“…above and beyond…”

RLA_3508These days have flown by – some seasons seem lifetimes ago, and others just a few days.  How is it, then, that it seems only a short while ago we were worried about where to send our oldest to kindergarten – charter school, public school, home school?  We didn’t know.  And then through a process of every other door shutting…we did.  And now here we are, only one week from her graduation from high school.   So much in between, yet so quickly it seems to have passed.  There will be no more standardized state tests, no more rides to/from school, no more homecoming dances, no more school plays for this one.  Part of me is excited for the next adventure for her.  And the other part of me (which seems to win most days) stays in that happy/sad place of things changing.  It is tough – tougher than I thought it would be.

But now, I am reminded of our prayer for her as she entered kindergarten, and how in God’s amazing way, we have watched it play out – even as her steps for what is next are becoming clear:c74a6c4fa41f479f6c681c2513041691

(And now…back to the Kleenex… :))

A Review from the Stack – Fight Back with Joy

If you’ll remember, I began my Christmas break with a lovely stack of books – ready to tackle!  I can tell you that 5 of the books didn’t make the cut (or they made the cut, I guess, since I didn’t read them! HA!).


In the coming weeks I’ll tell you more about them, but for now I’d like to let you know about Fight Back with Joy by Margaret Feinberg.  It is an interesting title, that is for sure, and certainly grabs your attention.  Margaret walks through her own life and how she made a conscious effort that Joy was her response – to life, to battling cancer, to the unfair, to the friends, to her family.  When asked why she wrote the book, Margaret says:

“I studied joy for a year and was putting the finishing touches on book on joy—just two weeks from turning it into the publisher, when I received the diagnosis. I had been pursuing and activating joy in my life in the relatively good times, now I had to do it in the midst of darkness, depression, and torturous pain. Through the process, I’ve discovered the breadth, depth, and power of joy—that despite hundreds of sermons and many decades in the church—no one had told me of before.”

Some of my big takeaways?  Celebrating is vital and key to our lives today, and needs to be viewed as a discipline to embrace – “…the faintest expressions of celebration infuse us with hope.  Joy begets joy.  Even the most meager acts are an outward expression of an inward trust in God’s ability to meet our needs.  As silly as it sounds, mirth has a magical way of poking holes in the darkness until we see the stars.

Also – “instead of focusing on what’s been taken, find reason to offer thanks for what remains.”  Oh, if we could all live by this perspective.

I recommend this book for everyone, but especially if you struggle with having a joyful perspective and not being a Eeyore throughout your days.  Margaret reminds us through Scripture and stories that our God is one is celebrates us and gives us hope in the midst of the darkest days.  Thank you, Margaret, for sharing your story.

(There is also video promo here if you’d like to “see” more about the book versus read more about it!)

The stack

IMG_0677I like books.  Yes I do.  I go through phases of Kindle books versus “real” books – no real winner in my mind except maybe for the ease of getting a book on the Kindle versus checking one out.  I buy very few books unless they are THAT good.  I always have the hope of sharing with others the books I read as there are some great ones and not so great ones, especially in the fiction world when you don’t want to read about gratuitous sex, filter every other word you read, or encounter paragraph after paragraph of violence.  As my family will tell you, I bring at least one book per day of a vacation simply because it is highly unlikely they will all be read to completion BUT if every single one of them is that good, then I need one per day!

For today then, a view of my current stack and I HOPE to come back to you soon with suggestions!  One for now – for sure – is Bill Hybels newest book Simplify.


My desk

Over the past several years, I’ve worked  with an office in town for a little while, and then also an office at home.  This past year we made the transition to just an office at home.  After much negotiation as to where in our home for 5, we found a spot.  It just so happens to be at the top of the stairs (i.e. the landing) to the F.R.O.G. (i.e. a daughter’s room).  Remember I said negotiations earlier- now you understand.

My home office/work routine settled the early months of the year, but by the time Fall came, and a new job transition, I was spending much more time sitting each day.  I still kept the exercise routine at the Y, but sitting all the time was taking its toll.  Thus – a new idea that I read about- a treadmill desk!  I mean what better way to “work” while also “working out”.  The trick, though, was whether or not this was going to “work out”.

I researched and measured and dreamed and speculated and researched some more and then finally convinced the husband it was a good idea!  :)  Now -we had to figure out how to make it happen!  Step 1 – find a used treadmill.  Step 2- see if it will fit at the top of the stairs (that was fun…not).  Step 3- figure out if it will really work day / day with make shift “desk” across treadmill bars.  Step 4 – find a huge monitor to help out.  Step 5 – husband makes new “desk” to fit on top of treadmill and my new desk is born!!


I am so excited to be using it.  It has taken some adjustment, and I’ve learned that no matter how slow you are walking, always stop the treadmill when getting off.  :)  The first week I had it, I walked a marathon.  Pretty cool, huh.

I’d be happy to share with you how we made it all happen for less than the cost of most desk chairs!  ha!!


Being Lonely

This blog post by Lysa T. has rumbled through my feeds and emails these past weeks.  At first, it was just the headline – “If you ever feel lonely, read this.”  That initiated a skim, but not a reading.  Then, it appeared in my Facebook posts…I read a little more and thought – wow, this is more than just your normal “you are lonely, trust in God” post.   Still, though, it took one more pop up in my email for me to sit and read.  And absorb.  The line that began the deep dive:

And the great thing about gathering with people you just know you’re going to bond with is that they will get you. Really get you … like on the level of having inside jokes that makes every conversation comfortable and delightful.  I couldn’t wait to be with these people…

I have been there – exactly at that point – and had the same type of thing happen – being so alone amidst the many who were supposed to KNOW you were feeling lonely and be your BFF, right?  And then later on in the story, she says:

I wasn’t just in this place (feeling rejected) at the dinner that night. I’ve been in whole seasons of my life where, though I had people around, I felt quite alone in my calling.

20141216_LysaBut then there is hope, and as usual it is all about perspective.  What if I view this time differently, as Lysa says?

There is something wonderfully sacred that happens when a girl chooses to look past being set aside to see God’s call for her to be set apart.
Oh Lord – is that how you’d have me view those seasons?  I have been through those, been on the other side of those seasons, and I know there will be more ahead.  They are hard.  Lonely.  Full of doubt and questions of your calling and gifting – especially when it seems my unique gifts don’t fit in the normal box what those around me have (or so it seems).  But, Who created me?  Who made me with these giftings and gave me my calling?  Who made me unique and designed me from my mother’s womb?  And if it is the same Who who walks alongside me now, it makes little sense to doubt Him now.  Rather, wouldn’t it make more sense to lean into Him, trusting Him, asking for His comfort, as He is the great Comforter.
I’ll end with the wisdom that Lysa T shared in her blog on next steps when you are feeling this way.   Take the time to read her whole post – it is well worth it.  Thank you, Lysa, for sharing.

1. Look for the gift of being humbled.

Proverbs 11:2b reminds us that “with humility comes wisdom” (NIV). In this set apart place, God will give you special wisdom you’ll need for the assignment ahead.

2. Look for the gift of being lonely.

This will develop in you a deeper sense of compassion for your fellow travelers. You better believe when I walk into a conference now I look for someone sitting alone and make sure they know someone noticed them.

3. Look for the gift of silence.

Had I been surrounded by the voices of those people I was so eager to meet that night, I would have surely missed the voice of God. I’m trying to weave more silence into the rhythm of my life now so I can whisper, “God what might You want to say to me right now? I’m listening.”

I know it can be painful to be alone. And I know the thoughts of being set aside are loud and overwhelmingly tempting to believe in the hollows of feeling unnoticed and uninvited.

But as you pray through your feelings, see if maybe your situation has more to do with you being prepared than you being overlooked.

There is something wonderfully sacred that happens when a girl chooses to look past being set aside to see God’s call for her to be set apart.

Dear Lord, help me see the gifts hidden in this season of loneliness. I’m believing today that I’m set apart, not set aside. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

John 15:16a, “You didn’t choose me. I chose you.” (NLT)

– See more at: http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/if-you-ever-feel-lonely-read-this/#sthash.1oM2S0Ac.dpuf

20 years of cards

Back in 1997, I read an article in Martha Stewart Magazine about Christmas cards.  They had all sorts of ways to display the cards you receive.  One that I thought was fantastic was having a long wide ribbon display the cards of that year.  I began that year by going back to our first year of marriage/Christmas together – 1993 – and have done one ribbon every year since. That makes 20 ribbons to display this year.

It is so fun to look back on the cards and see how art has changed, designs have changed, and even to see signatures of folks who have since passed.  In the beginning I would have to choose the most important cards (i.e. family cards) versus the pretty ones.  These days, I seem to barely get enough cards that aren’t the photo cards!  Maybe one day I’ll acquiesce and add in photo cards.  But, for now, we are still doing it the old fashioned way!  (And the funny part – I can’t take a picture of all them anymore because they don’t fit on one wall!




In our home, the sport of choice to watch has always been hockey (go Canes!).  Our daughters have grown up this way with hockey games, hockey terminology, and experienced the smelly joy of their dad’s hockey gear in the car.  So, this Thanksgiving Dean (husband/dad) decided to play football to give the girls some sense of the game.  We have attempted this before, with Dean trying so very hard to help the girls understand, but with it ending in laughter, tears, or frustration by either party after about 5 minutes.  This time – he was ready and EVERYONE was playing a game.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but thought I’d let this series of pictures give you a good idea of how the game went.  No one cried, which was good.  :)  And I must tell you – Dean is the most patient man I know.  :)



IMG_4847Thanks to my mom for capturing those shots!