Thursday, December 29, 2005

Another Life Change...

Today, just 15 minutes before quitting time, the main editor came in to my office and shut the door. I knew it was a serious talk. He said that, because of budgeting problems, they were going to have to terminate my position. Effective immediately. He was almost in tears, and I was choking them back, trying to be as stoic as possible. He said my position was the newest position they had added to the budget, so it was the first to be cut when money wasn't coming in. The paper is a free paper financed totally by advertising, and advertising tends to be hard to sell in January and February. He said he has hopes of hiring me back, if I will be available and agreeable to the idea, when finances are better. He projects this could be in March, but of course, no guarantees.

In the meantime, he wants me to continue to write freelance articles for them, and will get paid for that. He had a letter of termination I had to read and sign. In it, it said they would be glad to give me an excellent job reference, that this termination was purely an economic decision and nothing against me. I had to turn over all of my passwords and empty my document file. I had to finish my time sheet and fill it in to be paid for the hours I worked this week. And then, he asked if I had enough bags to clear my desk of all the stuff I had (reference books, drinking glass, mug, and more). These were things that dwindled in over several weeks, but I had to take it all home in one trip.

Then, he said he would need to escort me out of the building in order to get my parking pass out of my car. As we walked out of the office, he was again very close to tears and said this was unfortunate because he was impressed with what I added to the newspaper in terms of quality workmanship and being detail-oriented. He wanted to make it clear that I was not being fired due to poor work, and said he really hoped I would be back on the staff soon. He suggested I e-mail my section editor to work out a schedule of when the freelance work would be turned in.

As soon as I left the parking lot, I started sobbing. I didn't see this coming at all. And this was the one single thing in the past two or three years that meant the MOST to me. It was ME, not me being an extension of Russ (which is nice too, but just not the same thing). I didn't get to say good-bye to anyone, and it would have been awkward if I did. They had just added my name to the masthead and the Web site this week. No one saw it coming.

I will be seeking what God has for me in the next couple of weeks, in serious prayer and reflection and meditation, and I would ask that you pray for me.

Still Living Out Loud!

LYRICS: Lifesong (good goals for 2006)

Artist: Casting Crowns
Album: Lifesong
Song: Lifesong

Empty hands held high
Such small sacrifice
If not joined with my life
I sing in vain tonight

May the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to You

Let my lifesong sing to You
Let my lifesong sing to You
I want to sign Your name to the end of this day
Knowing that my heart was true
Let my lifesong sing to You

Lord I give my life
A living sacrifice
To reach a world in need
To be Your hands and feet

So may the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to You

Let my lifesong sing to You

Culture Stew

While shopping at Target on December 26th, I admired a silver menorah and considered buying one (culture mix #1-a Christian can appreciate a Jewish holiday!). While at the end-cap, a young Asian family wheeled their shopping cart near mine and I overhead a young girl I guessed to be about eight say, "Mommy, I want a menorah."

Her mom just sort of shook her head, but the girl's (what appeared to be about) 12 year-old-brother said, "No silly, we're not Swedish." (culture mix #2 & #3-An Asian girl wanting a Jewish symbol, followed by brother referring to the Swedes!)

The mother, who was trying so hard not to get involved, made a funny look. Brother asked, "We're NOT Swedish, ARE we?"

And mother replied, "A menorah isn't Swedish, it's JEWISH."

Brother said, "I knew it was one of those ISHes!" (tee hee-this one made me snicker under my breath-we can't always be spot on with our word choice-poor Brother!)

Then Sister, who was taking it all in, changed her want to a need, "Mommy, I NEED a menorah!" (This is a whole other commentary on life, having a hard time differentiating between needs and wants.)

To which Brother replied, "Silly, we're not Jewish," getting the word right this time, and glad for the chance to rehearse saying "Jewish." Mother smiled approvingly, knowing they finally got the on-the-spot cultural lesson complete, and she could move on with her shopping spree.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

2006 Goals

-"365 Ways To Know God" by Elmer L. Towns, with husband Russ
-Prayer Journal

-Develop mentorship goals with those I mentor
-Coordinate/Facilitate Women's Ministry events and Bible Studies
-Equip-U classes (lead various 6 week classes)
-HomeBuilders Class
-Music Ministries

-Lose 60 pounds (or more)
-Exercise at least 4 times a week
-Eat mostly from diabetic diet/portion control

-Read 15 books or more in various categories (don't get in a rut!)
-Learn more about MS Word and MS PowerPoint and page layout

-Keep in touch more with family and friends
-Develop more friends in the community-especially our cul-de-sac
-Entertain in our home twice a month (often using the Dinner-8 invitation)

-Mentor Carmen Rockett-edify her as a writer/a Christian/a friend
-Finish Laundry Room
-Buy and train a puppy/dog
-Online Critique Groups

Living Out Loud:
-Book at least 4 speaking engagements
-Record CD
-Print booklet
-See at least 70 articles published
-Pursue self-syndication of column
-Do mass-mailer to 50+ pastors/WM directors
-Register at a WM speaker's site

More Discipline:
-Time allotment

More Passion:
-Ministries (see above)

My Humanity Is Showing-AGAIN!

I hate it when this happens. I go along for a while-humming to myself-strutting through life-thinking I'm "all that" and then one of Life's reminders comes along to humble me. Here's the latest episode of "As The Ego Plummets."

I strolled into work and found one of the heroes from our newspaper standing in my office. I had never met him before. His name is Brian Patrick and he is a news-anchor for one of the Cincinnati TV stations. He also writes a couple of columns for our paper.

I was still out of breath from my ascent up the 2 story grand staircase of the RiverCenter Tower. It was a mild day, so I had just a casual fluffy jacket on over my office attire-nothing attractive. My hands were full with a big Kroger bag (filled with books and my lunch), my purse, and an umbrella for impending rain.

I greeted him-he apologized for being in my office, but he was waiting for the editor and didn't know where to go, because every office was taken. I introduced myself, fumbling with my bags to have a free hand. He said he was sorry to be in my space-I offered for him to stay, but he decided to go to the conference room to wait.

I went to the powder room before I started my day, and to my chagrin, when I looked in the mirror, I found that my lipstick had stained not one, but two of my teeth! This NEVER happens to me, so why today? I'll tell you why. So I could know, once again, that I'm not "Miss Thang" and I realize I'm just human.

Hopefully, Brian won't be appalled by my humanity, and will see the humor in it, like I did. And I'm sure we will meet again when I have my act together. Tee Hee!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Day After Christmas-No Rush!

Many talk about the Day After Christmas chaos-people in long lines to return unwanted gifts, using gift cards, or taking in the post-holiday sales. I decided to avoid as much of that as possible.

Since I had the day off, I used the time to do a few chores, read several chapters in a John Grishom novel, and research some information for a homeschooling story. Russ and I went out for Mexican food at lunchtime-a needful bodily requirement on a weekly basis or we have withdrawal symptoms! I did venture out to Target to hit the sales, but that was all I wanted of the madhouse Dec. 26th experience-best of all-I was first in line at the check-out!

When Russ got off of work, we went to the Family Christian Bookstore to use a gift card and buy a few things on sale (books and CDs). We also picked up a devotional to do as a couple-one of our New Year's goals. It is written by Elmer Towns, entitled "365 Ways to Know God." Then, we selected a few DVDs to rent at our local video store, and headed for home.

Odd, but most shows on TV this week are re-runs, and we really just want to crash when we get home, so we rented some movies. Last night we watched Hide-And-Seek, a psychological thriller with two of my favorite actors, Bobby Deniro and Dakota Fanning. It started slow, because it was dropping several clues as well as providing some rabbit chases for our minds, before setting up the plot and revealing the climax. There were actually 4 alternate endings provided, but we liked the one on the theatrical performance the best (I guess those test-audiences really do work!).

I slept quite well, but Russ dreamt fitfully and even woke up as the clock clicked from 2:05 to 2:06 a.m., just like the movie did several times. He said it was a bit freaky (if I am to believe him, but he didn't seem to be pulling my leg, and I can usually tell when he is). I am usually the dreamer of weird dreams in our home, but mine are not caused by movies but rather triggered by real life events. My mind can somehow sort fact from fiction pretty well!

'Tis the season to put away Christmas decorations, re-introduce healthy food to our digestive tracts, and set goals for the new year!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas Day Church Service

Christmas Day church service at Florence Baptist Temple, Burlington, KY was special. The auditorium was packed out, and the ushers added at least 35 extra chairs as more and more worshippers filed in.

The choir kicked off the service with "Good News, Great Joy!" Then, the congregation sang a single verse of various carols. A newborn infant was dedicated to the Lord. A soloist sang, "Come Let Us Worship The King." The choir sang "A Celtic Christmas," which was a river-dance style Christmas song-very catchy! More carols by the congregation. Then a trio made up of the pastor's wife (Sharon), Russ, and me, sang "The Carolers Song." (Mom you will remember this as the song sung by Marcus, Donnie, Mike, and Greg when the wise men made their entrance in Fellowship's pageant.) Pastor gave the Christmas sermon, including a humorous list of gifts NOT to buy your wife, and another of what not to buy your Mother-in-Law. haha! Then, the most touching time of the service: our Christmas gifts to Jesus. At the foot of the platform was a crèche containing strewn hay and an empty manger. While a young girl sang, "Happy Birthday, Jesus," and a man dressed as Santa bowed at the scene, we filed by with notes written to Jesus on a special card, which we placed in the empty manger. On the cards were two questions: our birthday wish to Jesus, and our birthday gift to Jesus-a commitment for 2006 (like a goal). Another man rolled a birthday cake with a candle to the front, as well. It was interesting to watch people solemnly proceed to the front. As soon as they caught sight of Santa worshipping, many broke into tears. It was very touching, and we all had no doubt what this special day was all about.

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Today is the day we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ: once baby, soon to be King! Merry Christmas to each and every one of you.

We woke at 7 am to exchange gifts. First coffee, hot cocoa, and biscotti was made ready. Then gifts were dispersed between the two of us. Libby, our calico cat, got in the action too, playing in the boxes and with the gift wrap. She is happy-happy! From Japan, we received slippers, a lidded bowl with little serving plates, a tie, coasters, a change purse, jewelry. Thank you: Wade, Kana, and Taishi! From me to Russ: 2 sweaters, 1 shirt, 3 CDs, 2 pr. of socks, 1 pr.of shoes, a coffee mug set, a belt and a white t-shirt. From Russ to me: 2 skirts, a dressy sweater, 2 books, and 2 pr of slacks. He hit a half off of clearance sell at Macys, and found some VERY nice clothing for me at Target prices! Yeah Russ!

Yesterday I received a phone call from my father's first cousin, Jim Davis. It was so good to hear from him! I recognized his voice right off, and good thing, because he said, "Hi Kathy, do you know who this is?" He had received my newsletter, and thought he would give me a call. It had been 2 or 3 years since we had communicated, from what I can recall. My prayer for Christmas has come true, as I have heard from several extended relatives and friends. Jim said that he had been to 3 funerals in 3 months for our family. Sadly, that is about the only time family can visit any more, so in a way, it is a happy time to be together, even though it is to memorialize a family member upon their passing.

Last night we rehearsed for a trio with our pastor's wife, Sharon. Then, the 4 of us went out to dinner at Lone Star steakhouse. Yum! It was a nice Christmas Eve. Today we will have church (a special service I will share with you later), and then will go to Pastor and Sharon's house for lunch, gift exchange, caroling around her baby grand, and playing games. No church scheduled for tonight, so it will be a relaxed afternoon rather than rush-rush.

I pray each of you will spend the day knowing you are blessed, no matter what your circumstances or surroundings. For all of us, it is a realization that we have it so much better than we deserve. And things could be worse!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas Memory Album

I know I've written about Christmas memories all month. Here is another compilation of them-some repeats-but I wanted to share them in this fresh way:

Christmas Memory Album

I imagine my fondest Christmas memories preserved in a family photo album. My mind recollects events and people who made each Christmas holiday an event to be cherished. As I leaf through this memory album, pages of special events appear before my eyes.

On the first page of my memory book, Grandma Mary makes chilled boiled custard served in punch cups with mounds of real whipped cream. She rolls the iced cakes in a choice of crushed peanuts or coconut to make the traditional blarney stones. Her gaudy Christmas tree light bulbs sag from mere size on the dried out pine tree. I can see her tree in my mind's eye, and it triggers another memory: Grandma Mary hoisting the decorated tree over the hillside, because she was mad at Papa Pete. They argued over gift giving, and she showed him! After emotions cooled down, the tree was retrieved and propped up in the living room with more than a few pine needles missing.

On the second page I see my cousin, Keith, painting a Christmas scene on the picture window of their Missouri home, atop the sky lift hill. The window features the nativity scene, inspiring spectators to celebrate the blessed birth amidst the hectic pace of their busy schedule. On Christmas Day, the Kent home buzzes with excitement as cousins gather to catch up on important things like discussing their favorite schoolgirl crushes.

Turning the next page of the memory album, I see Mom working alongside our neighbor Elaine, cooking candies and nut breads. They dust off the gently used recipe cards with instructions for their annual specialties. Peanut brittle spreads across buttered wax paper, and the aroma of molasses oatmeal bread fills the kitchen. Mom and Elaine box up most of the treats for Christmas gifts, but samples remain to fill our tummies.

Next in the album, I see a group of carolers bundled up in sweatered layers, singing to shut-ins. As a youngster, I sang with my Girl Scout Troup, and later on, with friends. We sang for nursing homes and hospitals. And just for kicks, we sang in our neighborhoods as well. It wasn't Christmas without caroling!

On an adjacent page in the memory album I see another musical memory. Dressed in festive attire, my classmates and I sing Christmas choral arrangements for our school Christmas concert. Back when it could still be called a Christmas concert. Our school band performed several holiday tunes, and hearts were prepared for the holiday.

“Christmas Plays,” reads the headline of the next page. One photo shows me dressed as a princess, hand clasped in the hand of my prince. For our Christmas program at church, I memorized a Bible verse from the gospel of Luke. I trembled, as I proudly quoted God's Word to the packed sanctuary. Mom mouthed the words with me from her seat. I didn't notice, but she trembled too.

Some of the favorite pages in my memory album feature our family sitting around the cut pine tree in our living room. With pride, we selected just the right tree each year. The fragrant scent of pine filled the air. Mom always read Twas the Night Before Christmas. My brother's chest puffed with importance, as he distributed each of the gifts. To top off the day, I sat on my daddy's lap, embracing my favorite toy or doll.

The memory album grows each year. There is always room in my heart for new Christmas adventures. But the fondest memories in the book will always be those from my childhood. The best gift of all was not a doll or toy, but being part of a family who loved me. They gave me the sense of belonging as a child, and as an adult, this sense of belonging is broader, encompassing the entire Family of God.

Christmas Village

When I was quite young, I think around 6 years old, Helen and Hiney moved next door to us, all the way from Wisconsin. They adopted us as "grandchildren" and did a pretty good job of making us feel special. They talked different than us, and I'm sure we talked different than them! haha!

I remember the first year Hiney invited us over at Christmastime to view his Christmas tree and village, and other decor. I truly felt like I had stepped into some magical Christmas spell. He spent hours upon hours building this elaborate scene, adding to the collectibles each year. A round mirror was placed on a mechanical lazy susan, and the village was situated on the frosted glass as it spun around. Seems there was a neat train moving around the tree as well. The entire affect was spell-binding.

It was with great sadness, when we lost Hiney in about 1970, and Christmas was never the same in Helen's home. Helen gave me some of the ancient wax ornaments used on the tree, as well as some of the glittery birds with tails made of filament. I used these ornaments to this day, as my way of continuing Hiney's Christmas tradition.

We are all blessed by those we meet along the way. Let's not get so caught up in what we have to get done that we miss the specialness of just "being" with those in our path.

Christmas Glasses

I just had 2 more Christmas flashbacks-I hope I can describe them. I remember two Christmas type glasses we used only at Christmastime. Wade, do you remember these? Maybe you can describe them better. We had mugs of Santa's face, that were bumpy on the outside to make out the shape of his facial features rather than smooth like a coffee mug. Seems Mom let us use these for hot cocoa and perhaps, but I'm not sure, we left one out on Christmas Eve for Santa with milk in it (oftentimes, milk from our Mennonite farmers). Mom-who gave us these mugs? The other glass was a large red glass goblet that USED to have a Santa head made of fabric or felt on top of it, and it was filled with candies. But, it was in the same style as the clear goblets we used for our homemade ice cream, so soon it was borrowed at other times of the year, and it no longer was a Christmas tradition. My memory is foggy on this-maybe Mom can clarify.

Letter to Santa at age 7

Mom sent me a .jpg of the actual note I wrote Santa when I was age 7. I thought it was precious and cute-and I didn't ask for much. But Russ found it to be hilarious. Here's why:

First thing on a list was a walking doll-that was the only believable thing on the note to him, because I still love dolls. Although, as maternal as I started out-we still don't have a family of our own! And I'm actually very content with just the two of us.

Then there was a purse-and I am not "into" purses like some of the women these days who simply MUST spend $400-$800 on a designer purse. I'm still carrying the purse my sister-in-law Kana gave me a few years ago, and I love it!

Next on the list was coloring books-I guess Russ "bought" that one too. But then I wished for a set of dishes. I still LIKE dishes, but he thinks I don't FILL the dishes often enough to suit him. I guess I need to cook more often! :-)

Finally on the list was a sewing machine. I haven't sewn a complete outfit since 1994, and have been "sewing-machine-free" since 2002! (And trust me-I didn't even go through withdrawal!)

I'm just not as domesticated as I started out at age 7. Oh well. Life gets in the way! haha!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Serious Case of Nostalgia

Okay, I have a serious case of nostalgia. I think it is contagious because I know of at least 3 others in my family who have it too. The root cause is being away from home for the holidays. The diagnosis: homesickness.

So, while I'm remembering Christmas past, let me share some random Christmas memories:

-We had the ugliest Christmas trees, but we were proud of them. All of us were like Charlie Brown; we felt sorry for the loneliest tree in the lot or in the country where the tree was felled. They weren't THAT ugly, but they weren't always THAT pretty either! haha! The best part: the smell of pine. The worst part: the prickly, splintery needles nestled in our bare feet. And the most love: Mom and Dad let us put up our ugly homemade ornaments along with their pretty storebought ones-even the ones made from toilet paper rolls and wallpaper samples!

-Wade and I climbed up on Mom's lap (which wasn't large enough for both of us, but she let us hop up there anyway) as she read "Twas The Night Before Christmas" to us, each Christmas Eve.

-We talked Mom & Dad into letting us open one gift on Christmas Eve. Many times, it was gifts from Uncle Eddie and Aunt Paula (since Santa hadn't arrived yet).

-My last baby doll came from Mrs. Gabbert when I was about 11-12 years old. Many said I was too old for doll babies, but Mrs. Gabbert knew I couldn't resist loving on them! I still have this doll-she has traveled to 5 different states with me.

-Dad enjoyed wrapping presents-and he was good at it!

-Dad sang all my favorite Christmas carols better than any professional singer I knew at the time-and he often sang them from...the shower! My personal favorite of his was "O Holy Night." He had amazing range and beautiful vibrato.

-As much as Dad loved Christmas, he often made us wait until he had had some coffee and gotten dressed, and combed his hair before we could have Christmas. The wait was almost unbearable!

-Mom made boxes and boxes of goodies for Dad to take to his friends at work, and for our neighbors and other family friends. Hard telling how much sugar she went through at Christmastime!

I wish I could celebrate Christmas on in to January, now that the rush of Church activities is over-maybe I just WILL!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Career Barbie?

As a child, I used to love playing with Barbie and imagining her in all sorts of careers. Even my paper dolls had different roles in life-not just mommy (although that is the best role in the world-think of the lives you impact!).

Now that I'm grown up, I've had a chance to experience "Career Barbie" in my own life. I have been blessed to experience so much in such a short period of time. Some of my occupations and serious hobbies have led me to wear the following hats:

-Christmas Tree Decorator (store had 20+ year-round)
-Furniture salesperson (and hoister-up 3 staircases!)
-Home consultant (organizer, cleaner, nanny, etc)
-Yearbook editor
-Domestics "associate" (guess which store?)
-Cosmetics and Skin-care Consultant
-Inspirational/Motivational Speaker
-Administrative Assistant
-Missionary Assistant
-Collection's "agent"
-Physicians Assistant
-Office Manager
-Party/Event/Wedding Planner
-Florist (silk and dried arrangements)
-Domestic Violence-staff (victim's advocate)
-Grant Writer
-Anger Management Group Facilitator
-Copy Editor and Reporter, Freelance Writer, Columnist

And more! I certainly have been blessed. Take a look around and see what sort of hats you have worn. You will be surprised!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Another Gratitude List


It is good for our hearts to be grateful. Keeps us humble and appreciative.

Here is my gratitude list for this week:

1. Getting to see several out-of-state friends this week. One couple from Ohio, Mark and Stephanie Stokes,drove down to attend our Christmas Cantata (Russ directed choir and drama and did the audio-visual extras, and I sang in the choir and a solo, and did drama makeup). We were able to eat out with them after the service, and enjoy a good time. Another family, Ian and Sara Dancer and children, drove up from North Carolina and we were able to eat breakfast with them and see how their 3 kids have grown. Also got to "show off" our "new" church to them.

2. The Christmas Cantata at church went well. Whew! Yeah! Now I finally feel like I can relax and ENJOY Christmas. I know-that is a sad commentary on the season-but that is how it goes when you are married to a music minister! :-)

3. I officially have ALL my Christmas shopping done! I got a LATE start on it this year, but it is DONE!--And more importantly--it is mailed in time for everyone to get it before Christmas!

4. I received a package from Japan yesterday-from my brother and family. I put the presents under the tree, but have already enjoyed watching the special compilation DVD he made of his family for us. Helps us feel a LITTLE like we are there visiting with them and seeing their special days and past-times. Also enjoyed looking at the photos they sent us. I miss them! Haven't seen my brother Wade, and my nephew Taishi in 16 months, and haven't seen my sister-in-love Kana in at least 6 or 7 years. Now you know why "a visit to Japan" is on my wish list of things to do before I die.

5. Our Christmas Letters went out to at least some of our worldwide friends (I still have another batch to do this week). Already, I've heard from a Annie Woolworth from Roswell, NM, and Greg & Megan James, from Columbus, OH. How fun to be back in touch with old friends! Almost rejuvenating, really!

BONUS: And I'm especially grateful to get to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, my Savior. I know my readers have all different faiths, or no religion at all, so I do not mean to offend. But for me, my peace of mind comes from my relationship with my Lord-no longer a baby-but a man who paid the price for my salvation. We are blessed! Let us celebrate!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Made with Love

"Homemade" means "Made With Love"

Today's Christmas memory is about some very special Christmas gifts. Mom made homemade clothing for my doll babies and my Barbie dolls. They were one-of-a-kind couture garments. Not designer knock-offs, but the real deal!

A couple of my flashbacks include:

-Mom used special bridal fabrics and laces to use for a Barbie doll wedding gown-a friend who worked for a bridal garment factory gave us the materials.

-Mom and Dad purchased a small suitcase in which to put all the "made with love" garments-I later used that same suitcase for special outings.

Thanks, Mom for dressing my special "friends" in designer fashions. I know miniature clothing is a trick to make-thanks for making them with love.

(Later blog entries will talk about my dolls and also about the clothes Mom sewed just for ME!)

Two New Articles on the Web-

I have two new articles on the Web-also were published in newsprint this Sunday. I'm blessed to have this opportunity. It goes to at least 69,000 homes in 3 counties of NKY and across the Web.

Christmas Memories

Church on Christmas Day

If you can't get to these addresses, let me know and I'll try to send you a direct link. Thanks!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

My 7 Sevens

7 Sevens

My friend Carmen tagged me in an assignment to answer the following, called, Seven Sevens. Thanks, Carmen for the idea! Why don’t you all, the readers, try this assignment. It really makes you think!

Seven Things to Do Before I Die.

1. Make a singing CD.
2. Be published in at least 100 different places.
3. Speak for at least 100 different events.
4. Visit Japan.
5. Go on an overseas missions trip.
6. Go on a cruise.
7. Mentor at least 25 people in various fields.

Seven Things I Cannot Do

1. Swim under water (only can surface swim)
2. Play the piano or guitar
3. Speak a foreign language
4. Ice Skate or Ski
5. Put down a book that has a good story line
6. Read bass clef
7. Remember a joke

Seven Things that I Admire in my husband:

1. How he follows the Lord regardless of the circumstances and bounces back from adversity and trials.
2. His character and integrity.
3. His work ethic.
4. His desire to help others.
5. His teaching/preaching skill and insight.
6. His passion for music.
7. His sense of humor.

Seven Things I Say Most Often

1. Trust me.
2. No way!
3. I love you.
4. Honey
5. Girlfriend
6. What’s wrong?
7. How are you?

Seven Books (or series) I Love

1. The Bible
2. Happiness Is A Choice
3. The Five Love Languages
4. Bad Girls of the Bible & Really Bad Girls of the Bible
5. Chick lit books like Yada Yada Prayer Group & Sisterchicks series
6. Anything by John Grisham or Mary Higgins Clark
7. Anything by Warren Wiersbe or Charles Swindoll

Seven Movies I Would Watch Over and Over Again

1. Radio, also Rain Man and I am Sam
2. Sixth Sense
3. The Preacher’s Wife
4. The Green Mile
5. Finding Forrester
6. Man on Fire
7. Antwone Fisher

(and my added category) Seven things I hate:
1. When salespeople are rude
2. When a driver cuts me off in traffic
3. Bad weather when I'm driving
4. When people think they can lie to me
5. When children/youth are disrespectful
6. When people have a martyr's complex/pity party-WHINERS
7. Getting older

Friday, December 16, 2005

LYRICS: Grown Up Christmas List

On purpose, I didn't look up the lyrics to this song until I finished my own "Grown Up Christmas List" so I wouldn't copy some of the thoughts. Here is Amy Grant's version:

Do you remember me?
I sat upon your knee;
I wrote to you
With childhood fantasies.

Well, I'm all grown-up now,
And still need help somehow.(can you still help somehow)
I'm not a child,
But my heart still can dream.

So here's my lifelong wish,
My grown-up christmas list.
Not for myself,
But for a world in need.

No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,(and wars would never start)
And time would heal all hearts.
And everyone would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end.
This is my grown-up christmas list.

As children we believed
The grandest sight to see
Was something lovely
Wrapped beneath our tree.(wrapped beneath the tree)

Well heaven surely knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal
A hurting human soul.

No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts.
And everyone would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end.
This is my grown-up christmas list.

What is this illusion called the innocence of youth?
Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth.
(there'd be)

No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts.
And everyone would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end, oh.
This is my grown-up christmas list.

oh this is my only christmas wish .
This is my grown-up christmas list.

My Grown-Up Christmas List

Amy Grant sings a song called, "My Grown-Up Christmas List" about all the things she wishes for in life. Here is my list:

1. For all my loved ones and friends to live long full lives with good health and great peace.

2. For Christ's work to be continued in me and in the lives of others who follow Him.

3. For others (and me) to have the sense of purpose, and live life "out loud" according to that purpose.

4. For safety and provision to all those in my address book (either snail mail or e-mail)

5. For love to be acknowledged and connections to be made in relationships, rather than typical dysfunctional relationships this world is famous for.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Why Do We Say This?

Today I overheard a funny statement, and realized we are probably all guilty of saying something similar at least once in our lifetimes. Here is how the conversation went:

blah-blah blah (the caller at the other end was telling this person a fact)...

"Really? I didn't realize that!"

blah-blah blah (the caller makes fun of him for not being aware of this fact)...

"Well...I guess I did know it...I just didn't realize I knew it..."

So, my question of the day is this, "how can one know something, yet not REALIZE they know it?"

With that one, I'll scratch my head for a while, in ponderment...

The Gift of Safety and Provision

We often take for granted the many times we are kept safe from harm. We are blessed with travel mercies, protection from intruders and attackers, and even national safety.

Also, we are negligent at being grateful for the many times we are provided for in ways we do not deserve. We forget how little it would take for us to be out on the streets without money, food, shelter, or transportation.

Today I want to mention these two gifts during my holiday rundown of the many intangible presents we receive all year long. SAFETY and PROVISION.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Gift of Joy


You won't find the gift of joy gift-wrapped and under the Christmas tree, but it is a true gift indeed. Without the birth of Christ, there would be no authentic joy. There might be temporary bursts of happiness, controlled by surrounding circumstances, but there would not be joy. Joy can only come from the One who guarantees salvation, because with that, there is eternal peace of mind. When Christ becomes real in our lives, we begin to pick up his mannerisms, and if Christ was anything, He was joyful. It is one of those character traits I'm most thankful for receiving. The Holy Spirit living in me whispers joyful utterances to my heart and my mind when the outside world seems to be yelling negativity to me.

Joy produces a calm that cannot be explained, in times of crisis and conflict. It allows a person to be more than just content, but actually excited about living life "out loud." Joy gives it's recipient an assurance that any unpleasant circumstance is only a temporary inconvenience that can be overcome victoriously.

The Christmas carol, "Joy to the world, the Lord is come!" is so true. Joy came to the world in the form of the baby Jesus. Anything before that time was just an anticipation of the Christ Child's appearance. We get the full picture-the gift of grace and mercy-rather than having to offer our own sin sacrifices like God's people did in the Old Testament. Christ's life, and death, gives us the completion of God's gift to us, His beloved. How can we NOT be joyful, when we consider this?

Jesus' words are recorded in John 15:11, saying, "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." Just like our gas tanks need filled up, so does our joy tank, and Jesus wishes our joy to be "full up."

I'm so glad this joy is available to us today-may it be FULL.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me!

"Today is your birthday (rock 'n roll riff)
Happy happy birthday (rock 'n roll riff)..."

Okay-so maybe you can't hear that in your mind's ear, but it is playing loud and clear in mine. I'm 43 today. Funny, I don't feel any older. Life sneaks up on you that way, doesn't it?

Husband Russ let me open my presents early, so I could wear them on my "special day." He gave me a velveteen brown blazer, brown tweed cuffed gauchos, and brown glittery frilly blouse. AND a $50 gift certificate to shop at Torrid, in the mall, with the promise of a shopping spree tonight when I get off of work. I'm headed that way now. Our Sunday School class also gave me a $50 gift certificate to Torrid so I will for sure have some new work and church clothes after tonight!

I received an e-greeting from a missionary wife, and another one from one of my publishers (with my freelance work). And I received a "Happy Birthday" e-mail from my close friend Amy Mills. It's always good to hear from her!

And-today isn't over! But this post is-so I will sign off for now, with more "observations on life" to come.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Blessings this Monday

Here's a list of blessings for which I'm grateful today:
-getting to sing in a women's quartet this Sunday; I LOVE harmony!
-receiving hugs-they are SENSational gifts!
-watching our children's musical at church-children are gifts from the Lord!
-having a day off to get caught up with errands and chores-essential!
-the fun of watching Survivor from start to finish this season-our date night!
-opening up a Christmas card from Aunt Verna-enjoyed the 4 generation photo and news!

The hardest part about being extra-nostalgic this time of year is that it makes you miss family even that much more.

When we forget to be grateful, we do not truly live, but merely exist.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Christmas Gift-Hearing from Friends & Family

I'm grateful for the gift of communication. It is especially important during the Christmas Season. I love getting all of the letters and cards from all over the country. It is so hard being away from those I hold dear to my heart during the holiday season, so hearing from them helps, just a little bit.

Yesterday I wrote my own letter to send out, and hope I'll be in touch with loved ones I haven't heard from in a while. Maybe my aunts and uncles will share the notes with my cousins, and I will hear from some of them. You just never know-a person can hope!

I look forward to those cards-even the e-greetings I receive on e-mail. And I love having Instant Messages with those I care about.

So, today I recognize the gift of communication-a true gift.

RECIPE: Grandma Mary's Boiled Custard Beverage

1 gallon whole milk
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
15 egg yolks
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

Mix sugar with a little milk. Add egg yolks. Add cold milk. Cook in double boiler (I used a regular teflon coated dutch oven). Stir often. Cook about 45 minutes-until it coats the spoon.

Strain when cool. Add 2 tsp. vanilla, or to taste. May add a little yellow food coloring.

Serve with lots of sweetened REAL whipped cream.

(I serve mine in a punch bowl, that I sit down in an ice bath inside a larger bowl, with the whipped cream floating on top).

Friday, December 09, 2005

Are You For Real?

Russ passed this story on to me; it happened to someone in our church (so this isn't an urban legend joke being passed off as the real thing):

A little girl was starting to wise up about make-believe. Her tooth fell out, and she took it to her daddy.

"Dad-I'm getting older now. I've got a few things figured out. So be real with me, you and Mom are the Tooth Fairy, right?"

The father and mother had always promised themselves they would be totally honest with their children, so he said, "Yes, darling, your mother and I are the Tooth Fairy."

The little girl said, "I knew it! And, while we are being honest here, you all are the Easter Bunny, too, aren't you?"

"Yes, you have guessed right."

"And Daddy, at Christmastime, Santa—"

—The father thought for sure she was going to have him come clean that he was Santa Claus as well, but before he said anything, she completed her sentence.

"I know you can't be Santa Claus because Santa gives WAY nicer gifts than you and Mom would ever give me!"

The moral of that story is: let's all give way nicer gifts than others would expect of us!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Let It Snow?

Today we are predicted to get 3-7 inches of snow, slowing the city to a crawl at rush hour. If the snows of Missouri overnight are any indication, it looks like we will be buried under a blanket of snow by bedtime.

I requested coming in to work an hour early so I can hopefully leave before the bad stuff descends on the roadways. I have effectively avoided commuting in snowstorms since 1988, and so my skills are a little rusty. I've driven in light snow, but nothing of this magnitude for 17 years!

I remember when I was a kid, and we used to PRAY for snow-days. We gave no thought to transportation. We just knew it meant a day off from school, and a day to play in the white stuff. Wasn't it great to not have the stress of adulthood? Our biggest dilemma was which friend to call to go outside and make snow angels.

Even when I was a teen, I remember Russ and I wanting to spend the day together on a snow-day. So, he started walking from his house, and I started walking from my house. Seems we lived about a mile-and-a-half apart from each other. We met midway, then decided which house we wanted to crash at for the day. THEN it was romantic. NOW it would just be a recipe for achey muscles, stiff joints, and a runny nose!

Even thought the snow is pretty, I don't enjoy it as much as I used to. I just keep rehearsing in my mind that some of this white stuff is necessary in order to have a beautiful four seasons. I missed that when I lived in the desert of New Mexico. And I missed it in the semi-tropical region of Vidor, TX. Maybe if I just keep telling myself, over and over like a mantra, that this is part of the four seasons, I will learn to love it again. Not just survive winter, but learn to thrive in it!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Special Gifts - Humor

Today, I chose the gift of humor for which to be thankful. I love having a joyful heart and even a silly attitude at times. I'm grateful for Russ-whose sense of humor has rubbed off on me (for the good, and for the bad!). Spontaneous jokes and puns entertain me and lift my spirits. Off-the-cuff humorous observations of life are so relatable I chuckle as I consider the humor in it all.

Certainly, God must laugh at our silly antics, as well. Not in a mean-spirited way, but in a cheerful way.

When was the last time you experience sheer glee or giddiness from something silly or hilarious? It is a true gift! Life without humor would be a life without sunshine.

Laughter is music to my ears.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Memory of the Day

Today I want to remember all the yummy foods of the Christmas Season, from my childhood.

My mom and Elaine Rubemeyer used to get together every year to make various candies and breads. I especially loved Mom's peanut brittle, peanut butter fudge, bon bons, and walnut toffee. I thought it was cool when she made Molasses Oatmeal bread in small cans-and the end result was delicious. She also made date nut balls rolled in coconut that became the item I requested most.

Grandma Mary made the BEST macaroni and cheese. She made so much of it, that she had to use a big turkey roaster pan to fit it in. Her boiled custard with real whipping cream was a smooth seasonal drink, using punch cups for a festive touch. And her blarney stones (sponge cakes, iced and rolled in peanuts or coconut) was to die for. One year I attempted to make the blarney stones, and realized just how much hard work they were.

I hope to make the boiled custard drink this year for one of our gatherings. I will be resurrecting other old recipes as well as trying out new ones.

Tis the season---to cook!

Monday, December 05, 2005

A Look at Special Gifts

This Christmas Season, I'd like to take a look at some of the special gifts I've been given over the years. Not necessarily tangible gifts, but valuable, for sure.

Today, my gratitude is expressed for the gift of hope. What life is worth living without it? Hope keeps me going when no other motivator will. Hope illuminates even the darkest of days with glimmers of possibility.

I have a hope of eternal life that is unwavering. That's stability.
I have a hope of a life filled with purpose. That's responsibility.
I have a hope of fulfilling relationships. That's accountability.

Hope fills my life with beauty. It tells me I will have my needs provided, alleviating all worry. It comforts my soul with peace when the world tells me all is lost. Hope is not dead. Hope is alive and well.

To have this gift, you must embrace it. The beautiful gift-wrapped package of hope is sitting at your feet now. Have you untied the ribbons, ripped off the paper, and opened the box?

The best thing of all-there is always enough hope to go around-never a shortage. To create more, share your hope with someone who is feeling hopeless. Hope multiplies.


Trauth brand Snowcream

Oh my! This store-bought snowcream really does taste like the homemade snow icecream we used to make as kids. I was prepared to be disappointed-but this really *is* yummy! I wonder if other brands make this dairy dessert? I highly recommend it if you want to take a trip down memory lane with your taste buds!

Song Lyrics of the Day

This Christmas song is written from Joseph's perspective. Think about it!

A Strange Way To Save The World

Artist: 4 Him
Song: A Strange Way To Save The World
Album: The Season Of Love
[" The Season Of Love " CD]

Sure he must have been surprised
At where this road had taken him
'Cause never in a million lives
Would he had dreamed of Bethlehem
And standing at the manger
He saw with his own eyes
The message from the angel come to life
And Joseph said...

Why me, I'm just a simple man of trade
Why Him, with all the rulers in the world
Why here inside this stable filled with hay
Why her, she's just an ordinary girl
Now I'm not one to second guess what angels have to say
But this is such a strange way to save the world

To think of how it could have been
If Jesus had come as He deserved
There would have been no Bethlehem
No lowly shepherds at His birth
But Joseph knew the reason
Love had to reach so far
And as he held the Savior in his arms
He must have thought...


Now I'm not one to second guess what angels have to say
But this is such a strange way to save the world
...this is such a strange way to save the world...Save the World

Sunday, December 04, 2005

How God Prepares Your Heart

I can testify to this again and again, that God has prepared my heart in advance of upsetting news. Weeks and months before I was told I could not bear children, God whispered those very words to me-I knew. Each time a change in our lives was about to take place, I was ready only because God had prepared me. And the several times we had our hopes up regarding adoption, only to have them crushed by a biological mother who changed her mind before the birth, God was there too! Now is one of those times.

On October 3, exactly two months ago, we were approached by a pastor's wife about adopting a baby that would be due around May. Russ and I were still considering adoption in our lives-had not ruled it out. We thought we were too old for a baby, but we wanted to be available to whatever God desired for us, so we said, "yes." The pastor's wife was pretty sure this was a done deal because there were no family members on either side of the family who wanted the child, and the mother was 28 and already had 2 children, so she wasn't likely to change her mind.

We didn't tell family because we didn't want them to get excited and then get hurt if it didn't work out-there would be time closer to the due date to make announcements. They've already been through that several times with us, and it is just too hard on them.

I went through all the emotions of expecting a child: amazement, awe, fear, inadequacy, financial worries, name it. I looked at baby clothes and my heart flip-flopped. My eyes suddenly spotted all the infants as we walked through the mall.

A couple of weeks ago, I started having this sense of advance warning from God again-that we would not be getting this baby. In fact, about a week ago I almost wrote the pastor's wife to tell her we needed to back out because we just didn't have a good feeling about it. But I didn't want to get ahead of God-let HIM open and close doors.

You guessed it-yesterday I heard from the pastor's wife. The biological father now says he wants the child. And you know what? I was ready to hear that. I would not have been ready for it a month ago. God is so good to come ahead of the bad times and put a cushion of comfort and knowledge so that when bad news comes, I can honestly say, "I'm okay with that."

I pray you each have that same peace with God-especially this time of year-Peace on earth, Good will toward men.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Memory of the Day

Superhero Ability-to see through packages...

Yes-you read correctly. Today's report is a humorous look back at my brother Wade's ability to figure out what was in a wrapped gift without unwrapping it. He learned to lick the giftwrap paper until it became transparent. Then, much like looking through a window, he was able to see enough of the inside to make an educated guess as to the contents. Wade loved Christmas so much-it was just one of those holidays that really got him jazzed up. His enthusiasm was contagious.

But, unlike Wade, I didn't like knowing what I was going to get. I wanted it to be a surprise. One year, I saw my Barbie Camper (which was a *BIG* gift at our house) hidden in the trunk of our car. I wasn't looking for it on purpose, but saw it when Mom or Dad was unloading something else. I anticipated the fun of playing with it, but on the day of Christmas, that excitement wasn't as jump-up-and-down thrilling as if it was a surprise.

On the other hand, Wade found a way to know the outcome and use that thrill to just grow in excitement each day as Christmas approached. I'm glad he made Christmas so special at our house. He was almost like the Carlton Advent Calendar. Each day we could open the little "flap" of life and see a treat from Wade's perspective.

I still don't peek at my presents, but I do embrace Wade's love for Christmas. Christmas affords me the opportunity to be nostalgic. I'll share many of those memories over the next few weeks.

Magical Morning Lights

There's something almost "magical" about waking up to the brightly shining lights in a dark room as I enter in the morning.

We completed our Christmas tree and foyer decorations last night. I stared at them all evening. There was a sense of "grounding" to have Christmas up in OUR house-the last three years didn't seem like Christmas without them up-we just weren't settled wherever we were. We brought out ornaments as old as our marriage-some newer. Every year we pick up something. The tree becomes almost a scrapbook of our lives together-memories shared along the way. When we went to bed, we turned off the lights.


This morning when I woke up, Santa had turned on the lights before he left home, and I was blessed to walk in to this almost magical scene. I was mesmerized and dumb-struck by the beauty of it all.

Christmas is coming to the Williss this year. I am blessed already-if I don't get a single gift!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Gratitude List

Here is my Friday Grateful Gratitudes:

#1-Digital Programmable Thermostats-programmed to keep my house cool when I want it that way, and to warm it up right before I wake up and before I come home from work!

#2-Hot chocolate with marshmallows and Vanilla Chai Tea with extra cream-both warm me inside and out!

#3-Sunshine-again-warms me inside and out!

#4-Heated seats in Russ's car-I guess I'm on a warming theme today.

#5-E-mail to stay in touch with loved ones and friends. Hearing from them warms my heart!

Memory of the Day

Sleeping Over?

I was a sleep-walker. Not sure when my last trek was. I've always had unusual sleep patterns. I think my 3rd-grade year was one of my worst years-I was being bullied at school. One night was so bad, Mom found me outside in our car, having tiptoed barefoot through snow to get there, never waking up!

Because of my sleep-walking, my folks were afraid to let me sleep-over anywhere. Mom became one of my girl scout leaders so that when we went camping, she would be with me.

In the 6th grade (I think), Elizabeth Brolinson had our first boy-girl dance party, followed by a sleepover for the girls. I got to go to the dance (woo hoo!), and hung out with the girls for a while, but then I had to walk home to spend the night, because Mom was afraid the excitement would cause me to sleep-walk. I hated being different.

In junior-high, Mom wasn't my girl scout leader anymore, and our troop was scheduled to go to visit Nauvoo, Illinois (not sure of spelling, but it was one of the Mormon settlement areas). Mom came up with a compromise for letting me go. I couldn't sleep with the girls in the tents, but had to sleep with the leaders in the pop-up camper. It was embarrassing. I hated being different.

I did get to spend the night at Dana Hope's house when I was around 8th grade. That was a big deal. The Hopes promised to keep an eye on me. As far as I know-there were no incidences. I think by then, I was starting to grow out of the sleep-walking phase.

Being different is no fun. I guess I have several things that would label me as "different." I hope being different has helped me be more sensitive to others who are different,'s no fun being different.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Memory of the Day

Socks Repurposed as Mittens!

Today, as I bundled up to face the whipping cold wind and cold vehicle for the wintry drive to work, I thought back to my childhood years. We did not dread winter weather, but rather PRAYED for it! We played out-of-doors for what seemed like hours. When our mittens and socks were soaked, we went back inside and put our wet clothing in front of our wall furnace. Then we fueled up with hot chocolate, and hunted for warm socks to put on feet and hands. Back outside we went!

We had snow angels and snow forts to make; snow balls to throw; and even playing with the slushy dish of Bud's water dish was fun. I imagined I was a character in Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House on the Prairie" as I stirred muddy, slushy water for "stew." Bud got new water before we went back inside, and we got more hot chocolate!

My Pride Is Showing

One life goal I have is to learn how to avoid the traps of pride and live a real life without pretence, but also without ego. I've got the mindset down, all the "whys" and "hows," yet I still struggle. Just when I think I have fully embraced humility, I come crashing down. I savor the satisfaction of a compliment a little too long - or ruminate on a criticism with a singed pride for a few hours before finding the determination to use the helpful feedback to help me change and grow. Normally, I can sleep on it and have a refreshed viewpoint by morning. I'm not sure what sleep does, other than get my mind off of self and allow my heart and mind to be restored.

I try not to do things for recognition sake, but just because I know it pleases my Lord and Savior. I relish doing nice things for others anonymously. But then something like not getting mentioned in the newspaper credits comes up, and I deal with my pride once again.

Probably, pride is one of those beasts that is most difficult to tame. It might take a lifetime, but I am focused on learning to live a selfless life. As long as I live in this skin, I have a feeling I will face pride-traps along the way.

Onward - to the goal! Sidestep the traps, or at least learn from them, and move on. I can do that. I WILL do that!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Web Site Counter

We Live!

Here are the lyrics to one of my favorite songs right now. It is sung in an urban-rock style with thought provoking verses and a positive message in the chorus.

Artist: Superchick
Album: Beauty From Pain
Song: We Live

Verse 1:
There's a cross on the side of the road
Where a mother lost a son
How could she know that the morning he left
Would be their last time she'd trade with him for a little more time
So she could say she loved him one more time
And hold him tight
But with life we never know

When we're coming up to the end of the road
So what do we do then
With tragedy around the bend?

We live - we love
We forgive and never give up
Cuz the days we are given are gifts from above
Today we remember to live and to love
We live - we love
We forgive and never give up
Cuz the days we are given are gifts from above
Today we remember to live and to love

Verse 2:
There is a man who waits for the tests
To see if the cancer has spread yet
And now he asks, "So why did I wait to live till it was time to die?"
If I could have the time back how I'd live
Life is such a gift
So how does the story end?
Well this is your story and it all depends
So don't let it become true
Get out and do what we are meant to do

Chorus (see above)

Verse 3:
Waking up to another dark morning
People are mourning
The weather in life outside is storming
But what would it take for the clouds to break
For us to realize each day is a gift somehow, someway
So get our heads up out of the darkness
And spark this new mindset and start to live life cuz it ain't gone yet
And tragedy is a reminder to take off the blinders
And wake up and live the life we're supposed to take up
Moving forward with all our heads up cuz life is worth living

Chorus (to fade)

Memory of the Day

Today I remember yummy snow ice cream; made with fresh (white) snow, sugar, vanilla, eggs, and milk. It was a thinner mixture than store-bought ice cream, but it was guaranteed to give you an ice cream headache in split seconds. Wade and I used to eagerly await a snow that would fall deep enough to scrape off the top layer (to avoid the air contaminates that landed on the top), and use the middle layer, leaving yet a third layer of snow to cover the ground, to avoid dirt ending up in our snow.

I understand Trauth Dairy makes a product they call snow cream, and I can't wait to try it this Christmas Season. I will report in on the quality.

I'm old enough now, that I'm not eagerly awaiting a deep snow anymore!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Memory of the Day

As I age, I've become quite nostalgic. I think for those of us who do not live near our "roots," memories of the past are the glue that holds the present together. Because I have so many fond memories, I want to take time every so often to write about one.

Today I want to write about Star Hill. For most of the year, Star Hill, in Louisiana, Missouri was just one of our tallest hills in town. If I recall correctly, on the way to the peak, was Mr. Christy's house. It was rumored his home had been used in the underground railroad. I always thought that was a cool fact! At the very top of the hill was enough rock and mud to make four-wheeling fun. Our camera club went up there one year, and came back drenched in a head-to-toe mudpack!

But, the BEST memory of Star Hill is something that occurred the day after Thanksgiving every year. A tremendous star, lit by many bright lights, would illuminate the sky at dusk and inspire us in the darkness, to cherish the Christmas season. Before we knew it, the lights were out for the year.

So, this year, even though I can't see the star, I can cherish what the star means to me.

"O-o Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright..."

Gratitude List

Here is my gratitude list for the past few days:

I'm grateful for:

-Getting great feedback from my editor regarding my latest CD review. He liked the way I wrote the review, and has assigned 3 more CDs for me to review next. It is published at both and Here is the direct URL:

-Having a loving family adopt us for the Thanksgiving holiday. Our friends' extended families welcomed us with open arms-and they could COOK too! Still-I miss being with my own family-makes me nostalgic for years' past.

-The opportunity to "tag-team" teach with Russ in our adult Sunday School class Sunday. We are teaching on the six top potential trouble areas in marriage-and it is just better for them to hear it from the perspective of both genders! I love the chemistry of interacting with Russ behind the podium-it is an adrenalin rush for me.

-Completing a 10 week Bible Study series called, "Believing God", by Beth Moore, with several ladies of all ages from our church.

-Safety on the roads the other day. An overpass was icy, and a car was smashed into the guard-rail as I swerved by her. She was standing outside and waiting for help to arrive, and I was grateful to not hit her, or be hit in the process. My white-knuckle grasp on the steering wheel didn't relax until the car was in park.

Enjoy the View!

Today on my 25 minute drive to Covington, KY, the view was breath-taking! I love to use my drive-time as a time of reflection. This means I take in all of the scenery as it unfolds like a movie before my eyes. Today, the sun-rays darting at angles through the puffy clouds told me it was going to be a day of amazement. It's all in your attitude! Then, on my approach to the Ohio River, in what is called Cut-in-the-Hill, the Cincinnati sky-scape loomed before me in an almost gold and silver state of existence. It was so bright, and so spectacular! I couldn't help but think to myself, similar to Jeremiah, "Ah, Lord God, thou hast made the heavens and the earth by thy outstretched hands!" Yes, I know this city was man-made, but it was inspired by a Lord of Beauty who enabled them to build a city-extravaganza.

We are so blessed!

The Birth of a Diary

My brother, Wade, encouraged me to start an online diary, so this is my first post. I'm still learning how all of this works, so bear with me as I get things written and uploaded. My goal is to report the goings-on in my life as a Christian, Wife, Family Member, Friend, Newspaper Copy Editor/Writer, and Life Observer.

I'll also be experimenting with different formatting and photos. More to come!