Sunday, December 28, 2008

Afraid of the Dark



I've just realized that I've been fighting the doldrums all week. Why should I be bummed this week? Our sweet family from North Carolina has been here and we've had such a nice time visiting. Christmas is so fun! It is so nice just to be together. I took some of the kiddos sledding and had a GREAT time watching them zooming down the hill together.
So WHAT is the deal? Today I realized that I've been dreading post-holiday depression. How crazy is it to allow my fear of depression that sometimes follows the best days of the year ruin the best days of the year???
I pretty consistently have some struggles during January, February, and sometimes part of March. Nebraska has many cloudy days during that time. It tends to be more cold and dark. I wonder if my Southern California upbringing spoiled me? I DO love the sun!
I'm reminded of a time when David and I were dating long-distance. He came to California to visit me and we were having a grand time soon after his arrival...and I got to thinking that the jolliness was so temporary and started to dread his leaving, even though his visit had just begun. I told him about it and was crying and stuff...and Dave referred to Mark 2:19 where it says that while the party is happening, it is not appropriate to be sad! I have never forgotten that.
So I choose for this next week of family-time and New Year's revelry to choose to enjoy every minute and not waste a moment in fearing the future. So there.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Happenings...

We have had such a fun time this week, seeing family, eating yummy food...continuously amazed that Jesus REALLY DID come for us! If we did not know better, we'd think He was too good to be true.

The Reno/Cahill Cousins...


Da tree.



My brother, Lee & niece, Jess.

Christmas Eve table

Guitar Hero World Tour with Brandon on drums, Dylan on guitar, Dan on vocals and in the audience: Kristin, Elly, Morgan and in the back on the couch, Uncle David.


Jeff and Payton setting up the Hot Wheels track!



Ell, Kristin, Bree, Morgan

Clockwise from top: Anjali, Morgan, Alison, Kristin.


Grandpa Reno playing Wii Golf.


Michael & Lisa

Dad and Mom Reno

Jeff & Diane

Deb & David


Kristi cutie.

Strike a pose, Bree!

The birthday girl. Happy 18th, Ells!!

Rock Star: Dan

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"You Promised Never to Grow Old"


This past year, through Facebook, I have 'reunited' with many friends from the past: from high school, from Bible school, from my high school/college youth group, from the early days of our married life. It has been so good. So healing. I am amazed at the Lord's timing in all of this. Last year we 'lost' many friends through some troubles at our church and it was so very painful. I am seeing this reconnection as His kindness to me. (Thank You, Lord!)

During some of these reunions, I've been reminded of this scene from "Hook" (one of the Reno family favorite movies...) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFNaqKZoYt0&feature=related
I've grown up - surprise, surprise. I guess no one can be more surprised than me about that. And sometimes I wonder if, when people find me on Facebook, they see my pics and wonder if it can really be me. I've wondered myself a couple times when finding a friend...thinking, "Do I have the wrong Joe Schmoe?...This Joe Schmoe doesn't look like the Joe Schmoe I remember!" When looking through someone's pictures this week - I did not recognize him - I had an "oh, there you are, peter" moment! For all of you who wonder the same about me, I want to put out a bulletin: I'm still in here...it is still me! I'm tempted to elaborate on that point, but I won't.
It's weird, when you 'leave' someone, it's like they are not allowed to grow up or grow old. Logically, it is a no-brainer: OF COURSE people grow-up and change and grow older. In our memories they don't do that, though. OF COURSE our only frame of reference is what we knew. Still, it seems I never expect people to look any different. Maybe it's because I have not had the great privilege of reuniting with many from my past and I'm not used to it.
So, I just so you know: My earthsuit is showing some wear and tear, but I'm still me.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Happy Landing?


Until lately I never realized the universality of 'thought war'. I thought it was just me battling every day to try to stay positive...to put down freaky thoughts. Thoughts that are critical of what I say or do (or don't say or don't do) seem to pop in there so readily. Not too often anymore, but I used to have a lot of destructive 'suggestions' pop into my mind. Seems there is always a battle of some sort going on up there. (I probably never admitted it in the past for fear of being locked up.)
Reminds me of the 'renewing your mind' verse in Romans 12 and the 'taking thoughts captive' verse in 2 Corinthians 10. Reminds me too of the illustration that compares my mind to an airport. I am the air traffic controller. I cannot control who flies over, but I do control who lands. Or the bird analogy...I have no say as to who flies over my head, but I DO have a say in who builds a nest in my hair!
I definitely believe that there is a real devil and that he is my enemy and that his mission is to steal, kill and destroy. So much of the destruction we see in our world begins in people's minds. James 1:13-15 talks about the progression of rotten thoughts leading finally to death. Recognizing his evil whispers is sometimes so difficult for me. At times I find myself caught in a web of untruth or partial truth...and I think, "How long have I been fooled by this?"
I want the Truth. I want the Truth in all areas of my mind and my heart. I'm looking around at my life and wanting Truth in every part...I'm assuming that the bits of my life that are messed up or dissatisfying are areas where I am embracing untruth. This seems like a good time for a closet cleaning...so I'm asking God through this job-loss-craziness to help me to take stock and to show me where I am believing lies and to replace the lies with Himself. He is my Way, my Truth and my Life and my only real reason for continuing on.
I am daily doing battle with worry about David losing his job...about our security. Even though I am well acquainted with God's promises, I choose worry quite often. I don't choose it purposely. My intent is not to worry. But sometimes I find myself all in an uproar...all stressed...and then I realize that I have not taken my thoughts captive, that I am letting God-knows-what-kind of nasty birds make nests in my hair! YIKES! I am racking my brain for the verses in the Bible that talk about the progression of truthful thoughts.....just as the above-mentioned portion from James illustrates the natural path of evil thoughts, I know that somewhere is a passage that states the opposite evolution. Can anyone give me an assist?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Adventure on the Way...

The bombshell has landed. I must say, it surprised me. I did not expect this, but I sure am excited. A little scared, but mostly looking forward to a new experience. It's weird to be in the same situation as so many other Americans are right now...the brotherhood of the unemployed! David got the word this afternoon that as of February 1, he will no longer be with the company he has worked for for the past 16 years.

It's weird...just yesterday morning, we sat around and discussed (hypothetically speaking) where we'd like to move. We talked about all kinds of places: Iowa, Minnesota, Idaho, Montana, Canada, Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Utah, California, Missouri, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota (I nipped that one in the bud REAL QUICK.). Since we have been married, we have lived in the same area....covering about 5 square miles!! Our apartment we lived in as newlyweds is 3 miles north. The only other home we've owned, besides the one we are presently in, is 2 miles south! We do love this area...

We do not know what the future will hold, but we know Who our Provider has been and will continue to be. So here's to new beginnings and big adventures! Scumps!!

ad⋅ven⋅ture 

 /ædˈvɛntʃər/
[ad-ven-cher] -tured, -tur⋅ing.
–noun
1. an exciting or very unusual experience.
2. participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises: the spirit of adventure.
3. a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome.
4. a commercial or financial speculation of any kind; venture.
5. peril; danger; risk.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Beholden, Gratified, Indebted, Obliged, Pleased, Thankful, GRATEFUL.

It is a GORGEOUS November day here in Omaha. I have been cooking and baking and it got so warm, I opened my kitchen window! That's not usual for this time of year. I think it is in the mid-50's...a veritable heat-wave! It is so nice to see the sun. There is a herd of squirrels on our front lawn and hanging from our bird feeders - we counted six at one point.

The Lord has called my name. How can that be? He has drawn me and made me His own. If I did not know it to be so, I would think it was too good to be true. I am being changed and transformed into the person I was created to be by the One Who made me. Whoa. That is amazing.

My mom is here visiting...so nice to have her near. She is wonderful. (even if she DOES beat me regularly at cards...) She just jumps in wherever needed. Right now she is sewing a beautiful dress for Kristin, who will be in our friends Mindy & Ken's wedding next spring.

Our kids are doing great in school...Kristin is having some very slight issues w/chatting a bit and being easily distracted, but this is minor in the big scheme! Dan has adjusted amazingly well to middle school. Elly is having the time of her life, working on her second play of the fall at school. Bree is enjoying and being challenged by her job. We are just savoring these days of having them all living at home with us, knowing these days are numbered!

Even though there is a possibility that David's job could be eliminated by the end of '08, we are amazingly peaceful. This is truly the peace that passes understanding...makes no sense! Sometimes I pinch myself and wonder if I am just in denial. Shouldn't I be freaking?

We have begun to meet with some amazing folks in a small group-type setting...wanting to be accountable, wanting to be the Body of Christ to one another. We are so very excited about this part of our new church family. =)

We are very healthy people. Other than the short-lived, annoying colds and such, we are strong and well. We do not deserve it! So many are struggling with chronic illness. We are blessed with our health.

We have a warm, toasty house that we can afford to pay for...unlike so many who are struggling right now with keeping up with the basics. We are snug and well-fed. (possibly too well-fed)

We have extended family that we love so much. We have many friends that are so very special to us. And we have recently been blessed with re-connecting with many from our past through Facebook. What a wonder!

I think I need to make every month 'Thanksgiving Month"...what it does for my spirit and my emotions to sit and think of all our blessings...I cannot easily describe. What comes to mind is the phrase 'incredible lightness of being"...which until a moment ago, I did not know comes from a book called 'Atlas Shrugged' by Ayn Rand. (Strangely enough, I don't recall ever even hearing of the book until this morning, when a friend [from Facebook!] suggested that I read it! ...and now a phrase that I've heard before, but did not know was from that book comes to my mind! Weird.)

I think that we are meant to live as grateful people. May I live as I was meant to, in this thankful state of counting innumerable blessings and not just BEING, but SHOWING my gratefulness...

THANK YOU, LORD!
"Give thanks to God. Call out his name. Ask him anything! Shout to the nations, tell them what he's done, spread the news of his great reputation!"
Isaiah 12:3 The Message

"Give thanks to God, His love never quits." 2 Chronicles 20:21 The Message

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Whine, whine, whine

Yes, I'd like a little whine with my cheese...

I am sick again for the third time in three weeks....three different illnesses. First it was a vertigo-type thingy. Then it was strep (on the tail end of amoxicillin for that!) and now I have this nasty cold...with a smoker's cough. (No, I do not smoke.) Nice. Tomorrow I will have to postpone my dentist appointment to fix my cracked tooth for the THIRD TIME! I am feeling so selfish and so mad and so worn out: sick and tired of being sick and tired. But wait...

What is the truth about this situation? Is God in control of this? Could He heal me if He thought that was best? Am I stuck here for a purpose? Do I need to be treating my body differently so I am not as susceptible to sickness? What about people who are chronically ill...is it possible to be content when faced with a barrage of sickness? I was pretty sick last year during this time, but I thought it was because I was teaching and my body was exposed to a lot of germs/viruses that I was not accustomed to. So what's the excuse this year? Do I need to be concerned about something I am not aware of?


Nearly our whole family has had something. Will we all be well to host Thanksgiving dinner like we are planning?

This situation is so inconsequential compared to so many...I think of my friend, Nancy, who is going through treatment for her second bout of breast cancer and whose house is in the path of the crazy fires that are scorching California right now. Or I think of our friends K & E who are in a very dangerous part of the world to tell people of Jesus' love. I need the perspective of these situations or I sink into pity-party-mode....and that's so ugly and isolating and non-productive and self-serving.

In my runny-nosed, hacking state, I am mistakenly thinking that the most important kind of healing is physical, but I know that God sees so much more than I do. And that His ideas of goodness and wholeness are beyond what I can understand. What are You working in me, Lord?

Lord, teach me the secrets of asking for what I desire, but allowing You to help me to be content no matter what Your answers are to what I pray. I know Your Grace is sufficient for me and that when I am weak, Your strength can be shown through me. I choose to trade my dis-ease for Your Peace. And I choose to think on You over thoughts of myself that threaten to consume my mind.

Exodus 15:26 He said, "If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Post-Election Rant




The last straw was my post-election observation of a neighbor, whom I know to be staunchly Republican, flying his flag at half staff, after he took down all of his republican election support signs. COME ON! Sheesh...how far are we going to take this?
When Fox News was announcing that Senator Obama had won the presidency at 11 on Tuesday night, I couldn't help it....I cried and cried. And cried. Then Senator McCain came on and gave SUCH a gracious and well-spoken speech, conceding the presidency. I cried some more. I am very sad and very concerned about what direction we'll go as a country. I am sorely tempted to worry. I am fighting fretting about what future our children will have as we go in this direction?
What I don't get is all the pandemonium and all the whining. Maybe it's just because I'm recovering from strep this week and my brain is fogged. Have we prayed for this election? I have. Has the Lord suddenly left the building altogether? Has our mission as the Body of Christ changed? I'm sure I must be being short-sighted and/or naive because to me it seems like everyone is completely freaking out.
I'm aware of President-elect Obama's background and the agenda he ran his campaign on. I'm aware that the house and senate are controlled by the Democrat party more than ever before in my lifetime. I'm aware that things may get rough for conservative people, that there are possibly several Supreme Court Judge seats that our President-elect will fill during his term. It's not that I'm believing we're in for a bed of roses for the next four years.
What I'm holding onto (with both hands!) is that this country was founded miraculously...that our founding fathers put their lives on the line and were supported by God himself as they strove to create a place of freedom. I know that because of the United States of America, the Gospel of Jesus has and still is spreading around the globe. I know that we, as a individuals and as a people are valuable to the Lord.
I'm grasping tightly His promises to never leave me or forsake me.
I'm thinking of the verse that says, 'Happy are the people who's God is the Lord'....
Friends, the god of this country has not been the Lord for some years now. Who are we kidding? Most of us, (even "Christians") are busy with status and power and jobs and money and appearance to make God the Lord of our lives. We have been booting the Lord out of more and more of our society. It's not too surprising that we would vote in someone with values like President-elect Obama.
Now don't get me wrong...it is not that I wasn't hoping for an eleventh hour miracle...that the McCain/Palin ticket would pull out a win somehow. I was praying for a Gideon-like victory. We did not get one. And here we are. And our mission is not changed. The way Christians are known (by our love) has not changed. Most of all, Our Great God Who is the King above all gods has not changed. His love has not changed. His heart has not changed.
What needs to change is us...it's me. It is the way I love and repent and prioritize and live.
WAKE UP CALL!! Time to get serious about my faith! Time to stop trusting in the government to save babies and take care of the poor (in a way that will actually help in the long run to give Life). Bashing our new president and new congress is not going to accomplish anything remotely constructive. I am here and the Lord's commands to be thankful for and in all things still stand. It is okay to grieve for a while, but then I'm moving on. (Are you coming with me?)



Monday, October 20, 2008

Great Expectations?

I wonder if much of our societal dismay at getting older is linked to the unexpected...we think and dream of our lives as young adults (at least girls do...do guys do that too?). We think about our courtships, our weddings, maybe our careers. We dream of our children. Sometimes we jokingly talk with our sweetheart about getting old together. When do we mull over those middle and latter years? Are we surprised by the disappointments of our later years because we don't take time to think of what is ahead?

Our society deifies youth to such an extent that most of us often don't give our older years any thought (realistic ones, anyway.). Other than deciding what percentage of our income to sock away in the 401K, we don't want to consider the possibilities of aging. I watched some of my friends that preceded me into the 40's lose their 'close-up-vision' and get glasses, but I really didn't think it would happen to me. It has. And I've been disappointed that my body betrayed me like this! I think I have 14 pair of reading glasses around here. (And I look good in them, too...)

David and I are on the brink of having our first kiddos leave the nest....and I've never given too much thought (until very recently) of what life will be like when they all fly away. I'm thinking I need to savor our children when they're here, but also, dream and plan and look forward to those years in a realistic light.

I think I've written before regarding the comment my friend, Norma, made when we were conversing some months ago about how time seems to escalate as we get older. She said that she thinks it's not so much time speeding up as it is that our ability to process is getting slower. That gave me pause! I was downhearted about that for a short time and then I thought: this getting old thingy is part of The Plan! Since Adam and Eve, EVERYONE has aged. If it is part of The Great Design, then who am I to dread or question it?

(Okay, for all you Moral Government devotees, I acknowledge that it may not have been part of the original Eden Plan, but when A. & E. chowed on the fruit, aging became part of the deal...hmmmm...maybe aging is hard because the Original Intent/Purpose was for us to live obediently and stay young eternally???? Not to stir up a huge theological debate about the Government of God, but I just had to include those thoughts.)

Reminds me of my birthday...I LOVE my birthday
(321 shopping days left after today, people!!)
and I attempt to enjoy it as much as I can. I have never, until recently, had a clue why people did not milk their birthdays for all the fun, fellowship, cake, cash & prizes they could. Now that I am feeling my age a bit more, I'm seeing how many dread that yearly confirmation of "maturity".

I shocked a checker in a store recently by asking at what age they granted a senior discount (some stores around here give it as early as age 52.). (I'm 46.) The lady asked me why I'd want to know! I told her that if I am going to get old, I might as well look forward to the perks there are in aging!

Until the lately, I have thought of myself as looking MUCH younger than I actually am. In my twenties I hated my youthful appearance with a passion (talk about youth being wasted on the young!). I wanted to look like a mature woman, and I resented people looking upon me like a kid. Seems like I got carded FOREVER...into my 30's. If I got carded now, I'd probably kiss the cashier. I used to be quite critical of people 'getting work done' (botox & plastic surgery and such). I am still philosphically opposed to that kind of thing, but man, as I look in the mirror these days, I can sure see the rationale!!!

I wonder if part of the problem with us not knowing what to realistically expect when we age is that we don't choose to hang out with older people enough. Back in the Little House on the Prairie days, families often lived multi-generationally under one roof. Everyone experienced by first-hand-observation the whole 'circle of life', day-to-day...the joys, the pains.

Am I growing older? Of course. What might that include? Aches and pains? Will I be able to tell the weather forecast by how my joints are feeling? Will I have illness? Will I be less ambulatory? Will I lose brain power? Will I lose my independence through no longer being able to drive someday? Will I be alone? Amidst the losses (adjusting reading glasses...), I hope that I'll allow myself to grieve the things I lose and I hope that I will take the grace given me to be thankful for my wonderful youth and for my (God-willing) fabulous golden years! (And I hope I won't make my bodily functions the main topic of conversation....oh, wait...do I already do that?)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fits and Starts






I am noticing that blog entries tend to come in spurts. Seems like I have very little creative brain activity for a while and then suddenly the bug bites and the creative juices flow again.
I love those seasons of creativity. It is so fulfilling to make something from nothing...I don't care what medium. I love to take a dirt patch and fill it with life. (although my gardens have been terribly neglected this year....seems like the creativity in that area has run thin of late. I'm looking forward to 'putting them to bed for the winter' because everything looks spindly and scrawny.)
I love to choose fabric and sew it into something useful and/or beautiful. I so enjoy putting pen to paper and writing to a friend...or typing thoughts into cyberspace, producing a "published" work of my cogitations! Even rearranging the living room furniture gives me that great outlet for my imagination...even tho' the configurations are quite limited! Cooking and baking satisfying to me in more ways than one. Singing comes under this artistic heading...so fun!
Call me crazy, I am even looking forward to painting the outside of our house this fall (or maybe in the spring if I don't hurry up and beat the cold weather!) Can I call that creativity?T
The thing about these spurts of inspiration is that something gets left in the dust....like now, for instance, Mt. Washmore, (my laundry pile - it is really not a mountain right now...more like foothills...) is calling me. But I must ignore it if I am to finish these thoughts! When I am doing a sewing project, seems like the family dinners are relegated to grilled cheese or eggs. When I choose creativity, I say no to the mundane. Hmmmm. I'll be thinking more on this.
I am reminded of my brother, Lee. Okay, the guy is a genius. His brainpower never ceases to amaze me. He is always inventing or thinking of inventing. He is always studying about something - usually the subjects of his study are quite obscure and so very interesting! Seems like his 'creative radar' never switches off...he's always collecing things that he plans to make into other things. He is the master of using something unconventional to problem solve. An amazing man!
I wonder if this is universal...does everyone love to make something new? Is this one of the ways we can see the Image of our Creator stamped upon us? I do believe He specializes in newness and freshness and originality.
For me, that sweet satisfaction that comes from creating can be summed up in words from Genesis 1: 31 - it is very good.
"See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you." Isaiah 42:9
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. " Isaiah 43:18,19
P.S. The quilt in the pics above is one that Bree made for her sweet friend Kiley's graduation. ( I helped!) (Have I put these pics on this blog before? Can't remember...)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Riding to School with Elly

As we drove to school this morning, a little baby squirrel came to the edge of our street as if to try to cross in front of us.

I yelled, "Don't do it!"

Elly shouted, "Life's worth living!"

Then she yelled, "It doesn't have to end this way!"

Little squirrel backed up...crisis averted.

(We had a good chuckle after that...) =)
Elly cracks me up!




Monday, September 8, 2008

Bella the Smella & Easton the Beast ("Jooj")

This is Bella. She is 6. She eats underwear and then yaks it up. Nasty.
This is Beast sleeping with a toy in his mouth. He does this often. He uses toys almost like a baby uses a pacifier. He is soooo funny (except when he chews on Bree's sunglasses.)
"Beggar Beastie" He is a 2 y/o Boxer. (he says, "Got any crunchies?")
Joojy looking out the window at his friend and neighbor 'Sandy', the Labradoodle.
Bella in repose. She thinks she is the queen. (Maybe the queen of barf.)
Take a wild guess at who's the favorite? Anybody want a German Shorthaired Pointer?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Happy New Year?


If I had continued working at the preschool, today would have been my first day of work. Instead, I am at home, in my exercise clothes, ferrying children hither and yon, doing laundry, ironing, cooking. Now THIS is my dream job. Seriously! I know that I know that I belong here. It is a new season for me!

Don't get me wrong, I am going to miss working with the fabulous ladies that are there at school. They are a bunch of very wise, encouraging, godly women. They are the REAL DEAL. I learned a TON from them last year. It was a gift from Jesus to be there with them. They got me through a very, very tough year! I'll always be grateful for that.

(I'll miss the paycheck too. It wasn't a huge amount, but it helped!)

I've been reading a bit about Rosh Hashanah...I learned that there are several 'New Year' concepts in Judaism, Rosh Hashanah being only one of them. The Sabbath that falls during the 9 day period during Rosh Hashanah is called the Shabbat Shuvah: the Sabbath of Return.

I sure do like that. I'm so grateful that the Lord specializes in new beginnings!! And fall seems the right time for another new start: for some reflection, for repentance before God, for reconciliation before the Lord and before people, for counting blessings, for being thankful, for looking forward to all that the next season will bring. This year, Rosh Hashanah begins on September 29. I hope no one minds if I begin celebrating early.

1 Chronicles 16:34
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Lamentations 3:22-24
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."
Hosea 6:1-3
"Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.
Let us know the LORD; let us press on to know him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth."
John 17:3
Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bike Bug



Since last Wednesday when school began, Kristin and I have ridden our bikes to and from her school most of the days. Ackerman is about 1/2 mile from our house. About a mile beyond the school is a lake (Zorinsky) with trails around it. The lake is divided in to two parts...one is 4.2 miles around and the other is around 3. I decided to ride the big side of the lake last week after Kristin locked up her bike and went into the school. It was great!!


David expressed concern that if we were going to make a habit of riding to school, that I should get a helmet. Kristin and I both got new helmets last Saturday morning. We rode around part of the small side of the lake that day together. Kristin LOVED the adventure of being somewhere new. She ditched her training wheels just this last summer and is loving the two-wheeled freedom! I had to remind her many times to stay close to the right side of the trail as we tootled around the lake...she was a little annoyed by my reminders! She was so cute when she'd come up behind someone walking in the same direction as we...she'd call, "Passing on your left!". People got a big kick out of her, as did I.


This week, I decided I'd try riding both sides of the lake. I have done it twice now. I try to go as fast as I can without killing myself or someone else. I can tell that if I keep this up I am going to have to explore more of the Omaha biking trails. I was already bored, just doing the same route twice. I need to keep myself interested, as our fam has begun a renewed conflict: the battle of the bulge. (David and Dan have been walking almost nightly for about a month!...since we returned from our vacation.) I believe the main reason I have not kept up with being active in the past (besides laziness!) has been boredom.


Before I do much more riding, though, I NEED a better seat. The bike I have belonged to my wonderful father-in-law. He probably bought it about 15-20 years ago. He gave it to us about 8 years ago, I think. It is in great shape still, but that seat......ouch.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Difficult Farewell



Last Thursday I left w/the Cahills & our sweet friend, Ashley, for Sulphur Springs, Texas to celebrate the life of our friend, Larry Cameron. What a special time it was.
At the visitation, so many came to pay their respects. I counted 36 flower arrangements and plants. Sulphur Springs is not a big town, but Larry made a big impact for Jesus and it showed. The family had a container of Sharpie markers near Larry's black and orange Harley Davidson casket and asked each visitor to pen a short note. The casket was completely covered with notes thanking Larry for his friendship, for his example, for his care. At the funeral there was standing room only (and not much of that). The church was half filled with his friends from the Christian Motorcycle Association (C.M.A.) in their cool uniforms. Awesome! Following the very moving service, there was a procession of 76 bikes and at least a mile-long procession of cars as we made our way to the cemetery. Larry loved Nebraska football and each of the bikers flew Nebraska flags on their bikes (a BIG deal for these die-hard Longhorn fans). After a wonderful, horrible, precious, exhausting time, we arrived home Sunday night.

Last night was the memorial for Larry C. here in Omaha. Again, it was an incredible gathering of people who loved Larry. Many familiar faces were there. There was yet another contingent of the C.M.A. at the memorial. I know it must have been a comfort to the family and those very close to him to see all who attended. There were beautiful flowers and precious words from Pastor Ty, Larry's three brothers and his son, Jeremy.

I had the very special privilege of singing at both services. People often tell me that (if I outlast them...) they'd like me to sing at their funeral services. It is an honor to be asked. I am always humbled by it! If memory serves, Larry asked (told!) me one day while hanging out at the Cahill's house that he'd like me to sing at his funeral someday. After Larry's death, Jeff recalled that Larry had a specific song in mind: "How Beautiful" (Twila Paris).

Prior to this week, I don't believe I've sung that tune at a funeral or memorial service. I've done it MANY times at weddings, especially in the '90's. When I learned of this choice before we left for Texas, I was not sure that it was appropriate. Boy, was I wrong. Larry's was a life of service and sacrifice to Jesus lived out in his everyday life as he cared for his children, grandchildren, extended family and friends. He was an extension of the literal body of our Lord Jesus, giving his life away again and again for the glory of the Lord. I can't think of a more fitting song. See the lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/p/paris_twila/how_beautiful.html

Not to be too morbid, but as I looked around at the crowd last night, I saw many who have asked me to sing in their services. I had the thought that Larry's funeral and memorial are some of the toughest services I've sung at in a while...but they will not be the last (if the Lord allows), not by a longshot. I get this unbelievable opportunity to sing to folks whose hearts have been tenderized by great loss. I cannot even express how much that means to me. I don't know why I get this special privilege. I am thankful, though. I am so thankful to the Lord for it.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Grilled Pizza?







In the past we have tried grilling pizza with limited success. Tonight's creation was the best we've had. The recipe we used for the dough was stiffer than the ones we have attempted in the past. We have yet to figure out how to get the cheese to fully melt before the bottom of the crust gets too dark. We make individual pizzas for each person, made to order. Trying to grill bigger pieces of dough was just too difficult. What I like about cooking the pizza on the 'barbie' is the crispy crust and the intangible 'grill-ish' flavor. Tonight our toppings were: turkey pepperoni, pineapple tidbits, mushrooms, green pepper, black olive & mozzerella.






Here's how it is done:




  1. Concoct the dough and flatten into portions. (recipe follows)


  2. Heat the grill - we use a gas grill and heated it on the 1/4 power setting.


  3. Take sauce (I use our leftover spaghetti sauce - my mom's recipe), toppings, cheese, dough, & a dish of olive oil out to the grill.


  4. You'll need a long basting brush to apply the oil to the grill and to one side of the dough. You'll also need one or two long-handled spatulas for turning the dough.


  5. 'Baste' grill w/olive oil.


  6. Place first piece of dough on grill and brush dough lightly w/oil.


  7. Cook for 3-4 minutes w/lid down.


  8. Flip dough & add as quickly as possible the sauce (1-2 T.), toppings & cheese. Don't get too heavy on the toppings or they won't get warm.


  9. Close lid and grill another 3 minutes or so....check the underside of the dough to prevent burning. Reminder: the cheese may not be completely melted before the underside of your dough is getting dark!


  10. Enjoy with your favorite beverage!


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Grilled Pizza Dough (www.italianchef.com/grilledpizzadough.html )





  • 5 c. all-purpose flour


  • 1 T. sugar


  • 2 t. table salt or 3 1/2 t. kosher salt (I used kosher.)


  • 1 t. yeast


  • 1 1/2 t. olive oil


  • 1 3/4 c. warm water


I combined all ingredients in my kitchenaid stand mixer. (You can do this by hand too.) Mix 'till combined with mixer beater. Change to dough hook and knead in mixer for 4 minutes. Let dough rest 15 minutes. Knead w/dough hook 4 more minutes. Divide into 6-10 portions. (For instructions on storing this dough in the freezer, go the the website above.) Flatten by hand or with rolling pin in to individual portions. Separate w/waxed paper. (Do not stack them more than 4-5 high or the bottom ones will adhere to the waxed paper and not look as pretty when you grill them!)

Trusting the Character of the Lord


We were shocked to learn of the passing of our friend, Larry Cameron this last weekend. He died in a traffic accident in rural Oklahoma as he was making his way from his home in the little Texas town of Sulphur Springs to his 30th class reunion at Burke High School here in Omaha. From what I understand, the accident was such that he most likely never knew what hit him....reminds me of 2 Corinthians 5:6-9 which tells us that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I picture Larry on his Harley, waiting in line at the toll booth outside of Antlers, Oklahoma, listening to some tunes on his iPod one minute and then the next minute talking to the Lord and saying, "How did I get here?" Larry leaves behind four heartbroken children a bunch of grandchildren, his long-time sweetheart, Cindi, and a large extended family as well as many devoted friends. He was 47 years old.


When I think of our family's encounters with Larry, I am amazed at and grateful for the Lord's obvious prescence in him....Larry knew how to care for people: the ones he was close to and the ones he met along the way. He was kind and thoughtful. He had an innate way of making you feel comfortable. Adults and kids alike were drawn to him.
I remember being at Diane and Jeff's once a couple of years ago...I answered the phone and it was Larry, calling from Texas to talk to Jeff. I think we chatted for 15 minutes about how he cared so much for his kids and about parenting. He was always friendly and always had time to show it.


As I process Larry's passing it is easy to feel overwhelmed. I cannot help but ask 'Why, Lord?". A man whose life has SUCH an impact for the Kingdom should not be cut short, should it? Then I recall this verse, "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." (Jn. 12:24 NIV) and I think about Larry's brother, Ron, speaking at his class reunion last Saturday night, telling his classmates what Larry would want to say if he could speak from heaven...That so many would hear God's word that never returns void...WOW.


Another thought: how do I grieve and not sin? I am so tempted to be angry at the driver who hit him...but then I realize that I do not know that driver's situation. He was an older man. Perhaps he had a sudden health issue that caused the accident...I do not know.


Why does the Lord allow crazy stuff like this? I guess we will never fully understand here on earth. These are the times where I have to hold on with both hands to Who I know He is...I have to trust His Character and obey His commands to be thankful for all things (Eph. 5:20) and thankful in all things (I Thes. 5:18). This helps me to recall that He holds me, my family and my friends in His Everlasting Arms (Deut. 33:27) and that He will never leave or forsake us. (Josh. 1:5)
John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."


Saturday, August 2, 2008

End-of-summer-vacation-creativity


School starts on the 13th for us this year (yes, the 13th of August). Seems like we are starting earlier and earlier. I am feeling that end-of-summer-urgency to have fun with our kids! Since we do not have piles of cash lying around, we are trying to think of jolly things to do together close to home!


We had a day of tie-dying last week. MAN, did we have fun. We bought a couple of white shirts and bandanas from Walmart, some dye and rubber bands from Hobby Lobby. The night before we dyed, I looked for diy instructions on youtube. I found LOTS of helpful videos and some interesting history. We used our rubber bands to 'tie' our shirts We boiled water (incidentally, we did this on one of the hottest days. Next time we tie-dye, which we hope will be soon, we will wait for a cool fall or winter day!), added the dye. We had three colors: pink, red, blue. We dyed for a few hours. It was a BLAST. We dyed old nasty night shirts, socks, towels, even undies! We were scouring the house for whites to dye. My mom dyed a red shirt on which she had accidentally spilled bleach...she dyed it blue and it turned out so cool. We learned how to make a plaid pattern. We learned how to make circles within circles. We even figured out how to make hearts. We WILL be dying again soon. (Our camera is near death, so I cannot post any of our own pics right now...)


Our other project that we did today and also a couple of days ago: homemade silly putty and homemade flubbery blubber. Here are the recipes:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SILLY PUTTY:

3 T. white glue

4 T. liquid starch

food coloring (optional) (red will stain your hands!)

Mix together and then knead and knead and knead. Store in an airtight container.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
FLUBBERY BLUBBER

Stir in bowl #1:


  • 2 T. warm water

  • 3 t. white glue

  • food coloring (optional)

Mix in bowl #2:



  • 2 T. warm water

  • scant 1/2 t. Borax (found in the laundry section @ the grocery)

Add Bowl #1's contents to Bowl #2. Mix until solution becomes rubbery and forms a ball. Knead until smooth. Drain any excess water. Store in airtight container.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


These are similar, but the blubber is more stiff...we think the Silly Putty is more fun! Now I am on the hunt for more out-of-the-ordinary, inexpensive projects for this next week!


Thursday, July 31, 2008

This is not a drill...


A phone call from my dear friend Sarah L. tonight has prompted some thoughts...we were talking about struggles that we have and how when we FINALLY get ready to wheel and deal with the Lord with specific things, how it is just SO difficult to let go. We talked about how we are in a war and when we are close to breakthrough how it seems the enemy of our souls 'steps it up'. When he realizes that his plans to steal from us, to kill whatever is good in our lives, to destroy us are not going to work, he has a hissy-fit. Sometimes it feels like every thing is breaking loose and our struggle is for nothing. Sometimes it feels like we are alone in our battle.


How wonderful to be part of the Body of Christ...how important it is to NOT live by that feeling, to choose to see the Truth that we are not alone. To see the Truth that we are well-cared-for (especially when we humble ourselves and admit to our bros and sisters that we are needy!) How cool is it to admit to those we trust that we are struggling and receive grace from Jesus in our skirmishes.


When Sarah and I were finishing our freshman year in high school (we met in 8th grade...1975!), we went to Youth Camp at Tahquitz Pines in Idyllwild, CA. Tony Salerno was the speaker. That was the summer I got serious about knowing Jesus. Anyway, one night Tony taught on 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV):


"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."


He pointed out that usually lions hunt by stealth. Only the old, toothless, lame lion hunts by roaring, hoping to cause such a fright by his roaring that his prey freezes and allows itself to be literally scared to death. When we have Jesus, the Mighty Warrior, within we have nothing to fear from the enemy. I remember Pastor Tony saying that when Jesus is Lord, the devil is just a mouse with a megaphone!

I am convinced that Jesus' desire for us is that we allow Him to be Lord in every area as He directs...that as we give over more and more of ourselves to Him, that He breaks down the strongholds of sin that we have built around ourselves. My goal is to let Him continue breaking strongholds in my life until HE IS MY ONLY STRONGHOLD. Psalm 27:1b


The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?


We are in a WAR, people! This is not a rehearsal!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

WARNING....WARNING....!




I am in BIG trouble...I just found a TON of foodie blogs. Oh, the bliss of reading about people's food adventures and foibles and experiments and successes! We have talked a lot in our family lately about limiting 'screen time' (any tv, computer, video game time)...I think I am going to need to heed my own preaching!




I have often said that if I could afford a housekeeper and just cook and bake all the time, I would! And I'd probably weigh quite a bit more...Well, if I could afford a housekeeper then I probably could afford a personal trainer too! =)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pete and Molly

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These are two of Bone's (my sister's) doggies. Petey is the big whitey and Molly is the little blackie. (Molly is now full grown.) I post this because this activity is what I did most of yesterday...

A Bug or Post-"Vay-cay"-Malaise?

Oi. I cannot seem to get going here since we returned home on Monday! Yesterday I truly felt drugged...like I had taken a mega-dose of Benedryl or something! I took three naps and then proceed to go to sleep at 9:30 pm, sleeping (except for the brief awakening by our neighbors, the "McParties", in the middle of the night) until 7:43 am! Ridiculous. No one but dogs and newborns sleep this much.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Farewell, Nags Head


We will miss you!!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The best day ever!

We are all sunburnt from yesterday's greatly enjoyable day on the shore and didn't want to spend time in the sun today. We lazed around a bit, shopped at some very fun artsy-craftsy shops on the strip, had a DELICIOUS dinner at "The Dunes" restaurant (I had crab, shrimp & scallops that did not need to be shipped 1500 miles before I consumed them...yum.) and THEN we headed out to the beach around 6:45 pm.

Earlier in the day there had been 'No Swimming' signs because of rip-tides. We were thankful the signage was gone. Don't worry, Grandma, we did not go in very deep. We had A BLAST body surfing & boogie boarding. Kristin (7)and Alison (5 1/2) sat on opposite sides of a large inner tube at the edge of the water and the waves gave them rides in and out of the shore. Diane got some good video of it that I cannot wait to see! They had some cool wipe-outs. Kristin caught some great waves boogie boarding too. The big kiddos were out in the water the WHOLE time, tumbling and swimming and yelling and cavorting. It was great fun watching them and then joining in the craziness.

When we'd been out there for an hour or so, the moon started coming up...Huge, orange and unbelievably gorgeous. We joked that we'd forgotten to put on our moonblock! Beautiful seems like such a lame word to describe it. It was breathtaking. (my camera was out of batteries...)

We came home and showered and ate peanutbutter pie (I'll post the recipe later...) and are now all readying to fall into beddy-bye. We had so much fun tonight that we are all going to try to pack our things tomorrow morning and get our beach house cleaned up quickly so that we can do some more shopping and then go down to the beach again tomorrow night. We are motivated! Only one more day in paradise! We head homeward on Saturday, hopefully arriving in Omaha on Monday evening.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Beach Shots 2



Dan: "I dare you to cross this line in the sand..."






Melancholy niece Alison.

Beach Shots 1

Elly rejoicing in her surroundings!

Kristin & Bree searching for shells...

David on the hunt for ghost crabs.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I almost missed it...










Since we have been on the road my skin has gotten REALLY bad...before we left, I knew I should have gone into the doc to get my quarterly dosage of steroids to keep my silly issues under control, but I kept hoping I could handle it myself with the topical meds I have. Last night I got really bad...or maybe I just realized that I was really bad. Sometimes I don't really let myself grasp that I am spiralling down until I am feeling desperate for help. Anyway, I decided that I needed to try to call my doc today and see if he would call me in a prescription. He is not one to give out meds willy-nilly (which I am thankful for...), so I didn't know if he would. I decided that if he wouldn't/couldn't I'd get online, find a preferred provider in the OBX area and try to get seen by someone here.

Well, may the Lord bless him, Dr. Greg consented to call CVS and I started taking the meds @ about 1 pm. It usually takes two doses for me to start feeling a bit better. Tonight I just took my third one and whew, what wonderful relief.

When I have a severe outbreak like this I look somewhat like some burn victims might look when they are healing: kind of vivid reddish-purple blotches that cover most of my face and usually only some of my neck. I get very self-conscious. People stare. I don't think most people mean to do it. Sometimes when people look 'different', you just can't help it. Sometimes, not too often, people comment..."what happened to you?" "isn't there anything you can do for that?" SO embarassing. Today when we went shopping (I did not want to go, but sometimes it is good to just press through and DO IT.), I wore my big floppy hat and sunglasses most of the time, even inside the stores. It is just easier knowing people cannot see my eyes...why is that, I wonder? Maybe I think that if they don't see that I know they are staring it is less difficult...if that makes any sense....

ANYWAY, after supper Jeff (bro-in-law: Diane's hubby) suggested we all go 'Ghost crabbing' on the beach at dusk. (more facinating info:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_crab ) I thought it was going to be like a 'snipe-hunt'....looking for something that does not exist or something we would never really find.

I was exhausted and at first said I would stay behind and go to bed early. Then I decided to go for a short time (I hate to miss a party!)...I was planning to walk with everyone to the beach and then take the short cut home by myself and still have the chance to turn in early. Thankfully, I changed my mind.

Good thing I did because we ended up finding about 25 or 30 crabs! You all who have hunted these little guys know...they are so well-camouflaged that when you see them running on the sand, you wonder if you are really seeing something or if it is your mind telling you that you are seeing something! They are FAST! And fun to catch. The kiddos were running everywhere (10 out of the 11 kiddos came with us, ages 18 down to 4 y/o!) and catching crabs ("I got one!") ("Gotcha!") ("Come back here, you little...!") and depositing them in a cooler we brought (that I thought we toted along just for show!). It was such a great time. Most of the crabs were an inch or two big, but some were 4 or 5"! The sun was setting and the clouds were glorious. We saw a double rainbow from our front deck as we left the house and then another rainbow on the beach just before the sun went to bed.

I had a solitary minute on the beach as everyone was running and exclaiming and rolling in the sand and capturing the unsuspecting little crustaceans! As I was alone, I thanked the Lord for a great time, for the beauty of this place and for our family being together. I felt as if He whispered to my heart, "Aren't you glad you came? I helped you through. I AM here. I AM with you." I wept. I was reminded of other special times at dusk on the beach (Beach Camp with First Family Church youth group at San Onofre, 3-Arch Bay adventures in high school with my dear friend Jerbi, Laguna Beach in 1986 when David proposed...) I wept some more.

It was pretty dark when we headed for home (probably a 10 minute walk). We did let the crabs go before we left! Elly even took a short video of their exodus to the sea! =) (Posted below!)


We arrived home and were looking at the many photos we took of our Ghost crab excursion and Elly asked me how I was feeling. I told her that I'm much better and asked her if I looked any better (mirrors are not my friends when I get like this!). Jordan, our 11/y/o nephew, was listening and asked what we were talking about..he went on to say that he doesn't even notice my trouble much. That made me cry AGAIN.

I was reminded that David and others that love me (Dawn, Mom, Diane, and others) have told me that they hardly notice...and I was again undone by the fact that I really am loved for who I am and not what I look like. I need that reminder because I so easily buy into our society's appearance orientation (It is SUCH a Babylon mentality!). Looking good sometimes seems like it is SO important and because of my health it is not always possible to look good (from the world's standards). I was crying and all the kids were saying, "What's wrong with Auntie?" Lisa gave me a big, LONG hug and I bawled some more! I assured them that the tears were happy ones. My wonderful m-i-l, Karen, said that she rarely notices my skin troubles and reminded me that "man looks upon the outward appearance, but God looks upon the heart". She told me that I have a beautiful heart. I think I'll 'take that to the bank'. I end this amazing day with a full and thankful heart. Life is so hard, but our God is SO good.


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