Sunday, November 30, 2008

FIt to a Tea

Bet you never wondered why a 'teaspoon' is called a teaspoon, or a why tiny little round candles are called 'tea lights', or what's so special about a 'tea towel'. So, today, while I prepared a pot of perfectly brewed Monkey Picked Oolong / Silver Needle blend tea and measured out 3 'teaspoons' of the leaves , the little 'tea light' went on in my brain. The 'tea-spoon' began as a measure for brewing a cup of tea!

With the popularity of coffee in this country, tea has been long over-looked. But it's making a comeback. Actually, tea has been recognized for its medicinal and taste benefits for centuries. It began as a beverage for emperors, and became a sought after commodity in Europe, enjoyed mainly by the aristocracy. As it became more available to the masses, it was still highly valued as a social centerpiece. Porcelain tea sets were so important to British families, the mistress of the house would dry them herself with a special linen cloth--her 'tea towel'.

I've wanted to cut back on the caffeine and coffee, and found that teas are varied and flavorful, and I've come to prefer tea over coffee. I am most intrigued by the health benefits of tea, and it's great to think that I'm actually enjoying something that's good for me!

If you are interested, here are some general qualities of the four main types of tea:

White -- the least processed tea, very high in antioxidants (studies show that antioxidants in white teas help to reduce the risk of cancer, particularly lung, colon, and skin cancer, and also strengthen your immune system and help with metabolism), very low in caffeine; excellent for hydration of the body and the skin, which acts naturally to reduce the signs of aging (fine lines and wrinkles); aids in detoxifying your body. A cup of white tea only has about 1% of the caffeine in a cup of coffee.

Green -- very high in antioxidants that boost the immune system and may help to reduce the risk of cancer (polyphenols), particularly lung, colon and skin cancers, helps to regulate your blood sugar, resist cavities and gingivitis, and it is good for your skin. Green tea also contains EGCG complex, which is very good for metabolism.

Oolong -- help to lower the intake of fat content from high-cholesterol meals and increase metabolism (this is why it is known as "diet tea"). The tannic acid in Oolong teas also helps to lower cholesterol levels. Good for the skin as well. Typically a very relaxing drink, although it does have a slight amount of caffeine.

Black -- Medical research suggests that black teas assist in lowering cholesterol, preventing the absorption of cholesterol into the blood, gently stimulating the heart and circulatory system, keeping blood vessels soft, regulating blood sugar, and lowering blood pressure. It can help prevent heart disease and strokes. Contains 20% of the caffeine in coffee.

And, all tea includes fluoride, which strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the formation of plaque.

Good tea doesn't come in bags from the grocery store, but from a good tea store which sells loose leaf teas, which are higher quality and fresher. They can tell you how to brew each specific tea, too.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Keyboard Shortcuts

I spent about an hour the other day trying to find my old 'cheat sheet' that had keyboard shortcuts for punctuation, foreign language and symbols. There are lots of ways to use the number pad (for Windows) and/or just simple key stroke combinations for laptops (MAC and PC).

I never did find my old faithful list, but found a quick Internet search led to several listings online. None of them are as user-friendly as the one I've misplaced, but in case these would be helpful to anyone else, here are the links...

For MACs
For PCs

Next time I 'lose' my 'cheat sheet,, I'll just use my 'cheat blog'/. BTW... the photo has nothing to do with the posting,... I just wanted to make it a little more interesting.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Ever been to a big parade celebrating the return of a hero(es)?

I was at the parade for the first Steeler Super Bowl victory, way back when. It was such a big deal that the mayor declared the day a holiday, and the businesses gave their employees the day off. And, in spite of the frigid temperatures, and long.... long... wait for the team to arrive, all of the fans stayed there for their opportunity to cheer for their city's heroes, and to be a part of the big celebration, and to claim some of the glory, almost as if we had something to do with it. The excitement bordered on worship as fans sang the Stiller song and called out the names of the players riding by.

This memory was sparked by something I recently read in Jack Hayford's book, The Reward Of Worship. Hayford is describing a scene from the book of Revelation (chapters 4 & 5), which he says is an account of the apostle John witnessing the moment when the Son of God, the Lamb, having defeated sin and death, returns triumphantly to the Heavenly realm to take His throne. The Heavenly fans have been waiting, and watching, maybe even holding their breath. But when the Hero returns, they break out in spontaneous praise, and worship. They can't help themselves.

There's much I don't understand about the book of Revelation, but having read this, it was as if a light went on in my little brain, and I gained a new pespective. Having experienced a little of fanaticism for our football team bringing glory to our town, I can only imagine the eurphoria inspired by the victory of the Christ, bringing salvation to the human race.

Hayford says that while the book of Revelation arouses speculation on its symbolism and end times prophecy, it is at its core a book about worship. When the heavenly beings continually declare, "Holy, holy, holy...", it's not because they are mindless robots caught in a habit, but they are so awestruck, tongue-tied maybe, that it's all they CAN say.

And, while it's great fun to cheer so fervently for the Steelers, the Penguins and the Nittany Lions, it's life-changing to cheer for the Lamb.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bloom Where You Are Planted

I used to have a sign on the wall of my office that said "Bloom where you are planted". It was meant to be a reminder to me to make the best of each situation and to do my best to thrive wherever I found myself.

We have a crabapple tree in our yard that blooms each Spring with glorious pink blossoms. When it's in full bloom, it evokes a sense of hope in the coming spring season of new birth after the dark, dreary, cold winter.

We're well into Fall now, have had some frosty mornings and even a few snow flakes. And we've also had some unusually warm weather for this time of year. But in spite of the above average temps, I didn't expect to see this when I opened the garage door ...

One branch of our little crabapple is in bloom! It's pretty, but odd. So, of course, I googled "crabapple trees that bloom in fall" and found that while it's not usual, neither should I call Dean Cain to come over and shoot an episode of Ripley's Believe It, Or Not.

A plant (tree) that blooms out of season is usually caused by some stress during the normal growing season, which throws off the tree's internal mechanisms that control flowering. So, when temperatures and/or rainfall repeat the conditions present during the normal bloom time, the confused tree produces flowers.

We were pondering this phenomenon. The tree's response to stress and changes in its environment, was to bloom! It dug deep into its xylem and phloem, and instead of shutting down, it made pretty flowers. This is certainly contrary to the pattern I see in my own reaction to stressful or confusing situations... I fret; I hyperventilate; I get, well, ... crabby.

The Fall blossoms won't be producing any fruit... we've got some yukky cold weather forecast in the next few days which will likely put an end to the blooms. But, I've read that the Spring flowering of the flowering crab probably won't be adversely affected by its Fall florescence. It will adjust and adapt and recover from the stress, and be back to its old self by Spring, and it most likely will flower and bear fruit in due season.

And so, for however briefly, the contrast of the pretty pink flowers amid the backdrop of the brown and bleak landscape is a reminder to me that perspective is pretty important. If we tap into the hope that lies within us, we can bloom in spite of the season, and may even look a little prettier in the process.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rewards of Honor

I went to the post office today to buy some stamps and found it was closed. I remembered then that it is Veterans Day, and I was glad that we have set aside a day to honor the veterans who have served our country.

A few weekends ago, Bruce & I traveled to Washington D. C. to visit our daughter and son-in-law. Ashley and Nate took us to the Iwo Jima Memorial, which we had driven past many times, but hadn't stopped to read the plaques and to reflect on the sacrifice of so many in one of the fiercest battles of WWII. While we were there, several bus loads of veterans who had fought in the Pacific Theatre arrived and assembled in front of the monument for a group picture and for some reflection of their own. They became the living part of the monument.

After the photos and the hushed conversation, they spontaneously broke into a poignant and loud rendition of "God Bless America". These men, heroes every one, weren't focusing on personal loss or the horrors of the war, but they were blessing the nation they served and reiterating the freedoms they fought to preserve.

Two days later, American citizens exercised the right to vote for the next president of the United States, as well as many local and congressional leaders. So many men and women who have served/now serve our country in the armed forces are part of the reason we can.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Grass Roots

With all of the hype about the National Conventions for the Democratic and Republican parties, and who will be whose choice for VP candidate, you gotta realize that while so many well-known people are in the spot light, there is lots of talent out there that goes unnoticed by the general public.

It came to my attention by a good friend of ours that there is a grass roots campaign a-brewin' which you may not have heard of. While I post this tidbit of interest here in my blog, I disavow any responsibility for its contents. You can click here to see the recent news coverage...

It takes a minute or so for the video to load.

(Thanks, John!!)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Upon occasion, I have had problems with my computer and/or Internet connection. Because my computer network savvy is very limited, I have spent many hours on phone calls with my ISP or software providers, learning ways to resolve my computer issues. One of the first things the Help Desk folks try to establish is that I'm actually connected to my server. To do this, they 'Ping' our DSL modem. Ping works by sending “echo request” packets to the target host and listening for “echo response” replies. Thus the technician can determine that all the appropriate signals and stuff are getting through, and that the connection is working well.

I was thinking about this recently as I read a new book by Margaret Feinberg. She has become an author whose works resound in my soul. The book is The Sacred Echo. It's is about prayer, but it's also about hearing God answer you back. Kind of like a Holy Ping.

I don't say that lightly, because so much of what Feinberg describes as sacred echos in her life and her prayer journey causes me to remember and deeply reflect on my own. She tells of how God has often used repetitive events and themes in her daily life, like an echo, to get her attention and draw her to Him. She shares real life events and thoughts that challenge me to revisit some areas I've set aside.

Reading this book caused me to check my 'connection' to my Source. While I often send out those "echo request" packets, I need to listen for and to identify the "echo response" replies. Feinberg shares how the repetitive nature of a sacred echo hints that something important may be going on, prodding her to consider, and investigate, how God is at work in her life.

I just finished the book, but I'll be reading it again. And probably again after that. Mostly because of what her expressed thoughts generate in mine. It's not just for women, either. Eleven of the fourteen book jacket promotion commentaries were written by men.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fowl Play

OK, this will be the last one. I promise. Probably.

Big story on the news last night... Jogger Attacked by Wild Turkey.

It got my attention.

In a city park, no less. Hmmm. What's going on with all of these turkeys all of a sudden? Aliens??

Seems an unwitting girl was just jogging along a trail in Highland Park, and a big turkey started attacking her. She fought back with her hat (of course!), and he eventually stopped chasing her and left her alone. The wildlife experts at the zoo thought perhaps a male turkey was out cruising for a mate.

Next thing ya know, we'll be seeing wild turkeys at weddings, trying to catch the bride's garter, or at dance clubs... doing the Turkey Trot.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

More Turkey Talk

This turkey thing is really getting to me. I was grilling some dinner the other evening... bratwurst for Bruce, 98% fat-free hot dogs for me. The turkeys were there in the back yard as I was grilling. We've identified two separate flocks... they take turns feeding and waddling in the yard.

So, the first troop trouped by as I tended to the barbecuing victuals. They'd periodically glanced my way, gobble a little, eat some bugs and then went back into the woods.

Soon thereafter, the second family emerged, and they came a little closer, gobbled a little, and ate some bugs. One of the big ones, a mama I suppose, waddled over to the deck (I think she's the one who was at the door the other night). She looked up at me with those beady little eyes and clucked her little heart out, and then they all trekked back into the woods.

We sat down to dinner finally, and Bruce looked at me quizzically as I ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. My 98% fat-free hot dogs were, of course... turkey dogs. I just couldn't eat them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Not the Raven

Once upon a morning dreary, at my desk, weak and weary,
Pondering many a quaint website, email and computer chore ,

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door
Only this, and nothing more.'

Or not. I got up from my desk to take a peek... what was rapping, rapping at my chamber door?

Nothing there, must have been a tree limb or something.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the blinds, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

Out there stepped a stately... um, turkey... of the saintly days of yore.

Not the least obeisance made she; not a minute stopped or stayed she;

But, with mien of lord or lady, perched outside my chamber door -

Perched and gobbled just outside my chamber door
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Let's call her Lenore. Lenore the turkey. And Lenore has lots of babies! And she's got a turkey club. Not the kind with bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayo... but other mama turkeys with more babies. And they all have taken up residence in our yard.

Last year, we would occasionally see a turkey troupe cutting across our yard. We thought they were cute. But this year, what happened??? There's three times as many of them, and they are always there!!! Sometimes, I hear this strange clamour, and realize after a few moments that it's clucking. They no longer just trek across the yard on the way to grandma's house, they've established residency. Turkey feathers litter the back yard.

Yesterday, one was touring our back deck, and startled me at our dining room door as we ate dinner. This morning, Lenore and her turkeylettes were tap-tap-tapping at my window. When I looked at them through the blinds, they just stared back at me. I kind of felt like I was in the zoo, and they came to look at me.

I confess that I'll never look upon Thanksgiving Dinner the same way again. The deer don't even seem to hang around as much, now that the turkeys have taken roost. Will they ever move on, will they ever find another comfy patch of woods to call home??

Quoth the turkey... nevermore.

Dana and Tom

We had the lovely opportunity to share the joy of our niece's wedding this past weekend. Dana and Tom were married Saturday afternoon, with a traditional and symbolic ceremony at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Oakland. Dana was a beautiful and lovely bride; Tom was a handsome and charming groom. And, the whole wedding party was picture perfect!

The wedding reception was at the Carnegie Museum Music Hall, which was conveniently right across the street. And there was lots of delicious food, fun, and Greek dancing!!

Dana and her brothers, Chris and Mark, grew up as our neighbors as well as our family, so it was special to share in the delight of the weekend. The new extended family is wonderful and we were glad to meet them and spend some time with them!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I Gotta Crow

I've been way behind in blog posting lately. More and more things have been clamoring for my time and attention this summer. No lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer around here!

So, I'm almost 2 weeks late for this particular post, but better late than never. Over the 4th of July weekend, I traveled to Michigan to help our youngest move her stuff into her new apartment. Happily, that Sunday was also the speaking debut of our oldest daughter at Church of the King. Leah has had opportunities to speak at functions both in college and at her last position at Northway Christian Community Church, but this was the first time she was the primary speaker in a Sunday service. Brad put her 'in the pulpit', and she didn't disappoint.

In fact, she delivered a poignant yet powerful message about dealing with fear (What if we were freed from fear?). All those years I 'preached' to her, and that Sunday, she taught me. And she touched me, and she inspired me. She spoke from her heart and from her own battle with fear and her words still echo in my head as I think about the encouragement she breathed. I even took notes.

You can listen to the message as a podcast on iTunes , or access it directly from the Church of the King website.

AND, she's got another article printed in the Threads eNewsletter this month, entitled When I Grow Up. Last month's edition had her article Quarterlife Questions. Threads is the young adult online connection of Lifeway.

I gotta crow. I feel a little like Peter Pan.

Friday, June 27, 2008

It's Always Something

I've become somewhat of a "Mac" enthusiast, and found myself actually reading the recent edition of MacLife magazine. There is an article about new patents that have been granted for products in development behind the walls of Appledom. I've been reading a lot of hype about Apple's July release of the next generation iPhone (3G), and was thinking about how technology today is out-of-date almost from the day the newest model is released.

I remember the first 'mobile' phone Bruce had back in the '90s... it came in purse-size carrying pouch with a battery pack and a huge antennae, weighed around 10 pounds, plugged into the cigarette lighter in the car, and cost a ton of money to make a call.

The patent for the first iPhone (0G) was issued in 1994. It was "as sleek as a walrus, weighing a half a pound". At that time, it was considered pretty 'swanky', but it never made it to market.

But look, a patent was granted earlier this year for the iPhone Mini. It's a flip iPhone, much smaller and more resilient. In addition to the normal bells and whistles, the design describes a dual-sided, transparent touchpad which you can use either open or closed, and software that lets you draw numbers with your finger. The projected ETA, however, is 2010. Here's a picture from the article of the 'proto-type'. Another interesting tidbit (if you look verrrry closely), not lost on me... the Verizon logo.

Hmmm.... what'll they think of next? I'm sort of hoping for iMaid.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fun Times!

A few weeks ago Bruce, Samantha and I got to take a short trip to Florida. We thought it was a good idea to use our 'economic stimulus' check from the IRS to stimulate the economy. Hey... we do our part!

We took the opportunity to celebrate Sam's birthday and college graduation and treated her to one of her favorite pastimes... amusement/theme parks. Our family has always enjoyed PLAYING together, and once, we even considered a plan to visit all of the major theme parks in the US and Canada. We had to shelve that plan for various reasons, but we have actually been to many of them... and some several times.

One of our family favorites has been Disney World. But this trip, we'd decided to go to Universal Studios. We got a decent last minute package, and off we flew. And the icing on the cake was that the day we were leaving, a dear family friend gifted us with some passes to Disney World, too! So, we had four FULL days of delightful amusement!

We carefully planned our schedule in Orlando, so that we could make the most of our opportunity. We got up very early each day, whisked off to open one of the parks, and then at some point during the day, we trekked to one of the others... whichever was open the latest that day. That way, we could get REALLY exhausted, instead of just SOMEWHAT exhausted. But we were only going to be there for 4 days, so we determined to wholeheartedly make the most of it. And we did.

The three of us thoroughly enjoyed our time together; we laughed a lot, ate a lot of junk, and built some wonderful memories. Bruce got really excited to see a favorite cartoon friend, Woody Woodpecker, and he jumped in to get his picture taken with Woody. He politely tried to ask Woody's birdie friend, Winnie, to NOT join them in the Kodak moment, but try to stop the wind!! She barged in anyway. It's possible she didn't speak English, ...and Bruce doesn't speak Woodpecker.

Way too soon our jaunt came to an end, and seems like ages ago instead of a few weeks. I thought that blogging about it would revive the fun-filled moments. I AM feeling a little tired.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rearranging the Furniture

I'm one of those people who embrace the notion that variety is the 'spice' of life. I've always liked visiting new places, trying out a new brand of ice cream, and... rearranging the furniture. Often, the furniture is moved around several times before I'm satisfied, which exasperates my husband, who usually helps me do it. Sometimes, just a few changes can give a fresh perspective, and other times, you have to paint the walls!

So, I rearranged my blog furniture this morning, and repainted the walls. I'm gonna live with it a while, and see how I like it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Natural Selection

Caramel Macchiato or Mocha Frappuccino? Mac or PC?? Coke or Pepsi? The red pill or the blue pill??? To be or not to be? God or mammon?? So many choices.

Bob Dylan wrote a song called You Gotta Serve Somebody. I think Jesus beat him to the punch tho' about two thousand years ago, when He said, "You can't serve two masters... you can't serve God and mammon." I've been thinking about this today.

I recently read a statement that said what we choose to do isn't as crucial as whom we choose to serve. Meaning, if we choose to serve God, and wholeheartedly pursue that choice, we will choose to do things that will please Him. Our choices will be based upon His criteria, and our actions will flow out of that. And vice versa.

That statement makes sense to me. We were talking last weekend in our marriage conference about how far mankind has come from God's original intention for us. I got to thinking about how empowering the idea of 'choice' really is. When God created mankind, He chose to give us the freedom to choose. It wasn't the safe course; robots are more predictable. But choice was the way to build a meaningful relationship. The freedom to choose is a choice gift.

When Eve chose to eat the pretty fruit, she wasn't choosing between chomping on a Macintosh or a Gala. Her choice was between choosing to serve God, or choosing to serve herself. She placed her logic, and her own perceptions of what was good for her, above what she knew of God. Her mindset and actions then became self-directed, self-centered, and self-fulfilled. Then she decided to share this new perspective with Adam, who also had to make a choice.

Choice really is a very powerful thing. Inherently, we desire the freedom to choose. Men and women have put their lives on the line for freedom. Good novels are enriched by heros and heroines who have to make hard choices; we sit in movie theatres and hold our breath hoping Indiana Jones will 'choose wisely'. But so often, people use excuses like... I had no choice, I couldn't help it... It's just the way I am.

In truth, choice is part of our human nature. My husband often told our daughters that to choose one thing meant to not choose something else. So, to not choose is also a choice.

While it is difficult sometimes to know what the 'right' choice is, or to do the 'right' thing, whomever you choose to serve will become your barometer of your heart. I'm prone to choose to worry instead of to trust. That's something I'm working to overcome, because I personally have made my choice to serve God, and worry is not part of His plan. My actions will ultimately reflect how I maintain that choice.

You Gotta Serve Somebody.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Promising Prognostication

Every February 2nd, I think that maybe someday I'll visit Punxsatawney, PA, home of Punxsatawny Phil, the prognosticating rodent. This past weekend, Bruce and I did! And, there were lots of groundhogs gracing the town... some of them 30 feet high and made of painted wood :-}

But we didn't go there to see the groundhogs. Though it was thrilling, to be sure!

We were honored to be asked to facilitate a weekend marriage conference, in conjunction with Faith Fellowship Church. We met some lovely people and spent Friday evening and all day Saturday in good fellowship at a campground just outside of Punxsy. Pastor Tom and Cindy Brink are new friends we're so glad to have made.

One of the themes we incorporated at the conference was Rebuilding the Broken Walls of Your Marriage, from the book of Nehemiah in the Bible. We visited some principles based on the idea that a marriage constitutes a unique 'unit', a fortress for a man and wife and their offspring to live and thrive in. Just as the ancient city of Jerusalem was surrounded by a mighty wall, marriages need a defense against the things of this world that would seek to tear them down.

Walls, by nature, provide a boundary and fortification. When the walls are broken down, the 'inhabitants' of the city are left vulnerable, without a clear identity. And if their own actions led to the destruction, they may also be hounded by shame.

One of the points particularly significant to me in the account of Nehemiah, was that the broken down and burned out ruins of the walls of ancient Jerusalem were rebuilt using the original and seemingly unusable stones. The workers were ridiculed at such a notion, but it was an intentional part of the plan. Nehemiah, symbolic of the Holy Spirit, leads the people to work together, reclaiming the ruins and restoring their heritage.

So often, our generation is one of "if it's broken, chuck it out and buy new ". But Nehemiah's story is one of taking the disappointment, discouragement, and difficulty -- and rebuilding, not discarding. It wasn't easy, and I don't mean to sound simplistic. The people were challenged by great adversaries, and they worked hard, day and night. They had to stand guard over the progress they made, even sleeping with their weapons at their side. But, the book of Nehemiah is symbolic of what the Holy Spirit can do for us in the broken places of our lives and our marriages.

The word holiness and the word wholeness are both from the Old English root word “hal” which means completeness. God, who is Holy, through the work of His Holy Spirit desires to make us whole. He has placed in us unimaginable potential, and has restored our authority and dominion through Jesus the Christ. Leviticus 11:44 tells us to ‘be holy as He is holy.” And because we are made in His image, He has given us the capacity, regardless of the state of our marriage, to be whole. That’s why we called the conference Wholey Matrimony.

In the movie version of Groundhog Day, Phil Connors (Bill Murray) found himself trapped in time, reliving February 2nd over and over, making the same mistakes or finding ground for new ones. When he discovered that he could rebuild his-story by changing some of his self-centered and destructive ways, his perspective changed, and so did his behavior. It became a story of redemption somehow impacted by a supernatural guide.

Redemption is all about hope. And hope springs eternal.

And often, the groundhog is 'heard' to proclaim, "Spring is just around the corner."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Onward and Upward

Happy Father's Day to all of your fathers and fathers-t0-be.

To celebrate the day with Bruce, Samantha and I took him to the Omni Max Theatre at the Carnegie Science Center to see a movie called, The Alps. It was his choice.

The movie was about an American mountaineer and Journalist, John Harlin III, who "set out on an epic personal journey to climb the deadly North Face of the Eiger, the stormiest, steepest peak in all of Europe -- 40 years after the same mountain claimed the life of his larger-than-life father, climbing legend John Harlin II. "

It was visually thrilling in the Omni Max setting, and sometimes the photography even left you a little, woozy, but it was somewhat of an inspirational tail of training and discipline toward pursuing a life-long dream. At one point in John's climb, as he narrated the film, he talked about reaching the 'point of no return' ... the place at which you know you are physically committed, and you can't turn back, you can only go forward. And in his case that was straight up.

It reminded me of an experience our daughter, Ashley, recounted to us of an expedition of her own a few years ago the summer she spent working in a camp in Rocky Mountain National Park. She and two friends climbed Longs Peak, which at 14,259 feet, towers above all other summits in Rocky Mountain. They actually hiked the 8 mile trek, rather than climb straight up the face, but a grueling task, nonetheless. They had to start out at 11:00 PM, hike all night, and reach the summit early the next morning, in able to have enough daylight left to make the trip back down the mountain the whole next day.

What I remember most about her account of the journey was, after hiking all night in increasingly thinning air, they were close to the summit, but that last quarter of the climb was physically the most arduous. One of Ashley's climbing buddies, saw the steep and treacherous trail still ahead of them, through the 'keyhole', and just sat down and cried. The girl told her companions she just couldn't go on, and to pick her up on the way back. Ashley, feeling every bit as exhausted and overwhelmed, nonetheless said, I didn't come this far to not finish the climb. So Ashley dug down deep into her soul, and persevered to the summit. She had passed the point of no return, and the only way for her was up.

Both climbing stories tell of fighting the good fight and finishing the race. So many times we set out on a 'journey' and find the going impossibly tough. Obstacles like disappointment, discouragement and physical hardships taunt us to quit, to just give up. But if we persevere and don't faint, and call upon God to help us, and if we stand on our faith in His faithfulness, we can reach the summit.

John Harlin got past a memory that had held him captive all of his life. Ashley got the satisfaction of finishing well (and a cool t-shirt that says "I climbed Longs Peak").
And what's more, they both can remember the victory the next time trials come, and reach for the courage to keep on.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Cor. 9:8

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Our daughter Ashley has been blessed the gift of beautiful auburn hair. Twice, now, she's given back that gift in an effort to help others who have lost their hair due to medical treatment or disease.

Most recently, this past weekend, she went to her most trusted hair designer and friend, Michelle at Laurie's Hair Salon on Wildwood Road, and had two 10" pony tails chopped off. She will send them to Pantene for use in their Pantene Beautiful Lengths campaign, where they use the hair to make wigs for cancer patients.

This is the second time Ashley has made the cut... she gave a similar chunk of hair about 4 years ago to an organization that made wigs for kids with alopecia. It's just one way she has given of herself to help others. And last fall, her husband, Nate, donated bone marrow for a transplant. While a hair cut is less painful physically than bone marrow donation, both of them are my heroes because they have the mindset, "It's not about me", ...and have done something about it.

Ash's haircut is quite a dramatic change, and while I loved her lovely, long locks, the new look is fabulous!! Here's some 'during', and 'after' shots.

"...If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God,..." Gen 33:10

Monday, May 19, 2008

Finished WELL!

This past weekend was filled with great joy, pride, and... FUN!

Four years of hard work and perseverance came to a crescendo on Saturday when Samantha, our youngest, graduated from Grove City College. She was one of 575 students in the graduating class... the largest ever for that school. She graduated Magna Cum Laude, with High Honors in Communication Studies, and Highest Honors in French. She had a double major, and though she didn't officially declare a 'minor', she had a strong emphasis in Religious Studies as well.

Ashley and Nate were able to join us here, and Leah and Brad shared the moment via FLIX messaging.

In addition to many other activities, Samantha led the Women's Worship Team this past year, and was involved in music and theatre productions every year. She's also a member of the Mortar Board and ODK national honor societies, as well as the language, communication and theatre arts honor societies. Can you tell how proud I am of her??

The weekend was a mass of emotions! Samantha has made some very good, and very dear friends during her time there. I am certain that many of them will remain connected with each other as they begin their new adventures. Samantha's next stop along her path -- Detroit -- where, among other things, she will be involved at Church of the King, learning much from some of the best!! She and one of her life-long best friends will head there later this summer.

It was lots of fun to have Ashley & Nate here this weekend, too. They were a huge help moving stuff OUT of her apartment... come to think of it, they were a huge help moving her IN last fall, too! We caught up a lot on what's been happening, and of course... spent some time on that KARAOKE!! ;-D

You have been set apart as holy to the Lord your God, and he has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be his own special treasure ...for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye... (Deut. 14:2 2, Zech. 2:8b )

Monday, May 12, 2008

Me and Brucie McGee

I talk a lot about our kids' musical talents. And while I can't make a similar claim on talent, I like to sing. Our kids find it absurdly amusing (???) that Bruce & I have taken to relieving the stresses of the day by........... singing karaoke together almost every night. :-0

Just before Christmas last year, Bruce found that Comcast, our cable company, has karakoe On Demand. We started off slowly, ...with a Christmas carol every night leading up to Christmas. We even let our guests join us on Christmas day, after the turkey dinner (mostly to keep them all awake!!). Honestly tho', we don't take ourselves seriously, and sing at the top of our lungs, ... and of course, laugh a lot.

Now, we've worked our way up to California Dreamin', and I've Got You Babe. Next challenge, Me and Bobby McGee. We mostly stick with the Oldies, because, well, that's what we are.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

If I Had A Hammer

In my, um, younger days, I was a dancer (12 years of ballet & tap lessons). I could also twirl & toss a baton. And tho' I can carry a tune, I never could really sing all that well... but always wished that I could. So, as our kids have been blessed with beautiful voices, I know the gift is from their Father, and not from me! ;-}

With great delight, I've enjoyed watching them perform in various roles and shows. As little kids, they used to actually put together little musical 'acts' to entertain our guests at family parties, and then go around and ask everyone for their spare change as a sign of appreciation. Cute, huh???

Family accolades are great, but it's even better when your peers applaud your efforts! And so it was for Samantha this past week as she was awarded The Golden Hammer Award for Best Supporting Actress by the members of "TAP", Grove City College's Theatre Honorary. The award was for her performance as "Irene" in the college's musical production of Crazy For You this past fall.

She received a real golden hammer (their version of a Tony), and a plaque, and her name will be engraved on a plaque on permanent display at the Pew Fine Arts Center on campus.

I'm SO PROUD of her!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Samantha Sings

As a parent, some of my favorite moments have been watching my kids 'perform'. Whether it was soccer or basketball games, dance recitals, musicals, talents shows or school plays, to the best of my ability, I made it a point not to miss one of them. It's such a thrill to watch them blossom and shine, and use the wonderful gifts God has placed in each one of them.

It's also especially gratifying to see them 'grown-up', and being each others' biggest fans and 'bestest' friends. I was a little slow with this blog post, and Leah sort of beat me to the punch on it... but it's all good, because she, too, is braggin' on her baby sister.

Over the past 2 weeks, we had the pleasure to see Samantha perform. Brad, Leah & Ashley all came in for Samantha's Children's Theatre rendition of Cinderumplestiltskin. It was fun to see, and so great to have the kids around... Nate was working, and we missed him!

This past week Samantha sang at a coffee house at Grove City College and Bruce & I were blown away by her performance, once again. She sang 4 songs and my personal favorite was a unique rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Uncle Tom lent me his video camera so I could tape it and share with her sisters, and now... with you!!

Here are the links on YouTube if these videos don't play for some reason.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Girl Talk 'n at

With our 3 daughters geographically scattered, I've determined to make it a point to visit with them regularly. Bruce & I sometimes drive the hour to Grove City to take Samantha out to dinner. A few weeks ago, we had a wonderful time with Ashley & Nate, and last weekend, Samantha & I had a glorious day of shopping!

This past week, I was able to take a quick trip to Michigan to spend some one-on-one with Leah. Brad was out of town for a few days. It was loads of fun to hit a couple of the many shopping malls in that area. They are some of the nicest I've ever been to. I really enjoyed the opportunity to spend quality time of easy conversation and laughter. And, of course, we topped the evening off, with chick flicks!

Some of my best memories are of the occasional times the girls and I would stay up all night with a Jane Austen movie marathon! We also watched our share of Steeler football, and NCAA basketball (Bruce, too, for those), but there's a certain ... bond... that's formed in the unified assurance that Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett will get past their pride and prejudice, or that Joe and Patricia will finally find a home for their luggage.
I am especially looking forward to this weekend, when we are all going a GCC Children's Theatre musical performance of The Stinky Cheese Man, with Samantha in the role of Cinderella! They say, One whiff and you'll never be the same again.
Last year she had a role as Snow White. She's a princess, for sure, but I hope this doesn't make me the wicked Step Mother or Nasty Queen Mum!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

It's a bird; it's a plane; it's ????

I recently read on interesting article titled, Leadership Heroes!

The article is written by a guy who is a Leadership Coach and has discovered the powerful role 'heroes' play in our lives. Chad Hall begins his coaching relationships with the question, "Who are your heroes?"

The article got me thinking about who my heroes are.

Hall has made some observations regarding the impact heroes make in the way leaders define themselves through their role models. And because we all 'lead' something, his observations likely apply to you and me...

It's healthy to have heroes. Having heroes demonstrates that we've thought about what kind of person we want to be. Our heroes embody traits we already have, or want to have. This self-awareness becomes the fuel in us for our 'journey'.

Hall cites four categories of heroes: Familiar, Famous, Faith, and Fictional. Having personal heroes in 2 or more of these categories provides balance. With a little introspective effort, we can list the qualities and characteristics we admire most in our heroes, and adjust our 'thinking' and 'doing' as a result.

And, he recommends regularly spending time with them... whether it be reading about them, or watching them on the big screen, or browsing old photo albums, or visiting them.

Hall says its beneficial to share who your heroes are with a spouse, or a friend. My spouse is actually one of mine!! ;-)

Who are your heroes? I hope you have some! Better yet, I hope you are one!

Over The Rainbow, Way Up High

April showers... yep! We had some doozies here on Friday. I happened to be driving in one of them. Hadn't heard those claps of thunder, or seen those sizzles of lightning in a while. At times, it was actually hard to see due to the very heavy rain.
I was driving on I-79, headed north to Grove City College, where our daughter Samantha was leading worship with the Women's Worship team in a special event that evening. The rain had let up just a bit, but the sky was still very black with storm clouds. I was concentrating on not hydroplaning in the ruts of the road, and as I rounded a bend, I was startled at what I saw. A huge, double rainbow, with the most vivid, brilliant, living colors I've ever seen in a rainbow, was right before me, highlighted against the backdrop of the black clouds. To the west, the sun had broken through as the clouds were yielding to blue sky.

I was thinking at that point, that there's some kind of significance in this majestic sight. I relaxed my grip on the steering wheel and grabbed my cell phone and took a few pictures as best I could while driving. You can't see the second rainbow very well in this photo, tho', but it appeared almost as an echo of the other one. After a few minutes, I'd passed through it, and it was behind me, but I thought about it the rest of the drive to Grove City.

The girls did a beautiful job of leading worship. The combined sound of piano, guitar, violin, flute and bongo, accompanying the tight harmony of about 10 rich and strong voices, was in itself an inspiration! The second song we all sang was a favorite of mine... Revelation Song (Kari Jobe) ... and the second verse came alive for me...
Clothed in rainbows, of living color
Flashes of lightning, rolls of thunder
Blessing and honor, strength and glory and power be
To You the only wise King
The lyrics are taken from the book of Revelation (Chpt. 4), and describe what John saw as he entered the throne room of God.

My mind immediately skipped back to my sudden encounter with the rainbow. It became a word-picture to me, and it made me smile. Jesus is on His throne, right smack in the middle of our torrential moments. We can't always see it, but when the Light of the Son challenges the darkness, at just the right time, and at just the right angle, His Promise suddenly materializes, tho' it was there the whole time. And it's accompanied by flashes of lightning, rolls of thunder, blessing and honor, strength and glory and power!
A rainbow is caused by the reflection and refraction of the rays of the sun infused into falling rain. When God infuses His energy into a situation, it becomes jaw-dropping awesome.
The name of the worship event that evening ... Infusion.
Gen. 9:13 "I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth."

Thursday, April 3, 2008

There Are Giants in the Land

This past weekend, Bruce & I took a quick trip to visit Ashley & Nate. It is CHERRY BLOSSOM time in the capitol, and the Tidal Basin area was like a fluffy forest. It was raining, but, think... pretty-in-pink.

Washington is a beautiful city. I think that every American should visit Washington D.C. once a year just to visit the monuments, to remember the tenets our nation was founded upon, to meditate upon the great words of former leaders, and to honor those whose lives were lost in service to our country. The city has such a concentration of 'historical markers', that I was inspired again as I read the words of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and FDR. Words that were spoken in critical times for our land, and words that stirred my soul. Those men now seem like larger-than-life giants of courage and insight, tho' we know they were ordinary men, just like us. Many of the monuments testify to a deep faith in God as the foundation for leadership and hope. The monuments cause us to remember our roots, and challenge us to get back to what we aspire to be.

In our Wednesday night small group study, we've talked about how important it is for families to have their own 'historical markers'. It's fun to celebrate and remember happy events... like birthdays and wedding anniversaries. And it's paramount to mark the milestones of the journey God has walked with us, to remember the times He has intervened in our family affairs, often miraculously. In Old Testament times, at significant moments, God told the people to build altars... monuments... so they would remember, and tell their children the story of their lives and heritage.

Brad has begun a series of messages entitled, Epic -- The Story We Find Ourselves In. The messges are some of the best I've ever heard, and I don't say that because he's our son-in-law. ;-) His messages have been 'wowwing' me before I'd even met him. I'd sure encourage you to take the time to listen in. You can hear them as podcasts (Brad Leach) on iTunes, or on the Church of the King website.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sunday In The Park With Bruce

This morning, Samantha and I crawled out of bed, ...early... about 5:45 a.m. We hardly spoke as we dressed in layers of hooded sweatshirt, turtlenecks, wool socks, glovies, scarves, and warm boots. It was dark, but the full moon lit the sky as we slid into our rather chilly Honda Civic, dragging our blankies and mugs of hot tea along with us. We weren't headed to the slopes, or to the wooded areas hunters frequent. We were headed to church.

A favorite ritual, for us, is Easter Sunrise Service at Hampton Park, which we've attended all but one Easter Sunday for the past 23 years. The kids were very small when we first went, but it was always such an adventure to wake up in what seemed to be like the middle of the night, and ...go to church, outside!!

The weather most of the time is not pleasant. We've sat through wind, rain, and snow over the years. This morning I think it was about 20 degrees. But we love to watch the sunrise over the hill, and imagine what it must have been like to greet the dawn and find Life where death should have been, but not longer ruled.

It's been extra special for the past three years as my husband, Bruce, has delivered a fine and insightful Easter message. This morning, he did it again. He spoke about Joanna, a woman mentioned in Luke's Gospel (24:1-9), who was one of the women who traveled to Jesus's tomb on that first Easter morning, to do her duty, to go through the motions, to work through her grief and disappointment. The women were met by angelic beings who reminded them that Jesus had told them what would happen to Him, and had made them promises He would keep.

So as the darkness gradually succumbed to the sun's light, Bruce encouraged us that even when it's dark, and cold, we need to remember His words, to remind ourselves over and over of His promises, until we experience the resurrection Power of the Risen Christ in all of our life's situations.

Luke 24:8 Then they remembered his words.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

No Guts, No Glory

I love news stories that feature unusual events, daring escapades, or people with guts. Ashley told me about a story on the front page of today's Washington Post that I want to share. It speaks of family loyalty, of upholding tradition, and of... muskrat love.

About 60 miles outside of Washington, D.C., a small Chesapeake marsh town, Golden Hill, MD recently celebrated their 63rd annual National Outdoor Show. Each year, the weekend celebration kicks off with the World Championship Muskrat Skinning Contest. The criteria for winning the contest is "Fastest time, clean 'rat'." The event also includes a beauty pageant for Miss Outdoors.

Participation in both contests has somewhat foundered over the years. Young people in the area are more into a pop culture mentality, which "places little value on small-town pageants, and zero on muskrat skinning."

Motivated by a "strong attachment to a fast-changing place, and the fear that someday people here might not care about beauty queens or know the smell of muskrat guts", one of the beauty pageant contestants decided to honor both traditions. After performing a flashy costumed 'dance-number', and completing the interview portion of the pageant in her smart beige suit, Samantha Phillips donned her jeans, plaid shirt and hip waders, and emerged on stage for the talent portion of the beauty pageant, and plopped a fluffy football-sized muskrat on a table.

Ms. Phillips then inserted her very sharp knife into the tail of the dead beast, and sweetly said... "You want to take your knuckles,... and separate the meat from the hide, just like this." The judges recoiled; a young boy in the audience screamed out in disbelief; and an older woman in the crowd loudly commented, "She's good!"

Phillips didn't win the pageant. She was first runner-up. But she did win the trophy for the talent event. She competed the next day, too, in the Muskrat Skinning Contest, taking the trophy for the beginner's division.

Incidentally, the winner of the beauty pageant, Dakota Abbott, competed in the Muskrat Skinning Contest, too. Miss Outdoors also won the women's junior world championship by skinning two muskrats in 1 minute, 42 seconds! (My world's too small!)

These girls raised the bar in beauty pageants!!

I would bet that both these accomplished young ladies can even locate the USA on a world map.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Outer Space or Inner Space?

I am fascinated by things relating to 'outer space'. When I was in high school, I considered an academic pursuit of astronomy. But, later I decided that too much math was involved and I redirected my path. Perhaps that's why I am such a SciFi fan.

I love to visit the Hubble Space Telescope website and look at the photos taken of the universe. I understand that the next generation telescope to replace the Hubble (James Webb Space Telescope) will produce even more fantastic images of 'what's out there'. I also love the fact that the more they discover via these great inventions of man, the more they discover that previous theories (often cited as 'fact') were wrong. Perhaps we aren't as smart as we thought we were. The whole thing kind of puts 'mankind' into a new perspective.
I was struck by the similarity of some of these telescopic cosmic photos to those I've seen of itty-bitty micrscopic stuff. These huge stellar entities look like some sort of microscopic bacteria.

These photos are of The Crab Nebula and the Helix Nebula.

What strikes me as fascinating, is that the telescopes take photos of reallllly big things, and make them smaller for us to view. Conversely, these microscopic photos of bacteria take realllllly small things and make them bigger to for us view. Interestingly, this bacteria looks more like something out of Star Trek than something out of Innerspace.

Several years ago, I saw a fascinating presentation at the Carnegie Science Center Buhl Planetarium called "Journey into the Living Cell". It used the 'sky show' technology to demonstrate the intricate design of single human body cell, using 'stars' as parts of the cell composition. It took up the whole dome, and once again, put 'mankind' into a new perspective for me.

All of this screams to me that Creation is no cosmic accident. Looking at a bigger (and smaller) picture lends continuity and creativity beyond my imagination. I would find it much harder to believe that it WASN'T designed and created by God.

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Romans 1:20

MVem JSun P

M Vem J Sun P. That's not the revised name of a famous rapper. That's the little mnemonic I invented in grade school to help me remember the names of the NINE planets in our solar system. Mercury, VenusEarthMars, JupiterSaturnUranusNeptune, and... Pluto.

But that got all messed up about a year ago when scientists decided that Pluto was no longer a planet. So that changed the ditty to MVem JSun noPe.

NOW, I read that some 4th grader has recentlywon a contest to come with a mnemonic to help us remember the ELEVEN planets in our solar system. Huh?? So, we lost poor Pluto, and now we've gained THREE more, and no one thought to tell us?? I checked the Hubble Telescope website, and THEY didn't even know!! And, ... to add to my confusion, some articles indicate that there are TWELVE planets. It's really hard to find a photo rendering of the new, improved solar system.

Seems that now, we've added three 'dwarf' planets to our solar system (with the potential for one more). And Pluto is making a come-back! The three dwarfs are named Dopey, Grumpy and Doc... no, um, sorry. Their names are Ceres, Pluto and Eris.

The contest winner's entry was My Very Exciting Magic Carpet Just Sailed Under Nine Palace Elephants. I don't think I could ever remember that one. These 4th graders are way outta my league! So, I must adapt my original mnemonic to something even a 4th grader would like for Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and Eris: M Vem C J Sun PE.

No worries, it will likely change again soon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Wedding, Part II

We got back last evening from a fun weekend in Michigan with Leah & Brad and Brad's family. Brad's mom & dad hosted a second wedding reception at their church for the folks who weren't able to travel to PA for the first one!

The reception was Saturday afternoon, and was honestly wonderful!! The food and decorations helped us all to celebrate once again what God has done to bring us all together via the marriage of popcorn-girl and "the marshmallow-eating pastor" (click the link to understand that one ;-D).

We met many lovely people from Michigan and Church of the King. I loved being able to go to COTK for the Sunday morning service. 'Pastor Brad' is an eminently gifted communicator. That, combined with a profound insight into Scripture, and a genuine compassion for people, make him a dynamic, relevant, and inspirational tool in the Hand of God. His message made even me want to shout, "indeed" a few times (if you know my husband, you'll get that!). The worship and leadership team at COTK are also outstanding, and I pray that the folks in that area will be drawn there to be blessed, as we were.

The weekend gave me the opportunity to watch God's plan for our daughter defined in new ways. Of course, we miss her, but I was delighted to see her so happy and filling the role God has written on her heart. God continues to wow me with 'above and beyond' what I could've imagained or hoped for her, and I'm full of peacipation (peace & anticipation) for what He yet has in store for them as they trek this new adventure together.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

NOT Lost

If you've ever heard of Henry Blackaby, or done one of his studies on Experiencing God, you will be familiar with the statement, "Watch to see where God is working and join Him."

The first time I read that, I thought to myself, "I don't want to 'work'... I want to get something good for myself out of this study... enough about 'work'... what about ME???" But, by the time I finished the study, I understood and embraced the perspective that I have a God-given purpose and when I line up with that, I will thrive.

A few years ago, I was talking with a friend I ran into at the mall. Her daughter was about to get married, and I said something like... "Oh, aren't you going to miss her? How are you dealing with that?", thinking, of course, how I might feel in a similar situation. She smiled, and with great wisdom replied, "Sure I'll miss her, but I'm truly happy for her and that makes me happy. Because, it's not about me."
The moment she said that, it sunk in. It was as if a light went on in my brain, and a new truth became part of my own gray matter. And it's a truth that has stuck.

I think we have a bent to view things from our own little world. If something doesn't effect our daily lives, we hardly pay attention. Our perspective often revolves around what we think will make us happy, what seems good for us. But, Henry Blackaby, and subsequently my friend at the mall, opened my eyes to a better reality. There's a bigger plan afoot. There's a greater drama unfolding. My part in that is important, and will be stellar, as I follow the directions of the Director. It's kinda like when actors are part of TV series, like Lost, that aren't privy to the episodes beyond the ones they are filming. They know the general direction of the show, but they have to wait for their next script to see how they fit into the bigger story.

When our daughters each went away to college, I leaned on that truth. Two of them have also married and 'moved away', and when people say to me, "Oh, don't you miss them? How are you dealing with that?", I can honestly identify that God is at work in bigger, and better, ways than I can imagine. Because I trust God and His Plan, I know it will be a great adventure for all of us. Sure, I miss them, but I'm truly happy for my daughters, because they are happy. Because, it's not about me.

At Leah's wedding, I was able to share with my friend how her statement has helped me deal with things over the years. Wish I'd met her long ago... those 'first days' to kindergarten were really tough.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Daughters who are Sisters

Three of the best things about being a mother are... my three daughters! I am so truly blessed to be able to say that even if they weren't my kids, I'd seek them out as friends. And I'm even more blessed to be able to say that the three of them are such wonderful friends to each other. Whatever sibling rivalry MAY have occurred as young children has matured into supportive, caring, fun-loving, prayerful LOVE for one another.

Our girls have always been big fans of broadway musicals! Often they attended local stage productions with us, their grandmother or their great aunt. But they also watched them incessantly, over and over on video. They knew the scripts; they often danced around the house, singing the medlies! I loved it!!

A great favorite of mine is the song "Sisters" from the musical, White Christmas. If fact, I once offered them $50 if they would perform it in their school's talent show. But,... they wouldn't. :-(

So, it was more than delightful to me when Ashley & Samantha put together a funny rendition of the song and performed it at Leah & Brad's wedding dinner, complete with blue fans and boas. To make the performance complete, they engaged Leah in the last verse, pulling her into the dance along with them. Honestly, tho', they didn't need to coerce her... she jumped right in!

It was funny, but more than that, it spoke of their true sisterhood, in its fullest and fun-est capacity!!

I wish so much that I would've thought to videotape it. I didn't. I'll regret that forever... but I do have a couple of pictures to remind me of the three, beautiful... sisters!

Psalm 133:1 How good and pleasant it is when sisters live together in unity!

Friday, February 15, 2008

All Clean

My car was realllllllly, realllllllly dirty. There was so much salt/slush residue on all of the windows that it was hard to even see. And it looked so, so bad. So, even though it's supposed to rain this weekend, I just had to get the car washed.

I headed to CleanTown this morning, and the attendant told me that my car wash was FREE!!
I didn't even realize it, because I wasn't keeping track, but they give you a free wash for your birthday, and while that was a while ago, I never used it!

It was great! The car is sparkling clean; all the gunk is washed away, and all I had to say was... "Basic Wash, please." And it was FREE.

"...and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." Rev. 22:17b

Lost the Ticket

It used to be that if you parked at the lot at the Pittsburgh International Airport, and you lost your parking ticket, you had to pay some exhorbitant 'full price'. So, whenever we returned from a trip last fall and couldn't find our parking ticket, we started frantically rifling through all of the luggage, and came up empty. We were frustrated, ...but then the poor guy wandering around the parking lot, without a coat in the freezing weather, looking for his car, seemed to be worse off than we were. At least we rememberd to write down the section and row of our parking space.

We sheepishly drove up to the toll gate, and admitted we'd lost our way. The attendant asked for our car registration, and Bruce's driver's license (to prove we weren't stealing the Gray Goose), and within moments told us what we owed, when we'd arrived, AND even where we had parked. We were amazed to find that a computerized tracking system at the airport knew of every vehicle that entered, where it was parked, and when it departed. All due, no doubt, to the increased security systems put in place over the last several years.

It was a good thing that we weren't penalized for the lost ticket, and it's a good thing to know that if you can't remember where you parked, someone can tell you where it is. And, it's a good thing to realize the technology is in place to help thwart acts of terrorism. But it is a little disconcerting to realize how much Big Brother has infiltrated our daily lives.

I was reading this morning about the spy satellite that is falling out of orbit and back to earth. The US military is attempting to shoot it down because if it enters on its own, it could release a lethal, toxic gas cloud the size of two football fields, as well as have components which may not burn up upon re-entry. They don't know for sure yet where it would even fall.

But hey... at least someone can tell you where and when you parked at the airport!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

No Other Name

My name doesn't carry much authority with it. When my kids were young, and my name was 'Mommy', there was a measure of authority in that name... "Because Mommy said so!!" was often the last word in a dispute way back then. But other than that, 'using my name' wouldn't get you special treatment at a booked restaurant, or leniency from a speeding ticket. In fact, my name is somewhat non-discript... I know a woman who can't ever remember my name, and when she sees me, she always calls me "Janet". I answer to it anyway :-D And, the Social Security Administration reports that there are children in our country named "Gouda", "Veal", "Adonis", "Denim", "Dung" and even "ESPN". Hmmm.

Bruce & I are once again involved in leading a small group study at our church. It's an adaptation of Experiencing God (Henry Blackaby) for couples. One of the points Blackaby makes is that God reveals Himself to individuals who seek Him, and as a result, they (we, me, you) come to know Him by a special and unique name. For example, He identified Himself to Abram as El Shaddai (God Almighty) when He told him that his 90 year old, barren wife would have a baby, --something so impossible, only a mighty god could accomplish.

There are many other names of God recorded in scripture, and in my mind, as He has revealed His nature and His character to me at various times in my own life. But one divine appellation that I find most interesting is Hashem.

In Hebrew, it means "The Name". So many times in the Bible, that's what He is referred to...
David and Solomon talked about building a temple for "The Name". We're told that Jesus came in the name of the Father. Psalm 20:1 says "may the name ... protect you." Our Lord is so mighty that just the name has the power to protect us and authority to do what He says.

This is significant to me because it doesn't imply that God is an ambiguous, out-there whatshisname. But it tells of a personal God... one whose name can reflect meaning to each individual as God reveals Himself by name and we experience His nature.

He knows my name, and I know His.