Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Book: Ask Again Later

Ask Again Later: A Novel

by Jill A. Davis

Monday, November 26, 2007

Play-Doh 101 with Kyra and Katie

For several days last week, I stayed with friends Kevin & Sarah and their cute girls Kyra and Katie. Sarah is definitely blessed with the gift of hospitality and I always feel welcome in their home!

Over the last few days, the girls and I have become great friends. I've had plenty of free time to play Ring around the Rosie, Tag, Hide and Seek, enjoy the cooking from Kyra's playroom kitchen, and on Friday we got to play with Play-Doh! I can't even remember the last time I got my hands on some Play-Doh!! Sarah also blogged about my visit, and there's a fun picture of the three of us and our Play-Doh creations. Unfortunately, the destruction of said creations was unannounced and I missed the opportunity to capture them on my camera!

Katie and Kyra are such happy and fun-loving little girls, and not being a parent myself, I really enjoyed the chance to be a kid again myself and chase after them through the house. I already can't wait until the next time.

Saturday I said a tearful goodbye to them, and headed back to Chicago to catch my Sunday flight home... after another tearful goodbye at the O'Hare curb. This trip was so bittersweet. My heart is just bursting with love for these far-away friends, with thankfulness for the opportunity to see them in person and give them big hugs, and spend a few precious moments with their kids (who will no doubt grow like weeds before I next see them.)

My only regret is that it’s not easier to visit more often, because these friendships enrich my life and my faith so much. I suspect there is direct correlation between how much I am blessed and how hard it is to say goodbye....

May God be with you - all my far-away friends - until our paths cross again.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A day to give thanks for turkey dinner and other blessings

Today is Thankgiving, and topping my list of thanks this year is that I am currently on vacation, having a fabulous time, and so relaxed that I don't even want to think about how my vacation is closer to its end than the beginning. The vacations always go by too quickly don't they? But today is about giving thanks! So here's my stream-of-consciousness list...

* Friends, who although they live far away, remain an important part of my life and have warmly welcomed me into their homes and lives again to renew our friendship, remember the shared memories that brought us together in the first place, and celebrate the blessings in our lives today.
* My "Michigan Family" - the Hekmans - who invited me into their home as their "California daughter" for more holidays and occasions than I can count! I enjoyed a full Thanksgiving feast with ALL the trimmings at their house today: turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, corn, and my favorite: homemade pie. Seriously homemade - crust and all. Mmmm.
* Since I now live in CA and have lost all ability to drive in snow, I am grateful for a relatively snow-free vacation!
* My rental car has leather seats and a 6-disc CD changer. Now, why you would buy an affordable car like a Ford Focus and then add bling is sort of beyond me, but I've been enjoying it. :)
* My flesh and blood family who loves me and did not have a collective cow about me missing a family holiday event while I was on vacation. I love that about them.
* Enjoying a jump start on the holiday season with some time off and relaxing shopping in some of my favorite stores. I know, I know, commercialism is not what Christmas is about... but when I walked into Pottery Barn on November 15 and there were Christmas trees and gorgeous ornaments and Christmas music, it was officially the Christmas season in my heart.
* Yesterday, Tracie and Sarah hosted a brunch for 11 women, which meant I had the chance to catch up with even more people, and enjoy some quality girl time! Tracie, thank you so much for opening your home and to both you and Sarah for all your work preparing the yummy food and doing all the planning and phone calls for that event to come together. I so much enjoyed it!!
* ... and many more.

Well, this list could be literally endless… I am so blessed. When I take time to think about it, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and am reminded that spending more time counting my blessings would be a good thing!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Book: Girl in Hyacinth Blue

Girl in Hyacinth Blue
by Susan Vreeland

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cruisin' with Joe

Today I got to meet Joe for the first time. We've been exchanging messages through a friend for a while, and I've seen his picture online, but of course, you never really get to know a guy until you meet him in person. As it turns out, Joe is snappy dresser, he likes to hang out at the mall (a dream date!) and has a pretty snazzy set of wheels. I've never really had a thing for younger men, but Joe's smile changed all that for me.

Don't we make a cute couple?

Joe is the son of Beth and Jeff, good friends in Michigan. Beth and I met our freshman year of college and became fast friends. During some of those years and for several years after, her family became my Michigan family and I spent lots of holidays with them, got to know her sisters, brothers, in-laws, nieces and nephews, and made a lot of memories!

It was fun to meet the new little guy in their lives, who's already 2 1/2 months old. He loves to smile, eat, and ride around in his stroller (his "wheels,") where he was content to hang out during our visit to the mall.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cappuccino Friends

When I lived in Michigan, I worked for almost four years at Baker Publishing. Every Tuesday, a group of us would step out for our morning break to get cappuccino. It was big news when Starbucks finally rolled into town and we upgraded to coffee bar mochas from the gas station variety. (True confession: every once in a while, I still stop for those gas station cappuccinos!) Other days we'd go out to lunch together, enjoying a break from the cubicles and catching up on our lives outside of work.

Today, I was excited to meet three friends for lunch to catch up since the last time... which had been far too long (always is, isn't it?) Phyllis & Sara took a break from the office, and Ruth took a break from retirement, to meet me, Jane and Julia at the Meijer Garden cafe.

After lunch, those of us lucky enough to have some leisure time at our disposal wandered through the warm tropical greenhouse and on the cold outside path through the grounds to enjoy the art. Julia looked like an eskimo in all her winter gear - only her bright blue eyes peeked out of all that fleece.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Meeting Julia

Yesterday, I left Chicago and drove to Michigan. My first stop: visiting my new cousin Julia and her mom and dad. Her mom Jane and I go way back - I go back a little farther as her mom likes to remind me when my birthday rolls around - as we were born mere weeks apart. At the moment, she and her husband Zach are living in Grand Rapids, MI, a former hometown of mine as well.

Today, Julia was baptized, and I was privileged that I was able to be present for this special occasion. I enjoyed Jane's fabulous cooking, including made-from-scratch Tiramisu (mmmm!!!) and some challenging games of Settlers of Catan. I think I managed to squeak out one win, but lost miserably on my other attempts. It was a great relaxing Sunday, and I got lots of time to hang out and cuddle my new little cousin!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Out on the Town with Aaron

I already blogged a little bit about my trip to downtown Chicago, but didn't mention the great company I spent the day with. I travelled to the area to visit my friends Mike and Sarah and their new baby Aaron, who was almost 2 months old. It was Aaron's first trip downtown! Besides the shopping and pizza previously mentioned, we took some goofy pictures on a visit to the Hershey's store where we stopped for a hot chocolate break from the cold wind outside.

Despite our excitement over the free souvenir hats, Aaron was unimpressed. One day, I'm sure, he'll be begging mom and dad for a Hershey-ized cupcake.

The next day we spent closer to home, but of course I got in some more shopping with my favorite shopping buddy Sarah. I first met Sarah 10 years ago in college; we were assigned to be roommates the year she was a sophomore and I was finishing up a few classes in an extra semester after graduation. What at first might have seemed a random introduction has turned into a deep friendship that has stood the test of years and distance. After sharing our lives these last 10 years, discussing everything from the serious (God's will) to the silly (cute shoes,) it's clear our introduction was not an accident but a divine appointment.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Windy City

Oh, I love Chicago. It's one of my favorite places to visit! Today I got to do two of my favorite things there: shop on the Magnificent Mile and eat deep dish pizza at Gino's East. A highlight: I was actually prepared to leave my signature behind - a Gino's tradition - thanks to a stop at the drugstore down the street! Best of all was sharing the day with good friends Mike and Sarah - cheers to you!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Why I can't find "Mr. Right..."

... he's already taken.

(Although I recognize the author of this invite would not be the kind of mother-in-law I would wish on anyone!)

Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Life imitates art

I've always enjoyed this Trace Adkins song, and today it has special meaning for those of us in Fallbrook...

Every light in the house is on
The backyard's bright as the crack of dawn
The front walk looks like runway lights
It's kinda like noon in the dead of night
Every light in the house is on
Just in case you ever do get tired of being gone
Every light in the house is on

Yippee! Electricity!!

A good reminder to be thankful for the little things in life.

Monday, November 5, 2007

What I learned about prayer this week

Our church is reading together a devotional on prayer called Love to Pray. Weekly, we meet together in small groups to watch a short video on an aspect of prayer and discuss the video and a particular passage on prayer. This week, the discussion focused on using scriptures as the basis for our prayers. That is, reading or memorizing certain passages of scriptures that could be used as prayers. These are not just prayers cited in scriptures, but other passages as well.

The main passage we studied was Colossians 1:9-12. In reading and discussing this passage as a prayer, we realized the passage focuses on things God would want for our lives, as opposed to many of our prayers that focus on things we want for our lives. In addition, the video challenged us to pray this kind of prayer not only for ourselves, but on behalf of friends, family or non-believers. As our discussion progressed, many of us were simply overwhelmed with the profound nature of this passage as a prayer.

We closed our small group time with a short time of silent prayer, where each of us took the opportunity to pray this scripture several times, either on behalf of others or for ourselves. I was amazed at how powerful this prayer was, and that's why I wanted to share it with you.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. (Col 1:9-12 NIV)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Book: Tidings of Comfort & Joy

If you are looking for a heartwarming holiday story and you are the kind of person enjoys needing a couple Kleenex while reading said story, this might be for you. Fans of stories like The Christmas Shoes would like it. Not to say that I didn't like it, but it was sort of what you'd expect from this type of book: light, sentimental... and a bit predictable.

The book falls into the category of Christian fiction. What I like about books in this category is that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it for the church library; it's clean entertainment. What I don't like in many Christian books is that the experiences the characters have with their own faith sometimes feel fake and clumsily added to the story. That is, one is reading along, and suddenly there is an interjection of a faith element that isn’t smoothly incorporated into the storyline. It's not surprise that by the end, the characters have repented of their sinful shortcomings, mended relationships, and of course, the life situations they face have neatly resolved themselves as well.

I can't say I didn't know what I was getting into when I picked up this book. I read this book because I knew it would be light and entertaining. In that regard, it was just the thing to jump-start some warm, fuzzy holiday season feelings.

Tidings of Comfort and Joy: A Tender Story of Love, Loss and Reunion
by T. Davis Bunn

Friday, November 2, 2007

Book: Where the Road Goes

I really liked this book. The main character, a lifelong activist, leaves her husband, children and grandchildren behind to join a year-long walk across America. Over the course of the year, the characters exchange letters telling of the events of their lives. For Tig, the walker, the challenges of living, walking, and undertaking activist work with a diverse group of people who've joined the walk with different agendas. For her family, their sadness and anger at her decision to leave them for a year and the struggle to understand the not insignificant events that unfold through the year

I like a book that is so interesting that I forget it is a fictional account. The characters become so real that I find myself cheering for them to make good decisions and sympathizing with their griefs. As the story unfolds through each letter, the depth of each character becomes apparent through what they choose to write, what they leave out, and what the others tell of them.

The whole idea of the book is somewhat refreshing. In today's instant world, I can't imagine being apart from e-mail and my cell phone, but the characters communicate almost exclusively through handwritten letters. This style of telling a story through a letter series, makes the story richer and more interesting for it embraces the perspective of the many characters rather than reflecting a single view point.

Where the Road Goes: A Novel
by Joanne Greenberg