past year, God has been impressing one very important lesson on my heart.  He gave me this truth several months ago, and it rings truer today than they did when He first spoke it to me. 

My lesson from 2011?  "God should be my first resource, not my last resort." When faced with struggles, I should go to Him first, rather than waiting until after I have failed at all my feeble attempts. After all, He is always there, He is always able, and He will always do what is best for me.

So, whatever challenges await me in 2012, I'm choosing to meet them with God as my first resource of strength and power. It really can't get any better than that.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Little Sage Advice for the New Year

If 2012 is anything like the past couple of years, there will be no shortage of change.  With that being the case, I think I'll venture into the next twelve months embracing a little sage advice that my friend, Missy, passed on to me a few months back.

Actually, Missy was sharing the wisdom of none other than Christopher Robin to his good friend, Pooh, in a simple little pep talk that instills confidence in facing whatever may come.

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

I think I'll have plenty of opportunities to test those words in the coming year.  I hope I prove them to be true!