Wednesday, July 23, 2014

For Better or For Worse

It is so hard to say goodbye to someone you love. So. Hard.

The last two weeks, during BLT, we asked you to pray for Chonda Pierce and her husband, David, because he was taken to the hospital for back pain and ended up having a heart attack and multiple strokes. Two days ago, he received the Ultimate Healing in Heaven. And Chonda is here to mourn his absence...felt all the more deeply since she's loved David from the age of sixteen. So. Hard.

This past week, I learned that a gentleman I went to church with when I was very young, lost his wife and son in a horrific car accident. They were on their way to an extended family camping trip when the son, who was learning to drive, somehow collided with a milk tanker. The son was 15 and the wife was 52, and in a second, they were gone. So. Hard.

And last November, a loving family and a sisterhood of writer friends said goodbye to fiction writer Diann Hunt, after her courageous battle with ovarian cancer.

You might remember that on this month's Spots and Spotlight show, Lynne interviewed Colleen Coble and Denise Hunter about their friend Diann...and a very special party they were planning.

You see, one of Diann's novels, For Better or For Worse, was picked up by the Hallmark Channel and turned into a movie!

Ryan and I went to the premiere...because at what other time in life will we ever get to go to a movie premiere complete with a red carpet?

I have to give great kudos to my husband, who was willing to put on a dress shirt and tie on a weekend and go to a Hallmark movie with his wife!! {And he DID enjoy don't let him tell you otherwise!}

I was so touched by the kindness and love put into the event by Denise, Colleen and everyone else who made the evening happen. The attention to detail, the celebration of Diann's life and talent...I had tears in my eyes! The 450 or so people gathered at Grace Point Church erupted into applause when the movie began and then fell silent until Diann's name flashed across the screen as the writer of the novel...and then more applause.

Writers and editors had traveled a distance to be there in person with Diann's family and close friends. A publishing house that never even published one of her books sent a box of books for door prizes, because that's how much love and respect they had for a writer not even on their own roster.

Was it a fun night? Absolutely. Photos below attest to that. But was it a touching night? OH. YES. To see the love and the care...made me realize what a blessed, blessed lady Diann Hunt was...and how hard it was for these who loved her to say goodbye again...even as they celebrated.

If you were there, I hope you loved it as much as we did. If you weren't there, I hope you can catch the movie on the Hallmark channel. Darling movie.

And here's a peek into the night:

Ryan and I all dressed up in the Starbucks parking lot on our way to the premiere. {Of course. Starbucks! Where else???}
 Waiting in line at the red carpet. Oh yes. A real red carpet.
 All Diann's friends and family arrived in a gorgeous limo and walked the red carpet first...and then everyone else followed.
 Our moment on the red carpet. And yes. I did get ribbed for taking a selfie. but I did not care one bit! I wasn't missing the capturing of that!
I won a door prize...a copy of a book co-written by Diann. Someone really enjoyed that prize!
 The evening was complete with a reception that featured fabulous wedding cake and punch.
 Watching the movie together. What a lovely night and tribute.

Saying goodbye is hard...celebrate the lives of those you love. Make sure they know how dearly you cherish them! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

From "Wish" to "Do"

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to take a cooking class. I've thought about it, checked into various opportunities -- and then did nothing except resume my wishing!

Pas plus. (That's French for no more.)

My ravishing daughter-in-law, Jeni, and I celebrated Bastille Day (neither one of us is French, but we didn't care) with a traditional French cooking class at Tanglewood Berry Farm in Fort Wayne.

Chef Christian Frappier prepared stuffed mushrooms with snail butter. The butter didn't contain snails; it gets its name because it's used to flavor cooked snails. Quel soulagement! (Basically translated as, Whew!)

The main course was chicken in a savory, decadent sauce...

...and Crepes Suzettes, which I discovered aren't thin layers of eggs but the thinnest of pancakes flavored with orange zest...

The casually arranged bouquets exuded a simple elegance.

Free-range chickens and a rooster -- who'd just discovered his cock-a-doodle-doo and had his days and nights confused -- roamed the farm, including the edges of the tent where we ate.

 And then there was Leonardo, the 135-pound Maremma. He began the evening guarding the entrance to the farm, but crept closer and closer to the tent once Chef Christian began the meat course.

 Then, after dessert, dove into full mingle-with-the-guests mode.

Leo made a bee-line for Chef Christian after dinner because Chef always saves a piece of meat for him!

Chef Mary Hooker and her family own Tanglewood Berry Farm, a USDA certified organic farm. They have a farmer's market and offer a variety of food-related classes. Margy is an amazing cook and had a loyal and well-fed following at her now-closed restaurant. Her two cookbooks feature the recipes that made waiting in line for a table so worth it!

Me and Margy Hooker
What's one thing on your "I've always wanted to ..." list? What's stopping you from doing it? What can you do today to move you closer to your wish? If it's as simple as making the reservation or signing up, do it. If it's money, begin putting aside leftover change, have a garage sale, or put it on your Christmas or birthday list. In our family we often pool gift money to give someone a bigger ticket item. It is such fun making a dearly loved person's dream come true! Including your own.

Alors faites-le (So do it!)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

It's Okay to Be You

It's been two years now, since I did my intensive training for the 10K at the Fort for Fitness. I was talked into such an adventure by my friend and co-worker, Jeri.
I had never been a runner but she convinced me I could do it, so I gave it a shot. I had some help training - and running - the race from someone new in my life:
And I was SO PROUD of myself that day. SO PROUD of the hard work I had done and the fact that I lived through running over six miles at one time.
And a week later, I got engaged, and we launched into planning a wedding in 2 months and then we spent a year in home renovations - and just recently, I've gotten back into "running."

I say "running" - because it's not going all that well. I'm not great at it.

And that it is 37 kinds of discouraging.

I read all the Facebook posts of my friends who weren't runners even six months ago and now they subscribe to the magazines and buy the shoes and post the updates and break records and....and...and...

...and I'm still struggling to maintain a mediocre time. Forget improving it right now.

I told Ryan the other day that I would far rather walk than run. I ENJOY walking. I do not enjoy running. Ever.

And you know what he told me?

Then walk.

Why do you have to run? he asked me. I'd rather see you excited to do something you enjoy than force yourself to go out and do something you hate.


I have been pressuring myself to love be a runner...because running's trendy. 5K races are trendy. I want to fit in. I want to get the clothes and learn the lingo and glide through the park with ease, not wheeze my way up a hill in choppy motions, gripping my sloshing water bottle for dear life.

Will I give up running forever? Probably not. But I'm going to feel a lot more freedom in stopping to walk if I need to. I wasn't made to be a runner. It's not the way my body was created. It's not the way my passions flow.

I'd rather have a good brisk walk with a clear mind that allows me to think and process and inhale the beauty of the day than limp-run on aching knees praying only for my next breath.

And I think this stretches to everything. From all sides, we're forced to love what the next person loves. Whatever trends. Whatever makes us fit in.

But what if we could just be...US? What if we could feel free to pursue what we love? Sure, now and then we might need to step outside the comfort zone to do something challenging, but what if we were content to say...THIS is who I am. Even if I stand alone loving this.

Think of the freedom!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wise Guys

As you might imagine, I read a lot of books for Mid-Morning. Most weeks, at least two, sometimes more. I'd attempt to figure out how many I've blown through in 2014, but I don't do math. Or, I should say, I don't do math well. And I'm okay with that.

The two books featured on this week's shows are among the best I've read this year: Yawning at Tigers by Drew Dyck and The Gospel of Yes by Mike Glenn.

So much soul food! Spiritually hearty, richly nourishing soul food.

These aren't books to check out from the library. Or purchase as a download on your Nook or Kindle. These are books to include in your book family because you'll revisit them. You'll interact with them as you read, highlighting and scribbling responses to their Spirit-breathed insights. The library has a zero-tolerance policy for this kind of behavior. Enough said.

Here's a sampling, beginning with Yawning at Tigers:

"People are starving for the awe of God. Most don't know it, of course They think they're starving for success or money or excitement or acceptance--you name it. But here's the problem. Even those fortunate enough to satisfy these cravings find they are still hungry. Hungrier, even. Why? Because they've left untouched the most ancient and aching need, the one stitched into the fabric of their souls: to know and love a transcendent God." (This is the driving theme of the book.)

"Just when God's holiness seems overwhelming, when the gulf between us seems hopelessly wide, that's where the gospel comes in. The good news is that this dangerous God turns out be to be a lover. And He's not content to love us from a distance."

"If we ever hope to trade the shallows for the deep, we must rediscover the holiness of God."

"We lack a practice of personal holiness because we've lost a theology of divine holiness."

"We're trying to live holy lives because we know should, but it's burdensome, joyless. What can change this? Seeing God."

"The One Who knows us best loves us most."

From The Gospel of Yes:

"The Good News could rightly be called "The Gospel of Yes."

"The biblical directive for all Christians is to follow Christ, not just oppose the world. You can't live a life of substance by living against."

"When you accept the "yes" of Christ's redemptive grace and respond with the "yes" of faith, everything finds its rightful place. Finally you can relax in who God created you to be."

"If you live for the "yes" of Christ, the "no" of sin will gradually cease to be a major issue."

"Because we don't know the stories of God, we don't know God, which leads to our  misunderstanding His intentions. Because we don't know the heart of God, we lack the context to understand His words to us."

"God said "no" to sin because it violates His holiness, but wanting us not to break His laws is not His number-one reason for opposing sin. He hates sin because it destroys the people He loves."

"As the Living Christ infuses every crevice and hidden place of believers' lives with His life, everything dark and broken is pushed out"

We need each other in a myriad of ways, especially sharing what God has poured into us with our sacred siblings. Thank you, Drew and Mike, for being so generous with us!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sixty Years

My parents will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary later this summer.

Sixty years!

Sixty years ago, Father Knows Best was a popular TV show and Elvis Presley had just cut his first record. Gas cost 29 cents. Period. Not preceded by four dollars. You could get a house for about ten grand and a car for roughly $1700. The words "under God" were added to the Pledge of Allegiance, the Tonight Show first aired on NBC, and White Christmas was a hit movie. John Travolta was born and Swanson introduced TV dinners.

And my parents were married.

Last week, my whole family got together for the first time ever...for a family vacation. My sister from Kansas drove out with her husband and their daughter. My sister from Indianapolis headed north with her husband. And of course, Ryan and I packed far more luggage than two people need for a long weekend, and we all met up in Shipshewana, along with my parents, to celebrate this milestone.

We did a lot of eating...
{That was from our dinner at the Blue Gate Restaurant in Shipshewana}

We did a lot of shopping...

Some of us went on a bike ride...
...and got soaked in a downpour...
..and I fell in love with a little guy...
...we recreated pictures from 1986:

...OH!! And we photobombed my mom's new phone and waited to see how long it would take her to find the pictures...
It was a priceless moment when she found them.

It really was the best weekend. We had fun, and I decided family vacations are a good thing.

Thankful today to be in this line of heritage:
It all began 60 years ago with these two:
Thankful for these girls I've shared life with {even if from a distance because I showed up late to the party}:
Thankful for the world's best niece and the grown-up friendship we now share:
And I'm thankful for the way my parents prepared me to be part of this thing called marriage:
And I'll take sixty-plus years of my own with Ryan!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Bowling for Brittany

Have you ever experienced a movie moment in your own life? It happened to me last Saturday.

My 29-year-old niece, Brittany, is squaring off with a bully named Hodgkin's lymphoma. Making the fight even more challenging was the large deductible that needed to be met before her insurance would kick in. I say was because Brittany now has more than enough money to cover the deductible, thanks to her boyfriend, A.J., and a crew of friends, family, and strangers.

How did we help her? We bowled!

For weeks, A.J. registered teams, solicited raffle prizes, and took care of countless details like buying green wrist bands and Bowl for Brittany tee-shirts...

God bless A.J.!

His efforts were rewarded when Brit arrived at the bowling alley. Did I mention it was a surprise? The girl had no idea! The look on her face - or rather looks on her face, quickly morphed from It's not my birthday. Why are all of these people, who just happen to be bowling on a Saturday afternoon, yelling, surprise? to Hey, I recognize him...and her...and them to Why are my friends and family bowling on a picture-perfect SATURDAY? to Everyone is here for ME!

Everyone included...

My dad and Josh Gaines, who played defensive end for Penn State, the only bowler who could actually palm the ball.

A gaggle of nieces...
and other munchkins who taxed the capacity of every video game, while their parents bowled.

Then came the Movie Moment. The live band did a cover version of Journey's Don't Stop Believin'. As soon as the crowd heard the familiar opening chords, you could feel a surge of happy recognition. Then, as if on cue, everyone started singing, and then their tables, on the lanes, wherever they were standing!

It was loud and unrestrained and spontaneous. Sheer happiness . As good as any movie moment. No, even better, because it was absolutely authentic.

And I was part of it, living out yet another expression of love: bowling.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


A few days ago, I wrote about rest on my own blog, and based on the response, I thought I might revisit it

As you might imagine, Ryan and I don't get a lot of rest. And we can't even blame it on the kids because we don't have any. {So we give much credit to those of you who keep our kind of schedule AND have kids in the mix.}

We commute. We are still trying to sell a house, which means we are currently maintaining two. Both of us work weekends sometimes {often for him} with our jobs. As my mother is fond of saying, we burn the candle at both ends...and I think we've just about reached the dwindling middle of that candle.

I don't say these things in a hunt for sympathy. It's just a season of life and we know it.

But I do say it for this reason: we are not alone in the raggedness of life, and maybe you're feeling it too - in your own way, with your own details.

Over this past Memorial Day weekend, Ryan had to work...both Saturday and Memorial Day. I had both days off and I scheduled nothing. I stayed home, worked on things around the house, did some scrapbooking, and drank extraordinary amounts of coffee.

And the minute Ryan got home from work each day, he did nothing too...which is very out of character for him. He's always got a project. But together we sat in lawn chairs in our backyard, took naps in our hammock, curled up in front of the TV for a movie, and, of course, drank extraordinary amounts of coffee.

It was a lovely, lovely weekend. And not just because we were blessed with sunshine and warm breezes. It was lovely because we rested. What a treasure!

We've also made a commitment to wildly protect our Sundays as a day of rest. We go to church, but when we get home...we rest. Unless it just simply cannot be avoided, we don't ever schedule get-togethers or chores on Sunday. It's our day to take naps, to be still, to do whatever we want...and to not feel one iota guilty over it.

It takes some creativity on our part to make our Sundays work. We sometimes pull later nights than we want to earlier in the weekend making sure laundry is caught shopping is done...yards are mowed. But OH how thankful we are, come Sunday, that we did those things.

I don't know what your life looks like. I don't know your challenges and obstacles. And for you, I don't know if this is a season or a life. But I do know that God brings up the subject of rest in His Word. He offers it to the weary and burdened.

What if He's offering it and we're not taking it?

Just something to think about. No idea how it might look when applied to your life, but I encourage you with much love, to think about it at least. In the busyness...can you make time to rest?

To take what He offers?