Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving...

Thanksgiving is bittersweet this year. After getting back from an awesome trip to Hawaii, I had the responsibility of emptying and giving away the remainder of Freddie's possessions and apartment furnishings. He will never be going back. In this emotional process I learned that people who take gifts ( furniture, TV's, clothes, etc.) often don't appreciate them and even treat them as trash. Just because something is free doesn't negate its value. My feelings were hurt deeply as the special things I gave were scorned and abused. I felt angry. Then I remembered God's gift of His only Son Jesus. Given freely out of His love with the GREAT promise of enjoying eternal life with Him if accepted. What happened? Were the people overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness? Did they realize the priceless treasure being offered. NO. Instead Christ was scorned, ridiculed, abused and then killed as if He were worthless trash and not the Divine gift from God.
I believe I needed this object lesson to open by own selfish eyes and examine things that I truly need to be thankful for. The bruises my heart feels from my gifts being mistreated are nothing compared to God's sorrow and righteous anger over His Son being crucified. Today I want to pause and give thanks to the Lord for my salvation through faith in Christ. In addition, I want to acknowledge the blessings He has poured out into my life. The treasures of my family, friends, job, health, home, freedom to live in this great country and worship the Lord without fear.
This emotionally charged experience this month has given me insight and taught me the value of a "gift" and being thankful- two principles I hope continue to transform my heart.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Paradise

Sitting here in the quiet breathtaking beauty of Kauai, I thank the Lord for this day to myself. Mike and Johnny have gone to explore Pearl Harbor and I chose to remain in our condo, relax, spend time reflecting on God's goodness, and share a few thoughts and pictures.

Since it is difficult to coordinate the schedules of multiple people and time-share availability, this trip has been in the making for over a year. We had originally intended to come in June but November was what we were able to arrange. Hard to complain when it is paradise here year-round. With all the hard things Mike and I have been dealing with we weren't sure if we would enjoy ourselves so we arrived with mixed emotions. Glad to report that those changed immediately after stepping off the plane into the "heaven" of Hawaii.




Johnny, Mike's best friend, ski buddy, and great guy, joined us on this trip. He has never been to Hawaii before so we are able to act as tour guides sharing our "favorite things to do" with him.
The three of us arrived on Friday evening after dark so we awoke Saturday morning to the fresh beauty of northern Kauai. Because Mike and Johnny are non-stop activity lovers we have been doing something just about every moment. The days have opened with hikes to see the sunrise over the ocean and share our breakfasts with the abundant birds (including chickens---lots of them) on our deck. A chicken actually stole Mike's toast from his plate!









We have gone exploring the major areas of the island with the Waimea canyon being the most spectacular. It is called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. A mini-version of the real thing. The weather was too beautiful on Monday to pass up the chance to do some hiking up there so we spent the day snapping pictures as we trudged along the rocky trails. Tuesday we hadn't had enough of the canyon views so we took a helicopter ride that gave us not only the view from above the canyon but the whole island. Breathtaking and scary !!

Last night we stuffed ourselves at a Hawaiian luau as we enjoyed the show featuring native dancing and music. Today I decided to chill out by myself as the boys explore Pearl Harbor and Waikiki beach on the island of Oahu. It is a picture perfect day outside (as usual) and I am basking in this time alone to read, stroll, nap, listen to my new Hawaiian CD's, and of course post these pictures !

Friday, October 31, 2008

Changing Gears

The past few months of my life remind me of road trips Mike and I have taken. Sometimes we are cruising along in fifth gear on the straight and level highways, no obstructions, no potholes, able to mindlessly drive and enjoy the scenery. Other times we downshift to go through scenic areas full of curves, switchbacks, points of interest or areas of caution. Once in a while we have to shift into low gear to chug our way up through steep mountain passes with sharp frightening drop offs on either side. On occasion we may have to suddenly stop for a “Kodak” moment pull out, a darting animal on the road ahead, some sort of danger, or just a needed break at a rest area.

In June we were cruising in fifth gear. Mike and I went to Ohio to visit my family and help my parents get ready for their move to their new home. We celebrated Father’s Day together, went out to eat, played lots of cards, relaxed, watched TV, and laughed a lot. Life was good.
In July we downshifted a bit as Billie went into the hospital at the Cleveland Clinic to have heart surgery. What was to have been a 5-7 day stay ended up becoming a month long nightmare of medical problems. Finally, at the end of the month he was able to come home to Dayton to finish recovering. We were cautiously cruising again.

August was filled with planned fun activities. I got to attend the Women of Faith conference in Dallas with 3 special friends- Martha, Joanne and Georgia. For two days we and thousands of other women basked in God’s word, singing hymns of praise, listening to messages of encouragement and teaching from the entertaining and Godly speakers including Patsy Clairmont, Lucy Swindoll, Sheila Walsh, and Marilyn Meberg. Afterward, we stayed up late in our hotel room eating snacks, laughing and having girl talk together. An abundance of heartfelt fellowship.


In the last week of August we again shifted to a lower gear. Billie, who had been recovering quite well, had to be readmitted to the hospital due to an infection around his surgical incision. Doctors, however, felt he would be home in a couple of days. Mike and I decided to take a short trip we had planned to Angel Fire, NM. where we stayed in the beautiful mountain vacation home of our gracious neighbor Carol. Our four days were packed with adventure. We were cruising once more. I was still on my spiritual high from the conference with my friends, and Mike was itching for some activity after our 14 hour drive. We hiked and drove the area with Biskit and Cookie each day, explored the awesome beauty of the northeastern New Mexico Mountains and towns, spent an afternoon in Taos, and even spotted a black bear checking out the deck of a house in a nearby neighborhood. Fortunately we were in our car and the residents didn’t appear to be present. The quiet mountain surroundings, crisp pine scented air, comfortable home and time together was rest for our souls.















During the drive home from the trip I spoke with Debbie concerning Billie. Great news, since his healing was going so well, she and Mark were leaving him in the Cleveland hospital for a few more days while they headed back to their jobs in Dayton.
Still in high gear, the following week I got on a plane to Las Vegas to visit my best friend Terri, her mom Doris, and attend a Beth Moore/Kay Arthur bible conference. This trip had been planned for almost a year with tender loving care and great anticipation by the two of us. We rarely get to see each other and the fact we were combining my visit with a conference “starring” our two favorite Bible teachers put us both in spiritual overdrive! After I arrived, we hit the grocery store for our favorite snacks and proceeded to her gorgeous home where we sat and chattered non-stop until evening when we went to a bible study at her friend Jill’s home. What precious hours those were.



















Early the next morning Mike called me from Texas saying Billie had taken a sudden serious turn for the worse and Debbie and Mark were speeding up to Cleveland. I got a hold of my sister while they were driving and through tears she shared the news of his critical condition. Life slowed down abruptly and then came to a grinding halt when later that morning Mark called me from Cleveland with the news of Billie’s death. The flood gates of my heart burst open with emotion and I felt like a car spinning out of control on ice, heading for a cliff.
The next 48 hours were like driving thru a dense fog. Somehow I managed to make it back to Texas, pick up Mike and fly home to my family in Dayton, Ohio. I can’t describe that week except to say it was the hardest most heartbreaking time in my life and 100 times more so for my sister and Mark. I have never prayed so much and shed so many tears. Coming back to Texas I felt like a car stuck permanently in a rut, spinning my wheels and getting no where. I am so thankful for my friends that lifted me and my family up to the Lord during that time. His comforting hand was always upon me.
Stuck in low gear, September dragged on. I seemed to be rooted in the land of sorrow, the valley of death. During the last week of September Mike’s sister Deb came for a visit. It is always a joy to see her. Her light hearted humor got me feeling alive and moving forward again. We spent time going to the Fort Worth Japanese gardens, eating Mexican food and watching movies with Freddie, their dad.




















In October Mike and I went back up to Ohio for a visit. Life was moving forward slowly but surely. Though the week was filled with emotional moments we spent lots of quality time with my family even celebrating Chip’s and my birthday at a party my sister Sherri had for us.
While we were there however, another crisis struck. Freddie, Mike's dad, had a TIA (mini-stroke) that caused him to end up in the VA hospital in Dallas after becoming lost for 15 hours driving around Texas. Our lives slammed into low gear again not knowing how to best proceed with Anxiety fighting to be in the driver’s seat. Deb, Mike’s sister, saved the day by coming from Austin, Tx and dealing with the situation until we got home from our visit in Ohio. We have been crawling forward with caution the last several weeks. Our emotions our raw from grief, anxiety, sadness, and exhaustion. We found a nursing home about 30 minutes away for Freddie and moved him within a couple of days. His mini-strokes have left him too confused to live on his own. His “new reality” has caused him to totally shift gears as he adjusts to his new “home”, new routine, and essentially new life. Mike and I are working on a schedule for visits that we can commit to with consistency.











As we seem to have bottomed out, we are shifting again and driving out of this valley of sadness and uncertainty headed for some level ground. Cruising at this moment seems to be a thing of the past, a mere memory, but I am asking the Lord to help me focus on Him and realize He is the one controlling the transmission and my direction -even when my gears are jammed and I seem to be rolling backwards.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Intruders, "Mr. and Mrs. Rocky"


These past few months we noticed that Kitten, our beautiful long-haired cat, has significantly increased her food intake without any apparent weight gain. This is something I have been hoping would happen in my life for years! How I would love to eat the pound bag of peanut M&M's without having to purchase jeans a size larger. In addition to the new appetite we noticed she was "frolicking" in the back yard during the evening, often tipping over her food dish, water bowl and deck plants. This behavior is very unusual for a cat that likes to lay around like a couch potato most of her life. Well.. a few evenings ago, as Mike and I were snoozing in our TV room, we were abruptly awakened by noises on our deck. Flying to the window to see what was causing the commotion, we spotted two raccoons sauntering around the deck checking out Kitten's food bowl. Mike grabbed a flashlight and went outside to get a closer view of Rocky and his wife. Instead of running in fear, they give him a look like , "Hey buster, get some chow in this bowl pronto, we're hungry". Well, we love animals but Biskit, Cookie, and Kitten are more than enough for our home and budget. After getting advice from various people and web-sites, Mike headed to Home Depot to purchase a "Have-a-hart" trap. This apparatus is baited with food and after the animal enters it to feast a door closes trapping him without harm. We were disappointed after the first unsuccessful night. We woke to an empty cage still full of food. The second night, however, we hit the jack-pot and captured both Rocky and his Mrs. We relocated them a few miles away in a woodsy area near the lake. They will have to begin a new "natural" diet...bugs, fish, and vegetation since Purina will no longer be available served in a cute bowl!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Billy- Precious moments and memories

The Lord gives, and He takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
God breathed life into my nephew Billy 20+ years ago and He took it away yesterday morning, Wednesday Sept 3rd.
As I am overcome with grief and my heart feels pierced, I am ever grateful for Billie's life and the opportunities I got to spend with him.

In the scheme of eternity, life is brief. Whether we live one month, 20 years, or 90 years, we are momentary.
BUT, in the moments we have, in the moments Billy had, he made a precious, significant contribution in the lives he touched.
In my life.
My memories, my moments with Billy began when he was just a long, squirming crying baby. Never content with anyone but his mom, my sister Debbie.
From the beginning they had a special bond.
It wasn’t until he was out of the baby phase that I was able to begin knowing him and discover his unique personality and tender heart.
-His artistic abilities became apparent when he was still a “little guy”. He drew all sorts of pictures and gave them as gifts. He spent hours constructing Leggo masterpieces.
-At the age of 4 or 5 he could beat me 90% of the time at the memory card game “Concentration”, squealing with delight at his victory over us “old” folks.
-Skateboarding became a passion as he got a bit older. He loved to show off with stunts of flying off the porch steps, spinning in the air, and racing at top speed down the drive way. He made it look so easy! Ha.
-I remember being impressed with his karate moves and his “chop-socki” (num-chuk?) sticks that he could twirl around like batons without hitting himself or me as he performed.
-His big sister Melissa was relentless in keeping him on his fighting “toes” as the two of them had sibling battles.

Billy….Oh Billy. What a joy filled boy and then young man- William.

Mike and I spent a special time with him when he came to visit us in Texas several years ago. We dragged him around to all sorts of Fort Worth sight-seeing stuff. He was such a good sport making everything we did so much more entertaining and meaningful. We spent a whole day at an RV show going from RV to RV with Billy paving the way, giving us his assessments and opinions of each one. His main focus was whether our dogs Biskit and Cookie would find them comfortable. He had a way with animals.
-More recently he became quite a technology geek. Lots of expertise at online video games, computer and I-Pod stuff. In June, just a couple of months ago, he gave me a beginner “text messaging” lesson on my cell phone. I am pretty remedial, but he was patient in teaching ol’ Aunt Kathie several times. I never did figure it out.

Though Billy faced lots of things in his life I would consider “hard”, like seeing his dad become ill, going through multiple surgeries, experiencing countless illnesses, he was characterized by his positive/fun filled attitude, his warm, caring, loving and gentle heart, his brilliant smile and non-stop sense of humor and wit, his love of kidding around.

We all wish we could hear his voice once more, see his handsome animated face, hear his laughter, feel his embrace. We can’t.
His moments on earth weren’t numerous enough for us, those he left behind, BUT they were moments that he packed with life and love.
I can no longer see Billy physically, but my memories of him are just a blink of the eye away, hidden in my heart where I can visit him all the days of my life for all the rest of my moments.

Thank you Billy for enriching my life.
Thank you Lord for Billy's life.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Girls' Day Out

This week I had the pleasure of spending a day with April and Cindy on a shopping adventure to Sam Moons in North Dallas. In my day to day life, venturing further than a 5 mile radius from my home is a rarity (except for work-21 miles). Obviously I have a rather “limited” life. I hate the 6 lane, “mix master”, high speed, adrenaline pumping, white knuckled, competitive driving that is required getting to Dallas to shop. So, I don’t go unless, of course, someone else offers to do the driving. Cindy generously made that offer this week and her daughter-in-law April and I jumped at the opportunity. Cindy is a most calm and confident driver, so we were able to sit back, relax and have girl talk for the hour drive. Sam Moons is one of those places everybody MUST visit who has a LIMITED budget and likes to accessorize with jewelry, purses, belts, and other cool stuff. Just like Sam Walton of Walmart, Sam Moon (is there really such a man?) had the right merchandise mix, the perfect location (unless you live in Arlington) and most of all the right PRICES when he built this little Chinatown empire. We arrived right after it opened and the parking lot was already teaming with cars and women swarming to begin their shopping spree. The three of us had our baskets loaded to overflowing after just our first pass thru the store. Then came the tough part requiring us to get "real" (even inexpensive things bought by the dozens equals lots of bucks) and scale our greed down to a manageable (affordable) amount. By the time we checked out we were exhausted from the shopping frenzy and needing some calories to regain our stamina. Burger King fit the bill. Here we indulged not only in "nutritional" burgers and fries but also in a time of “show and tell”. Unloading our bags of "booty" to check out , we “oooh and ahhhed” over our new purchased treasures with great pride and excitement. We beat the rush hour traffic home to rescue Donnie and Ryan from their “Boys Day of Babysitting” and snap a picture of the happy shoppers!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Old Friends-Sandra (part one)

I have been blessed by four friends from my past peeking into my life the last couple of months. Since I have not had multitudes of friends, those I have are significant. Though circumstances have removed them from my realm for one reason or another I treasure the memories we have shared and am delighted that I have been reconnected, however briefly, with Sandra, Andrea, Renardis and Susan. I want to share some of their specialness. I will begin with...
Sandra- This godly woman came into my life about 7 years ago at my first church. I had not known the Lord long and felt out of my element- going to church by myself, trying to find an area to serve, getting to know about fellowship with other Christian women, and learning about drawing close to the Lord through Bible study. Sandra came “beside me” (whether she realized it or not) and because of her maturity in the Lord encouraged me, and helped me plug into Bible study. Along with my "soul sister" Terri, see my previous blog, the three of us became friends. As you might imagine the icing on the cake was the fact that we are dog lovers! (she is holding my dog Cookie in the picture). Our trio made some fun filled trips together. I remember going to Chattanooga, Tn. several times to attend a national women’s conference featuring our favorites teachers, Kay Arthur and Beth Moore, driving to Houston to a Precepts training seminar the day after the 911 terrorist attack in New York, spending a weekend at a retreat in a beautiful area in east Texas in cramped bunk beds and an overheated cabin, and going to the Billy Graham training sessions at a nearby church. In all of these events we spent lots of time not only studying God’s word, but growing our friendship and making memories. We each have a weakness for purchasing books, study guides, and study "paraphenalia". This was hugely manifested when we left the Chattanooga conference on a spiritual high and with Terri’s suburban loaded to the max with almost every book sold at the conference! I still chuckle about this, since after 7 years I haven’t made a dent in all the material I just “had to have” that day!
Well circumstances in life took me to a different church and over time I lost touch with Sandra.
Surprise! About 8 weeks ago I was revisiting my first church with a new friend, Joanne, when who do I spot sitting about seven rows in front of me? Sandra. Gosh, sweet memories of our times together flooded over me and I rejoiced to hug her and say hello. Later we had a chance to chat and as God would have it she invited me to the Precepts Bible study she is leading. This was an answer to a prayer I had been lifting to the Lord. I had recently “graduated” from the 7 year BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) course and was asking God to guide me to a new in depth study. To make a long story short, He gave me the answer in bringing me to my old friend Sandra and a brand new class of lovers of the Lord. Praise Him!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

This and That

Gosh it has been a month since my last post and several things have taken place. Nothing earth shattering, but worth mentioning.

1. Mike built the shed in ONE day. Yes, it came in a box ready to be put together, BUT he still had to read the book of directions and follow them, not any mans strong suit. It required a bit of MY input, of course, on how to arrange the tools and equipment so they look "nice" …but Mike gets most of the credit. It has now been in use for 3+ weeks and the convenience of getting at all the yard stuff has made the investment worth it.

2.Tree damage- the high winds in our area last week caused a small disaster in our backyard bringing down several large tree branches. One fell on the roof (no real damage thankfully) , and the other on landscaping.( Last year we lost a huge tree, our fence, and a bunch of shrubs in a severe storm). Mike and I labored all morning cutting and bundling up the tree and then hauling it to the street for pick up. We were in and out of the shed getting our tools. Very handy. Though we managed to get the mess cleaned up we were so exhausted that we didn't get many other things done. We had pictured our day off as laying on the couch watching a couple of movies and napping! No such luck. Our joints are still aching! We were looking forward to visiting my family for a week of leisure...only...

3. My parents called to inform us they are moving to a retirement community not too far from their current home, Sycamore Glen. They won’t have to take care of the outside (yard, paint, roof, snow removal, etc) which is wonderful since their yard now is quite large and much work for Big Daddy. Mike and I are going to Ohio to help them pack up and get ready for this big event. As I mentioned, our visit was originally just about having fun with my family, playing cards, eating, laying on the couch watching movies, and napping. I guess manual labor is going to be the reality however, just like the shed and tree removal projects above. Ha!

I am excited about seeing their new place.

The picture of the outside is beautiful and appears
huge. I guess it is not an older age "downsize".

It has 3 bedrooms and a full walk-out basement.
Plenty of storage for all those things that they don't want to part with, and needless to say I will be packing!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Home Improvements by Mike

“Hard Labor” has been Mike’s life this spring as he takes on a serious home improvement. He loves working in the yard, and being a perfectionist, everything he tackles is done with excellence. I love that about him. Last spring, after a major storm wiped out our back fence and most of the landscaping, he built a raised brick planter filling it with purple Chinese fringe bushes that are growing beautifully. He also planted our garage area with fragrant Star Jasmine that climb along the fence. Those two projects were hugely successful and after a year of growing the air is filled with the sweet aroma we enjoy every time we leave the house.

This year he decided that a new walkway was needed behind our garage. The area is so shaded and narrow that it has become a muddy mess. Cookie and Biskit run across it while chasing squirrels, getting their feet covered with mud that requires constant attention when they come back into the house. Or, as often happens, they run into the house and track the floor with their paw prints compounding the cleaning issue. After multiple trips to Home Depot and Lowes, and much discussion, he decided on constructing it with cement blocks that look like individual bricks. Since this is his project I have tried to stay out of his way physically and with my verbal “tips” and watch the making of the walkway. Landscape had to be removed, bags of base dirt hauled in (requiring MANY trips in his little Honda Civic) to make the area level, edging installed to hold all in place, stones cut and laid (sometimes three to four times just to get them perfect), sand spread over all the bricks and between the cracks, new landscape purchased and planted, gutter run off rerouted, gate bottom cut so it would close over the pathway....more steps than I had ever imagined. After three weeks it is finished and looking most excellent. The recent rains have given us a chance to check its drainage and I am glad to report the problem of muddy paws seems to be solved! Of course, one success spawns ideas for more improvements so I have been informed a shed is next on the list. I’ll keep you posted...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sisters in Sedona



I can’t believe it has been several weeks since I got back from the “Girls trip” to Sedona, Arizona with my sisters Debbie and Sherri. I had been looking forward to it for months, and now it is just a great memory! Mike went with us on the condition he would do all the driving and let the girls be in charge of the daily agenda. He agreed! Sedona is one of the places we discovered on a road trip to Arizona in 2001. We stumbled on this tucked away paradise after visiting the Grand Canyon and fell in love with its red rock beauty. My sisters have never been out west. The beautiful greenery and farmlands of Ohio are far from the barren beauty of Sedona and I was excited about sharing this special place with them. Our four day adventure together was crammed full of activities. The first day we spent enjoying Tlaquepaque a unique and artistic shopping area in the heart of Sedona. We didn’t buy much (it is very pricey) but we looked at everything! A trip to the Grand Canyon took up our second day. I never tire of visiting this awesome, overwhelming, HUGE, and beautiful wonder of the Southwest. I put a few of my pictures on my website http://www.mikeandkathie.com/ .

We spent the rest of the time sightseeing, talking, eating, talking, shopping, talking, watching chick flicks, talking, drinking coffee till noon in our PJs and talking. Talking was the main event and since we don’t get to see each other often we made sure we logged an abundance of our time together doing just that.
Mike needs to get credit for his excellent company. He patiently listened to our non stop girl chatter, took us to all the sightseeing and shopping areas and even watched a couple of chick flicks.
The bummer part to this vacation as well as every other trip is that it comes to an end and the moments of excitement and closeness become memories to revisit and treasure. In my head I am already planning the next Girls Event…Gatlinburg? Las Vegas? Smoky Mountains?….more memories to be made.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Daddy's "Angels"



“Charlie’s Angels”, a popular TV show I loved to watch in the 70’s, focused on three beautiful, big haired, adventuresome young women out to solve all sorts of crimes. My Dad had three “angels” of his own to deal with during that same time, and although not beautiful, and big haired, we certainly added adventure to his life spelled
A-N-I-E-X-T-Y. My sisters Debbie and Sherri and of course myself made up this dynamic trio. Being close in age we were quite a handful for Dad to contend with during our teenage years. Remember the 70’s? Oh my! Mini-skirts, love beads, marihuana, loud rock concerts, flower power, sexual revolution, black-light posters, the Vietnam war, birth control pills, long haired boys, rebellion to authority, terms like “far out”, “dream on”, “can you dig it?” are a few of the “highlights” parents were challenged with. That is the same time Dad began taking blood pressure, nerve, and sleeping pills. All quite justified. We were no longer his sweet, darling little “daddy’s girls”, living to serve and please him. OH NO, those times were distant memories by the time we hit
15, 16, and 17 all wanting to use the car, fighting for the shared bathroom, the one stereo to blare our music through, not wanting a curfew and refusing to obey it anyhow. Lots of battles were fought, lots of feelings hurt, lots of tears shed. Gosh, now, when the three of us reflect on that period we are overwhelmed with embarrassment for the shameful things we did and the agony our precious Dad endured (because he loves us). The good news is that at 52, 53, and 54 we have again become “Daddy’s Angels” delighting in serving and loving him. PS. He no longer needs nerve and sleeping pills to enjoy our company!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

God is "Maker" the Creator!

Recently I received this message from a friend. It is so cleverly written and so true I just have to share it..
RECALL NOTICE :
The Maker of all human beings is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect has been technically termed "Subsequential Internal Non-Morality," or more commonly known as SIN, as it is primarily expressed. Some other symptoms include:
1. Loss of direction
2. Foul vocal emissions
3. Amnesia of origin
4. Lack of peace and joy
5. Selfish or violent behavior
6. Depression or confusion in the mental component
7. Fearfulness
8. Idolatry
9. Rebellion

The Manufacturer, who is neither liable nor at fault for this defect, is providing factory-authorized repair and service free of charge to correct this SIN defect. The Repair Technician, Jesus, has most generously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. There is no additional fee required. The number to call for repair in all areas is P-R-A-Y-E-R. Once connected, please upload your burden of SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure. Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician, Jesus, into the heart component. No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Jesus will replace it with:
1. Love
2. Joy
3. Peace
4. Patience
5. Kindness
6. Goodness
7. Faithfulness
8. Gentleness
9. Self control
Please see the operating manual, the B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth), for further details on the use of these fixes. WARNING: Continuing to operate the human being unit without correction voids any manufacturer warranties, exposing the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded. DANGER: The human being units not responding to this recall action will need to be scrapped in the furnace. The SIN defect will not be permitted to enter Heaven so as to prevent contamination of that facility.
Thank you for your attention!
Signed,
GOD
Please assist where possible by notifying others of this important recall notice, and you may contact the Father any time by "kneemail."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"Soul Sisters"


God knew what He was doing when He placed Terri in my life. Eight years ago I was in the process of getting my dog Biskit (check his picture out on the side bar- VERY cute) and was quite insecure about becoming a "dog mom". The only "mom" experience I had was with cats- low maintenance compared to dogs and definitely not as much fun. It was while I was bugging everyone in my path about dog care when Terri popped up in my life. She was new to my church and was looking for a friend. Terri is a big dog lover. She has trained dogs, shown dogs, studied dogs, and in general just loves dogs and talks about them quite a bit. The ladies at church led her right to me. So began our friendship based on dogs! Of course God was in the midst of our relationship and was not going to let it stop with "dog talk". Over the years we have become "soul sisters" spending hours together studying God's word, sharing how He is impacting our life, eating out, shopping, and of course going on adventures with our four legged children. This past week she came to visit from Las Vegas where she now lives. We had some fun filled days -getting up late, staying up late, eating , talking, watching movies and playing with my furry children. Biskit and Cookie were in heaven. They love the attention from Aunt Terri who was their dog sitter before moving to Nevada and have tons of memories of playtime with Buddy, Chester and Abe. I love the way God works things out in our lives. Who would imagine that a couple of cute canines would be the foundation of a special friendship?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Home Alone


Last week was special, I was home alone. Mike went on a ski trip that I cancelled out on when ALL the other women decided not to go and I for sure wasn't up to being the lone woman with six men, (even if they are really great guys). I decided to keep my vacation from my job and spend the week doing my own thing. No husband to tend to, no job to go to, no cooking, just Biskit, Cookie and me. I don't know why this should be so exciting but it is. I endeavored to do all my favorite things which of course is impossible since I have way too many...but that didn't stop me from trying. Instead of the usual 5 am alarm buzz, I slept in a bit each day waking to licks on my face. Spending a morning breakfast with my friend Krista was a delight for both of us, something we rarely get to do and we took full advantage of the 2 hours we had together. My buddy Jan and I went to dinner and then to see "Chicago" at the Bass Hall one evening. That gave us something to talk about for sure-both good and bad, (if you saw it you would know what I'm talking about). Christ Chapel gave an awesome concert of "Gershwin and Friends" music that 5 of us ladies attended another evening. In addition I read a book, worked in my yard, went to the park almost every day with my two four legged buddies, talked on the phone, took pictures, worked on my computer, rented a bunch of "chick flicks" that Mike refuses to watch with me, ate popcorn for supper, didn't shave my legs, no makeup and a day of PJ's, and lots of time spent with the Lord. It may be a years before I have this opportunity again, but I'm making a "home alone" list so that I will be prepared whenever that time arrives!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Weekend with my Family!

Deb, my sister-in-law, came for a quick visit this weekend. Deb is Mike's younger sister, about my age, young 50's. Though we have many things in common, I believe it is our differences that often end up bringing us the most fun. For example- at Christmas Deb got Mike a couple of remote flying helicopters to fly around in the house and do battle with each other. Now that phrase in bold text is where I had the problem. I am way to "pent up" with things flying around in my house, hitting the walls, art-work, and decorations to really enjoy myself. Mike and Deb, on the other hand were in their element. It was a stretch for me, but once I relaxed I was laughing and having a good time watching them trying to control those minature helicopters. Biskit, Cookie and Katie were in heaven chasing them around the room whenever they crashed into the floor and furniture! Deb's sense of humor and quick wit always keeps me laughing and I look forward to our times together. Saturday afternoon we piled into Mike's dirty "dog car" and went to see the movie "There Will be Blood". We were in agreement that it missed the mark. Lots of interesting elements, but short on story line and too violent. Definitely NOT a funny movie. Aterwards we dragged Freddie (my father-in-law) out to dinner at Cheddar's where we stuffed our selves with tasty food and he picked up the tab!
The four of us layed around the rest of the evening attempting to stay conscious to watch some loser rented movies. We weren't successful and lots of snoring was had by all until we gave up and went to bed around midnight.
Sunday morning was beautiful and after loading up on coffee we went on a romp with the dogs to a park near Lake Arlington. I posted a couple photos on my website. It was late morning when Deb and Katie got in her new "Hot Red" car (very cool) and took off for their home in Austin. Can't wait for a repeat visit!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

An Amazing Woman-Inez Beck

Inez and I go back a long ways. Like most of my life. When I was about 4 years old and living in Wadsworth, Ohio she became my grandmother's neighbor. They developed a precioius friendship that lasted the lifetime of my grandmother who died at age 95. My first memory was when she and my grandma would babysit for my two sisters and me. We were afraid of her back then since she would not let us get a way with any of our "babysitter tricks". Very strict! I don't think she ever spanked us but only because my grandma was with her! Never having any children of her own and not being fond of them it was probably because of her love for my grandma that she put up with us. As I grew older and became a "real person" (vs. whining/demanding child) her heart softened and she became like a loving aunt and friend. Always learning and doing something interesting or adventuresome she loved to share her life with others. I remember some of the things she pursued. In the 60's she bought a little VW Van, fixed it up herself and dragged my grandparents on exciting trips around the country (which they TOTALLY enjoyed since they never went anywhere). She got into photography and took all sorts of videos and pictures of us as youngsters which we still love to check out. She learned to do woodworking and carving setting up a studio in her basement to make stuff. She won numerous awards for her counted cross-stich creations. She took up oil painting, ceramics, astronomy and telescopes, building birdhouses, making jewelry, doing computer stuff, camping, birdwatching, traveling, reading, caring for her elderly aunt, and making a ton of friends. (note-those are just a few of the things that come to mind, there are many more). She got into things DEEP- totally immersing herself in whatever she was studying until she acheived a level of excellence. These "hobbies" as she called them would take up years and then she would move onto another interest. Her memory continues to blow me away. At 85 she continues to remember the details and history of her travels, the books she has read, and movies seen. Though she has some hearing difficulties and arthritis, she continues to travel, birdwatch (her passion for the last 10 years or so) and maintain numerous friendships. Living so far away I rarely get to see her, but we keep each other up to date through email. In 2007 I got the special opportunity of visiting her when this picture was taken. I treasure the memories I have and still get to make with this AWESOME woman !

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Politics- where are the ambassadors for Christ?


I am not much of a political person. I probably have an unfair sterotype of politicians based on the CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC stuff I see on TV. In fact I have a rather negative attitude toward the news people too. As a Christian seeking truth, it is hard for me to find anyone in politics, in the news and even in discussions at my work place and often in church that reflects Christ. That is pitiful. There is so much noise and propaganda on all sides about the economy, the Iraq war, gas prices, education, national security, illegal immigration, and health care. There is so much dis-unity among everyone, so much mean spiritedness, name calling, and disrespect that I wonder what Jesus thinks of us when we claim our nation is under God. When Jesus calls us to be lights in an exceedingly dark world I don't think He had political debates and news rooms in mind. I think He had the hearts of those that treasure Him and desire to be His ambassadors for His Righteouness. It scares me when I look at the choices of candidates . I know God is in control even when the wicked appear to prosper. I know I must trust in Him. I pray that God will have mercy on our depraved country and lift up one that is unashamed to speak His name and proclaim His values publicly. I pray that God awaken the hearts of those that are His to turn to Him and pray for wisdom and transformed minds. As a nation we do not deserve anything but God's wrath for our ungodly behaviour. Just listening to the politicians and commentators for a few minutes on TV I realize it is only His lovingkindness that stays His judgement. But for how long?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Las Vegas -avoiding the sin in Sin City !

Mike and I have never desired to go to Las Vegas. We picture "Sin City" to be about gambling , sex stuff and lots of desert heat. Not our idea of fun. During my visit with my friend Terri last month, I discovered that there is much more to the city than my sterotype. Mike and I went there exploring this last week and boy was it an adventure. First of all it was COLD, like 30 degrees, like winter coat and mitten cold. That was actually a nice surprise. Next, while the place is about gambling and lots of the shows do have sexual content there was loads of stuff to do that didn't involve either. We went to a Russian ice show at the Riviera hotel, the Cirque de Soleil producton of "O" at the Bellagio, "Mamma Mia" at the Mandalay Bay, "Stomp out Loud" at Planet Hollywood, and the 3D imax movie "Sea Monsters" at the Luxor. Considering we rarely go more than 5 miles from our Arlington home during our normal life for entertainment, and never see anything except movies we rent from blockbuster , seeing 4 shows in 4 evenings was over the top for us. We totally loved each production. So much imagination. So much great music and talent . WOW. In addition, just walking around each of the numerous hotels is like going on a mini Disney World trip to Epcot. Walking in the Paris hotel was like strolling down the Champs Elysee in Paris complete with the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe. The Venetian is a minature Venice with water ways and gondola boats thru out the shopping area. The Mirage has a volcano erupting every 20 minutes with steam and molten fire. The Bellagio has a lake full of fountains that are choregraphed to various musical pieces. Red Rock Canyon is a brief 30 minute drive west of the city offering all sorts of hiking trails with spectacular sights. Further is an actual ski resort at Mt. Charleston. Hoover Dam is 35 minutes east of the city and has a tour down into the "workings" of the dam along with a museum. Needless to say, we ran out of time before we ran out of things to do. Las Vegas will definitely get a "repeat" visit from us sometime in our future !

Friday, January 11, 2008

A New Year !

2008 is here. We had an awesome holiday time. Since Thanksgiving our home had been decorated and looking festive. Mike's family (Freddie his dad, Jessie his nephew, Deb his sister ) spent time with us eating and hanging out. I had a lot of extra days off from work to read, walk the dogs, watch movies, relax and work at learning my new Photo software. A present from Mike. The learning curve seems pretty steep. Bummer. We returned our home to "normal" always a dreaded chore. Taking down the decorations, puttings gifts away, cleaning up, paying bills brought us back to reality. Without all the decorative clutter the place seems bare and boring ! This is a picture of Mike, Jessie, Deb, Freddie, Cookie and Me.

Eyes Opened

Today as I was dwelling in Matthew 13 I revisited that time when God opened my blinded eyes to Himself. An act that was truly ALL God's doing. I spent my 41 years at that point unknowingly blind and deaf to spiritual things; doing what was right in MY eyes, walking MY path, basing life on MY ideas. Things of God may have been surrounding me but not being equipped to recognize them I passed them over. Then all of a sudden but in slow motion my heart was softened, the scales fell from my eyes, the earplugs were removed and I heard the Word of God resonate within me. I could not rest or resist. It was as if I had been asleep all my life and suddenly been awakened to a new and glorious reality. A reality that was all about the LORD Jesus Christ. How scary and thrilling. A new babe had been born into His Kingdom. The adventure had begun!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

My Terri Trip or "Talk Fest"

Last month I went to visit my girlfriend Terri in Las Vegas. Since she moved away a couple of years ago we rarely see each other and when we do we have a "talk fest". My visit was only 72 hours long and I think we talked about 60 of them! She treated me to a surprse lunch with her special and prescious BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) friends at the Four Seasons restaurant. Very classy. The day I left we had lunch at the Bellagio Hotel where this picture was taken. Spending time with her reminded me of how much I miss living close by. We used to hang out in my TV room, drink coffee and talk about the Lord and our lives for hours. She knows all my eccentricities good and bad and loves me in spite of them. How God has spoiled me with the gift of her special friendship !