Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of Passage? His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN. He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man! Finally, after a horrific night the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm. We, too, are never alone. Even when we don't know it, God is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.

Let's be more aware of all the choices, situations, twists and turns that brought us to this place right here and now. They May Be Miracles.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hello Friends!

Hi Bloggy Friends!!  I miss visiting your blogs and am looking forward to catching up with you all in the coming days!!  Have been away and will be posting again in the near future.  God bless each of you!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Happy Anniversary To Us!!

My Husband, Dan, and I celebrated 15 years together as husband and wife yesterday, May 20th!   I have a ton of other photos of us, but these are the ones currently on the computer I am typing on. 
Happy Anniversary to the love of my life, my one and only BFF!! after posting this I had to go to the other computer where all the pictures are and post a few of my fav's from over the years...
The Grand Canyon

Cocoa Beach, Fla

On a walk one evening near home

In a courtyard in the middle of a monestary in Germany

In a Japanese Garden in a town in Belgium

Birth of baby #2

and measuring the catch below...

Birth of baby #3
and teaching him O - H - I - O ... below...

First ever Father/Daughter Dance  2009
(haven't loaded the ones from this year yet which include daughters 1 and 2)

What a magnificent husband and daddy!! 
15 years flew by fast...looking forward to many, many, many forever more years!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Good Things Come To Those Who......SPEAK!!!

Ok, it's been over a week since this happened and I wanted to write about it right away, but with the weather so nice...yada, yada, yada...anyway...gotta share a fun story that happened Friday, May 7th.  Facebook friends could skip this one unless you want to know more details since I plastered the story all over the following day.

So, early in the afternoon last Friday my sister-in-law, Michelle, called up and asked me if I wanted to go see Ryan Star sing in concert at a bar later that night.  Not really knowing who Ryan Star was I still said, "sure" because anytime someone invites me to go see a concert I'm pretty much game for that.  She did say that he has a song on the radio right now called, "Breathe," but honestly, I listen to mostly kids silly songs, some Hannah Montana, some Praise and Worship, some Celtic, and various other songs I deem appropriate for my kids to listen to...not much radio.  Still, I was excited to get out for the night and listen to some live rock music!! 

So a local radio station had been advertising the concert all week I guess and Michelle knew the concert started at 7:00.  We thought we'd get there at 6:30 to get a table and order something for dinner and drink.  When we arrived we went to the concert area doors and asked the waitress coming out if we could go in and get a table.  She went in to ask someone else, came out and said no, that the doors wouldn't be opening until 8:00.  8:00?...we asked, we thought the show started at 7:00.  "Nope, 8:00" says she.  So we decided to go get a table and eat, wait a while, and then try to go in again.  At some point during the VERY, VERY slow service we did start to see others entering the concert area.  At another point during the VERY, VERY slow serviced meal Michelle saw through the windows that Ryan Star was up on the stage singing.  We decided he was doing a sound check for later.  Around 8:00 pm we finally received our check, paid, and went over to the doors to go in the concert area and get a table.  

Not knowing where to sit really and thinking now that the concert wouldn't start until 8:30 or 9:00 we decided to go to the bar and order a couple of beers.  We took our beers and went out to the patio area.  Both of us being the middle child we argued back and forth about where to sit and it sounded like this, "I don't know, what do you think?  I don't know, what do you think?  There would be good.  Sure that's fine, unless you want to go there.  Yeah, that looks like a good place.  But you had said you wanted to go there, let's just go there.  Sure, whatever you want."  Except it may have taken longer than that.   When we finally sat down and made few jokes about the enormous size of our beers and how horrible our view would be of the stage from where we were sitting, Michelle saw Ryan Star walking around on the patio and talking to people.  This was her first clue that we may have missed something.

She told me she was going to go up and talk to him.  I told her to go right ahead, I'd stay and guard the beers.  (I wasn't in on this part but it went something like this)  She introduced herself and I guess had asked him if he already performed.  HE HAD!!!!  WE TOTALLY MISSED THE CONCERT!!!  She explained to him how we had come early, tried to get in and they wouldn't let us, and then with the place being so packed had pretty slow service and did not get to see him perform.  As he was signing a poster for her Ryan told Michelle that if we'd follow him/them (he and a couple of his people) out to his car that he would perform a song at his car for us.  (Good things come to those who speak!!)

Michelle came over to me and reported to me that we would be following Ryan to his car so that he could sing a song for us there.  Now, I had just had a dream the night before that I was at a bar (which is strange b/c I haven't been in a bar for ions) and that someone had drugged my drink.  Altogether strange dream.  But sitting there hearing her say that we would be walking away from our beers made me think of that dream and I was hesitant.  She skipped like a schoolgirl -- ran like a crazed fan -- swiftly walked over to the gate to follow him out.  I sat at our table still - not knowing whether to go or stay and guard the drinks.  I decided that getting sung to by a rock star was worth leaving the drinks behind and that if they were still there once we returned we'd just send them back and not drink.  So I swiftly walked over to catch up and played a game of catch to get to them at his car.  He pulled out his guitar and as I approached I took this picture with Michelle's phone:

Well, after this picture was taken the battery on Michelle's very cool touch phone had worn out.  So we couldn't get a picture of him with us.  So, he asked the woman from Atlantic Records who was with him to please take a picture with her Blackberry and email it to us.  (Later once we received the photo and saw that it was completely blurry we realized we couldn't use it for anything).  I never even thought to offer my little no nothing phone (not a touch or blackberry or keyboard...just a regular flip phone)...if I had, I could have even taken video...just never crossed my mind with all these other fancy phones in front of me!!

Anyway, he asked us which song we wanted him to sing and since Michelle wasn't sure if I had heard "Breathe" or not she requested it.  So here's the official video of that song if you want to hear it:

Well, he's singing the song to us and about half-way through during the chorus Michelle starts singing along and he's like, "cool" -- so when it gets to the next chorus I thought I'd join in.  Unfortunately I hadn't heard much of the song while he was singing it because I was thinking about lots of other things like, "wow, this is cool...a rock star singing a song just for us!" ... and, "gosh, I wish I could just press that part of his ear in so it wasn't sticking out."... and, "for all the hundreds of times I went to concerts and my friends and I joked about how the rock star was looking RIGHT AT ME, this time the rock star really is looking right at Michelle and I!!!"  So when the chorus came I kind of sounded something like this, "Breeeeeeathe, just breeeeeathe, mdkdjakdkalkfjaklfkj AND breeeeeathe, just breeeeeeeeeeathe mmmmmmmmmmm......." Yea, not the best decision I ever made...he looked up at my attempt to sing along and had to look back at his guitar I think not to break out laughing!!!!

So when it was all said and done Michelle and I headed back to the bar.  I bought us two new beers so that we wouldn't drink the ones left sitting there.  She only ever took a few sips of hers because she was going to drive and we were about done for the evening.  We laughed about many, many, many things that women sit around and laugh about...well, schoogirls and women who have a case of the "sillies" - and then we drove as fast as we could to her house so that we could post the picture and update our statuses on facebook to tell everyone what we had just experienced!  A fun time and great experience.

A fun night out with a tiny lesson mixed in:
Saying nothing usually gets you nothing and nowhere.
Saying something might not always get the fantastic results you're hoping for...but sometimes it might just get you something you never imagined!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Whispers and Gongs

Do you believe in Angels?  What do you believe about Angels?  Feel free to leave a comment about what you believe...could be what you think the Bible says about them...could be what you were always taught or what your faith tradition was...maybe a personal experience?  I wrote one other time about possible Angel intervention.  If you want to read that post click here.

Well, I was thinking the other day about the night my husband and I first met.  I think about that night every now and again.  I was attending Walsh University.  I had been a part of the drama program there, sometimes in a play and sometimes doing things behind the scenes.  I was not going to take part in the play "West Side Story," but I really can't remember why at this point.  That play was a big undertaking for a small university, so they put out the word that they needed people to come in from outside the university to help fill the cast.  I went to see the play the evening I met my husband.  He was a student at Kent State University and was invited to come be a part of the play by some students he knew at Walsh.

I was still friends with all the Walsh students involved with the play and my best friend at the time would be going to the cast parties because her (now husband) boyfriend was in the play.  She wanted to set me up with another "outsider" or non-Walsh student that she had met at a previous cast party and asked me to go to the cast party that night that I went to see the play.  

When I walked in the door at the home where that party was taking place Dan was sitting there in the front room.  I noticed right away that he sat up and perked up when I walked in.  I was use to this reaction (I may have been pretty for a few years of my life).  My friend's boyfriend went to look for the guy she was going to introduce to me.  My friend and I sat in a chair across from Dan and began talking with him.  Needless to say we remained there talking for the remainder of the party.  The other guy never showed up.

There was a dance that night at Walsh too!  So after the party we left and I invited Dan to come to the dance with me.  We danced and he planted his first kiss on me that night on the dance floor!  Well, we ended up leaving the dance and walking and talking for most of the evening.  We had so many things in common.  Also, both of us had decided just that week to give up the notion of a significant other for a while and just concentrate on school and life in general.

When he needed to finally go home (he was living at home and commuting to school) he was giving me a hug goodbye and just as he was hugging me I heard a real live whisper in my ear.  When I say a "real live" whisper I mean it would be like someone standing right there next to you and whispering something in your ear.  Well, there was no one else there besides Dan and I, but there was a real life whisper.  The whisper said, "This is him.  You're going to marry him."

Did you ever ask your mom once you were interested in dating how you would know which person was the "right one"?  I remember asking my mom.  Her answer was a very good one.  She always said that the right one would be someone who was loyal, willing to stand by you even through illness...even through tough times.  Many people say they will in their marriage vows, but she had known too many people who "took off" when they found out their spouse had cancer, or when they couldn't stop arguing about money...or other various reasons.  She knew my dad was loyal.  She said I would know when I met someone with that quality. 

I could not have known that in one night of meeting him...not completely anyway.  So I'm telling you that the voice was not a thought in my head.  The voice was very real and very much either an Angel or a relative who was watching over me.  It was a sweet voice and it was female.  I'm ever so grateful to the voice because she knew long before I did that he was an amazing, loving, loyal, fabulous person and husband - and a spectacular dad to our children.  In my youth I could not have known.  I was so boy crazy for such a long time that I created a whirlwind of a life.  I am thankful for the voice which caused me to pause and take notice.  The voice let me know that he was "a keeper" - not just for a time, but forever.

Here's to voices.  I hope I don't hear them often because that would just be crazy...but I hope for you and for me that they will whisper to us in the most significant of times.  And if we're never lucky enough to hear another whisper, I pray that we sit up and listen when something really hits our hearts...God gives lots of different people the right words at just the right time...and gives us the ability to know when it applies to us. 

God bless you today and I hope you're hearing all you were meant to hear today.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Little Miracle # 117

Although I haven't written that many blog posts yet and as such have not shared "117 little miracles" I figured that each of us has had at least that many to begin with in our lives, so it's a good round number to begin calculating from.  I think some people who read here may think that some of the things I look at as "miracles" are just mere coincidences ... if you understand that I don't think ANYTHING is a coincidence then you can enjoy reading without critiquing.

So I had this picture taken of me at a youth conference once (I'm thinking it was like in 1999 or 2000).  I kept it in a box with other photos from our youth events back then.  About a year after it was taken I had a desk calendar that had cute quotations and I kept it on my desk at work.  The day my birthday came up, November 28th, there was this amazing quote about "you'll never know to what heights you can soar until you spread your wings," and immediately I remembered that picture of ME with my arms spread wide.  An eternal dreamer, I knew this quote was made just for me...and what luck, it was posted on my birthday!!  And what a coincidence!  I have a picture of me with my arms spread out just like the girl in the animation!  I pulled out the picture and I framed it next to the calendar quotation and kept it on my desk until I stopped working after my first child was born.  I had forgotten about it until I was looking through those old albums again a few weeks ago. 

25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, "Who then can be saved?"
26 Jesus looked at them and said, "For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible."

I live by these standards.  Just because something may seem impossible for me, I will still spread my wings and try...putting my trust in God alone.  He will make a way where there is no way.  I know for certain I am not worthy of His perfectness...but He has made me worthy of His love, mercy and grace.  I know for certain that He bestows love and goodness only.  I know for certain that He directs our paths and makes all things good.  When I feel that tug or pull on my heart that I need to attempt something, try something that seems impossible but needed...I will spread my wings and try because I know WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

In His Own Words

My dad used to like to call us on the phone and say "hello," maybe a couple of other niceties, and then quickly hand the phone off to Mom so that she could speak with us.  There was always a method to his "madness" - he wanted us to have a close relationship with Mom and would make sure that he was the one to call us so that he could hear our voices too.  Sometimes he would call us on purpose when he knew we were gone or not available just so he could sing a message on our voice-mail, "...I just called - to say - I love you - I just called - to say I care - I just called - to say - I love you - and I mean it from the bottom of my heart."  This started happening mostly when we all had cell phones...including him.  Always a fan of toys (an engineer) he loved to play with remotes and phones and dvd players and anything that had buttons and lights.

Before cell phones, and before his Guillain Barre in 2002 (which he survived but it really messed up his body and mind and eyes - miraculously by 2003 one would have thought he was back to normal though if they didn't really know him well before) - before all of these things - he used to send us letters.  Long letters.  His letters were about things that concerned him...always about mankind, our faith, God, and our salvation.  I'm not sure what I did with most of his letters - they were sent to me while I was in college and much of that time is a blur.  However, I did find one of his letters in a photo album the other day.  I thought I'd post it here today.  I'm sure he would have blogged had the Guillain Barre not ruined him - probably since my mom was a great secretary and typist he would have dictated his blogs to her and had her type them...I can actually picture that more...LOL!!  But he didn't know anything about blogs...just letters.  So here's his official, one and only blog entry (unless I find other letters somewhere someday):

Well, there you go, Pop.  I love you.  I'm thinking you had a hand in me finding this would have loved to blog!!!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Do be do be dobedobedo...

Have you ever been a store...walking along...mowing your a stadium...wherever,
and you see someone (or a group of people) looking up?  And feel like you have to look up to see what they are looking at.  And then, you notice that everyone walking by is looking up to see what everyone is looking at.  Has that ever happened to you?  Do you have the urge to look up right now just because you see a picture of me looking up??  You know, my little guy when he was about 12 months old for a few months in there at least, was famous for looking up and pointing up at things ALL THE TIME!!  He figured out that people would always look up and ask him what he was looking at and it became a game for him!  We found it quite humorous because anytime we were in a restaurant or just out and about and a stranger would come over to say "hi" to him (he's quite sociable and draws people in) he would point and look up and make them look up too!!

How about....

Oh...does that make you tired or what???  Don't you just feel like yaaaaaaaaaaaaaawning????  Who can't help but yawn when you see someone else yawn?  It's sooooo  CONTAGIOUS!!!!

You know, the other thing that never fails for me?  It's when someone smiles at me!  I HAVE to smile back!!  Here's a smile for you:

Now, if all of these "non-verbals" are so contagious and we can't help but subconciously follow the example of the people who started it...let's consider the things we are leading people into...the things we do and and the way we live...the things that our children and friends either admire about us - or seem to copy whether they are good or bad.  I learned a long time ago (as I'm sure you did too) that the, "Do as I say and not as I do" theory is a big farce!  No one cares about what you say when they can compare it to what you do!!  In bloggy land most people only have the opportunity to learn about you from the things you write, or "say" -- but in real life -- it's much different!  What are your children, grandchildren, other family, friends, or acquaintances learning from you?

Just a friendly reminder that people are watching.  Ignore this if you are notoriously paranoid (take your meds and repeat after me, "No one is one is one is watching..."). 

If I ever needed proof of this all I'd have to do is listen to my oldest daughter talk to her younger siblings!  Holy Moses!!  I always feel like I'm listening to a tape recording when she shows them how to do something, or when she "reprimends" them for doing something wrong!  Have you ever watched your kid or grandkids when they were playing "house" and listened to they way they "played" mom or dad?  Yikes!!! 

You know Ghandi's famous quote, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."  All it means is that you need to be and do the things that you want to see others being and doing!! 

My good friend, Kris, is someone I really admire because she's so generous (I know lots of generous people, but I'm going to name Kris b/c she tends to be extremely generous)!   At times when she's caught up with bills and financially in a good place she can't help but give wonderful gifts to people around her...friends and family.  When things are a little tight she gives her time and presence to people.  She just loves to give.  She loves to love.  I see her example in all her generous ways.  NEVER ONCE has she ever said to anyone that this was the proper way to live.  NEVER ONCE has she tried to convince others that they should do the same thing.  I think many people want to be like her because they appreciate all that she does and is!!   When people are so generous with me I always hope that I can "pay it forward" to someone else.  I know how good it feels to receive - I want to be able to do the same for others!!

Have a fabulous weekend and put a big smile on your face.  If you can't think of anything to smile about...go out somewhere and LOOK UP... watch as everyone else looks to see what's so interesting, then SMILE and walk away!!!

Friday, April 9, 2010

I Can See Clearly Now...

I went to have my eye exam earlier this week.  I haven't gone to the eye doctor in a good 4 years - it's just that my prescription hasn't changed in many years so I didn't really see a need...haha. 

So one of the first things they needed for me to do was to take out my contact lenses.  After that a couple of tests were done, then I needed to sit in the exam room and wait for the doctor.  As I sat in the exam room with everything "foggy" and "blurry" I became extremely aware of how much I despise not being able to see clearly.  I mean, there is usually less than 60 seconds a day that I can't see clearly and it is the time between when I take my contacts out and put my glasses on, or when I take my glasses off and put my contacts in.  I have shared on here before my little secret about sleeping with my glasses on...I just don't like getting up at night and not being able to see the time on the clock...or not seeing which child is standing at my bedside...or any of the various things I need to see at night.  Yes, I could put the glasses on my bedside table, but unless you have trouble seeing you may not understand the discomfort in not being able to see when you open your eyes. 

So I sat in the exam room waiting for the doctor and I could only see in blurred vision for a time (really not liking that experience).  I began to think about thousands of years ago and how people probably just had to struggle with poor vision...they didn't have much help with this issue.  I suppose people get use to what they have to get use to.  I also thought about people in very poor countries who may not have access to good eye care - and I began to thank God for the ministry of those missionaries and doctors who help people in those countries.  I said a prayer of thanks to God that he's helped people over the years to develop great ways for us to see clearly.

As I sat there and said that prayer of thanks, the words "ways for us to see clearly," rang in my brain.  I began to think about how God has given us so many ways, opportunities, people, means, tools, books, HIMSELF...every possible thing on earth to help us see more clearly ... spiritually speaking.  He continues on a daily basis to send people or words or events our way to show us HIS LOVE, HIS GRACE, HIS WISDOM, and HIS POWER.  How is it that our prescriptions can be so off is it that with all of HIS PERFECTNESS we can not see Him clearly sometimes?  I guess we tend to "take our glasses off" and "sit them on the bedside stand" - then we can only see in blurred vision through all the fogginess of the world, the media, the politics, the hate, the sadness and sorrow we've encounterred.

Let's remember to ask God each day to help us see Him clearly.  Then, put our glasses on and focus on the perfect vision of His Love and guidance for us in our lives.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Miracle I Need

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we had gone to Pigeon Forge and had seen a show called "The Miracle" at "The Miracle Theater."  There were many times throughout the show that I was overcome, overwhelmed, amazed, and in wonder.  My mother-in-law ordered the soundtrack to the show and brought it to me yesterday to share...I was reminded instantly of the powerful - sometimes very real performance.  Maybe some of you have experienced moments in your life where it was very difficult for you to share exactly what you were feeling and thinking (I have another blog that I haven't been able to write yet because of this same sentiment) - well, I'll do my best to tell you this much:  I sat in that theater watching, no, involved within, this show and was so overwhelmed with the feeling that I was witnessing THE TRUTH...the truth that I try not to focus on daily because it's all too real and too much to fathom.  I try to live the best life I can and give praise and honor to Jesus...but sometimes it's just too much to try to think about eternity and what it all means.  I sat in this theater in tears many times just so aware of the truth being poured into and encompassing my soul.  These are the only meager words I can use to explain the magnitude of "The Miracle."

I sit here and write a blog titled "May Be Miracles;" I can't not take the opportunity to highlight this amazing song from the show.  Please take a moment and click on the link below to watch one song from "The Miracle" called "The Miracle I Need."  (Taken out of context of course so not nearly as powerful as seeing the whole show...but still...worth a watch).

Peace to all who read here.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Fogiven and Loved - Our Easter Joy...

I started really hearing this song in September after my dad died.   I really had only heard the final 5 lines of the song...over and over and over again...I kept feeling like it was my dad singing those lines to me.   (For those who have read my blog for a while you know that at first I felt responsible for his death and it took some time for me to come to the realization that God is in control, not me).  As time passed I started hearing those words - the same 5 lines - from God - they are an AMAZING 5 lines to meditate and pray with.  Then, more recently, I payed attention to the entire song.  Although there are many, many, many wonderful Easter songs, this one has come to hold a special place in my heart.  I still feel like my dad is singing it to me (he had such a wonderful singing voice)...but even more importantly it is a song about OUR EASTER JOY...OUR EASTER HOPE...the blessings of JESUS'S RESURRECTION!

Jimmy Needham - Forgiven and Loved

Tell me I’m forgiven and loved

‘Cause I hear it from the street corner priests

On how God is love and how man can be clean

But my joy has been on holiday

And my peace has almost passed away

Tell me I’m forgiven and free

O I tried and tried to rectify my hopeless situation

But I bought the lie I still have work to do

Now I’m working nine to five like I can earn my own salvation

But there is no condemnation in You

O whisper to me now that it’s for real

‘Cause in the silence of these walls righteousness lost its appeal

Dirty deeds have done me in

O but that can’t stop the faithful friend

Giving mercy once again as You heal

Here it is I’m feeling it

O I tried and tried to rectify my hopeless situation

But I bought the lie I still have work to do

Now I’m working nine to five like I can earn my own salvation

But there is no condemnation in You

O He died, He died to rectify my hopeless situation

And His blood commands my guilt to leave

Now on Calvary I stand

Empty pockets, open hands

O there is no condemnation for me

O I tried and tried to rectify my hopeless situation

But I bought the lie I still have work to do

Now I’m working nine to five like I can earn my own salvation

But there is no condemnation in You

Child, you’re forgiven and loved

Child, you’re forgiven and loved

Child, you’re forgiven

And child, you are loved

Child, you’re forgiven and loved

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Special 20/20 (Friday, April 2, 2010)

Just had to mention to anyone who stops by to peak at my blog tonight that 20/20 is airing a program about "May Be Miracles" - NO...NOT MY goodness I only have a few (very nice, and awesome) followers!!  A show about miracles...possible miracles...power of prayer...I'm watching it now as I type...sorry if you miss the message...hope you got to see the show.  Hopefully they'll have it on-line and I'll be able to make a link to it at some point. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Stations of the Cross

Since this is Holy Week I am reminded of the Stations of the Cross presentation that we did with Youth Group for several years in a row.  The church usually provides a reflection on the Stations of the Cross every Friday during Lent, but my Youth Group would prepare a special presentation in addition.  For those who are not familiar with the Stations of the Cross, they are a reflection and meditation on the Passion of Christ - His journey from being condemned, to being layed in the tomb (and some versions include the Ressurrection)...these reflections are broken into 14 (sometimes 15) stations.  You can go here: to look at one version of the stations if you have not heard of or experienced them before and are curious.

In any case my Youth Group used to perform an amazing, spirit-filled, awesome meditation and reflection on the stations.  We used a huge canvas (2 king sized sheets that a friend sewed together for us) and behind it we shined lights on students who acted out the the audience they were shadows of the characters.  It took lots of practice and time to get everyone situated and working in time with the narrator. 

The first year we presented these stations we had a little miracle that left a lasting impression on many people.  The students were presenting the Tenth Station, Jesus Is Crucified.  In our version we read from scripture about his hands and feet being nailed to the cross, then the students had a mallet and an actual cross behind the canvas and would hit the mallet on something (I forget what we used) to make a huge sound that sounded like a large metal nail.  Each time the mallet would hit, the actor playing Jesus would flinch so that the audience could see him laying on the cross in the shadow.  The second night we performed is when our "little miracle" happened.  Each time the mallet would come down and hit the cross,  a church bell would "dong."  NOT planned...just happened to be time for the church bells to "dong."  The dong was in complete unison with the mallet.  Shivers ran up and down everyone's spine.  At the end and for weeks later people would come to me and express their amazement at the church bells "donging" in time to Jesus's crucifixion.  It somehow made the experience even more made us all feel like Jesus was making himself known and present to us. 

When has Jesus made himself "known and present" to you?  Yes, this can happen on a daily basis in reading scripture and in seeing him in others.  But when has he made sure that you absolutely knew without a doubt that he was standing there with you?

Allelulia!!  He has risen and we celebrate this Sunday!!  He is living and present among us all the time!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

" T H I S B I G ! ! ! ! "

Well, I know this isn't going to be the BIGGEST fish you ever saw somebody catch, but I have to post a picture of one of the biggest fish I ever caught in order to tell my "little miracle" story.   So here is a picture of the barracuda I caught in Ft. Lauderdale one time, oh, maybe 8 years ago or so:

That was me with said fish and "fishing expert" on the charterred boat (my husband took the picture).  I don't think we ever wrote down the actual size, but it was a pretty nice barracuda on a day that nothing else bit.  When I caught this barracuda I found out that they are somewhat dangerous and have been known to attack humans.  Interesting. 

So about a year before this my husband and I were snorkling in Key Largo (I think, or one of the Keys).  It was really an amazing spot that they took us to, and we saw such beautiful and colorful underwater plants and fish.  One of the "coolest" (I thought) things we saw that was swimming around with us was a barracuda!  My husband and I both kept pointing at it as it swam around and about us.  He asked when we got back on the boat if I had seen the barracuda and I had said yes, but I don't recall a conversation about feeling unsafe or anything.  You'll have to excuse my ignorance...I did not grow up near or around an ocean.  How would I have known?  Of course I had heard of barracudas...seen pictures of them...probably at one time had heard they could be dangerous...but anyone who knows me knows that facts usually go in one ear and out the other...I'm not the person you want on your "Trivial Persuit" team. 

So my "little miracle" story today is that although I was ignorant about how dangerous a barracuda could be, my husband and I survived our snorkling adventure that year unscathed.  He is usually pretty good in a stressful situation like that and so didn't do anything crazy to provoke the fish.  However, had I known at the time that it likes to eat humans, I may have done something somewhat perhaps idiotic causing it to attack.
Guess the miracle here being that God gives you the information you need at the time you need it...and not before. 

Incidently, there was another little "coincidence" that occurred during the fishing expedition that I started this post with.  When we went to charter the boat and mentioned that we were from Ohio, one of the owners of the charter company asked us about where in Ohio.  We both explained where each of us was from and after a short discussion I found out that this guy had graduated from the same high school as I had, only a few years before.  We did not know each other (strangely, since it is a private high school with about 30 to 35 people per class), but he remembered my older sister.  Anyway...there was no other significance to that except the coincidence...but I still think it's cool the way the earth is so big...and small.  I do think God has a hand in directing our paths so that we can have those little experiences just to help make us aware of our "connectedness" to one another. 

Have you ever been in a completely different State, Country, or Continent and run into someone you knew - or sometimes just as good - someone who lives near you but you had never met until you struck up a conversation with them while at this vacation spot?  Seems like it happens a lot...just wondering what other peoples' experiences have been.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and God Bless all those who read here!  :-)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Letting Go

I was on retreat this weekend with a group of teenagers at a beautiful camp.  My sister-in-law who is also a youth minister gave me the opportunity to act as a youth minister once again as I helped her and a planning team create and implement the retreat this weekend.  There were a few profound there always are on a retreat...but there is only one I want to share right now.

Part of Saturday's events included the High Ropes Course.  Now, most people have either heard of, seen, or experienced a high ropes course so I won't go into much detail here.  Basically they had to climb up a pole (there were prongs to climb) until they reached a tight-rope, log, or other obsticle about 20 feet high.  They had harnesses and were attached to a rope which a trained camp staffer held to help control the situation and keep them safe (just like when you climb rock walls).  Then they had to accomplish walking across a tight rope, up a diagonal log, or across a rope with planks, etc.  (When I say "they" I mean just about everyone except me as I have done a high ropes course before and don't care to again...I may write about my experience next or another time).

We later talked about what that experience was like for everyone.  Most people discovered that it was a little scarrier than they thought or how it looked.  Several were proud of themselves for accomplishing the task without much trouble.  Some were glad they at least tried.  Overall I think their sentiments were the same as mine after I had done it...when asked if we should do it again with a group next year they mostly voted "no" -- been there, done that, don't want to do it again.  One student made a statement that really stuck with me.  She said, "The hardest part was letting go of the pole once you reached the top."

Isn't that true of most everything in life?  I mean, the hardest part being the "letting go."  This student said, "Once I let go and just did it I was fine, but I was scared to let go."  It made me think of all those big changes that lie before us...for many these days it means facing unemployment and finding a new job; for some it's facing retirement; for others it's moving to a new town or new house; for some it means letting go of some emotional pain...perhaps a grudge...the letting go means forgiving someone...or even forgiving self for a mistake or a regret; maybe for some it means just letting go of what they THINK should be happening in their lives and just being o.k. with where they are and focusing on their blessings.  The "letting go" can be the hardest part.  And that's exactly where God the letting go.  The longer and harder we hold on to that "pole" the harder the journey becomes, the more anguish we create...the pole becomes a crutch...the pole becomes NOT our safe place, but our obsticle.  God is waiting for us to LET GO and reach out...experience FAITH...embrace what looks impossible...TRUST that He is with us and it will all be fine.  GOD is our "spotter"   -  He's holding our life-line...He's going to make sure that all will turn out just the way it should.  Once we let go of our proverbial poles and just do what we need to do, we too will find that it all looked scarrier than it actually was.  Be aware of your blessings today and trust that you are exactly where should be...for today.  Let go of what you need to let go of and feel God's

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Miracle Marriages

Before Dan and I got married almost 15 years ago we met with a couple in our church who volunteered to meet with engaged couples to just talk about what makes a successful marriage, answer questions, etc.  I'll never forget 3 really important pieces of advice that they offerred us - 3 things that I came to understand as absolutely critical for any couple who hopes to survive.  I dedicate this blog post to several friends who have over the years and especially recently come to me to discuss some of their marriage issues and problems.  My hope is that everyone understands that when you step back and look at any situation from the outside that ANYTHING (bar some forms of abuse - which I am not addressing in this post) can be worked out - if both people are willing. 

One of the first pieces of advice that the married couple gave us was to make friends with other married couples.  As newlyweds many of our friends would still be single.  Of course, we weren't supposed to just throw out the old friends, but they explained to us that it's very dangerous for couples to try and live "married-single" lives.  In other words, if Dan went out with his buddies every Friday or more, and if I went off with my girlfriends to bars or dance clubs as I always did before, then it's not hard for that to transition into others thinking that you're still available...and it's not that much harder for a married person to act as if they are still single as well.  Dangerous territory.  It's important for married couples to have friends who have good marriages and like to do the same things that they like.  (I still love you my single friends!!!)  Actually my single friends have become more a part of my family now - it's not a seperate life - but I do enjoy a girl's night out once or twice a year with both married and single friends!

The second piece of advice we were given was to ALWAYS speak positively of our partner.  Everyone knows that's not always easy.  And I have to admit I always, always, always, had that advice in the back of my head even at moments in our marriage when I wasn't following it.  When I hear other people tear their partner apart to pieces over this thing, and that thing, and every little move he or she takes, and, and, and...I can actually feel their frustration - I wish I could help them to understand that the complaining and frustration only makes it WORSE.  Now, not that people shouldn't be able to vent, but in venting, by the end the rule should be for the one venting to think of 5 great and endearing things about their spouse and SAY THOSE!!  The only way to get over all the frustrating things about a partner is to concentrate your energy on all the GREAT AND ENDEARING things about your partner!!  Not the things you look back on and say "that's what I fell in love with" - NO - the things about him or her NOW that are GREAT!!  Always look for the good things or you will end up feeling like you're going no where...and others will think your marriage is really in trouble!  And you may decide that your marriage is really in's a spiraling effect.  Compliment your spouse on a regular basis...and make it your practice to tell others just how awesome your partner is!!  (I'll tell you right now that my husband ROCKS - and there are so many reasons why...including the fact that he does dishes!!)

The third thing they told us was more a fact than a piece of advice and it was this:  Love is a choice.  How romantic, right??  Give you goosebumps too??  Riiiiiiight!!  Well listen, let me go on to explain here.  In a world where movies, t.v. shows like the Bachelor (I'm sort of a closet watcher - guess I'm out now!), and other media (including the Disney Princesses) try to make us believe that love is your heart skipping, and butterflies in your stomach, and tripping over your words, and candle light on the beach, and long walks at night, and slow sure leaves out the day to day just living and being together.  It leaves out the whole toothpaste tube phenominon, the shoes in the middle of the floor, the cupboard doors always being open, the newspapers flung around, the stacks of papers, the wife or husband who doesn't care about finances, who does which chores, he or she doesn't value me and all the things I do...all those things that people end up letting get under their skin!  As I said before, those things can really spiral into a big messy constant struggle!  And what it all comes down to is this:  LOVE IS A CHOICE!!  I'll say it again, love is a choice.  You need to decide if this is the person you want to love, and if it is, then you need to treat them like you love them.  How do you treat someone like you love them?  You thank them for the things they do (instead of screaming about the things they don't do); You compliment them; You help them with things that they struggle with; You go the extra mile (or inch) for them; If they are the ones causing a problem in your marriage then you honestly discuss it with them without accusing - maybe you have to get a third party to help you (again I'm not addressing abuse in this post); You choose to forgive them and let go of your grudge (or pain you're holding on to inside); You tell them that you love them, respect them, admire them, adore them, think that they are the best, value them.  You choose to do these things because love is a choice - and choosing to love EVERYDAY is how you make a miracle marriage.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kiss Me I'm Irish (But Not Really)

Today everyone gets to be Irish if they want.  Since Celtic Music is probably at the top of my favorite kind of music list I'm taking the opportunity to play some on here today!  I'll remove it eventually...I know a couple of my friends asked that I not play music anymore on my blog since it interferes with the music they're already playing!!  Although it conflicts with the "artsy" side of me to not have music playing (I feel like it somehow completes the effect I want here) - I do understand b/c I often like to play music on my computer as well and have to turn off the music on my blog and other peoples' blogs when I do that. 

Have a very fun St. Patricks's one holiday not about cards...just fun!!  Yes, there's a great Saint behind the holiday too!!  Kiss SOMEBODY...Irish or not!!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


So I just returned from vacation in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge for the past 8 days.  Did not bring a computer so I have a lot of catching up to do.  Just wanted to post this one thing quickly.  CAN YOU BELIEVE that Pigeon Forge has a theater called, "THE MIRACLE THEATER"?!!  Also, CAN YOU BELIEVE that there is a show in that theater called, "THE MIRACLE"?!!  You know, that show was on break during our vacation, but was opening for its 5th season the day we were suppose to leave.  We all discussed it (my husband and I and his parents who also went along) and we decided to pay to stay an extra day at our time-share just so we could see "The Miracle".  WELL WORTH IT!!  Go see it if you get the chance! 

When you start writing about everyday miracles you become more and more aware of miracles going on all the time and everywhere.  I think it's great that I go on vacation to find a "Miracle Theater" and show.   They also had sweatshirts that said "The Miracle" on them.  I almost bought one until my husband said that people would always ask me if I was pregnant again - lol!

They're also showing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in that same theater and Melinda Dolittle (from American Idol a few seasons ago) is performing in it until the end of March.  It was one of our favorite shows of the week...well done!!

I'm looking forward to writing more this week and catching up on my reading list!!  See some of you at your blogs!  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Reaching The Extra Inch...(final post in the trilogy)

I have one final post which falls in the theme of "reaching higher...going the extra mile...reaching out an extra inch..." 
I had wanted to write a bit about this before when I posted my blog "Miracles In The Midst Of Madness," after the death of my dad, but evidently at the time I just needed to write about his death (to read that post click here).  I knew a time would come for me to write more about the MIRACLE OF KINDESS and no time seems more appropriate than NOW - now, when the latest posts have been about reaching an inch higher. 

When my dad was born to eternal life, to me, here on earth, he still died.  Fully understanding and knowing that he is with God and born into eternity is only comforting later...months later...when the shock of him suddenly being gone starts to fade into acceptance.  So, when he suddenly died that early morning on September 20, 2009, my mom and I were in such a state of shock and disbelief that we didn't even know what to say or do.  We asked several times for a priest and it seemed like none could be found.  The chaplain for the hospital spent some time with us but had very few comforting words.  He seemed almost afraid of us.  I kept thinking he felt out of his comfort zone trying to help two very Catholic women...but at the same time I didn't get it because to me a Christian is a Christian no matter the religion and I just needed him to comfort us as Christians.  He kept saying he would try to get us a priest, and finally found one, but when the priest showed up he was from a local monastary and barely knew English.  He had even less words of comfort and did not perform the entire last rights sacrament to the disappointment of my mom.  

I paced and paced and paced the floor in the room where my dad lay dead and my mom sat and held his hand.  I could not sit because I did not want to feel anything.  If I kept pacing I could avoid feeling I thought.  I kept sipping water they had brought us because I needed to keep swallowing. We were in that room for hours because of a miscommunication.  We thought we were waiting for the County Coroner to release his body or for a doctor to sign it off (won't go into details here except that wih his death being sudden sometimes the coroner has to do an autopsy and we preferred that not happening so we were waiting to see if this was ok).  Meanwhile, since they were just up visiting me we had to decide whether we would hold the funeral here where I live or go back to Marion where they were getting ready to move away from.  After about 2 hours in the room I went out to the front desk and asked the nurse if the coroner had called or if a doctor had signed off his body.  She said that they had a long time ago and they were just waiting for us to decide which funeral home would be taking care of the arrangements. 

I had to set up that whole scenerio for you so that you could understand JUST HOW IMPACTFUL these GIFTS, these MIRACLES of kindness were to us.  When speaking about reaching that extra inch I totally think of these people and how much they did for us.

First of all, once we knew we had to call a funeral home, having just moved here I had no idea which one to call.  So I called my sister-in-law, Michelle.  She named two places that she thought would be really good.  THEN, she proceeded to tell me that she would go to my house to watch the kids so that my husband could come and be with us.  This was a Sunday morning and I know she had to get her own family ready for church and I know also that since she's a youth minister that she had a lot of things to do that day.  But everything was set aside that day to come to our aid. I'm eternally grateful to her for going the extra mile, coming to our house with bags full of groceries and snacks for the kids, watching the kids for probably a couple of hours so that my husband could be with us.

Once we got home immediately my mother and father-in-law came over to be with us.  My mother-in-law was still recovering from a colon surgery - but they came!  That was amazing to me...especially since they had a farm to run and it was open to the public that day on top of everything else.  Not only that, they drove all the way to Barberton to pick up buckets of our favorite chicken, then drove all the way back.  This had to be taxing on them knowing she was still recovering from surgery and that the farm was open for business that day.  They reached higher, and went the extra mile and we were so grateful.

My Aunt Mary and my cousin Melissa took time to cook meals and bring them to us...again, it was a long drive for them...Aunt Mary isn't as agile as she once was and Melissa has 4 kids of her own...reaching the extra inch.

Get this one: my sister-in-law's (Traci) step mother (got it?), Sharon, made a TON of food...not really even related...but she spent a day cooking for us...reaching the extra inch.

My friend, Kris, when she called offerred to be here for us however we needed.  She suggested that she could stay with the kids during the funeral.  That never crossed my mind - I thought they would just come.  But once she got here and the more we talked about it it seemed like a good idea for them to come later for the meal.  My oldest came along, but Kris stayed with the kids and brought them to the meal later.  She missed work that day for a non-relative so I know she had to take a vacation day.  Her birthday would be 2 days later (incidently so was Michelle's my sister-in-law).  Kris and Michelle spent 2 days before their birthdays being available for us...reaching the extra inch.

My sister's friend, Mary, who that week had one of her children in surgery(for a broken limb I think?), drove all the way from Buffalo to be here for my sister and our family...reaching the extra inch.

My Aunt Vi (my dad's sister), Uncle Bob (her husband), and several cousins on my dad's side drove over 3 hours to be at the funeral home by 9:00 am that morning.  Uncle Bob has a compromised immune system and was not able to come in to anything - he sat in the car the whole day - and Aunt Vi was torn between caring for him and being present for family - I would say they went several extra inches.

Neighbors and my husband's co-workers and people we barely knew from church since we just moved here...they all came to the funeral home.  George who was our realator and who we came to be friends with while looking for a house here came to the funeral...they were all reaching that extra inch.

The cards, the gifts, the phone calls, the money for masses, the money for my dad's causes...all overwhelming...all grately appreciated...the exta inch.

I stated in my post "Miracles in the Midst of Madness" that I never liked helping others go through their pain.  I know this is because I never really knew WHAT to do.  This is because nothing like this had ever happened in my life - I had nothing to draw from.  If any good can come to me now from all of this it is that I might have an idea of what to do to help someone else.  May we all learn from the examples of kindness that other people give us.  I can not put into words the value of these miracles of KINDNESS...there are no words of appreciation that can ever be enough.  But God knows how thankful we are.  I can only hope to pay it forward to the next person in need.

I'm amazed at the generosity of people - I see how much people are willing to give and help in times of crisis.  The Tsunami victims, Hurricane Katrina victims, the earthquake in Haiti, and now the earthquake in Chile...God gave us all these amazing abilities and capacities to help.  Let us all think of what "the extra inch" is for us...and go there...and do it. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Reach Higher ("The Extra Inch")

As you sit there in your chair reading this reach your hands as high up into the air as you possibly can...are you reaching?  Are you reaching as high as you possibly can?  Ok, now that you're reaching as high as you possibly can, reach one inch higher. 

You did it, didn't you?  It still amazes me that we can always go another inch.  We were MADE to go another inch.  God doesn't mean for us to ever think we've landed in a place or situation that isn't going to evolve...that isn't going to stretch.  Can't you look back on your life and just see one situation after another where you thought it was the most confusing or stressful or dangerous or overwhelming or happiest or perfect...and then something happened.  The extra inch.  You perservered, or else you passed your joy forward to others...but the extra inch happened and things either got better or even more perfect.  

I really think "the extra inch" is what prayer is all about.  I mean, let's face it - God already knows our needs and desires.  He knows the situations we're in.  He's in them with us.  He's everywhere all the time.  He's present every moment.  And yet He wants us to come to Him with our needs.  He wants us to confide in Him.  He wants a relationship with us.  We're not meant to take for granted His presence...we're meant to live the best life that we can and in the midst of living to turn to Him and ask for help, for blessings, for grace and mercy.  
  • We ask Him to help us get OVER that mountain that's causing us such stress or grief;
  • we ask Him to bring the right people into our lives to get us to where we're trying to go; 
  • we ask Him to help comfort us; 
  • we ask Him to continue to bless us with financial peace;
  • we ask Him to create new opportunities and possibilities for us and the ability to recognize those;
  • we ask Him to help us not to disappoint ourselves or others
  • we ask Him for a shield of protection and for safety and good health
All of these prayers we lift up are "the extra inch" in our lives - the needs we have.  And when we look back on our lives we can always see God's hand...little miracles...
  • Somehow we got over that mountain
  • Somehow the right person showed up at the right time and the right place to get us to the "next level"...
  • Somehow we receive an amazing letter, email, phone call, visit...just the right thing at just the right time from someone who cares
  • Opportunities and possibilities start to surround us
So in as much as we can physically, socially, and emotionally REACH HIGHER at our own will and with our own strength, let us not forget to REACH HIGHER spiritually and ask God each day to help us achieve that "extra inch" - He's just patiently waiting to surprise us.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


One of my most favorite all time illustrations that motivational speakers everywhere use is when they tell the audience to stand up and reach their hands to the sky as high as they possibly can.  They'll say, " you're sure you've reached as high as you can?"  And then they'll say, "ok, now reach an inch higher!"  And without fail the entire audience will reach their fingers AT LEAST an inch higher. 

I've always loved this idea because when I think I've done as much as I can possibly do in a day...or when I think I've done as much as I can possibly do in any given situation, I'll think to myself, "Well, what else can I do? How can I reach higher?" 

It's not often I remember a certain message from speakers because I've heard so many of them over the years...but I suppose because this is a popular activity among them that it finally resonated in me.  

If you happened to have read an earlier post of mine where I was struggling with believing in my ability to "lose weight and keep it off" - know that I  have been working on my -brain- and the way I think about things.  I'm ready to reach higher.  I have not TRIED   nearly enough since I started having children.  My mind is finally in the RIGHT place.  I care for myself and my family so much and I want to do all that I can to treat myself better, take care of my vesil here on earth, and create an energy of "we can do anything we set our minds to" around here!

That being said, I have been exercising on the elliptical walker for over 2 weeks now.  Today I went ahead and hit the mile mark.  When I really get in better shape I know I can do much more.  I'll be reaching higher and going faster each day.  Also, the only things I'm eating in between meals now are fruits or vegetables.  I am not cutting out pizza or fried foods...yet...if ever - we'll see how I feel about that later in this journey.  Each day I'm waking up with an attitude of achievement, and when I feel like I want to NOT exercise or be lazy I remind myself to REACH HIGHER!! 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

More Than Enough

When we go to Mass on Sundays we usually leave our 2 youngest children, Maggie and Brady, in the babysitting room for obvious reasons.  Today Brady had a cough so we did not think we should expose him to the other children and we brought him to Mass with us...but Maggie still went to the "play area". 

After Mass we went to pick her up and Grace, our oldest, likes to go in first to see her and the rest of us follow.  Today, being St. Valentine's Day, one of the sitters brought in valentines with little dumdum suckers taped to them.  Maggie was so excited about hers and was showing Grace right away!  When I got to her the woman who was passing them out gave her another one and said, give this one to Brady (because Brady usually goes in there too).  Grace had to stand by and watch her younger siblings get valentines.  I could see in her eyes this was a little troubling.

Now, Grace is in 1st grade and her class JUST had their Valentines Day party this past Thursday and she brought home a whole box full of valentines and candy.  I must say she has been a champion at sharing her "goods" with Maggie (and Brady if I say something is ok for him to eat).

In the car on the way home Maggie asked if she could have the sucker (Maggie is my candy-holic).  I told her yes, and as she was unwrapping her sucker Grace asked her if she could hold the valentine and read it to her.  Maggie said yes.  But then Maggie wanted it back.  She got it back and just kept repeating out loud what Grace said that it said.  Maggie was elated to have her very own valentine!  Grace kept trying to get it from her and would say that she wanted to read it again.  Grace, although she had a whole box full of valentines at home, wanted the ONE seemingly very special valentine that Maggie had.   

And it all made me start to think, of course, about how we all can be like this in our lives!  Haven't you had times when you were "full" - full of posessions, full of happiness, full of love...and then you see someone that has "something" - that perverbial "something" that you wish you could have too...maybe a posession, maybe a personality attribute, maybe a physical quality, possibly a spiritual quality.

                                                         "ENVY IS UGLY"

I would like to think possibly that Grace didn't so much want the valentine as she wanted to share in the excitement of it with Maggie.  

And so with us too, when we catch ourselves in the midst of envy (and let's try harder to catch ourselves), maybe we can concentrate our efforts on celebrating the achievements of others...encouraging others...hoping for more for others.  These are all loving actions that can eliminate the envious feelings.  God, with our own efforts, will take care of us and always give us more than enough.