Friday, December 27, 2013

It's the Finish That Defines You

With the first of the new year just days away.

I've been thinking about the new year's resolutions I've made during my life.

They're all about......"starting."

But at the end of December.


It's more about finishing, right?

Starting is fresh.

And optimistic.

It's hopeful.

Starting has the best intentions.

But, finishing?

How many things have I started this year.

And finished.....well?


A better question.

How many things have I started.

And quit?

Or started.

Grew tired.

And lost interest?

"It's the finish that defines you."


the finish.

that defines me.

That was an almost completely missed comment.

That slipped out of the mouth recently.

Of personal trainer.

Jillian Michaels.

But like most things that strike a cord with me.

It probably hit me as profound.

Because I needed to hear it.

"Its the finish that defines me."

Apply that to any area of my life.

Do I finish strong?

Do I finish well?

Do I finish.......period.

Or is my life more about.


New Year's resolutions.

Nothing wrong with making them.

But, for me.

My challenge is to finish.

One life.

One chance.

Make it count.

How will my finishes define me?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Say What You Need to Say

I wrestled with making the call for a while.

But there was someone in my life.

That I knew I should reach out to.

But I put it off.


Put it off.

And even as I delayed.

I had a strong sense.

That Jesus was speaking over me.

Do it.

And while I thought about it.

And played out the conversation in my head.

He was patient with me.

As always.

But persistent.

It's time.

Do it.

Pick up the phone.

Reach out.

And call.



I did.

And I said what I felt like I needed to say.

And it was awkward.

And  it felt uncomfortable.

But I did it.

I said.


I needed to say.

And when it was done.

I felt peace.

And that felt........pretty good.

Maybe there's someone in your life.

That you need to say something to.

The holidays may bring someone immediately to mind.

That's what happened to me.

You may need to say.

"I'm sorry."

"I've missed you."

"I just wanted to check on you."

"I love you."

It may not come out just right.

You may do a horrible job of spitting it out.

Don't let that stop you.

And as John Mayer's song goes:

"even if your hands are shaking
 and your faith is broken
 even as your eyes are closing
 do it with a heart wide open
 say what you need to say
 say what you need to say
 say what you need to say
 say what you need to say."

Is there somebody this Christmas.

You need to say something to?

Say it.

You never know.

When the opportunity may pass.

And you may not get it back again.


What you need to say.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Station Wagon Caroling

I LOVE to sing.

Christmas carols!

And I seriously......cannot...... carry a tune in a bucket.

My family would quickly agree.

But, it matters.

Not at all to me.

Me & caroling have a close tie to cars.

My favorite place to sing carols is in my little green Fiesta.


I've been doing it for weeks.

And more quietly.

In my office.

Listening to the Celine Dion holiday station.

On Pandora.

But, countless times this Christmas.

I've remembered.

Caroling in another vehicle.

My family's old station wagon.

In the early 1970's.

Packed in. seat belts.

With the kids I grew up with.

In the Pleasant Grove Community.

One of my best Christmas memories.....ever.

Christmas caroling.

In the cold mountain air of December.

With Rachel.
And Karen.
And Clare.
And Johnny.
And my brothers.

Those I remember the most.

Pile out.

Sing a few songs.

Pile back in.



Pile back out.

Sing again.

Up and down the tar & gravel roads of our community.

We sang for shut-ins.

Sometimes for our grandparents.


I loved that.

Funny the memories you keep.

This one still comes back.

Inspiring me to sing again.

Still off key.

But just as happily.

At least when no one is listening.


And the old station wagon.

A wonderful Christmas memory for me.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Cure For Self Pity

Admit it.

I know it's not just me.

We all go through times.


Short ones, hopefully.

Of self-pity.

I'm not proud to say.

I've had one in recent weeks.

The details are so not important to share.

Because details of my self pity.

Wouldn't look much different than yours.

It usually goes like this.

"I'm not appreciated."

"That didn't go as I hoped."

"That hurt."

"If I only had............"


"That's not fair."

"I was slighted."

"She was so rude!"



Self pity is not attractive.


Does it sound familiar?

Many times.

I travel down the road of self pity for some time.

Before it hits me.

This....... is ridiculous!

Not that I feel disappointment sometimes.

But that what starts as a small.

A little.


Picks up steam.

And rolls into a giant!


Downward rolling.

Trip of self pity!

I knew almost without thinking.

How to correct my self pity.

Self pity can't exist with gratitude.

I've heard that many times.

It  just can't do it.

And maybe it would be enough for you.

To "think" of what IS going good in your life.

But for me.

I'm a visual girl.

It means more to me to WRITE it down on paper.


Over the last few days.

That's what I've done.

I found a journal I hadn't used.

And I christened it to be my gratitude journal.

And everyday.

For the last few days.

I've made time.

To write down.

What I am grateful for each day.

And I was amazed.

At how many things.

I could actually list.


After another.

After another.

It's a fact.

When I changed my focus on what's NOT going good.

To what IS good.

I shift.

All of me.

And as I sit in the morning.

In this chair.

And enjoy the lights from my Christmas tree.

In my home.

That I share with my sweet man.

And I recognize.

That my house is warm.

I have food in my kitchen to eat.

And clothes in my closet to wear.

And coffee.......thank you Jesus.....from my new Keurig.

I have a great deal to be thankful for.

Shifting my focus.

As simple as that.

"thankfulness opens your heart to My presence and your mind to My thoughts.
 you may still be in the same place, with the same set of circumstances, but
 it's as if a light has been switched on, enabling you to see from My perspective.
 it is this light of My presence that removes the sting from adversity."

 "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young

Monday, December 9, 2013

I'm Afraid of Normal

Do you have a hard time fessing up to what you fear?

I've become a less fearful person since cancer.

There's something about walking through that experience.

You grow.

Good grief!

I certainly hope I grew.

But I still experience fear.


For me.

There's a strong spiritual aspect to fear.

The enemy loves to whisper fear over my life.

And if I'm not careful.

I'll buy it.



And sinker.

So, what do I fear?

Sometimes I fear the future.

What the future might hold.

I sometimes fear failing.

At my job.

Or in my most important relationships.

Because people are counting on me.

And I don't want to let them down.

Sometimes I fear losing Scott.

Or my children.

That's not unusual, I guess.

To fear losing the people I love the most.

But I'm also fearful.

Of not living the fullest life that I can.

Having too normal a life scares me to death.

I guess my view of normal is a bit twisted.

To me, normal plays it safe.

Normal won't go out on a limb.

Or take a risk.

When I think of living the fullest life I can.

I believe that's what God wants for me.

And the last thing I want to do.

Is settle.

For safe.

And risk free.

That's not what Jesus is all about.

Really following after Him can be scary.

His goal is not for me to be comfortable.

He's always leading me to change.




To change.

And that means stepping out.

Being uneasy.

And I don't always like that.

But at the same time.

I'll take my chances with Him.


I'm more afraid of normal.

"Be willing to go out on a limb with Me.
If that is where I am leading you,
it is the safest place to be.

Your desire to live a risk-free life is a form of unbelief.
Your longing to live close to Me is at odds
with your attempts to minimize risks.  

Your are approaching a crossroads in your journey.
In order to follow Me wholeheartedly,
you must relinquish your tendency to play it safe.

Let Me lead you step by step through this day.
If your primary focus is on Me,
you can walk along perilous paths without being afraid.

Eventually, you will learn to relax and enjoy the adventure
of our journey together.
As long as you stay close to Me, 
My sovereign presence protects you wherever you go.

December 9th  "Jesus Calling"  Sarah Young

Friday, November 29, 2013

He Died Like He Lived

When animals come to live at the Dublin house.

It's for life.

And with that said.

We've seen several in our family......of pets.

Come to the end of their life.

Jasper found me in 1999.

He was in the engine of a van at work.

When the driver cranked up that winter morning almost 15 years ago.

A six week old grey tabby kitten ran for his life.

To the safety of some nearby shrubbery.

Right outside my office.

I think it was a divine appointment.

At work.

Everybody calls on me.

When it comes to the stray.

The injured.

 Or the orphaned.

That's how many of our animals have come to join our family.

I scooped the little grey tabby up that morning.

And quickly took him home.

It was.

The luckiest day of his short life.

In 1999.

Taylor was just 6.

And Kate was only 13.

And it was.

The beginning of a long and sweet relationship in our family.

Cats all have very different personalities.


Was good to the bone.



and kind.

He was a giant.

He stood tall.


Strong in his prime.

Taken by some to be more like a bobcat.


In size.

Unless you knew him, of course.

Scott & I have known for weeks.

That his time was drawing to a close.

We spent more time with him these last few days.

Holding him.

And reminding him how much we loved him.

And this morning.

As the vet gently and tenderly put him down.

He purred.

Even as he took his final breath.

He was purring.

Sweet Jasper.

He died just like he lived.


Full of love.

Always remembered here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Healthy Order

Have you ever had one of those of nights?

When the sheets on your bed come untucked at the bottom?

And you covers on the top won't quite come up high enough?

When you flip and flop in fitful sleep.....

If you can even call it sleep.

It's more like......complete unrest.

That was me a few nights ago.


Caused by a lack of.....order.

In my covers.

It dawned on me this morning.

How many times that word applies to other areas of my life.

I go through occasional times of unrest.

How about you?

The kind of unrest I get in my spirit sometime.

And eventually.

It spills over into the other areas of my life.

And when I stop.

And look around.

At what doesn't quite seem in place.

Like I did this morning.

It was clear.

What I really need is some order in my life.

Not to be confused with extreme organizing.

Or extremes in any sense of the word.

Or even control.

But sometimes.


I just need some healthy order in my life.

For me.

If my house is a wreck.

The laundry is piled high.

My dishwasher hasn't been unloaded in days.

And the dust on my furniture is wayyyy thicker than it should be.

I have some degree of unrest in my spirit.

Don't judge me.

Some of you know exactly what I'm talking about.

If my diet consists of cereal for supper or I'm making terrible food choices.

I need some order.

A quick fix can be as simple as sitting down to plan out some menus.

Heaven forbid if I should ever do that!

Something that might actually gain me a different result!

Or make time to go to the grocery store.

That  dreaded chore I avoid at ALL costs.

If I've not been feeling good physically.

If I'm sluggish and low on energy.

I definitely need to establish some discipline and order.

By getting on the treadmill when I come in from work.

Instead of sitting down to look at pinterest.


I need to get off my tush.

And walk.


And bring some healthy order into my life.

At our house.

We use debit cards to pay for everything.

And if we're not diligent.

We can turn around.

And have an unbelievable pile of debit receipts to log in our checkbook.

(see?!...... the stack over there?.....on my kitchen counter!)

It needs order.

Another simple fix.

Sit down, woman!

And log the receipts!

And bring a little order to your family's finances!


There can also be a huge spiritual angle to this as well.

When I feel a bit overwhelmed.

Or worried.

Or fearful.

Or if God has been silent in my life when I feel He should be answering a prayer.

Or I haven't turned to Him about a disappointment.

Or even if I haven't been honest with Him about something.

I need Him to bring order to my relationship with Him.

I need Him to bring order to my life.

Healthy order is huge for me.

And many times.

I just keep trudging along.

And I don't take the often simple steps.

To establish a little healthy order in my life.

Or more importantly.

I don't turn to Him to put things in order.


Taking the simple steps.

For a different result.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Making Progress

Thought I would share a progress report on the work we're doing on the house in
Due West.

Here's some "very before" and "where we are now" pictures as we keep moving
forward on renovating the 98 year old Bonner Street house.

Since September, there's been a white cloud of plaster dust rising from the house
every weekend as walls & ceilings come down.

We've already filled three dumpsters with plaster, lathe,
some walls & materials coming down in the reno.

Work by our contractor, Greg Graber, started in the back of the first floor.
This is the original back porch.

and this is what it looks like today -- walls replace screen & a mudroom is being created.

The kitchen when we bought the house in September.

The area looking into the kitchen; closed in by a wall & narrow door.

The kitchen now -- the old flooring was taken up to reveal original maple hardwood floors &
the opening is widened to allow for more flow between the diningroom & kitchen.

the original diningroom,

the diningroom today.

Just inside the front door originally.

wall down & more open front entrance way.

Downstairs master bedroom before.  (see the door to the left which goes out to the porch.)

the master bedroom today; door to the porch now framed up to allow for a closet to the left of the fireplace.

master bathroom before.

master bathroom today; total gutting & adding about 4 feet into a narrow hallway.

original study.

study today.


We're making progress.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Light Bulb Moments

One of the best things about being my age?

Learning just a few thing.


Through plain ole experience.

Also translated.

Light bulb moments.

Truths so simple and true and relevant.

I was literally struck.   Hit between the eyes.

Here's a few.

All stress is rooted in the desire to control.

I heard my favorite Bible teacher make that declaration a few years back.
Beth Moore.
I believe it's true.
Try it on yourself.
Next time you start to get bent out of shape.
Worked up.
Ask yourself.
What am I trying to control?
A loved one?
(Good luck with that.)
Your circumstances?
An outcome?
Your future?
A relationship?

Trust me on this one.
I learned the hard way.
We don't control.
So when you feel the stress building.
Take a breath.
Step back.
Ask yourself.
What am I trying to control?
And give yourself a pass.
Release it.
Let it go.
Oh, we try.
We can't control.

I'm not responsible for changing the people in my life.

What a revelation this one was to me.
And, no, I'm not talking about young children.
I'm talking about adult friends.
Family members.
The people in my life.
The ones that struggle.
Have problems.
Lack direction.
Make mistakes.
Need motivation.
I'm not the one appointed.
To straighten them out.
Let me say that again.
I'm not responsible.
For convincing them to do differently.
I get to retire from that job.
I can still care.
I can still be involved in their life.
But I'm not responsible for changing them.
I can point them to the one I know can.
(that would be Jesus.)
But, clearly.
It ain't me.

What a relief.
I felt pounds lighter.
When this finally go through to me. what they want to.

It's true.
When it's all said and done.
People may make excuses.
Come up with reasons to explain.
But in the end.
People do what they want to.
I do.
You do.
We do.
Let's just be honest.
And cut the excuses.

This life is gone in a flash.

I look in the mirror sometimes.
And I have no idea how I got to be 54.
Life moves quickly.
It's very sobering to face our mortality.
I know many people that never do.
I don't get that.
We're all here a very short time.
Think about what's important.
What do you want to do while you're here?
What's important for you to accomplish?
And once you know.
Get on with it.
For goodness sake.
Just get on with it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The love of this man...

The odds were completely against us.

Dating at 16.

Still married at 54.

Who does that anymore?

We've been inseparable for......years.

High School.


Married since 1982.

The very best of friends.

Still together.



I have no idea why it worked for us.

Why he still gets that stupid smile on his face when he looks at me across the room.

And leaves me notes by the coffee maker.

Why he still puts up with my cats.

And invests his energy & resources into an old house.

Because it captured my heart.

We talk a little now.

About what it will be like.

When one of us is no longer here.

We laugh.

Because we want to go out like the two old uncles.

In "Second Hand Lions."


Scott says he wants to go first.

Just five minutes before me.

That sounds like a pretty good plan.

Lots of life together.

Hopefully lots more to come.

I am.

Most certainly.


By the love of this sweet man.