Just a glimpse of me...

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Do you ever feel STUCK? In 2000, I began looking for answers to some tough questions in my life. I'd searched high & low and finally conceded to search the promises found in the Bible. Those promises have sustained & guided me through the loss of a parent, the struggle with anxiety & depression, the loss of a valued relationship and so much more! I've found joy amid the pain. And, I want to share it with you!

29 August 2014

#JoyDare No. 2806. The Disciples of Christ

Journal from Thursday, July 31, 2014...
I'm trusting & praying as I wait to hear back from TWO places this afternoon... 
* One is a 2nd-floor porch apartment (with only screens & mini-blinds for windows) with a shared kitchen & a shared bath. It's priced VERY reasonably - but, ONLY available for 7 of the 10 needed nights.
* One is a close, but off-site, hotel suite (with a free daily shuttle to/from CHQ; but, no cooking facilities at all); reasonably priced for what it is... still a bit much for 10 nights.

I've been on a countdown lately. I named it 10 days to 10 days. And today, only 2 days away from being "homeless" here in a very nice community, I got word there'd been a cancellation at the denominational house of the Disciples of Christ in their "Porch Apartment" at the Graybiel House.  So, I chose this for my #JoyDare No. 2806: the Disciples of Christ :) They came to my rescue & gave me another option for seven of the ten remaining nights here in New York.

I've been praying for a miracle. I've been believing that God would provide a place for us ON-SITE for this final "school" week for J. I've been told over & over since mid-June that Week Seven has been booked solid for over a year and that most places already have waiting lists for any last minute cancellations that might occur. Week Seven will be full for my daughter with finishing work & participating in critiques. And, money is a factor... if I want to be a good steward of our finances.

The main Disciples of Christ House  
I sent notes out to every single denominational house in CHQ and, only heard back from a few. All of the responses said that they were booked for that week for over a year. One response went on to say that they were praying for something to work out for us AND that they would keep checking with others in the community for last minute cancellations. When there was a last minute cancellation in the Graybiel House & an opportunity to stay on-site for seven more nights at a reasonable rate, I was thrilled. I just needed to head over & check things out.

The Graybiel House sits behind the main DOC house & the "Porch Apartment" will give us a great view of the street - as it is the 2nd floor porch perched above the ground floor entry porch! 

Here are a few pictures...

The Graybiel House
The Graybiel House - front porch
directly under the Porch Apartment
The Porch Apartment - west end
The Porch Apartment - east end
The Porch Apartment - the south wall
The Porch Apartment - the south wall

Thank you to my new Disciples of Christ friends who provided a place in time of need & who reminded me of that the family of God is big & beautiful.

#JoyDare No. 2806 - the Disciples of Christ

27 August 2014

PAIRINGS - Robbed of Riches

My life's been so crazy lately. There's more to do that I can even imagine. My reading time and blogging time has suffered greatly. I thank God that I read a recent Ann Voskamp post today. I was, once again, reminded of something that I know down, deep inside. One of her quotes was a perfect match to the picture I captured a few days ago of a double rainbow :) 

6-2-14 stuckinindiana

There will continue to be losses here on earth. There will be days when we are shaken to the ground by such losses. There will be days when we cry out to God in our loss & grief.

But amid the losses, there is comfort in knowing...
"There isn't a loss on earth that can ever rob us of the riches our Lord has saved us for in Him." ~ Ann Voskamp 

26 August 2014

How To Be Cool At Any Age

It doesn't seem to matter the age. Most of my life I've spent trying to be cool - at least a little cool & not peculiarly old fashioned. I've wrestled with wanting to be on the egde, out of the box & open minded. In doing so, however, I've often sacrificed being ME. About the time I begin not worrying about being cool, it occurs to me that the days I've lived far outweigh the days I'll be alive. And, I wonder, have I attempted to be cool & failed to show the real me to those around me? 

Here are some thoughts I had earlier today when I saw an article written (by a man) about 50 Shades of Gray:

I quickly read his 4 points and had the following thoughts...
  • When we feel like we're seen as being young, we really want to make our own decisions. We're tempted to push the boundaries & go against the "rules" to be cool. 
  • When we're feeling not so young anymore (and questioning whether we are seen as old), we want to be seen as young & daring again. We tend to "embrace" controversial thoughts or things that "as we grew up & matured" we would not have supported. 
I think one of the hardest things about life - in all of its stages - is to remain true to our convictions, conscience & values by resisting the desire to do things in order to fit in or seem cool. I realize that's easier said than done. But, I'm challenging myself to do so with more consistency. We only get one shot at this life. Why not let people see who we really are & not be easily swayed by pressures around us.

"To thine own self be true." ~ William Shakespeare

Those old writers & philosophers hit the nail on the head so many times. Didn't they!?!

25 August 2014

#JoyDare No. 2833. A Smooth Move

Our Chautauqua adventure this summer was intense most of the time. From the first 10 days where I was an illegal alien to the last 10 days when we didn't know quite where we were living, each twist & turn was intense! With the battle that I have against anxiety & depression (I'm winning, by the way), I often opt to use my strength for the battle of the day & trust God for strength for the coming battles.

So early on, I decided not to stress over the move from our "porch apartment" to our next place - a very nice hotel. I knew there'd be an element of The Beverly Hillbillies meets Sanford & Son happening in the lobby of that nice hotel for all to see. How else do 3 girls go from living in apartments for 7 weeks of their lives (while cooking all their meals, providing their own pillows & bed linens, doing their own laundry, etc.) to living in a hotel room designed for a stay of a week or less.

But, on Saturday, August 9, 2014, I chose to pick this for one of my "JoyDares"... 
#joydare No. 2833. a smooth move 
Moving out from our over-crowded, slightly disorganized porch apartment before 10am and not being allowed to check into our next place until after 3pm seemed like a horror in the making. But, thanks to God & to our new DOC (Disciples of Christ) family, it went as smoothly as it possibly could! Our DOC family allowed us to "camp out" under their awnings & use their restrooms, etc. until we were able to begin our move into the hotel.

I got in a great walkabout through the property with our sweet little one. My daughter was able to complete a commissioned work - painting of a home there onsite. We enjoyed some time there onsite that we weren't expecting. When we got the call that the room was ready, it took us 3 to 4 trips between Chautauqua & the hotel. AND, it took more than 3 luggage carts to fill our new place. But, it worked out just fine. And, we enjoyed a relaxing evening in a very crowded, but comfortable hotel room!

#joydare No. 2833. a smooth move 

#JoyDare No. 2863. Feeling at Home

"HOME is where the HEART is" The best thing to me about that statement is that God creates us with big enough hearts that we can feel at home almost anywhere knowing & recognizing that our heart belongs to Him - the loving creator of people, places & things... far & near :)

The 8 weeks in Chautauqua was just one more reminder that I can feel at home wherever I allow myself to feel at home. I was away from my home, my family, my church, my friends, my cornfields...

#JoyDare No. 2874. Hard Work... Paying Off

"The hard must become habit. The habit must become easy. The easy then becomes beautiful." ~ Doug Henning

As they sent off audition tapes in the winter & spring, they'd hoped to end up at the same music festival for the summer. I'd told God, more than once, that I'd really love it if we could all end up at the same place... me with our daughter & her baby... our trombone son.. and our French horn "daughter". God had other ideas. Looking back on it, I think we all believe God knew what was best. These two were pretty happy to see each other after being apart for almost 10 weeks during the summer. 
The time apart made the reunion sweeter... 
these two worked hard this summer to get better
& to prepare for auditions at school &

to prepare for LIFE in the coming years
Seven weeks of hard work at Chautauqua Institution's Music School Festival for our French horn player prepared her for placement auditions at school for her senior year, as did the 9 weeks of hard work at Brevard Music Center Festival for our trombone guy. Both made life long connections with other musicians during their festivals. Both of them improved on their instruments & cultivated their talent - talents which I feel were lovingly placed there by God.  
School begins on Monday for "our kids" as they enter into their senior years at CCM (College Conservatory of Music - University of Cincinnati). They went to Cinci early this week for placement auditions & to begin getting settled into to their apartments. As of yesterday, they found out that they had each been placed into Philharmonia - a top group there at the Conservatory. I am proud of them for working hard. I am thankful that they are seeing the fruits of their labor!
"Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people." Colossians 3:23

#JoyDare No. 2874. hard work paying off

22 August 2014

#JoyDare No. 2873. Actions Speak Louder Than Words

One of my least favorite sayings as a child was "Actions speak louder than words!" 

I feel as though I heard that statement no less than once a week for my entire childhood. I seem to remember it being said over & over to me -- after I had chosen to act or speak in a certain way. Perhaps I can put some blame on the fact that I was the middle child - after all, they are the problem child, right? Perhaps I just need to fully accept the blame :) I've been known for acting & speaking abruptly... often in a way that didn't mesh well with the person I portrayed myself as being.

There's a social media craze lately where people (famous & not) will respond to a challenge & then ask others to take the #ALSIceBucketChallenge to raise awareness of the progressive neurodegenerative disease of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). The challenge to is make a $100 donation to the ALS Association OR to have ice water dumped on your head. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. are full of pictures & videos of people accepting this challenge. Often the person will state that they are taking the ice bucket challenge AND making a donation. 

I'm strangely moved (as I'm suspecting many are) as I watch young & old take the challenge and pass it on to others. In hearing their words & seeing the images, I feel certain they are sincere in their passion for the eradication of this disease. I'm stirred into believing that each one will make a contribution to this research. In fact, aside from some personal friends & some famous people whose finances are public, I don't really know how many people actually follow through with their gifts and support.

It's said that "seeing is believing". But, some things are never really seen by mortal man. And, we all know that many unseen things are no less real than those which are seen. As a young person, I hated the saying which I chose today for one of my three JoyDares...

#JoyDare No. 2873. actions speak louder than words

As I've matured, I am really seeing how what we do carries so much more weight than what we SAY we do. Another trite statement, talk is cheap. Saying what we believe in means little compared to what people see us do to model our beliefs.

I took this photo in the Discovery Garden at Chautuaqua Institution on 8-2-14

I'm challenged today... and I challenge you today... to take note of what your actions are saying about your beliefs -- about the person you claim to be, desire to be, plan to be. If they don't line up perfectly, as mine don't always, take note & make changes.

"As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person." Proverbs 27:19

20 August 2014

#JoyDare No. 2833. Fading Love... NEVER

I accepted a challenge in January of 2012 which was posed in a book written by Ann Voskamp. The challenge was to make note of THREE things each day in which I saw God... to keep track of 3 blessings each day. I publish a blog post after each month with a listing of the blessings that touched my heart during that previous month. It's made the sweet days sweeter and given purpose & meaning to the roughest of days. I've grown closer to God in doing this practice. I've gotten much better at seeing God in the every day happenings of life - instead of just looking for Him in the miracles or the BIG, flashy things!

Here's the "JoyDare" that will be in the 2014 August ONE THOUSAND GIFTS #JoyDare post:
2833. fading love... NEVER

My #JoyDare No. 2833. (for Saturday August 9, 2014 - day 52 of my Chautauqua adventure) was based upon a text I received that day from the LOML aka my husband :) It began on Thursday, June 19, 2014, when the girls & I were getting ready to head out & drive to Chautauqua, NY for our 54-day adventure at Chautauqua Institution. I thoroughly cleaned the house then left reminders around the house of our love for the LOML.

Here are a few reminders left on 6/19/14:

The 54 days were great... the 54 days were rough... the 54 days were a gift of love & support to our daughter as she continues to seek out her place in the art world. The 54 days were a constant reminder of the lovingkindness that surrounds me daily.

The LOML came out to visit in early July for three nights. It was great to see him & tough to see him leave for home. As the days grew closer to when he would return to help us move back home, I was filled with thoughts of thankfulness to God for putting us together to share this life. On Saturday morning, August 9th, as the girls & I were getting ready to move into our 3rd & final Chautauqua home, I received a text from him... 

My written reminders of my love for him which I'd left at home might have been fading... but, my love for him certainly was not.

And, if you know me at all, you know that the joy of my unfaded love for my husband reminded me of the unfading & unfailing love of the Lord. He doesn't love us because of what we do or don't do. He loves us because we ARE! There are no strings attached... there are no hoops to jump through... there is no being a slave to laws... there's just receiving His deep, deep love!

Written reminders on the mirror when we left:

Written reminders on the mirror when we returned:

#JoyDare No. 2833. Fading Love... NEVER

"The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease." Lamentations 3:22

01 August 2014


JULY 2014 
One Thousand Gifts (by Ann Voskamp)
#1000Gifts #JoyDare

Buy book here...      

I took the 1,000 Gifts Dare for the year of 2012...
I continued in 2013...
I'm now into 2014! 

Today I find JOY in...

7/1/14 Tues
2716. adapting my plans to meet her needs :)

2717. praise God... I'm legal now!
It was a CRAZY LONG PROCESS... but, I finally got to the right person & am no longer "illegal" at Chautauqua... and, it did NOT cost me $4000 - like so many had told me it would!
2718. taking after her MOMMY

2718-BONUS. first outing OFF the property & then getting help putting away the groceries

7/2/14 Wed
2719. visiting with my friend from "stuckinindiana" at her homestead in Maple Springs, NY

2720. seeing places I've heard about for years - being a part of my friend's story for a day

2721. an evening walkabout with BOTH of my girls

7/3/14 Thurs
2722. visiting Debbie on Gebbie - possibly our home for week 7 of CHQ

2723. hugging the LOML - after 14 days of being away with him
2724. talking into the wee hours of the night & enjoying a top floor balcony to ourselves - which I rearranged before he got into town :)

7/4/14 Fri
****4th of July****
2725. passing out American flags to people we don't know
Here, Mister Man Whom We Do Not Know...
take this American flag & wave it like you mean it!
2726. experiencing special moments that God planned for me ages ago...
today that was celebrating the 4th of July with my accountability partner
& friend of 19 years
I like to call this photo "Heads on Fire"
since the LOML could NOT figure out how to
step to the side before taking the pic
so the fire would NOT be coming out of our heads
2727. fireworks on the dock by the Athenaeum w/the LOML & our sweet little g-baby

7/5/14 Sat
2728. turtle rides

2729. spending all day with the LOML
This is Packard Manor in CHQ - 2 Packards sitting right outside it
when the LOML & I walked by today
2730. Madame Butterfly from the 3rd floor balcony of The Vera...

7/6/14 Sun
2731. loving our son's girlfriend... like she's our own daughter

2732. art in the park

2733. dinner with the Rosenthals & safe travels for the LOML

7/7/14 Mon
2734. clean laundry!!!!!!!
1st time in over 2 weeks :O
2735. Hey Squirrel! Hey Squirrel! Come here!! Come here!! 

She pronounces it more like "sgirl" though :)
2736. good music - Tchaik 5 by the Chautauqua Festival Orchestra

7/8/14 Tues
2738. reminders that God's promises (ALL OF THEM) are faithful & true

2739. a wonderful meal from the care package that the LOML brought us

7/9/14 Wed
2740. comfort foods - black bean combo

2741. boxes, bags & baskets = hours of fun for little ones!

2742. juggling PEOPLE

7/10/14 Thurs
2743. a lazy start to the morning for all THREE of us -- rare, indeed
2744. good books

2745. night concerts followed by long walks under the moon with our little sweet blessing

7/11/14 Fri
2746. just a workin' on my fitness...
by carrying a sleeping 22lb baby & an arm FULL of laundry from the basement laundry room to our 3rd floor tree-top apartment
2747. getting to experience so many fun things with my sweet g'baby!
A putting her feet up & enjoying Jennifer Nettles  at Chautauqua Institution.
2748. clean sheets!!!! these 2 beds might be the cleanest they have been in YEARS!

7/12/14 Sat
2749. little pieces of HOME

2750. reminder to set my sights on things above

2751. reminders written on stone
Don't Postpone Joy

7/13/14 Sun
2752. the sound of pouring rain through open windows as I woke 
2753. strollering along sides streets & drinking in the sights

2754. not being a TV addict...
because, trust me these 54 days in CHQ could have killed me

7/14/14 Mon
2755. calling upon friends for prayer
2756. baby wipes & disinfectant wipes!
poor Baby A got sick today while we were out shopping :/
2757. bubble bath, sleeping baby & Bach
after a rough day... she fell asleep to Bach
7/15/14 Tues
2758. something borrowed

2759. strollering around a sleeping baby
2760. NOT building walls

7/16/14 Wed
2761. morning snuggles from my favorite 18-month old & blankets

2762. adventures throughout the day

2763. eating OUT!!

7/17/14 Thurs
2764. getting a "happy" ...Glam Gloves!!

2765. meeting up with an artist by the Miller Bell Tower

2766. walking & talking w/Aunt K

7/18/14 Fri
2767. having the beds made before noon

2768. strollering by secret gardens
2769. an entire concert w/J, K & A 
Wilson Phillips
7/19/14 Sat
a hard day - stuck inside due to rain :(
2770. oatmeal for breakfast
it reminds me of home & normality
2771. droplets of rain in the lacy pine outside our TreeTop Castle
2772. a breakthrough in painting for J

7/20/14 Sun
2773. almonds & Black Spice Chai :)
2775. overwhelming feeling of the presence of God
selections of Handel's MESSIAH for
the Sunday Night Vespers

7/21/14 Mon
2776. bathing in the joy from yesterday

2777. great quotes
"The doorstep to the temple of wisdom
is the knowledge of our own ignorance."
~ C. H. Spurgeon
2778. a pitch-in dinner with strangers... who can become friends - even if only for their 1 week here in CHQ :) 

7/22/14 Tues
2779. a clean kitchen

Once you find a spot for everything you need to last you for 54 days in your tiny 8x8 kitchen
(aka living room, family room, parlor)...
it's not too hard to keep it clean...

2780. making memories & getting to LOVE ON my g'baby like I did my own children

2781. being brought up on left-overs
has made me a lot easier to please as an adult at mealtime

7/23/14 Wed
2782. reflections
"A little reflection does wonders for the soul."
I'm reflecting today on the faithfulness of God.
In times of waiting, it's good to remember the answered prayers :)
2783. 2 washers & 2 dryers
makes doing 6 loads of laundry SO MUCH easier
- even if they are in the basement
My office today as I wait for laundry to cycle.
Thank you Lord that the second washer is back in use!!
2784. making a meal with a twist
black bean combo w/saffron rice & slow cooked chicken w/tomatoes

7/24/14 Thurs
2785. days when you get to go back to sleep when you're tired
2786. overhearing the voice of a loving mom guiding her young son back into shore after a sailing lesson - reminded me of God's lovingkindness all of for His children

2787. pondering life
outside the Hall of Philosophy
7/25/14 Fri
2788. entering The Danger Zone
The times... they are a'changin!
We've entered THE DANGER ZONE!!! 
The Pack N Play is no longer secure!
She crawled OUT yesterday to get a toy that had fallen &tried to crawl IN today to watch Peg+Cat!!

2789. a providential meeting with Caroline?
this will be a blog post soon, I'm thinking!!
2790. a sing-a-long concert
had to walk outside the gates of the Vince Gill & The Time Jumpers concert
when A. decided to SING-A-LONG with the steel guitar!!
who me - singing too loudly?

7/26/14 Sat
2791. hidden talents

2792. afternoon naps
I decided to take one when the baby did. How refreshing!
2793. beans, rice, cheese & tomatoes

7/27/14 Sun
2794. double church

Protestant then Catholic :)
2795. artist in the forest :)

2796. Christmas in July - "Ding Dong Merrily on High" Sunday Sacred Song Service

7/28/14 Mon
2797. 57 degrees & rain... why?
because I know that the weather doesn't slow down the work of MY LORD!

2798. being created to be resourceful & relentless at times
(emailed almost every "church" contact I could find here at CHQ)
2799. evening walkabout - just me :)
walking, water & wild flowers!

7/29/14 Tues
2800. the community of faith
(see No. 2798... I got such support!)
2801. dinner at a new friend's home
we felt at home

and had ice cream for dessert!
2802. walking so much that my legs ache for hours after I'm done

7/30/14 Wed
2803. a gift from a new friend...
a yummy, fresh, juicy MANGO with breakfast!!!

2804. caregiver instincts at an early age

2805. a 2-3-hour prayer walk over the entire property

7/31/14 Thurs
2806. The Disciples of Christ :)
HOUSING UPDATE: I'm trusting & praying as I wait to hear back from TWO places this afternoon... 
* One is a 2nd-floor porch apartment (with only screens & mini-blinds for windows) at a denominational house here on-site (shared kitchen & bath; no AC); priced VERY reasonably - but, ONLY available for 7 of the 10 days
* One is a close, but off-site, hotel suite (with a free daily shuttle to/from CHQ; but, no cooking facilities at all); reasonably priced for what it is... still a bit much for 10 nights.

2807. classical music in the open air

2808. God's crazy timing :)
UPDATE: Thursday, 7/31, 11:15pm... 7 of the last 10 nights have been set up...