Monday, March 31, 2008

Why Are We Surprised?

It seems as though the headlines are just inundated these days with news stories about our struggling economy. Personally, I wonder why we, as a country are surprised.

The first time Cliff & I looked to buy a house, around 20 years ago, we were told we could get financed for up to 100,000. Today, this amount of money would hardly buy a small starter home but 20 years ago, you could buy a HUGE house with that kind of money. We were NOT making that much money. At the time, I thought it was crazy that we could get financed for that much more than we made. It didn't even seem to matter to the financing company whether or not we could make the payments or not. So, if we bought a house, already that much over our heads, we wouldn't have even considered the costs of maintaining a house. Repairs, insurance, and costs of heating and cooling a larger home. We would have NEVER made it. I'm just dumbfounded that we, as a country are just so surprised to find ourselved in debt. Didn't we realized that years of living on credit and beyond our means would eventually catch up with us??

In our home, we are working on changing our ways. With fuel costs going up, and food prices on the rise, we are having to make some lifestyle changes in an effort to keep our expenses down. We're cutting down fuel consumption, electricity, water, and thanks to some very educational blogs, I've been able to cut our grocery bill in half!

We're chipping away at it every day but here in our house, the economic news is not bad news. It's good. And every day here in bloggyland, I'm reading of families, just like us who are determined NOT to be another statistic but an exception to the doom and gloom economic forcast!!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Musical Honor

When I was in the 5th grade, my parents bought a piano and came home with piano lesson books for all of us. My dad could play several instruments but piano and organ are his specialty. The plan was that my dad would give all of us lessons (including my mom!) We all did well for about a year or so. Then things must have gotten busy because the piano lessons got sporadic over the course of the next 2 years. I think my mom may have been the first to quit, followed by my brother and sister. I, however, stuck with it. I distinctly remember the summer I was in 8th grade, it seemed like all I did was play the piano. I've always been involved in music at church. I was the church pianist for years and sang with the choir and other groups. These days, I play the keyboard for our Sunday morning services.

When I had my children, I wanted music to be a part of their lives. Josh and Amy seemed to be naturally musically inclined. They loved to sing when they were little. Whenever we would drive somewhere we would sing away! Jacob's had to be developed. When it was his naptime, we would lie together in my bed and I would sing to him to try to develop a musical side to him. Sitting up near the front every time Josh sings at a concert or in a musical or at church is such a thrill for me. I feel the same way whenever Amy sings. Jacob & Emily are both in choirs at school and I'm at every concert.

I've said all that to say this. Occasionally, I get an opportunity to share music with my kids. Today was such an opportunity. Amy has a beautiful solo voice and sang a solo in church this morning. I had the distinct honor/pleasure of playing for her. As a mom, I don't know if I could have been much prouder of my beautiful daughter, using her beautiful voice for God's pleasure!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

New Design

Welcome to my newly designed blogsite!! It was created by Linda from RS Designs. I won this package last fall in the bloggy carnival. Didn't she do a great job?? I wanted it to look homey and comfortable!! Thanks so much, Linda! I love the new design!! I'll be posting a link to her in my sidebar just as soon as I get it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Life Change

It dawned on me yesterday that I am on the fringe of yet another life-change. Our oldest daughter, Amy, is making preparations to leave home this fall and finish out her college years at Bethel where our oldest son, Josh attends. I expect that in her final year, we will be planning a wedding. Amy will also turn 20 in 2 short weeks which means I will have 2 20-something aged kids!! Continuing on this mindset, Jacob will start his sophomore year of high school and turn 16, Emily will begin Jr. High and enter her teens by turning 13!! It's alot!! I also realized this past week that Cliff and I will celebrate 24 years of marriage. When we threw that party for my parent's 25th, it seemed such a momentous occasion that they had been married so many years!!!! It also seems like just yesterday. Now it's soon to be ME!!!!!!!
The funny thing is, is that I am totally OK with all of this. I absolutely dreaded turning 30. I felt like I was saying goodbye to my youth. But turning 40 and entering new chapters in my life has actually been a good thing!! And I've always been a person who hated change!
While I'm sitting here thinking about everything in my life I know is going to change this year, I'm so thankful there are some things that never change. The number one being God's never ending supply of love for me. He's always been there! So many times I've walked away and forgotten Him. He's never forgotten me. He's been there every step of the way. I count on that!! And in these days of so much uncertainty, it is a gift to have a faith that is certain and sure.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New Blog Design

I saw a preview today of what my new blog design will look like. I won it last fall in the bloggy carnival! It's so pretty!! I can't wait until it's up!
We got the garage cleaned!!!!!! I'm embarrased to say we hauled off 1 1/2 TONS of JUNK!!! Add in the tree limbs that fell in the ice storm and we hauled off 2 TONS of stuff from our property!!!! Whew!! I feel lighter and we now have so much new space in the garage! I'm so thankful for the friends who allowed us the use of a trailer for a week. All this cleanup has my husband inspired and energized about the yard. He's been working away at edging the walks and installing a new pond liner. It's going to look very nice when he's all done.

Monday, March 24, 2008

What's Important?

There's a man in our church whose name is Bill. Bill is one of the kindest, nicest man you'll ever meet. Late last summer, Bill was diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct, a rare cancer that affects primarily the liver and pancreas. Through the fall months, Bill was at Mayo Clinic, preparing for a liver transplant from his son, all the while, waiting for his insurance company to approve the surgery. Once approved, they opened him up for some pre-surgery exploration and found the cancer too far advanced. Bill was sent home and ended up in the hospital here in K.C. due to his organs not functioning properly. They did not think he'd live past Christmas. He did. Since leaving the hospital, Bill has been able to come to church twice, the last time being 3 weeks ago. You can see the effect this disease has had on his body but considering the severity of it and how much weight he has lost, he actually looked pretty good. Bill was able to come to church yesterday for Easter. I could not believe how much he had declined in 3 weeks. He was so frail. But he was so happy to be in church and his wife was so happy that they could come together.

I would venture to guess that some of the things that were important to Bill last summer maybe aren't so important anymore. Probably for his wife either. I would think that they have learned how to treasure each day that they have. Last night as I lay in bed and thought about this, I realized, you know, none of us is guaranteed a "later" or a "tomorrow." The time we have is right now!! Perhaps I need to re-evaluate what I deem important to me because maybe I need a serious priority shift because in the grand scheme of things, maybe some stuff I have near the top aren't really that important after all.

I've been reading, "How to Win With People" by John Maxwell, which has turned out to be an amazing, life-changing book for me. The chapter I just read is called, "The Approachability Principle." Just how approachable am I? I'd like to think, Yeah, I'm so open anyone can come and present me with bad news, a problem, etc. But I'm not as approachable as I'd like to think. How approachable am I with my family? That needs to change. After pondering this all day, I had to go apologize to my son. Yes, his attitude did need correcting but I could have handled it in a far better fashion. I want my son to know that he can come to me no matter what and we'll deal with it...together! I hugged him! And while I lay there and thought of Bill and family, I held my husband a little tighter.

I know this post is lengthy today. This stuff was on my mind all night. And by the way, the end of the story for Bill and for everyone else who is God's child is a story of hope and life. The miracle may not be that Bill is healed, (although he will be upheld in prayer until his last breath) the miracle may be passing from this life to the next into God's presence. Isn't that what we celebrated yesterday? A line from one of my favorite songs says, "Death has lost and life has won!!"

Take time TODAY to celebrate the people in your life!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wrapping Up the Week

Our garage is detached from our house and we have been cleaning it out this week. I cannot even begin to tell you how much JUNK we have thrown in there. It's gotten to the point where the kids just throw it in and shut the door. We borrowed a trailer from a friend and have been hauling all that junk off to the dump where it belongs. Tomorrow I'm hoping to finish it up, clean up the yard and get the gutters cleaned before the spring rains start.

Later in the afternoon, we have planned a family activity to celebrate this Easter weekend with the kids. Josh won't be coming home this weekend so we will celebrate with him in a couple weeks when we travel to Newton. This gives us some much needed family time with our kids.

I look forward to Sunday. We have a wonderful service planned with alot of praise and worship and celebration about our risen Lord. We will spend the afternoon at my mom and dad's.

I won't be posting again until Monday so I want to take this opportunity to wish each of you a wonderful and very blessed Easter!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The rest of the story....

I forgot to mention in yesterday's post that my mom has dyed eggs with my kids for the past several years. I refer you to this post!!!!

Easter 1972

While going through some family pictures tonight, I came across this picture of me, my brother, and my sister. We are in downtown Albany, NY and it's Easter Sunday, 1972.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Celebrating Easter

For years I have associated Easter with being tired. We dyed eggs when we were kids and when I had children, we dyed eggs because that's what you're supposed to do. Every year I vowed I would not wait until Saturday to do it but one way or another, we'd end up trying to dye eggs at 9:00 on Saturday night. It wasn't much fun for anyone. We'd then get up so early, put on the new Easter outfits, go to church, go home, have the traditional ham at my mom's, catch a quick nap, and go back to church for the evening service. I was always so relieved when it was over because we'd be so exhausted. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking any of this. The point I guess I'm trying to make is that for me, I was so "busy" that I lost sight of the real meaning of Easter.

The past couple of years, I have tried to simply our Easters so that we aren't so busy and so tired! I stopped dying eggs....they never got eaten anyway. I also stopped with Easter baskets...not really for spiritual reasons but because I didn't feel like the kids needed baskets full of candy. I chose instead, to purchase a new board game that we could play together after lunch. It worked so much better!!

Easter has become a tradition of faith and family. That's what we've built our lives around. I could not survive without my faith. It is God's grace that sustains me and it is His victory over death that gives me life and hope. I look forward to our celebration on Sunday beginning with worshiping with our church community. I look forward to enjoying the afternoon with my husband and my kids.

I wish for you and your family a very blessed Easter.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Show & Tell

Surrounding the window above my kitchen sink, I have six of these shelves. The lowest shelf houses this small collection of little knick-knacks, each with its own little story. They all sit here because they make me happy. Don't worry, I'm not going to share all the stories today. Only one and it is the little brown dog in the front.

To tell his story, I have to give you a bit of background info. on my mom. She loves to celebrate. She can find so many reasons to celebrate or have a party. It's great because I'm not like that. She's the great motivation behind family parties and get-togethers. When I was a kid, we always had dinner together, without fail. So one evening, we all came to the table and there was a little wrapped gift at each place setting. It was a little exciting. My gift was this little dog. We didn't have much money so they weren't big expensive presents but they were enough to let us all know that she loved us and it set this night apart from all the others. How could she have ever known that this memory would stay with me and I'd still have this little dog??

I never felt "poor" when I was a kid. (Ok, once I really wanted these Barbie Fashion Plates and I whined around all day about it and my mom came home with them, but I digress). We were happy, content kids. We didn't have big TV's, stereo systems, computers weren't even around then, no cell phones, no VCR's or DVD's. We were happy to read and play. My mom was so good at playing board games and making special times out of the ordinary. And you know what? These are the things I remember. Times together. Special times made out of ordinary days.

Thanks for stopping by today. Kelli is hosting more Show & Tell fun over at No Place Like Home.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Memory Album

Isn't this a funny picture? It's my brother, Jonathan, and my mom. He had to have been about 4 or 5 so that would have made this picture somewhere between 1974 and 1975. Oh, and how do love the classic 70's avacado kitchen??????

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Four Things

I have been deep in thought today, pondering the plight of humanity in general. Let me tell you, I've been doing some deep, deep thinking! Suffice it to say, I have no thoughts left for a post. I thought about not posting at all but then decided to take this email I received and post it. Play along if you'd like. You can respond in the comments or on your own blog and post your link in the comments. Or, you can just read my responses and learn some trivial facts about me.

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1) Waitress (or foodserver as they are called now)
2) Secretary
3) Maid
4) Gift Wrapper
Four movies I've watched more than once:
1) The Magic of Ordinary Days
2) The Fugitive w/Harrison Ford
3) Liar Liar
4) White Christmas
Four places I have lived:
1) Long Island, NY
2) Clearwater, FL
3) Boston, MA
4) Baltimore, MD
Four TV shows I watch:
1) Survivorman
2) Dancing with the Stars
3) Jon and Kate plus 8
4) 24
Four places I have been :In states: Out of States:
1) Disney World (Orlando, FL)
2) Nashville, TN
3] Atlanta, GA
4) New York City, NY
People who e-mail me (regularly):
1) Robin
2) Carol
3) Elizabeth
4) Scammers
Four of my favorite foods:
1) Lasagne
2) Fried chicken salad at Longhorn's
3) A really good bacon cheeseburger
4) Cheesecake
Four places I would rather be right now:
1) at the beach
2) at Elizabeth's, holding my new nephew
3) at Jon's with my neice & nephew I don't knew well enough
4) at Bill's with my 2 red-headed nephews
4 Things I am looking forward to this year:
1) Being debt free
2) Hearing Josh sing at Easter
3) The family coming in July
4) Summer vacation

Monday, March 10, 2008


Amy spent the weekend at Bethel, visiting her brother and wishing it were fall so she'd be a student there also. I found this picture she took this weekend. She will be 20 in one month. Where has the time gone?? I told my sister over the weekend that I felt the transition of Amy being gone from our home would be easier than Josh. I was sorely mistaken because it hit me that unless the Lord were to intervene, she will marry after college. Oh in the world can I be that OLD???????????????????????????????????????????? LOL!!!

Second-Hand Clothes

Over the weekend, it hit me that I hadn't yet thought about clothes for Easter or the spring/summer season for the kids. I decided to stop by Goodwill today and see if I could find anything for them. I walked out with 2 like new skirts and a matching top for Emily. One outfit she will wear for Easter. I also found a pair of slacks and a dress shirt for Jacob for Easter. (The shirt still has the tags on it!) By buying slightly used clothing, I am able to buy quality clothing for the kids without paying those quality price tags that my budget could never affort. I also discovered that the best quality jeans are name brand jeans like Old Navy and I'm always on the look-out for them. I didn't have enough pairs for Jacob to start school with this year so I broke down and bought him 2 pair of jeans from Wal-Mart. Within 2 weeks, those jeans totally ripped up the backside. He's never worn out a pair of the Old Navys. I also got a dress shirt for Josh. He loves new clothes and will wear second-hand clothes (as long as they are the right "style) he just won't go in and find them mom picks him up a new shirt every now and then!!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A New Week

After all of the "excitement" of last week, I decided to just take it easy over this weekend. I'm glad to say that today is the first day I have felt back to normal. So, we've already started this new week off with some new "excitement." While I'm getting ready to church this morning, I noticed that things aren't working quite right in the bathroom. The toilet flooded and it seems that our sewer line or something is seriously backed up!!!!! Isn't that a great way to start the Lord's Day? I just had to let it go. What could I do at that point anyway?? Thankfully we have a plumber in our church. And as we heard in the message this morning, in the grand scheme of things, there are far more important issues to worry about. (oh, and in spite of the bathroom flood, it was a wonderful Lord's Day!!)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

30 Days - Day 30 Show & Tell

(Disclaimer: Blogger is giving me fits...first no paragraphs and now my font is extra-large at the end...)

This little fabric-covered trunk sits on the floor next to my bed and houses these:

These are my journals. I started journaling in little diaries with locks (you know, the kind you'd find at Woolworth's for $1.00) I was in 5th grade and that earliest little diary still has a warning inside the cover for my brother & sister to STAY OUT!! They are so funny to read now. At first, they are all about our family life, traveling as a family, going to church (all the time!), and as I grew, they included my many crushes on members of the male population!

These journals, however, begin with this blue fabric-covered one in the front. It was a Christmas gift in 1983 from my sister. I was a senior in high school at the time. It's in this journal that I meet my future husband and chronicled some of our time dating. I have little pictures, poems, and notes all through the pages of this journal.

My current journal is the black one on the corner. It's also my favorite style. It's called a "Moleskine." They come in various styles. I started this one almost 2 years ago. This one holds thoughts, ideas, prayers, confessions and things learned through my time of Bible study. I've prayed for my children, family, and friends through the pages of this book. I've prayed for wisdom, guidence, and comfort in here also. It's a heartfelt reflection of my life.

It's funny because the books shown in the first picture chronicle 25 years of my life (Oh my gosh, I can't believe It's 25 YEARS!!!!!!!!!) They start 5 months before I met Cliff and travel through my life...engagement, planning a wedding, being a new wife, leaving home for the first time, 4 pregnancies, 4 babies, life as a young mom with young children, life as a mom with teenagers, life as a mom with grown children. As a younger woman, they were filled with hopes and dreams....of ideals and the way I hoped my life would be. I've read through them several times and I realized something...that when I was younger I lacked something very important. I don't know if I was ever content. I'm sure I was content with a new husband or a new baby...for a while. But I always seemed to be wanting more. As I conclude these 30 days, I've learned something about myself. I am CONTENT.

Maybe it's the fact that I'm no longer a 20-something with sky-high dreams but a middle-aged woman who has found a deep contentment and am very happy with my life. That doesn't mean that there isn't room for improvement. I've got lots of room for that. But if you were to peel everything away, I would have to say that at this point in my life. I am happy. I am content.

For more Show & Tell, please visit Kelli over at No Place Like Home.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Terrible Night

I'll have to finish up my 30 days tomorrow. I got hit with one of the worst stomach flus I have ever had. I was up all has HORRIBLE!!! Emily came down with it a couple hours after me. Now I have a bad headache. See you tomorrow.

Monday, March 3, 2008

30 Days - Day 29: Wrapping It Up

(I have been having a problem with blogger not wanting to save the paragraphs.)
I have been thinking since yesterday how I wanted to wrap up this 30 day photo project. (I almost can't believe an entire month has gone by!!) At first, I thought maybe one of the last pictures could be of myself with my camera. Nope, that's just a little to corny and predictable and it's just not me. Then I came across this picture of my dining room..which happens to be my favorite room of my house. It's big and bright and homey and a perfect place for me to sit down and reflect on these past 30 days.
When I started this project, I knew my life would be touched by a birth. I did not, however, expect to be touched by a death. I got many comments encouraging me to try to reconnect with my friend, Kelli, who I wrote about here. I sent her an email the next day. To this day, I have received no response. It's OK because I learned a long time ago that sometimes people are only meant to be in our lives for a season. We meet many people along this pathway we call life and not everyone is meant to walk the entire road with us. So while Kelli's path has gone in a different direction than mine, others have crossed into mine. I also learned something about myself...but I'm waiting for tomorrow to share it for the final post of this project.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

30 Days - Day 28: Church

I could not wrap up my 30 day photo project without a picture of my church. It is so much a part of my life. I have worshiped within this body of Believers since we moved here to Kansas back in 1997. I love my church. It is made up of such good people who are a constant source of encouragement to me. I also work at the church. I work within our Arts Ministry (this encompasses Music, Drama, and Media) My church is also special because my grandfather started it some 28 years ago. When he retired at age 80, my dad assumed the pastorate. Serving here has become a family thing. All of my children are involved in serving in one area or another.
On a sad note, my friend Karen's brother, Brad (who I wrote about here) passed away sometime during the night or early morning hours. Please continue in prayer for this family.