Memorial Day

We take so much for granted in our freedom. We share our opinions whenever and wherever we want - often however we want. We don't stop to think twice about all of those things we can do without planning, asking permission or filling out forms. We send our children to school - public or private, our choice, we worship in the church of our choice, we are free to wear whatever clothing we choose, work where we want to work, live where we want to live...

All of that was paid for dearly. To continue to have those freedoms, day in and day out, a cost is still being paid.

For all of the men and women who have given their life in service to this country, I offer my humblest and deepest appreciation. I take the liberties you fought to give me for granted and I could never have the bravery you had to fight for them the way you did.

I cannot give you your life back but I can - and do - give you the highest respect I can offer. With all that I am, thank you. Thank you for me, for my family and my friends. You fought for an ideal that was your reality and I can never say thank you enough.

Take a moment today to honor and remember those who have given their lives in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. They did it for all of us.


Sunday Strength

For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will— to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

~Ephesians 1:4-8


The Greatest Husband in the World

It is four weeks until my husband's and my fifth anniversary. Over those next weeks, I think I'm going to write about him. Or... our story. Put down, for the world to see (if they care to), just why I love this man more than I could ever imagine loving anyone to whom I didn't give birth.

Aaron & I met and sparks started flying. Immediately. Let me be the first to tell you, though, they weren't the "romantic, chemistry, I swooned" type of sparks. They were the "Oh my word... God... you want me to marry HIM???????? and I promptly turned my back on him" kind of sparks.

I was not impressed by his first impression.

To hear him tell it, I specifically turned my back to him, excluded him as much as possible. Was flat out rude.

That part is true although I wasn't doing it to be rude but...I can see how he'd think that.

He had come, with his best friend Mike, to borrow my cooler for a guys' night out event Mike had planned for the single guys in our church singles' group. Mike and I had become pretty good friends in the few weeks he'd been attending and I had offered said cooler when Mike first came up with the guys' night idea. They were off to a park to grill and play some baseball. Perfect guys' bonding time...

You might have to forgive me. I rabbit trail a LOT. Charles Dickens has nothing on me when it comes or providing detail, let me tell you. However...in the interest of acknowledging this is a blog post, not an American classics novel in the making, I'll try to keep on track...

My apartment at the time had a very small entryway and a few of my friends were hanging out after dinner doing the girl talk thing so when the guys showed up for the cooler, there were suddenly a lot of people in a very small space and I honestly had NOWHERE to go. So...he got my back. However. That was, in part, because of that thought that kept looping through my head... "Oh, God...you can't REALLY want me to marry HIM?????" I knew He was who God intended for me the very second I saw him - and actually all I saw was the top of his head at first. He was looking down as he climbed the stairs.

See...just the weekend before he arrived on my doorstep, I had taken some quality time alone... just God & I... out at Westport. It's my favorite walking beach out here because there aren't a whole lot of people who go out there to lounge on the beach so I generally end up having huge stretches of the beach to myself. I can pray out loud and no one looks at me as if I'm mentally challenged. It's peaceful.

So...there I was, on the beach and at this point, it had been two years since a previous relationship had ended. I was starting to realize that I was single because I chose to be, not because God necessarily intended that for me. It's not as if I "knew" God wanted me married, it was that I wasn't relinquishing control over that part of my life to Him. I was in charge in the man department.

As God pointed this out to me while I was walking, I acquiesced. Ok - I didn't acquiesce so much as crumble before Him. I was so humbled, I was practically sobbing as I handed the reins over to Him and repented for holding onto that, keeping that part of my life from Him. I was telling Him I still didn't trust Him to have my best interests at heart and that was not ok. I realized it that Saturday.

Just about one week later, He seriously rewarded my obedience. I just wasn't all that thrilled with what that looked like. From Saturday to Friday it never occurred to me that something so wonderful would happen so quickly but it's amazing what releasing a dam can do and trust me - I had had that dam on my heart built so tight and so tall it seemed almost impossible that I would let it down.

He's probably going to give me the dirtiest look EVER when he sees this picture. See what happens when you move my pictures onto another hard drive, honey? I find stuff... However. This is him not too long before we met. I can tell you now I find him incredibly handsome. I would not have used that word the first time I saw him, though. Not at all.

However did I fall in love with this man?

Next week...


Sunday Strength

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

~Matthew 25:34-40


Who'd a Thunk it?

When we brought our dog Max home almost three years ago, we were actually a bit concerned we wouldn't be able to keep him. We'd adopted him from a shelter and he had been a stray for a few months. No one knew how long he'd been on his own for sure but the Whatcom County Animal Control had known about him and had been trying to catch him for at least a couple of months.

Putting an older dog (they figured he was 3 or 4 when we got him) back into a home environment was a little concerning. We weren't really sure how he would react and let me tell you - his first couple of days with our younger son were incredibly concerning. Max knew he wasn't going to be the Alpha in this house but he did try to make sure he wasn't the Omega. That was where the littlest human should be. He was dang certain of it. We made sure to educate him otherwise.

The best way we did that was to put Christopher in charge of the dog's food. The dog didn't eat until after we had and Max came to know very quickly that he had to rely on Christopher to eat.

Our dog is not dumb.

The other night I happened upon the following scene in the living room and all I could think about was that same dog snapping at Christopher his second night in our home, the night we had the conversation about what would have had to have happened if he'd actually clamped his jaws on our boy. That was not a pleasant picture to imagine.

Now...we can't imagine life without Max and I'm pretty sure he can't imagine life without us.


His Hands and Feet

Spa Night happened. Saturday, May 15th, I and 6 other women hopped into my van and another car and drove about 3 miles from our church. We landed at a cute little house and I can honestly say I have never been inside a house that held such charm. It is a program for victims of domestic violence so I am not going to say very much here except that...knowing what the woman who runs it does, how she loves those she helps, I can't think of a more perfect setting and location for the healing that is taking place there. It is simply beautiful.

As soon as we arrived, though, we hit the ground running. Everyone grabbed stuff out of the van and got to work.

The woman who did facials set this up in the kitchen. Isn't it beautiful? Imagine...being pampered by soft, gentle hands and the love of Jesus while looking out the window or focusing in on those candles. We have no idea what the scent of those candles is but let me tell you..they smelled amazing!

We were able to pamper children, too. Not just Moms. There were 5 kids there, two of them boys and let me tell you - those boys got into it as much as the girls did! They had pedicures and manicures, facials and parrafin wax. Oh... and not one person turned down a massage. Imagine...

We all brought food to share. Mini-cupcakes here but we also had chocolate covered strawberries (hand dipped by one of the women on my team), apple cinnamon pull-apart (made by one of the women who showed up for services... how amazing is that? We show up to bless them and they bless us right back... I LOVE Spa Night!)

Above all, everyone had a wonderful time. New friends were made. Connections - long lasting - were made, too. One of the women on my team will be heading back out there once a month or so to help with yard work, cleaning, etc. How awesome is that? Spa Night reminds me every year of just how we are the hands and feet of Jesus on earth.

The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"

Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

"No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet."
Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."

"Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"

Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean..."

~John 13:2-10


Sunday Strength

My son, pay attention to what I say;
listen closely to my words.

Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;

for they are life to those who find them
and health to a man's whole body.

Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.

Put away perversity from your mouth;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.

Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.

Make level paths for your feet
and take only ways that are firm.

Do not swerve to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

~Proverbs 4:20-27


Spa Night

Every year, the Ministry with which I serve, Proverbs 31:20, heads out into local women's shelters and pampers the women. An army of volunteers splits out over 5-6 different shelters and we do manicures, pedicures, facials, paraffin wax, hair styles and massages (the last two are if we have licenses practitioners volunteer).

Last year I had the honor of leading a team of 10 women into Seattle. This year I get to lead a team of 7 wonderful women at a DV program much closer to home. I'm not going to be able to take any pictures this year - respecting the privacy of the women we'll be serving and their most vulnerable position as victims escaping domestic violence.

If it's anything like every other year, though, it'll be an amazing couple of hours of "girl time" where we'll get to love on these women, being the hands and feet of Jesus in a very real and tangible way.

What I love is their absolute joy at the services we bring. For most of these women, the closest they've ever been to a facial may have been the night they slept in the doorway outside a salon. It is their joy, though, that is infectious and keeps me doing it year after year after year. I have yet to meet someone who isn't simply amazed that we would be willing to touch her feet or massage her temples. For most of these women they have spent months if not years battling against those demons who have been telling them they are not worthy, that dirt has more value than they do.

It is an honor to show them there is One who values them beyond all imagination. That because of Him, we love them - warts, bad feet, missing teeth and all. We see them as Jesus would see them and that's something they haven't had a whole lot of in their lives.

Jesus ~ in calling us to go out into all the world ~ probably didn't want us to forget about those in our own backyard. It's easy, sometimes, to get wrapped up in missions to foreign lands and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It is, however, wonderful every once in a while to stop looking so far away and bring into focus those who are living right here. There is so much that is misunderstood about those who end up homeless or in DV situations. It is almost always assumed that they did something stupid and therefore deserve their fate.

That misconception was blown away completely for me when I was first getting involved in volunteering at the local women's shelter. The gentleman giving us the tour talked about how hard it can be in this "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" society. He learned of a woman who ended up in this shelter who has been battling a lifelong addiction to drugs and when I say lifelong, I mean lifelong. She spoke of her mother giving her and her brother drugs when she was 8 years old. Kept the kids quiet so mom could go off and party...

Tell me. How does a person pull themselves up by the bootstraps when they've been stolen off their boots? Or worse - their boots have been stolen.

I have yet to meet a woman living in the shelter who wanted to end up there. They are grateful for it, for the chance to make their life right and whole. In going through training in another program, another quote that stuck with me came out of the mouth of a teenage girl who hadn't been able to bathe for several days. This program offered her the chance to shower and when she got done and was toweling off her hair she let out a huge sigh of relief and simply said "Now I can think."

Without the basics - without being able to shower, eat, sleep safely - all energy is spent on trying to make those things happen. Getting past that is next to impossible. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of reasons someone can end up homeless and granted, for some it is a choice - a way of life. But not for most. For most it is a nightmare in which they find themselves trapped.

Every day I thank God for the family He gave me. Without them my son and I would have ended up homeless in 1994. I definitely made some foolish choices but never once, as I made each choice, did I ever think those choices would put me on the street. It wasn't a goal I had, it was an almost-outcome. I was fortunate, though. Rescued by people who cared - if not for me then at least for my son.

So...tomorrow night, a small army of women will be out and about near Bothell, Washington, loving and serving women who are in situations they would much rather not be in at all. If we come to mind, would you pray for us? Please? Pray that we step out of the way and these ladies see no one but Jesus.

No one but Jesus.


Mother's Day

I know - I'm a few days late posting about Mother's Day but honestly, it's been an odd year. So here I am hoping all the Mothers out there had a wonderful day. In reading through my favorite blogs the last few days it sure appears they did.

Mother's Day at my house went as I hoped it would (at least the bulk of it did). My oldest son and his girlfriend came over and worked, worked, worked. Youngest son also worked, worked, worked. The garden weeds were cleared, soil tilled and plants planted. We now have strawberries, blueberries, peas, tomatoes, zuchinni, broccoli and spinach planted and growing. Hopefully it will mean a summer bounty of fresh vegetables and fruit to enjoy.

With Aaron being one of the millions of unemployed right now, I didn't want "stuff." It was simply wonderful to spend the day with my entire family, working together in the yard and getting things done.

As always, my camera didn't make its way out until things were done. So... no pictures of people working their tails off but...I do have pictures of the garden and the one gift I was suprised with - Lindor truffles. mmmmmmm... a planted garden, knock off Red Robin chicken finger salad and truffles. How much better could the day get than that?

I hope you all had as beautiful a day as I did! Happy Mother's Day.


Sunday Strength

He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

~1 Corinthians 1:8-9



A week ago Saturday, one of my oldest friends hosted a bbq celebrating birthdays for 3 people I hold incredibly dear and myself. We, the four of us, are always "The Ladies" in my mind. It is a name we were given almost ten years ago on one of our numerous Girls' Weekends. Four friends, loving each other deeply and completely, even when life takes us away from one another for long, long periods of time. Somehow, we come back together as if no time at all has occurred. They are wonderful women, women I love with feeling beyond words. May there be many more years to celebrate birthdays together (all close - 4/22, 28, 30 & 5/15).

Happy Birthday To Us - Barb, Laurie, Liz and Bonnie. The Ladies.


Sunday Strength

I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge — because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

~1 Corinthians 1:4-9