Nothing to Say, But Can't Shut Up - haha! That's what I thought I should call my blog! What I write here might not mean a thing to you and I'm pretty o.k. with that. However, I have an active mind and like to sort things out out loud, so to speak. I also like to have deep conversations so feel free to jump in and comment. I'm glad you showed up and took the time to read. Welcome!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Singing in Church

Wow - there is just really so much I can say about this - good and bad. One of the first thoughts I have on the subject is the time a pastor said (only 1/2 joking) that he was pretty sure when Satan fell he fell in the choir loft. I knew just what he meant. Singing can be such a pride trap. It's often self-serving and individuals, yours truly included, get caught up in the performance and leave true worship behind. Often I can spot right away the ones who are there for themselves, probably because it's familiar to me, and I have very little patience for them. Some times I'm just plain old fooled into thinking someone is the real deal only to discover they're not.

I remember my first solo. I was 16 years old at Ardmore Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC. We'd just come back from a retreat and the Youth were asked to lead the service. Someone asked me to sing the first few lines of "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" and the rest of the church would join in. Trust me - I had no self-serving goals here - I just didn't want to ruin the service for everyone. I made it through but still clearly recall the nerves.

But somewhere along the way, I got derailed. After having enough people tell you you're good at something, you buy into it. We were in a church that was televised and I started having strangers greet me and tell me they'd seen me sing one thing or another and like it. Wow, it felt good. Because t.v. was involved I began to care (a lot) about what I wore on solo Sundays and if my nails were done cause you know, the camera would zoom in and that really mattered. (ahem) And then it was about the dress and the hair and the makeup... and choosing just the right song...to show off my voice.

Now hear this loud and clear. I don't think there's a thing wrong with looking your best for church and/or t.v.  There's nothing wrong with nice nails, dresses and makeup. However comma there's a lot wrong with doing it all for the wrong reasons, trying to impress people and forgetting why you're really there. I thought singing was my spiritual gift and that it was my great ministry donation to the church. MANY MANY singing types believe this even if they don't admit to it. And that's when things start to go wrong.

I wish I could tell you exactly when God got a good hold of me and turned this around. I remember accepting a leadership role for a women's retreat and saying yes to leading their music (oh, so proud!) without ever praying about it and having to go back and retract my "yes" knowing God had not led that decision. That was plenty humbling. But really, I suppose it became quite clear when I finally studied what the Scriptures say about spiritual gifts and realized that singing in the choir wasn't on the list. hmmm. What now?

I studied the Word and it became clear to me that the Holy Spirit had gifted me with exhortation and teaching. SO ... I now had a new understanding of my role in church and it wasn't singing per se, although there's nothing wrong with singing either. Are you getting my drift? I, like you, had ministry responsibility that involved using those gifts in my weak, flawed self and letting the Holy Spirit work through me. I began studying the Word more and teaching Bible Study (after some time learning to study) and encouraging people to step up to the line and walk according to the Word. And... when I was asked to sing, I sought songs that did the same thing. Songs that were based soundly on the Scriptures and encouraged me in my walk. And ... when I sang I was humbled by the request and sought to help us as a church fix our eyes on Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Each time it became less about me and more about God ... in MY heart. And I believe that has made me a better singer.

I've seen great vocalists who weren't that worshipful - even though they did all the right moves. I've also seen marginal vocalists who were incredibly worshipful even though they did nothing noteworthy but humble themselves. BUT, I've also seen fanTAStic singers, with great hair, nails and makeup who were totally humbled before Christ and not full of themselves at all.

This singing in church thing is a tricky deal and we who sing must be aware. We can get caught up in the flattery of it all and lose the worship just. like. that. Pray for me, for I love to share the music God lays on my heart. Sometimes the Lord pours out an extra blessing on me and brings my voice up a notch (or several). I pray that I always remember how hard I have to work to sing good notes (No, it's not easy for me. I tend to sing flat and push too hard.). I pray that I always seek to glorify God and lead people to look at Jesus not me. AND I sincerely pray, that if it becomes about me, God will remove me from that ministry. It's not worth it. Worship is not music alone. Some of my most meaningful worship happens in a silent room with no one but me around.

Today, I had the privilege of singing at my new church home for the first time. I started falling into some old traps because I want everyone to like me yada yada yada. I yielded that to the Lord in prayer, but had another problem. My body was flat worn out and I'd chosen a flashy HIGH song to sing. Fearing a great humiliating "performance" I planned on the way to church to change songs to something less demanding. My voice was just too tired to do the work required. I went into rehearsal and offered the first song (because it was relevant to our study in Revelation) knowing I'd probably have to change songs. However, the moment I began to sing, I knew that the Lord's blessing was on it and I'd have the high notes when I needed them (it wasn't that way in the car, trust me). I KNEW I didn't have this in my own ability, but God provided in a big way. I got such a personal blessing seeing afresh that He can do things we can't imagine. If you're not a believer this might not make much sense to you. I just believe He wanted us to be reminded of His great majesty which is what the song is about and decided it was worth it to Him to help me along. I know I do not sing like that on my own. What a blessing! No temptation to get the big head when you know your limits. Thank You Jesus.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Next Step

What makes you happy? What makes you secure? How do you handle your life? How do you keep yourself productive? 

For me - it's having a plan. Sure, plans are filled with all kinds of false security, but oh the (false) confidence of having one. My online buddies and I sit around on the computer and plan out our days all the time. We talk about where we're going, what we'll do when we get there, how we'll get there, and what we'll eat along the way. We talk about long-term and short-term plans and the impact of the unforeseen on our carefully laid plans. I like a plan. A to-do list. Goals.

Suddenly, and you might have picked up on this, I find myself unable to make any long-term plans. Our life is in this odd-feeling limbo land. And though, none of us really knows what tomorrow holds, I'm now more acutely aware of that fact than ever before.

So, what am I doing? I'm taking the next step. When something comes my way, I'm stepping out and saying, "Yes" unless there's a good reason not to. I have no idea where my path is leading or when I'll get "there" (whatever that means), but I'm finding a bit of freedom in letting go of the plan. I don't even know my work schedule until a week before.

Here's what I do know, based on the authority of the word of God:

God knows my next step and where I'm going. Just like a difficult hike or river trip often needs a guide, I need a guide for my life. I don't have to know the details if my guide is trustworthy. I just take the next step.
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future." Jeremiah 29:11

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5,6

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Where I Live . . .

Some of you have been here, some of you have heard about it and some of you have no clue. If you're not from the South, it might be hard to put it all together and fully appreciate it; I don't know. All I know is, it's where we live and how things are.

I live smack-dab (that's the way we say it here) on the Georgia/Alabama state line. Those of us on this side of the line nearly always give thanks for that great blessing. I don't know how the folks on the other side feel about it, except one of my family members who lives smack DAB on the other side, in view of my house, and gets tired of us giving so much thanks for living in Georgia. I watch the sun set in Alabama (from the Georgia side) every night and it's quite beautiful, so maybe Alabama has some blessings too. I don't know for sure, but maybe. ; )

Anyway, they call the place where we live "The Backwaters". Sometimes it's called "The River" (pronounced "Thuh Rivah") and sometimes it's called "The Lake". Everyone pretty much knows what you mean when you say it. It's a lake ON a river - created with a dam.

The Cabin
We call the home we live in "The Cabin". It's not a cabin; it's a house. We call it the cabin because it used to be a cabin before we tore that down and built the house and truth be told, it wasn't really a cabin then, it was more like a shack, but not trashy, just very humble. We loved it. LOVED it. Spent nearly every vacation there. Had all our big family gatherings there. Taught our kids to love it. Loved it so much that when we built the new house, we kept the term "cabin" because it's so special to us and brings up all the wonderful memories that go with it.

Up on the main road, before you hit all the back roads, coming from town there's a little establishment that sells necessities you might not want to drive 25 minutes into town to pick up. Ice, beer, soft drinks, bacon, butter, bread, gas - it's called "The Store". Once upon a time "The Store" used to be across the street, but then they moved. Next door to "The Store" a little business opened up that sold hammers and nails and pine straw and plumbing parts. It was called "The Hardware Store".  It sold recently and they sell trailer hitches now. I don't what they're calling it these days. We have a little shopping center with a homecooking restaurant, a bar and a few other things that go in and out of business and that's about it anywhere near us.

Our kids on a vacation at The Cabin
When you exit the interstate from the north side to head to the backwaters, rivah, lake there's a 4-way stop and there at the 4-way stop is a cinder block building painted top to bottom with, frankly speaking, the most awful mural I've every seen. It's the woods and deer and such all over it. There's a dirt parking lot of sorts and that's it, except for the little yard sheds out back. This establishment is called "Hunter's Pub" and for years (and YEARS) when we arrived in town for our vacation and drove past this awful looking place, my dear and darling would say "We oughta give that place a try sometime." Every time I'd cast my eyes sideways, scrunch up my face and say something like (I can't remember exactly how it went...) "Are you out of your ever-loving mind? I am NOT going in there. We have no business in a place like that! I can't believe you'd even suggest taking me in THERE." Something like that, I'm not really sure. Every year, for YEARS.

Finally the day came when the darling little cabin became ours and we tore it down and built the new cabin which is a house called a cabin. Some time during the building process our builder suggested we should all go get a steak some time at that place by the interstate. My husband's eyes got a little bright and I bit my lip or something. "Really?"  asks dear and darling. "Huh." I say. "Oh yeah. Just not on a Friday or Saturday, cause you'll never get in." "Interesting" we both say, but in different tones I'm pretty sure.

A good stretch by Two Tree Island
Needless to say,  we gave it a try and have been back numerous times since, most recently last night. At Hunter's Pub you can get the best ribeye you ever tasted, grilled mahi mahi topped w/ a huge crab cake that actually has crab in it and that's about all that's in it, fried lobster tail that will make you want to slap your mama, garlic mashed potatoes, sauteed spinach and killer sweet potato fries. And though the place might be filled with hunters, you'd never know it for sure, cause they're all sporting polo shirts and khakis. While there, you'll notice that the inside decor isn't much better than the outside and you might be surprised to find that the potty walls are camouflaged. There's some trophy bass on the walls, pine sprigs, and even a little lace as I recall. While dining you might realize that it's just an old gas station re-done for dinner and while you're there Jeff Foxworthy and his own personal estrogen ocean might walk in. 

And I guess that sums it up. . . I live on the backwaters and though we might not impress you, we like who we are and HOW we are. And we know good food. Don't mistake our humble demeanor for lack of smarts, taste or money 'cause, honey, we got a little bit of everything up where I live.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Feeling the Love

In the year 1999, I found myself  living in a new state again, getting acclimated, trying to sort out our new normal. Over the course of a summer and with some valuable input from ladies God placed in my path, I, with my husband's help,  decided to embark on the adventure we call "homeschooling". You might guess that this was no small undertaking. 

While it was a big challenge and an even bigger commitment (or maybe that should be reversed!), my children were all pretty happy with the decision. At the time, I had a 7th grader, 4th grader and a 2nd grader. That little 2nd grader barely looked up from the dinner table after our grand announcement and said, "Good. Now my teacher won't keep telling me to slow down, I'm working too fast." You know, I didn't even know that was going on. (and it wasn't because she was making mistakes.) 

I clearly remember the excitement, fear, and all-out joy over choosing our new school books. Oh! And the fun of getting those boxes loaded with OUR books! However, and you might have experienced this, it wasn't all rosy. In fact, at times it was awful. Not as awful as keeping up w/ 7 - 8 different teachers and their after-school plans for my family, but awful nonetheless. Please note: MOSTLY it was wonderful. Mostly.

I distinctly remember having goals for that year. One child needed to be released from the pressure of perfect grades and the sense that a "B" was failure. One child needed to be free to explore the fun of learning and see all that was out there. And then one needed to be shown that he wasn't dumb (by anyone's standards!) and discover how very smart he is. They all needed to know how much was out there for them and that it was all accessible. 

Our first day of homeschooling! Taylor, Mike, Rachel
Back to awful. Each child, and this won't surprise you a bit if you've raised or taught more than one child, experienced school in totally different ways. TOTALLY. Even so, there was one with whom I tended to go round and round. On the aforementioned "awful days" I struggled to keep learning fun. I feared losing him academically and that was before I brought him home. I certainly didn't want to finish him off and cut off his potential or convince him that learning was some dreaded task. I  wanted him to thrive, no  flourish. But on an awful day, which may or may not have had a thing to do with the kids or homeschooling, but could've had more to do with me and my own issues, on that kind of day, at least once, I dropped the math book in his lap and harshly said, "FINE! Teach yourself math!" Son, right here and now I apologize. I was wrong.

However, all 3 of those same children are now full-grown adults. 1 is married and 2 are in college. Today was the first day of classes. My precious child, now 21 years old, a junior in college on a full academic scholarship, called home. He chatted about 15 minutes. I listened. He told me about driving issues, parking issues & cute girl issues. He told me about his schedule, his book buying and how badly his truck was running. He told me about his professors and who was in his classes that he knew.  Basically, he just called to tell me all about his first day of class. My heart is full. SO FULL!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Biking in August (more random thoughts)

Oh, Gosh! As many of you know I procrastinated big time today. Fact is, I've been procrastinating off and on for about 2 months - but today, in spite of great determination, I found myself glued to the t.v., laptop on, well.. my lap!, still sipping coffee, whining about my need to exercise. I commented on it to myself. I said it out loud to my husband. I status-ed it on Facebook. I went upstairs and did a little yoga. I pitched the ball around for my doggie. I drank water. I had a snack. I dressed for a bike ride. All suited up, I got on said bike only to remember that my tire was wicky wacky and had to come back down the hill for some help from you know who. FINALLY at 11:24, no less, in Georgia, in August!, I hit the road for my bike ride. And I'm here to tell you it was hard from the get-go. 

As always, I had a list of thoughts flitting through my mind. Truth is, I really can't think beyond a simple sentence or two when huffing and puffing that much. So, here are todays random thoughts:

  1. stOOpid procrastinating!
  2. 11:24 is ridiculously late to be heading out in August.
  3. I want things that can only be gained through this kind of effort.
  4. I'll be glad I did this (yeah, right!).
  5. The shade feels good.
  6. I don't think I'll make it 2 miles the way I feel.
  7. My legs are really killing me.
  8. My water didn't stay cold very long!
  9. I wish I had 2 water bottles.
  10. It's GOT to be hotter than 85 degrees!
  11. Oh yeah, that was the temp 2 hours ago. *sigh*
  12. Peddling down the ridge is like paddling on a big wave - just keeping my rhythm.
  13. Even the downhills aren't that refreshing.
  14. I used to be afraid of this kind of speed.
  15. Don't suppress success by underestimating your accomplishments.
  16. I'm having to stop and breathe/drink more than usual.
  17. I'm going further before I turn around. Furtherest turnaround so far!
  18. Even though the gear didn't shift properly I made the hill!
  19. I feel kind of sick.
  20. Calling for a ride home isn't the worst thing in the world.
It wasn't my best ride - for sure. However, I think I gained more from this one than others in the past. I pushed myself harder than ever. I found all kinds of successes and I found the point where I needed to swallow my pride and ask for some help. These are all valuable lessons. I sure am glad I'm home!

Oh! and I remember thinking: I hope the eagles and vultures don't figure out how wiped out I am! (I made it about 9 miles by the way. )

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Random Thoughts from My Bike Ride

I've put off hard core exercise for a few weeks now. I had some good reasons to begin with but before long it just turned into something I dreaded. So - with a little motivation from my nephew, Patrick, I decided this was the day to GO! It's a cloudy day, so it finally seemed like the time to get on my trusty, non-fancy, given-to-me, LL Bean bike and see how far I could make it after goofing off for a few weeks. I hoped for 4 or 5 decent miles. I made it about 9. SWEET! As I rode, some of the following came to mind:

  1. I can't hear the deer scooting through the woods from my cushy chair in the air conditioning.
  2. A little tiny lizard will move really fast to get out of my way.
  3. Sometimes a little breather will give you just enough umph to press on.
  4. Sucking in the gut (or core, to be trendy) helps.
  5. I hate the water bottle I took along.
  6. Better to walk a hill (or crawl up a mountain) than stand in the valley and never see the view.
  7. I LIKE biking!
  8. The downhills here are heavenly.
  9. The uphills here ... make the downhills heavenly.
  10. I wish Patrick and come over and gone with me.
  11. I should've called Patrick!
  12. I ride over a ridge on my "little" bike ride.
  14. At the end of my ride I was finishing hills in gears that I used to reserve for downhill only. : D
  15. I can't believe I put this off so long!
  16. I can't wait to jump in that lake even if the water is hot!

Monday, August 1, 2011

1st Born Gets Married

It's been 9 days. Nine days since my first-born married his true love.  Never really saw this far forward.

I was almost 26 when this child came into my life. Like other moms - birth and adoptive, I clearly remember the day I became a mom. I remember the waiting, the longing, the being ready for the next phase of my life. I was made to be a mother. I craved it in my very being. I'm so thankful God allowed it for I know that not all those who crave receive.

I had been to the hospital twice in false labor that week. About midnight on Feb 26th, I got up from bed to head to the bathroom when my water broke. I woke my husband to tell him, "It's time" only to hear, "Why don't you go on to the hospital [we were only a block away] and call if it's the real deal?". Oh my! The joys of a pilot on early week. WE went to the hospital and the next day I received a bundle in my arms that changed my life. I named him Andrew Michael. He was 9lbs 4oz and so very easy in every way.

Throughout his life, we've marveled at his easy going demeanor. He's a peaceful sort. He's so very smart and good looking, too. He loves Jesus. He loves his family. He loves steaks, ribs, and salmon. He hates most nuts. He's a great water-skier. He's good at noticing little details the rest of us miss.

And now.. he's married. He's joined himself to a beautiful young woman named Kelsi. They only have eyes for each other. I think each of them makes the other feel incredibly special and they each act as if they don't deserve the other one.

The wedding day was awesome. They chose to have a quiet, family-only type of wedding. We went to Tybee Island GA and were blessed with a breeze. Their ceremony clearly recognized Jesus Christ as Lord and focused on His love for His bride the church. They chose a vow to maintain a Christ-centered home. They didn't even notice the rest of us there. Afterwards, my daughter noted, "This is the way a wedding should be." I agree.

I feel no loss. Only joy. Joy at the enlargement of our family. Joy for my son having more family to support and love him. Joy for the years to come. Joy for my hope of grandchildren should God bless in that way. Joy for raising a child that chose such a spiritually beautiful woman. Joy for the hope of a forever-lasting marriage that would bring them the kind of joy my marriage brings me.

I pray God's bountiful blessing upon these two young people. May they live out Ephesians 5 and may God be glorified in their lives.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

In the Valleys

It won't be news to you that we all have valleys that we must walk through. I'm sure you've had yours and I've certainly had mine. I've been contemplating this bit of reality for some time - months actually - turning it over in my mind, praying over it and reading about what others think of it. I am still forming my thoughts and opinions but feel ready to talk to you all about my findings so far...

My real examination of this topic began with reading 
1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp (one of the best reads of my life). The book centers around the word and action: eucharisteo - basically the giving of thanks. The author begins to pursue greater joy by recording 1000 things for which she's thankful. She considers the small things of life - curtains blowing in a breeze - a bubble from the sink . . . and learns to have a greater joy in the Lord by this simple act: eucharisteo. She also experiences greater intimacy.

Oh how she challenged me! When I began the book I was beginning my own walk through a valley. Sometimes I felt so fearful and other times so sad. I kept looking up, but saw no end to this lonely place. It wasn't all doom and gloom to be sure, but some days it felt that way. I'm speaking as though it's all behind me, but it isn't. Some days I'm still aware that I'm in the valley. However, in a parallel to the book, God began speaking to me. He reminded me that we are to give thanks in all things - ALL - and by prayer and supplication, with THANKSGIVING, make our requests known to God. (Phil 4) And do you know what the Bible says happens next, the result of our thanksgiving? It says that we gain the peace that passes all understanding.

Now I don't know about you, but when I am in a valley, one of the things that really gnaws at me is fear - fear that this thing won't end, fear that something worse is going to get me. 

Side story: When we lived in Germany, we lived in a valley. I could leave my little village by a road at the back of it and walk right into the woods and right through that valley. It was peaceful and quiet, with meadows and a stream, sheep, donkeys, falcons on the hunt, blackberries to pick - beautiful. However, there were wood all around and here and there the path ran through a thicket that was dark with trees towering over me. The first few times I walked through there, I was plain old skeered. I didn't know what lurked in there and I turned around and went home, heart beating faster. NOW - each time I walked that path, I got a little braver and went further. Finally, I walked all the way through the thicket and truth be told, there was so much more to enjoy on the other side. It was better than just turning around and missing it. 

You can probably see where this is headed. Valleys are intense and can be dark. They can be long. But, if we stop and look around, there is beauty there. This is what I'm learning. There's more, but this is it's own teaching. When things were looking dark and dreary and I felt afraid, I began to hear God's voice reminding me to give thanks, then I'd sit and read 1000 Gifts and see it in action before my very eyes and I started practicing it myself. "Lord, thank you for this beautiful lake view, sunset, my husband, having my kids home, time to think, ..." Over and over, God corrected my negative thinking with something to be thankful for in the midst of my valley. 

Let's go back to Germany for a moment. Every now and then I'd decide I was bored in my valley. I'd think about hiking to one of the higher points around me. There was a windmill up on one of the points and farm fields. It looked enticing. I'd find a path and start the walk. Do you know that's when it got hard? Walking in the valley was a breeze, flat and easy, piece of cake. Walking up the mountain, not so much. I was really in the woods, couldn't see much, just had to put one foot in front of the other. Not only that, it was exhausting. The climb was hard. The path wasn't well traveled (unlike the valley path) and it was fairly dark. But do you know why I did it? To get to the top. To have the view. To get the big honkin' blackberries. Totally worth the trip.

This moment, as I write, I'm asking myself a question: Am I in a valley or on my way to a mountaintop? All I can say is, "wow". Wow.

Here are some things I've come across in the past few months that might be valuable in your own walk. They've certainly been valuable to me. 
  1. Our hard times are not God punishing us for sin. The payment for sin is death. (Could be consequences or discipline, but it's not punishment)
  2. We must learn to give thanks not only IN all things, but FOR all things for Romans 8:28 teaches that God works ALL things for good... 
  3. Ann Voskamp  "That which I refuse to thank Christ for -- I refuse to believe Christ can redeem?"
  4. Thinking I must not resist the pruning that might bring new, stronger growth.
  5. Job 2:10 "Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?" God just keeps teaching me!
  6. Why give thanks in moments of/for despair? It is then we are most likely to fix our eyes on Christ.
  7. I must not resist the pruning that might bring new, stronger growth.
  8. "Jesus has a time, He has a plan, He is on schedule... God is on the case!"  Louie Giglio
  9. God is still God and by the way, He doesn't owe us an explanation. That last part is from Andy Stanley.
  10. Wouldn't you walk a treacherous path to see the glory and majest of God? To know Him more?
There's more to this whole line of thinking but surely this is enough for today. I also recommend The Noticer  by Andy Andrews for some insight on perspective. Having a right perspective is essential for coping with what seems like difficulty. My perspective was radically altered when I read a young mother's (who I know) harrowing story of nearly losing her son. 
    You can find me on Twitter. @steph_redmond

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    Better than Ever!

    Just some thoughts . . .

    I began searching for my best life in Jan 2007. I was 46 years old and very much wanted to face my 50th birthday fit and healthy (and thinner - ok - I wanted to actually BE thin). The first year was really easy for me overall. I'm not saying I didn't have challenges, I did, but I was able to overcome them and consistently lose 5 lbs per month and steadily increase my fitness ability. The next 3 years were more challenging. We moved to Germany as you know, I went back to work after 20 years and I endured several injuries. However, I still kept pursuing my best life and enjoyed many wonderful moments along the way.

    Yesterday I turned 50. I'm not actually THIN, but I am fit and healthy. I decided this year my gift to myself is a greater, more intense pursuit of this healthy lifestyle. I have 2 sprint triathlons on my agenda as well as 2- 1/2 marathons. I chose to celebrate my 50th by doing my regular training program. First I biked 9 miles in the heat on some very steep hills (my ride goes over the tail end of the Pine Mountain Ridge) and then came home and hit the water for 1/4 mile of swimming. Whew! (it was fun!) Later that evening, I paddled the kayak for about a mile - just for fun.

    When it came to birthday eating, although I had planned to eat as I wanted, I found that what I really wanted was to eat healthfully. I'm so satisfied in my life that I really don't want or need food to make me happy. This is pretty new for me. I indulged in french toast (white bread cause it's what dh brought home) loaded w/ over a cup of blueberries to carb up for my exercise. The rest of the day was healthy controlled eating. At dinner I'd planned fried lobster tail but really decided it wasn't worth it. I had grilled fish instead w/ green beans and sweet potato fries (which were actually fried). I ordered key lime pie for dessert and shared it w/ dh. PERFECT. I came home happy and satisfied but not overfull and guilty. What a day!

    It was late in the evening before I realized that I'd met my goal of long ago. I'd stuck w/ Best Life living for over 4 years, never wanting my old ways back, and found the joy of attaining what I'd only hoped for in 2007 - a healthy lifestyle that marked a genuine change not just a temporary diet. I'm stronger than I've been since my 20's I'd say and certainly more joy-filled. I eagerly look forward to my next birthday to see where I am then! 

    (Copied from my post on www.thebestlife.com - a weight loss website based on Bob Greene's healthy lifestyle books)

    Sunday, May 1, 2011

    A Shout Out of Thanks

    Sometimes in life you come across people who give of themselves in unusual ways. They may have to due to the demands of their job to some extent but then of their own decision go above and beyond. Sometimes they're not properly compensated or rewarded or even thanked for this effort (and to some extent that's o.k. because we want to encourage each other to do things for others expecting nothing in return). This week, I had the wonderful privilege of meeting 3 women who had a professional attachment to an event but truly went above and beyond. I want to thank  them.

    Many of you know that I am part of an online weight loss community, www.thebestlife.com , and have been for 4+ years. Through this site I've met men and women from around the country and beyond who walk my journey with me. They're special folks. This week we gathered in Chicago to spend time together socializing and encouraging each other as we work toward our goals. Because we asked for it and because they're cool like that, we had on hand, 3 top level experts that work for Bob Greene on his website: Janis Jibrin, Michelle Kennedy and Jen Martin. (You can learn more about them at the website listed above.) 

    Now hear me because this is kind of unheard of: They showed up at our event for 4 days, making themselves widely available to us, were way underused for the talent they brought, listened patiently, kindly and helpfully to all of our stories, aches, pains and complaints - inserted their expertise wherever they could and we as a group payed them NOTHING. I have no idea how they were compensated from their boss, but you just don't get access to people of this caliber without paying up the big bucks. In addition, we were treated to a cooking class at a top notch facility in Chicago and were graced not only with Janice Jibrin, but also Best Life and top D.C. chef, Sidra Forman. All of this was done for 30 men and women who payed a small registration fee of $25 and that money did not even go to The Best Life. 

    Can you believe it? Not only that, we were given tickets to a very famous show and received public acknowledgement for our weight loss on national t.v. and won a very cool prize. (You might make sure to set your dvr on May 10.) Afterwards, we had a 2 HOUR private session with Bob Greene, and we didn't pay him diddly! 2 HOURS! (In case you need a little more of a hint: It's the much anticipated Weight Loss Finale of a very famous talk show that is in it's last season and is filmed in Chicago. *wink*)

    I'm so impressed with the generosity of spirit and time that was bestowed upon us, let alone expertise. We didn't deserve it. We probably took advantage of them and we dang sure didn't pay them. These people all of them, but particularly the 3 I mentioned early on, at the very least deserve a public thanks. 

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    Some Things Take Time

    We live in a fast-paced, over achieving, git 'r done kind of world. We have demands on us and our time sun up to sundown, day in and day out. Sundays (or Saturdays) are no longer days of rest, but rather another day for chores, kids' ball games, shopping and such. Furthermore, free time is oft viewed as a scandalous indulgence. Guilt is piled on the one who takes time for naps or simply doesn't run at breakneck speed at all times. It's exhausting trying to keep up.

    I'm here to tell you and truth be told, simply ponder the fact that some things take time. Homemade bread for example. Knitting a sweater (not that I would know). War and Peace (again, ignorant on this one). Making a quilt (this one I can speak to - started one 20 years ago and it's still not done). Some things just can't be rushed.

    I'm at a time in my life where I have time on my hands. Time to sit. Time to ponder. Time to write a blog. (Please don't mention that I could be knitting or QUILTING.) And, since I live on a lake, that time offers the opportunity for some of life's very special moments. There are things that I'm able to enjoy ONLY if I sit still outside with nothing to read (or knit):

    • An otter swim up to the dock
    • A goose defending a nest
    • A school of gar passing by
    • An eagle delivering a catch to his nest
    • An eagle shaking off the water from his last dive for prey
    • The woodpecker that lands on my dock ladder (that sounds like Flipper)
    • The onset of a thunderstorm
    • The changing colors of the sky before, during and after sunset
    • The planet that shows up first each night
    • The appearing of Orion as the sky darkens
    • A fish dancing on his tail across the water
    • A hawk w/ a fish, mouse, snake in tow
    • The sound of hail on a lake a mile away making its way toward me
    • The fragrance of the latest blooms
    • The sound of a chuck's poor widow
    • The first firefly of the season
    • The difference between one sunset and another
    • The sound of a silent night
    This time we've been given with not so much to do is stressful at times. We miss our regular activity and job/life demands. We long to be needed by others as before and to use our talents professionally. When I'm stressed or anxious I'm reminded that I'm not to "...worry, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make [my] requests known to God and the peace that passes all understanding will be [mine]." Some things take time. I give thanks for the time to appreciate the things that so often would pass me by. They remind me of the greatness of God and the smallness of me.
    It's good.

    Friday, April 1, 2011

    Marriage Part 2

    I have to tell you that I have very little memory of this day 28 years ago. 28 years ago yesterday, I remember quite clearly. 28 years ago tomorrow is well-etched on my brain. But 28 years ago today - nope, hardly a thing. I remember what I wore to dinner. I remember where I had dinner and I remember most of who was at dinner. I remember 1 thing I said and I remember what I ate. I also remember a particular nice thing one man did. That's about it.

    T.J. surveying the spread
    The event 28 years ago today was the day before my one and God-willing, only, wedding day. We had our rehearsal dinner at The Plantation Inn at Stone Mountain Park, Ga. We ate ham, butter beans, and sweet potatoes - probably something else, but I don't remember. I wore a beautiful dress of my grandmother's because it was so beautiful and I didn't think I'd find anything as beautiful to wear. Most of my close family  (the Taylors/Worleys) were there as well as a large number of Redmonds. Martha Jean and Louie Giglio, Sr (parents of the now famous, Louie Giglio, Jr) more or less hosted the event and when I looked out at the crowd I said something like "Wow, all together that's a pretty good looking family." Some anonymous person had made beautiful placards for each person and when I realized I'd forgotten my friend and pianist, one miraculously appeared. Thank you Louie Giglio, Sr. That pretty much encapsulates what I remember about the day before my wedding.
    Martha Jeane Giglio, Alice Redmond, Louie Giglio, Sr, Allen Redmond

    Two days before I remember getting a horrible perm at Davison's and my wedding day was really quite wonderful. So much of it was a blur that I often dream of doing it again, just so I can enjoy it more. Isn't that funny?

    Nano, Leslie (my sis), me
    One particular scene that is etched in my brain, that I have gone back to time and time again is a discussion that I had with my then 7 year old sister. We were sitting in my mother's room, just the 2 of us, and she said, "Sissy, what if you and Andy get divorced." I looked her in the eye and said "Leslie, Andy and I don't believe in divorce. We've already decided that we won't." Wow. I was all of 21, almost 22 years of age and spoke with great wisdom. Ha! I might have been speaking very naively, for I thought that was all there was to it. Truth was, I could not imagine that anything at any time could make the 2 of us or even 1 of us want a divorce.

    28 years later, I can tell you though, that one sentence spoken in such innocence might be just the thing that saved our marriage here and there. The truth is, I'm not always an easy person to be married to. I have baggage, shall we say. Deep hurts and scars and at times have let those wounds bleed profusely all over anyone who was around. I have no idea if my husband has ever truly wanted to leave me, but I can tell you this, it's a fair miracle that he's stayed and a great testimony to the kind of man he is. But even in my darkest of hours, I remember telling my precious little sister, not to mention the man of my dreams and 150 people and GOD that I would not leave this man or give him a reason to leave me.
    The first weekend we knew we were in love

    The conversation I had with my sister was absolutely true. As we prepared to marry, we had a long discussion over the big stuff.  Finances, kids, family, leaving and cleaving, head of the household, views on tradition, God and yes, divorce.  He had told me he could never marry anyone he could conceive divorcing. We made a commitment to each other that we would ride out whatever thing came our way and no matter what, we would not divorce. Our marriage has never faced the trial of infidelity and I honestly don't know what we would do, but I pray we would stand by our commitment. Of course, we also committed that we would not engage in infidelity or even test the waters.

    I think Daddy's more nervous than I am!
    We took that commitment to each other to heart and we publicly made that commitment to God before our friends and family. We have known rough  patches. I have a nasty, ugly temper that only by the grace of God stays in check. We have weathered moves, the raising of children, challenging environments, and some poor decisions of our own. On the flip side, we have surrounded ourselves with people who value marriage and support each other in their respective marriages and encourage each other. We've continued to grow in our faith and commitment to God. We've shown patience to one another in trying situations. We've held that commitment high as a light to guide us through the more difficult passages. Now we stand on the eve of our 28th wedding anniversary and more in love than ever.

    The happy couple
    The course of our 28 years has been easier than so many others that I know. We began our relationship by becoming fast friends. A year into our friendship, we fell in love and married soon after. We have devoted our lives to continuing to grow in that friendship. We coddle it and nurture it. . . cultivate it. We make time for each other no matter the stresses in our lives. Our kids know they are not, nor ever have been the center of our home life, though we totally adore them. We've prioritized each other. As a result, we face this anniversary as great friends who know how to have a good time whether anyone else is there or not. We pray fiercely that this example is one our kids will build on in their futures and we do not take for granted the gift of a long marriage. We very well know that temptation in many forms lurks on the edge and we've watched what we presumed were good marriages fail.

    So  - what tips do I have for you?
    1. Find your completion in Christ.
    2. Banish husband/wife bashing.
    3. Work on yourself.
    4. Look for things that you love in your husband/wife and tell him.
    5. Revisit the commitment you made.
    6. Cultivate forgiveness and patience.
    7. Keep the couple the central part of the "family" (after God of course).
    8. Build your friendship with your spouse.
    9. Be the spouse you should/can be.
    10. Enjoy your marriage.

    Today I give great thanks to Jesus Christ who is the glue that holds us all together. My true happiness and joy is found in Him and hopefully that spills over onto this wonderful man who's been willing to stick with me through the years. I feel incredibly blessed and I pray that somewhere in this nostalgic moment is some little nugget that you can take for your own to encourage you along the way.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    What About Marriage? Part 1

    It's happened more than once - many times - and today it happened again. I heard of a marriage turned upside down and dropped on its head because someone wasn't "happy" and feels they deserve to be. I hardly know where to begin. I've had so many thoughts on this lately.

    I've watched as people carelessly and dangerously have "fun" with heavy flirtations, all the while diminishing their spouse's confidence and sense of security and trust. I've known of one or the other spouse letting a deep friendship with the opposite sex develop and allow themselves to get into deep confidence with this "good listener".  I've watched time and again people become and remain in miserable marriages all the while waiting for their partner to change and make it all better. I've known of emotional, verbal and physical abuse. I've known of spouses coming out and leaving their family behind to pursue their preferred activities. I've known of marriages where the women cringe at the mention of sex and I've known of marriages where the women can't get sex. I've seen heartache upon heartache. And - I've sat and cried with and consoled women who've awakened to find they're no longer wanted...at all.

    So now, where does that leave me today and what could I possibly contribute? One of the first things that comes to mind as a word of wisdom to my fellow women: Don't expect your husband to MAKE YOU HAPPY. I just believe that is too much responsibility to place on another human being. A man can add a lot of joy and happiness to your life for sure, but God is the one who wants to complete you and the only One who can.  You can just chew on that a while. I'm not expanding.

    Marriage is the earthly example of God's love for the church. He calls Jesus the groom and the church the bride. It seems to me then that we have a responsibility to do our part to make our marriages a beautiful tribute of sorts to that perfect love God has for us. I'm not going to sit here and say that it's easy or even truly attainable but I think we each need to be making that effort.

    Having said that, we each only get to control our side of the equation. This is probably the toughest part in it all. We have the opportunity to choose how we will accept (or not) the behavior of our spouse. I tell myself and others that we can't decide that it's "their responsibility" to change and just sit around scornfully waiting for that to happen and complaining when it doesn't. We have to consider our OWN behavior and how we're going to react. Chew on this one a while too. I'm busy feeling convicted.

    I have patience with a lot in life but some things, not so much. I have very little patience for one (man or woman) who thinks it's all right to make a whole family miserable and make them suffer so they can go chase after their latest affection. Very little patience for this. It is the height of selfish behavior. VERY LITTLE! Get over yourself. And by the way how did you develop this grand new interest? Possibly by spending time with another that you should've spent with your husband or wife? Opening up and sharing your heart with another? Emotional infidelity. Ok - I have NO patience for this. It's selfish I say again.

    We need to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. We need to protect ourselves and our marriages from wandering interests by being mindful of our interaction with other men and women. And by the way, I think this extends to our girlfriends we hang out with - husband bashing is not cool.

    • When we allow ourselves to spend one on one company with another man over and over, developing a good friendship apart from the eyes of our spouse, we're being foolish if we believe we cannot have our heart wander... particularly if we're in an unhappy situation at home. It might be comforting but it's a major precursor to an affair. Consider yourself warned. 
    • If we sit around and complain to our girlfriends about our husband and only examine his flaws - we're in danger of being tempted and lured. Consider yourself warned. 
    • If we feel miserable about ourselves and do nothing about it and complain that "he doesn't love me like he used to" - we're in danger of being left. Consider yourself warned. 
    • If we just nag and nag, making our man feel unloved and unappreciated, he will look elsewhere (doesn't make it right, but he will). Consider yourself warned.
    So, then - pursue a healthy, well-adjusted life, and for goodness' sake try to find (DAILY, REGULARLY) things about your husband you appreciate. Cultivate a healthy, sexy marriage in as much as it depends on you. I've read that men love confident, happy, appreciative women. Find things to say to your friends that compliment your husband. Stop being a hopeless nag (conviction rolls in again). The Scriptures say it is better to live on the corner of a roof that with a contentious woman. Don't you know it!

    Now - I cannot guarantee that you will keep your husband like this. BUT at the end of the day, if he chooses a foolish path, you can know that you have loved him and respected him. Remember our scriptural commissioning, as women, is to RESPECT our husbands. Cultivate that! You have done your part. Develop and nurture a gentle, quiet spirit, particularly if your husband is not a believer. You cannot be responsible for another's behavior. Do not carry that load.

    An easy summary - If your marriage isn't all you'd like it to be, make sure (SURE) you're doing your part.

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Pain and Praise

    Today I am intensely aware of the hurting people in my life. They're all around me (you, too). A relative with cancer, struggling with personal addiction. 2 loving parents doing all they can do to help the family around them - even though it's wearing them out. A dear woman who used to be a part of our family - cancer. An aging aunt - cancer (she doesn't notice she's aging). A dear friend coping, painfully, with MS. Another one I love fighting hard against breast cancer. People I know and love dealing with lost jobs, recession, financial hardship, poor health, loss of parents... the list is long. 

    In the middle of this, I'm also painfully aware of my shallow longings and desires for the things of this world which hold absolutely no eternal value. I'm not criticizing anyone but myself; I just notice my love of things and my desire to be accepted. What does it matter? What difference does it make? Vain and empty conceit. Is it Ecclesiastes where Solomon speaks of this?

    I wonder to myself... do I live passionately enough for Jesus? The hurting people I mention have varied forms of faith - some very intense, some none at all. The questions flit across my mind - How do some keep their faith? How does anyone cope without it?

    I'm slowly reading Ann Voscamp's, 1000 Gifts. The book challenges me to my core. In that very same essence of myself I find myself equally sad and joyful. I'm considering how dark and scary a night can be and hoping, so fervently, that when my darkest time comes I will have known such a passion with Jesus Christ that I can know with confidence that I will again yet praise Him. 

    Today I bask in the comfort, joy and peace of my Savior, aware that it is He who filters the events of my life through His hands. He knows the plans He has for me. What sweet comfort this gives. 

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    A Short Little Post

    I really do feel like the luckiest girl in the world! I'm married to someone who is so sacrificial in his love for me. I can tell you honestly that he never complains to me or criticizes me. He is incredibly patient with me. It's been 28 years since he asked me to marry him and though, "no" was never even the slightest thought, I'm still grateful that I said, "yes". I enjoy his company and his sense of humor. I think he is handsome and pretty much everybody thinks he is smart. I just wanted to share that with you this Valentine's Day - not to make you envious or to brag, but more to say this:
    If your marriage isn't what you want it to be, do all you can to make it better. I know sometimes it's not in your power - just do your part to show true love. "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."John 15:13

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    Girlfriends Are For Keeping

    There is really nothing like a good girlfriend. Your definition and mine might differ, but you know and I know that very few things in life compare.

    Julie and I in Brugges, Belgium - true blue
    What makes a good girlfriend? For me, it's consistency, dependability, the ability to rejoice when you rejoice and weep when you weep. It's like-mindedness - but not necessarily on everything. It's coffee dates, lunch dates and shopping dates. It's who you need when your grandmom dies, child hurts, marriage is in trouble, life changes - fill in the blank. It's not telling you your pants make you look fat, but helping you find some that don't. It's being able to let your hair down and be totally open and know it won't be used against you later. And of course, she must fully appreciate your cuteness and like-ability.

    Tokae Pagliaro - hiking near Osan Korea

    I have had good girlfriends, incredibly close girlfriends, who were in my life only for a season, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if our paths crossed again we'd pick up right where we left off. I  have good girlfriends who've been in my life for more years than you'd believe who I love deeply but with whom I rarely communicate. I'm related to some of my good girlfriends and some I've never even met. And of course, I have the one or two very dear ones who've been through thick and thin with me - know my bad and my good - my full family history - have watched my kids grow up - will never leave me girlfriends. And truthfully, I've had good girlfriends that for whatever reason will not have anything to do with me anymore (those are the tough ones because I still love them and miss their place in my life).
    Linda, Me and "Beth" (Elizabeth)

    In 1973, a group of women-to-be came into my life. 3 to be exact. Linda, Beth and Sherri. We were 11 - 13 years old. We knew pretty much everything and we were HOT! We spent more time hanging out and sorting out life than just about anything else. Life got much better for the 4 of us when Beth's driveway was paved. We'd lie out on that driveway on summer nights, gazing at the stars and talking about EVERYTHING! These are my first true girlfriends. I'm blessed to be in contact with 2 of the 3 to this day and 1 of them I saw just two years (or so) ago. 1973 - 2011 = 38 years!!

    Gay and Pam (since 1978)
    My high school girlfriends from  Redan High are another special group. We were real friends in high school, separated by grown-up life, but reunited via the internet. I still treasure them and admire the women they've become. Now that I'm settled back in Georgia I hope to have a great day or 2 a year of hanging out with them.

    Sandra Nobles Korschgen (since '80?)
    One special woman in my life is my mother's age. I worked for her when I was in college and she catered my wedding. She's young at heart and a blast to be with. If you can get her to cook for you, you're the lucky one. She taught me many things and is still quick to zip off a recipe for me. She came to see me in Germany and we both were the younger for it.

    My "sis",  Alice

    In 1983 I married into a wonderful family and was blessed with 4 sisters-in-law who joined my God-given
    sister to make up the 5 SISTERS I have as my girlfriends. They span 35 years of age to 60ish. They rock!! They have been with me for the whole deal. We share the blessed bond of family as well as genuine friendship. In that group is Leslie. I love her like a daughter, though she's my sister. I was 14 when she was born. We don't get nearly enough time together, but can I tell you how beautiful and brilliant and talented she is? You should know someone like her.

    In 1989 I moved next door to a wonderful woman who was pregnant with her second as was I. We cared for each other's children, sat on the blanket in our front yards together with the babies, disciplined each other's children and once I even nursed her very hungry baby. We've loved each other through the years and I treasure her place in my life. We're still in communication. Love her!

    1992 brought a precious woman who is also a mentor in my life. Her youngest thought my kids were his cousins! Her laugh is positively contagious. Her devotion to studying the Word of God is astounding. Her attention to detail is to be desired. If you saw 2 high school pictures of us, you'd think we're sisters. Yep - we're the same amount of cute. ; )

    In 1997, I met a woman that I'm sure I'll grow old with and will go to great lengths to be with - always. We lived in the same city for 2 years, then began a phone conversation that has lasted 12 more years. We've savored our morning coffee "together", raised our children "together", taught and studies the Bible "together", grieved "together" and now we're sending-off our children "together". We just met for a weekend TOGETHER and had we not been in public would have shed many tears together.

    Oh my - do you have the patience to stick with this list? I can only imagine that 1) you ARE one of the precious women in my life or 2) you are ticking off the list of those in your life as you read. Go for it!

    I cannot go through these thoughts without telling you about the woman whose nickname ends in "icious" (like delicious). Oh, oh - the joy, the depth, the steadfastness this woman brings to my life. She loves me enough to invite herself to Thanksgiving. She will spend hours making cards for the special people in her life. She is dedicated to the art of Christmas card sending. She is probably one of the most thoughtful and sensitive people I know. Wouldn't you call her "icious"?

    Me w/ Rita Folsom  - need more time!
     Of course, there are the wonderful women from each church I've been joined with through the years. Out of each place there are a tiny handful that become my girlfriends. I'm not the kind of girl that can handle a lot of friends at one. I give myself fully to my friends and so can only manage one or two at a time. I've loved having these women in my life and your koinonia in my life is priceless.

    Sailing  Partner and Best Friend
    And can I neglect to tell you about those wonderful women who walked with me through my life-style change? We were in Hawaii and I signed up for sailing. I met my sailing partner who turned out to be a woman I long to spend more time with. In the 10 weeks of sailing class, I was blessed to make a lifelong friend. Along with her, there was a "Wet Hen" or 2 or 3 that I'll never forget. They encouraged me along the way as I learned not only to sail, but to prioritize my health and become a more vibrant, confident woman. LOVE those hens!! If I ever end up living in Hawaii again I'm going to get good enough to be a hen. End of story.

    Jen in Sweden visiting me in Germany
    Along with those women who've accompanied me in my lifestyle change journey are my internet friends. Some I've met and some I just long to. I have a running "chat" with these women - daily for 4 years! If you don't think you can make real friends on the internet I have to challenge you. These "ax murderers" have walked through everything with me for the past 4 years and helped me as I figure out how the life challenge of the day fits into my weight loss goals. They tell me to take my vitamins,  get my exercise in and put down the chocolate chips. They call me on my excuses and help me get rid of them. We're in Sweden, The Netherlands, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Georgia (that's me) and West Virginia. GOOD girlfriends!

    Representing the Air Force Peeps, Les and Jill
    The last group I'll mention today are the Air Force peeps I've come across through the years. Those ladies have helped live the life of an Air Force wife and have been a part of momentous occasions all throughout my life. They have been my on the scene family when my family was too far away. Some of them are mentioned above but there are more. I'm so thankful for things like blogs and social networks that keep us connected.

    I know I might not have mentioned you, but I love you, too. The longer I think about this, the longer this list gets. I really could write a book about each type of friendship in my life and the value each one has for me. Good girlfriends are for keeping. And frankly, there are too many wonderful women to waste time fretting over the wishy-washy mean ones. I pray for them though because I know there must be pain in their lives that leads to the unpleasantness that's present.

    Good girlfriends are for keeping. Do not let them leave your life over something petty. Love them. You can't find one just anywhere. . . or maybe you can.

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Free Time...And Coffee!

    Don't hate me or think I'm bragging, but I have some time on my hands this morning. Yes, there are things I could be doing - unloading the dishwasher, cleaning the crockpots from the Superbowl gathering, exercising - but really there is no pressing need. I can ponder whether I'm foolish for thinking of this as free time or not at another time, but for the moment, let's just roll with it shall we?

    As I ponder what to do with this free time, I consider that I could blog - but about what? I have lots of things on my mind but not sure that I really have anything to say about them. At the same time, I hate to go a long time without blogging because it's just more fun to do regularly and (I can only hope) frequent writing keeps you tuned in. So here's what I've decided... even though it might mean nothing to you, I'm going to write about my morning so far. After all, this blog is MY Life on the Lake and this is what I'm doing on the lake this morning.

    Today I was an early riser. I didn't try to be, but that's how it worked out. Because I have trouble getting to my Bible reading once I start Facebook and the news, etc, I decided to take advantage of the early-rising and alone time and read my Bible. I actually began with my Sunday School study guide and got some insightful teaching on the Prodigal Son. Have you considered your own prodigal ways? That time when you shook your fist in the Lord's face and demanded your own way? Oh, my, this can be a tough study! I love the part of the story where Jesus says the son "came to himself"... which was a key step in his repentance. 

    After taking time for this study, I began my daily Scripture reading. Don't be intimidated by this as I miss more days than I should. At any rate, today I was finishing up Exodus. As I've read Exodus, I've been struck by how specific God is. In this case, He gives Moses very detailed instructions on the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness and the garments the priests are to wear, down to the gems on the garments. It occurs to me that God doesn't give Moses all the details up front, but rather at each key step on the journey. When God calls me to a task, I can trust that He will reveal His plan to me as I need to know it. . . so much to ponder right here on this point.

    Moving from that I opened a book that I've had on my coffee table, unopened, for a week. It was recommended by a trusted friend and mentor, so I rushed out to buy it. Her advice was to read it slowly and as a result, I've left the book in its spot until I could devote my mind and time to the task. I only allowed myself to read a bit of it, though I'm sure I could devour it in an afternoon. (Note: the day's not over yet.) The title of the book is One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp and promises much. It has been a very long time since I read anything so well-crafted as her sentences. I am anticipating many challenges to come out of the read beginning with my own use of words. 

    For no valuable reason, I'll add in the detail of my beverage consumption. Because it was early and I suspected my husband would not be up for a while yet, I chose to make myself coffee with my French press pot. Our big coffee maker only keeps coffee hot for 2 hours, which weighed into the decision and I really like  my peppermint coffee from Trader Joes, but my husband does not. A private pot of coffee means that I can make my favorite and not deprive him of his. After polishing off the hottest part of that pot of coffee, I made myself hot tea (it's really cold in my house this morning) mainly to warm my hands, made my morning toast and sat down with my computer. Before long the man I love walked in and I made a pot of his favorite coffee, which I am now drinking. Yep - I like coffee! And tea! And hot chocolate! And even hot water! (not as much)

    I don't know what my day will end up looking like, but I'm set to enjoy it. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. I'm off to a good start!