Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Suit up, and show up

If you want to create a new habit, one of the first things you must do is decide to suit up and show up.  Be prepared to do the work.

Mornings are my favorite time of day.  I rise early and start with favorite things.  My daily readings from several books, scripture and morning pages, and then my walk - these are my favorite things.  If you had tried to tell me ten years ago that this would be my habit, I'm not sure I would have believed you.  Raising kids and running a busy household while homeschooling doesn't leave much room for that kind of dreaming :-) It seemed like a dream at the time anyway.  Now, I would encourage even the busiest of moms to try very hard to make time for herself to get outdoors and get fresh air and exercise - walking is just fine.

Walking at the same park at the same time every day seems like it might be a bit unsafe, right?  That thought hasn't escaped me, and yet I return over and over to the same place despite the fact that it is not near our home.  I love the particular park and the walking path - plenty of shade and bursting with nature for the entirety of it.  Streets of gold - paths of gold.  A thought that occurred to me last week.  Where have I heard streets of gold?  Oh yeah, the description of heaven from Revelations. And the stream of thought about what heaven might be like began...


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

When "should" becomes "could"

I love the moments, however brief and elusive they might be, when my mind can wrap itself around the truth of the freedom that Jesus gave me when he died for me.

How many ways do I tell myself I should do this or I should do that, eventually falling, unknowingly, into the habit of thinking that if I don't do certain things, I am not doing what I must to stay in His good graces.  It's not about what I do or don't do that established or maintains that freedom! I accepted Jesus a long, long time ago.  I have never, not even for one iota of a second, thought to dismiss that decision and renege on giving my life over to God. Scripture assures me that once I have accepted Jesus as my savior, my life is new.  My old life is dead and gone and I am a new creation. And it was not my actions or works, it wasn't because I prayed the right way, or read the right things, or behaved a certain way - no matter how good or rotten - it was never what I have done (or haven't done).  It was a decision to simply believe and accept the promise from God that I could come home to heaven even though I can and will never "deserve" to.

As a good friend and fellow believer said so succinctly last week, I do right things (at least strive to) not because I have to, but because I get to.  It's not because I should, it's because I could.  Not because I have to, but because I get to. And my place in God's family is not threatened by my inability to always do the right things.

A little time to let that sink in.  How does that change the perspective of our days?



Thursday, September 7, 2017

Did you know?

...that my nickname is Sam?  Why would you know, unless you are a RL friend - you know "real life" friend.  But yeah, it is, and I prefer it over Susan.  I've even attempted a couple times in my grown up life, where most everyone knows me as Susan, to get folks to use my nickname.  I really am more of a Sam than a Susan.  I love that my granddaughter is named after me, my nickname-sake :-)

Why Sam? Because my birthday is October 31, Halloween.  It's amazing to me how many people notice that date is Halloween when they have to ask for my birthdate.  Apparently, people love Halloween. :-). Anyway... growing up my mom always told me it was because being born on Halloween makes me a witch and the most well known good witch at the time was Samantha on Bewitched.  I loved Bewitched!  So I was happy to be named after my favorite witch.

Then I got older and the truth came out.  My dad and brother, who was two years old at the time, had decided, while I was still baking, that I was a boy and that my name was Sam.  Surprise, surprise - it was a girl!  But Sam it was, and is still today, to my family back home.

Having a rock solid memory of my childhood I remember in detail when my kindergarten teacher asked me if I preferred my nickname or my given name for school.  Wow, I didn't know I got to choose!  So hey, let's switch this up a bit - I want to be Susan for a while.  Well, a while turned into my entire future life.  But at heart, I'm still very much Sam.  So, call me Sam.  It'll bring a smile to my face.

Thursday, August 31, 2017


Do you ever have days when you just can't seem to get any traction?  You know, there's a list a mile long of the things you 'could' do, 'should' do, but you just can't seem to get started on any of it?  Even if you get started, something just doesn't feel settled about it?  Yeah, I had one of those days today.

I let my daughter take the van to school today, leaving me stranded at home.  I thought that would be a great idea, maybe even force me to get some stuff done that I've been putting off.  As it turns out, it doesn't work that way, not for me anyway. I rearranged an entire room only to return it to it's original arrangement in the end.  Waste of a day, terrible waste of a day.

There are bigger things going on in the world than my little pity party.  Keep that in mind self.

Traction; a topic for further contemplation.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ponderings from a Tuesday that feels like Monday

I suppose that would be because today was the first day back to work for John and the first day of the new school year for our youngest.  It's her junior year.  Wow.  She and I are both struggling a bit amidst the in-between. :-)

We returned Saturday very late from our Florida beach vacation.  I have a lot I want to write here.  Now I realize I want to write here more than anything for the sheer purpose of a journal for our family.  No better or grander purpose than that.

I think maybe I'll just use this as a spring board for a few other posts to come in the next week or so.

First, the vacation was wonderful.  If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times; one week isn't enough, but at the end of the second week I'm ready to come home.  I'm not sure if that's just acceptance of the fact that it really doesn't matter whether I'm ready or not, we have to return home, or if I really have had enough of being out of my own space and need to return to the familiarity of our home and routine.  Florida is a fantastic place to visit, I don't think I want to live there.  I love the Midwest - I'm a Midwest girl at heart, what can I say?  Palm trees and sand are great for experiencing something new and different, but I love my four seasons and the variety of trees (and corn fields LOL).

The first week was insanely chaotic.  So many people and my nature to control everything so everyone gets to do what they want...  I figured it out but not before I drove some of my peeps a little crazy :-0  I'm tickled that so many people got to join us this year, and no one more so than my Mom.  I think it's safe to say she really, really loved it.  Others did a great job of just doing their own thing and enjoying it to the max, and they are already planning their return trip for next year.

We have decided our timing stinks a little.  I don't want anyone to miss any school next year (or the next, or the next), and we prefer to enjoy vacation and not come back into the fray of back-to-school and have no Summer left to relax.  So next year it will be a bit earlier, and the next year even a bit earlier than that.  Our target will be the first couple weeks of July.  Next year won't work that way because dear son-in-love will be returning from tech school mid July... and we wouldn't dream of going without him.

We learned we will need to have more condos. There is a good reason the limit is six.  It's all well and good to have air mattresses for overflow but man that makes for a lot of crowding in the common space.

This is the first year that the youngest was allowed to take a friend.  She made it through the first week (of sheer chaos) and then very sweetly asked if she could return early with the first week crew.  I hope it was just the chaos and that we didn't kill a friendship - our brand of crazy can be a bit much for normal people ;-)

The weather was perfect - every. single. day.  The last day was especially good because it cooled down a little.  It was windy and cloudy but we spent every possible minute soaking up the sand and sea.  That is until we were chased out of the water by a would-be alligator.  A big group of us in the water watching dolphins in the distance jumping and playing made a run for the beach when the nearby paddle-boarders hollered "Alligator!" and proceeded to scatter themselves and head to safety.  What? Alligators in the salt waters of the Gulf of Mexico?  Indeed, it could be true so we learned from a quick Google search.  However, we believe it was rather a manatee that had been hanging out close by for most of the two weeks.  The paddle-boarders didn't really know what manatees looked like and only guessed alligator.  This is what we're going with anyway.  No one will really know for sure.

So for a breakdown of the two weeks;

We arrived Saturday afternoon and the condos were not ready.  My niece got the good news that the previous renters had apparently trashed their condo and it would be a little longer than expected to be available. :-(  She had such a great attitude and didn't let it slow them down one bit.

We proceeded to unpack when the condos opened up, and then a group of us hit the local Aldi and Publix to do our grocery shopping for the week.  I spent a whole lot less than in years past.  And I didn't have to experience the Sam's customers' glares and comments.  Thank you Jesus.  Folks also opted to buy for their own condos/families.  That helped a lot.  And our eating habits have changed drastically so that had to help also. I HAVE LESSONS LEARNED TO WRITE ABOUT ON THIS TOPIC - reminder to myself to come back to do that!

Sunday was a visit from our oldest daughter and her family who just moved to the other side of Florida a couple months ago.  Sunburns and more crazy!  Miss my grandbabies and their parents :-)

Monday - just a beach day, wasn't it? 

Tuesday - deep sea fishing for a sizable group, and man oh man did they bring in a haul of fish!!  Tuesday was all-you-can-eat crab night at Cooters so fish was on the menu the following night.  Delish!  Speaking of Cooters - it no longer holds any interest for me, sadly.  We arrived with our very large group (I called ahead and made arrangements with the manager who was extremely helpful) and got ready to order the crab only to learn that the price had gone up over $12 per person in the past two years.  $40 for all you can eat crab.  No thank you, not for me anyway.  Out of 26 of us, maybe 6 people opted for the all-you-can-eat.  The rest ordered off the menu.  I have to say that although it has been a big deal to us every other year, I won't return.  I'd rather explore some other places.  The food was mediocre and the atmosphere is hot and crowded.  Worth it for a decent price, but not when it climbs that high.  Just my opinion.  And the service was BAD this time.  I will say that has never happened.  The service is usually extremely good and friendly.  I think we just hit a bad day for this particular server.  One of my son-in-loves already provided an online review and was contacted by the manager who promptly handled the situation with professionalism and generosity.  Great customer service in the end!

Come to think of it, all three of our past favorites were a disappointment to me this year.  Not because the food of the service wasn't good at the others.  One of my favorites, Frenchy's Rockaway Grill, seated us inside (at our request) on a series of high tops and by the time we were done most of us could barely move from the stools, ouch!!  My favorite item on the menu had been removed and without the outdoor atmosphere, no longer a favorite for me.

Our favorite pizza place, The Slyce, was still delicious and had excellent service, but I think I'm just partial to Peel Pizza now. Speaking of Peel Pizza, I'm hungry for their Maple Bourbon Pork pizza!!!  Thank you, Dakota :-)

Wednesday - was supposed to be Florida Aquarium day, but the elevator in the condo building was out of service.  I was going crazy trying to wrap my head around details that just weren't coming together smoothly so we opted to do another beach day instead.  It proved to be a very sad day for my daughter who traveled back to our side to join us at the aquarium and ran into challenged herself.  She later shared her disappointment and sadness about not pushing through to go to the aquarium.  That was part of a later meltdown that we worked through together.  There seemed to be a lot of meltdowns happening these days...

John's Pass happened several days, of course.  Who doesn't love shopping? LOL

Then the first week folks (many of whom got very ill the last day or two - ick!) left early Saturday morning, saying good-bye to those staying behind.  Lots of prayers got them home safely!

The second week was so much less chaotic.  To be clear, it was not because people had left, not entirely anyway.  It was definitely an attitude adjustment for me that helped bring some calm to the second week.  We still had people sleeping on air mattresses in our condo - even though there was an empty bedroom in the other condo! Apron strings, what can I tell ya?

We finally made our way to Kissimmee to see our daughter's new home and spend some time at Disney Springs.  I can't explain my growing affection for all things Disney.  I blame my best friend and her family and my own children's love for it.  I bought myself cute little mickey earrings. I'm wearing them now.  Don't judge me, just don't.

More beach time, more shopping, more dining out.  We actually returned to PJ's Oyster Bar the last evening and enjoyed that thoroughly.

The previous post included lessons learned about condo selection, but I think it included some other things too.  I'm not sure that our strong consideration for flying next year is on that list, so I'll add it here.  Strongly weighing the possibility.  I will be forced to simplify, and that can only be a good thing.

Coming soon...  wonderful things that happened while we were on vacation. Maybe something like a proposal? I think I remember something like that...


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Things to remember when making condo choice

This is an easy one - don't choose 404 :-) Below list a work-in-progress

*Electrical issues
*No Router
*Water went out
*Elevator not in service for a good portion of one day
*Never ever again have 8 people - with air mattresses in the middle of the condo - never
*No area rugs - why???
*AC - did start working better with fewer people in and out...
*Prefer carpeted areas in bedroom and living area
*Not well stocked in the kitchen - need more containers for leftovers and pitchers, no kitchen towels or rags AT ALL
*Door slams
*toilet handle is broken
*...and the clothes washer stinks and the dryer DOESN'T DRY!!! ;-(

Electrical issues and it's not cool enough.  It needs updated too. I wonder if I look back on my posts during our vacations if I'll have noted anything that would have helped me with this choice...



PS - but it's worth it to be here ;-)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

ISO: Wisdom. Just because it isn't wrong, doesn't make it right.

Recently I've been hanging my thoughts and ideas on a maxim that I've mentioned a couple times in other posts. I have tried to define my desire to live intentionally into this simple thought - Love Well, Live Well.  I looked again at how this weaves into our modern lives.
"Jesus replied, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.  The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments."  Matthew 22:37-40
I can think of no aspect of life that cannot be properly guided when viewed through the lense of these, the greatest commandments, given to us from the mouth of Jesus himself, and recorded by many witnesses.

It could and would take more than infinite lifetimes to comprehend what that kind of love means, in our thoughts, words, and actions.  If we want to live the best life possible, we must always strive to do this, however that looks in each of our circumstances.  When we become distracted with our day-to-day ordinary, we must search for Him in our midst. God is here, He is always here, waiting to give us wisdom when we ask for it, showing us which way to turn, which bend in the road we are to take.

The second part does not just say love your neighbor, it says love your neighbor as yourself.  You must first love yourself, even if you consider yourself unloveable.  When we don't love ourselves, we are placing ourselves above God himself.  If he loves us, however unworthy of love we may be, who are we to refuse to do so? Note that Jesus says the second command is equally important!  He doesn't say, "And oh, by the way, you should do this too."

Here is the part that I love looking into - "The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments."  Remember the long list of rules in kindergarten?  Wouldn't it be pretty easy for a student to do something that wasn't in the best interest of another student or themselves and claim innocence based on the fact that the particular behavior wasn't included on the list of rules?  It's the same with life.  There are sets of rules everywhere we turn.  Where we live, how we live is guided by rules of some sort or another.  There are rules set by continents, nations, states, cities, neighborhoods, churches, schools, work places, transportation, food standards, pharmaceuticals, family rules, support groups, relationships, war, etc...  Some rules are written, some are unwritten and unspoken, but they are understood nonetheless.  We learn these rules from the very beginning of our lives.  At some point, we are faced with the realization that we must constantly make decisions regarding which behavior will satisfy obedience to the rules, and if we even care to obey them.  What would it be like if we only had two rules to guide our decisions?

We do.  The problem always becomes, what does loving God, loving ourselves and loving our neighbors look like?  I'm not remotely suggesting that I have the answers to these questions. Every person will have their own ideas of what that looks like.  But for those of us who care to find God's will for our lives, I'm suggesting that if we use these as guideposts for every decision we make in our ordinary, day-to-day lives, always seeking to grow in wisdom, we will be doing our part to love well and live well. God provided a place to find wisdom, all we have to do is ask for it, to seek it.

Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. 
Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair.
These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young.
Proverbs 1:2-4 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


"Get busy living, or get busy dying"

"Dance while there's still music, live while there's still life"

These are just a couple of the recent reminders that have crossed my path in the past couple days.  The message is pretty clear, don't you think?  We have been given a choice in some things in this journey, not all, but some.  I guess if we can grasp the truth behind these two, we have a good chance of living well and loving well.

That's my goal in this life; to live well and to love well. No matter what our circumstances, our heartaches, brokenness - we can choose to love well.  I believe that living well will result from our loving well.  Just a natural cycle of goodness.  I'm not saying it's easy, in fact, I think it's the hardest thing we will ever do - to face the ugliness in life, other people and in ourselves and still choose to love well.

Something to ponder,


Monday, July 24, 2017

Monday, Monday

Some days I wake up and it feels like I've traveled to another dimension.  Not really, but I do often feel like I have scrambled brains.  Today was one such morning.  I woke up with a lot of anxiety and concern.  I'm thankful for the habit of daily surrender and time to spend quietly with God, praying, reading and writing.  That little bit of time set aside always sets me straight. 

I am becoming more keenly aware of one source of my anxiety.  Expectations - mine and one other, my sweet daughter.  She is 16 going on 17 (hear The Sound of Music in my head) and we are both aware that our season as mother and school-aged child is drawing to a close altogether too quickly.  She is the last of our brood, and she is spoiled, oh yes she is, make no mistake about it.  But then, so are all the others, aren't they?

She has her driver's license and could drive herself to and from school this year, but will she?  Should she?  I'm considering if that time together should be allowed to linger just a bit longer.  It has been both a terrible time and a wonderful time for us, this traveling time back and forth from her school to our home.  There have been great conversations and boisterous singing, but there has also been hard silence and awkwardness.  That space seems like holy ground, space for knowing each other in ways we wouldn't if we didn't have it.  I may not be ready to let that fade away...

Some things will change this year; she will be making her own lunches :-), she will be her own alarm clock.  

How can we make the most of this time?  How can we be intentional about making the best of the time that we have for making memories and building safe life boundaries?  It's all working it's way through my thoughts.  I trust God will show us what we need to see, when we need to see it.  He's good that way.

Happy Monday!  Maybe I'll be back later today to give that Monday Maxims a try :-)

Sunday, July 23, 2017


I've been thinking about using themes here for my writing.  Something like Monday madness or Mundane Monday, Terrible Tuesday - don't really want that one - it's way too cliche and I'd rather have Terrific Tuesdays if I'm given a choice.

We love our sayings, don't we?  Slogans, mottos, quotes, maxims.  Maxims was not one of the words on my list to describe what has come to be a certain solid, sturdy hook on which to hang my life, but it is such a great word.  I came across it in a new book that I started this morning by my husband's favorite teacher and writer, Chuck Swindol.  At our church, we've been working through a series called Words to the Wise - the Book of Proverbs - and at the beginning I decided to follow the habit of reading Proverbs every day, over and over and over.  It seemed like something I could do and would actually follow through to do.  And so I have been.  As financial contributors to Chuck Swindol's ministry, we often receive some book or pamphlet as a thank you.  It just so happened that the one that arrived in the mail this month was Living the Proverbs, Insight for the Daily Grind.  Perfect resource to try out.  I think I'm gonna like it a lot.

In this book, Chuck described Proverbs as "capsules of truth, often in the form of a short, pithy maxim.  I agree.  That's what makes Proverbs so easy to read and apply to our modern lives.  Not everything is so easy to grasp in scripture, but these maxims are pretty basic for everyone.

Hey, I just realized - Monday Maxims!!!  I couldn't come up with a cutesy name for slogans, quotes and mottos isn't quite what I was looking for!  Monday Maxims it is!!  Okay, tomorrow is Monday.  Let's see what happens. :-)

Now to come up with themes for the rest of the days.  One of them will have to be for whatever random stuff I decide to write, because I'm pretty random most of the time.

Happy day,