Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in Review

Happy New Year's Eve!

I arrived at work on Wednesday, backed my daughter's car into a parking space, and looked up to see this magnificient, swirling, cloud-laden sky.

Just lovely.

As I sit in the quiet on this last day of 2011, I am tired. I'm sleeping well but think that too much sugar, not enough veggies, not enough movement (read: treadmill), and a year of fulltime employment have exhausted me. My thoughts have been swirling around much like the clouds pictured above.

New Thing

I am 50 years old and have braces.

I've had crooked lower teeth for years and noticed in the past couple years that I was experiencing pain in one of my upper front teeth. It was shifting into my other front tooth and soooooo I "treated myself" to a visit to the orthodontist who gave me the options of Invisalign or regular braces. The reason I chose regular braces is I will have them for a shorter period of time (estimate from 10-14 months) and the orthodontist said that I would have better success with braces.

At my last appointment, he asked what I wanted for Christmas....I told him straight teeth in the new year.

No pressure! :)

New Experience

I am a grandmother.

The old saying is true, "If I had known grandchildren were gonna be this much fun, I would have had them first!”

Our granddaughter (Youngest Sweetie) is 7 weeks old and I think of her as my "free entertainment." She is amazing and becoming more alert. She loves looking at the lights on the Christmas tree, the Nutcrackers, and a framed picture of herself. She is a blessing!

Life Happens

A deer ran into the side of my van the night before Thanksgiving. The damage was a big dent in the passenger side door and a crinkle down the slider door. (I don't know the damage to the deer but am hopeful that it was stunned and now lives in an open meadow not near a road.)

The day before dropping my van off to be repaired, I hit the garage with my passenger side view mirror. Wonderful Husband immediately went and found the duct tape and off we went to run an errand.

If people were avoiding driving near me because of the dent, I think they really gave me a lot of space after seeing the duct tape!

2011 was my year of van body work. And P.S. I dropped the van off on December 19 and it might be ready on January 6. Fingers crossed!

God Spoke/I Listened

The One Year Chronological Bible - reading the Bible and following Wendy Pope's blog/vlog. A blessing! New in 2012, Wendy is teaching through the Psalms and you can check out her plan here.

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp. I spoke about my experience from reading the book to my Bible Study buddies and how I began counting toward 1,000 gifts this year.

The Fitting Room: Putting on the Character of Christ by Kelly Minter. Terri and I continued our weekly phone calls and after catching up on life, we'd talk about a chapter or two. I love this book based on Colossians 3:12, "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

Jesus Calling A 365-Day Journaling Devotional by Sarah Young.

Some Books I've Read

A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages by Kristin Chenoweth

Good Hope Road by Lisa Wingate

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

Words of Wisdom

"Hope comes in more concentrated doses if you are getting it from someone IN the moment, versus in the memory." Quoted from Annie at Annie Blogs. You can read her entire post here.

After reading Annie's post about writing more about her life in this season of single-hood, I wonder if I should write more about my life in the moment of emptynester-hood and grandmother-hood. I struggle with how much my story intersects with my family and the fine line that I need to walk in protecting their privacy when including them in my writing.

And then my mind turns to silly technology issues like how to post two pictures side-by-side on this blog. My thoughts continue to swirl like the clouds. Ha!

Won a prize

An e-book called Notes to Aspiring Writers: Your Dream, God's Plan by Brooke L. McGlothlin.

Do you have a New Year's Resolution(s)?

Mine is the same one I've kept for the past four years. I am a card sender. I will continue to send cards of encouragement, sympathy, hope, etc., to people who I see in need of reminding that they are thought of and prayed for. (I love that my Bible Study buddy, Charlotte, calls it my Card Ministry.)

2010 was the year of hope for me.
I learned to place my hope in God.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

2011 was the year of grace for me.
God covers me with grace, and I made great strides in sharing grace with others.
So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.
Ephesians 1:6 (NLT)

I'm not sure what word to focus on in 2012. I'll have to let you know.

I pray you have a Happy New Year and pray personally for less swirling thoughts in 2012!


Monday, December 26, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (503-510)

Continuing my journey of counting toward one thousand gifts...

Christmas day is over. The gifts are now unwrapped, under the tree. I am thankful for each gift and realize I lead a blessed life. I am free to worship God and celebrate the birth of Jesus.

And I remind myself that Christmas is not just one day, Christmas is a season.

Our son arrived on Thursday and Christmas morning my in laws came over and so did our daughter, granddaughter and Andy. We opened gifts, ate breakfast casseroles, then sent them off to meet up with them again at Wonderful Husband's sister's home at 4:00 p.m.

A phone call to my mom in Texas to wish her a Merry Christmas, baking the pineapple stuffing, then off we went to eat (again) and visit with family.

We arrived back home around 8:15, tired yet thankful for all the blessings we have on Christmas day and every day.

#503 - 510 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

503. freedom to worship God

504. celebrating Jesus' birth

505. celebrating our nephew's Christmas birthday

506. sharing time and grace with family and anticipating a new Christmas tradition next year

507. watching our granddaughter sleep through both Christmas celebrations. Next year will be a different, more active story! Ha!

508. Wonderful Husband, our son, and Terri who know my love of books and boy-oh-boy will I be busy reading for a while :)

509. new technology with a wireless mouse and a Kindle Fire

510. this year of counting toward one thousand blessings and the inspiration from Ann's book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

Christmas 2011

This post is linked to A Holy Experience: Multitudes on Mondays, One Thousand Gifts.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Grace and Joy (2011)

For a child is born to us
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 (NLT)

And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord's strength,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
Then his people will live there undisturbed,
for he will be highly honored around the world.
And he will be the source of peace.
Micah 5:4-5a (NLT)

...but the angel reassured them, "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all the people. The Savior --- yes, the Messiah, the Lord --- has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!
Luke 2:10-11 (NLT)

May your Christmas be filled with grace and joy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Seasonal Laughter

Have you seen this in your daily travels?

Any kind of vehicle with antlers?

I saw one for the first time on my way to work.

I burst out laughing!

I wished I'd had my camera ready but alas...I was waiting for my traffic light to turn green.

Today at work, I looked outside to see this SUV zoom by and after waiting a bit of time (see how mature I am?) I walked outside to take the picture.

Thank you mystery person for decorating your vehicle and making my heart happy!

Have you seen antlers on cars where you live?

Monday, December 19, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (493-502)

Continuing my journey of counting toward one thousand gifts...

This past week was jammed-packed with three Christmas celebrations. I am an introvert and it takes a lot of energy to participate in large social situations. So by Sunday, I was exhausted, napped, and recouped some of my energy.

Christmas cards have been sent. Groceries purchased for Christmas casseroles, meals, and side dishes. Packages are wrapped and under the tree. I can't take all the credit for wrapping since Wonderful Husband did a lot of wrapping himself.

#493 - 502 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

493. celebratory time shared with co-workers, friends, and family

494. naps :)

495. car insurance that covers repair work on my van that was hit by a deer

496. a patient and kind husband, who doesn't call me an idiot when I do something stupid

497. our daughter who lets me borrow her car while my van is being repaired

498. a niece who is expecting her third child in June

499. our son sending us a Christmas card

500. our nephew who was born on Christmas day

501. Wonderful Husband who wraps gifts

502. Jesus' birth. The greatest gift of all!

This post is linked to A Holy Experience: Multitudes on Mondays, One Thousand Gifts.

This week I'll be baking pumpkin bread and cookies. Have you finished your Christmas baking?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Celebrations 2011

This week has been filled with celebrations.

My Christmas lunch with co-workers at the William Penn Inn on Tuesday.
Beautiful ambiance.
Wonderful food and my dessert choice was creme brulee.

Outside the entrance to the William Penn Inn.

Inside the foyer.
Love the red and the statue!

On Thursday, I took a vacation day from work and joined my Bible Study Buddies for a class where we watched one of  Beth Moore's video on "Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman." We had lunch which was a full turkey dinner with all the fixins and then an ornament exchange.

A month ago I tried to find where I could purchase Old World Ornaments. No luck in the New Hope stores I had stopped in. I was very disappointed.

Nutcrackers on our mantle.
Our granddaughter, Youngest Sweetie loves to stare at them.

I chose an Old World Ornament box from the table, wrapped only with a gold bow, and inside was this:

When Youngest Sweetie came over to visit, I showed her this one and hung it very high on the tree.

Well as high as a short person can reach that is.

After the ornament exchange, I asked who brought the ornament and if she would please tell me where she had purchased it.

Who brought the ornament?

Her name is Grace.

FYI - "Grace" is the word I have focused on for this year.

(Now I can tell Wonderful Husband where to find Old World Ornaments for future gift ideas. Pine Wreath and Candle in Peddler's Village. Hey! They've been around since 1964. Where have I been?)

Which leads me to Saturday and Wonderful Husband's Annual Family Christmas Party. A quick estimate of attendees was 30. And I can't begin to tell you what decibel level we reached....let's just say L O U D!

The dessert table!

After this week of festivities...I am sooooo full of food that I'm asking God to help me with some self control for this week leading up to Christmas!

Have you been calorically overloaded with celebrations?

My plan today is to reintroduce myself to my treadmill. It's been a while so I hope "she" doesn't hold a grudge!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (476-492)

Continuing my journey of counting toward one thousand gifts...

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7 (NLT)

#476 - 492 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm overflowing with thankfulness for:

476. the sun battling through the gray clouds. Go sun!
477. sending a prayer-filled card to our niece-in-law, who's husband (our nephew) died two years ago
478. meeting Maria for coffee on Saturday
479. a hairdresser who works her "magic" and makes my gray hair disappear (for a little while ;)
480. our son who enjoys being a teacher. I'm proud of his hard work and him caring about the students.
481. the Children's Sermons at our church
482. bright-red ladies' coats at our church. They make me smile.
483. our church choir's beautiful voices singing praises to God
484. packages mailed to Terri and my mom
485. beginning to mail Christmas cards to family and friends
486. receiving packages on my front porch and seeing the mailman gently placing them behind one of our posts to camouflage their presence. He was awesome!
487. Wonderful Husband's appreciation and patience in waiting for me to cook meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans for dinner. He'd been mentioning it for a while...finally it came to fruition! Good things come to he who waits! lol
488. our one month old granddaughter's smiles. Some say it's gas, but not me :)
489. our daughter adapting to motherhood so very well. I am proud of her.
490. bloggers that make me laugh and make me think
491. my warm, black coat on cold days
492. Wonderful Husband who likes to Christmas shop, such a blessing for me!
This post is linked to A Holy Experience: Multitudes on Mondays, One Thousand Gifts.

Do you have days of overflowing with thankfulness?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (469-475)

Continuing my journey of counting toward one thousand gifts...

Years ago I went a bit crazy and bought a lot of boxes of half-priced Christmas cards. The reason why I say "a bit crazy" is because I haven't bought any new Christmas cards in over five years. And although I haven't run out of my supply completely, this year I decided to purchase new Christmas cards.
I know my friends and family haven't memorized my cards but I was feeling a bit stuck in the redundancy of sending them.
It took me a while to decide on which boxes I liked and I just broke open a new box yesterday. You see, I used to mail a lot of cards out on December 1st with our family update letter enclosed. Now my kids are adults and the update letter has gone by the wayside. I've reduced my list of card recipients too.

My Christmas card tradition is simplified and for that I am thankful.

 #469 - 475 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

469. sending new Christmas cards

470. a simplified Christmas card tradition

471. online shopping over Thanksgiving weekend. (Note to self: Do this again next year.)

472. going to niece-in-law's baby shower with my daughter Young Sweetie

473. watching Little Sweetie and yes, our granddaughter is already an Eagle's fan at three weeks old. We're hoping the Eagles improve by the time she's older. Ha!

474. all shipping/mail workers during this busy time of year

475. laughing with Wonderful Husband who had forgotten he'd given me Mariah Carey's Christmas CD last year and almost ordered it for me again!

Have you simplified any of your Christmas traditions over the years?

Friday, November 25, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (452-468)

Continuing my journey of counting toward one thousand gifts...

Days leading toward the Thanksgiving holiday were tough for me. I didn't update last week's list because I lacked energy, enthusiasm, and felt like I'd "hit a wall."

Yet I believe in God's perfect timing and the Holy Spirit working overtime within me. (And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. Romans 8:26a NLT)

I read through many people's lists who had linked up to A Holy Experience last week. I read blogs that I follow and the themes were thanksgiving. I read my One Year Chronological Bible.

I watched Dr. David Jeremiah's sermon yesterday, "The Powerful Promise of Thanksgiving." He reminded me of Colossians 4:2, "Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart." (NLT) He also said, "Gratitude is not thanksgiving until it is expressed."

So this week I am returning to express my gratitude to God who helped me turn a corner during my seasonal doldrums.

#452 - 468 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

452. God who never gives up on me

453. Paula who "introduced me" to Dr. Jeremiah's teachings

454. my van being drive-able and my being fine (after a run-in with a deer)

455. bottle feeding our granddaughter, Little Sweetie

456. family, near and far

457. a $10 download fee for the Relevant 2011 Keynotes (could be the best $10 I've spent this year)

458. an uncle meeting his niece

Uncle with Little Sweetie

459. a sunny, blue-skied Thanksgiving Day with mild temperatures

460. my mother-in-law with her great-granddaughter

461. four generations gathered for Thanksgiving

462. turkey, stuffing, gravy, onions in cheese sauce, cranberry sauce...and pumpkin pie with Cool Whip. Yum!

463. a brother-in-law's healing from hip replacement surgery

464. reading What's So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey. Finished reading it. Loved it!

465. God's patience, grace, and protection this past week

466. our son extending his stay by one day

467. our daughter bringing Little Sweetie over (again) for more play time. Yea!

468. a visual reminder of what I am through Christ (You Are Loved - Black Wall Art from DaySpring)

How was your Thanksgiving?

I Live

in Bucks County. An interesting name for a county and there is a reason for the specificity of my location in this post.

Here's the official story:
"Founded in 1682 by William Penn, Bucks County has had a long and distinguished history. Penn named the county after Buckinghamshire, the Penn family home in Englandpost."

Here's my unofficial story:
Named because we have lots of deer. I mean even one of our local high schools' mascot is Bucks (meaning deer, not money;)

We've lived in Bucks County for 16 years. We have seen a lot of deer running through fields, standing along roadways, and unfortunately dead along roadways too.


It was a long week leading up to Thanksgiving. I'd been a bit weepy, sad, numb, and couldn't come up with an update to my list of counting toward one thousand gifts. I was in a spiritual / emotional slump. Gray days with rain from drizzle to downpours obviously hadn't improved my mental state.

After a long eight hours of work on Wednesday, my excitement started to build toward: Thanksgiving and four days off, only being responsible for a sidedish at my sister-in-law's house, and our son already being at our house. I wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and left work with a bit of a bounce in my step.

I had two errands to run and while driving 40 miles an hour on a busy road, with cars in front of me and behind me and oncoming traffic just as steady, something hit my passenger door and actually rocked my van!

I drove about 100 feet and pulled into a convenience store parking lot to survey the damage. The traffic pattern never changed, cars weren't stopping, no dodging or weaving, and I noticed the truck that was behind me just zoomed on by where I was parked. I felt confusion, fear, and after seeing the damage, sadness.

I drove back to where it had happend. Nothing in the road or near the road. Traffic moving as usual.

Darn deer.

I'm hopeful that it was just stunned and ran off with a slight hangover. I don't know.

Yet after a week of a blah and weary attitude, I realized that during the hard eucharisteo of a damaged vehicle: My van was still drive-able and I wasn't physically injured. Pretty amazing once I started thinking about it.

I am thankful that the damage is what it is and thank God for his protection.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we  know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Romans 5:3-6 (NLT)

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (449-451)

Continuing my journey of counting toward one thousand gifts...

Our granddaughter was born on her due date of 11-11-11. She entered the world at 8:57 p.m., weighing 6 lbs. 1 oz., and measuring 20 inches long.

She is healthy. Her mom is healthy. Her dad is a great birthing coach. (And he's healthy too :)

I am in awe of the miracle of birth. God's hand leading us to this point in time. His grace covering us. His love for us. He created Amber and knitted her together (Psalm 139:13) and numbered the hairs on her head (Matthew 10:30).

I never knew that grandmotherhood would be so prayer-filled, exhilarating, and exhausting.

#449 - 451 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

449. a healthy, feathery-light, long-lashed granddaughter

450. a family of three

451. God blessing us with the gift of new life

Please visit A Holy Experience: Multitudes on Mondays, One Thousand Gifts.

Thank you for stopping by.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Grandmother

It's time to update my profile description to include "Grandma."

Our daughter (Young Sweetie) gave birth to our granddaughter, Amber Riley, at 8:57 p.m. on her due date of 11-11-11.

Amber weighed 6 lbs.1 oz. and measures 20 inches.

Hey! I'm not the shortest person in the family anymore!

Welcome to the world Amber!

Congratulations to Young Sweetie and Andy!

Thank you Lord!

I am exhausted :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (428-448)

Continuing my journey of counting toward one thousand gifts...

I carry a small notebook in my purse to write down my list of blessings while I'm away from home. I called my orthodontist on Monday morning and asked to come in to have some "donuts" placed on my back brackets because I was wearing blisters into my inner cheeks. (Very painful.) The woman at the front desk was wonderful because she slipped me in for a quick appointment before I went to work.

I arrived on the run into the office. Had the quick procedure and by the way it was Halloween and all the staff were in costumes. I felt a bit under-dressed and was also thankful that it wasn't my first visit since it would have startled me. Ha!

I was walking out the door and saw a woman with her arms filled with her purse, books, and balancing a cup of coffee above it all. I was going to say that I would get the door for her when she looked at me and asked, "Is this yours?" She was holding my small notebook! I said, "Yes," and she handed it to me. I thanked her and marveled to myself that I obviously had droppped it in the parking lot and I was the first person she saw upon entering and it was mine.

God's perfect timing!

#428 - 448 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

428. the woman who returned my notebook

429. a well-timed orthodontist appointment that brought relief to my mouth

430. my braces. Five months down, five to seven months left to go!

431. my first business trip for work to Baltimore, MD

432. Wonderful Husband coming with me and sharing the drive

433. Wonderful Husband sightseeing: Historic Ships in Baltimore- USS Constellation, USS Torsk, Lightship Chesapeake; the Baltimore Aquarium; and the American Visionary Art Museum

434. friendly hotel personnel

435. God and my belief that every conversation I had on the trip was ordained by Him

436. a beautiful chandelier in the meeting room at the Sheraton Hotel

437. being open to new work relationships and sharing dinner out

438. assisting a nursing mom with privacy by letting her use our hotel room

439. having the same mom show me pictures of her child "that I was helping"

440. a 60 year old woman who was inspired to become a triathlete after seeing an 85 year old cross the finish line on TV

441. being told the secret to the automatic faucet in the restroom, instead of waving my hand like an idiot, there was a sensor in the center of the spigot. (Please note: After thinking I had the secret to wet hands, at the rest stop in Delaware I'm still waving my hand like an idiot since the sensor was located in the center of the barrel of the faucet.) Argh! And don't get me started on motion sensored paper towel dispensers!

442. assisting 40 people who took our two day course

443. watching them learn, ask questions, and earn 14 continuing education hours

444. two awesome speakers with approximately 40 years of clinical research experience between the two of them

445. Daylight Savings Time and receiving an extra hour of sleep

446. hard eucharisteo: less daylight and driving home from work in the dark

447. our daughter shopping online (for us) for my niece-in-law's (her cousin-in-law's) baby shower gifts

448. our daughter not going into labor while we've been traveling outside of PA. I know it's hard for her since she's soooo ready, yet I'm thankful that we are in town from here on out!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Grandma and Snow (Showers)

Last Saturday (October 29) we had snow in PA. Lots of snow. Crazy for Autumn and I hope not an example of the winter ahead snow.

I have mentioned my Bible Study Buddies mutliple times on my ongoing list of counting toward One Thousand Gifts. Last Saturday I was invited to Maria's home for a get together with some of them and breakfast was included. Yum!

Sorry of the blurriness. I forgot my camera, had Maria's son take the pictures with my phone and although the pictures looked crystal clear on my phone, by the time I copied them to my computer...fuzziness appeared. (I'm the one in the center, hands clasped in front.)

Have you ever heard of a Grandma Shower? I hadn't and these ladies pulled it together and there were gifts  and it was awesome! Someone asked the last time I had a shower in my honor and I had to think back to my baby shower 25 years ago. YIKES!

The gifts included:
lots of books - plastic, cardboard, and regular paper pages,
swaddling blankets and a Comfort in the Word quilt,
some toys,
and diapers and wipes (what?) Ha!

We prayed before digging into breakfast, Maria thanking God for bringing us all together in life and thanking Him for me too. They are such a great group of godly women. I was blessed to study God's word with them for five years. I told them that the drawback to working full-time since last December is that I don't see them on Thursday mornings. I miss them.

I drove home carefully in the snow and arrived home at noon. Here's what the heavy snow looked like from inside my house. The burning bush struggling to remain upright under the heavy, wet snow. Wonderful Husband went out later to brush the snow off and it did spring back up.

This is what snow looks like on beautiful fall colored leaves in our neighbor's backyard.

We're watching our other neighbor's tree to see if it loses another section of branches due to the weight of the heavy snow and the blowing wind.

It was a fun and crazy day in PA. (See, I am a poet!)

I am thankful for my Bible Study Buddies gifting me with supplies for grandmotherhood. A Grandma Shower is a wonderful idea for a first time grandma.

And snow showers in October? That is just bizarre!

Monday, October 31, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (417-427)

Continuing my journey of counting toward one thousand gifts...

#417-427 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:
417. sending an email to my brother for his birthday before leaving our vacation in North Carolina

418. smiles and good mornings exchanged at rest stops. Love the friendliness of strangers/fellow travellers.

419. mailing a birthday card to my mom. Another year wiser ;)

420. my brother and mother whose birthdays are one week apart, makes it easy on my old memory :)

421. returning from vacation to a steady (not overwhelming) workload

422. my Bible Study Buddies throwing me a Grandma Shower. Such fun and received so much love!

423. preparing for a business trip to Baltimore, Maryland

424. the beauty of snow in October

425. hard eucharisteo, shoveling the heavy, icy-ness. (Good exercise though :)

426. snow clumped on a bare tree

427. reading The One Year Chronological Bible when Jesus is about to be betrayed. Remembering the sacrifice he made for me/us/all.

(Jesus said) "Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth."
John 17:17-19 NLT

Turn on your speakers.
Read, enjoy, and thank God for His blessings.

Friday, October 28, 2011


contrast - to compare in order to show unlikeness or differences; note the opposite natures, purposes, etc.

We were in North Carolina last week for vacation. I was lounging on a chair beside a swimming pool, the temperature was delightful, a palm tree and pine trees were nearby, and the blue sky was amazing.....

This week I am back at work, standing in the parking lot, dressed for the brisk temperature and although the sky is mostly cloudy, the sun peeks out for the picture. I admire the beautiful, red leaves.....

I drive past New Britain Baptist Church and read the words on their sign:
"When you're reluctant to change, think of the beauty of Autumn."

North Carolina and Pennsylvania are beautiful and different during Autumn.


Monday, October 24, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (396-416)

Continuing my journey of counting toward one thousand gifts...

We had a wonderful vacation in Calabash, North Carolina. Since we were 30 minutes from the South Carolina border we went twice to visit the "friendly neighbors to the south."

The first time we went to Barefoot Landing. Had dinner at the Fire Island Grille and dessert at Maggie Moo's Ice Cream and Treatery. Both were delicious!

We went across the border the second time to see our niece Julie. She's lived in South Carolina for five years and works at a restaurant. Since she was working Saturday night, we went and had dinner at the restaurant and snatched a few bits of conversation with her. Once again we had a delicious meal and the "dessert" was seeing Julie. (Less calories!)

This week my list of blessings is compiled from our vacation. Thank you North Carolina for your blue skies and temperatures from 80 to upper 60s during the days!

#396-416 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

396. seeing a black squirrel with a white-tipped tail. (Very intriguing, whereas before I've only seen our regular brown squirrels.)

397. a middle school boy scuffing his shoes on the way to the bus stop. A reminder that although I was on vacation, everyone around me wasn't.

398. a bagel shop with HUGE, delcious multigrain bagels

399. the humor of Wonderful Husband meeting fellow golfers who were transplanted from our Pennsylvania area. Small world indeed.

400. being called "young lady," "hon," and "sweetie." I love the south!

401. purchasing two blank journals at New Life Christian Bookstore in Shalotte, North Carolina

402. laying out beside a beautiful pool with the wind dancing through the palm tree fronds

403. seeing fields of cotton along the highways

404. still seeing some wild flowers beautifying the highways

405. a turtle-filled pond

406. a heron stalking minnows

407. cold sand on my feet

408. wild, wind blown hair

409. crisp mornings, cool days

410. reading Jesus Calling and The One Year Chronological Bible at the beginning of each day

411. reading The Secret Lives of Dresses and What's So Amazing About Grace? throughout the day

412. visiting with our niece Julie at her work

413.driving our kids crazy on our way home with my text messages each time we crossed a state line. (Example: Bye North Carolina, Hi Virginia!)

414. arriving home safely in less than 12 hours (including multiple necessary stops!) Ha!

415. a day off from work on Monday. Putting off reality a bit longer.

416. time spent with God during vacation. A habit that must continue now that I am home.

Turn on your speakers.
Read, enjoy, and thank God for His blessings.

Sunset Beach, North Carolina

Friday, October 21, 2011

Beach Thoughts

Wonderful Husband and I are on vacation in North Carolina.

We went to Sunset Beach on a coldish (66 degrees) and windy day. I wore flip flops since I couldn't imagine getting sand in my sneakers and I wanted to feel the sand on the soles of my feet. I was thankful for my sweat jacket. Brrrr!

While walking into the wind, I started thinking about how the beach and ocean make me sentimental. Or do I mean nostalgic? Or retrospective? Or introspective? Or all of the above?

The ocean seemed wild, wave upon wave crashing toward the shore. Life feels like that to me sometimes. Wave upon wave crashing on me. I'm feeling overwhelmed.

I saw the signs saying 'No Lifeguard On Duty.' Ah, but God is always on duty isn't He? I'm thankful for that knowledge.

The wind was blowing the sand. I remember being on a beach in Wildwood, New Jersey where the sand felt like it was pelting my skin it was blowing so hard. It was a bit painful. Life can be that way sometimes too.

Wonderful Husband and I walked a while into the wind. The sand was cold on my feet, the sun was warming the rest of me. A sand piper would run toward the waves, then run away when the waves came too close. I do that sometimes. Run toward something then veer away when danger/change comes too close, too fast.

When we turned back with the wind at our backs, I watched my shadow and my hair was blowing wild. It felt wonderful with the wind at my back. It pushed me gently forward. I felt like I could do anything. Accomplish anything. Be anything.

We exited the beach and instead of washing our feet in the cold faucet, we sat in the gazebo and brushed the sand from our feet before stepping back into our flip flops. Beach time was over for the day. It was time to pull my head out of the clouds or was it the sand?

Praying for:
Renewal physically, mentally and spiritually while on vacation,
asking God to turn my thoughts toward grace and blessings,
today and when we return to reality/home.

Monday, October 17, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (387-395)

Continuing my journey of counting toward one thousand gifts...

I saw the oddest thing while driving to a grocery store in North Carolina.
A man had parked his truck in a field.
Maybe it was his field, maybe it wasn't.
He was walking alongside an enormous tortoise.
Maybe it was his tortoise, maybe is wasn't.
It occurred to me that I have only seen tortoises at a zoo or on television.
And I think the ones on television were at a zoo too.

Oh how I wished I'd had my camera with me!

I'll be paying close attention while walking outside in case there has been a tortoise takeover near Calabash, North Carolina.

Have you seen surprising wildlife nearby?

#387-395 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

387. visiting with our son in Virginia
388. safe travel to North Carolina
389. a cool evening with a breeze
390. a beautiful sunrise
391. Wonderful Husband "working" on his golf game
392. wireless internet at the condo. We've always been told that it's available and this time I call it our wireless miracle! Ha!
393. catching the sun's rays at the swimming pool. Warm day, cool water. Perfect!
394. six days off from work
395. fully embracing vacation mode

Turn on your speakers.
Read, enjoy, and thank God for His blessings.

Friday, October 14, 2011

An Autumnal Feast

I love autumn in Pennsylvania.
The trees show off their beautiful colors. Fire engine red, pumpkiny orange, school bus yellow.
Some trees try to embrace all three colors.
Here is an example outside the window at work...

Can you see the railroad track behind the tree? The trains race by at times with horn blaring during my workday. Do the people speeding along notice the beauty of the foliage?

I hope so because autumn in Pennsylvania is a feast for the eyes. And this feast has no caloric consequences.

Autumn is such a gift!

Monday, October 10, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (382-386)

Continuing my journey of counting toward one thousand gifts...

Our church is in the middle of a renovation. We are land-locked (real estate-wise) so the only way to build is up. We've seen the education building mostly renovated, kitchen included. We've worshiped in the gym while the sanctuary was renovated and now in order to connect our two buildings, a bridge (skywalk) is being added and will be fully enclosed. No worries about rain or snow ever again. At least while walking from one building to the other.

Front of church.
Originial edifice built in 1872.

Back of church on left, education building on right,
connected by the steel beam of the bridge.

Education building with scaffolding.
Originally built in 1940, enlarged in 1965 and under
renovation since 2010.

Thank you for allowing me to share our church's history and our present. I am learning to adapt to change (in my old age), and admit that updating the building to run more green efficiently and removing the old, unsafe materials is good too.

Watching the renovation unfold, hearing compliments being said to the architect, builder, and workers....I give God the glory and thank Him for His grace during this time.

#382-386 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:
382. hearing leaves falling, lawn mowers growling, and dogs barking

383. the beautiful warm and sunny weather over the weekend. No rain in the forecast? Amazing!

384. our newly renovated church sanctuary. Less dark and cave-like, more light of Christ felt during worship. Amen.

385. counting down toward vacation in North Carolina. I'm already there "in my head!"

386. Beth Moore's Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman Bible Study. Beth weaves Old and New Testament scriptures together like no one else I know.

"God is 'the God of all grace,' in the apostle Peter's words. And grace means there is nothing I can do to make God love me more, and nothing I can do to make God love me less."
quoted from What's so Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey

Turn on your speakers.
Read, enjoy, and thank God for His blessings.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Farm and Family

A couple weeks ago we traveled to New Jersey to meet Wonderful Husband's cousin (somewhat removed) who is from Germany. Dina and her husband (Uli) were traveling around the U.S. and spent some time in New York, New Jersey, and were going to Florida before flying back home.

The family reunion was hostessed by Wonderful Husband's other cousin (Marion) who lives on a farm. It's the first time we'd been there and I loved seeing where she lived. Seventeen of us were on the farm (ages 6-83).

Some of the beams inside the barn were repurposed and had been dated 1860.

One of the highlights was when the turkey who lives two doors down came to pose by the fall decorations. I took this picture from the safety of the screened-in porch since he had been chasing the kids around the yard and I don't run as fast as I used to, especially in sandals!

Wisdom does come with age.