Sunday, November 30, 2008

Photos - Trip to see Adam and Thien

Adam and Thien

The View from Adam's apartment window and balcony.

The Apartment

They fed us lunch...yes...Cajun Craw fish - fresh, steamed

Chillin' out after that big lunch

The famous Chesapeake Blue Crab - can't get this in Texas!

A fish market, rarity in Texas.

Adam, hanging out in his room.

Thien in the kitchen, preparing a Mango for lunch.

Adam's workplace.

Having fun at the Seafood buffet to die for. It's called Todai

The whole family. We met Thien's sweet parents.

Mai and Thuc

Me and my son!

Adam and Thien

Fred, myself, and Adam

So happy. These bears have a story. They came all the way from Vietnam.

A great time and a great lunch at the Truong's.


Being silly.
Add Image

Adam and I trying to see what's going on!

Thien's first flight! As fate would have it, our best friend was in the area with his brother-in-law and we got to take Thien up in the Piper Cub. This is a family tradition!

Okay, she passes the test! See the smile on her face? She loved it!

She is going to fit right in!

Thien taking Ryan for a ride.

Taking Thien back to Blacksburg. The weekend is over......

But Christmas Holiday's are coming,
and so are they!

See you in Texas Adam and Thien!

November's End

Tomorrow is the first day of December and today I am putting away all the Fall Decorations, carefully replacing pumpkins and turkeys with snowmen and Santa's. I brought out the Nativity a couple of weeks ago as we prepare for the season of celebrating the birth of Jesus. Bringing it out early helps me focus on the real reason that we celebrate with all this red, green, and glitter.

As I thought about the passing of this season, and gave thought to writing a note - to you - and to myself, I realize that November was full of pain and full of joy. Sometimes the same week, the same day, and even the same moment brought feelings that did not go together in my mind but I could not separate them in my heart.

Bob, my husband's father, and my father-in-law of almost 30 years, passed away after a difficult battle with cancer. Joy and pain. He was hurting and tired. He left and we were left hurting and tired. Being with family helped with the pain, the fullness that I felt being embraced by love and comfort. But there was also pain involved in the one family member that remained distant and hurt, not comforted by her family.

Similary, my friend at work, who passed away suddenly after surgery. She was not ill, she was not old. She had her gall bladder removed and never came back. Her office next to mine, a constant reminder. And one coworker who's self centered-ness challenged my Christ-like-ness in a way I have not experienced before. Even the thought of going back to the office tomorrow is painful and dreadful. The joy is in knowing that He is with me.

And then the trip to Washington DC, to visit my son and his girlfriend. To meet her parents. To see his home and the places he spends his time. Joy in being able to be there, to sit with him, to eat with him, to hug on him. Sadness at the distance between us, geographically, and that time is limited and short. It was even more pronounced in my mind and heart being more aware of how quickly things can change.

My birthday is in November. A very special friend and I went to see Coldplay in concert. It was a tremendous treat. My husband had to travel on my actual birthday, and knowing that our family celebration would fall on a different day, to go see one of my favorite bands with one of my favorite friends brought much joy. I could hear, see, sing, and dance! How blessed. But it was also the first birthday in many years that I did not hear from my former best friend. We used to share this time as her birthday is just a few days later. Her silence a reminder of the depth of her pain. I sent her a card via internet, which went unopened by her. Her rejection is painful and unlike Christ. I keep praying.

To help with the pain, I joyfully accepted the opportunity to spend time with a friend, who I love to spend time with and who knows the pain I feel. We took our daughters, who are friends, out to dinner and the movie High School Musical. We laughed and sang and ate and shopped. I remembered that God will not leave me in my pain but help me move on. This joy took place on the (painful) birthday of my old friend.

To end the November that I will always remember with mixed emotion - Thanksgiving. It was beautiful and it was ugly. Holes in the photographs that I didn't want to take. Sadness in eyes that I didn't want to see. But joy in the babies, the young one's growing up, the way that I look at them now like I once was. Thankful but sad.

I spend the day, preparing my home, preparing my heart, allowing time to process and time to heal as we move into this "most wonderful time of the year."

I pray and hope for peace.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
Isaiah 9:6

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
Psalm 100:4

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An exasperated mother, whose son was always getting into mischief, finally asked him, How do you expect to get into heaven?"

The boy thought it over and said, "Well, I'll run in and out and in and out and keep slamming the door until St. Peter says,

"For Heaven's sake, Dylan, come in or stay out!"

Giving Thanks / Acting Thanks

All week, along with most of America, I have been thinking about what I am thankful for. As I acknowledge the many blessings that God has given, it has not felt like "good enough" to just acknowledge them. It also has not felt "good enough" to simply thank God for them, and it has not seemed "good enough" to tell of the gratitude I feel for these people and things.

I am not totally sure what has caused this attitude. The Holy Spirit? The loss of people close to me this year? Simple growing up?

And even though I cannot point to the direct cause of my need to make more than a list of things I am grateful for, I know that "giving" thanks is not sufficient for me. Maybe because I am feeling that it is not sufficient for my God.

As I have spent time with Him, getting to know Him through His word, and allowing His spirit to convict, to lead, and to teach, He has caused my heart to realize that I must act in thanksgiving.

Rather than simply acknowledging my wonderful, caring husband, I need to love him and respect him. I am blessed with healthy, responsible kids. I am to care for them, to example my faith to them, to love them. I am grateful for my health. Do I take care of my body? My mind? My soul? I am thankful to have a job, especially at this time of national financial instability. I am called as a Christian to work with integrity as unto the Lord. The list goes on and on.......

How do I ACT with the many blessings that I have been blessed with?

The day will come, that I will stand before my Jesus, and will give an account of how I treated these blessings in my life. Did I love them? Was I a blessing back? Did I take it for granted? Honor God?

So he called him in and asked him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.
Luke 16:2
So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Romans 14:12

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Hebrews 4:13

But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
1 Peter 4:5

Thanksgiving for me?
...your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
1 John 2:12

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2008


Celebrating my 300th Post!
Wow how time flies.

ABC's of the Word - R - (a day late)

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

God has given me plenty of opportunity to put this word of His into action. Sometimes, sadly, I have fallen short.
Recently, I have understood this verse with deeper meaning.
After failing here, I found the consequences of disobedience to be more painful than the discomfort of going.
And I have felt the sting of refused reconciliation by a fellow sister in Christ.
I pray that this verse will remain engraved on my heart, so that when the opportunity arrives again, I will be quick to go and be reconciled.

God is the God of reconciliation.
He is the God of relationship.
He is the God of righteousness.
And He is the God of rejoicing.

For more ABC's of the Word
Grey Like Snuffie

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Behind Those Eyes - Chapter 10

I am so far behind on my Behind Those Eyes post that I was tempted not to do it. Funny, though because I have enjoyed this study so much that it just seems as if I should post nothing else until this one is written.

This is the final chapter in what has been a wonderful, thought provoking, friend making, attitude changing and freeing study.

When I first decided to participate, it was healing that I was hoping for. So, I love the chapter title, The Truth Heals. I saw that title when I first flipped through the pages of the book, before reading it. I have to admit, I was a little nervous. It was a truth - but a false truth - that had my feelings in the pit, and my authenticity in hiding. I was afraid of the truth because in my mind, "the truth hurts."

Recent hurting truths in my life: the broken relationship with the one who I called "best" friend, the death of my father in law, the death of a dear friend day before yesterday, unexpectedly. She was only 51 and had common gallbladder surgery. The list goes on and on, and yes, it hurts.

Oh but friends, I have been so lovingly and gently reminded that although the truth might hurt, it is so beautifully healing when God's truth is the truth that I live by.

The truth that really hurts is that I am a sinner, that I sin against God and God alone. And you know, sometimes life just stinks. But oh, how He loves me and when He reveals HIS truth to me, I am truly free and healed. In her book, Lisa so beautifully put it this way,

"Women, the truth does hurt: we are flawed...we are selfish...we are unlovely...and we are unworthy of the love of almighty God. But fortunately for us, that is not the end of the story. There is more truth we should know. The truth is also that we are loved...we are accepted...we are wanted...we are important to God...and we are His beautiful creations."

And the healing that I was hoping for when I picked up this book is certainly happening. I had been using that soothing balm that Lisa referred to, and now I am applying the healing balm. It is not necessarily easy, but I do know that it is the real healing, the permanent healing. Lisa writes,

"Know this, my sisters and friends: Jesus is the only One who can truly heal our souls, from the inside out. The healing balm He provides is on a different level altogether from any other soothing balm. The results of His balm in our lives are not temporary and don't wipe off, wear off, or come off. It's not a quick fix. The balm of our heavenly Father is the gift of peace and joy and spiritual growth and unconditional love that is ours for the taking. And it is the gift that allows us to know the sometimes-ugly truth about ourselves, and yet be set free by it."

I am a little melancholy as I complete this final post as the story is not really over, but I journey on determined to live my life matching up what is behind my eyes to what others are seeing.

I hope to see all of my bloggy Bible study friends around the world wide web, and who knows...

Lisa, thank you for the wonderful writing of this book, and your participation with us. You are an inspiration and it is a joy to have been a part of this.

Lelia, thank you for your heart for women and His word. I love what you are doing and am blessed to call you Friend. I look forward to January when we do Self Talk Soul Talk.

I look forward to reading from all the rest of you.

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

John 8:32

Thursday, November 13, 2008

On The Road Again

We are off.......
To the beautiful state of Virginia
To celebrate my birthday
To love on our kids
To see the trees
And to eat

We will meet son's Beloved's parents.
And wonder about futures...

Traveling Mercies for us.

ABC's of the Word Thursday Letter Q

Today is the letter

A Quiet Spirit
On my heart

With God's help

I'll do my part

to let his spirit
work through me
and a quiet spirit
my beauty be

For more ABC's of the word, visit Grey Like Snuffie

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Feel the LOVE!

Random thoughts on my mind and I cannot seem to bring any of them together.

So much happening, but I feel like life is moving in slow motion. It is good.

My family feels connected. We are grieving, but it is well.

My family is about to scatter for a few days as my husband and I travel to Virginia. We will be meeting our son's girlfriends parents. We have waited a long time for this. And we will get to see his apartment, his new life since graduating from Virginia Tech. Of course, we will see him...and his lovely girlfriend.

While we are gone, our daughter will be staying with her best friend who is also her boyfriend. I know...that sounds crazy, but she is really staying with his little sister. I have spoken at length with Robert's mom, with Robert, and Rebecca. It is all worked out, a trustworthy plan is in place. Plus, Rebecca flashes her purity ring in my face whenever I look at her with even the slightest hint of question.

Next week, I will attend the Coldplay concert with my good friend. I love the band Coldplay, I love my friend, and to top it all off it will be my birthday too!

Another good friend is getting married this weekend. It is a marriage a long time coming and I am so excited for she and her soon to be husband. I talked with both of them tonight and they are so excited! I can't wait to celebrate with them very soon.

I got a phone call from my special friend, Ashley. We laugh because we are certain we are soul mates, but we have only known each other a little more than a year. Her life has gotten very busy as her husband was injured this summer and she has gone to Seminary. Never mind that she has three busy children. Our daughters are good friends, and we get information from our girls. I love her though because every time we do speak (which is NEVER often enough) it is like we have known each other all our lives. She always, always remembers everything that is going on with me and never fails to ask. I am praying that God will grow this relationship into something really fun and honoring to Him.

An email came to me this morning by way of my dear friend in San Antonio. She's up to something and it has me snickering and smiling. God has blessed me with her friendship like no other!

So, after posting about the stuff in my life that makes me sad, the flaws and the difficulties that I face...God is good to wipe all that clean for today and remind me of the wonderful, beautiful, blessings that I have.

Oh, He does love me.

I think I will get in my bed and think about what it would be like to give Him a great big hug and tell Him how much I love Him!

Good night Dear Ones.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Behind Those Eyes - Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight.
Romans 4:7 NLT

I cannot describe in words exactly how wonderful I feel when I read that scripture.

I have been a believer for over 20 years. I did not come to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior until I was 24 years old. And it was not a decision that was easy for me. If you were able to ask the ones who knew me during this time, especially my Christian girlfriends who were praying for me, they would assure you that I was a tough nut. It took me nearly 5 years to make that decision.
But when I did, I knew I was flawed and forgiven.
Time moved forward.
I played all the parts that we have looked at in the earlier chapters, Ms. Perfection, Ms. Confidence, Ms. Happiness, and Ms. Spirituality.
And then I rebelled.
When life was more pretend than it was real, I decided I didn't like it anymore.
I had seen things that I didn't want to see.
In the church.
In my pastor.
In my best friend, who was the pastor's wife.
And I carried a secret for many years.
God knew I was about to bust. Explode. Things were wrong and I had no where to I thought.
I exposed things that were not mine to expose.
I wanted to take the revenge that was God's.
My sin was dangerous, hurtful.
When I finally realized, I repented.
Grief over took me.
I lost my best friend, but worse, I felt I had lost who I was in Christ.
It has taken me a long time to really, really hear and believe the words,


I have never understood this as completely as I do now, after this season (still sort of during) in my life.

When reading Lisa's statement, "We don't fully understand God's forgiveness because forgiveness by others so often eludes us on this earth."
I had to stop and think...REALLY think!
And then her question,
"What is so difficult about this?"
I struggle with forgiveness, or at least I used to. Not so much anymore because God has taken me on a long journey of learning.
Until this situation, I didn't really feel harmed by anyone, not seriously, not in a way that made it difficult for me to move forward.
But this...was tough.
I said "I forgive" for many years, but always added, "But I don't have to reconcile that relationship."
Recently, I have questioned this. Whenever I read of biblical reconciliation since this situation in my life, I see where forgiveness has always lead to a new start. Relationships in Christ don't end, they mend.
So, for me, I found that I don't fully understand God's forgiveness, because I had not been able to totally forgive. And even though my former best friend says she forgives me, she refuses communicate at all, even though I have apologized and asked for the opportunity to make right the friendship.
As humans, we put our limitations on God.
When I can't forgive totally, or I haven't been forgiven in my earthly relationships totally,
it seems to block my ability to grasp His forgiveness.

No more.

So, I spent time this morning in prayer, taking the three minutes to pray for those who have hurt me. It was recommended months ago, that I pray for her, her husband, and her friend who has made harsh judgments - every day. I have, every day for 5 months. But this morning, taking three full minutes per person, has created a deeper level of forgiveness, and I am glad that I took the challenge. (This is in the Bible Study section in the back)
Funny, as I drove to work, my favorite song on this subject came on the radio.
(Brandon Heath's I'm Not Who I Was)
I turned the radio up and sang with complete freedom. I have forgiven...totally.
And God has forgiven me,
even though I am completely flawed.

Oh, how I need Him.
And how I needed this chapter.

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight.
Romans 4:7 NLT

To read more on Behind Those Eyes
Write from the Heart

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lifelong Friends

The Beauty of Virginia
Lifelong Friends

Many years ago, when our oldest son was in High School, getting ready to venture off to Virginia Tech for college, I began praying for his friends. I don't know why I didn't pray this prayer earlier in his life, but as he prepared to go off to school, away from home, I prayed that he would make life long friends while he was there.

You see, our Adam has always been a little on the quiet side. He even describes himself as shy.
So, I always worried a little bit about him being lonely.

Then when we left Virginia and moved to Texas, leaving him there, it seemed even more important that he have people around who he would feel comfortable to call on in times of need, in times when he just wanted to hang out, and in times of just simply needing a friend.

When the shootings occurred in April 2006, one friend, - one who he had met at work during a summer job turned longer - went to pick him up in Blacksburg and bring him back "home" to rest and retreat. That is a friend.

And of course, when he met his girlfriend, he had an immediate "best" friend, and I was glad of that. They get along well and she seems to enjoy him...and his funny guy friends.

Recently, Adam was making a trip from Washington DC, where he now lives and works, to the Richmond area to visit his good friend. This buddy and his wife had bought a new house and Adam was looking forward to spending time with them.

Wouldn't you know it, his car broke down.

Now, Adam is not real good with cars. He is a whiz with computers (his degree being in Computer Engineering), but he has not had need or opportunity to learn the workings of an automobile engine.

So, opportunity presented itself this month and Adam has completely rebuilt the engine of his 1994 Mustang. With the help of friends.

And talk about friends. They have hung in there. They have helped. And amazing, even his roommate from his freshman year, the one who I was skeptical about if they would even survive living together in that freshman dorm, has come from far away with an engine to replace the one that cracked!


We are so blessed to have them in our lives. I give God all kinds of glory and credit for answering my little prayer for my son years ago...that he would experience the joy of true friendship.

All the buddies working on the car.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Kreativ Blogger Award

How very sweet of my new blog friend, Carol, to leave me this award and tag!

Now, it seems I am supposed to list 10 things that make me happy and tag six more people.


1. My husband when he smiles at me.

2. Spending time with my daughter, talking, doing make-up, talking about hair, boys, love, God...

3. My son, Aaron, and the funny way he loves me.

4. Thinking about seeing our oldest son in Virginia this next week.

5. Watching my mom walk without a cane, walker, or crutch, after over three years of waiting- (even though her doctor MIGHT be a little upset) to see her on her feet brings lots of happy!

6. The beauty of the earth...the wind, the trees, the clouds, the air, the beach, flowers, snow, sun, the mountains...all that God created on the earth makes me happy.

7. My see their phone numbers on my caller ID, to see email from them in my inbox, and knowing that God has blessed me with people to live my life alongside with.

8. Babies. Oh, how I love to see and love on babies. I was so, so happy as I kissed on my great niece, Makena, this past weekend. And I cannot wait to see my niece at Thanksgiving. Babies make me happy.

9. My family, all together, having a meal, sharing stories, spending time. I am happy every time we have a family meal, whether it be 3 of us or 30 of us, to be together is always a joy.

10. My time with God. The time in the morning as I sit with my coffee, reading His word, praying, or the time I spend singing praises either in a worship service or in my car, or the time I spend reflecting on the moments worth remembering at the end of the day. Time with God, and the many ways He speaks to me, assures me and reassures me, teaches me, loves me and is always with me. My God makes me happy.

Okay, so I will tag 6 people. Play if you want.

Pam, Tina, Kim, Cindy, Lelia, and Laura