Friday, April 29, 2011

Book Review: Lilies in Moonlight

Although it had a slow start, Lilies in Moonlight by Allison Pittman, was a great read.  Once I got past the first few chapters, I had difficulty putting the book down. 

Lily Margolis, a flapper in the roaring 20's, has a delightful personality and I fell in love with the character.  She is running from her past, an overly critical mother, and lacks focus and vision for what she should do with her life.  Cullen Burnside, wounded by the war as well as failure to please his now deceased father,  has much to overcome as well.  The two are brought together by Cullen's mother, Betty Ruth, who has dementia.  Betty Ruth shows Lily what a mother ought to be and teaches her of the unconditional love and forgiveness of God.  These characters take a journey that brings healing and forgiveness. 

This is the first book I've read by Pittman, and now I want to read the other two books in this series, although each book stands on its own.  On a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (fantastic), I would give this book a 4, as I thoroughly enjoyed the story.  I was given this book for free by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge

It's time for the Wednesday Hodgepodge.  Go see Joyce and link up ~ you know you want to!

1. What is something that bothers you if it is not done perfectly?
Oddly enough, folding towels.  Some people fold in half and then in half again, I do not.  The proper way to fold a towel in my house is in half and then in thirds.  Hubby has not mastered this and bless his heart when he helps me fold laundry I always re-fold the towels.  I know, I probably need professional help for this problem. 

2. What is one of your best childhood memories?
This is a hard question for me to answer because there are so many to choose from.  Honestly, I just remember having the best time when we were kids.  I think my favorite memories were when my parents used to surprise us by just putting us in the car and taking us places.  My sister and I would be in the back seat trying to guess where we were going.  Mom and Dad would talk in code to each other and Sis and I tried to crack the code ~ usually unsuccessfully, but it was fun trying.  We could end up at our favorite restaurant or at Disney World.  One never knew what they had planned and that was part of the fun of it.

3. Do you plan to watch the Royal Wedding and when was the last time you wore a hat?
I might record the wedding and watch it when I have the time.  I haven't decided yet.  I wore a hat several Easters ago.

4. Where do you fall in the birth order in your family? Do you think this has influenced your personality?
I am the oldest child and the oldest grandchild on one side.  I do think I am more of a leader in our family.  I also tend to be a people pleaser, also a trait of first borns. 

5. Where do you think you spend most of your money?
I know where most of our money goes.  House payment, followed by tuition for the kids' school, then Publix ~ where shopping is a pleasure.

6. When you need to confront someone would you rather communicate in person, on the phone, by email or by letter? Why?
Let me start by saying that I strongly dislike confrontation.  I used to be the type who wanted to confront in a letter, not having to face the person.  While I don't like having to confront people, I would now rather do it in person so that there is no misunderstanding.  In letters and emails, people can misinterpret tone of voice or what you are saying.  At least in person you get it all out there and can be understood and then it's done.  I'm still working on this, and it is uncomfortable, but end the end I want it to be resolved and over and with a personal conversation you can do that.

7. Dodge ball, freeze tag, kickball or jump rope? You have to pick one.
Dodge ball.  Such fond memories of playing this in elementary school.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
Last week I mentioned that I was hoping the House Cleaning Fairy would come to my house while I was at work.  Unfortunately, that didn't work out so well.  However, Monday I had to work and the kiddos were off of school so Hubby volunteered to stay home from work with them.  When I got home he had done dishes, laundry and mopped the kitchen.  He is all that and a side of grits!  I've said it before, there is nothing sexier than a man cleaning my house.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Christ is Risen Indeed!

Christ is Risen!  Hallelujah!  What joy the women must have felt when they went to the tomb to find he was no longer there, but that he was alive.  Because of Jesus, death has no sting for he has won the victory.  Twice I have faced death, come very close, yet I wasn't afraid.  I always thought I would be afraid to die, but when it came down to it, I just felt peace.  His peace.  I think it's because I knew I would be with him.  Though he felt alone and forsaken when he had to go to the cross, Jesus never leaves us and he never forsakes us.

Easter at our house was wonderful.  The kiddos got up at 5 a.m. to see what the Easter Bunny brought.  5 a.m. people!!  When Princess came yelling into our room that the Easter Bunny had come, Hubby sent her away to either go back to bed or play quietly.  I'm not sure why he didn't tell her that it wasn't even morning yet.  For our pruposes, it was still the middle of the night.  I'm pretty sure this is paybacks for all of those times that I woke my parents up at some ridiculous hour in excitement.  Hubby helped coordinate our Easter outfits this year and he ordered us all flowers to match.  He is quite good at this and I so appreciate his help with it.
Here we are after church

The five grandchildren.  I think my nephews are so cute in their matching suits!

I hope you all had a blessed Easter.  I pray that as you go throughout the week you will keep a song in your heart.  The song in my heart is an oldie but a goodie.  "He lives, he lives!  Christ Jesus lives today.  He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way.  He lives, he lives, salvation to impart.  You ask me how I know he lives.  He lives within my heart."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Day After

This morning I was thinking about how today felt a like an in-between day.  Yesterday was Good Friday, tomorrow will be Easter.  What is the focus of today?  Then I started to think about the disciples and how they must have felt the day after Jesus died.  Have you ever lost someone close to you?  The day they die it all seems like a bad dream.  You're in shock and grieving and just hope that it's all a bad dream.  What about the next day?  You wake up and the reality hits you all over again, you get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach and you realize that it was no dream at all.  The person you love is dead, gone.  You can't just pick up the phone and chat.  I'm sure the disciples felt the same way when they awoke the morning after Jesus' death.  Here was this man they followed day and night, their closest friend and he was gone.  They were afraid they would never see him again.  What they didn't know was that the story doesn't end there....

Friday, April 22, 2011

Six Hours One Friday

As I have mentioned before, Max Lucado is one of my favorite authors.  The imagery in his books is amazing.  It makes you feel like you are there; the sights, the sounds, the emotions.  As I contemplate what Good Friday means, I want to share an excerpt from "Six Hours One Friday," by Lucado. 

"Six hours, one Friday.
To the casual observer the six hours are mundane.  A shepherd with his sheep, a housewife with her thoughts, a doctor with his patients.  But to the handful of awestruck witnesses, the most maddening of miracles is occurring.
God is on a cross.  The creator of the universe is being executed.

Spit and blood are caked to his cheeks, and his lips are cracked and swollen. Thorns rip his scalp. His lungs scream with pain. His legs knot with cramps. Taut nerves threaten to snap as pain twangs her morbid melody. Yet, death is not ready. And there is no one to save him, for he is sacrificing himself.

It is no normal six hours…it is no normal Friday.
Far worse than the breaking of his body is the shredding of his heart. 
His own countrymen clamored for his death. 
His own disciple planted the kiss of betrayal.
His own friends ran for cover.
And now his own father is beginning to turn his back on him, leaving him alone.

A witness could not help but ask: Jesus, do you give no thought to saving yourself? What keeps you there? What holds you to the cross? Nails don’t hold gods to trees. What makes you stay?"

Those six hours were excruciating for him.  Jesus was physically and emotionally exhausted, giving all of himself for us.  He died for you.  He died for me.  He died because we needed saving.  Jesus hung on that cross in my place.  I deserve to hang there, not him.  He was sinless, I sin every day.  Jesus died because of his unconditional, indescribable love for us.  As the song "Who Am I" says, "not because of who I am, but because of what You've done.  Not because of what I've done, but because of Who You are."  Only by his mercy and grace am I saved.  Today my heart has been heavy.  I've thought so much about the sacrifice, the pain, that horrible death he faced.  The good news is that because of his love and the sacrifice he made, I will spend eternity with him. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday Reflections

I hope you don't mind, I am recycling this post from last Maundy Thursday.  As I read over it the other day, it still captures my thoughts this year. 

Today is Maundy Thursday. As I have been preparing my heart for Easter and thinking of all that happened during Holy Week, I pause tonight to think about the Last Supper. Jesus and his disciples were celebrating the Passover Feast, a meal amongst friends. It was to be the last meal they'd all have together.

"When it was time, he sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, "You've no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It's the last one I'll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God." (Luke 22:14-16 The Message) What must it have been like for the disciples to hear that their friend and teacher would not be with them anymore? How would I feel if my dear friend, with whom I spent most of my time told me this would be our last meal together? I can feel the sadness, the fear of not knowing what would happen to him, what would happen to them. I imagine how they must have felt to hear Jesus tell them exactly how things would play out and then throughout the evening and into the next morning as it unfolded just as he said.
"Leaving there, he went, as he so often did, to Mount Olives. The disciples followed him. When they arrived at the place, he said, "Pray that you don't give in to temptation." He pulled away from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and prayed, "Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?" At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face." Luke 22:40-44 The Message

My heart feels heavy when I think about Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew the plan and he knew what he had to do but there was that moment when (as my 5 year old said it) "Jesus was scared so he prayed to ask God to help him but he had to die." I think Prince is right. Jesus, fully human and fully divine, had human emotions and this was a scary time. An angel came to give him strength. While he was dealing with these thoughts and emotions, where were the disciples? They were "asleep, drugged with grief." While Jesus was thinking of all humanity, the disciples were unable to be there for him or to even do the small thing he asked them to do, pray. Not that I am being hard on them or passing judgement, I'd be grieving too. It just reminds me that there are times in my own life when I am unable to get up out of my own wallowing,self-pity, and grief to do what Jesus asks me to do. Pray.

It should be easier for me. The disciples didn't have the benefit of knowing the rest of the story as I do. I know that come Sunday morning, Jesus is alive. Yet somehow, it's hard for me too. Tonight my heart is heavy because I know I am a sinner and that I don't do all that is asked of me. I know that Jesus suffered and died because I am a sinner and that he did this willingly. I also know that Jesus did this because of his great love for me. He loved me before I was ever a thought. He knew me and loved me and my name was written on his heart. That is so overwhelming and just awesome to think about. Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were sinners, Christ died for us." I love The Message translation which says, "But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we're at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah! Romans 5:8-11

There is a popular worship song that has a special place in my heart, Amazing Love. Whenever I hear this song, it doesn't matter where I am. I just have to sing it. It is a reminder of Christ's Amazing Love for me and the peace that washes over me as I sing and enter into that true worship whether I am in the car or in a crowded room with other people. For those few moments, it's just Jesus and me as I sing this love song to Him and feel His presence and His unconditional love that holds me tight and keeps me going.

Amazing Love

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken,
I’m accepted, You were condemned.
I am alive and well, Your spirit is within me,
Because You died and rose again.
Amazing love,
How can it be
That You, my King, should die for me?
Amazing love,
I know it’s true.
It’s my joy to honor You,
In all I do, I honor You.
I do hope that I can live a life that brings honor to Christ. I hope that others will see Christ in me and that I can show his deep, unconditional love to them.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hippety Hoppity Easter Hodgepodge

1. What are your plans for Easter Day/weekend?
Saturday we will go to the church egg hunt and then Princess is attending a birthday party for one of her sweet little friends from school.  That evening we will dye eggs and get ready for Easter morning.  We will talk about what happened on Good Friday and why that makes Easter Sunday so special.  Easter morning we will wake up to see Easter baskets and then go to church.  Four generations will sit together in church as we listen to the Easter message and sing "He Lives."  After church we will go home and hunt eggs and get ready for dinner at my parents' house.

2. Besides Jesus, what one person from The Bible would you most like to meet and why?
That is a tough question.  There are so many people I would like to meet.  I think if I have to pick, I would choose Simon Peter, "the rock."

3. What is one modern day convenience you didn't have as a child that was easy to live without?
Internet because I didn't know what I was missing.  We still knew how to go to the library to look things up in books.  It's so wrong that kids can do research papers without leaving their house.  We actually had to look things up in ginormous reference books that couldn't be check out of the library so it had to be done during library hours and you couldn't wait until the last minute. 

4. Are you more right brained or left brained? If you don't know what that means there is an interesting little quiz here.
I am whole brained with a tendency toward the right.  I do try to analyze everything out, but in the end, the creative brain takes over and that wins out.

5. What is something you intended to do today but didn't? Why?
It's early, but I am going to predict that to be getting the house all straightened up and everything put away.  I can predict this because lately it's on my agenda every morning but I have been massively failing in that department.  I can always be optimistic, though.  Why won't I get it done?  There are many reasons this might not occur...not enough time, children come behind me pulling more stuff out, way too much to do to finish it all... OR maybe the house cleaning fairy will come while I am at work and it will all be done when I get home and then I won't have to spend my afternoon cleaning up.  It could happen, I'm not holding my breath, but it could happen.

6. Cadbury Creme Eggs or Reeses peanut butter?
Reeses peanut butter ~ yummy! 

7. Who was your favorite cartoon character when you were a child?
Strawberry Shortcake ~ not the newly modernized "Jenny Craig" one, but the original one.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
As I finish answering these questions I have a snuggly little boy named Prince snuggling up right next to me asking me what I'm doing and why.  I've gotta go take advantage of this snuggle time before he has to get ready for school. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Palm Sunday Ponderings

Last weekend we celebrated my father-in-law's 60th birthday.  On our trip, we went to church to their church to see an Easter production called "The Promise."  They have been doing this production for many years, but this was the first time I had been up there to see it.  On the way to church, Hubby and I were talking to the children about how they were going to behave in church and what to expect.  I explained that there would not be children's church that day because of the play.  Prince was not happy and with his grumbling said, "Well I hope the play is about Peter Cottontail meets Jesus."  I assured him it was not, but that was a creative thought.
As we watched the production, the time came when Jesus was carrying the cross down the aisle.  He was bloody from being whipped and you could see how heavy that cross was.  It was quite an emotional moment for me.  The tears started and I tried to hide it, but both kids saw I was upset.  Prince, who was on my lap whispered, "Mommy, why are you so stressed out?  You know Jesus had to die.  He had to pay the price.  He wanted to Mommy."  So wise at such a young age.  I replied, "Yes, Prince, he did pay the price for our sins.  He died because he loves us so much and he paid the price so that we can live with him in heaven one day."  Princess, sitting beside me said, "Mommy, you know that's not real blood on him.  That's just some kind of jelly or something they made to look like blood.  He's not really hanging on that cross, they just made it look like he is."  She was trying to make me feel better and I love her kind heart that doesn't want people to be upset.  When it was over and we were in the car I addressed this with both of the kids.  I explained that Princess was right, that the man playing Jesus was not really bleeding and that he wasn't really nailed to that cross in the sanctuary, but they made it look like that because all of this really did happen.  It happened like that and was probably much worse looking than even portrayed.  Sometimes it's good for us to get upset.  I think we all need to realize the gravity of what Jesus did.  We need to spend more time reflecting on Good Friday so that we can truly appreciate the relevance of Easter Sunday.  That's where my heart has been this week as I contemplate the true sacrifice that was made.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Max on Life ~ A Book Review

Max Lucado is one of my favorite Christian authors. His new book, “Max on Life,” does not disappoint. In this book, Lucado answers 172 questions asked by readers and members of his congregation and no topic is off limits. The book is divided into seven sections which include:

Hope ~ God, Grace, and “Why and I here?”
Hurt ~ Conflicts, Calamities, and “Why me?”
Help ~ Prayer, Scripture, and “Why church?”
Him/Her ~ Sex, Romance, and “Any chance of a second chance?”
Home ~ Diapers, Disagreements, and “Any hope for prodigals?”
Haves/Have-Nots ~ Work, Money, and “Where’s the lifeline?”
Hereafter ~ Cemeteries, Heaven, Hell, and “Who goes where?”

The format of the book is much like a “Dear Abby” column, with a brief question and then Lucado’s answer to follow. The answers are written as if you were sharing a cup of coffee and having casual conversation with him. I love that he uses a combination of life experience and scripture. The measuring stick is to look at Jesus and what he would think and do in similar situations.
While I sat down and read this book cover to cover, it could easily be used as a reference guide for future situations and conversations. Included in the book are topical and scriptural indexes. This book is a great addition to my personal library and will be for yours as well.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Friday, April 15, 2011

Glorious Day

This morning I was singing this song in my head and just had to look on You Tube to see if there was a video for it. It really captures my thoughts lately. So here it is: Glorious Day.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I Love You To Heaven and Back

Prince and I have a contest to see who loves the other one more.  Usually it starts with  an "I love you," which is reciprocated with "I love you more."  Prince then says something like, "I love you to the moon and back."  We try to see who can go the longest distance.  One day he said he loved me to Neptune and back.  This morning though, he got me to thinking when he said, "Mom, I love you to heaven and back."  I got what he was trying to say, but my mind went somewhere else with it.
"I love you to heaven and back."  With Easter approaching, my thoughts have been on the enormous love Christ has for all of us that he would pay for our sin with his life.  That's a big price and we continue to sin again and again.  We can try not to, but we are all sinners.  The other morning I came across a verse that I hadn't paid much attention to before. 
1 This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

Did you catch that in v. 4?   "My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent."  How many times do we not see the sin in our own lives?  We all have it, but it is much easier to see the sin in other people than in ourselves.  Sometimes we do things and we know we are in the wrong, but there are times when we sin and we don't even recognize it.  My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will convict me of those sins so that I don't repeat them.  I will admit though, that sometimes I don't want the Holy Spirit to convict me because I don't want to change.  It's easier for me to be ignorant about that sin than to have to change my heart and attitudes.  This Lenten Season though, I have thought about how much my sins must have hurt Christ.  When I look at pictures that depict the crucifixion I see the marks where he was whipped, the blood, and I think of each of those lashings standing for sins I have committed and it hurts.  It hurts me to look at him, innocent and blameless, he took the punishment for things I have done, sins I haven't even committed yet, but he knows I will.  Is he resentful?  No, he knew what he was doing and why he was doing it and the answer lies in what Prince said to me this morning.  "I love you to heaven and back." 

I don't know when that day will come, when Jesus will return for all of us but I do know this: I can't wait for the day that I am face to face with him and I can wrap my arms around him in an embrace so strong that I won't ever want to let go.  I can't wait to look into his eyes and see the depth of his love for me.  Until that day, I will take my sins again and again to that cross and leave them there with a repentant heart, knowing that his death guarantees that I have a place with him in heaven.  I will ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to me those sins that I can't see or recognize and to help to me change my heart and actions to love and behave like Jesus.  "I love you to heaven and back," he says and he does.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Hodgepodge Wednesday ~ Go see Joyce and link up!

1. Would you rather talk to everyone at a crowded party for a short time or have a significant conversation with two people?

It depends on what kind of a party it is.  These days I attend many receptions and dinners for Hubby's work where I don't know many of the people, or at least I don't know them well.  In that case, I talk to quite a few people for a short time.  I do know several of the wives and it is fun to catch up with them.  On the other hand, if the party is with people I know well, I always feel torn because I would love to sit down and have a significant conversation, but I also want to touch base with everyone and see how they are doing.  I am really quite social by nature.

2. What objects do you remember from your parent's living room?
When I was really little, my dad had ginormous speakers on either side of the huge TV.  Also, he had a double cassette player, I'm not sure if there was an 8 track player at one time or not.  Oh, I've got to try to find pictures.  This is really bringing back memories. 

3. Do you hog the bed? Steal the covers? Snore?
I don't really do any of those things.  I am always trying to get the covers back from Hubby.  Hubby teases me and says that I drool in my sleep, but that doesn't really happen.  Well, hardly ever anyway.

4. Speaking of Easter dinner....what is your favorite way to cook/eat lamb? Or does just the thought of that make you squeamish? If you're not cooking lamb what will be your entree du jour on Easter Sunday?
Lamb?  No thank you.  I did finally try it when Hubby took me out to the Brazilian restaurant for our anniversary but I just didn't like it.  We have ham on Easter.  Oh, yummy!  I can hardly wait!

5. Let's throw some politics into this week's mix-oooohhh...Do you know the whereabouts of your birth certificate and when was the last time you had to produce it to prove you're you?
My birth certificate is in our fire safe (I think).  I think the last time I had to produce it was to get my new social security card when I changed my name after we were married 9 years ago.
6. As a child, how did people describe you?
                                                          I think I was 3 in this picture

I remember people telling me I was big for my age.  I mostly liked being around adults, so I think people always thought I was older than what I really was.
This is my mom and me when I was 3.  She made our matching outfits.
7. What do you complain about the most?
I hate to say this, but I probably complain about laundry and being tired the most.  In the grand scheme of things, this sounds really petty. 
A couple of years ago our pastor challenged us to stop complaining.  We all wore purple "No Complaining" bracelets and each time we complained or said something negative we were to switch our bracelet to the other arm.  That was to increase our awareness of what we were saying and how it sounded.  The problem was, we did become more conscious of it and then would preface our conversation with, "this isn't meant as a complaint, but..." or a time or two I even switched my bracelet mid-sentence, knowing what I was saying was a blatantly negative statement and saying it anyway.  That pretty much defeated the whole purpose of it.  I have thought about putting my bracelet back on and giving it a try again.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
Sunday afternoon I went to my first NBA game.  I can cross it off the bucket list.  It was quite an exciting game: The Orlando Magic vs. Chicago Bulls.  Our seats were waaaaay in the nosebleed section, but it was a fun time.
We went with my sister and her family as well as my parents.  Tail-gated in the parking garage before the game and then went in and had a fantastic time.  Hubby was a little LOT freaked out by the height and wouldn't let me or the kids move from our seats for the first part of the game. 
My little cheerleader loved cheering on the Magic.

The game was a nail biter to the very end, when the Magic tried to tie it up with a 3 pointer, but unfortunately it was a fraction of a second too late and the Bulls won.  This is a do-over, but not from that high up again.  Next time we'll try for seats a little lower down.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy 30th Anniversary STS-1

Today was an amazing day!  Thirty years ago today, Columbia launched into space for the first time, carrying astronauts John Young and Bob Crippen.  The space shuttle program has been such a part of my life that I hardly remember my life before STS-1.  At a press conference this afternoon, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden announced that Space Shuttle Atlantis will remain at Kennedy Space Center after it's final flight later this year.  This was an amazing announcement because while it seems common sense that one of the orbitors would be housed at KSC, there was no guarantee.  There were many museums that were vying for a shuttle.  The others will go to Los Angeles, New York, and DC.  Houston, we have a that Houston did not get one of the shuttles and they really should have. 
Anyway, this afternoon/evening there was a 30th Anniversary celebration for employees and their families and we were fortunate enough to attend.  This is Charlie Bolden giving his speech.  Also on the platform are Bob Cabana, Director of KSC (left) and Rita Willcoxen, Director of Launch Vehicle Processing.
This is astronaut Chris Ferguson, who we have met before and Prince really enjoyed him.  Ferguson will be Commander of the last launch, STS-135. 

Look who came for the ocassion!! Yep, it's the Cake Boss and he made that amazing shuttle with boosters and tank in the background.  He said the shuttle itself is made of rice crispy treats.  The rest is cake. 

Here's another picture of the cake.
And, here's me with the cake.
They put flares on the bottom of the solid rocket boosters and lit them as the structure the cake was on lifted the cake.  It was really quite amazing. 

Princess and Prince goof off with Grandma.

It was a fun celebration and I am so glad we went.  Even if it was 90 degrees and humid as all get out.  It was worth it and I got to eat cake from the Cake Boss.  Yummy!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Prayer I Should Pray

Every morning on the way to school we take turns praying in the car.  It is a precious time with my children and I wish I could record their prayers each and every day because I never know what they will say.  Yesterday morning as Princess was praying, there were several things that struck me.  First, she began praying for all of the things she wants; new toys, good grades on her papers, etc. These are little things to me, but they are huge things to her.  This got me thinking about how my prayers must sound to God.  All of these little things I pray for myself that are a huge deal to me, but must seem so small to God.  Then, as I was consumed in my thoughts about this, I was jarred back to reality by her closing statement.  "And God, please help me to like you best, to love you better than anyone or anything else in my life.  Amen."  Wow!  I think I'm going to take that one and use it.  So simplistic, yet so deep. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


It's that time again.  Go see Joyce and link up for the Wednesday hodgepodge!

1. National Read a Road Map Day falls on April 5th. Would people say you have a good sense of direction? Do you rely on a GPS when you drive somewhere new? When was the last time you used a map?

I don't have a great sense of direction, but I can usually figure out which way I came from and get back to where I started.  We have a GPS, but it has proven to be unreliable in some instances and has sent us in totally the wrong direction...go figure.  So we use the GPS as a general guide, but I do use the one on my i-phone with good success.  The last time I used a map was probably when we were driving through Georgia and wanted to get off of a congested interstate to go the back roads. 

2. What's your favorite cookbook?
My favorite cookbook is one that I compiled for our extended family for Christmas gifts several years ago.  It has all of our old favorite family recipes in it.  I use it the most.
3. What painting would you like to "walk into" and experience? Why?
I have two that I really like.
I love Monet and I think his Giverny paintings look so peaceful.  I could love to spend an afternoon here all to myself in the quiet.

Another one of my favorite artists is Greg Olsen.  I had a difficult time choosing just one of his paintings but this is the one I chose.

4. What annoys you more- misspellings or mispronunciations?
Misspellings annoy me more.  You can kind of give people the benefit of the doubt on mispronunciations due to where they are from and accents, but's called a dictionary.  Look it up!  You don't even have to own a hard copy. is a great friend of mine.

5. What is something your mother or father considered important?
Education.  There was never a question of if I would go to college.  It was always, when you go to college...
I was extremely blessed.  My parents always said that my number one job was to go to school.  Therefore, aside from babysitting I did not have a job.  Once I got into college I would have a part-time job here or there, but the emphasis was always on school. 

6. Do you like or dislike schedules?
I love schedules.  I thrive on schedules.  I need a schedule.  That said, every once in a while it is nice to have a break from the schedule.  Spring Break was just enough and now it's back to the daily routine.

7. Let's have some fun with National Poetry Month (that would be April)...write your own ending to this poem-

"Roses are Red
Violets are blue..."
How to finish this rhyme,
I haven't a clue.
(Sorry I'm not feeling the creative juices today.  I did however write a cute rhyming invitation for my father-in-law's 60th birthday party coming up.)
8. Insert your own random thought in this space.

I had to take Princess back to the doctor on Monday.  She has an ear infection.  Will my household ever get well and stay well?!  Hubby and Princess are on antibiotics and Prince finished his a week or so ago.  Perhaps we'll get a bit of a reprieve soon.  At least I haven't gotten any calls from school in the last two days saying that I have a sick child.  That's a great start. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A to Z, Sing With Me

Joyce, my blog friend and supplier of all things hodgepodge, has joined a challenge to do an A to Z blog, where your daily blog theme is based on that day's letter.  You can read what Joyce is doing here.  This reminded me of a story from when the twins were in the NICU.  We spent a month in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) and there was not much we could do with the babies.  They needed to grow and to rest, but they also needed to hear our voices. 
Hubby told the babies stories, he told them about the Bermuda Triangle and other sci-fi stuff.  He also told them about all of the things he wanted to take them to do when they got older...trips to the zoo, the aquarium, the park, and all of the fun we would have together as a family.  I did a lot of praying, reading stories, and then there was the singing.  One of the ways God has talked to me through the years has been through song.  I love to sing and it was a great way to pass those hours of sitting there, waiting for feeding time when I could hold my babies.  Of course there were certain songs that were favorites, but I developed a routine, if you will, for how I sang to my babies.  I started with the letter A and went through the alphabet, singing all of the hymns and praise songs I could think of.  It went something like this:
A - Amazing Grace, As the Deer, Are Ye Able
B - Blessed Assurance, Because He Lives
C - Come Christians Join to Sing, Christ the Lord is Risen Today, Crown Him with Many Crowns
D - Do Lord
E - Every Time I Feel the Spirit
F - Fairest Lord Jesus
G - God Will Take Care of You, God is so Good, Great is Thy Faithfulness
H - His Eye is on the Sparrow, He Lives
I - In the Garden
J - Jesus Loves Me, Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam
K - Kumbaya
L - Love Lifted Me, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
M - My Faith Looks Up to Thee
N - Nothing But the Blood
O - Old Rugged Cross, O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing, On Jordan's Stormy Banks
P - Pass It On
Q - (I'd skip it.  Never could figure out a Q song)
R - Rock of Ages
S - Seek Ye First, Spirit of the Living God, Sweet Sweet Spirit
T - Trust and Obey, There's Something About That Name
U - Up From the Grave He Arose
V - Victory in Jesus
W - What a Friend We Have in Jesus, Wonderful Words of Life
X - (another one I'd skip)
Y - Your Love O Lord, Reaches to the Heavens
Z - Marching to Zion (I fudged this one a little)

There were probably others, but these are the ones that came to mind.  It's amazing what you can think of when you have all of that time.

The other day I was rocking my nephew, Sweet Cheeks, to sleep for his nap.  It brought back memories of my sweet babies and I once again pulled the A to Z song list from my memory and began to sing.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Sacred Meal ~ A Book Review

Nora Gallagher's "The Sacred Meal" is part of The Ancient Practices Series by Thomas Nelson Publishing.  I was excited to receive this book, as Communion is a meaningful part of my faith experience.  Going to the table each time and remembering the sacrifice Christ made for me, thinking of how the disciples must have felt when they learned that the last supper would be their last meal together with Christ before he was crucified. Gallagher shares her own personal communion experiences and feelings during communion, but if you are searching for a theological perspective, there isn't much of that.  I did enjoy the read and Gallagher makes some good points, but I was hoping for a little bit more.

Gallagher talks about communion as being more than a practice involving only you and God, it is also about the church community coming together as one, recognizing the sacrifice Christ made for all of us.  "Holy Communion was a web, a web of people being stitched together.  And tomorrow, we would need to be stiched together again."   She sees communion as a 3 part practice: waiting, receiving and afterward.  In waiting, we usually participate in  group or solo prayers of confession.  We are thinking of our sins and sinful nature and asking for God's forgiveness.  We may also think about forgiving those who have wronged us.  Gallagher explains that receiving is not something that many of us are trained to do.  We have difficulty receiving something for no reason, something we don't deserve or can't earn.  We have been taught to work hard for what we get.  "By making our greatest and most important goal the one of productivity, we miss out on the ways that God's gifts of grace come to us by doing nothing."  Afterward we sit and reflect on what we have experienced, how God has touched our lives or spoken to us through communion.  We may want to talk with others about what God is doing in our lives. 

In the United Methodist Church ,we have an Open Table.  We invite all who have professed a faith in Christ to join us at the communion table.  Gallagher reminds us that Jesus loved an open table.  "One of the many radical things Jesus did was to sit down and eat with people who were on the lowest rungs of society."  In ancient Jerusalem many religious leaders lived by purity codes.  Foods or habits were classified as pure or unpure.  People were classified sinners, untouchables, outcasts.  Jesus did not live this way.  He invited all of us to his table. 

I would recommend this book to those interested in reading about Gallagher's communion experiences and reflecting upon your own communion experience. 

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Blogiversary Winner and Other News

It has been quite the week!  After I posted about my wonderful blogiversary give away and all, I was looking forward to finding out who the lucky winner would be.  Wouldn't you know it that we had a terrible thunderstorm to come through on Wednesday afternoon which knocked out our power at 5 p.m.  Our power was not restored until 8 p.m. on THURSDAY!  We slept at my parents' house and thank goodness they had power but they did not have cable or internet because of the storm.  I'm used to living like this when a hurricane comes through, but not just a thunderstorm.  Honestly, I have lived through hurricanes that did a lot less damage than this storm. 
This is what we saw all over the neighborhood.  Apparently there were many larger trees that fell on power lines, thus we had no power for 27 hours.  Our telephone is through the cable company so we had no land line either.  Thank goodness for cell phones.

Anywho, now to the nitty gritty of who won the Blogiversary Give Away.  And the winner is......Susan!  Go visit Susan here and congratulate her.  I will be sending her a copy of:

This is one of my favorite studies and I highly recommend you get it and do it either with a small group or even on your own.  I like all of her books, but this was the first one I read and perhaps that's why it's my favorite.