Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Unexpected Memories

It is a day of fever, a sore throat
and generally feeling blah.
I've cancelled my schedule for Wednesday
in favor of trying to accelerate
recovery from this "bug".
Besides my voice sounds like a foghorn
at the moment and isn't much good for
singing or teaching.
Tonight was supposed to be a long
awaited dinner with Michael and Emily
but can you believe she is also feeling
under the weather?
Poor dear.
I tell you all of this in an attempt to have
you judge me less harshly when I tell
you the reason I was inspired to
pop on here and write this post.
You see
I just noticed something that took me back
to some very special times in my childhood.
Back to the days when we lived in the parsonage
beside the church my Dad pastored.
In that church was a study
where Daddy spent many, many hours
preparing for his Wednesday evening prayer meetings,
Sunday morning and evening sermons.
In the course of most days he would head next door
with plates and cups in hand.
He would return empty handed.
After a while there would be a noticeable shortage
of dishes and glasses in our cupboards.
When this happened Mom would offer my
brother and I an opportunity to earn some
money by gathering all of those things back up again.
Off we would go with a basin to carry our treasures in.
We enjoyed this.
I mean, the man had plates, cups, saucers, spoons, knives and forks
everywhere over there.
It was a very real treasure hunt!
We were paid in coin
but to us it was just what we needed
 to purchase
Bottle Caps, Gobstoppers and Grape Bubble Yum
at the little grocery store a few miles away.
It was within reach by bike.
Now you may have figured out what it was that inspired this
memory today.
Perhaps not....
But it was the moment I looked up at the window sill
and saw not one, not two...
but three cups from today.
My cups.
One for hot tea, one was coffee
and one was orange juice.
Apparently the apple doesn't fall far from
the tree when it comes to collecting
cups, at least.
And in a time when my dad is on my mind
I just don't feel too badly about that.
I hope I have other traits of his as well....
since this wasn't one that we generally bragged about,
ok, we never bragged about it....
but he could have had much worse vices
than that of eating in his office.
Well, and not returning his utensils.
But don't you find that it is the little things that
bring them back to our minds?
These ones not with us now.
I'm thankful that it has come to a point where the
pain of loss is less than the sweetness of the memory.
For those who are facing new grief
know that time does help.
Walk the path.
Feel the feelings.
Trust the Lord.
Look forward to that day when the
memories bring sweet comfort
and smiles to your heart.
Miss you, Daddy.
See you when the time is just right.
This post is dedicated to two wonderful friends
who have recently lost their fathers
 very unexpectedly.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Missing Time with the Camera

Hello!  It has been more than a month since my last post.  Unbelievable!  I guess without taking my camera out and capturing beautiful things it just isn't as exciting to blog.  But that doesn't mean that nothing has happened.  Not at all.  We have been living it up!  Hehe.

Warren and I had a very fun date on Saturday.  We went to see Mark Lowry and The Martins in concert at the American Music Theater.  It was great.  I loved how chatty Mark was.  Getting to hear more from him than one can when you see him at a Homecoming event or the Gaither Vocal Band.  It was very special.
Taken with my phone from the balcony.  They were there...not the ghosts they appear to be. 

The Martins are siblings who have very tight harmony.  They have a new acapella project and sang some songs from it.  We enjoyed it very much.   And then we were off to meet up with some friends who are doing a candle fundraiser toward their adoption of a second little boy from China.  His name will be Hudson.  Here's the really fun part about this meet up, though.  We decided to go to Chili's near their home and meet someone there for the candle exchange.  Right beside the Chili's is a Dunkin' Donut.  So....Warren and I enjoyed a fabulous dinner and then he got after dinner coffee as we met two of the family's beautiful daughters to hand off the candles.  Mixing business with pleasure?  Always!

Speaking of business and pleasure.  I've hired a helper on a semi regular basis.  I really have two helpers but one in more persistent in asking to help.  :-)  I love both of them!  Melissa has been a long time friend and so having her here once a week or so to help me get stuff done is more like hanging out with a friend than having a work night.  Although, I do make her work for her pay.  :-)  Ask her about wicking tea lights and how much she likes working with my poor old broken hot glue gun.  Ha. It is definitely time to get a new one.  It is just one of those things that you get used to working with and really don't think that much about until someone points out how bad it really is.

Last month we had a one month anniversary party for Michael and Emily.  It was so special to see family that we haven't seen in a very long time.  Aunts and Uncles came in from far.  I was going to say near and far but none are near ....so they all came from far.

 It was also fun to see cousins again.  Our kids don't really know their second cousins because they are all ...far...away.  But they enjoyed each other's company.  We took the family guests to see Moses.  I think they liked it.  What's not to like, right?  I enjoyed seeing the show again.  It is a great production and a truly wonderful story.

Chelsea got good news recently.  She was promoted to full time at Sight and Sound in concessions. We are very happy for her.  She loves to stay busy and without a firm plan for her future this was something she really needed.  It took effort and growth on her part since they were looking for her to become more outgoing and confident.  In her usual Chelsea way once she knew what they wanted she set out to challenge herself to work hard on this area.  Forcing herself to start conversations with guests and other employees, etc.  She really made huge strides and surprised herself by enjoying this new aspect of her job.  She has made some wonderful friendships among her co-workers and it pleases us to no end to see her settling back in after nearly a year of struggle after her YWAM trip.  There are many wonderful things about doing missions....coming home and readjusting are not some of them.  We knew going in that it would be hard but it isn't something that you can really prepare for.  Even while she is doing the work of settling back in she is studying the Thai language seriously.  It is so neat to hear it roll off her tongue.  It is on her heart to return to Thailand at some point in the future.  And while she has applied to return as early as July we have serious doubts about that....with the world in the condition it is in and other things to consider.  However, God knows.  He would have to change the hearts of her parents on that one.

I'm leading a Small Group at a large ladies Bible Study.  Ridiculous of me to try to do this in the Fall with all things candle at record levels but it just makes me rely on the Lord more.  I know I can't do it in my own strength and so far He has supplied my needs there.  We are doing Beth Moore's study on I and II Thessalonians.  Amazing!!  Altogether there are more than 100 ladies coming.  We have about 12 in our group.  Twelve lovely and encouraging ladies.  What a blessing!

The other blessing that is coming out of this Bible Study is the gift of song.  I get to help lead worship each Wednesday morning.  This is a dream come true.  I feel as if God has "Opened up the Floodgates" of blessing in my life lately.

And on the same note...I am also teaching music at the co-op we graduated from.  Two classes...2nd/3rd and 4th-6th.  What a blast this is!  We sing together, laugh and play as we learn music theory.  I am so delighted to have so many long held desires met all at the same time.  I feel the love of God poured out in my life.  We have come through very dark and trying times in the past year but He was faithful through them all and is blessing us with JOY now.

At the same time I must ask you to pray for one of my dear friends who lost her father unexpectedly.  I saw her yesterday and the pain is intense.  I know she would appreciate your prayers.  And also for another friend, whose son fell from a horse yesterday.  He fell directly onto his face and has lost some teeth and also broke his jaw.  There are some other damages as well but those were the most severe.  In this world we WILL have trials....but we know the ONE who has overcome.  Holding onto HIM.  Lifting these families up in prayer.

Well, enough of my rambling.  Have a blessed day.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Full Days that Are More than Just Busy

Sometimes we just fill our days with busyness.
Sometimes God fills our days with stuff of substance.
I prefer to let Him do it that way.

Lately it feels as if that is the case.
I know that it is His doing because I am being stretched!
Totally stretched.

Thankfully the easiest things in my everyday life are the candles.
There are so many orders and many many candles to make but 
they fit in here and there....
lots of here and theres.
Don't get me wrong.  I am about to hit the ground running in 
candle season.   Fundraisers are being planned
and the Etsy orders are picking up on random candles, 
as opposed to favor candles, are coming in daily.
I have signed up to participate in my favorite "Not Your 
Average Craft Show" in Chambersburg again this year.
So it is a very, very huge part of my daily life.

And then there is our ministry to the Karen (Burmese) children.
It has changed to my taking five of them to choir practice on a weekly basis.
And...I get to help them with their music homework too.
You know I don't mind that.
The part that is totally stretching is logistical.
I have to go to three different houses in varying parts of Lancaster City
and find parking...sort of. 
I am quickly learning the ways of maneuvering in a city.  
But not without some serious fear.
Some of you are more comfortable in a city than in 
a small town or the country....
but I'm just not.
This week was my first time.
And it stormed.
Another one of my big fears.
Heavy thunderstorms.
Especially when bearing the responsibility 
for children that are not my own.
But, God is so good.
He allowed me to stress about the storms ALL around
and yet we were not impacted more than some drizzle the entire time.
Even the large doe that intended to cross right into my path on the 
way home turned and ran the other way.
I returned home energized and looking forward to next week's challenge.

His second project for me this year is to teach Homeschool Co-op Music/Choir
again.  As you know it has been a few years since I've done this.
And to make matters "worse" they have a curriculum they would like me 
to teach from.
I don't love curriculum that is prepared.
There are many out there who are not comfortable with coming 
up with their own...but they are not me.
See where this is going?
God has given me ministry to complete, (which I LOVE),  but on His terms.
I must trust Him to help me get through very hard things for me in 
each and every case.

The final big challenge for my time this year?
Leading a small group for Beth Moore's new study on 
I and II Thessalonians.
This means that I HAVE to do the homework.
Not intend to do it ....and scoot by when I just don't volunteer
to enter the discussion.
I must do it.  Every day, lest I fall behind.
One half hour each day.
Time with the Lord.
On days when Facebook calls, candles are waiting 
or who knows what else comes up
I will HAVE to spend time with my Lord and 
His Word.

Gotta love Him.
He cares for us so much.
He's rearranging my life just to get more time together.
And I am good with that.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Morning Musings - They Are Not What You Think

I tried to sleep.
Truly, I did.
But every few minutes there was a 

Just one at a time.

But it wouldn't stop.
Like dripping water....but not as steady.
Just enough to break into my amazing sleep.

I got up....
to let the dogs out.
I had given them leftover beef bbq last evening
and imagined that perhaps this was causing 
distress better dealt with outside.

However, I'm not convinced that was the problem.
For the offending dog....the round one...
simply grabbed her toy and bounced out to the kitchen
as if to say, 
She seemed delighted that I had come to play!
At 4:00  AM?

I didn't have the heart to put them back in their
crate because it is Sunday.
Sunday is crate day.
They are not in there all day but it can get kind of long.
And so I tried to catch a few more snoozes on the love seat.
Just for the record...
It is too short.

Then I moved to the recliner.
Dog on lap.

I give up.
I'm UP!

And so it is now 5:34
and both dogs are passed out in very deep sleep.

Isn't that just the way it goes sometimes?

It's o.k.
They are worth it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Unexpected Gift for My Mother....

My Mom misses my Dad so much.  Most of the time she is pretty quiet about it, but her actions and the occasional thing like this tell the story.  My Dad was named Garry. He passed away in 2005 at the age of 58.   It was his sermon she refers to in this post taken from her Facebook page.
I think you'll appreciate it.....

"Last wk I was listening to a sermon Garry preached in which he talked about his favorite tree - a Purple Plum that had been planted by our patio to give shade. When Garry passed away, the Bible study he had led for 17 yrs said instead of flowers they wanted to plant a tree in his memory. Because I moved to Lancaster Co. that tree got planted at my new home by Bob and Karen Walker, and yes it was a Purple Plum tree. Everyday it is a reminder of Garry and the love the Bible study group had for him. While sitting at Mike and Emily's wedding, I was suddenly overcome with sadness, wishing so much Garry was sitting beside me enjoying the wonderful occasion of our first grandchild getting married!! (Tomorrow would have been our 48th anniversary) I sighed and looked above Mike and Emily and there above them was a Purple Plum tree!! There were several different places they could have set up for the ceremony, but unknown to them, I needed to see that Purple Plum tree right at the exact moment I became aware of it! God has so many ways to comfort and let us know He is there!!"

Photo: Last wk I was listening to a sermon Garry preached in which he talked about his favorite tree - a Purple Plum that had been planted by our patio to give shade. When Garry passed away, the Bible study he had led for 17 yrs said instead of flowers they wanted to plant a tree in his memory. Because I moved to Lancaster Co. that tree got planted at my new home by Bob and Karen Walker, and yes it was a Purple Plum tree. Everyday it is a reminder of Garry and the love the Bible study group had for him. While sitting at Mike and Emily's wedding, I was suddenly overcome with sadness, wishing so much Garry was sitting beside me enjoying the wonderful occasion of our first grandchild getting married!! (Tomorrow would have been our 48th anniversary) I sighed and looked above Mike and Emily and there above them was a Purple Plum tree!! There were several different places they could have set up for the ceremony, but unknown to them, I needed to see that Purple Plum tree right at the exact moment I became aware of it! God has so many ways to comfort and let us know He is there!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Very Brief Visit to Longwood Gardens....

It sounded like a wonderful idea.
Even as we were preparing to clean up from the wedding
on Monday morning we discussed how perfect the weather was
for a visit to Longwood Gardens.
Much later....as the afternoon was well underway we decided that 
we should go.  Even though we would have less than two hours
before the gardens closed.
I was in some significant pain that I thought was just sore muscles.
Turned out later that I actually have/had some virus.
But nonetheless, it is rare that Warren has opportunity to go with 
us and so we headed out.
Our ride over was a bit quiet, I think, since we were all
fighting to stay awake.
Chelsea, in particular, felt the sleepy's settle in as we drove
so that when we got there she was a tiny bit 
sorry we had come.

We headed for the brick walk.
It is so full and tall.
Wow...most things are as tall as we are.
We figured we are probably some of the last 
to get to see these plants because the gardeners will likely 
remove them in the next week or two in order to 
put in the Fall plants.

These dahlias were our height.

We walked paths that provided shade and gentle slopes upward.
None of us had the energy for steep hills.
But this is one of the wonderful things about Longwood Gardens...
there are options.
And many paths to choose from.

Finally we arrived at the Conservatory.
Being so late in the day we were among the few who were visiting
and so I got to snap a photo without people in it.
This is rare especially this time of the year.

It didn't take long for Warren and Chelsea to find the chairs near the black bamboo.
O.k. truth be told, Chelsea was investigating the Conservatory as Warren and I 
sat here before she returned and I headed out.

 I circled back to sneak some shots of my tired peeps.

 Ahhh....the sound of water and the scents of flowers all around.
It is a great place to just be....
But I went out to see what was new and different in the various
areas of the Conservatory.

What I found was this view through the window.
Actually...It is the window itself that always catches my eye.
I love the graceful curves and the sheer size of the many, many 
windows in the conservatory.
Architectural details?
They really make a difference.

I only took a few photos after this.
We wandered over toward the idea gardens but just couldn't 
talk ourselves into heading farther afield and into the open sunshine
and so headed back to the garden exit.

We enjoyed this visit very much in spite of all of my complaining here about 
the exhausted state we were in.
And are so thankful for passes that allow us to be ok 
with coming for an hour here or there.

Michael and Emily both worked in these gardens.
They have spent countless hours planting, weeding, studying
and walking these acres.
It seemed a fitting way to close the book on this wedding week.
And it was.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Wedding of Michael and Emily

Sunday, August 24, 2014 was a very special day in the lives of two families.
Those of Michael and Emily.

We had spent most of Saturday at the Eicher Arts Center getting 
everything ready.  And it looked great!
We returned on Sunday and after some time I went wandering.
These next photos share some of what I found.....

Emily's father, Carl.
Spending some quiet time while the girls were getting their photos
taken...and before the guys arrived.

We are so blessed to already have been friends with Emily's family for many 
years and are so happy to now have this young couple in common.

I left Carl and went to see what was happening with the girls photo session.
I got to be a flower holder so I snapped some pics.
Why not, right?

Our friend, Susan, gave the gift of flower arrangement.
Emily's love of flowers led her to choose
unusual and hard to get flowers.
Some were even ordered from Chile.
But it was well worth it!

After the guys arrived Mom and I lifted our cameras at the same time to get 
a photo of the DJ, Mike and Warren.
This brought a response from Michael that cracked us up and we just told
him to get used to lots of photo snapping on this his wedding day.

Carl made these doors come together for Emily.
She wanted to get married in front of them.
Michael made the table on which sits a bonsai tree that became a part 
of the ceremony.
As both Michael and Emily have worked in horticulture
they found this to be a very special replacement for the unity candle or sand mixing
that are more traditional.
Emily would rather take care of a tree for the years to come than 
dust a jar of sand.  
Made perfect sense to me!
Especially since she is good at these things....
I would probably kill the poor thing and that wouldn't be so good.

Chelsea signs the window.
By the end of the night the glass was filled with well wishes.

The cakes that I made.
The largest was Red Velvet, the medium was Butter flavored
and the smallest Chocolate.  
However, there was a second largest cake in Chocolate.
Belinda (Emily's mother) made the adorable banner flying in the middle sized cake.
Mike got the dirtbike and had fun setting it up as a "faux" cake topper.

Guest favors.  
So cute in the end but a real pain to make....
or so I hear.
I had nothing to do with them.


Does this photo of the guys make anyone else think of a science fiction movie?
Men in Black or Ghostbusters?
I think the guys here represent a combination of those movies....
perhaps that is why this comes to my mind.
But they make me smile.
What a blessing these friends are to Michael.
They gathered around him in prayer before the ceremony.
I know he values each and every one of them.

What they were waiting for....
Here she comes!

After Carl quipped about having to give another daughter away so soon...
his oldest daughter was married earlier this summer....
he handed Emily over to Michael.
A very special moment, indeed.

The Bonsai planting that I mentioned earlier.
So cool!

As so often happens after weddings there was a photo session immediately following
the ceremony.  The professional photographer did her thing and while she did that 
some of us "played" with photos of our own.

Jonathan and Chelsea were posing...and got photo bombed by the 
beautiful sister of the bride....Elizabeth.
We love her!

The footwear for the bride and groom.

As we waited for our turn to be introduced at the reception
Belinda and I had a little fun with our friends inside as we 
peeped in their windows. 
The young couple in glasses were married just about six months 
ago...you might read her mother's blog at Creekside Cottage where you'll
find some different photos from Michael and Emily's wedding.

Here you can see the Grandmothers and other friends from church.
It was such a small venue that only a handful were able to come to 
the wedding....but our other friends were all on our minds
as the evening progressed.
We can't wait to share in another special evening next month.

The first matter of business after we were all introduced to the reception guests
was the first dance by the new Mr. and Mrs. Michael Keeney.
They were so cute!
I think they like each other.
At one point Mikey took a second to look at our table and wiggle his eyebrows
in a sign of happiness.

I got the Just Married banner from Karen on Etsy.
She is a member of the Christian Artist Street Team that I belong to
and I have met her in person.
So it was very special to get to have her make this up for 
the wedding.

 A look at the tables as they were set before the guests arrived.

Michael and Emily received these singing bears at the reception...
they sing "Love and Marriage".  
I got a kick out of it being that particular song
because Warren's parents sang it to us
on a video that was made for our wedding.

 A good view of the room as you can see them eat cake.

 The food was excellent. 
It was catered by a long time friend of ours from homeschool co-op
who just started a catering business with her husband.

Mike and Emily's pastor and his wife are also long time friends from co-op.
We are so thankful for the way they, as a couple, have invested in both
Michael and Emily over the past several months.

I know these photos aren't anything to compare with what Blythe Hoerr has taken 
on this special day...but these were taken from a mom's perspective.
You can't see my tears....but you can know that every detail was absorbed
and appreciated.
Every single thing that Michael and Emily did to make this day their own 
was noted and helps us to understand who they are as a couple that much more.
I think they are going to do just fine.
They are so gifted and make a wonderful team.
Just as Pastor Paul encouraged them to do for the rest of their lives.