31 December 2007

Pressing on

I was reading a friend's warning on her blog that today's post would be reflective. It's the final day of another year. Such passages require reflection. Consider that fair warning for my (non-comprehensive) review of two thousand seven. Yikes--Can it really be? Were we not just watching Buck Rogers? (Does anyone even remember Buck Rogers?)

Despite appearing otherwise, unemployment provides benefits.
I began 2007 unemployed, unsettled, and unsure. Such words typically inspire action or reaction. In the craziness of unemployment, God provided rest. Individual rest with the Lord and rest with dear friends provided a portrait of life early on in 2007. Life doesn't often afford or honor rest as production and to do lists mark much of our lives. Something in the unknown, even in the mysterious waiting, and through intentional listening compels us to open our hearts to something new. Perhaps as we dig through our fears and voice our insecurity only then do we see and fall into the saving grip of God's greater plan. It does feel a bit like stepping off a cliff without knowledge of rope, or ledge, or parachute. Strange exhilaration that. A wise man named Isaiah once declared "don't dwell on the former things. Look and see that the Lord is doing a new thing." I hope that 2008 also provides moments of resting with and in the Lord in hopes of participating in His new thing.

Despite the test of death, God prevails in life.
Both with my nephew, days before his wedding, and with my Father's health this fall, our family watched, waited and interceded for God to bring health and wholeness. When my nephew's truck rolled and crashed, and he walked away with minor injuries, we marveled at God's grace and mercy. When my Dad's exchange with cancer found God (and my Dad) victorious, we remain humbled by God's saving grace. This may not always be God's way. And it's not always God's best, perhaps, but we're grateful for these rescues and for the abundant life on offer as a result.

Despite potential good, a job does not define me.
If I've heard God correctly in this year, He continues to remind me that my identity rests NOT in my occupation, job title, or other accomplishments. At the end of the day, these things shape me, but my identity remains held in God. He defined me long ago as His child, His masterpiece, and even His delight. And He gave me a job description, regardless of my employment. "Love me," he says, and "love others!" I have a long way to go before this is perfectly accomplished. But I want to keep living in to it. I hope God grows in me a greater capacity to love for 2008. And I've no doubt that God will keep reminding me who I am.

Right very now
Friends kid (mock?) me about the use of this phrase. It works, however. Perhaps a financial analyst, or other forecasters might argue for more future vision, but one of the things I'm grateful for in the past year is the availability for the present. As my friend Jordan likes to say, "fear of tomorrow robs me of today," and "too much looking back may mean I miss today's sunrise." God extends precious experiences in the right very now. I hope 2008 continues to provide plenty of moments to lean into and the adventure of experiencing life to the full.
May the words of my mouth, the meditations of my heart, and the interactions of my days be pleasing in your sight oh God, my Rock and Redeemer.

28 December 2007

appreciating the artist

I'm not sure when my eyes were opened to the great world of birds. It helps to hang out regularly with birders. Much of my life, however, I didn't really notice or really care. But that is changing. I'm getting to know and appreciate certain calls and some of the birding lingo.

Yesterday, I was able to show my birder friend, John, a new place here in Seattle. Apparently this was a place my Mom took me and my sisters when we were little. I confess, as John and I approached the site, I wondered if we'd see anything at all. I don't know what I was expecting exactly, but what we "discovered" was a person's side yard, made in to a pond. (But it's truly much more than that as this article records.) At first glance, it looked like just a few ducks were hanging out there...but then, I'm telling you people, more and more different varieties became clear.
Here is the list:

-Northern pintail
-American wigeon
-Northern shoveler (big ol bill on this one!)
-Cinnamon teal (love this name!)
-Green-winged teal
-wood duck (needs a different name for how glorious it is!)
-hooded merganser
-ruddy duck
-and what we called a Eurasian Wood duck

(oh, and not spotted yesterday,
but last weekend I spied a burrows goldeneye. Very fabulous as well!)

This particular duck, pictured above, was spectacular. Seriously. I have never seen a more glorious duck. It's a duck people. But the colors so take my breath away that I hardly know how to describe it. Different sites call it different things. This picture was titled the mandarin wood duck. Other places called it a European or Eurasian wood duck. I'll call it Fabulous!

It drives me to appreciate the creator and artist and declare again, "God, you do such a great job!!!"

26 December 2007

the original

Retro and things of the past may be great...but one thing I don't really
want to return to: dialup. yikes.
remember the day when dialup was the internet connection? (my parents have dialup if you hadn't already guessed.)
I've been enjoying this lil coffee shop by my parents house here in Seattle. Loads of people to watch. And high speed. Did I mention I so appreciate high speed??

Here's a scenic tourist spot on the "see it in Seattle" guide,
the original starbucks coffee shop.
And so, like a happy tourist, I took photos, too.
Can you tell the difference between this original logo
and the current one used on all starbucks products?
And lastly, i have some of the cutest nephews in the world.
Caleb the "gangsta" on the left
and Nate, "risky business" look on the right!!

It was a happy, snowy Christmas here in Seattle! Fun.

22 December 2007

Operation "Seattle Surprise!"

As a young girl I loved mysteries. My sister Carmen and I and a neighbor friend often "played" Nancy Drew. We read all the books, and the Hardy boys book, too.
I loved Charlie's Angels.
I've confessed my Alias "obsession" here many times.

Perhaps that's why I love surprising my parents. As some of you well know, I "landed" here in Seattle yesterday to surprise my parents. It's been ten years since I spent the Christmas holiday season with my parents in Seattle. So in some ways, it may not have seemed too challenging to surprise them. The truth is, over the years we all have surprised my parents many times. (You'd think they would catch on by now...or stop trusting us. Or something!)

But it DID involve some deception, and because of a phone call from my Mom yesterday, after I had arrived here in Seattle, but had not made it to their house for the official reveal, it included out right lying!!
Here's my Mom explaining her "understanding" of some of my lies...(really, she's nice enuf to think that I tell her the truth most of the time.)

But it was worth it! (Not trying to justify lying, but you know what I mean!)
The mission was a great success!!!

I believe the first words from my Dad were "Ooooh, no!" I think that's something akin to, "welcome home!
We're so glad to see you."
or something like that! He says it was his way of reflecting that he couldn't believe that I'd surprised them again. :-)

Oh the life of a wanna-be spy...

19 December 2007

owl post

From the land of JK Rowling and Harry Potter a wee parcel arrived recently.
I knew it was coming.
Our British friends gave us the alert.

But that was weeks ago, already, when they acquired our addresses. So I plum forgot (strange phrase, that). Suddenly then, there it was.

Only, since three of us received parcels, we needed a group opening ceremony to mark the moment.
So we did.
Beth wrote about it here so I won't offer too much more. Except a few pix.

Belts, "biscuits," and a bag I left in the UK in February!! colored these great packages (seriously, where did u find my bag?). We only wish our friends could have accompanied the parcels!
Thanks pals! We think u're the best (even if you didn't send chocolate, we'd think that)!

taking Chicago by storm

Or would that more accurately be, being smacked by a storm in Chicago?
Thanks to the winter storm blast (don't you love how network news name things?)
which slammed Chicago all day Saturday,
what was scheduled as a day trip became the weekend.

During our leisurely drive to Cathy's favorite bakery, for instance, where we enjoyed rich cake for breakfast, to finding our host, Morgan, and heading on the eL downtown, the snow steadily blanketed the already frosted Chicago streets. We knew more snow was predicted and that the around-the-lake-return promised to be icy.
However, it wasn't until we reached Moody's church, receiving calls from family back in Michigan with updated weather reports, that we were forced to make a decision whether to stay or go. But the city is so glorious. and the company so delightful, we were lax to leave it. Since it was the weekend it didn't really matter. (Well, save for worshipping at "my" church, and planning to complete homework, and other such Sunday agenda items.)

So we took it all in...from the Hancock to the Daly (sp?) center, we saw and walked it all. I confess, i was really, really cold toward the end of the night and sheepishly sought shelter in a Walgreens while the rest enjoyed the elements. But it was all good. And we gratefully didn't have a white-knuckled drive home.

Instead, we wakened to sunny skies, glistening snow, and lots of Chicago activity. Part of our activity included meeting a new friend, Lizzy. Lizzy's expertise of skincare and other salon-related things prompted many intriguing conversations. If we lived closer, Lizzy, we'd definitely come to your salon again!

13 December 2007


In my "typical" myers-briggs labeled "P" personality, my tree did not get trimmed all at once.
I started the Tuesday after Thanksgiving by setting it up,
and plugging in the lights.
That's when the discovery of 1/2 strands of lights working was noted.
I replaced a bulb, only to realize it made that strand blink.
Mind you, this was one string of 100 lights within about 450 lights total.
Melissa, my house mate affirmed, we really weren't appreciating the partial blink action.
So the tree sat.
Partially exposed.
Somewhat neglected.
Until last week.
I finally changed out the lights (which, oddly, after plugging into a different outlet, worked perfectly and are now happily back on the tree in their original position).
And then completed the essential detail trimming.
Happy Christmas time!
We wait in expectation, Jesus, Savior of the world!

10 December 2007

What not to do with a blankie

Here's a tip:
blankies and lightbulbs are not meant to come together.
Beth told the story here so I'll let you read the detail she provided. Just know it was traumatic. Poor buddy!

In other news the same night, while we were running around chasing Sep, Baz, and Zeke, prior to complete exhaustion (how do K & K do it? Oh yeah. They're parents, the kids don't care quite as much if they are chased by their Mom and Dad.), when I caught Sep, she studied me a bit and asked, "Diana, are you a kid?"

Well, yes, Seppy, I sometimes am!!

mandatory fun

I'm borrowing this title from friends of mine who use the phrase to reference playing hand and foot, the card game (not to be confused with hoof and mouth disease) as a family (thank you! Timmers). For my use, however, it refers to my work Christmas party this past Friday.

Because we have to work together, even though most of us work from a great distance (as we're in SAU "centers" throughout Michigan), it's delightful when the work and interactions can also be fun. Of course it's sometimes stressful, too, but the people really make the difference. (ugh. I just quoted channel 13. sorry.)
At said party we played the tried and true gift exchange game. Except, everyone wanted to explain the best way to play. Until LeAnne, my coworker finally declared,
"you can offer any rules you want.
But we're playing it my way!"
And so we did.
We could open a gift, and then steal, or actually, really trade.
And a gift could be "stolen/traded" without limit.
The gift of highest desire?
Homemade bread with dipping sauces.
I loved that it wasn't the target gift card.
Or the lovely smelling lotions.
Or the candles.
Or anything besides homemade bread! Sweet.

Here's a few more photos
with my friends Chrissandra and Kati...
with and without antlers,
silly as we are,
just because!

06 December 2007

for consideration

I'm reading this inspiring book as part of my current class. It's so inspiring, honestly, that sometimes I want to fling it in a bin, or in some dark place, because the challenge to live it is so fiercely contrary to what the world communicates
and even what my heart desires.
Instead, I pick it back up, and today I'm inviting you into some of the journey, should you care to think on such things with me!

"You must believe me when I tell you...
what blessings are to be found in learning
to be detached from all your material possessions...
It is so good to practice spiritual poverty.
I have learned to see, with the eyes of my heart,
that no possession can give the eternal joy my soul hungers for.

The practice of spiritual poverty
leads you into a wonderful kingdom.
Here, paradoxically, you find yourself free
to enjoy all the good things of the world.

For the man or woman who has no cares about worldly goods is,
in spirit, lord over them,
for possessions do not rule and direct their lives.

If you embrace this virtue--
desiring to be poor in heart
because you want to learn to love
and rely on God and Him alone--
then you are free indeed.
For your soul will not be bound to any person,
and you will not live to please anyone, except God."

-Theresa of Avila, in The Way of Perfection

05 December 2007

in the category of miraculous

This isn't as great as my Dad's cancer report. But it's really cool. As you may know, I'm the youngest of four girls. My parents like to say, "we specialized." (As in, they specialized in girls, which never fails to draw a smile or a grimace around the room.)

I don't remember asking for this as a Christmas gift. It's not really a missing part of my life. But the idea of a younger sibling is rather intriguing. Oh, to say someone else was spoiled rotten and hear their creative defenses...or to imagine hand me downs lasting for one more "season" on someone else. (Course, it'd have to be another girl.)

And lest you think I'm suggesting my parents in their 70's are expecting another child, that would be miraculous. But no. (Aren't we all exhaling sighs of relief!!)

Rather, today I became a big sister to a little girl at a school my church works with. Actually, I was matched to her and met her last week. And she's already captured my heart. She's eager to learn and creative and imaginative and delightful. But she hasn't quite mastered reading...so we have a fair amount to work on. But still, I have a little sister. And I'm so excited for the opportunity. And hopeful that I can make a difference.

Hmmm...wonder if my sisters EVER were that excited about me? As if it really matters... :-)

above photo: me and one of my older sisters :-) 0807

02 December 2007

more thanksgiving

i appreciate that at Thanksgiving time we often ask and answer the question, "what are you most thankful for?" It's good to reflect on and give thanks. Personally, when I'm lowest or even points when I am anxious, or at all self-absorbed, it helps me to assess and offer thanks and praise to God.

After church today i listened to a voicemail from a friend. She invited me to drop by her house after church and pick up a little gift. It was a gift of firewood. She knows about my love of fires, and my fireplace. and she knows I don't have a steady supply of firewood. Another friend has supplied me with a fantastic supply of kindling. So, those pieces make the ingredients for a great fire. And on a slushy, rainy, grey day like today, a fire is definitely calling my name.

I couldn't do it however, without the gifts of these friends. So thanks Stephanie, Mary, and Jack, for supplying the fuel to create warm and cozy fires!!