A Very Heartfelt Thank You

My friend, Sue, writes a sweet blog, Through the Prairie Garden Gate, where she shares insights about reading, writing, and life on the Illinois prairie.   She presented me with this award the other day:


I am so completely touched and honored! 🙂

I’m supposed to share seven things about myself.

Here goes:

1. Hub & I are walking in our 30th year of marriage.  I have no idea how this is even possible since I definitely do NOT feel old enough to have been married for 30 years.

2. We are not parents to human children but have, over the course of our marriage, been the parents to five pups, hence the name of this blog. 😉

3. I am very excited to be co-hosting an IF:Local Gathering next weekend with my friend and Life group sister, Brenda.  It’s going to be an amazing weekend and I am so looking forward to it!

4. My heart’s desire is to seek and remain in God’s will.  My heart is to serve the neighbors where I live.

5. Did I mention I have some very awesome on-fire-for-Jesus friends?  We are a goofy bunch, and not all my friends know each other.  I dare to even imagine what would happen if we all happened to be under the same roof at the same time.  Mercy!

6. I am an educator.  This is my 16th year in public education.  Even though I’m contemplating retiring from public education when I hit the 20 year mark because I’ll still be young enough to pursue another as-yet-to-be-determined passion, I know I’ll always be a teacher. And a learner.

7. If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you probably know more about me than I can try to share in a brief list of “About Me.”  A friend texted me awhile back and said that I was probably the “most genuine person they know.” Humbling? Definitely!  I appreciated the comment then and still do now because I really do strive to keep things real.

I’m also supposed to nominate 15 bloggers.  Sadly, I don’t know any other bloggers besides Sue.  So Sue, thank you so very much for considering me to be a Very Inspiring Blogger.  I appreciate your kind thoughts and so enjoy our friendship! 🙂


Lovin’ Summer

“So, what did you do on your summer vacation?”  There was a time I didn’t like thIMG_0353is question.  This year, I’m eager to answer!  What did I do?  Well …

My Word for 2014 is Focus; my summer was spent developing my focus.  My focus commitment is 4-fold:

  • God
  • my family
  • what’s important
  • my health



Excerpts from Unglued, Believing God, The Carpenter, AHA, Gods at War, Love Does, & Not a Fan

My heart’s desire is to be Jesus’ hands & feet to those around me.  I’ve been devouring a lot of books this year which focus on being a strong follower (as opposed to a fan) of Jesus.

I’m so thankful for this time in the mornings and evenings to read and marinate in the Word … time without constraints to read and study passages of Scripture and glean truth.  Time to read … just read.

I’m not sure if it’s my desire or if it’s Holy Spirit inspired, but I believe I should be sharing this knowledge instead of hoarding it.

Time to move into the application phase!

How will I do this?  Lead a Bible study? Minister to my neighbors? Head out on a mission trip over Spring Break next year or next summer? All of these, none of these … I have no idea.  What I do know is I am committed to focusing on the important.

Digging into the Word is important.  So is my family.

Hub and I continue to believe we are called to be parents and are praying about plans to expand our family.  Will we be more than a family of two humans and three dogs next summer?  Again, no idea.  We’ve been waiting for almost 30 years to be parents, so our answer is: we both hope so!  In the meantime …

IMG_1261Hub and I were able to coordinate our schedules and head out of town for a couple trips this summer.  These were places we were able to head to and return from on a tank of gas.  We had a great time together, even when things didn’t go exactly as planned.  The important fact was we were spending time together which is something we’re not really able to do during our “normal” life.

I got to spend time with my family and even managed to squeak out a win over my intelligent & talented niece when we played this:


To her credit, she did win one game



I couldn’t resist laughing when she commented, “I can’t believe I’m actually playing this against a TEACHER!”



Hub & I have lived in this house for over a decade and there are things we’ve dreamed of doing in the home-improvement department for quite a while now.  I decided to surprise him and begin working on one of those projects on the 4th of July.


“In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:4-6 (NIV)

It’s not done but “in progress.”  I still have a few things I’d like to do before I can call the project complete.  And I like it that way for now because it’s a tangible illustration of how I am in His hands.  I was overgrown with lots of mess in my life before God began working on me.  He’s had to cut a lot of dead wood and overgrowth out of me and I can say with confidence He won’t be done pruning and shaping me until I cross that finish line at the end of my life.  My joy is anticipating the moment I’ll hear Him proclaim, “Well done!”




Sunflowers in Gruene

Summer vacations for educators aren’t ever complete without the requisite doctor appointments we schedule so we don’t miss time from our students and staff.  I found a field of these outside my doctor’s office on a recent visit.  It was a nice opportunity to take the time and snap some pictures before heading home.

What did I do on my summer vacation?  A little bit of this, a little bit of that.

And a whole lot of focusing on what is important: God, family, faith

The people in my neighborhood

It’s been nice being on Christmas break because it has afforded me time to really focus things I know are important: faith, family, fitness.

I’ve been dwelling a lot on Barry Cramm’s message this week.  (Barry was guest speaker at last Sunday’s worship.)  What I got out of his message was this: I don’t need to bring people to church, I need to bring the church to where I live and work; I should live my life like I’m on mission.

And this got me to thinking about the people in my neighborhood.

– about my next-door neighbor who we watched pack up and move his household after he sold it recently.  We never went over to see if we could help him in any way.  (When we found out this past week the actual reason was his wife had died and the house had gone into foreclosure, we were ashamed.)

– about the man with “Antichrist” tattooed across his back who walks his dogs past my house two or three times each day.  His house is along one of the routes I use when I walk the Barky Boys.  Each time I see him, either walking past my house or when I walk past his, I pray for him.  And I think about that tattoo: Maybe he didn’t realize someone tattooed that across his back.  Maybe it all happened during a night of drinking. Or drugs.  Maybe … (he growls whenever we walk past each other on the street and I’ve said hello to him; he kind of scares me, so my plan is to continue loving him from a distance)

– about the family just a few doors down that moved in 3 or 4 years ago and really seem like good folks

I confess: Hub & I have lived in our home for over 10 years and we don’t know all our neighbors.  With the exception of our neighbors on one side and the family next to them, we really know no one.  I’ve been praying about how to change this.  How do I live my life missionally in my neighborhood when I don’t even know anyone I’ve lived with for over a decade?  Looking past this, what did Jesus do?  What would Jesus do?  He addressed the physical and spiritual needs of the people.  How can I … we … bring the church to our neighborhood; how can I … we … address physical and spiritual needs?  How can we … Hub and I … be the church to our neighbors?

  • say hello to our neighbors when we see them outside
  • plan, organize, and HAVE that neighborhood barbecue my next-door neighbor & I have been talking for years about doing
  • invite neighbors over for coffee & conversation
  • invite the women of the neighborhood to join me in Bible study

My word for this year is “Focus.”  Realizing there will always be urgent issues that require my attention, my goal is to live my life intentionally focusing on the important things that will give glory to God.

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

Tardy to the Party!

I hope I’m not the last to know about this … and if I’m not, let me share with you something amazing!

I’m talking about water. Infused with fruit.  Oh, yum!

Giving credit where credit is due, I happened upon some photos of lemon in a pitcher of water while cruising Pinterest last week.  I like a slice of lemon in my water, so I thought, “Why not slice a few whole lemons and throw them in a pitcher of water?”  That started it!

I even have Hub hooked!

So, headed to the local grocer yesterday morning to pick up more lemons but discovered they were all green.  Impatient as I am, I decided to pick up limes instead.  Heading further down the produce aisle, I saw cucumbers and remembered a photo the Writer had posted a few months ago of a water glass filled with cucumbers.  So I thought, “Why not?”

I did a little internet exploring about limes and discovered that people actually combine limes and cucumbers in their water, sometimes even adding mint.  I don’t have any fresh mint but opted to slice up some limes (3) and a cucumber and added them to my gallon pitcher of water to chill for at least 30 minutes.  In case you’re interested, everything I read said to use filtered water.

So, here’s what’s chillin’ in my fridge …


*** 30 minutes later ***

I poured myself a glass and gave Hub a taste and … WOW!

The taste?  Wonderfully fresh.

So awesome!

Reflection on Christmas Past

I was determined not to let the commercialism of the season “get” to me this year.  Instead, I looked for the meaning of Christmas in the world around me.  Boy, did I find it!  More than “it,” I found Him … Jesus … the Christ … in so many little and big ways!

* in the small, but not insignificant gift of a candy bar from our office custodian

* in the incredibly convicting messages during worship each Sunday to focus on the Lord of this (and every) season

* in the grace I saw people bestow on others

* in the realization that even in the midst of horrid tragedy and displays of evil … HE is here, loving us, pursuing us, never giving up on us

Hub & I didn’t pull the tree or decorations out this year.  Not because we were in mourning, more because the Barky Boys weren’t supervised around the decorations last year and almost toppled the tree.  We had every intent of decorating and really make an outward show of celebrating the season but … the nasty flu knocked me into bed for a few days and Christmas day was upon us before we even realized it.

Rather than an outward show to the world, we focused on what we felt was truly important: spending time with family.  That, much more than the energy put into decorating for the holiday, was meaningful for us.

Marrying right after Christmas means that Hub & I celebrate our anniversary during this time of the year.  While it may sound odd, the highlight of our celebration was visiting briefly with the priest who performed our marriage ceremony.  The only reason it was odd was because we were visiting with him shortly before he was scheduled to officiate over the funeral Mass of my friend’s husband.  When we laughed and shared that we were “still married after 27 years,” he became serious and declared, “Well, I should hope so.”  Talk about convicting!

We have, as a result of this conviction, resolved to live a honeymoon life.  How?  We are busy people working on schedules that don’t allow us much time to spend together.  We have determined to make the most of the time we can share by doing a few simple things:

Hub & me at the finish line of the Cobweb Chaser 2013

Hub & me at the finish line of the Cobweb Chaser 2013

* make time for each other

* run errands together

* talk more

* text each other, even if we’re in the same room 😀

* work out together

* make goals together

Mum & Da commented as I was leaving their house last night that this is the most they’ve seen me in the last several months.  Just as Hub & I have committed to live the honeymoon life, I am committing to spend more time with my family.

What was my greatest take-away this Christmas?  Focus more on God, spend time with family.

It’s not rocket science but it is, sadly, very easy to neglect those we love.  Busyness does that.

Family ties that bind

Spent a very nice Easter evening with Hub & my parents. We invited them over. Something we haven’t done in quite a long time. Too long, actually.

I spent the long weekend cleaning and practicing how to do things like using the iced tea maker they gave us several years ago. The test batch turned out better than I expected so when it came time to make another batch this afternoon, I followed Hub’s advice and did exactly what I did the other night.

Dinner conversation turned to family issues. Namely what’s going on in Hawaii since my uncle died in January and Hub’s family since his father’s death in November.

One thing I absolutely don’t want to happen is the infighting we witnessed with Hub’s siblings and what seems to be going on with my cousins.

I don’t want that to happen with my brothers & me. I’m not sure how I can prevent it, but I definitely do want to work to prevent any potential nastiness. Lots of prayer. No doubt about it.

Middle brother is hoping to transfer back to Texas. It’d be nice if he gets the transfer and nice to have more family closer to home.

Youngest brother is due back from deployment next month. It’ll be nice to have him back in the States. Deployments are tough for the children of the service members but aren’t any fun for the rest of the service member’s immediate family, either

Oldest brother is about to retire from the military. Shocking that we’re now of the age where retirement is a consideration. It’s true, though. As for me, I’ll most likely die in the classroom. Kidding!

Family. I love ’em.

New Day

Sunrise over Schertz

Hub’s asleep.

Poochies are snoozing.

Cool February morning.

Sun’s rising.

The promise of a new day lays before me.

Almost time to get ready for Sunday School & Worship.