Wednesday, November 30, 2011


For H

Pots banging, kids screaming, T.V. blaring, mom yelling. 

Long days.

Water splashing, kids squealing, dad reading. 

Sweet relief.

Pink pajamas, soft blankie, cuddle time. 

Precious moments.

Eyes closing, tiny hands relaxing, downy hair falling across the brow. 

Remember this.

Looking down, reaching out, holding close. 

Tears falling.

Joy, sorrow, pride, regret. 



Friday, November 25, 2011

Simplifying Christmas with Magnet Street

Sadly, Thanksgiving is over. I absolutely LOVE Thanksgiving with all of its quiet, restful football-watching goodness.

I'm sad that it's over, partly, because I know what comes next.

Hurry. Rush. Party, party, party. Shop, shop, shop.

It's all a bit much.

I mean, I love Christmas--where on earth would we be without the Incarnation? I love the true meaning of Christmas.

But we've gotten so far away from that, haven't we? All the busy-ness and rushing around just makes me crazy, so I'm always looking for ways to simplify the season.

I've tried the not-sending-any-Christmas-cards-this-year way of simplifying things, and that works for a year or two, but after a while the pile of cards we receive starts to dwindle and I'm pretty sure our friends have forgotten all about us. That's the boat I'm sitting in right now.

So cards are definitely going out this year if it kills me. And it just might (kill me!) if getting all five of us together to have our picture taken is any indication of just how much of a pain-in-the-you-know-what the Christmas card endeavors are going to be this year. I tried for weeks to get us all in the same place at the same time, and, after several texts and lots of pleading, possibly even some groveling, we finally found 30 minutes last Saturday to be in the same place at the same time. Let's just say it did not go well. You'd have thought I had lined all five of us up for a root canal!

Hopefully your family will be a little more cooperative than mine was (although we did manage to get one good photo out of about 75 tries). I can't get your family together, or sitting quietly and smiling like they actually WANT to be there, but I CAN help in the area of getting the card you want at a great price.

Enter Magnet Street. I've told you about them. A great company run by great people with great values. Truly, I love this place.

This year, Magnet Street has some beautiful Christmas cards to choose from. Check these out.

Photo cards.

Folded cards. I love this classic style.

Folded cards come in 4x6 or 5x7 sizes. Isn't this one pretty?

Even some fun and funky styles like this one which reminds me of my niece, Kira, for some reason. 

Want to simplify your Christmas season? All you have to do is go to the Magnet Street website and click "Christmas Cards" under their "Life Moments" tab and get designing.

Here's how ours turned out. I have to say, I absolutely love it, except, of course, for my most unfortunate choice of sweater that makes me look like I'm about nine months pregnant. Will I ever learn to look in a mirror before I leave the house? Probably not.

The best thing about using Magnet Street for your Christmas cards is that they are completely personalized. Want your card to be red instead of green? No problem--you can easily change the color settings. Want a different font? You can change that too (I did!). Every inch of your card can be customized to fit your needs. You can even leave a note for their designers with your order.

When you're finished, you can share your design on Twitter or Facebook. Cool, huh?

Now, here's the best part. Magnet Street is offering my readers 25% off your entire Christmas card order. All you have to do is enter the promo code EFF97DBZE5 at check out. (Just copy and paste that one--it's a little hard to remember.) 

But wait! There's more! I told you Magnet Street is a great company run by great people, right? This year, for every order that is placed with the promo code above, Magnet Street will donate one meal to a hungry child through Feed My Starving Children, an amazing organization that sends ready-made meals to malnourished children overseas. And not only will they be sending money to Feed My Starving Children, they will be sending their people to go pack up the meals that will be shipped overseas. 

So there you go. Saving money AND saving children at the same time. Seriously, I can't think of anything better.

So, if you haven't done it yet, go order your Christmas cards from Magnet Street. And if you haven't taken your family photo yet, well, all I can do is say a prayer for you because I know that might be the most difficult thing you do in the next month.

So tell me, how was your Christmas photo-taking experience?

Disclaimer: Magnet Street has kindly offered me cards in return for this blog post. The cards are cool. The post? All my own. 


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 24

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14
Today I am most thankful for the Incarnation. The Word became flesh.

As we enter this Christmas season, my prayer is that my eyes would see Him, my ears would listen to Him, my heart would be attuned to Him, and my words would glorify Him.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 23

This guy.

The light of my life.

The one who challenges me, encourages me, fights with me, and helps me see the world in a new way.

My husband of 26 years, 3 children, 8 residences, and countless trips. He knows my heart and loves me still.

He puts up with my lust for travel when he would much rather be fishing.

And that, my friends, is true love.

I'm thankful that God gave him to me those many years ago, and I'm thankful that we both look forward to the adventures God has in store for the next 26 years. Together.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 22

This one.

My firstborn. My guinea pig, poor thing.

The one who lives life to the full.

The one who embodies joy and shares it with everyone she knows.

The girl who isn't afraid to be the life of the party or the listening ear.

A sister, kind. A friend, always.

How could a mother be so blessed?


Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 21

Last day of classes, for a week anyway.

Enough said?


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 20

I'm thankful for a day of REST today. As I sit in front of the fire and the Bears game, I'm realizing just how much I enjoy quiet days like this.

Thank you, Lord!

How about you? What are you thankful for today?


Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 19

OK, I'm a little late in posting. So sue me.

I'm still thankful for several things today yesterday.

1. I'm thankful that the cold I thought I was getting when I woke up didn't materialize and ruin my day. I guess that makes me thankful for Zicam, too.

2. I'm thankful that I had energy to tackle the grocery store(s) yesterday and that the lines weren't as bad as I thought they would be. I'm also thankful that I got my shopping done early--College girl is coming home on Monday, you know!

3. Most of all, I'm thankful that after weeks of trying, the five of us actually managed to find 30 minutes together in front of a camera for our Christmas card picture (thanks, Ginny!). Despite the most unfortunate sweater selection on my part (hello?! looking pregnant much?!), we did manage to find something to use for our cards this year.

4. I'm thankful that after a two-year hiatus, Christmas cards will actually be sent this year. I'll be even more thankful if I get a card or two in return.

So even on the most ordinary of days, I'm learning that I have a lot to be thankful for. I'm loving this daily exercise.

How about you? What can you share today?


Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 18

Being in the middle is not easy. Trust me, I know.

You're always being compared either up or down, and you hardly ever just get to be you.

But if you're determined and smart and fiercely independent, you'll make your own path in this world.

Just ask this one.

The middle one. The one who will be leaving her mama in a puddle of tears next year. The one who knows herself at 17 so much more than I did at that age. The one who makes me want to be better.

The one I'm thankful for today.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 17

This week I'm doing tutorials with each of my students which is basically a 15 minute, one-on-one meeting to discuss their next paper. Today I met with 10 students, and I have to say that I'm thankful for each and every one of them. Even the 28 I didn't meet with today.

My students are diverse and interesting and thoughtful.

Some say thank you after every class.

Some fall asleep.

I have learned a lot from my students (I hope they can say the same of me), and I have enjoyed them immensely.

Most days.

No matter what, though, they have given me a new reason to get up in the morning (at 5:45!) and have made me realize yet again that I am a teacher at heart.

What about you? What are YOU thankful for today?


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 16

I'm thankful today for my parents and sisters (and their families), especially that they are ALL coming here for Christmas. I'm finding myself getting very excited about Christmas this year!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 15

The text I received this afternoon from my daughter pretty much sums up what I'm thankful for today:

"Okay, WHAT IS WITH THIS WEATHER?? It's like winter got lost on his way here!"

Yep. That.

PLUS, I got to spend the day with my dear friend. Bonus blessings all around!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 14

Things did not go so well in class today. Let's just say that technology is not my friend.

But even though a large portion of my day did not go as planned (lesson planned, get it?!), I still have lots to be thankful for:

- a chance to get to the grocery store . . . and money to pay for the food we need. I saw a woman in the store who seemed like she could barely afford the can of soup she was buying and it made me want to cry.

- time to hang out with my girls.

- garbage pick up.

- a husband who likes to come home to us every night.

- joy in a student's eye.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 13

So much to be thankful for today.

- Church. I love my church and am so thankful for those who serve so faithfully there.

- Ministry. We serve in a ministry we love, outside of our church, called Missionary Furlough Homes. The foundation owns 18 townhomes here, and we offer them to missionaries on furlough for a very reasonable rate. We serve as houseparents to one unit--it's a perfect fit for our family and one I'm grateful for.

- Family. Everyone in our family was scattered hither and yon this weekend, but we're all back where we're supposed to be tonight. I'm thankful for journey mercies for all of us over the past few days.

- Friends. We went to dinner tonight with some wonderful friends, two of whom met in my class a loooonnng time ago, and one of whom claims to be my biggest fan. I don't have the heart to tell her that I'm not worth fanning over, but I love that she reads here.

We are blessed beyond belief, and it's been great to count them all this month. I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for us this week.

So tell me, what blessings are YOU counting this weekend?


What is Hope?

I can’t go.

Compassion does not know me; I’m just another blogger in a vast sea of bloggers to them.

And yet, something in my heart wants to do what they are doing. To touch lives, physically; to give hope to the hopeless.

I read their stories—Sophie’s and Ann’s—about a boy abandoned, Jonathan, and they make me cry here in my comfortable home with people all around me who love me. I realize, reading about life in Equador, that it isn’t even so much about the daily needs—the rice, the bread, the food. It’s about hope.

How can one boy have hope alone? I wonder as I read his story. How can he survive? Abandoned. Alone. Ashamed.

And that’s when I know that hope does not come from food or shelter or even the love of family. True hope comes from this Bread of Life, the word we can chew on, the promises that are new every morning.

All he has is hope that is living, active, sharp. And he holds onto it for dear life.

Compassion Bloggers visit Ecuador

Are you?

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I hope. Psalm 130:5

Compassion International is helping provide hope for kids all over the world. Would you consider joining them as they bring true Hope--the Word of God--to children? Just $38 a month will do it. 
Click here to sponsor a child.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 12

A day in the city with Julia today. I'm thankful for amazing, warm weather which really helps make a day great!


Hope for the Weary Mom

Some of you might remember that I write a once-a-month post for moms of girls over at the MODsquad blog (every third Monday just in case you want to put that on your calendar). I'm so proud to be a part of what's happening over there--encouraging mothers of daughters to raise them to know Jesus.

What you might not know is that there is a counter-part to the MODsquad for moms of boys called the M.O.B. Society. If you have sons, you might want to check that out.

Every Saturday in November, the MODsquad and the M. O. B. Society are coming together for a series called "Hope for the Weary Mom" because, as we all know, weariness knows no gender. It just is. 

Today's post is written by the founder of the M. O. B. Society, Brooke McGlothlin, and I tell you, it is fantastic. Even the title (which I'm always telling my students to PAY ATTENTION to!) will make you laugh: Beer & Cigarettes {hope for the weary mom}. Pop on over there if you need a little encouragement on this Saturday.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 10


The one with the sweet little face that still looks like a baby when she sleeps but reminds me almost daily that in almost two short months she will be 14 . . . and able to wear makeup (because that's a family ritual that I don't have time to tell you about now, but if you remind me nicely I'll tell you later).

This girl.

The one who was in her school play this week and who might have felt like, as an 8th grader, a school play is becoming just a wee bit juvenile for her but didn't complain . . . too much; she just learned her lines and executed them in the way that only she could.

My youngest.

The one who gave me fits and made me lose my voice a time or two when she was younger but who has blossomed into just about the sweetest girl God ever made.

The one who makes me proud.

The one who makes me happy.

The one who makes me thankful.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 9

Some days you just have to be thankful that you held it together. And that's where I sit right now. Because, let me tell you, holding it together is not my strong suit. Especially when I'm feeling frustrated or disappointed combined with weary and weak.

So today I am thankful that, despite everything in me that wanted to scream at one of my classes today, I held it together.


Now, please redeem my feeble attempts at thankfulness and tell me what YOU'RE thankful for today.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 8

Today I'm thankful that my girls have a dad who will battle traffic . . . to come home from work early . . . to eat leftovers . . . to head back out in the rain . . . to go to his daughter's middle school play.

He's my hero.


Top Ten Things I’ve Been Doing Besides Blogging

I’m sitting here wanting to write. Wanting to write something profound, even. The thoughts are there, but the writing muscle has not been exercised in a while, so instead of profound, I thought I’d share with you a little bit of my life from the past couple of weeks.

Let’s call it the Top Ten Things I’ve Been Doing Besides Blogging.

Because that pretty much sums up my life.

(It’s a good thing I don’t get paid to blog.)

10. Hockey. Not playing--goodness that would be frightening!--just watching. Friday night AND Sunday night. It’s the time of year when we watch a LOT of hockey, which is nice because I can watch hockey and not really watch hockey at the same time. Know what I mean? Plus I can put on my sweats, start a fire in the fireplace, and get cozy with some cute, fast skaters.

9. Reading magazines. I get at least three magazine subscriptions, but it seems like every month when the magazines come in the mail I throw them on the coffee table where they pile up like the leaves this time of year. So on Friday night while I was doing #10 and avoiding #8, I grabbed a bunch of magazines to leaf through. I looked up when the Blackhawks scored, don’t worry.

8. Grading papers. The bane of my existence right now. But I finally finished a batch over the weekend, handed back yesterday, and today I feel like a free woman. Ahhhhhh.

Until next time.

7. Feeding people. Over Halloween weekend I had two parties in three days, so I fed a lot of people. It was crazy, but so much fun. (I love having the gift of hospitality!) And then there’s the every-night dinners I still have to make, so the cooking continues, kind of. Why do these people always want to eat?

6. Walking Thunder. We’ve had a beautiful fall, so walks with You-Know-Who haven’t been that bad. I especially love walking through the park nearby on gorgeous autumn days.

5. Going to church. Lately I can’t wait to get to church on Sunday, because our pastor is doing a sermon series on Ecclesiastes called, “God’s Answer to Atheism.” It’s fascinating and really, really good. You can listen here if you’re interested.

4. Thinking about next summer. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet, but I was asked to be a leader on a missions trip with a group of high school students next summer. Now don’t laugh when I tell you where I’m going, just understand that the Lord is clearly calling me to serve Him in Europe because three years ago, you might recall, we took a missions trip to Switzerland. This summer I’ll be headed just a little further south. *wink wink*

3. Visiting doctors. And not just for the heck of it. Over the past three weeks we’ve had bronchitis, ear infections, and headaches that needed extra attention. So thankful for modern medicine.

2. Not reading. Well, except for those annoying #8s. I have not read a book since last summer, which is sad. And depressing. And now with these colder, wetter days I really feel like I want to curl up with a good book. Any suggestions? What’s the best book you’ve read lately?

1. Working. I know, I know, it’s a part-time gig, but it feels like so much more. This semester has been filled pretty much every day with lesson planning, paper grading, meeting with students, and trying to stay ahead. Teaching two classes should NOT consume me the way it has, but I guess it’s inevitable if I really want to do a good job. And I do . . . want to do a great job.

But here’s the wonderful news. Next semester I’m only teaching one class, my lessons will already be planned, and my mornings will be free. I think I’ll feel like a whole new woman who might even be able to get to the gym every once in a while.

And that’s another thing I haven’t been doing.

The list goes on. . . .

So how about you? What have you been up to lately? I’d really like to know.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 7

Today I'm thankful for connections that I've made through blogging. Truly, I have met so many wonderful friends this way. And I'm especially thankful that Mary hasn't given up on my efforts!

Thanks, Mary!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 6

Sorry folks, but I am NOT giving thanks for this time change. When the dog wants to eat at 3:30 in the afternoon and I'm ready for bed at 5, things just don't make sense. I guess that's why they call it a "Challenge."

But there are a few things I really am thankful for today.

- Old friends. As in 30-year friends. B is out with a few tonight, and I'm glad for those guys.

- Our church. So much good going on there. Sermons taking on atheism. Pastors who care about the gospel. Amazing opportunities to serve. Oh, and John Stott's U.S. memorial service on Friday (I'm going, so I'll report back).

- Modern medicine. We've been in need of it lately, particularly of the antibiotic variety. Just thankful that it's available.

How about you? I'd love to know what's on your mind today.


Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 5

Beluga whales. What a beautiful creation.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 4

Today's thankful thing was easy to find. It was seeping through every window, beneath every doorway, into every crack it could find.

Today I am thankful for SUNSHINE and especially for the way the light shines at this time of year. It's hard to explain--pale, golden, soft and buttery--and it is oh-so-beautiful.

Blessings to you, my friends, this awesome weekend. Enjoy it!

And tell me, what are YOU thankful for today?


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge - Day 3

Oh, this one's easy: coffee with my friend, Cheryl, who always makes me laugh, makes me think, and challenges me to be a better person.

An oasis in my otherwise ordinary day.

And you?


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge: Day 2

It's fun, this looking for thankful things. Today I was keeping an eye out, observing, listing possibilities in my head. Nothing seemed to pop out at me until . . .

"Hey Mom, I'm going to Target." She grabbed her keys from the dish on the counter.

"Want to come with me?"

I jumped up from the couch where I had just nestled myself in for a nap, grabbed my purse, and said, "Let's go! You're driving."

I'm thankful today for unexpected and very rare time alone with my middle girl--the one who just sent off her college applications and will be leaving me much too soon.

And you? What made you stop and give thanks today?


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thanksgiving Challenge: Day 1

 Have you read Kristen at We are THAT Family? She's the super-mom who is raising three kids, blogs way better than me, and, oh, have I mentioned that she started a ministry to unwed moms . . . in Africa?

I have admired Kristen for so many years because she has done good with her blog, always, and God has blessed her so much. Funny thing to me is that we started our blogs in the exact same month.

(Apparently God had different roads for Kristen and me. That's O.K. I'm good with that.)

Anyway, I just read Kristen's post for today and decided to steal borrow her idea because it's such a good one. She's doing a Thanksgiving Challenge--basically just writing down one thing from her day that she's thankful for. I have a feeling that this, too, is going to be another of Kristen's good ideas.

So I have a few things to be thankful for today.

- Getting a LOT of work done today, namely, grading 18 papers. Woot!

- Taking a nice walk around the park with Thunder on a beautiful day.

- Last night's Halloween party with the college kids--more than 20 of them. I'm so thankful for a house full of fun and energy. And I'm thankful to be a small part of their lives these four years.

So here we go: 24 days of thankfulness. Will you join me? What are you thankful for today?