Thursday, December 31, 2009

I love New Years!

I love restarts. 
(doesn't matter how many times you tried and failed, try again!)

I love hope and a new year speaks of hope to me.

I love the idea of 365 blank pages.

I've nailed down my New Year's Resolution ...
it's one that covers all of my life.

Every time I think or say "I should"
(or anything that comes close to I should) ... 


Or take steps to make it happen, if it can't be done in one step.

That's all Folks.

Happy 2010!

Clarification ... the motivation for "I should" needs to come from myself and/or God, not from guilt from others.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Creative Sisters Making a Quilt

My mom is an avid quilter, making a few quilts each year. She sews the quilts together on a machine and quilts them by hand. With her help, I made a few quilts while growing up, but somewhere along the way I lost the patience and the skills to make one. Two of my older sisters continue the tradition. One of them made a Stack-n-Whack quilt recently and my other sister wanted to learn how, so we had a sister's day at my moms house today.

Colorful fabric ready to be cut. It's amazing what a kaleidoscope of quilt patches can come from fabric like this. 

Is it lined up right?

Age-old wisdom ... measure twice and cut once!

Instructions passing from one sis to another, "Make sure it is straight! Sew this here. Sew that there. Fold it. Iron it."

Finished quilt in a day!! 

This is the Stack-n-Whack quilt my sis and niece made recently. It is sewn (pieced) together, but still needs to be quilted by hand - takes yards of thread and hours of carefully moving a needle up and down. My other sis hopes to have one like this in a few weeks after sewing together all the patches that were cut today.

Each of the stars is made from the same fabric. An assortment of squares, triangles, diamonds or wedges are cut from a stack of fabric and sewn together in a certain way to make a set of blocks that create a kaleidoscope effect when sewn together.

Everyone was too busy to pose for a pic today, so here's one of my mom, sisters and I taken this past summer.
(yes, they still invite me, even if I'm different :)

At this time, I use my creativity to organize events and write, maybe someday - when I have nothing else to do, I'll tackle making a quilt again.

We are created in the image of a very creative God and I think we all have creativity in us.

How do you express your creativity? 

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Blog Carnival = Serving Love

The soup has been simmering since noon. I've tasted it at least a dozen times - its hard to judge how much seasoning is needed for this large amount. The night is cold - temps hover around freezing. Jerry drives as I figure out the GPS on my new phone. We arrive at North 6th Street, the address of the Hope Rescue Mission, in an area of our local city I've not seen before. I realize I'm nervous as we walk across the parking lot.

 Chicken Corn Noodle Soup
(someone else made a large kettle of Creamy Potato Soup)

We join about fifteen friends carrying food into the building. The doors are graciously held open for us by men waiting for dinner. We exchange greetings and I relax. I remind myself about the saying in my earlier post about homelessness. I don't need to be scared - they are simply people without a home. 

Carol, a friend with an amazing voice and sweet guitar skills, leads the group (the men and us) as we sing a few carols. The familiar songs bring tears to the eyes of some of the men. I think of the story each of them must have - the story of why they are there waiting for a meal. Suddenly, I wish I had a few hours to hear their stories. 

But I feel awkward striking up a conversation. I'm not sure how to do that. I'm a task person, so I head to the food counter. A task is something I can handle. The soup is hot, the sandwiches are tasty and the thank yous are plenty as our group works together to serve dinner.

Sloppy Joe Sandwiches

Its busy as we serve, plus I'm cautious about taking pictures, so I only have these two photos - but I have memories of smiles and compliments. The men are kind, thankful and gracious. We greet and acknowledge each one. I see some hope (one man is excited about a new job he started that day) but I realize I see more sadness, stress, disappointment and confusion. 

While serving, my friend Greta says something to a few of us about what we will serve  the "next time." A few raise eyebrows, "Next time?" Greta says, "Yes, we are doing this at least once a quarter." Everyone promptly agrees.

On the ride home, Jerry tells me about Sam, a gentleman from Georgia he ate dinner with. Jerry is quiet and reserved - and he'd been cautious about going, so I hadn't expected him to connect with anyone. But he did, he enjoyed it and he's thinking of ways he can help Sam after hearing some of his story. 

I begin to beat myself up. Why didn't I try to connect more? Why did I focus on the task of serving more than on connecting? 

Later I read a Facebook comment an online friend wrote after I posted the soup picture, "that's a lot of love." 

And I realize that it is. Yes it is! Love in the form of food. 

I tend to want to save the world and if I can't do it all at once, why bother trying? The words of Jesus come to mind, "I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat." So I stop beating myself up. Instead I use my energy to pray for the men and for John, the director of the mission and for our next time there. 

I'm grateful we went and that we added one drop to the ocean of love on a cold December night. I'm really thankful that we plan to go again. We'll serve more food and more love.   

Warm, tasty, fulfilling love.   

There's a love blog carnival happening today. To read more posts about love - go to One Word at A Time by Bridget Chumbley.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Time to Resume Running Club

I'm thinking about my health goals for 2010, as the soup for tonight's meal at the Hope Rescue Mission simmers. Check back tomorrow for a report about our evening serving dinner to some people without homes in Reading, PA (pronounced redding)

Along with too many holiday meals, I gave myself a break from running or biking the past few weeks, so I've watched sadly as the cookies and other goodies have happily settled on my hips and abdomen.

My excuse for the exercise break - most days its been too cold outside and my treadmill and I don't have the best relationship (maybe we need counseling) On a few mild days I walked outside and a few times I walked at the mall, but I'm ready to do more. We've passed winter solstice and the days are getting longer and warmer - right? Please indulge my wishful thinking and say yes!

I only have one body and I want it to be healthy, so it's time to get back to regular running. The winter running clothes have come out of storage and the treadmill dusted off. I'll vary my runs between the two based on the weather and my schedule and my mood.

Last January, a friend Linda and I started a running club, that we named Running, Because I  Can!  The weekly club runs were great (most of the time) Running with others and the accountability of a slightly longer run each week was excellent motivation. The laughing (thanks all, but especially Betty!) after the runs, as we stretched and did strength training, was priceless. We had five relay teams from the club in the 1st annual Garden Spot Village Marathon in April. (pictured are some of the relay participants) I even had 15 minutes of fame with an interview by the local TV station. 

We took a break from the club in November and December. Now its time to revive the club - beginning January 5th. If you live local, you're a woman (sorry guys, but you run faster than us and that's depressing) and you're interested in running - we'd love to have you join us! We will have two weekly club runs - Tuesday night at 7 PM and Saturday morning at 10AM. We'll start out slow - doing a half mile to a mile the first week and add a little distance each week. Everyone runs at their own pace - some walk more than run, some jog slow (that would be me) some jog fast, and some RUN. If interested, I'm sure you'll find a pace that works for you. More info on our Facebook Group Page.

A  healthier body is on the way! I'm ready, excited and looking forward to the 2nd Garden Spot Village Marathon on April 10th. Last year I did the 4.6-mile section of the relay, this year I hope to do the 6-mile section - one step at a time, I'll get there.

I'm feeling ambitions right now, so I'm dreaming of a half-marathon later this year - maybe the Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon on Sept 5th. 

What are you doing for your health in 2010? 

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday Sayings - Homelessness

For a few reasons ... homelessness is on my mind.

First, I'm reading What Difference Do it Make? by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. Moore was homeless for a portion of his life. His writing is priceless and convicting. (come back on the 6th for Winning Wednesday and you could win a copy!)

Also, my husband Jerry and I meet weekly with a group of friends to laugh, eat and study the Bible. Tomorrow night, the group is cooking for a homeless shelter in our local city.

I care about people. It makes me sad when I think of someone hungry and not having a home to live in. I help others, mostly from a distance. I give money and write a quarterly newsletter for a children's home in Africa.

And when I think of the homeless in the city 10 miles from my house. I think we (and by 'we' I really mean someone other than me) should do something to help. Sad to say, my thoughts are probably closer to this quote by Lingle, governor of Hawaii, than I care to admit.
We have come dangerously close to accepting the homeless situation as a problem that we just can't solve.
- Linda Lingle

So, if the problem can't be solved, why even try? I mean, how can I, one person, make a difference? Plus, I don't know how to connect with homeless people. What do I say? How can I help? Blah, blah, blah ... 

Then I read this ... 
People who are homeless are not social inadequates. They are people without homes. - Sheila McKechnie  

So that means my earlier questions aren't even valid because they are people just like me ... hmmm

Its soo sad that I need to have this conversation with myself... 

Pray for me tomorrow - pray I can mix some love into my large pot of chicken noodle soup (using the best PA dutch recipe I have!) while gaining some awareness and understanding about "loving others as I love myself."

I need help - do you help people without homes? If so, what do you do?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day is Over - How are You?

How are you ... now that Christmas day is over

Was it what you thought it would be? Better? Worse?

If it was worse and/or life isn't what you thought it would be - don't give up. 

Never give up!  

For the majority of the world, the season of Jesus' birth 2,000+ years ago was just another series of days. There was nothing special about it.

It was probably the same old, same old for most. 

They had no idea anything different happened. No idea about the hope that was born.  
If today is not good - if its the same old, same old dirt and you are sooo sick of it. Hang on - you don't know when or where hope will be born. 

If the people 2,000+ years ago paid attention - they eventually heard about the hope that was born. 

Hope is available for you also. 

Be aware - look - seek - knock - ask!

Look beyond the dirt ... and the familiar ... and the usual. Be prepared to be surprised. 

I took this picture in Austin, TX (Dec '08) at an event with about a hundred people. I watched for a time and no one else noticed this daisy right beside the pathway. Seeing it was one of my highlights of the day and I continue to experience hope from the memory of it. 

Be Aware!

You don't know when or where or how hope will come.

What unlikely spot have you find hope?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from my family

For Christmas, I decided I wanted to post a picture of my boys, since they rarely (if ever) grace my blog. Apparently I need to pick up my camera more when they are around - because looking back over my pictures from this year, there's none of us as a family (and no one wants to take pictures now) The boys don't change as much from year to year as younger kids do, so I'm posting pictures we had taken for last Christmas ... by Char from Authentic You Photography.

Jonathan - now age 16. He looks happy in this picture, but he's even happier now - because he passed his driver's test this week
(yes, I'm praying ... a lot!)

Joseph - age 19. He's packing to leave for a week of snowboarding in CO this Saturday with a few buddies. He's making the most of his break from Penn State Berks, where he's studying Mechanical Engineering.

Joshua - age 21. With this job market and and him graduating from West Chester University (Communication Studies) in 2011 - our conversations the past few days since he's home have revolved around the question of what he will do then.

 With this picture, we could be a band ... if we could sing.

Merry Christmas to all!
May you find peace this season.

(even if the potatoes are lumpy, the same old
discussions happen or the house is messy)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Historical Home Tour

Earlier this month, I went on a Historical Home Tour
around Fairmount Park in the city of Philadephia.

  Welcome to Christmas ... done with simplistic elegrance.

 I love the decorations and the windows in the dining room at Lemon Hill
There are three big ones like this that can be removed to allow access to the wrap around porch overlooking the Schuylkill  River - imagine the parties that happened there.

A child's Christmas

 A woman designed this kitchen in Cedar Grove Mansion
 and efficiency of it (for its day) shows that.

 Beauty and wisdom from 1804!

Sweet doors at the Woodford Mansion

Merry Christmas!

Note: Winning Wednesday will return in January

Monday, December 21, 2009

Blogs I read

Once upon a time I decided I wanted to be a part of this ...
Christmas Badge
12 Days of Community = promoting twelve blogs that we appreciate. I wrote two posts promoting fellow bloggers - Billy Coffey and S. Etole and then I didn't get anything else written. Today I hope to remedy that by promoting ten other blogs I read regularly ...

22 Words by Abraham Piper - Love the thoughts he expresses in 22 words (give or take a few)
Barefoot from Heaven by Dagmar - Beautiful photos and words.
Flowerdust by Anne Jackson - She's funny and real, plus she bikes and runs. And I got to be her driver for an hour this fall. (hope Anne doesn't remember I was late) 
History in the Making by Ben Arment - He's innovative, smart and (drumroll please!) he's my coach 
Kids, Twins and Laundry Bins by Elizabeth Esther - She's sharp, sassy and has substance. 
Rachel Held Evans by Rachel Held Evans - She likes coffee and I was thrilled to find her site and realize I'm not alone in my non-Calvinist thoughts. Love this line from a recent post of hers ... "I believe that God is in control. I do not believe that God controls."
Ramblings and Such by Bryan Allain - He's funny, local and likes the Amish. And he recently ran a half-marthon.
Rants and Ramblings on Life as a literary Agent by Rachelle Gardner - Great info about writing and publishing.
Religion, Culture, Pocket Guides and The Life of a Working Writer by Jason Boyett - He's funny, and honest ... and honest and funny and he competes in triathlon. (did I mention he's funny and honest?)
Seth Godin's Blog by Seth Godin - Love his efficiency with words - his posts are short, but powerful.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Book Review - The Noticer

A snowstorm on Saturday gave me time to finish some books I had started - snug in my warm house with a blanket, tea/coffee, recliner and books looking out my window overlooking the Allegheny Valley.

I finished The Noticer:  Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective by Andy Andrews - an e-book I received from Thomas Nelson. (I like reading on my Kindle better than on my computer - glad it was a short book)

This is one sweet book - in a genre all of its own, described as - a blend of fiction, allegory and inspiration, seasoned with a dash of autobiography. I think I will be buying one for each of my college-age boys. Great advice in it about keeping the right perspective in life, especially during tough times.

The jest of it is - Jones, an older gentleman, shows up in the lives of different people who are struggling. Along with helping them notice the good things around them, he speaks wisdom and hope into their lives that helps them turn their life around. 

Yes, that sounds like a fairy tale, but the truth is - we all go through tough times and we all need wisdom and hope to help us through. Sometimes it comes from others. Sometimes we need to force ourselves to focus on the positive and notice the beauty and/or the potential around us. Here's some of the advice that Jones gave ...

Other people's experience is the best teacher. By reading about the lives of great people, you can unlock the secrets to what made them great. (read biographies)

One way to define wisdom is the ability to see, into the future, the consequences of your choices in the present. (think, think, think about the choices you make) 

Many of life’s treasures remain hidden from us simply because we never search for them. Often we do not ask the proper questions that might lead us to the answer to all our challenges. We are so caught up in fear and regret, that hope seems a foolish endeavor. Proof of hope, however, is not only possible; it is an overlooked law of the universe. 

Proof of hope ... is it possible? 

I've had some dark days when I would have answered - no, don't think it's possible. 

But now I say - yes, it is!

The odd thing about 'proof of hope' is there's no one place, formula, quote or verse that will give us all hope. We each have to find it - in a way that speaks to our unique wiring and the time/place we are at in life. I find hope in some of the same ones mentioned in The Noticer - God's promises, books, outdoors and being intentional about noticing beauty around me. 

Where do you find hope?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Accepted for Dream Year - Yippee!!

I am thrilled, honored and excited beyond words! In October I went to the STORY Conference in Chicago. The conference motivated and inspired me. Ben Arment directed it, so I began reading Ben's blog and following him on Twitter. In November, Ben posted about a unique opportunity he was offering for 2010 called Dream Year.

Ben describes Dream Year as ...
A 12-month process that's designed to help you bring your God-given dream to life.
You bring the dream.
I'll be your dream coach.
As a community of 20 participants...
We'll make it happen.

Trembling I applied. 

Today I received an email from Ben Arment that said -

Welcome to Dream Year!

From January to December, 2010 - Ben will coach me to help make my dream come true. I just reread what I wrote in the application to Ben's question "What is your dream?" It sounds and feels audacious ... but Ben said "Dream Big."

I’ve learned to live in the tension of celebrating miracles (big ones and everyday ones) while being real about the disappointments I live with. I want to use that to inspire people and give them hope. Hope in the midst of disappointment. Hope when life doesn't turn out like expected. My dream is to do this by finishing/publishing my memoir and by speaking - around the world. I feel 'fully alive' when I share my story - whether its to 2 people or 200 people. I feel about speaking (and running) like Eric Liddell says he feels about running in Chariots of Fire, "I feel God's pleasure when I do it." 

I guess, in a year - I'll know how successful (or not) Dream Year was. In the meantime, I'll have a lot of work to do.

Tonight I'm excited and exhausted - so I think I'll start with a nap to prepare ...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Church - Why?

It's Carnival time again! Today the word is church and its hosted at One Word at A Time by Bridget Chumbley.

I like the thoughts about church (believers coming together) that Jesus talks about and that are in the scriptures. If we believe, we are a part of the church of Jesus. And we meet together and do life together. Yes, I like that.

But too often when I look at church - communities of believers - I don't see what I think a church should look like. I am embarrassed as some of the things I see. I am disappointed when I read what some churches have done - the pain, destruction and hurt they have caused. I'm frustrated with the tension of church and money. I look at some churches and say, "Really?!"

And I wonder why ...

Why bother?

Why be involved?

Then I also look at the good churches have done - throughout the centuries and today. I think about the many hospitals/schools/etc in this country and throughout the world that were started by communities of believers.

Personally, my family has been helped many times by the local church we've been involved with for 20+ years. They've brought us more meals then I can count ... at the birth of each of my three boys, when my husband was injured and out of work for 3 months, when my husband was injured again and when I was injured (Now I understand why they asked us to stay indoors:)

So church ... with its good and bad - is it worth it?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Prayer by Sir Francis Drake

 Posted this prayer this morning ... came back to reread it a few hours later and now I'm not sure I like the line "Disturb us Lord." I would prefer "Remind us Lord." I know its just a word ... but from a God of love, I'm not sure he'd disturb us, but I do think he'd remind us.  What do you think?

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
with the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.

– Sir Francis Drake
(1540 -1596)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sunday Saying

The difference between you now 
and you in five years will be 
the books you read and the people you hang out with."
- Charles Tremendous Jones

Do you think that is accurate ... 
that books and people can change us? 

Friday, December 11, 2009

Winning Wednesday Winner

This week's Winning Wednesday Winner is
Andi Colmery
of Elverson, PA.

I'm not going to be posting a lot until the beginning of the year - I want to enjoy and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas without stressing. I might be posting sayings or meaningful/funny videos if the mood strikes. 

So for today - take a deep breathe ... relax, the world will not end if you don't get everything done on your list. As the Psalmist encouraged centuries ago - take a moment today to ... "Be still and know God."

I'm going to enjoy a house tour in Philadelphia today. 

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Winning Wednesday - Simple Compassion

It's Wednesday and you can be a winner! Actually, you already are a winner, because everyone's a winner all the time!

Don't you feel better about yourself now?

Okay - enough of pop psychology for today, now back to real life. Do something that makes you a winner today! "What should I do?" you ask. 
Well, since you asked - I have just the book for you ...

Simple Compassion: 

Devotions to Make a Difference in Your Neighborhood and Your World by Keri Wyatt Kent

This time of year - coats are collected, presents delivered to strangers and homeless shelters receive more calls. This is good, but there's eleven other months in the year. Simple Compassion is a 52-week devotional that talks about a lifestyle of compassion. Keri Wyatt Kent teaches the reader about genuine compassion, beginning with looking at ourselves and the reasons we do or don't do compassion well.

She shares personal stories of getting involved in inner city Chicago - from taking a class about urban leadership to handing her own hamburger, bought in the middle of a busy day of running errands, to a homeless man. 

Read one of the 52 short chapters a week and give yourself time to ponder the thoughts and challenges she presents about what Godly compassion should look like. Begin this book in January and by next Christmas, you could be a winner in showing compassion.

Leave your name in the comment section (before Thursday at 10PM) and you could win this book. Winner will be posted on Friday.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Peace and Beauty - 12 Days of Community

Peace - Beauty
At first, I found it odd, but now it makes sense to me. I've found that if I'm missing either peace or beauty in my life, I'm probably missing both. And if I look for one, I usually find both. They seem to live close together.

 View from a bench at French Creek State Park -
a favorite place of peace and beauty for me.

There's many places I find peace and beauty if I am intentional. Outdoors in creation is my first choice - trees, plants, water, along with the moon and stars.  There's beauty/peace in words, art, music and delicious food. 

It helps to be intentional as I go through life, taking deep breaths and allowing myself time to think about what my five senses are absorbing. (I figure there is a reason I've been created with five senses and I try not to waste any of them)  And whether I see the beauty of the moment first or peace comes over me first - the other soon follows. 

Peace and beauty - I need both to be fully alive and thankfully I usually find them together.

Recently I found both in a new place - online at 
Just ... a Moment a blog by S. Etole.

S. Etole combines words with beautiful photos and whenever I visit her site, I come away breathing lighter. Thank you S. Etole - for the way you brighten my world with peace and beauty. 

Celebrating Just ... a Moment today in the 12 days of Christmas Community hosted by High Calling Blog.

Click the box below to find out more about celebrating others this season ... 
Christmas Badge

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sunday Saying

The love we have for God 
and the joy we feel for His blessings 
isn’t best expressed in song or prayer, 
but in deeds. -Billy Coffey

Thanks to Twitter, I found a blog called "What I Learned Today" written by Billy Coffey. He started writing the blog after one of his children parroted his daily question "What did you learn today?" back to him. He realized that was a good question for himself, not just his children, since no one should ever quit learning. Now he goes through his days being aware of what's happening around him. Then he takes what he learns and weaves beautiful stories about it. He's real and his posts are often reminders that our walk with God is much more than just believing or saying the right things.

In a recent post, he wrote, "I propose a return to what Christmas really means—the giving of a gift without the expectation of return. An expression of love and encouragement. Sometimes the best way to pick yourself up is to pick up someone else. And in that light, I’m asking for a favor. I’m asking that you set aside a few dollars and bless someone. It doesn’t have to be ten, doesn’t have to be five. Let it be as much or as little as your situation deems possible. The amount doesn’t matter. It’s what you do with what you have." 

I'm going to take his challenge. Over the next few weeks, I plan to keep cash in my pocket and to intentionally look for needs around me.

Want to join the challenge also? There's more information in this post of his.

Also, celebrating Billy Coffey as a part of the

Christmas Badge

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Saturday's Story - Roadtrip #3

Six years ago today we left PA to begin a once-in-a-lifetime roadtrip. Some Saturdays, I post a segment of the stories from the six months we spent on the road in 03 and 04. 

I want to be back there! Back on Gulf Islands National Seashore - a barrier island off the coast of the Florida panhandle. The week we spent there lives in my memory as perfection.

Driving down the single road on the island that took us to the campground, we were surrounded by nothing but white sand and water on both sides. This area of the island is narrow, so the waves of the Gulf of Mexico were visible on the south side and the calmer waters of the Pensacola Bay on the north side. The shimmer from the rolling sand dunes made us feel as if we have entered Narnia. We later found out the reason the sand glistens and sparkles is that the primary ingredient in it is quartz.

After helping the boys with schoolwork for a few hours each morning, we spent the rest of our time on the beach, building sandcastles, biking on the trails around the fort or relaxing in the hammock. We explored the old fort one afternoon and learned that during the Civil War, the famous Indian warrior, Geronimo was a prisoner at the fort.

Many days, I went for a run right before sunset on the gulf side of the island. Running on the beach is pure joy for me - the sounds, the feel of the sand, the water. I think it is one of the best things this earth has to offer. And running at that time of day was a bonus! For the previous ten years I had to run at 5 or 6AM before the busy schedule of the day started. But now that life was perfect, I had the luxury of going at sunset, which I loved.

One evening, there was a storm out farther and the waves were angry, but the sun was still bright. I was acutely aware of the privileged life I was living as the moment as I soaked up every aspect of it - especially the carefree schedule we could keep. As I ran, I sang my thanks to God. (thankfully he doesn’t care that I can’t carry a tune)

I started my run back in the direction of the campground. I heard music drifting towards me and I slowed to enjoy it. An elderly gentleman was playing a banjo as his devoted wife sat nearby. He was thrilled to have an audience to appreciate his music as I made myself comfortable on the shimmering sand. After entertaining me with various selections, he stopped to chat. They proudly told stories of their children and were sad that they don’t get to see them more. They wondered if families today aren’t as close as they should be.

"Tell us about yourself," one of them said. They were curious about our adventure. Both vigorously affirmed our decision to spend these months on the road with the boys.

As I made my way back to our campsite, I thought about the advantage of sharing our stories with each other. We both benefited from our time spent together. Some of their concern for the next generation was lifted by the fact that my family was devoted to each other. I was reminded that a run on the beach is only one of the best things in life - family is even better.

I would love to hear your story of a day that lives in your memory as perfection ...

Saturday's Story - Roadtrip #1 
Saturday's Story - Roadtrip #2

Friday, December 04, 2009

Winning Wednesday Winner

The winner of this week's Winning Wednesday's book

Can You Drink the Cup?
by Henri J. M. Nouwen

is S. Etole from  
Just ... a moment

She combines her writings and beautiful pictures at her blog.

Congratulations S. Etole!!

(Please send me your address -

Thursday, December 03, 2009

You Can Shine

You can shine, yes, it's possible. It might not be easy, especially if there's tough obstacles in your way. But step by step - you can shine!

Yes, this is a commercial. I tend to be leary of commercials and rarely trust the message in them. This proves that even commercials can shine - if they rise above the normal 'buy now' message and share a good story.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Winning Wednesday

Yesterday I took part in a Blog Carnival hosted by Peter Pollock and the theme was Grief. My post was about time spent with my mentor Audrey and how she taught me the importance of grieving losses in my life. Audrey gave me a few books to read during this time and I want to give someone a copy of one of them today.

Can You Drink the Cup?

This book isn't only about grieving - its about the range of experiences we go through in life. I found it comforting during the time of my emotional and spiritual 'hurricane.' If you need comfort, inspiration or hope - this book should help you find some.  

It's actually a small book - a quick read, but it's packed with wisdom and many thoughts to ponder. Nouwen pulls from his own experiences, using examples from his life working with the mentally disabled to make his points. Using the cup as a metaphor, Nouwen reflects on three images - Holding, Lifting and Drinking - to articulate basics of the spiritual life.

I'm in the mood to read another book from Henri Nouwen this winter. Any suggestions? 

Leave your name - with or without a comment - and you could win this book. Winner posted on Friday.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

No One Died - So Why Grieve?

Grief - a word I used to associate with death. In my mind, grief had one place - following the loss of a loved one. Over the past few years, I learned grief is needed in other areas of life also.

A nasty accident - life-threatening injuries - severe lifestyle changes ... words I wake up to after ten days in a coma. Darn - now what?

Asking God for help every step of the way (literally) I tackle the tough physical recovery with my solid Pennsylvania Dutch work habits and the endurance of the runner I was pre-accident.  

Step by painful step, I recover better than expected.

I’m happy for the miracles, but sad about the effects. I don’t know what to do with my emotions. They refuse to obey my life-long habit of stuffing them anymore - instead they surface in depression and anger.

A saint from church, Audrey offers to mentor me after seeing the emotional mess I've become. I’m not sure what mentor means, but I’m starving for some answers so I agree.

Peaceful garden - tea - cookies ... Audrey knows how to put a person at ease. When the tea is finished, we move to the living room and I wonder if a lecture on how to handle a crisis will now begin.

Instead Audrey showers me with love and understanding, “Janet, I’m so sorry about the rough year you’ve had. Praise God, your body is recovering. We’re not just physical beings - how’s your mind and spirit doing?”

I mumble as I try to explain my confused state of mind. Week after week, she is a good listener and only asks enough questions to help me spill more of my jumbled thoughts.

Miracles - sadness - limitations - guilt ... I talk about my conflicting emotions. “I'm Miracle Woman, but I’m complaining. I should be shouting Hallelujah, not feeling sad.”

“Yes miracles happened,” She says, “But sadness is okay, you need to grieve.”

“Grieve?” I ask. “No one died in our accident, what am I grieving for?”

“Yourself - Janet,” she pats my hand, “You need to grieve the part of you that you lost.”

She gives me a minute as I try to understand what she said. “Grieve for myself?” Just repeating it makes me feel selfish. "The loss of a loved one deserves grief - I’m alive, not dead."

“You lost the active part of yourself. You lost the way your body looked. You lost some dreams for the future,” Audrey explains. “These losses are major. I don’t think ignoring them works.”

“But, but ...  grief sounds too severe.” I try to comprehend this new thought.

“Any loss, no matter what size needs to be grieved,” Audrey says. “And disappointments, especially major disappointments like you live with have to be acknowledged and grieved. Do you think ignoring those feelings is working?”

Okay she has a point - even I, the mess, can see I’m a mess!

“Talk to God about your sadness. Maybe even write down your feelings of loss,” Audrey encourages. “By doing that, you’ll understand them better.

When faced with something new, I need information, so I find articles and books about grief. I laugh and cry as I realize my struggle is normal. I’m not losing my mind! I’m okay - or going to be okay after I work through my grief.

Grieving is random - following a textbook style for a time and then suddenly I’m all over the place again and nothing makes sense. But step by step, acknowledging the grief allows God's spirit to bring healing and recovery happens. At first, I don't even recognize the speck of light I feel, but then I realize it's a glimmer of hope.

Through grieving my losses, I learn to live in the tension of celebrating the miracles that happened while being real about the disappointments I live with.

How's your mind and spirit doing - with losses you've had in life? 

PS. Because I live with ongoing limitations/pain, I still deal with grief sporadically, but this severe time of grief happened in 2006.

This is part of a blog carnival hosted by Peter Pollock at Rediscovering the Church. This week’s carnival is on the theme of Grief. Anyone is welcome to join the carnival. Go to Peter's site to read more blog entries and/or to join.