Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thoughts On A New Year

It has been a flurry of activity around here the past few weeks. Next week I'll post pics and thoughts of the holidays.
A personal goal I have set for myself in this new year is to add value whenever possible to others. Authentic value. Value that doesn't ask for anything in return. Letting them know they did a good job, or they look great, or their food was delicious, or however I can. So many people hear negative feedback. Receiving a positive word can change your entire day....even your entire outlook. I know what it means to me!
As I write this tonight, a young girl in our church is passing from this world into the Savior's arms. She will leave behind 3 very young children. Its a stark reminder to constantly let the ones closest to us how much we love and appreciate them. For some reason, giving value to those we live with can often be the hardest. Hold the people you love close and let them know you love them.
Happy New Year. May you blessed with an Amazing 2010!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Oh Holy Night

My oldest son, Joshua, singing Oh Holy Night in church yesterday as his grandpa (my dad) accompanies him on the piano. As always, you can never capture on video how good it was in person!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Traditions: Choir Christmas Concerts

Jacob's High School Choir
Emily's 8th Grade Choir

Friday, December 11, 2009

Deutsche Weihnachten

Sunday afternoon we headed to join Josh in one of his favorite Christmas traditions since going to Bethel. Deutsche Weihnachten is a German Advent service. When I say, "German," I mean the entire thing is in German, including the program.
It is presented by the college's German and Music departments and included and organ prelude, several readings, and choral selections, along with carol sings. As usual, Josh surprised me with a solo. I was amazed at how many people were there and when we came to the first carol (which I had figured out was O Come All Ye Faithful), I was amazed how they all sang German. It was so cool and so Christmasy!!
The evening ended with the lights turned out and the entire place was lit up with candles as we closed with the German translation of Silent Night. It was beautiful!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Party Fun

Every year our church hosts a big Christmas party. Full of food and lots of fun. There's always a program of hilarious skits. This year Jacob made his "skit" debut. He and his friend, David, had the funniest skit of the night.
The Twelve Days of Christmas

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Busy Days

These have been some pretty busy days around here. Josh came home for Thanksgiving and we spent the day with my parents. It was a great one and reminded me of the Thanksgivings when I was a much excitement in the air.

Our 25th wedding anniversary also fell on Thanksgiving week and the kids and my mom planned a lovely party for us. We received such nice cards and gifts. It was an amazing week and I was kind of sad to see it come to an end!!

Amy made us a BEAUTIFUL and delicious cake

Late night shopping trip

Determined to get some good deals!

My cute daughters

Emily loves this older brother of hers!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Doxology

My kids are all home for Thanksgiving.
We will spend the day with my parents. Everyone is healthy and happy and we will be together. I feel so rich and so blessed.
The last time I visited with my Grandma Benzing, I ate dinner with both she and my Grandpa. Before the meal, we prayed and then Grandpa asked if I would sing the Doxology with them. I was so blessed. Today the words to that beloved song have been constantly flowing through my mind.
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him, all creatures here below.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Have a Very Blessed Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

25 Years!

25 years ago today, I walked down the aisle and married the man God created perfect for me. Cliff is one of God's greatest gifts to me.
He has given me the freedom to be me and has never tried to change me into who he thought I might should be. He has always loved me for me and as someone who dealt with issues of insecurity, it has meant the world. I think that is what first drew me to him. I felt comfortable with him...I could totally be myself.
We have had a full and rich 25 years. The best of those years being the years we added 4 of the coolest, greatest kids into our household.
Josh comes home tomorrow and for a few days our family will be complete with everyone here. Nothing compares with the richness of being surrounded by family.
I'm so blessed and I'm so thankful for this life I live. God has been so good to us.
Now if you'll excuse me, my "date" will be here soon to pick me up for a special anniversary dinner!!!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Adventures of a November Bride: Lost Paycheck

Fast-forward this bride 10 years or so. We were living in Clearwater, FL and we had 2, possible 3 kids at the time. My November groom was working in Tampa and driving to his workplace involved a gorgeous scenic drive over and along the coastal waterway. For some reason, I met Cliff at his place of employment and had posession of his paycheck. I must have been going to deposit it. Now FL weather being what it is, it was hot this day and of course, the air-conditioning in the car wasn't working so we had the windows down. I was just driving along this waterway with the kids, enjoying the breeze off the ocean when I saw his paycheck, that I had tucked under the driver's side visor fly out the window. I pulled over and walked along the grassy beach looking for that check. I did NOT want to tell my groom I had lost it. I finally had to give up and face the music.
The kids and I drove back to his job site. He came driving in at quitting time and I confessed. I thought maybe he could get issued another check but he wasn't even about to ask his non-sympathetic boss. We drove back to the location where I thought/hoped I remembered it flying out the window and we began the tedious process of him walking along and me driving the car to stay with him. After 45 minutes of searching and intense prayer, wouldn't you know he found that paycheck and we went on our relieved and merry way!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fall In Amish Country

Last weekend I went with some ladies to Jamesport, MO. Beautiful Amish country.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Adventures of a November Bride: Flying?

It was December, 1984. We had been married almost 1 month. Cliff had a week of leave from the Navy so we decided to go home to NY for Christmas. Our plans were to fly home so on the designated travel day, we packed and headed to the airport. Now I have to stop right here and tell you that I have an insane fear of heights and had never flown before this.

We were waiting at the airport to get on a stand-by flight. Cliff left me to go get in line and purchase our tickets (BIG MISTAKE). While I was sitting there....all alone, two pilots came walking by and asked me where we were heading. "New York," I answered. "Oh," they said, "Rough travel and turbulence that way." That was ALL I NEEDED TO HEAR!!!!!!! My poor new husband turned around to check on me and all he saw was my back heading to the door. I left the airport all together. Not only could he not talk me into flying that day, he couldn't even get me back in the airport.

We went home and called my parents who were getting ready to head to the NY airport to pick us up. We then went to our pastor's home to get a check cashed because we only had enough money for the tickets. We then loaded up our Plymouth Duster and drove through the night to NY. It was a hard dose of marital reality for my new husband. I promise, he DOES laugh about this today and even enjoys telling this story!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Adventures of a November Bride: The Scream

So Cliff and I had been married about two weeks or so. He was in taking a shower and I was just hanging out on the landing of our stairs.
For some reason, I was thinking about screams and I realized I hadn't screamed in a long, long time (I really must have had nothing better to do!) Anyways, I thought maybe I couldn't scream anymore so I decided to give my vocal chords a good test. I opened up my mouth and let out a good scream. Not a blood-curtling one but a good hearty one. Like I said, I'd only been married a couple weeks and it never dawned on me that my scream might bother my new husband. Boy did it ever. Poor guy came tearing out of the shower and down the stairs...his eyes as big as silver dollars. I wondered what the big deal was. DUH!!!!!! I had scared the poor guy half to death. Needless to say, I've never wondered about my ability to scream again and Cliff really will laugh about this

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Adventures of a November Bride: Ham 'n Ashes

This month, Cliff & I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. In honor of this event, I decided to start a little series, "Adventures of a November Bride," just a few stories from our 25 years together.

Today's adventure takes place in December of 1984. We had been married less than a month. We were just settled in our apartment in Jacksonville, FL when we had our first dinner guest. A single guy who was a good friend of Cliff's was coming over for Sunday dinner.

Ham n' Ashes part 2

Now, I knew how to cook amazing Italian food. While growing up in NY, my very Italian friend, Suzanne, thoughtfully taught me how to make the "gravy" (meat sauce), meatballs, lasagna, and chicken parmesan. This particular day, however, I decided to stretch my culinary skills and make a baked ham. Now I had seen my mom make ham before. I knew the glaze involved pineapple and brown sugar so that what I topped the ham with and slid it in the oven.

To my horror, about 46 minutes or so later, I saw smoke billowing out of the oven. PANIC!! While Cliff entertained our guest in the other room, I pulled out my ham, which was now glazed in ashed of burnt brown sugar. I almost cried. I removed the ham from the pan and scraped off all the burnt sugar. I wrapped the entire ham in foil and put it back in the oven. It turned out just fine but I've never made ham for company again and my cooking skills have greatly improved through the years.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Today I Was...

Today (Monday) I was a:
1. Chauffer
2. personal shopper
3. chef
4. dog catcher
5. daughter
6. friend
7. homework coach
8. TV viewer
9. host
10. dental consultant
11. maid
12. listener
13. mom
14. encourager
15. animal care-giver
16. wife
17. reader/student

*Today I was an amazing God and a not-so-perfect but totally amazing group of people I call family.

Friday, October 23, 2009

In the DVD series of "Sarah Plain and Tall," Sarah refers to her Aunts, who live in Cape Cod, as "The Treasures." That's exactly how I would refer to my grandmothers...Treasures.
I have been asked to talk about "Journaling" at our up-coming women's retreat. I have journaled since I was in the 5th grade....34 years. I knew my Grandma Adrian had kept a journal towards the end of her life. We had gone to see her about 2 weeks before she died and I remembered seeing my Grandpa continuing the journal because the cancer had gotten so bad. I asked my aunt the other day if I could read them. I did not know there were 12!! I started reading on Tuesday evening and haven't been able to put them down since. The earliest journal starts in 1939!! The story of her life on the farm in South Dakota...she wasn't even married yet.
I'm especially enjoying reading about her life here in Kansas. Since I live a mile from where they lived, I know all the places and alot of the people she writes about. I can see it all so vividly in my mind. Its been an incredible week. I feel as though I've been able to go back and spend some time with her. It's been amazing because I have missed her so much since her passing in 1985. I was just 2 months pregnant with Joshua at the time and she even wrote about how they would become great-grandparents....she didn't live to see the baby.
I hope one day my children and grandchildren will sit and treasure my journals as I have hers.
Grandma's Journals
The earliest one...1939-1944.

December 7, 1941..."Japan declares war on the U.S. this afternoon" (Pearl Harbor)

November 24, 2984....Mine & Cliff's wedding day....Grandma documented the entire weekend.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stolen Pictures

I totally stole these pictures from my sister, Elizabeth. I give her total credit for the photography...she is an excellent photographer. I just LOVE these pictures of my youngest son, Jacob, and my nephew, Sam.
Jacob is 16 and a big guy with and very tender heart. Sam is his little buddy when we get to see my sister and her family (which is not near enough) and Jacob enjoys his company.
These were taken at my Grandpa Benzing's funeral last May. Sam made his way over to Jacob at the graveside and my sister so captured their relationship and Jacob's soft heart. I can get a little teary everytime I look at them.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Extra Income and Fun

A couple years ago, Cliff started officiating football games at our local sports association to supplement our income. Last year he also took over most of the maintenance for the three fields. He and Jacob mow the yard lines, paint them, place out all the field markers and anything else that needs to be done so the fields are ready to go for the early Saturday morning games.
Usually Cliff will like to go and get started before Jacob gets out of school on guess who gets to be his lovely assistant?? ME. I have informed him, however, that I am NOT the "gopher!"
I have to say that it isn't a bad deal. I kind of like being down there in the open fields in the beautiful fall weather we are having. One day, I decided to bring the camera along. The day was pristine Autumn weather!! (The next week it was cold and rainy and it wasn't fun anymore!)
I've also spent alot of time with my crazy son, Jacob, working on one task or another. It's been good.

You seriously didn't think we walked all over did you?? Can I tell you how fun this thing is to drive??

The 10-yard line across all 3 fields

Soy beans...ready for harvest.

Looking across two fields.

Down the 50-yard line. (And a little fun with photo editing)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Racing with My Brother

Did I ever tell you that I'm a SERIOUS NASCAR fan? Yep, I LOVE those races...ALL of them. I watch the trucks, Nationwide Series, and of course, the Big guys in Sprint Cup. Several years ago, the Kansas Speedway was built just a couple miles from us. The last time I went was 2 years ago, on Friday when they have some practices and qualifying. It was alot of fun but it was in mid-September and HOT. I think I got the worst sunburn of my life because it never dawned on me to get some sunscreen.
This year, however, NASCAR changed their schedule and the race was the first weekend of October. Beautiful fall weather and nice low temps!!
My brother called sometime this past summer and wondered if we wanted to go to a race when he came to town. Now, I have to stop here and say that as much as people are surprised to find out that I love NASCAR racing, I am more surprised that my brother is a fan. This is something I'd never, in a million years think we'd have in common!!! Needless to say, I ordered two tickets for Cliff and I. I felt bad about the kids but after all the lay-offs this year, I just couldn't afford them.
The day before the race, a friend of Cliff's offered us two additional tickets for FREE. Oh yeah!! I can always afford FREE!! So the kids got to go too!!
I just love the rumble of those engines and the smell of the fuel in the air. Amazing!! Below is just a sampling of the day. In spite of Jon's migraine and me not being able to find my car, a great time was had by all! Driver Introductions

Sea of Humanity

Getting Ready to Race...Kyle Bush...NOT a fan of this guy!!

Cliff and Emily

One of my favorite sights...the pit crews lined up for the National Anthem and Prayer

Jon, Dad, Jacob & Emily (Notice dad's green ear plugs?) It was LOUD!!

Carl Edward's pit stop

Last caution...Logano took the lead from Kyle Bush on this restart

Logano doing burnouts

Victory Lane

Friday, October 16, 2009

Josh's Recital Day

Last Friday we drove 3 hours to south-central Kansas for Josh's Senior Voice Recital. I was so excited because we haven't seen Josh since our last trip in July. So we decided to make a day of it. We got there early afternoon and picked him up. Oh how good it is to spend time with him!! The college is in a cute little college town and going "downtown" is like going back in time. Victorian looking houses and little shops that could have come straight out of the 40's or 50's. We went into an office supply/gift store that still has all the old fixtures and flooring. One of my favorite stores is and second-hand store...sort of like a Goodwill and antique store combined but their prices are low, low, low!! I bought two books and a stocking-stuffer and spent an entire $1.43!!
By the time we were done shopping, Grandma and Grandpa got to town and we had a family dinner at Applebees.
The highlight of the evening, however, was the recital. It was an hour in length and Joshua and his friend, Kelly alternated solos and ended the evening with a duet. It was wonderful. They both did and excellent job!
When he entered the chapel, I got all teary. It surprised me...I could have bawled and bawled looking at my a man...yet at the same time, seeing the little boy with full-cheeks.
We ended the evening at for some, soft drinks for others before saying goodbye. He's been gone for 4 years now and saying goodbye does not get easier. I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving when I'll have all 4 of my kids together. I took those times for granted when they were young....I now treasure them!!

Josh and Kelly

With Soy Yen, their vocal coach, who is amazing!!

Very proud mom!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Busy, Busy

I haven't abandoned my blog. I've just been SUPER busy!!!!! I can only work on it when I come to the library and lately I just haven't found time to get over here. Look for several new posts with tons of pictures either this weekend or Monday. Josh is giving his Junior Recital on Friday evening. We, of course, are heading down to hear him sing...can't wait!!!!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Brother's Weekend

My brother, Jonathan, is coming tomorrow with his little son. I'm so excited to see him since its been over a year since I last saw him. We've got a whirl-wind weekend planned around here. Mom & I got his back (or maybe I should say his stomach) with his favorite meals...lasagna, chili, red cake. It's also race weekend here in KC. We're heading out there on Saturday....even taking dad!!!!! And as if it couldn't get much better, the weather is perfect fall weather....mid 60's and clear and sunny. Church is on Sunday and then he flies out on Monday.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Welcome, Welcome Autumn!

It FINALLY happened....we've been waiting in anticipation of the summer giving way to fall. It happened yesterday. The air is cool and everything has the golden glow of autumn. How I love this time of year. It is like taking a deep breath of fresh air!! It is renewing.
A friend mentioned today that she & her husband are heading to Vermont for a couple weeks to enjoy the fall foliage. Can I confess that I felt a little twinge of jealousy??

In autumn when the trees are brown The little leaves come tumbling down They do not make the slightest sound But lie so quietly on the ground Until the wind comes puffing by And blows them off towards the sky.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.
Fall poem by John Muir

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The End Result

So here's the "before" picture. You can't get the full effect of what it was really like "before" because by this point, all the wallpaper has been removed. When we moved into the house 7 years ago, the top 2/3 of the wall had "frog & toad go fishing" wallpaper. The previous owners had it set up rather cute with a whole fishing theme for their little boy. Unfortunately for us, it wasn't so cute for our bigger boys who, at the time, had to share the room. Since we used pretty much every dime we had to buy and move into the house, redecorating was not a high priority. Our house was built in 1910, so you can imagine all the home improvement projects that awaited us!! In the left-hand corner of the picture, you can see a tan rectangle and above it, another tan spot on the wall. There was a little built in corner desk and shelf that, once again, would have been great for a little boy. We removed those and then set to work with spackle and sanding. A HUGE MESS!!!!!!!! Amy's boyfriend, Chris, came over and did almost all the painting for me. What a blessing!!!! The ceiling and all the trim and woodwork got a fresh coat of clean white. By this picture, the woodwork is done and also the top portion of the wall painted a nice tan.

And here's the finished product with the wallpaper and border added. Great paper I found on clearance at Lowe's. Covered all the imperfections in the wall and seems very durable. We set up his room in zones and he seems to be very pleased with it.

I'm glad its done!!!! Now onto the laundry room!!!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

**This post was written last Friday, September 18. After several failed attempts to get it posted, I gave up and decided to wait a few days and try again.**

A certain young lady (who also happens to be the baby) turned 14 last Friday! I keep thinking there's just no way that my baby girl is 14!! She has turned into such a cool young lady and a very good young lady, who is responsible and kind, and good, and funny and has been such a blessing to her mom...yep, she's been my buddy since the day she was born!!

Emily had developed a cold early last week and we also thought she was dealing with some allergies. By her birthday, she was complaining of ear pain. Poor kid. Who wants to spend their birthday at the doctor's?? I knew she had an ear infection and possibly bronchitis. What I was not expecting was a diagnosis of pneumonia. She left the office with strict instructions to basically do nothing for most of the week so that her lungs would heal. Meanwhile, we had a party planned for her Sunday evening so we kept it rather low key. I felt so sorry for her I would have bought her anything she asked for!! She went back to school yesterday and is feeling 100% better.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Where Did The Fall Go?????

Last week we were enjoying fall temps. Sunday morning we had our church service outside and it was rather chilly. Unfortunately, summer has decided to show herself one last time before giving over to Autumn. It's been humid, humid, humid here the past couple days. Yep, I'm ready for sweaters and cooler temps!!

Cliff & I are in the middle of yet another one of our home improvement projects. To be honest, I don't really enjoy this type of work because of the mess it makes...but the reward is so worth it. So, here's what we've been up to....

This is Jacob's room. We'll finish up this weekend...stay tuned!!