Friday, May 29, 2009

Flashback Friday: One Year and Counting

So, Wednesday was my 365th day of blogging. I’ve officially been blogging for more than one full year.

367 days. 271 posts.

I honestly had no idea I had that much to say. And I certainly had no idea I would meet so many people, make such good friends and come to rely on all of you being here every morning when I stumble out of bed. It’s like a long-term slumber party, only you don’t have to look at my crazy, matted, unruly, curly hair when I wake up. It’s a win-win. [Trust me.]

I figured this Flashback Friday would be a good day to revisit the very first post I wrote. I started this blog on a whim because I felt like I had something to say and no one to say it to…

Thanks for showing up and listening.

***** ***** *****

Rummaging Through
[originally posted: May 28, 2008]

Two nights ago, tornadoes ripped through nearby towns. They tore apart homes, families, livelihoods and security. I sat for nearly seven hours as the newscasters told me it was going to miss my town, that it was heading straight for my town and finally that it had created destruction everywhere around me, but spared my town. The sky was ominous. The atmosphere was, in a word, creepy... and the sound of a jet hovering overhead turned out to be the F5 tornado many towns away. It was the sound of lives changing in a moment.

I spent the day today going through my closet and putting together things to give to the people of Parkersburg, whose town is gone but not lost. In the process of searching for things that may help build their lives, I discovered myself finding a way to let go of my own past life. Before I became sick I took my full life for granted. I assumed I would always be social, rarely at home, singing at weddings and working to my heart's content.

Now, because of the need of others I finally let go of the dresses I don't need for singing at weddings, the shoes with heels that are too high to use with crutches and the little clutch purses that can't swing hands-free across my body. They haven't been of any use to me for such a long time, but I couldn't seem to get rid of them without a reason. I mean… what if, after ten years of getting worse, I wake up tomorrow able to sing at a wedding again? What if, after barely leaving the house a handful of times in the last year, I break out and go on a date? Those heels would come in handy.

But the reality is that I have to let go of sifting through my life just as the people in Parkersburg, New Hartford and Dunkerton will soon have to do. They are going to have to step aside and watch the bulldozers carry away the remnants of their old lives so they can start rebuilding their town, their homes, their families, their livelihoods. They will find their new normal in the midst of the chaos and see blessings in tragedies. They will struggle between holding on and letting go, and I will cheer them on in spirit as I do the same with my life.

Somewhere in the midst of all of their trouble, in my heart aching for them and trying to imagine their loss and their gratitude and their hope, I let go of hopes that aren't meant to be fulfilled and offered the material remnants of my past life for their new lives. It's another start, and a fresh start always means hope is on the horizon. Theirs may be the hope of building bigger, stronger, better. Mine may be of building a resiliency for the pain that lies ahead. But both are hope nonetheless.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hours of Entertainment…

Just to keep you informed of every, tiny, miniscule aspect of our lives, this is still what Riley does to break up the hours of boredom busyness around here:

Where’s Riley?IMG_6853IMG_6854There he is!!!

I wonder if that game will ever get old…

[If it’s already gotten old for you, don’t tell me. The little dude keeps me entertained]

I did manage to take a moment out from all the laying around rousing games of peek-a-boo around here to pick a canvas winner, so without further ado, picked:

AMY: I'm crying. You amaze me with your wisdom. 
Beautiful, abundant blessings to you.

Looks like I’ll be shipping my first out-of-country canvas to Canada!!!

Congratulations!!! Email me at with your mailing address and I’ll get it shipped out to you!

***** ***** *****

If you feel so inclined, and have had a burning question that you’ve just been dying to ask me, now’s your big chance since I’m going to do another Blog Peep Question post next week! I do still have a list of your questions waiting for answers, but feel free to leave any questions [serious, silly or otherwise nosy] in the comment section today… what I don’t get to next week I’ll include in another post.

Have a great Thursday… [and I promise I’ll have something of more substance to say tomorrow. :)].

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

HDG: His Plans

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”

This is a cross that hangs in my living room and it has, at times, been full of loaded words to me.

That was my fault. Not the fault of the words.

The thing is, being human, we really always want to make everything about us – what we want, what we desire, what we choose to hear. I see the words stating there is a plan to prosper and not harm me, and it’s hard not to think, “Really? Did you miss me in line on the day when the whole don’t-harm-me-prize was handed out?” Because let’s be real. I live in my body everyday. It’s been harmed.

But the thing is, these words were the Lord’s, not mine. He stated them with His heart and His intentions, not mine. Wanting to put my own interpretation on them is my problem, not His.

I felt this way to some degree when the Prayer of Jabez was popular a few years back. I am in no way saying that prayer was bad… it wasn’t. But there were people who would email me the prayer with the intent that it was a magic charm or something. That I would be healed, that my financial troubles would disappear, that all prayers are answered and I would get all I wanted.

Oh, how we want to fix the suffering. The problem is, we want it to be fixed our way, in our time, and by our standards. I think the prayers are good, if we put God’s expectations on them instead of our own.


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”

There are times I can read this with my eyes, and I wonder where my prosperity is. Where is my job, my career, my purpose? I can wonder how His plan is not to harm me. My body is broken, my abilities are diminished, my physical self is kept captive in my home.

But then I read the first line again. He knows the plans He has for me. Not the plans I have for me. Not the plans I wished for myself. His plans. For me.

He has plans… it’s up to me to trust that. It always boils down to trust.

I can look through His eyes and see how I have prospered in the midst of my life. I have greater friendships and support than anyone else I have ever known. I have found companions in all of you. I have a home that provides me security and safety from the elements. It’s my comfort and my safe haven.

Through God’s eyes, I am not harmed. I do have a body that constantly attacks me, but my spirit is more than strong. It is safe and content and securely at peace. I have been prospered and protected. That in and of itself gives me hope and a future. And all of that is possible because I choose to trust His plan.

The amazing thing is, that’s just what I imagine His eyes to see. All the little things and big things I am sure I miss everyday with my human eyes are seen by His. And I trust that He’s taking care of it all.

All I have to remember to do is get out of His way… to let His eyes guide my life instead of relying on my own limited vision.


To win today’s canvas, simply leave me a comment before midnight CST. I’ll let you know the winner in tomorrow’s post. [Only one comment per person, please.]

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Origins of George

My brother Hoody sent me a cell phone video this weekend that he took of my sister Laura and brother-in-law Jeff’s grandson, Grant. He’s learning to walk and they joked all weekend that they discovered the origins of George:

So, I would like to make it known that I’m not using a walker because I’m getting old and feeble. I’m just trying to recreate my youth. :)

IMG_7319My George doesn’t look nearly as entertaining as his…

IMG_7322Unless, of course, you add a little white dog with a mohawk to it.

IMG_7320Poor Riley doesn’t enjoy George all that much. It took a few tries to get this terrified look off of his face.

If you can’t tell, he’s swearing at me with his eyes.

Either that, or he’s doing his best Mr. T impression of, “I pity the fool.”

The things I put that poor dog through in the name of blogging.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Past

Oh, people.

It’s very late on Sunday night and I just now realized that it is Sunday, not Saturday. Which means it’s almost Monday and I thought I had another day to write a post.

I blame it on two consecutive days of doing nothing but watching a Jon and Kate Plus 8 marathon … it caused me to lose all sense of time and space. I’ll just do what Kate would do and blame it all on Jon. :)

So, since I have nothing prepared I thought I’d show you what I have done on Memorial Day weekends in the past. Back in 2001, my entire family gathered at my parents’ home for Memorial Day weekend to have a much needed family photo taken. The weather was perfect and all the nieces and nephews had so much fun playing together that we decided to make it a yearly tradition. And we really did a good job of sticking to it for a number of years.

Of course, I kind of broke the pattern when I stopped being able to travel, but the last time I was home in 2007 we had the most perfect weekend I can ever recall. It was a great note for me to end on, so I thought I’d share my scrapbook layouts of that weekend with you. :)

If you click on the photos below you can see larger versions of the layouts…

scrap page 51scrap page 52scrap page 53scrap page 54scrap page 55scrap page 56scrap page 57scrap page 58 
Some of my family still made it home this weekend, and my brother Steve’s family stopped in today on their way back from the weekend at Mom and Dad’s. I’m happy to say I got to officially meet the newest member of their family, Ozzy:


Can you say precious? Such a sweet puppy. And I swear to God he has eyes. I dug through the fur until I found them. :)


This is my sister-in-law Patience with Ozzy, Cooper and Avery. If you’re wondering where my brother Steve was at, he was in the TV room wrangling Riley with the door securely shut so as not to traumatize poor Ozzy. When Riley was inside the house and we introduced Ozzy from the patio on the other side of the window, Riley made it very clear his only purpose in life was to tear Ozzy limb from limb.


And I know one little boy who would not be so happy about that.

I will say, though, that Patience held Ozzy when we let Riley out of the room… and Riley did remarkably well. I think he was just so relieved to see me again and have me hold him that he couldn’t have cared less another dog was in the house. He even let Patience pet him while holding another dog. That was a HUGE step for my pup. We weren’t crazy enough to push our luck and set them on the ground or get their faces near each other, but we were pretty darn pleased that we got as far as we did.


Ozzy lives to rule another day.


He just won’t be ruling in this guy’s house.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Out of the Hearts of Babes

The end of the school year is [somehow] quickly approaching again. Honestly, I still think somewhere in my stunted brain I believe it’s March instead of May… but I can guarantee you that any school-aged child will be more than happy to set me straight.

It’s summer vacation time. Days of playing outside, taking picnics by the river or out underneath the weeping willow trees. Weekends skiing at the lake and weekdays of learning to mow the lawn and doing gymnastics in the backyard so I could someday be Mary Lou Retton.

Or at least that’s the scene that is conjured up in my memory. I’m sure Nintendo DS has changed that view for some kids, but I hope they still remember how to get dirty shirts and skinned knees.

The end of the school year also means that my class of first and second graders are moving on to new classes and other teachers as well. *sigh* I’ve really loved having those kids in my life this past year. And boy did they outdo themselves with their Easter cards for me:


At the beginning of the year, Deb [my friend; their teacher] would put prompts up on the board to help them with ideas for sentences as a part of teaching them how to write a proper letter.


But what I noticed at Easter is that all of their letters didn’t sound the same anymore. They were telling their own stories, using their own words and ideas, and showing more of their own personalities.


And they certainly didn’t shirk their decorating duties, either.


Some wrote poems, others wrote stories about past Easter memories of hunting for eggs and eating candy until they had stomach aches.



They drew beautiful pictures and obviously worked very hard on their best handwriting.


And this one even drew me a map of my Lenten journey to Jesus. :) Seriously… could that get any sweeter?

The part I wasn’t expecting is that they thought of me in more ways than one. As they learned about Lent, they talked about fasting, prayer and almsgiving. One of the students came up with the idea that for almsgiving, they could give something special to me.

[I’ll pause for you all to get a kleenex before you read this next part…]

So when Deb showed up with all of my Easter cards, she also brought a Ziploc bag filled with coins. The kids, and in some cases their families, would do things like put change in a jar when they broke their Lenten obligations. For example, Deb said one family showed up late for conferences and since their Lenten goal was to be on time for things, the dad said right away they needed to put change in the jar for me.

For me. Little kids’ hard-earned allowance. For Me.

Honestly, when Deb handed me the baggie with quarters and nickels, I really wanted her to give it back. That’s horrible of me, I know, but I just felt it was literally like taking candy from a baby or something. But then I realized how kind and generous these big hearts were inside these little people. And that this helped them see what Lent and Easter was truly all about.

So I put their donation toward paying for George so they would know they did something that helped me in my day-to-day life. Their sweet spirits can know that they not only made me happy all year, but they helped to make me safer in my home.

I wish I could say they learned something from me this year, but the truth is I learned so much more from them. Out of the hearts of babes.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Hawk

When my parents came last weekend and set up my patio for me, Riley was more than a little thrilled to go outside and help with the process. He was also more than happy to pee on every available bush and blade of grass that may have inadvertently crossed his path.

I was just happy to see him peeing somewhere, anywhere, other than my kitchen floor.

When he came back inside, however, to shower me with love and show me his exuberance at the discovery that fresh air still exists beyond the sliding glass door, I made my own discovery.

The outside air gets stuck in his fur.

This had happened before, and I was prepared to wipe him down and clean him off before he got too close to my face, but it just wasn’t enough this time. I had a bit of a cough and my breathing changed, but a few hours later, when I thought all would be settled down, my eyes started to feel bruised and my ears and throat were burning. Whatever was on him was not dissipating fast enough.

Admittedly, the pup was in dire need of a haircut, which means there was a whole lot of fur for the air to stick to. Mom, Dad and I were even commenting on how he was starting to look chubby. And when I put his vest on him so Dad could take him outside, the velcro barely reached far enough to close around his belly.

I was thinking he was eating a few too many carrots. Turns out, it was the afro hairstyle that was doing him in.

Because I wanted to breathe better, and if there was any hope of him ever going outside again, Riley had to lose as much hair as possible. And I discovered in the end that my scrawny dog really is still scrawny without hair. So scrawny, in fact, that he looked a little bit like a wuss. He most certainly didn’t look like he could back up that ferocious bark he likes to show off to strangers. Yep. I decided he definitely needed something to toughen up his look…

And then I thought of MckMama’s recent blog about her second son’s summer haircut. The one where they decided to give him a mohawk. I mean, if Nuggey can pull off a mohawk, surely Riley can, too…


I think, if Riley was a human child, these would be the photos I would threaten to show his prom date someday.



Is there someone in charge of revoking the good dog owner card?



In my defense, I don’t get out much. Or ever. And him looking ridiculous has been cracking me up for days.



Poor kid.

***** ***** *****

The winner of yesterday’s canvas is:

Robynn’s Ravings!
You are so right, Gitz. Now that we blog we have to open our eyes to see all and try not to miss things. It tightens us up and helps us not to pass up blessings and to (sometimes...) look at even the difficult things in a meaningful or even humorous light. I haven't been laughing this week and felt pretty rough but I just jumped in and started writing this morning and God has returned my joy. I KNOW I'm right where I should be. Blessings my friend. You find EVERYthing to be thankful for.

Congratulations!!! Email me at with your mailing address and I’ll get it in the mail to you!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

HDG: Watch Where You Step

hump day


You know, I was never really big on journaling. I always wanted to be. I always had the urge to write. When I was little I would write poems and stories, and leave notes for my parents on their pillows. While my sisters were laying out in the sun, smeared in baby oil getting a tan, I would lay out in the yard with my toy typewriter working on my “novel.” [I never had the patience or discipline to lay out in the hot sun.]

I never had the patience or discipline to write my thoughts down on paper everyday, either. I was sure I was going to become committed to journaling when I played Anne in The Diary of Anne Frank my junior year in high school. I went and bought a little journal that I used onstage for the play’s sequences that required me to read Anne Frank’s thoughts aloud. I was going to write about my life just like she did.

But by the third day of rushing to school and every single after school activity they offered [I was a joiner], journaling got tossed by the wayside. Besides, it felt like I was taking out time to write to myself, and my self already knew what was going on.

But, oh… the wonderful world of blogging. Writing for other people. Suddenly discipline took on a whole new meaning for me. I didn’t have the discipline to do a journal for myself… but the idea of letting other people down who were counting on me having something to say every day… that was the motivation I needed to create discipline. I don’t like to make other people unhappy.

Funny thing happened on the way to making you all happy, though. I’ve learned so much more about myself, because needing something to blog about has made me pay attention. And not just to the big things in life, but the little, miniscule, everyday occurrences that can so easily pass us by without a second glance. God knows there was enough drama in high school to keep a soap opera writer busy for a year, but none of it seemed worth journaling about to me. I was so busy that I wasn’t paying attention to all the things I took for granted.

Now, I never physically leave the space within these four walls – a space where very little actually occurs day to day – and yet God is showing me beautiful things all the time. All I have to do is open my eyes and show up with my heart. It’s when I’m paying attention that quotes like this one come into my mind: “No moment from my God is a rock of burden. It’s just a rock, waiting to be broken apart into stepping stones.”

But it’s when I share the thought with all of you that new things come into my life. Like when my sister sent me this quote in response: “A stepping stone can be a stumbling block if we can’t see it until after we’ve stepped over it.”    ~Cullen Hightower

It’s all about paying attention.

Don’t you love it when life brings you full circle? I have so much less going on in my life, which means I should have so much less to write about now. But because I’m moving at a slower pace, because I have the luxury of paying attention to the little moments, I can see the stepping stones laid out in front of me… stones that would have been stumbling blocks to be stepped over or rushed around on my way to my next big thing.

I so often wonder about all the things I’m missing out there … out in the world beyond my windows. But I also wonder how much I would be missing if I wasn’t forced to be still and pay attention. I wonder if I’m meant to be inside so I’m paying attention to what He wants instead of what I’m looking for.

I want to step on the stones, not stumble past them.


How about you?

To win today’s canvas, leave a comment before midnight CST. [One comment per person, please.] I’ll announce the winner tomorrow…

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Spring Awakening

While Spring has most definitely sprung, it’s been looking a little bleak and out of sync around here. For example, while the hasta were sprouting from beneath the once-frozen ground, the poinsettia was still waving goodbye to Christmas from the planter right above them.

IMG_6677Every time I glanced out the window, with the green grass growing and plants abounding, it was impossible not to look at the poinsettia and have the Sesame Street song, “Which one of these things is not like the other…” on loop in my mind.

IMG_6690Despite the bleak-looking patio and confusing Christmas decoration, Riley wistfully stared out the window longing for the green green grass of home. And this weekend, it was Mom and Dad to the rescue!

They came for a post-birthday lunch and were going to get my patio furniture out of the garage for me… but came with a few
“reinforcements” of their own.

IMG_6975First, there was a little sweeping that needed to be tackled.


IMG_6996And a few goodies to be unloaded.

IMG_7004A bit of arranging was required.

IMG_7012[It’s moments like these it definitely pays to have an
interior designer in the family

IMG_7022Of course, Riley decided it was time to venture outside
and help Dad with some of the heavy lifting.

IMG_7027 “Did ya see me? Huh? Huh? Did ya?”

IMG_7039 When all was said and done, my view improved by leaps and bounds.

IMG_7020 And while I may be sitting inside instead of out on my patio chairs…

IMG_7037 … the much-improved view is definitely one that makes a girl want to open the curtains and take it all in.

Most importantly, the only red you see are lovely geraniums… the poinsettias are finally retired until the snow rears it's head once again!

***** ***** *****

Yeah, so… I had edited these photos and written this post, feeling pretty darn happy about finally ridding myself of all things winter. I shut down the computer and turned off the lights before heading to bed when I noticed this in the corner of the room, and cracked up laughing:


Well, at least it’s not a poinsettia…  :)