Food Fest 2011

Have you wondered what happened to Travelling Food Fest 2010?

O.k., probably not…but I’ll tell you anyway. It sort of fell by the wayside when my partner in crime…(er lunching) and I decided to try and eat more healthy and lose some weight. So, that was the end of Travelling Food Fest 2010.

I’m still on a mission to Get-it-together-eat-healthier-keep-priorities-in-order-cling-to-the-Lord, so I can’t promise there will be a lot of Food Fest posts in 2011. But, today I’d like to share about a couple of fun and yummy restaurants I visited recently with friends. I love a good lunch with a good friend, good food, and good conversation! And the following lunches had all of the above!

First Stop – Granite City, with my friend Tracy…

And a whole lot of yum!

Delicious chicken salad on wonderful bread and waffle fries dipped in an exquisite sour cream sauce!

Tracy’s meal of perfectly breaded fish and waffle fries. She loved it! Her hands were the most she wanted in the picture on this particular, not looking our best lunch.

As evidenced by this picture of me taken by accident while trying to work the camera on my cell. Lovely! =)

The service was friendly, attentive, and impeccable. Our very patient waiter handled our quirky struggle with indecision, our desire to have bread on the table as soon as possible (any restaurant that offers bread scores immediate points with these carb-lovin’ girls!), our preference for booth seating, and the strange way we were taking photos of our food with my cell phone quite graciously. I was tickled that he labelled our to go containers. What a nice touch!
We give Granite City two thumbs up!
Next Stop – Tea Tree Asian Bistro with my friend Brooke
And…some more yummy goodness!
Me in front of the Tea Tree. I’m thinking that blue shirt must be my go-to lunch shirt, since I’m apparently wearing it in last year’s pics, as well! Funny!

The ambiance at the Tea Tree was aesthetically beautiful and way cool. Brooke and I were the only people in the restaurant at first since it had just opened that day, which made it even more delightful. The chef looked up after I snapped this picture with my phone, (which makes a really loud click accompanied by a bright flash, making it hard to be inconspicuous).

Even the menu looked neat…I am loving this turquoise color lately!

The lettuce wraps were amazing. We could have probably made a meal of those!

I ordered almond chicken, and it was also delicious! I didn’t get any pictures of Brooke, even though she was looking adorable.

I took a picture of this lovely piece from Kirklands…my new favorite, inexpensive decorating store. I would love to buy this sometime and decorate my front room in these colors. But, for now, my room is still bordered in 90′s floral pattern and carpeted burgundy. Someday…sigh.

And, the above picture is me…sporting my pre-St. Patrick’s day Shamrocks and the crazy outfit pictured below. (Taken with my phone…sorry about the quality!) We are going to school late because James was not feeling great this morning, but he’s feeling better now. Have a Wonderful Wednesday!
Yes…I am a dork! =)

Baby Love

When my mother was expecting my baby brother, Sean, we prayed each night that God would bless him…along with every other member of our family. Every sultry southern night, we said our child-like prayers in the Florida home where we lived for a short time. I was in about fifth grade and more lonesome for our Ohio home than I ever thought a person could be.

When Sean was finally born, he developed colic several weeks after birth and howled from the depths of his lungs from morning until night. If mom wasn’t holding him against her tummy and walking with him, I was. We took turns singing to him, doing our best to soothe his little, aching tummy. It was like that from that day on…one of us always holding sweet baby Sean. And, Sean…howling much of the time.

As he grew a little older and I entered Jr. High, I would push him in the stroller up and down the bumpy Ohio sidewalk…doing my best to keep him happy. I remember his red and white striped bibs and crazy strawberry blond hair that would always stick straight up and out no matter how we attempted to coax it otherwise.

We babied him and mothered him and loved on him something fierce. He was probably one of the most spoiled children in all of the land. And, we didn’t even care.

I am ten years older than Sean, and have always felt a mixture of big-sisterly and maternal love toward him. But when our beloved mother, our constant, and the most important person in Sean’s world… laid suffering in the last days of her life at the hospice center, my heart ached for him above all others. Those days I felt a bond with my sweet brother, even deeper than before. We walked that path together. I will never forget how he loved her, how he stood by her side, how I watched my baby brother as he was thrust violently into adulthood in the harshest way imaginable. I couldn’t protect him. I couldn’t keep this harsh reality, this terrible loss from him. He was an adult, of course, and perfectly capable of growing up. But, I wanted to protect my baby brother, to soothe his hurting heart, as I had always done. And, I couldn’t. This hurt was one I couldn’t take from him.

He has grown into a kind-hearted young man who works hard at his job (with my husband actually), and now, he is a father. My baby brother is a father! While that makes me an aunt (again…because our other brother also has children), I have always felt so motherly toward Sean…and even more so since mom’s passing…that I have joked that I “feel” more like a grandma! (I’m not, though…so don’t get any ideas about Grandma jokes!!)

I was so excited for the birth of this sweet boy. A baby to hold again, when it has been so long since my arms have held one. My mother loved babies so much. She always said, “A baby is a blessing. No matter how they come to be.” And, she is so right. Sometimes the blessing comes unexpectedly and sometimes we are prepared. But, sweet new life…is always a blessing! And, she loved her own baby, my brother, so dearly that she would have been over the moon that he was going to be a dad. Of course, even in our expectation of this new life, we felt the impact of missing her. At the same time, I felt a closeness with her, knowing that she would want me to make it a happy occasion. She would want this child to be celebrated. So, celebrate, we did.

Two weeks ago today, Max Michael was born to Sean and Megan. And, I couldn’t wait to get to the hospital. I felt the waves of missing and closeness to mom, mixing in a contradictory blend that somehow made sense as I drove to the hospital. We waited with Sean until they were ready for us to meet Max, and as we walked into the room, I stopped.

(I cropped her name out so because her maiden name is listed on the sign. But, it was there…and is still on that sign today.)

By sheer “coincidence” (I think not!) unbeknownst to them until later, Megan and Max were place in the room on the OB floor that had been dedicated to our sweet mother. They were in mom’s room! Even as I longed for mom to share this moment with us…to oooh and ahhhh over Sean’s baby with me…to spoil him as rotten as we spoiled my baby brother so many years ago…it was as if she was there, smiling down on us.

I took Max into my waiting arms and felt a love swell in my heart akin to the love I have felt for my own sweet babes. Again, I smiled, knowing how my mother would love him, just as she would love our brother Chris’ son, born in the month of her birth. Somehow I could feel the warmth of her love, as if it were filling my own heart and spilling out on to sweet baby Max. If we can see our loved ones from heaven, I have no doubt that she would have been allowed to peek into that moment. If I know my mother, she would have done all the negotiating heaven would allow to be able to see the birth of her grandbaby.

James and Timothy took turns holding him, and grinned like proud cousins.

Sean looked more like a grown-up than ever to me as he held his look-alike son, and at the same time I could still see the two year old with strawberry blond hair looking up at me from his stroller.

James took these pictures of me with Max…

When I looked at them later, I was stunned as the memories swirled into the reality of the circle of life. I had to look twice because with my hair cut short and the expression on my face, I saw my own mother in the pictures of Max and me…when she welcomed my babies years before. I dug up (and scanned) a picture of her holding James nine years ago.

She may not be here physically, but the evidence of her life undeniably lives on in her children and grandchildren.

Now, I’m off to hold Max for awhile! Have a beautiful day!

Doritos and Red Pop

When I was a little girl, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. They were always doing something fun…snowmobiling in the winter, fishing and camping in the summer. I loved their house in the country, surrounded with trees and an expansive yard full of birds and squirrels and other critters. I loved the huge family room, with the folding doors and brown and orange carpet, the old-school brick fireplace. I would curl up in Grandpa’s recliner, snuggled into his lap and asking for the candy in his pockets. (I called him Pockets because of this! Even then, he knew the way to my heart!) We would watch Love Boat and Fantasy Island (you know…”De plane, de plane!) I loved the speckled counter-covered breakfast nook where Grandma would serve strawberries with sugar…and sometimes whipped cream. Loved the seventies green carpet in the front room. I was heart broken when they sold that house and moved to town.

Sigh…everything always changes.

Grandma and Grandpa had a camper at the lake. There was Chet’s, where we went to the restroom in a place Grandma unaffectionately called “The Pits”. That’s exactly what they were…and you prayed you would not fall in. Shuddering at this memory…

O.K….moving on…

We would load up the blue and white boat, with all of our gear and snacks. I don’t remember worrying about sunscreen or any of that. One thing was certain, once you went out on the boat, you were gone for the day. Grandma and Grandpa were serious about fishing and didn’t come in until reaching their limit. What I remember the most about those hours on the boat is the taste of Doritos and Red Pop. My mother rarely purchased junk food…whether because of the expense or because she was very weight conscious. Probably a little of both. But, when we went on the boat, I relished the Doritos and Red Pop. I can remember the rocking back and forth rhythm as the boat floated along, I remember the wind and splashes of water as we crashed down over the waves speeding along to another fishing spot. I remember the triumph when I caught a Walleye. You wanted a Walleye or perch…never Sheephead. Grandma had another name for those, but I won’t share it here! I would fish a little, play a little, nap a little, and would munch on Doritos and Red Pop. I’m sure there was other food, too. But, those are the two that felt like a special treat to me, and they still taste like summer.

Although, if you read this blog, you already know about my love affair with Doritos (I never met a Dorito I didn’t like!), the sweet carbonated goodness of Red Pop hasn’t graced my taste buds in years. But, this week, I bought some. I hesitated, wondering if my grown up taste buds (and digestive system) could handle it. Would it still be as good as I remember? I closed my eyes and washed down a few Doritos with a gulp of Red Pop. I smiled and nodded with satisfaction…it still tasted like summer. For a few minutes, I was seven and rocking along on Grandma and Grandpa’s boat with the faint smell of lake and fish in the air and the sun on my face.

Sometimes, I long for simple times like that when all of life seemed filled with possibilities and everything was still ahead of me. There was nothing more required of me than to fish off the side of the boat and curl up in the lap of my Grandpa. Perhaps that is why the bible encourages us to have faith like a child. Nothing more is required of us than to follow our heavenly Father where He leads. And, to curl up into His lap when we are tired. Maybe it really is still that simple.

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P.S. It’s not too late to enter the Mother’s Day giveaway to win one of three copies of the book I Will Carry You. Also, please help us spread the word about Operation Support Sufficient Grace 2010!

Sixteen Years of Loving and Learning

Sixteen years ago, I walked down the red carpeted aisle, wearing a cream-colored pant suit and holding a tiny antique bible decorated (by my mother) with white lace and burgundy ribbons, pearls, and tiny flowers and a small bouquet of ivory roses in my shaking hands. My long wavy hair was pulled up on one side with a white flower-encrusted comb. He waited for me at the end of the aisle, just a boy… barely two years older than our son is now…with a tender smile on his face. With shaking hands and tearful eyes, we made promises that were so much bigger than our eighteen- year- old selves could ever have conceived. Nothing was heard above the sound of our sniffles among the few who gathered with us that day.

We promised to love and cherish,

To honor and obey,

In sickness and in health,

For richer or for poorer…

Sixteen years ago, we made promises with lovely flowery words…and we felt the weight of what we didn’t even know heavy on our shoulders. And, we have spent the last sixteen years, keeping those promises.

We have loved and cherished in times when one or both of us were unlovable. We have learned about the kind of love that isn’t self-seeking, is patient and kind, always hopes, always endures, isn’t puffed up, doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. We have learned it over dirty dishes, unbalanced checkbooks, broken promises, unmet expectations, piled up laundry, broken stuff, parenting demands, and long work days. We have learned it while walking away…while returning…and while remaining and abiding. We have learned it when we’ve said the things that you can’t take back…and forgiven those same things. We have learned while laughing until we cry…and crying until we laugh.

We have learned to honor each other when one or both of us is not deserving of honor…and when by the grace of God, we are. We’ve learned to obey the One who carries us, and to serve one another because of His example. We’ve learned to submit to one another as we submit to Him.

We have learned of sickness and we’ve been grateful for health. We have learned in the hospital rooms of those we loved, and in our own time spent in the hospital bed. We have learned while standing over the graves of our children and while both weeping and rejoicing in the birthing rooms where we’ve found both the promise of life on earth and eternal life in heaven.

We have learned while holding hands in prayer, lifting hands in worship, and allowing the Holy Spirit to work miraculously in our lives to make us one flesh. It is one of my favorite miracles, I must say…the uniting of two hearts and minds to make one flesh. A beautiful picture of love…the love He has for us and the love He gives to us for one another.

We have learned much…

And sixteen years, two apartments (early days), one little house (our dwelling for the last fifteen yrs.), several dogs (2 currently), five children (including three in heaven, one teenager, and one very lively nine-year-old), a few jobs, more losses, financial ups and downs, many good friends, countless answered prayers, lots of hard work, and some souls saved and lives changed in Jesus along the way… we are still learning. I never get tired of walking through this life with him. And I look forward to the next chapter.

Happy Anniversary, Tim…my love for you grows with each passing year and there is no one I’d rather walk through this life with, laughing along the way.

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Tomorrow (Thursday) on the Walking With You Page, we will be doing a lesson on Guilt and Fear from the Threads of Hope study. We’ll be sharing encouragement through God’s Word for those who are walking through the valley of grief.

I Never Get Tired of…

I’m so glad Wednesdays Walk is back…thanks Jenilee!

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Life is busy, and sometimes I get really tired (bet I’m not alone there!)…so I thought I’d take a minute and start a list of things that I never get tired of.

I never get tired of…

…the evidence of spring blooming…with the promise of hope and life resurrecting from the ashes of winter.

…riding my bike in the sunshine with James.

…the sound of little boy giggles and even man-voice laughter.

…watching Father and Son playing catch in the yard.

…the sounds of the creek water rushing with the backdrop of a robin’s song paying homage to the Creator.

…the sound of my husband’s guitar…and his tender voice, blending with mine… as he sings songs of worship.

…watching a soul get saved.

…watching a life changed in Jesus…especially the life of someone I love.

…reading a story of redemption.

…listening to one of Timothy’s stories.

…watching my boys do almost anything.

…laughter through tears.

…laughing with Tim, anytime.

…a great conversation with a close friend…preferably over lunch!

…waiting for my husband after church. It’s a different kind of waiting, and I like it.

…the sound of James reading his bible.

…the sound of children singing sweet simple songs of worship…or shouting praise unabashedly.

…the sight of my husband in a stocking cap.

…the touch of his hand as we pray together.

…when the Holy Spirit reveals a new truth from a familiar scripture.

…the soft shades of green against a blue sky.

…the feel of a golf swing the rare moment when it all comes together the way it should.

Spring is springing, and with it comes baseball games and golf tournaments, spending time outdoors enjoying the beauty of the world God made. And cherishing the people he gave us to walk through this life with. Every year, I love this time of awakening. And, this year is no exception. Right now, it is on my heart to remember where we have once walked, and all that God has brought us through.

I’m grateful for the simple moments I can share with my “people”…my family. It’s a simple life…but it’s our life!

I’d love to hear what you “never get tired of”.

Happy Wednesday…thanks for stopping by!

The Most Willy Nilly Hodge Podge of a Post Ever

YOU SEARCH OR SHOP…
WE GIVE!

Search the Web now Free coupons at top stores

Raise money for Sufficient Grace Ministries for Women  just by searching the web and shopping online!

I promise there will be a little Wednesday Walk stuff at the end of this post. But, there are a few other things I need to share first. Sufficient Grace Ministries for Women is now listed with www.GoodSearch.com along with 81,000 other non-profit organizations. You can help support our ministry by using Good Search as your search engine and listing Sufficient Grace Ministries for Women as the cause you support. It’s actually quite easy to download the goodsearch toolbar right on to your computer. Then everytime you search, a donation is made. They will give a penny for every search done through Good Search. So the more people who participate, the better. They also donate a portion of the proceeds of products purchased through Good Shop at a variety of merchants, to the charity of your choice. The service is free to you and earns money for our organization. As you know, we do not charge bereaved parents for our products or services, so this helps us greatly. We have been so blessed by the support given by everyone recently. And, we are grateful for this opportunity, as well.

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A sweet blog friend, Stephanee, recently sent me a lovely gift I wanted to share with you. She has started an organization to support moms who have had a loss. Stephanee received a Dreams of You Memory Package, when her son Vayden was born. She sent us a beautiful picture of Vayden with the Comfort Bear we sent her…and she and Vayden’s big brother, Vashon have taken comfort in cuddling the baby-sized bear. I am so blessed to know that this family was comforted by our gift. You can read about Vashon’s Cuddle Brother, here.

Stephanee’s organization is called My Very Own Angel. Her mission and hope is that mothers would not be ashamed of their precious babies who have gone to heaven or afraid to acknowledge them, but that they would be able to embrace the gift of being their mother. She also would like to share stories of encouragement from those who chose to carry their babies to term and found the time to be a precious gift.

You can contact her, here, to share your story: myveryownangel@gmail.com.

She will also be donating 345 teddy bears to hospitals in memory of her precious Vayden each year. To support her efforts and to support Sufficient Grace Ministries, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, and String of Pearls, her organization sells the t-shirt that I am modeling below in their Angel Shop. She will donate a portion of their proceeds to the three previously mentioned organizations. Thank you for this gift, Stephanee and for your heart to reach out to hurting families.



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And now…what we’ve been up to…

In between praying for Stellan

And celebrating a successful end to the summer golf season and the beginning of the fall season for Timothy…

James and I took a trip to the beach at a local quarry. We had a blast enjoying the beauty of God’s creation with some sand and water goodness!



Good old summertime fun! Lovin’ it…
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And…to squeeze one more thing in…just a reminder that tomorrow on Walking With You, we will be sharing about the effect on our marriage after the loss of a baby. What has changed for better or worse? Struggles? Different grieving styles? Prayer needs? Advice and questions. Ways to support one another and grow as a couple. I look forward to walking with each of you.

Love to all…

We’ll Be Swimmin’….Swimmin’

O.K….don’t ask me why but when I wrote the title just now, the really old school country song, “Swingin’” (from the late 70′s or early 80′s??) just popped in my head…only with the word swimmin’ instead. I had it on an old 45 record when I was little if that tells you anything. When I went on a road trip to somewhere in the south (maybe Georgia?) with my Grandma and Grandpa T., they were playing some old school country (and it was even old school for back then!) and I was hooked on that swinging song. Another thing I remember from hanging out with my grandparents at Lake Erie was a lot of fishing and Doritos and Red Pop! Good times. Can you tell this is going to be a really random Wednesdays Walk? That’s sort of where my brain is right now…a little melted from the heat, a little water-logged from the swimming, and a little random from the living of life.

Anyway…that’s what we’ve been doing the past few days in the midst of the sweltering heat…a whole lot of swimming…at my stepdad’s pool and Tim’s mom’s pool! And…it has been grand fun. Swimming, fun, and Doritos (without the Red Pop). I just realized that the Doritos are sort of a theme. They kind of go with anything, don’t they? Ahem…

I must say swimming, especially at my mother’s (stepdad’s) reminds me of being young and full of life. Although, I can tell that I’m not as young as I used to be because I had to wait until the water was a little warmer before jumping in. Even just a couple years ago, I was ready in late May to jump right in with the kids. Sigh…

So, without further adieu…a little swimming and a little golf extravaganza to go with the random theme!




O.K….I’m off to golf with my husband in our couples league (and it’s about 100 degrees!). I’ll be back tomorrow to announce the winner of our Thirty-One Giveaway…click here to enter. And don’t forget, Walking With You is also tomorrow. Hope you can join us…and, even if you are not a grieving mom, if you are willing to visit the sites of the courageous moms who share their stories and offer words of encouragement and prayer for them, that would be so appreciated.

Happy Wednesday Walking!!!!

Dazed

Dazed…this morning I am dazed by the beauty of the body of Christ.

Amazed…by the power of God’s great love for us.

On my face…in humility at the privilege we have in walking with Him…in walking with those around us.

Thank you to those of you who joined us for The First Steps on our Walking With You journey…and for those of you who prayed with and for us…and those that just read along. (I know you’re out there, and we love you!) The past few days (and really weeks!), in addition to watching the body of Christ come together in amazing ways to minister to grieving families, our church family held an outreach vacation bible school in a local community that lost it’s church and has been really hurting. It wasn’t a mission field in India or Africa. It was not some big, great thing. But I believe it was Mother Teresa who said, “We can no no great things, only small things with great love.” And, with love we went. I am not sharing this to lift us up. Truly, if anything, the past few days have left me feeling as if I want to spend life walking around on my face at the realization that our Jesus, our God…who is so indescribably, immensely big so desperately wants to chase us down with His relentless love that He will even use a flawed broken vessel, such as me to tell the people the good news.

So, I am dazed…at the privilege that we are allowed to be used by God in any little way. Amazed as the reflections wash over me of the past couple weeks. Mothers who have allowed us to stand on sacred ground with them. Who have allowed us the unspeakable privilege of walking in the dark places with them. Following my husband’s lead as He knocked on the doors of strangers to invite them to join our church VBS outreach and community dinner. Conversations where I watched the man I love meet people where they were and relate as they shared their hearts and wove their tales in front yards and on front porches. Blessed beyond words as I watched hope flicker in the eyes of those who had lost hope. Images of young hearts calling on the name of Jesus…giving their lives to Him. The faces of grateful families who enjoyed the delicious meal offered by the ladies in our food ministry. The abundance left over that could be sent home. People giving whatever God has equipped them to give. Sharing in song as voices young and old raised as one to praise the living God. The multiplication of blessings that overflowed from each willing heart.

Our part is so small. Our part is just a willing heart. A heart that says: “Here I am, Lord. Send me!”(Is. 6:8)If we go when He says go, He will meet us there. And He will do the rest. His part is the big part. His Holy Spirit gives the words and moves the hearts. We are just along for the ride, and reaping the blessing that splashes up over us as He meets us there. It is so simple, give them Jesus and they will come. Hope for the hopeless. Light in the darkness. Redemption for the lost. Life where there was death.

I love how God uses every part of His body of believers to work together to fulfill His plan. Love it. It is a beautiful tapestry woven together in love. Beautiful to watch His hands and feet reaching out to shine His light in the dark places. Those with a gift of hospitality offering conversation, making strangers feel like welcome members of the family. Those who can make a feast fit for a king serving food with gladness. Those with a gift of song, lifting their voices, strumming their guitars. Those with a love for children and a spirit of joy laughing together, jumping right in. Playing, talking, listening, sharing. Servants’ hearts serving. Those who are gifted in planning and organizing lining all the ducks in a row. Builders building. Artists painting. Actors performing skits. Storytellers telling stories of the Creators amazing love. Artists making the story come to life and filling the room with visual beauty. Crafters crafting. Gentle hearts burdened to pray and reach out to those who are hurting. Those with a gift of teaching sharing the truth of His word. Walking together in love. Every little part a piece of the tapestry like imperfect parts of a quilt knit together to form a beautiful masterpiece. God doesn’t waste anything in our lives. He weaves it all into our tapestry, making us who we are…and using it to show Himself to others.

There is a difference between telling someone that Jesus loves them and showing His love to them. Really walking with them. That is what I saw people doing. Not with words. Love, in action. Love that says I see you, God sees you…you matter to me…to the God who made you. You matter.

Our theme…God created the world and everything in it…and He created you with a purpose. You are unique and special. The beauty of His simple truth astounds me, surrounds me, and abounds over me.

The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation
And increased its joy;
They rejoice before You
According to the joy of the harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
Isaiah 9:2-3

Thank you Jesus for shining your light in the darkness. And for allowing us to be part of the tapestry you are weaving.

By His Grace: This little light of mine…I’m going to let it shine!
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A couple reminders:

Click Thirty One Fundraiser/Giveaway to leave a comment and enter our Thirty-One Giveaway that ends June 25th.

Holly’s Chip-In to support Sufficient Grace ends June 22nd…so get on over there and bless her efforts!

If you are participating in Walking With You (or if you plan to), I was thinking of doing this every Thursday (starting next Thursday), instead of just once a month… to give more opportunities to join in and also to keep it consistent so that we don’t “forget” that it’s coming. People can join in as much or as little as they want, but we could offer it weekly. No pressure. What do you all think? Also…if you have a few minutes to visit those who linked to us on Walking with You…to show them love and pray for them, I would really appreciate it…and I know you will be blessed for it. Thanks so much!

A Little Piece of Heaven on a Sweet Summer Day

For those that read my blog, you may already know that summer is my favorite season. (Not that I would remember that detail about someone else, but you may!) You may also know that we said good-bye to my precious mother in October 2006, after a grueling battle with cancer. And, you may know that with every season the missing of her washes over me anew, with fresh intensity. As always, mom is on my mind today. And I would like to share with you one of the most beautiful summer days that there has ever been…at least in my little life.

In the summer of 2006, as the hospital bills mounted, we decided to have a benefit to help defray the costs and lift the burden from mom’s (and her husband’s) shoulders. I prayed and wrote several goals…praying specifically over each one. Never having hosted a golf scramble benefit, I wasn’t sure what to expect. In the beginning, I was timid as I approached people, but when I saw their willingness to give, I grew more bold. Realizing that this was not about me…about my pride. It wasn’t even just about helping with the money anymore. But about the opportunity to show my mother how much people cared, how loved, valued and treasured she was to every life she touched.

The journey was amazing. Almost everyone had a story about how mom had touched their lives. And I was able to share each one with her. We knew that short of a miracle, she would not live much longer on this earth. And, soon…the golf benefit became a way to honor her life. We invited non-golfers to come to the dinner afterward. And hundreds attended. Businesses gave triple the sponsorships on my tiny little goal sheet. (God’s ways are higher than our ways!) I was hoping for 18 golf teams. There were 36. More than 200 additional people came to the dinner in addition to the golfers. There were dinner sponsors, cart sponsors, non-alcoholic beverage sponsors. People donated auction items which earned even more toward the cause.

Friends and family gathered, overflowing the place set aside for dinner into the pavilion and the patio. People gathered beneath the blue sky, dotted with white fluffy clouds and laughed and smiled. As I stood to say something before the outing began, I was in awe of the carts lined up, filled with people who loved my mom, our family, or who loved us…everyone who had a story. Overwhelmed with the beauty of the day. Overwhelmed at all that people were willing to give. The beauty of the day took my breath away…and I could barely speak. It was like experiencing a little piece of heaven on earth.

Mom and I had gone shopping a few days before to pick out a cute outfit for her to wear. If you know anything about us, you know that is an important detail. We had been praying that she would feel well enough to attend. And that she would be blessed as her life was celebrated. Mom and I always took comfort in joking about things that most people wouldn’t. It was a way of coping, I guess. Humor is a frequent favorite way of dealing in our family. We said that we were hoping that this would sort of be like a funeral, except you’re still here and we can tell you what your life has meant to us…a celebration of life. And it was indeed.

Friends from past and present came. Family joined together. There was even an amazing surprise. Mom’s favorite teacher and best friend from school later married (as adults!). They had moved far away, but happened to be in mom’s home town for a visit. They saw the flyer and decided to come right over. None of us had expected them, so it was a super surprise to mom. Amazing…that God wanted them to be there…and He worked it out.

I can’t explain the glow of my mom’s smile, the joy that shone in her eyes. The picture on my sidebar was from that day. It was amazing and beautiful. One of the most beautiful days of my life. It was as if God opened up the heavens and said, I see you dear Kathy, and you are dearly loved. I thought that this must be just a little piece what heaven is like…the joy and unity and goodness. The celebration of life. We will never forget that day…and the people who shared it with us.


The first picture above is my mom and my brothers and the kids. My brother’s wife is in the picture, but Tim is missing! =( Just to prove that he really was there, the second picture above is my sweet husband and his golf team, who won the event! Tim is on the far left. I included this pic because Tim was sadly left out of the family photo, in the frenzy of the day. He was still out golfing or eating dinner…and I just said go ahead and take the pic. I so regret my hastiness now. I am horrible at realizing the importance of getting pictures for memory purposes. I am learning the hard way, though and (hopefully) won’t make the mistake again!

Any Given Sunday…

Any given Sunday, you will find us doing this… And even a little of this… …reaping with songs of joy.

We are blessed to be able to take part in the Children’s Worship at our church on Sunday mornings. It is a blessing, a privilege…and also, way fun!!! We get to rock out and sing from the tips of our toes to the top of our heads and shout and move. Tim gets to rock his guitar…or guitars! We get to praise the Lord, sometimes really loud…like the kids like it! Sometimes quiet, reflecting on His beauty and grace. Not always perfectly, but always with a joyful heart…making a joyful noise unto the Lord.

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.
~Psalm 100:1-5

Those who know us well, know how far God has brought us…and the amazing grace that has been poured out upon us. May He get all the glory…as we celebrate the beauty that He makes from the ashes of our lives…