Friday, October 1, 2010

Grateful Heart

"The Lord your God is with you. 
He is mighty to save. 
He will take great delight in you.
 He will quiet you with His love.
 He will rejoice over you with singing." 
 Zephaniah 3:17

I've been off the blog for a bit. I don't know where the time goes. Lots of things have happened in the past month. It seems every time I sit down and try to write, I can't think what I want to write about. So, tonight's ramblings may seem pretty random - I have a head full of stuff and who knows how it will wiggle its way out?

Last weekend was our Daughter's of the King diocesan retreat and the beginning of my DOK chapter's new member orientation. Something holy and beautiful happens when a group of women share from their hearts. It's a different way of connecting than with a mixed group. It was a sweet time of learning, sharing and being reminded of the gifts God has given me. It was also a time to think about what I'm going to do with these gifts. How I can use them. How God would like for me to use them. I've been thinking about that a lot this week and I've learned that my gifts are of no use if I don't share them. I have to join them with others for them to be most effective. I think that is powerful. It seems lately that I'm being taught this lesson from so many different directions.

My Mom went with me to this retreat and I am so very glad she did. Everyone loved on her and I know that made her feel good. My mom is a remarkable woman that has been through a lot of hard changes lately. It was a special time we shared together and I am grateful for all of those who made her feel welcome. They loved her for her own self; and, also, just because they love me - which made me feel great, too. My Mom has an open heart and I'm thankful for her and that she has taught me the meaning of unconditional love. I got tickled at her when I saw a woman (a complete stranger) sitting beside her and telling my mother all of her concerns. So typical of my mom who always meets a friend and never a stranger.

I just finished Max Lucado's new book, "Outlive Your Life". It has made me think about so many things. I was reminded of my journey since I lost my job six months ago. I kept saying to myself and to others, throughout my time off, that what I really want to do with my life is to make a difference. This book reminded me that God can only work through me if I let him work IN me. Only He can make the difference. So simple, really. Yet, life changing for me and for those I encounter.

I had a cataract removed from my right eye this week. After years of looking through a filmy eye, I can now see clearly - without my glasses - and, at night. As luck would have it, I just read that book by Max and it's all about the book of Acts. You know the story where Saul was blinded and then made to see clearly. It kept coming to my mind. I wonder what great spiritual awakening God has in store for me. What I do know is that God's hand was on me because I can see better today than I could in 6th grade (before I got glasses). Makes me want to cry with gratitude. And, I did. Lots.

My family is in the midst of something sad and scary. I ask your prayers from whomever may read this. I'm baffled by how many innocent lives are touched and changed forever when poor and selfish decisions are made by others. I don't understand why some choose chaos and strife when choosing to love and to be loved is so much easier and so much more worthwhile.

Tomorrow, I am decorating my house for the fall season. I love it. It's a fresh start and a pick-me-up after a long summer. 

I'm hopeful I will make time to blog more regularly. I have missed sharing my heart and I have found that writing my thoughts helps me to glean the important and worthwhile stuff that is inside of my head. I totally believe that God does indeed bless me through this effort. I feel like He is molding me and crafting me into the person He intended me to be. It is my desire to use the gifts He has blessed me with to be a blessing to others. Oh, I can feel Him singing over me! 

Zephaniah 3:17

Saturday, August 28, 2010

50 new things update

Well....................I haven't updated the 50 new things list for quite some time. Things have been crazy, crazy busy and I have been too pooped to attend to my blog. So, here it is. There are some big ones on here ...

1. FOUND A NEW JOB - great people, good place to work and God is teaching me all kinds of things through this experience. I think it's all about the people.
2. ENJOYED OUR 3yr OLD GRANDDAUGHTER LAST WEEKEND - She spent the night and she is busy, busy, busy and it was such fun to spend some time with her on her own. She's a hand full and is such a joy - hope to have many more times like this to share with her.

3. GOT  A BRAND NEW HAIRCUT AND COLOR TODAY - short and above my ears. Should have done it a while back. However, I did learn that my face has been subjected to gravity since the last time my hair was this short - talk about getting my attention. Oh well, it feels great.
4. I HAVE READ ABOUT 10 NEW AUTHORS - really great books and great stories and, the funny thing is, I chose them mainly because I liked the feel of their covers. I'm in the paper and printing business; so, I guess I'm more tactile than I realized. Anyway, great books.
5. WITH HELP FROM SEVERAL OTHERS, I STARTED A NEW WOMEN'S MINISTRY AT OUR CHURCH. It meets quarterly (we have met twice now) and it is called OFF on Friday - Oh For Fun on Friday. A good time to relax with other women, enjoy some good food, some fun entertainment and a spiritual thought, or two. So far, it has been a great success. The next is October 22, if anyone is interested. I love it!
6. JOE AND I BEGIN OUR DAYS BY PRAYING TOGETHER EACH MORNING. I know I mentioned this a while back. I can't tell you how this has made such a tremendous difference in how I start my day. It has strengthened our marriage and grounded us in the things that matter. It's awesome to share one heart over the things we take to the Lord. We've been doing this for several months now - really, since I lost my job in January. Since I have been back at work now for six weeks, it has been a little bit of a challenge since we get up at different times. But, we're working to make it work and I love that.
7. MADE ANOTHER AWESOME RECIPE the other night - I made it up and it was delicious. Butterfly pork chops with Raspberry Chipotle chutney, YUM!
8. I HELPED WITH VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL and soon learned this was NOT my calling. Despised every minute of it except when I was sitting on the floor with all of the age 3 and unders (4 or 5 of them) and we (they) were showing each other all of their boo boos - my favorite time of the entire week.
9. I BOUGHT NEW GLASSES AND SUNGLASSES.  It would be great if I could see out of them. I need to have a cataract removed; so, I will be adding that to my list, soon. Oh boy! And, Oh boy! again! I will also be having a colonoscopy soon - only, since I am now 50 - isn't that a great way to celebrate this milestone year in my life? More about that later - after (if) it happens.

I know there are other things to add to this list. I just can't remember them at the moment. I think I have hit most of the highlights. We've been busy with making adjustments to our lives and trying to determine what these changes mean for us and the opportunities that are new. I am very thankful that God surrounds us with His faithfulness and continues to walk along beside us as we make our way. His presence sure does make an incredible difference.

P.S. We have a couple at our church who will be getting married in October. I volunteered to take pictures for them. It will be a VERY simple wedding. Does anyone have any advise about how to make these shots more than just boring snapshots? I'm just really a point and shoot kind of photographer and I'd like to take some pics so it appears I know what I'm doing.  Any ideas are welcome. I'd like to provide them with some fun and interesting, maybe not so ordinary, pictures so they can remember this day with a smile. Thanks - I'm shooting with a Nikon D60 and I have about 6 weeks to practice.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Running to Daddy...

Photo Courtesy of

There is a young man at our church who brings his three young children to the service regularly and faithfully. He has two daughters and a son and it always brings a smile to my face when they walk into the sanctuary. It is like those kids can't wait to get inside the door. The oldest daughter is about seven, her brother is five, or so, and the youngest is probably about three. They are a sweet family and I love to watch the way their Father loves them and is teaching them about God's love.

This little family has been coming to our church for about a year now. Every Sunday, when they are there, the children usually go to children's chapel during the bulk of the service. However, after the sermon and before we begin preparing for communion, our priest calls the kids back to the congregation. Every single time, the youngest daughter runs to her daddy and jumps into his waiting arms. She is so excited and thrilled to see him. As soon as she lays eyes on her father, she yells, "Daddy", and runs to meet him as fast as her little legs will carry her. I love this and, yes, it always makes me smile and usually makes me cry. Her expression of joy at the sight of her father fills her face and lights up her little eyes and her entire countenance. It is so sweet, so true and incredibly intimate. She acts as if she hasn't seen her father for years and, in reality, it has only been about 20 minutes or so. And, you can only imagine the joy on her Father's face as he hears his name and turns to see her running to him, then stoops down with open arms and waits to catch her and to gather her close with a hug and a kiss. I hope it is always like this for them.

I think this may be the way God must feel when we let go of all that holds us back and we run into His waiting arms. He must be so happy to catch us, to gather us to himself and to welcome us with a hug and a kiss. I love that image. I like to imagine the incredible grin on His face and to think about His arms holding me close. I like knowing He will never let go. It's the safest place I know - a place of comfort, a place of strength and a place of love.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tickling the Ivories

Photo courtesy of Photo Bucket

I filled in this morning for our regular piano accompanist at church. Several times a year, she asks me to do this and, for some reason, I always agree. I never know why. Every single time, I ask the same questions: What have I gotten myself into? and Why, oh Why, did I say yes?

First of all, let me tell you that I physically DO NOT do well when I play. My hands become clammy, my eyesight seems to go bonkers, I become hearing impaired and I am unable to self-regulate my body temperature. All-in-all, I become almost paralyzed because I have to focus and pay close attention. My mind CANNOT wander. And, believe me, it is not easy to play the piano with wet hands while wearing wet clothing. And, it's embarrassing. I mean, seriously - you would think this physical reaction would be bad enough; but, I know that other things can happen and usually will.

I've had some incredibly interesting experiences playing the piano in church. I used to accompany my brother-in-law every year when he sang the same solo during the Christmas season. Every single year something would go bananas. The first year he just decided, willy-nilly, to skip a verse without telling me. The second year, I truly believe he must have been overcome by the Holy Spirit - for what other reason would he add a verse where no verse belonged? This was in addition to the verse he left out the first year. And, the following year, one of the deacons decided to turn off the lights mid-performance. This was great. I could not see the music and neither could my brother-in-law. We were pitched into total darkness. So, I quit playing and he just sang la, la, la, la, la until he could find a way to end the song. It's pretty funny now and, to be truthful, it was pretty funny, then, too. I really find it ironic that the name of the song is "I know now..."  Really, if I knew then what I know now, it wouldn't have been half the experience because I would have talked someone else into doing the job.

It's not just my brother-in-law, though. My girlfriend has an exceptional voice and was asked to provide the special music at a neighboring church. So, I went along to play for her. Little beknownst to me, the entire service was broadcast "live" on the radio. Janice gets up to sing, we are tooling through the song and all of a sudden, she decides to go rogue - forgot to tell me she was going to repeat the chorus a few times more than it was written in the music. She had to sing some of that A Capella. It's my rule, when in doubt - stop playing and let the soloist figure out how to end the song. It's the real reason it is called a solo and it usually works pretty well - people most often just think it's in the plan and, when they see me smiling like a Cheshire cat and biting my bottom lip, they get all goosebumply and think I must be having a "God" moment. There is something about quiet distress that moves people, I guess.

I've had other frightening experiences. One time, someone turned on a fan and it blew my sheet music off the piano and completely out of reach. That time I had to stop, chase the music and start over with a shrug. I've had music turned upside down. I've had to ad lib my way through a page turn when the page refused to turn - these are all terrifying moments in the life of an accompanist.

As you can tell, this all adds to the hilarity of the moment and I am thankful that God must have a sense of humor since He rarely complains. I'm sure He is aware that it is hard to worship when I am nervous. I'm thankful He gives me a break and a chance to laugh at my silliness - even though the laughter doesn't come until after the fact.

I guess I take it to heart, though, because I feel music is the connecting force during the worship experience. It is what makes the service flow smoothly and what transitions the atmosphere from praise and worship to prayerful contemplation. It allows the words and the sounds of worship to seep into my soul. I'm always so afraid I'm going to mess that up for someone else.

This morning, we ended the service with "Give Thanks" and I was able to put aside all of the worry and stressful anxiety. I was finally able to lift my heart to God with thanks and in prayerful response to Him. I was able to express myself through the keyboard and it felt really sweet. I'm hopeful it was a joyful noise of praise from my heart to His.

So, until the next time... In between, I have to figure out a way to keep my hands dry.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Changes, Changes and more changes

Photo courtesy of Photo Bucket

I start my new job tomorrow. I am so ready to begin this next part of my journey. It has been an interesting six months. God has presented opportunities for me to learn many things - a lot of things about myself that I wasn't sure I was ready to learn.

I'm thankful for this time I have had. Often, people ask me if I am glad my "vacation" is over. I always get a kick out of that. I can tell you that being unemployed is not a vacation. There is not a single day that goes by that does not require some frustration, tenacity, diligence and a lot of prayer. It's hard work. It can be defeating and exhausting - mentally and emotionally and, yes, at times, even physically. What I do know for sure is that it has strengthened my faith. It has also taught me to be a better listener.

Tomorrow is a new start. Little did I know that this year was going to be filled with so many new beginnings. Changes abound - and, most of them, are very good.

By far, I know that God provides - in his time, in his way and in our need. His timing is always right - even if we don't realize it.

Tomorrow, I begin a new job. I know it will be filled with opportunities to make a difference, opportunities to utilize my skills and knowledge, opportunities to learn new things that will stretch and challenge me. And, I know I will have opportunities to share God's love with the people I will be working with. It is my prayer that I am able to be a vessel that God will use to make a difference in someone's life. I would not have been ready for this in quite the same way six months ago.

I am a little apprehensive, a little scared and, a little bit tired. Tonight, though, I'm just going to let go of all this for a while and let my mind rest of worry over all of the "what ifs". All the badgering self-talk that defeats me of the joy of living where I am - right now!

Tomorrow - a new day, a new beginning full of new opportunities. Pretty sweet.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Beacon of Love

Joe and I belong to a special community of believers that attend St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. 
Joe and I first visited St. Michael’s six years ago and it was an interesting experience. Joe was raised Catholic and I was raised Southern Baptist. How we ever ended up being married is truly a wonder. But, God knew our hearts better than we did and chose to help us find one another.
While we were dating, we visited many different churches of many different  denominations. We both knew that we had to ground our marriage in a place where we would be surrounded by love and nurtured by prayer - a place where we could grow together in God’s love. Yet, we also were pretty firmly rooted in our own faith traditions - not so much theologically and more, perhaps, in the way we were taught to express ourselves. Joe is much more conservative and I, on the other hand, have no quarrel with offering a hearty Amen and tapping my foot and clapping my hands to a good Gospel tune.
Joe quietly refused to really get involved in a Baptist church and I, on the other hand, flatly and loudly refused to go to the Catholic church. So silly, really. We each had our reasons for standing firmly on the principles we thought we needed to defend. However, we both knew this situation was not healthy for us. So, we found ourselves at St. Michael’s. Again, God knew our hearts better than we did. I’m always amazed by that.
I’m telling you this little church is a beacon of Love. Not many realize it - not even many members of our own congregation. One of the things that completely astounds me is how freely and easily the people of our congregation love each other and love the Lord. It happens every day and in the most ordinary ways.
Of course,  there are the different ministries of the church - places where people expect to meet God and usually do. I’m talking about the other stuff - I like to call them whispers of love - things like a phone call, email or personal note that are reminders that someone is thinking of us, praying for us, loving us. And, most often, when we need it the most. I’m talking about the times one of our members goes out of their way, each Sunday for close to a year now, to give a ride to one of our other members that does not have a car. I’m talking about the times someone has brought donuts to Christian Education - just because; or, the times someone has weeded a garden to make something beautiful out of a bug and weed infested bit of chaos. I’m talking about the many ways the people of our church say “yes” to whatever is asked of them - even if it means they have to sacrifice or go beyond their familiar to do what is requested.
I’ve been the recipient of those whispers of love more often than I can count. I know all I have to do is shoot an email pleading for help or a “circle the prayer wagons” request and, immediately, I am being prayed for and the need is lifted to the God of Love. It is such a comfort to know that “help” is on its way. It’s like finally hearing the ambulance siren getting louder and louder as it rumbles its way through the neighborhood and to my front door. Usually, the request is soon followed by a phone call or two, a warm hug waiting for me the next time I am at church - or someone grabbing my hand and hanging on tightly during the Lord’s prayer. No words usually spoken and all acts of love.
St. Michael’s is a beautiful place and not only because of its physical structure. It’s a place of God, a place of worship and, for me, a place where I can love and be loved - freely and abundantly. I’m so thankful that Joe and I found this little church - a place where we would be surrounded by love and nurtured by prayer - a place where our hearts continue to grow together in God’s love and through His grace. Yes, God knows our hearts better than we do. He directed us to this beacon of love - It continues to amaze me.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Been Busy

 A quick update to say I have been kind of busy. I am starting a new job on Monday. A blessing and we are very thankful. And, this week, I am helping with Vacation Bible School and a women's event on Friday. All of this to say, I haven't had a chance to update my blog. I have a lot to share - lots of lessons learned and will be posting it all soon.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Closed Doors and Open Windows

Today I am thinking about how God continues to move in my life in so many unexpected and incredible ways.

I am grateful. I am humbled. I am astonished. And, in the midst of these emotions and many, many others, I am wrapped in His sweet, sweet love.


Monday, June 28, 2010

June 28th

Twenty-one years ago today my father died. Even after all of this time, it's hard to write these words. They seem so final. Yet, even though I know the reality of the words are true, it is amazing to believe them when not a single day goes by that I don't think about him in some way.

I loved my Dad. He loved God. He loved his family and his friends. He found pleasure in the simple things of life - nature, reading, gardening, a good ball game (no matter the sport), all kinds of music, art, food, animals, ham radio, learning something new. He had a great smile, twinkling eyes, a muttley-the-dog laugh and beautiful hands.

So much of who I am is because of what He taught me. Some things he often learned by the mistakes he made in his own life. Mistakes he wanted me to avoid. He taught me the integrity of the lessons he learned.

He taught me how to play first base, how to catch and throw a softball - I never did get the hang of the bat, though. He taught me the appreciation of a good western movie, the pleasure of a good book, good poetry, a good steak and how to light a firecracker. He taught me how to mow the grass, how to plant a tree and how to prune a rose bush. He taught me to laugh easily and to not take myself so seriously. He taught me that the true test of a person's character is what they do and who they are when they are alone and no one is watching. He taught me that loving is hard work - whether I am the one to give or the one to receive. He taught me that hard work is worthwhile and how to value the things I have received and how to protect them and to take care of them. He taught me how to be a humble winner and a gracious loser. He taught me that adversity is often a part of life and there are always consequences to every decision that is made. He taught me to seek God with all of my heart, how to be faithful and to pray with confidence that God always listens and that it is okay to tell God how I feel. Lots of lessons that I needed to learn and to make constants in my own life.

Twelve years ago today, Joe proposed to me. I love this. I love the bittersweet connection of these two significant moments in my life. Dad never met Joe and I know they would have had fun together and enjoyed each other because they share so many of the same interests. And, I am certain my Dad would be proud of Joe and who he is and the way that he loves me. I like to think Dad would have been proud of the choice I made in a life partner and be pleased that I was never willing to settle for less than what he taught me God desired for me. Joe often tells me he wishes he could have known my father. I wish that, too.

June 28th is indeed a special day for me - a day to think about the precious gift of love that has always enveloped my life. The love of my Dad who taught me about my heavenly Father's love, a love that provided a foundation where I could grow and learn how to love; and, the love of Joe, a love that sustains me, challenges me and grows with me as we walk this journey called Life.

I am so grateful and I am so incredibly blessed.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ode to Joy!

Photo courtesy of

Holy Cow! I just completed the book, Dancing with My Father - How God Leads Us into a Life of Grace and Joy by Sally Clarkson. I'm not certain and I think she wrote this book just for me - talk about a really rich book packed with all kinds of wisdom and important stuff I need to know. Here are just a couple of tidbits she shares that I have been pondering:
"..Trials are rarely over quickly, and God does not work on our preferred timetable... he is more committed to the process of our growth than to our immediate gratification. As we submit to his will, we will find that we were made or suited to find joy in that place."
"...The key to joy in the midst of trials is in knowing and believing that God is always good. Always."
"...I must remember and choose to believe that he is working even when I can't see him; that this test is the work of my life-my opportunity to have a testimony or story of his faithfulness. Then each day, each minute, I must turn my heart toward praise, thanksgiving, and rest, knowing that God is producing in me the character of Christ."
"...Worrying and fretting just squeeze our joy. I can't live in both worlds at once-the peace of Christ and the worry of the world-so I must turn my back on fear or dread and turn my face toward his promises as I wait in the knowledge of his grace."
"...I choose to turn my heart away from doubt and stand firmly in your light, expecting you to show me your plan!"
So, what do you think? See what I mean - good stuff, right?

Side note:  I'm off for a girl's weekend at the lake and am looking forward to some fun, sun and lots of laughing. So, as my 3-yr. old granddaughter likes to say as she runs to the car, "Peace out and I'm outta here."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

a whisper of love wrapped in a rainbow

Joe and I had a storm yesterday. We were minding our own sweet business and going about our day- Joe at work and me, at home with my mom, trying to babysit a garage sale. And, as life will have it, all of our priorities changed with a single phone call. I hate it when that happens.

The phone call was from our daughter telling me that she and her year-old son need a place to stay for a while since she had left her husband while being in a very difficult marriage. This bombshell, dropped into our lives, brings a lot of different perspectives. First of all, everyone is safe and healthy and the situation is NOT life and death. That established, from a purely selfish perspective, we are looking at some HUGE changes in our lives - for all of us and even for Hank, our dog. I would call this situation a head shaker because that is the only response I had to offer as I played all the different scenarios through my mind. As I have repeatedly mentioned, I'm a list maker, a problem solver, a girl who has to have a plan. Didn't I just tell the blog world I don't function well without a plan (see last post)? OH NO!

I immediately called Joe and explained what was going on. I'm sure he was perplexed as I was when we hung up the phone. I know questions were racing through his head, as well. I know he was trying to figure out his own response to this news and he was rightly concerned about mine.

I like to think that I usually handle tough situations with a fairly even response. Oh, I may get excited until I can wrap my arms around the situation and I don't think I panic - at least for very long. Yesterday, I stayed calm on the outside while my insides were going ballistic. I believe someone was playing pin ball in my head. The question continually going through my mind was, "What are we going to do about this?" Our lives and our home are not prepared for others to live with us - especially a baby who is just beginning to walk. Our house is not baby proof. I don't have a job. How will we afford this? How can we be supportive emotionally and financially when we have so much going on in our own lives at the moment? How can I help fill her with the support she needs when my own pitcher is so dangerously low? And, truth be told, I am hanging on by a thread as it is and I am just plain scared. Scared of change, scared of the intrusion into my routine. I don't want to have to deal with this - at all. And, yet, Love reminds me I am bigger than these feelings.

My mom was here when I received the call. I asked her, "What are we going to do about this?" Her response was so wise - "You are just going to love her and, when you do, it will make her strong. It will make you stronger, too." I read that now and it makes me cry. Yesterday all I could think was "I don't know if I am strong enough to do that." Today, I'm still not sure; but, I'm willing to give it a go.

Joe got home last night and we were able to have a very frank and honest discussion about options and expectations - of each other and of our daughter. At this point, the discussion was just between the two of us and not with our daughter. It was a bit of a storm. I guess, really, just a fairly strong gust of wind or, maybe, a squall. And, we both (well, mainly me) spoke out of fear, frustration and anxiety. And, to keep this metaphor going, it did clear the air.

After we were finished sharing our thoughts and letting them soak in, I went upstairs to our bedroom and looked out the window. It was around 7PM and dark on the east side of our house and the sun brightly shining in the west. It had been drippy humid all day and the air was heavy with a storm wanting to rant and rave - fit my mood perfectly. However, when I looked out the window I was surprised to find a reminder of a promise - a full rainbow (a double one) - two perfect arcs back lit across the dark sky. I just stood there and cried and, finally, I was able to be thankful and to, once again, praise Him in this storm. Perfect timing, God. Another whisper of love and, this time, wrapped in a rainbow.

I know that loving someone is a great responsibility. Yesterday morning, before I got up, I prayed God would use me as His vessel throughout the day to show his love to all those strangers I would meet at this garage sale. Little did I know He planned to bring the opportunity into our home and for one of our very own.

We have an opportunity to make a difference in our daughter's life, to help her rebuild her self-esteem, to see her laugh and to enjoy her family. To help her to live her life with honesty - to learn to trust us and to trust herself. To help provide her the tools she needs to make good decisions in her life and to know others believe in her. We have the opportunity to show her God's love and to be examples of His Grace. Scares me - you bet! And, I'm thankful for the opportunity and will not take the responsibility lightly.

Joe and I are excited because we will have the opportunity to develop a relationship with our grandson - uniquely his own and our own. We will love him like crazy. We may not have had that otherwise.

Today, I'm still scared. But, I know God's love is bigger than I am and His love will sustain us. And, the truly amazing part - He has a plan and I'm a part of it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What does it mean when God says "Maybe..."?

Lately I've been thinking a lot about "maybes". We all have them, offer them, accept them and are frustrated by them.  Right now, "maybes" seem to be a huge part of our lives. And, for a control freak like I am - there is no maybe about it. The word drives me nuts.

To function well, I need parameters. I need structure. I need a plan and a direction. I need to know when I am on the right path and when I am going in the wrong direction. I need a firm decision. And, for some reason and right now, I find myself right in the middle of a huge "maybe." Ha! Maybe I'm getting all those "needs" I just listed confused with "wants".

I am still looking for a job. It has been five months. The time has flown by and we have been very blessed. It has been a time of self-awareness, a time of growth and a time of trust. A time of trust in what God has planned for us and a time of trust between Joe and me. From the beginning, Joe and I feel we have been faithful to listen to God's direction and have trusted Him to guide us and to walk with us on this path. And, I have felt peace. I continue to feel peaceful about where we are along this journey and I have no idea where that is. And, I have to be honest. I am tired and frustrated and just a lot frazzled. I think a rest stop would be very welcome.

I believe that God loves us when we pray and open ourselves to Him. I believe that now, more than ever in my life, I have tried to listen well and not throw myself on the floor in a fit of hysterics and shout a litany of all the things I need or want. God's will - My will. It's a constant struggle to give up my will and I know it is necessary - faith, trust, obedience - every moment of every day. I do my best. I just don't know what to do differently to understand where God is leading us - especially, when the answers seem to be vague and out of reach.

In the process of seeking a job, I have been presented with some really great opportunities. I have had interviews with five wonderful companies which have resulted in several call-back interviews with each. On the average, I have interviewed with each company for over six hours. Joe and I have diligently prayed that the right doors be opened and that we would know for certain - without doubt - that these would be the doors where God is directing our steps. We have walked through the door, everything has gone great and then, for whatever reason, we have been put on hold - sometimes perpetually, or so it seems. I have only received two rejection letters from these five companies. I have been diligent in my follow-up with each and, yet, the doors are never FIRMLY shut - they remain open and I have been asked to wait patiently and an answer will be coming soon. I don't understand why the doors are not shut when given the opportunity to do so. The positions have still not been filled. So, we wait and are becoming frustrated.

So, the question:  What does it mean when God says "maybe"? I know that, as the saying goes, delays are not denials. However, I'm perplexed. Joe and I continually pray that God will reveal His will for us and to provide for us. We are anxious to follow where He takes us.

Yesterday, we had a visitor at our church that spoke only Spanish - No English. Come to find out, the young man is from Cuba, is here visiting friends and is a musician. After the service, I was just outside the sanctuary and I could hear this familiar hymn being played beautifully and prayerfully on the piano in the room I just left:
"All to Jesus, I surrender, all to Him, I freely give. I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live. I surrender all. I surrender all. All to thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all."
I immediately turned around and ran back to the sanctuary and just stood there and listened. Of course, tears were running rapids down my face. I couldn't help it. Oh man, Oh man. I was standing there like a parched garden being refreshed with a cool summer rain. Joe was standing beside me, saw my face and just gently squeezed my shoulder. Heart to heart - I think we were in the same place. A rest stop on this journey - a message straight to my soul. I surrender all...Maybe...

... I need to think about what this really means.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Build it and they will come...

Joe and I have lived in our home for seven years. And, for seven years we have been discussing what we would like to do with our yard. We're going to put up a fence, we're going to expand our deck, we're going to expand our patio, we're going to build a cool place for the hammock and for my swing. We're going to landscape and plant a couple of flowering trees and a river birch. And, here we are, seven years down the road, and no closer to finishing any of these projects than when we started the discussion. But, we can dream, can't we? You bet we can. And, we do...

Finally, last year, we decided we needed to do "something" to make our yard more livable, more enjoyable and more "home". So, we planted a few flowers and a few bushes - a mock orange, a red wiegela and a couple of butterfly bushes, lots of cone flowers, some black-eyed Susans and some other "butterfly inviting" plants.

The butterfly bush was a great hit. The gal at the nursery told me that we would have butterflies as soon as I planted the thing in the ground. "They just loooove them," is what she said. And, so it was. Literally, we planted the bush, went into the house, looked out the window and there was a huge monarch butterfly on the bush. That was the beginning of last summer. I haven't seen one since. I think, maybe, it traveled home with us already attached to the plant.

We made a bird and butterfly oasis around our maple tree in the back corner of our lot. We filled it with all kinds of perennials and annuals, a bird bath and a statue of St. Francis. We also filled it with 30 bags of mulch. I can tell you, it takes a lot of mulch to make things look nice.

This year, we have cleaned away all of the winter debris in the oasis and have started anew. We planted a few more perennials, a couple of annuals for color and added a few more bird feeders. It is like the Ryan's Steakhouse Smorgasbord Buffet for birds. We put out the feed; and, in a matter of hours, the place is teeming with folks we have never seen before. So far, we have red-winged blackbirds, mourning doves (interesting, fat birds), goldfinches and other kinds of finches. We have robins, sparrows, a blue jay and a "couple" of cardinals. They eat breakfast and then they eat again around dinnertime. Joe and I sit on our porch and enjoy the view. We have a nice community. They have their place and we have ours and it is nice and comforting to be able to share the same air and share a meal. And, here's the good part, they provide the music.

This year, we have a new visitor. I saw him a few days ago scoping out the joint. As I said, we have lived in our home for seven years. In that time I believe we have hardly ever seen a squirrel in our yard or the neighborhood. Come to find out, this big guy lives in our neighbor's yard - the yard behind us and two doors up -  the only yard with big, established trees - and now, he has discovered the new restaurant in town. Only problem is he likes to eat everything and a lot of it. And, he's messy.

Oh well, I guess we will be enjoying the antics of this beast. I don't have the heart to try and keep him out of the bird's food and they seem to tolerate his presence without any issues. He is probably more persistent than Joe and me; plus, I figure, he is hungry, too. So we will try to share with him, as well. Hank (the crazy doodle) has never seen a squirrel so has no idea what to do with one. His only objective is to try to make friends. He's a good dog. So, everyone is safe.

We love all of this nature around us. The flowers are growing and some are blooming. The trees are filling out and now provide some lovely shade and a cool breeze. The birds and the squirrel are fun to watch and it is gratifying to know that we can help provide food for their needs and they bring such enjoyment to us in exchange. Yes, I love our little oasis and I hope these creatures do, too. As the saying goes..."build it and they will come". It's true and a mystery. We built the thing and they just showed up.

And, this is only the beginning of summer. We have things to look forward to - all of our flowers will be in full bloom soon, the buds on our tomatoes will be turning to big, juicy fruit. The red and green peppers, growing in pots on our porch, are already showing great promise. The herbs will be put to good use. And, maybe - just maybe - we will actually see butterflies on that spectacular butterfly-friendly bush.

Summer - it's the season to break new ground, to plant new seeds, to nurture, to grow, to protect, to spread our wings, to try new things, to relax and to be thankful for the way God provides for us. This year, as I watch our birds, I am reminded again and again that God provides for us in so many ways. And, I remember to be thankful. After all, his eye is on the sparrow...

    1. Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
      Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
      When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
      His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

      • Refrain:
        I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
        For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

      “Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
      And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
      Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
      His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
      His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
    2. Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
      When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
      I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
      His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
      His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas - Culinary Delight

I love enchiladas! I love chicken enchiladas! I made up my very own recipe the other night. It came out so great I thought I'd share it with you (in case you love enchiladas like I do). Here you go: WARNING!! - Be sure you are wearing pants with an elastic waistband. This is not Fat Free or Calorie Free.

Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees

One (1) roasted chicken (I bought mine at Price Chopper and you can also buy one at Costco or Sam's). I like these because they are slow roasted and are ALWAYS tender and always great. I can't make one this good and it saves a lot of time. You can buy them seasoned with lime or smoked, as well, if you want to shake up the flavor a bit.

2 cups sour cream - can use non-fat
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can green chilies (drained). I just learned you can buy these in different "hotness" - who knew? I'm  
        pretty sure these were pretty mild but suit your own taste.
Salt & Pepper to taste - I used a lot of course black pepper
Emeril's Southwest Seasoning - to taste - I used about 2 teaspoons or a little more
1 cup Monterey Jack/Colby cheese
2 cups Mexican style Pepperjack cheese (Kraft)
Flour Tortillas - 3 or 4, 10"

Large mixing bowl
9x12 baking dish (spray with Pam or grease lightly)

Pull the skin off the chicken and then pull the meat off the bone - I used both white and dark meat. Tear meat into bite-size pieces. Put chicken & everything else, EXCEPT four tortillas and about 1/2 cup of the Pepperjack cheese, in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. You may want to mix the soup, sour cream and chilies/seasoning together before adding the cheese - it makes the mixing a little easier and more thorough.

Now, layer all of the ingredients in the baking dish. Start with a thin layer of the soup mixture and then one layer of Flour Tortillas. Repeat until you have used everything. End with the soup mixture. (I believe I only had two layers of the flour tortillas. Sprinkle the remaining cheese (or however much you choose) over the top of the enchiladas and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes or so in a 350 degree oven. It is done when heated thoroughly and the cheese is gooey (technical term).

This recipe is Simple, Easy, Not Rocket-Science and Delicious.

Serve with tortilla chips, rice, beans, salsa, pico - whatever makes your mouth water and Enjoy!  Yum, these are really good. And, if anything is leftover, you can eat it for lunch the next day and it still will taste great. I know!

Monday, May 24, 2010

One Voice and One Heart

Photo Courtesy Photobucket

There we are, holding hands while we sing The Lord's Prayer. Sunday after Sunday. It is the tradition at our church! During the "Our Father", we reach our hands out side to side and join hands with those closest to us until everyone is linked together and, then, we either recite or sing the Lord's Prayer.

Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your Name,
    your kingdom come,
    your will be done,
        on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
    as we forgive those
        who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
    and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
    and the glory are yours,
    now and for ever. Amen.

This past Sunday was no different. The time comes, we all scramble around to be sure we are all connected, hand-to-hand, in some form or fashion. It's always amazing to me how tricky it is to accomplish this hand-holding feat.

We are finally settled and then we begin - this week we are singing..."Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name..." For some reason, this is always about the spot I get choked up. I get locked up in the moment and the tears start to run down my cheeks. I can't force the words past the lump in my throat. I love to listen to the voices of those praying with me while I lift my own in the silence of my heart. It's not the words, so much, that get to me. It is the connection we share, heart to heart, in that moment.

I stand there and I am connected to all of these people that I have grown to love. I hear John singing in his shaky, 90-year old voice. And, I am overcome with the thought of the number of Sundays he has lifted his voice to pray this same prayer.

This past Sunday I found myself holding hands with Joe who is in the process of loving his mother as he is watching her slowly make her transition into God's presence. I can feel the fullness of his heart through his voice and the tight grip of his hand. He sings the words boldly - when his heart must be breaking. Halfway through the prayer, I feel another hand grab hold of mine. I hear this voice softly singing the words.."Save us from the time of trial..." and I recognize the voice of Jeremy, a 14 year old young man, who is dealing with the unexpected death, only a few days before, of his mother. And, I can feel his hands shake along with his voice. At this point, I am totally undone. My heart is full. And, I think about my own full bucket. It seems so trivial compared to those around me. Yes, I have my own things I'm trying to sort out and that I carry with me. However, in that moment, it seems as if the bucket is not quite so heavy because I am surrounded by faith, hope and love. These people help me carry the load. So, I tighten my grip on both of these hands that are holding mine - willing them to know that Love is big.

I am thankful for this tradition and this beautiful gift and this moment. When we are finished, I find myself wanting to hang on to these hands and hearts. I don't want to let go. I understand that the beauty is in the connection and the love we share with each other - through the outpouring of our hearts to one another. And, through the outpouring of our hearts to God.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hank and the Dog Bath Blues

Hank is our dog. He's BIG. He's fluffy. He's stinky. He's miserable. He's a MESS! I just dropped him off to be groomed this morning. Joe and I are bad, bad parents. We have been trying to get him to the groomer for several months now and have been procrastinating. It costs a lot of money to give this dog a bath and a haircut. But, I could stand it no longer - the dog reeks.

We have tried the bath thing at home and quickly discovered it is not the best idea. One time, after he had rolled in something disgusting, we had the bright idea to put him in the shower and Joe would get in there with him and scrub him down. That was an interesting idea. We've only done that once. Turned out, it wasn't such a good idea. My house was really wet - even the walls; and, so was Joe. And, so was I.

Another time, I tried to give him a bath outside and with the garden hose. That was not a good idea either. He was patient and let me soap him up and rinse him off - even though the water was pretty cold. I was so proud. He was nice and clean. Then I let go of him. He proceeded to take off and run his classic figure eight pattern, touching his nose to all four corners of our yard at 35mph, complete with hairpin turns. That dog runs for Glory. Now, he was wet and green up to his knees and his entire under belly - Joe had just cut the grass. I wouldn't mind all of this so much if I didn't feel like he was laughing at me - Hank, not Joe.

So, this morning, he was going on a trip to be groomed. I sang a song for him, too, just so he would be ready. It was a bluesy number that lamented his plight. It went like this:

You're going to get a bath...
Because you smell so bad...
You're going to smell so sweet...
No more "Frito" feet...

I think He liked it. I could see his head bopping along with the beat.

Now, he is enjoying his makeover and I am writing this blog and I am completely dumbstruck...

The last thing I saw as I left the room was Hank jumping up onto the grooming table. The table top is four feet in the air. The groomer wasn't ready for him yet. She was across the room getting her stuff together. Mind you, whenever we take a trip to the vet or to the groomer, Hank is usually stuck to my side like white on rice. He is usually more than ready to leave with me. He doesn't like to be left alone in places like this. Usually, if possible, he is grabbing my keys, running out the door toward the car and barking that he will drive. He is not a brave soul. However, there was my boy, jumping onto the table and all ready for business. He sat down and then - this is the ultimate...

...He looked back at me over his shoulder and He SMILED!

I'm even fairly certain I saw his head bopping and, I think, maybe I heard a hum...

I'm going to get a bath...
Because I smell so bad...

I love our dog!

UPDATE:  The groomer called and told me Hank was ready to be picked up. When I got there, she took me to the back room where all the dogs are drying and fluffing out. I looked everywhere for Hank. The only dog close to his size was something with really short hair and a really long tongue. Talk about a makeover - I didn't recognize my own dog.  He went in a Doodle and came out a Poodle - go figure. Evidently, his groomer went for the "summer cut". And, his ears are longer on one side than the other. Oh well, he's happy. I think I will leave the ears. I kind of like them this way. He can be a trend setter (not to be confused, though, with an Irish Setter).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

50 New things update

Well, vacation brought about a lot of "new" things to add to my list and I have a few other things to add since I've been home. So, here goes:

I'm psyching myself up for this adventure.

1. I traveled a zip line through the canopy of the Mexican jungle - one line was 1/2 mile over a river that was far below. Just to be clear, I am not too excited about heights and I get vertigo very badly when I have nothing underneath me. However, I even went backwards with one of the guides - not on this long line, a much shorter one. It was so incredibly awesome. Of course, I was hooked securely to the zip line and the guides there made us feel very safe. The most difficult part was walking on rubbery legs to the next jumping off point and then hitching my "sexy leg" up (that's what they tell you - "sexy leg") so I could be hooked up without being goosed - I am so OUT OF SHAPE!

2. I rode in a cab in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - this was much scarier than the zip line, I assure you. There ARE stop signs in this city. However, I don't believe they are acknowledged by anyone - the streets are cobblestone and very narrow. There is a lot of traffic and they drive fast and stop slow and like to weave in and around other vehicles - and pedestrians. I'd rather get my adrenaline rush through the canopy of the jungle. Or walk - but that is scary, too, on those narrow roads (without any shoulder).

3. Joe and I enjoyed a back massage in a little hut by the beach - felt great. This was also Joe's first time to have a massage so he thought it was a pretty good thing. I'm hoping for many more massages in my future.

4. I watched Joe eat Octopus AND squid - I don't know why that grosses me out! I could hardly watch him take a bite. In fact, I don't think I did - Yuck! From the look on his face and his total concentration, he doesn't seem too awfully sure about the stuff, either. However, he says it tasted pretty good.

5. I sang Karaoke in public. This is usually just something I do in the privacy of my home. But, I thought - what the heck, I will never see these people again. So, Abbey and I sang a duet. We did justice to "Come Together" by the Beatles. I never knew that song had so many words.

6. I woke up each morning with the sound of the surf on the shore - pretty cool.

7. I had my hair colored and restyled yesterday. I like the cut. For some reason, these hair stylists can't seem to get my "natural color" to be correct - even with a picture. I went in with faded red/auburn hair with lots of grey and came out brown (but, without any grey - thank goodness) - go figure. I enjoy being red-headed since I have always had red hair. I was born with it. I don't know how to act with mouse brown hair - so, we will see. I have 5 more days to determine if I want something to be changed.

8.  We celebrated my grandson's 1st birthday. He loved the cake!

I think he's wondering if he's going to have to share - Ooohhh, this stuff is good!

By the end, he knew exactly what to do with that icing.

8. I discovered my soon-to-be 3 yr old granddaughter knows how to use our VERY expensive camera. She and her cousins visited the other night and, after they left, I found the camera under the bed in our guest room. We had a house with 8 adults and no one seemed to see the little one carrying the camera through the house. It is almost as big as her head. I think she is going to be famous one day for her photography. These are terrific shots. But, now that I am look at them, I think she may have had some help - she's not quite tall enough for some of these angles, hmmmm. I wish I knew what she was thinking when she took these...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mass - an addition to my list of "50 new things"

En el nombre del Padre y del Hijo y del EspĂ­ritu Santo

We attended a Catholic Mass while we were on vacation last week. This event, in and of itself, is not so remarkable since two of the three of us, at an earlier time in our lives, were members of this denomination. The truly incredible thing about this event is that the mass was spoken entirely in SPANISH.

Why did we go to a Catholic, Spanish-spoken mass, you may be asking? To worship, of course. And, it was great - even though the only words we could identify were Jesus, Dios, madre de dios, Padre, Senor (Lord), hosanna, aleluya and amen. We could understand enough to follow along.

We entered a small room on the resort that was set up for the worship service. There were rows of chairs, all dressed in white coverings. Someone had placed a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe on a table at the front of the room - the only indications this room was set up for a religious service. At the back, by the door, there were several fliers provided so we could follow the service. They were the readings for the day (in several different languages). And, in addition, someone had thoughtfully provided an Order for Worship that contained the worship service written in parallel columns - one in Spanish and the other in English and some other language I could not identify. This allowed the non-Spanish speaking people, like us, to at least pretend we knew what was happening and when.

The priest finally arrived about 10 minutes after the service was scheduled to begin - the Mexican clock moves a little more slowly, we learned. He was wearing jeans and a t-shirt and sporting a backpack. No clerical collar could be seen. We weren't sure he was the priest until he began changing into his vestments. This made everyone feel more comfortable  - at least those of us who were practicing catholics at a previous time.

My favorite parts of the service were the singing, the offering of the peace and sharing Communion.

The singing was awesome even though I didn't know the songs. There was a woman sitting in front of us that sang loud and proud. It was a very small room so the sound that filled the room rang off of the walls. To me, there is nothing better than hearing voices lifted to God in praise and with one heart. I could not understand a word that was being sung and, yet, I found my eyes begin to sting and my heart was full.

I sat there thinking, "Wow, who knew God could understand all these languages?" Intellectually, I believe that God knows all, understands all and listens to all. However, this experience was a lesson in the truth of this belief.

The  Offering of Peace was also a great experience. It was so sweet to hold hands with other believers and share God's Peace. Again, we could not understand the words that were spoken and we could understand what was being offered from our hearts. God's peace! Pretty powerful.

We were a little nervous about Communion. We all really wanted to share. However, in the Catholic church, the sacraments of Communion are only offered to those who are members of the Catholic faith. This theology is different from my own and that is a blog to explore on another day. However, in spite of not being able to share the physical sacraments - I still left there full. It was a reverent time for me. I realized that "communion" was happening between all of us in that room - Catholic or otherwise. God's love was a living presence between us regardless of whether we broke the bread together and shared the cup.

I learned lots of things that morning. I learned some Spanish words - like Senor is the word they use for Lord. I learned that the woman in front of us tolerated no disrespect in God's house - this was taught when she leaned forward and told the young man in front of her to pull up his pants (they were sagging south, a bit).

And, by far, the most important thing I learned is that God speaks the language of Love with a voice of Love and it is easy to understand - if only I listen with my heart.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Portraits of Mexico

We just returned from a week's vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. So, I'm going to write a few words in Spanish. However, I only know a few phrases so this part will be very short - And, it is important information. It is a public service announcement for anyone traveling to this part of the country...The Spanish translation is in blue.

"Hello, do you know where I can find the bathroom, please?"
            "Hola, donde esta la bana? Por favor."
 "Yes, What, five pesos? Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha!"
            "Si, Que, cinco pesatos? Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha!"
 "What's happening?"
            "Que pasa?"
 "Thank you very much. Goodbye - You have got to be kidding!!!
             "Muchas Gracias, Adios! You have got to be kidding!!!
 "Joe, JOE, I need five pesos, please, yes five pesos. You have to PAY to go to the bathroom...sigh"
             "Pepe, PEPE, tengo cinco pesatos, por favor. Si, cinco pesatos. YOU HAVE TO PAY TO GO TO THE BANA, SIGH?"
(Note, I know the question marks need to be upside down and I have not written this to be gramatically correct) These really are all of the words you need to know to get around safely and with dry underwear. But, I can tell you this. Don't go to the country without a pocketful of five pesos - it can be a risky move.

So many things about this trip have caused me to think and to wonder. Most of us know we are privileged to live in the United States. But, until you travel to a country that has so much less and until you stay in a resort that caters to your every whim, that fact does not really travel home. Let me rephrase, a country that has so much less and works so hard for what they have and, yet, who are seemingly very happy people - the fact that I am so spoiled and privileged did not really travel home.

There are many things I brought home with me from this trip. The country is beautiful, the country is poor and the people we encountered have happy hearts. They also have at least this one thing in common. They LOVE to have their picture taken. And, they are not shy about letting you know. I found it so intriguing. Joe and I talked about this quite a bit. Maybe it is because they want to feel important, maybe they are just trying to make a little extra money, maybe they just want to be recognized and to put their stamp on this world in a permanent way. Whatever the reason, I'm thankful because I was able to offer them all of these things for just a short while. They opened my eyes to seeing others and to wanting to give them that moment.

We were walking through the city and an open air market. I was carrying my Nikon around my neck. Since it is a fairly noticeable camera (meaning too big to fit in my pocket), I was asked repeatedly if I was a professional or an amateur photographer. This cracked me up right off the bat - what I am is a picture taking fool. So, I thought this was fairly hilarious.

I was waiting for my husband and our friends and I had stopped along one of the stalls to rest. Across the way, I noticed two men that kept waving their arms, trying to get my attention and pointing to my camera and then to themselves. Apparently they wanted me to take their picture. So, I did.

I asked them to smile for me. So, they did (Isn't it GREAT?).

We continued on our walk through the city and along the oceanfront and we ran into this character. I had noticed him weaving back and forth in front of us as we walked along. We sat down and he circled back and came running up to us and said, "Hi, I'm Mexican from Mexico, take my picture." So, I did. Luckily Anthony was there to make the picture even better - the local guy is the little guy on the right. I didn't ask him to smile; but, he did. He was very happy.

We had dinner in a small village across the road from the resort. A stark contrast to say the least. We ate dinner in this placed called "Tony's Hide Away" that has delicious seafood. The restaurant is tucked away on the second floor of this adobe building and is "open air" - meaning no windows. We could look out over the village from the balcony. Again, I'm taking pictures of all I can see and we notice these arms waving at us from down below and from one of the other rooftops. Like I said, these people are NOT shy. I love the smiles...

I like the boys. We did not even know they were there until we could see their arms waving and could hear them laughing. I wonder what they were saying to each other.

As we walked back to the resort, we followed the road through the village. Here are some other moments that touched me:

AND, my personal favorite. I asked him to smile...and, he did!

I'm thankful for these moments in time - captured forever by the lens of my camera. But, hopefully and more importantly, captured forever by the lens of my heart.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Oh Boy!

Sorry the blog has not been updated for a while. We've been busy with some exciting opportunities lately and we were in Mexico last week (vacation). I have lots of things to add to my "50" list - so, keep tuned - lots of new stuff will be coming soon!

Happy Mother's Day to all - I pray you feel God's Love surrounding you today!

Friday, April 23, 2010

It's all about You, Jesus!

Tonight is our first Oh, For Fun (OFF) on Friday women events at our church. So many prayers, so many hands and hearts at work with love, so many faithful women saying yes to this possibility. God has provided all of these things so we may present His love to our friends, our family, the women of our church, the women of our community. My heart is FULL! This song has been in front of me all day and I think it says it all. ..

Matt Redman - Heart of Worship - click here to see video and to hear the song.

It's all about you, Jesus!