May 22, 2011

Shopping... with a purpose!

Once more, I'm going to reroute you to my other blog... please stop by and meet my sister-in-law Michele, then consider participating in the benefit I'm hosting to help her with expenses related to her chronic medical condition and treatment. Thanks.

May 20, 2011

A giveaway!

But not here! Hop over to my other blog, Welcome to Willow House, to learn more. While you're there, check out the latest Willow House news... including the announcement of a jewelry division!

May 18, 2011

On reading...

A few of you ladies have been following my list of books I've read this year and have asked some questions. Those questions prompted me to think about what I've learned through what I've read this year, and it just seemed timely to write a post now that we're almost halfway through the year.

When I started Booklist 2011, I had several goals in mind. First, I wanted a way to record what I was reading in order to evaluate the balance in my reading. Second, I wanted to keep track of books I've read that I might want to revisit or recommend. Third, I thought some of you avid readers might enjoy seeing the list as you think through your own reading.

The list has been helpful in evaluating my first goal -- and in broadening my reading. So far this year, I've learned about Hudson Taylor, biblical womanhood, the futility of modern philosophical ethics, the Greatest Generation, Islamic terrorism in Darfur, and how to distress documents. I've visited Prince Edward Island, England, Ohio, Palestine, Israel, New England, and numerous high profile sporting events. I've even read the best first or last sentences of many classic pieces of literature. All without leaving my home.

At this point, I don't have a great master plan. We have many, many books here in our home -- fiction, non-fiction, classics, Christian -- and I sometimes choose something of interest from these. We also have a good library, and I always browse the new non-fiction book area first to see if anything strikes my fancy. This has done a lot to broaden my horizons. The library also has an interesting themed book display each month that I look at. I'm currently involved in two different business efforts, and sometimes this drives my search. I always take a look at my kids' books to see if anything interests me there -- or needs to be previewed.

I've loved having the list to keep track of the books, as well. I'm the worst at remembering titles and authors -- I sometimes forget I've even read a book (especially Agatha Christie mysteries, which tend to be pubished under multiple titles). One of the books I recently completed included letters written during the Great Depression. I'll want my daughter to read at least part of this book when she studies that time period in a couple of years, so I'm glad I'll have my list to refer to.

Several of you have let me know that you've enjoyed following my list, so my third goal was accomplished -- with the bonus that you've also shared what you're reading with me! I'd love to have more discussion like that, so keep it coming!

And happy reading!

May 5, 2011

Strutting my Stuff

I've been enjoying a new (to me) blog lately,Somewhat Simple. Talk about a mecca for ideas -- she's constantly sharing ideas and inviting others to share ideas -- and encouraging copycats (and we both know I'm a big copycat). Makes me almost wish I was back in my old Arizona stomping grounds to meet this girl and attend one of her girls' nights out!

When I saw her linky party this week, I couldn't resist relishing my little success with my mother-in-law's birthday gift once again and posting it. I'll bet you either having something to share over there, too, or you'd love to browse through the ideas others are posting, so join the party!

Somewhat Simple

May 3, 2011

A Smile to Remember

The last time I saw her, she was smiling. She and Daddy had driven out to Georgia from Arizona for my oldest child's high school graduation. This was an especially sweet time for me, as he was the first of our three children to survive my attempts at homeschooling.

We had a great time, that visit, just hanging out together. AnnaKate and I treated her (and she treated us) to a spa pedicure. I watched and laughed as she and Daddy played Uno with the kids, again and again. She probably brought a craft to do with AnnaKate; she usually did.

And there were lots of hugs, lots of laughs, lots of words of encouragement. As always.

As they left, Daddy let me know that he wasn't sure if she could make the drive again; the long trip was awfully hard on her.

But that summer, she seemed to thrive -- even in the Chandler heat. We had worked out a schedule for me to call and check on her whenever Daddy was out of town. I called her one Thursday morning, her day off, but she didn’t answer. I calmly left her a message to check in with me, thinking she might be in the shower. An hour went by, no call. Another hour, I called and left another message… more urgent this time, wondering to myself who would be best to call locally to check on her.

Within a few minutes, she called back. “Sorry, I forgot you’d be calling,” she apologized. “I got up and went shopping this morning at Walmart.”

“Walmart?” I asked disbelievingly, knowing she always dreaded the vastness of Walmart and usually just sent Daddy instead.

“Yes, I just went in and got one of those electric scooters and zipped all around the store!” she proudly reported with her sassy Texas accent. I would have liked to have seen that, and I’ll bet she giggled at least once while she was zipping.

By fall, she and Daddy were planning their 50th anniversary trip for December, a leisurely drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. I was so excited and prepared a special trip box for them with a leather bound travel journal, traveling music, and other goodies. But then, shortly before their planned departure date, she developed shingles. I didn’t realize how painful shingles were, but even beyond the pain, I know they caused her frustration. Frustration at not being able to go to work. Frustration at not being able to take their trip. Frustration at having to wrap her arms, and at having this ugliness on her limbs.

She was mostly recovered from the shingles, but still not feeling well, when the holidays rolled around. She rallied her spirits, if not her body, enough to share Christmas Eve with my brother, my younger sister, and their families.

And then she was gone. Gone home to her Lord on His birthday, just a few weeks shy of her own 70th birthday. When Daddy called to tell me, it was just surreal. How could this woman, so full of life on even her worst days, no longer live? This woman, this mother of mine, had overcome so many things in her lifetime. Yet she would have been the first to say, “Not I, but Christ who lives within me.”

And at the end, at least the end from an earthly perspective, it was again Christ who overcame, this time overcoming death for her. And I am confident that this was the day that she really began to live, really live, more than she ever lived here on earth.