Friday, May 30, 2008


I know you were all wondering so I'll just clear things up right now. I am almost completely packed and ready to go on vacation. I know, we're not leaving until a week from today but nothing like being prepared, right! Why so early? I have no clue, I just don't like to leave things till the last minute. 

I don't know HOW you parents with kids do it though. This year we are taking the dog. I am not thrilled in the least about having to tote extra "stuff" for MacGyver. (not thrilled with taking the dog in the first place but agreed to give it a whirl - I hope I don't end up giving HIM a whirl!) I hate toting stuff period. I have already whittled down from 3 suitcases (1 big, 2 small) to just the big one and one small one, for our overnight stop. And that's not bad, considering we have to take our own linens. But yeah, now I have to pack toys and a snuggle sack and food and food bowls and oh my! How much does one little dog need? I nixed the doggy water wings!

This is almost my ideal vacation, a week at the beach alone with my husband. My true ideal vacation: a week in New England, with nothing to take but jeans and a sweatshirt and a camera. What's your ideal vacation? Have you ever traveled with your pet?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Do You Need Anything?

That was the question I asked my aunt the other night when I went to see her at the hospital. She had been there visiting her sister and stopped by her doctor's office to inquire about her leg, which was red and swollen. Her doctor admitted her on the spot, thankfully, to be treated with antibiotics intravenously for a few days. So I was concerned that she might need something or want something from her home. No, she assured me. She was quite fine.

Amazing! She had a toothbrush in her purse, a sweet roommate, and the care and concern of people who love her. Oh, and coffee! And with that, she was content. I've been thinking about this all week. How content would I be if I found myself hospital-bound on a moment's notice, with nothing more than a toothbrush?

Probably because our church has been going through a series of messages on giving, my heart was ripe to reap some personal understanding through this little incident:

  • Stripping away our superficial wants allows us to attend to the deeper needs of our souls. What is it I really need? Do I even know? Patience. Humility. Endurance. Discernment. None of which can be easily bought.
  • Contentment and generosity seem to go hand in hand. If I'm less focused on "wants," and trusting that God will supply what it is I really need, maybe I can be more in tune to and looking for ways to meet the needs of others.
  • When we do engage in generous giving, are we attuned to the true needs of others? The challenge given by our pastor has been to look for ways to share our time, talents and treasure. Sometimes I find I am most selfish with my time, but for someone like my aunt, that's the greatest gift I can give, spending time with her.
Just some things I've been mulling over lately. I'm happy to report my aunt is home from the hospital, doing well and blessed us with her presence at our family gathering this past Sunday. She is a beautiful woman who exemplifies true contentment and a generous spirit.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ruminations and Ramblings

Sharing: I have started using Google Reader's sharing feature to highlight some interesting posts I come across in the blogosphere. Check out the links in my sidebar; it just might be one of your posts!

Classic Indy: Went to see the new Indiana Jones movie this afternoon. What can I say - it was classic Indiana Jones! Sure, we all know people don't go around swinging from vines, that giant moving obelisks are just a figment of imagination and that no one could possibly withstand all the head blows Harrison Ford has endured as Henry Jones Jr. over the years but give me a few bars of "da da-da-da, da da-da-da . . . " and for two hours just about anything goes! If you get a chance, go check it out.

Cleaning: Finally, a day off and some time to tackle some things I've managed to put off for months. Back-to-back company plans this weekend are a good motivating factor.

Vacation: Two weeks from today we leave for the beach. We haven't been to Myrtle Beach in about five years so we're looking forward to it. Our goal is to play as much miniature golf as we can - I think MB has about the coolest courses around. We are taking our Boston Terrier, MacGyver, with us for the first time. This should be interesting. Already I envision HIS stuff taking up over have the room in the car (and I'm really a minimalist so this goes against my basic nature of liking the car nice and empty for traveling!) Any tips regarding vacationing with a pet would be much appreciated!

Memorial Day: I get Veterans' Day. In the past, when I was off on Veteran's Day, I liked to visit a memorial at a local library and greet and thank some of the vets. Memorial Day, however, seems to be obscured by our enthusiasm for the beginning of summer. In fact, many people today don't even know the reason we observe Memorial Day. Do you do anything to observe Memorial Day as far as its original intention goes, i.e. to honor the memory of those who have died in service to our country? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Quick Meme: My sister recently joined the blogging world, and just did her first meme - Things That Make Me Go Eeew! If you get a chance, pop on over and read her list (and take a look at my beautiful nieces and nephews!) I had to think hard about this one but here are a few things that creep me out - I guess I have a pretty strong stomach.

  1. Mouth stuff. Don't need to see the neat pictures of the inside of my mouth at the dentist, thank you very much.
  2. Underwater life, with the exception of mammals like whales and dolphins. Don't know why but sea life (even confined to a tank at the pet store, unless it's under 2 inches long) has always creeped me out.
  3. The sound of someone barfing or hacking makes me feel like I could puke.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Book Review: Mudhouse Sabbath

A few months ago I read a fabulous book by Lauren Winner, Mudhouse Sabbath. A follow-up to her equally interesting memoir, Girl Meets God, which chronicles her journey from Judaism to Christianity, Mudhouse Sabbath is a reflective look back at some of the Jewish practices Lauren realizes are missing from her new life.

One of the chapters that impacted me most dealt with the importance of hospitality. More than just inviting others into our homes, Winner encourages us to open our hearts and lives to others as well. She gives the example of how reluctant she was to invite others to her small apartment, and the reality of what she was saying by her reluctance to do so:

"We are not meant simply to invite people into our homes, but also to invite them into our lives. Having guests and visitors, if we do it right, is not an imposition, because we are not meant to rearrange our lives for our guests - we are meant to invite our guests to enter into our lives as they are. . . . So you see, asking people into my life is not so different than asking them into my apartment. Like my apartment, my interior life is never going to be wholly respectable, cleaned up and gleaming. But that is where I live. In the certitude of God, I ought to be able to risk issuing the occasional invitation."

This little book reads somewhat like a devotional, emphasizing the intentionality integral to many Jewish customs such as prayer, fasting and Sabbath-keeping. As well it explores ways to honor God where aging, mourning, and the celebration of marriage are concerned. While both Girl Meets God and Mudhouse Sabbath stand alone, it makes sense to read Girl Meets God first. If you could only purchase one of them though, I think Mudhouse Sabbath is a keeper.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The New Chew

I figured out what's been keeping me up late so many nights! I've been eating chocolate covered espresso beans. So if you stop by my desk at work, and see some wet coffee beans in the garbage can . . . well, I figured out I can have my chocolate, and a good night's sleep too! (Yes, sucking the chocolate off and spitting out the beans - brilliant, huh!) Really, I should just switch to Raisinets - they make wonderful dark chocolate ones now!

But hey . . . if you stop to see me at work, just take me to lunch and skip the garbage can part!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Filling in the Gaps

When I think of filling in the gaps, many pictures come to mind. If you live in Pennsylvania, where the state activity is avoiding pot holes, you're ever grateful for the days PennDOT smiles on you and fills in the gaps on the roads you travel. I think of meals I've planned and invited friends and how thankful I was for whatever it was they brought, filling in the gaps in the menu. I think of my seasonal shopping efforts, trying to fill in the gaps in my wardrobe.

Mostly however, I think of relationships and God's direction. I'm amazed at how God uses people to fill in the gaps in our lives, the right people at the right time. And how he goes before us, filling in the gaps in our path. With each step of certainty we take, there's some uncertainty that lies ahead, but God is always faithful to show us that next step.

This phrase "filling in the gaps" has been on my mind so much lately. And just tonight I was looking back through my journal from this time last year and was surprised to see this phrase used several times in one particular entry. What a cool God-thing! Last year, I was thanking God for the way he was filling the gaps in my life, mostly through people, and over the past year it's been evident that he's been going ahead of me, making my way smooth (not necessarily easy but clear).

Recently however, I've been praying for God to fill in the gaps in others' lives, to go before them and make his ways apparent. For those in transition, that God will see them through this season and that they will trust that God is standing at the door, ready to welcome them into the next season of their lives. For those in a place of decision, that they will have clarity and discernment for the road ahead. For those in relational struggles, that God will bring along the right people to offer love and encouragement. And many more whispered prayers that can barely find words, but once again, God fills in those gaps too.

I love that nothing about our journey through life escapes our great God, not even the tiniest pot hole!

The path of the righteous is level; O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth. Isaiah 26:7
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16

Monday, May 12, 2008

Spring Cleaning

It's become my practice over the last year to just sit with this prayer most mornings:

A Prayer in 'The Middle Years' of Opportunity
from Celtic Daily Prayer (based loosely on a passage from Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh)

Lord, help me now to unclutter my life,
to organize myself in the direction of simplicity.
Lord, teach me to listen to my heart;
teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it.
Lord, I give You these stirrings inside me,
I give you my discontent,
I give you my restlessness,
I give you my doubt,
I give you my despair,
I give you all the longings I hold inside.
Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth;
to listen seriously and follow where they lead
through the breathtaking empty space of an open door.

This morning, I asked myself (and God) the hard question: what is it that is cluttering my life? Not surprisingly, I realized that much of what clutters my life are the intangible things. Fear. Anxiety over the silliest things. Mental to-do lists. Even some dreams perhaps that are left over from another time in my life.

And what would it look like to organize myself in the direction of simplicity? This phrase just speaks volumes to me. Organizing reminds me that these are steps I can take. And direction reminds me that there will always be room for improvement - it's movement not arrival that should matter to me. And simplicity - a picture came into my mind of open space. And again, not just in the tangible realm, but where my relationship to God is concerned. Room to move and grow and listen. Freedom to give and share my life with others.

As spring vaults into full bloom and we turn our attention to matters of spring cleaning, perhaps it's a good reminder for all of us to look inward and tend to some decluttering of our heart spaces.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Mighty To Save and Miscellaneous

Been listening this song this week that we sang in worship last week. Our pastor put together an iMix for our current worship series and so far this is my favorite. I kind of get stuck on one song at a time; you may have noticed!

Mighty To Save
Everyone needs compassion
A love that's never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
A kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations

He can move the mountains
My God is Mighty to save
He is Mighty to save
Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender

Shine your light and let the whole world see
We're singing for the glory of the risen King...Jesus

And feeling like I had some major hurdles to overcome this week, I was reminded of this verse from Psalms:
With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. (Psalm 18:29)

By the way, is this May? Just wondering because I'm still wearing my long sleeve shirts and jeans. My toes were wondering too . . . they'd like to get out and enjoy the sunshine . . . I told them there hasn't been much of that!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Road Closed

As I traveled to work this morning, I was less than thrilled to find a major road leading to the interstate closed. Some warning would have been appreciated. I felt trapped, as both the detour and the alternate way I chose were backed up to a stand still.

I was reminded of an interesting little book I read last week entitled Let Your Life Speak, by Quaker author Parker Palmer. I borrowed it from a friend and read it so quickly (on my way to work several mornings) that I didn't even stop to jot down any notes. Nevertheless one chapter came to mind this morning as I pondered my traffic options. It was called When Way Closes, and basically dealt with the idea that closed doors can be as much a guide and direction as are open doors, if we're paying attention.

When we were kids, growing up in the country, we'd often watch the neighbor's sheep at dinner time race down the hill. There was no shepherd, not even a dog to guide them. Instead they bumped along the path created by the fence, and were directed into whatever pasture the farmer wanted them to go by means of his closing certain gates. They were guided along the path by the closed gates.

Eventually I made it to work this morning, and did so with a new perspective, to pay attention to closed doors and detours as guides directing me forward along the path, rather than trip-ending obstacles.

How do you feel when a door closes or when you're faced with obstacles? Do they set you back or challenge you to move ahead?