"I hold on to You for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post..." Psalm 63

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It has come to my attention...

...that it is soon to be bathing-suit-shopping-time again.  I hate that time of year.  It used to be that I hated it because I hate every single suit I've ever tried on.  But, I'm past that now...I only wish for those days.  These days I break out in a  sweat thinking about bathing suit shopping because I. HAVE. A. 13. YEAR. OLD. DAUGHTER.  And...the designer world hates me and is out to personally sabotage my relationship with Miss Emma who only wants to wear what everyone else is wearing...but what everyone else is wearing is really hard to see, because all you really see is THEIR WHOLE BODY..know what I mean???

I don't get it. 

Why is it so hard to create and sell cute bathing suits in great prints that are ALSO modest?  I'm not talking prudish here...I'm just talking a little covering up.  I'm not even talking a full out one piece - even I understand that.  I can even deal with a little belly peeking out...But, really, would it kill Target to actually sell two pieces that have more than an 1/16 of a yard of fabric?  You're killing me here...I feel it coming on...a brawl of the wills.  And all because someone out there decided that the skimpier the bathing suit, the better.  And now mothers like me have to argue with their daughters over what it means to cover their bodies because everyone ELSE in the WORLD will be wearing THIS...


Great fabric...but can we cover a little MORE??

This one I like...cute fabric and covers much more.....
Question is, will she go for it???
sigh...not a chance.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

random thoughts from my day...

My day started out on my favorite chair with this on my lap...

I'm terrible at getting up early...I hate it actually.  But this morning I knew if I were to have a few moments to myself it was going to be before the kids woke up.  (SOMEone decided it would be a good idea to give them off school on a Tuesday.  WHY?)  It was a good day...and probably because I got up early. 

(Bonus material here:  My sister IS a morning person.  She's decided to go back to school this year, and so every morning she is up at some UNgodly time...last I heard it was a consistent 5am.  She manages to have her quiet reading time, coffee AND a walk at the Y before her kids are up and out the door at 7. 
She is A-mazing. And I hate her for it a little bit.  It's all I can do to get to the gym at ALL...you'd think visions of Her-Royal-Perkiness clocking the miles on the treadmill in the dark would motivate ME to break out the Nikes.  Sigh...it doesn't)

Emma drug me to the library the other day to check out "Lovely Bones".  Her friends are reading it and she wanted to, too.  I'm a total skeptic about the books kids are reading today.  And, they're readily available at the Middle School library - giving the assumption that they are all suitable to read.  I get the eye-roll everytime we have this conversation...which is why she drug me to the library, hoping to convince me that she should read it.  SO....

It's sitting by my bed and I'm checking it out for her.  I'm enjoying it through an adult's eyes...not so sure it'll pass the test for hers, though.  We'll see in a few days. 

I read "Twilight" this year, too, for the same reason.

It didn't pass the test, although I've watched the movie with her twice.  (*I wasn't a fan of the obsession that Bella had for Edward.  It didn't come out as much in the movie, but was 90% of the theme of the book.  A little too premature for a 13 year old girl....at least in my house.)  I understand the draw of it, though...even though I had no interest in it at first, it definitely got my attention and I was eager to finish it.  I can hear some of my readers questioning the "double standard"...why is it ok for me and not her?  I look at it this way: she is so impressionable. 

The world around her has a very strong message.  And it is this:  "Please yourself.  Do whatever makes you happy -you deserve it.  Make your own rules.  If it feels good to you, then it's ok." 

I object.

It's come to my attention more and more in the last few years that the kids of this generation - ESPECIALLY those who were raised in the church - have NO idea what is right and wrong.  They are masters of compromise and live lives of duplicity.  They buy into the world's message and are totally confused about what they believe in.  (I'm generalizing, I know...it's not ALL young people, I know, but there are many, many who are stuck in the world's rut)

Anyway..I'm getting way off the subject.  All of this to say, around here it's not easy to get approval on books...I wish it weren't so, but it's hard to find something that Emma WANTS to read that is completely free of language and questionable message.  It won't always be this way...there will come a time when I will be able to release her to make some of her own reading choices.  But as long as she is showing tendancies of being impressionable and vulnerable to every message around her but the Right One...I guess this is the path we'll continue to take.  Would it surprise you to hear that girls are SO different from boys in this area???!!!  At least in my house this is true.  My boys read whatever I brought home...and actually THANKED me for bringing them!  Emma...not so much!  It's sad, actually, the way girls have to fight their way through so much peer influence and the desire to blend in.  There's something nice about the ability boys have to just be themselves.  (I know, generalizing again...I'm only going by what I see in my own house.)

I've been following Stephanie Nielson's blog for a while...she has such a captivating story to tell.  If you've never been there, pour yourself a cup of coffee and prepare to be on the edge of your seat.  I'll let her tell you the details, but the very short version is that she and her husband were in a plane crash just over a year ago and she is blogging about her life and her ongoing recovery. 

I am constantly humbled by this woman.  She is enduring daily pain...and she is totally candid about it on her blog...but in the midst of her pain, she is living life.  And she is finding joy. This past week she had another corrective surgery and her husband took over her blog.  It was the sweetest thing.  Bookmark her...and when you are having a bad day or feeling sorry for yourself for whatever reason - read it again. 
She is one amazing woman. 

Well, that's it...it's almost midnight, and morning is around the corner.  (*Perhaps we're getting the idea of why it's so hard for me to get up early???) 
It's been another ordinary day around here....and for that I am thankful. 

Friday, January 22, 2010

The bride wore white....

I'm in LOVE with this blog and it's mission to connect brides in Africa with beautiful wedding dresses from all over the world....what a wonderful idea.  After all, we all enjoy beautiful things, and everyone's wedding dress should be special.  Thank you, Vashti, for making the world smaller...and wedding days more special.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My heart is heavy...

I've been watching alot of news coverage the last few days...mesmorized by the horror that the nation of Haiti is living in this week....and for so many, many years to come.  I want to buy a plane ticket and sit on a corner just holding all of those sweet little babes who are now orphaned.  I'm not a nurse, I'm not fluent in French...but my arms are well trained to hug away the burdens of my children.  Who will wrap their arms around these little ones who watch with wide eyes...eyes that don't recognize a familiar face around them...eyes that see only despair and hopelessness. 

It makes no sense...it feels so wrong...

hello, sweet boy...so glad you have been rescued...

I've watched faces of hundreds of people wrenched with grief.  Looking around them nothing looks like it will ever be right again.  I cannot imagine.  My own family is tucked safely into their beds...wearing clean pjs, covered with warm blankets, with full bellies.  For this I am thankful...this moment of peace can be snatched away in an instant...life is so fragile.

There are glimpses of hope coming from strangers reaching out to strangers.  In a time of extreme economic difficulty our nation has sent over $100 million.  Our humanitarian hearts break for other nations in crisis...and I'm so glad that they do.  I've seen coverage of workers with World Vision and Compassion International who survived the earthquake and are now not only feeding mouths, but also feeding souls. 

I found a great blog written by a woman whose family is living and ministering in Haiti...check it out here.

 I can do nothing with my heavy heart but pray...for the faces of the children left behind...for the mother who's arms are empty...for the father who continues to search.  Even when there are no answers, there is still Hope.  God is still God...and His eye is still upon each one....

"God is a safe place to hide,
ready to help when we need Him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
courageous in seastorm and earthquake,
Before the rush and roar of oceans,
the tremors that shift mountains.

Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
God-of-Angel-Armies protects us."
Psalm 46:1

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

coffee, company and contentment...

I had breakfast here yesterday

I meant to have the cup of decaf, but I didn't mean to have the muffin...it just happened.  AND, it was so cute in the little parchment wrapper that I had to take a picture of it before I devoured it.  It wasn't my fault, I would have had breakfast at home, but my friend, Deb, called...

(That's Deb's husband's eye...I left that in there because he joined us in the fact that he called her three times while we were together...whatever!)

...and said, "I'll meet if you can meet NOW".  Which translated to, "Come now, or you won't see me again for another 6 months." So, I went...without a shower - OR washing my hair.  Can't believe I just admitted that, but it's true, stealing a few hours catching up with my friend was more important than showering.  (Are you buying this???) I did put some makeup on...didn't want to scare Starbuck's other paying customers away....but I left my coat and hat on for the entire visit.  (If you were at Starbucks yesterday and saw me looking a little too bundled up for indoors....now you know why.)

My shower this morning felt extra clean...and my hair has a little shine to it again today.  I'm so thankful for running water.  (Even though ours has been tainted with E.coli for the last 4 days) I realized how thankful I am to actually have running water this morning after not having a shower yesterday.  I spent a week in Africa this summer in villages where people have never HAD a shower...

Actually, I "showered" in here

for about 5 days (also known as the Village laundramat)

and I visited this little guy

more times than I could count.

E.coli-infested water that comes directly out of my facets is better than walking through the jungle to fetch a pail of contaminated water.  I forget that sometimes when I have to take a cup of Spring water to the bathroom to brush my teeth.  It's inconvenient...but still WAY more convenient than the way a good portion of the world lives. 

Word of the day: CONTENTMENT

"a state of mind in which one's desires are confined to his lot whatever it may be"

By the way...I got the letter from the Borough in the mail today...E.coli ban has been lifted.  99.99% of the E.coli has been cleaned out of the system.  I told the kids not to drink 100% water.

Friday, January 8, 2010

playing catch-up...

One of the best things about my life is the privilege of working with the youth at our church.  I love, love, LOVE these guys!  It's a delight watching them grow and blossom..seeing them become young women (and men...but especially the women...sorry guys!) of substance. 

But...when they leave us...and they DO leave us eventually...they are sorely missed.  So, this month is catch-up month.  I'm squeezing in as much of them as I can.  And these young women amaze me.  They have become beautiful...and not just in the way you can see.  They are young women emerging...on the verge of changing their worlds. 

So here they are...featured here for me to brag on them...

Ali, who went back to college too soon...
Amber, who you can find here
 and Beth, who just made this because she is heading back to Gabon for the summer. 
(and I'm totally jealous, I tell you!)

And these two who have hearts for Cambodia and I fear will fly there and never return! (Wait..maybe I would be so proud of them that I can't put it into words!)
Caitlin and Ana

And Halle, who also returned back to school too soon...some stupid reason, like a J-term, or something. Blah...whatever.

Kelly and Angela who've been friends since diapers...or almost...
Kelly shows up on our doorstep everytime my oldest son is home from college...hmmm, coincidence? 
I think not.

And Jess, who was my coffee buddy this morning.  We were the ones hogging the comfy seats at Panera today.  Sorry...deal with it, we were catching up.

And, Beth...who will be sharing coffee w/me on Saturday before she flies off to be some big-wig event planner...WHATever.

These girls...they are the reason I stay in youth ministry.  Because they're becoming the full-circle.  I'm seeing the outcome, and it is good.  There are piles and piles of girls coming up behind them...all with such rich potential.  I heart them all!  I can't wait to post these same thoughts with new faces included...they're already etched into my mind...

Next to the love I have for my own children...these girls rate a close first place. 
Who knew?  I actually LIKE teenagers!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A new song in the air....

Lord of glory, make us worthy to possess your name.
Give us a new name. Call us your people, God....

There's a new song playing in the background as you read this.  And here's why...

It's 11:15pm, and all is supposed to be quiet and asleep in this house - including me. But, I had just a few more things I wanted to do online before crawling into bed.  Nick just texted me (from his bed where he's SUPPOSED to be asleep) and told me to look up this song and have a listen.

"I think you'll like it," he said. 

Of course, I couldn't find it...so he made his way downstairs to help his ole mom out. 
Anyway...he was right.  I DO like it.  The band, "For Today" is totally NOT my kind of band.  Except for their lyrics.  They are heavy metal and completely out of my comfort zone.  BUT...completely relaxing for both of my boys to listen to.  So, whatever..to each his own.

Have a listen...I think you might enjoy it, too.
Thanks, Nick...you are my favorite 16 year old.

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone
 and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees
and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers;
you will be my people, and I will be your God." 
Ezekiel 36:26-28

Sunday, January 3, 2010

To Asia...

It was a great surprise to see a comment from my dear friend, Asia at the end of my last post. 
And here's why...

I met Asia in her hometown of Gdansk, Poland in the summer of 2005. My son, Alex, and I were privileged to join a missions trip with our church youth group and leaders.  We worked at a church there loving on the neighborhood children doing a Bible school outreach.  Without even closing my eyes I can still see the faces of several children that stole my heart that trip. 

( this sweet thing was about the same age that Emma was at the time...looked like her, too!)

(This little boy haunts my memories sometimes...there was something so sad about him....he made a mark)

(I didn't understand his language, but I totally understood this kid was FULL of spunk!  He didn't understand me, either, but was proud to tell me the only English word he knew....but it's not one I've ever used myself and wouldn't dare type it here!)

Some of their home conditions were very difficult, but they came to the church that week and laughed and played and heard about Jesus.  Our Polish vocabulary was VERY limited, so each of us were attached to a national who would be our translator for the week.  Asia was my translator.

From the first day we were friends.  I depended on her to be my voice and along the way we learned alot about each other.  We shared our favorite candy bars with each other, our life stories and our cultures.  Our lives were very different, but we both love Jesus and it became our starting point. 

Asia playing and singing during a time of worship

It was a pleasure spending time with my new friend. She got to tour Auschwitz with us for the first time.  I listened with interest to the story of her recent discovery of her Jewish roots....and was touched watching her walk the compound with much emotion and reverence.

There were funny moments too...Asia, do you remember the van ride to Warsaw???  It's one I will never forget!  The most dangerous ride I've ever been on...I'm telling you, we only made it in one piece because while everyone else was sleeping through it, I was praying like crazy that we'd make it without dying!

This is the way my family looked the day Alex and I left for Poland...check out Alex's head full of curls!

And this is how they look now....much taller and grown up.
 (Asia, that's Alex on the right - WITHOUT the curls!)

The last time I saw Asia was at the airport in Warsaw as we hugged goodbye - possibly for the last time here on this earth.  It was a sad occasion, knowing we would soon be worlds apart.  But, we never lost touch, finding ways to text and email, and then recently here in the blog world.  Asia has since gotten married and started a new life in a new city.  But her heart still belongs to Jesus and her faith continues to grow. 

There are hundreds of miles between us, but Something far bigger that connects us into eternity.  We'll meet again, my friend...if not here...then forever!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

polka dot envy...

I wanted my first post of the year to be filled with great words of encouragement to all who read.  Words that inspired or lifted someone's spirits. That was the plan, but something else came up.  Something far less meaningful or soul-lifting....with far less depth. 
But first a little background....

See those vintage polka dot glasses?  They were one of my favorite finds for Lulu & Tutz.  I bought them at a great price at an auction and every day I would walk past them in the shop and picture what they'd look like in my own kitchen...how great they'd make iced tea taste.  But, like with so many other things in there, I had to train myself NOT to keep everything I fell in love with. (sigh, I miss that place...) People would often ask me if my own house looked just like the shop.  No, it doesn't...you know the story about the Cobbler's kids...no shoes.  My kids have shoes, but my house does not have all the great stuff that Lulu & Tutz did. I was satisfied to enjoy them each day at the shop...sort of felt like all the beautiful things were mine without being totally over-indulgent.  Until someone would buy it and take it away from me  - like these glasses.  Somewhere someone else is enjoying them, and I've often had polka-dot envy picturing another family smiling into their iced tea.  Really, NO sleep was lost over them, but I've always loved them secretly and wished they were mine.

Fast forward to today and a trip to Target. (my favorite place to shop, by the way.)  Besides being bothered by the LONG return line and the fact that they did NOT have my favorite snack...

I had the most wonderful discovery.  I've been toting around some Christmas $$...not wanting to break open the bank envelope for anything other than what I REALLY wanted.  BUT, way in the back of the store...on a shelf that was filled with Christmas items when I walked past it LAST week , was THIS....

My heart stopped for one second before I grabbed for two boxes....beads of persperation actually formed on my forehead as I placed them in my cart.  THEY WERE MINE!!!  (*cue the Hallelujah chorus here)  Emma was with me, not understanding the extent of the score, and tried to get me to purchase the yellow polka dot, and then the turquoise.  I would NOT be moved....my decision was firm.  Until she convinced me that the boys would not like to drink from polka dots, but would prefer the matching striped set.  I caved.  But only because I was so happy to have four with the happy dots! 
(**I know I'm going to sound totally psycho for adding this, but while I'm typing this the guy who narrates the movie "The Christmas Story" is reading it outloud to me in my head...these polka dot beauties are almost equal to Ralphie's Red Rider BB Gun, and you know it!)

I can't WAIT to pour my vanilla iced tea in here...I can already feel a smile coming on!

Sigh...it really is the simple things that make my day...

On another subject, while at Target we came across a roll of Contact Paper perfect for covering up this monstrousity in Emma's room....

Paint would have worked, but we already know the cans and brushes have been
put away for the next century...

So this did just fine...
Next on the list in Emma's room is figuring out how to display her growing collection of "E's".

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

May the year ahead hold blessings upon each of your households....

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