Thursday, October 29, 2009

Do ya love me?

I hope my family does!  My one goal for the day was to finish getting the hot tub ready to go.  They started the project yesterday afternoon, which was the biggest part of the job.  Brian and Erica and Derek bailed out the old water, and scrubbed the tub and the cover.  Then they filled it with water.

Now comes my part.  I went to the hot tub store and paid an arm and a leg to refresh the supply of chemicals.  So now I get to play chemist and get all the balances just right. Then if I get it turned on now, hopefully by the time they get home from work today they will be able to enjoy the fruits of their labors. 

Then when I ask, Do ya love me?  It will be a resounding, YES!

Looks inviting, huh?  until you see what the temperature reads...

Glancing backward, yet

Pressing Forward!  I have realized that I am not staying true to my original goal in starting this blog.  This was to be the place to chronicle my new adventures, new projects, new goals.

I have been having a lot of fun sharing my old adventures and my old projects, and as much as I am a firm believer in keeping memories alive, one cannot live in the past.

So, although I will share occasionally some fun old memories, I am challenging myself to come up with ideas to blog based on the present.  My present life must be more than doing laundry.  It must!  I simply demand that it must!  And who is in charge of that?  yea, yea, yea; I know. I am.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What Shall I be...

for Halloween, Mom?  Ah, one of my favorite questions.  Throughout the years I have spent most of the month of October working on elaborate costumes for my children.  Why?  Because I could!  And I enjoyed it a lot!  I decided to go back through the photos on my computer and see if I could come up with a pretty good representation of the years of sewing and creativity. There aren't too many digitized ones from long ago, but there are a few.  Pretty fun to see, I think.  I hope you think so too.

Well, I couldn't find any evidence on my computer of Mickey and Minnie, The Little Mermaid, Superman, Pocahontas, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Dolly Parton from 9 to 5,... well, you get the idea.  It may be time to pull out the scrapbooks and do a little scanning.

I found some more!

Such fun times as a family; such fun times for a mother.  I hope my children will remember fondly when their mother pulled out all the stops.  I'm afraid I have gotten lazy.  This year, would you believe, I ordered Miranda's costume online. ;-)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Learning to Share...

my son!  For years it has always been understood that my son, Robert, and I share a very special relationship.  He is my only boy and we, in a lot of ways, are cut out of the same cloth.  We think alike, we reason alike, we approach things from the same way, we share the same interests and talents (even though he has surpassed me on ALL levels).  He is one of my favorite people in the whole world, along with my three beautiful daughters, of course!

During the past two years I have been faced with the reality that I am being replaced as the love of his life.  I always knew it would happen; I have always wished for the best of life to happen for my son, and in January of 2008, the best of life hit him like a speeding train.  And it knocked him off his feet!  Her name was Josalyn Smith.  Now her name is Josalyn Haws.  And I adore her too!
And then, last July, there entered in another huge distraction; little miss Evelyn Rebecca Haws who stole all of our hearts, especially her daddy's.

When I mentioned to my son that I was being replaced, yet again, as the love of his life he had the most lovely of responses.  He told me that I was like the solid foundation of a totem pole, being the first great love that made it possible for him to add other great loves to his life.  Okay.  I can live with that.  I haven't been replaced; I have simply been added to.  I love you, my dear son.  Thank you for the wonderful Sunday evening phone calls.  They are one of the highlights of my week.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Finding Treasure in Egypt...

is never quite what one expects to find, is it?  I truly found a new perspective, as evidenced by this journal entry after our excursion to Cairo, while in the Port of Alexandria.

"Sometimes we have experiences that change us.  Sometimes we travel all the way across the world for that to happen.  Yesterday gave a glimpse of that.  I went to Egypt.  There in Egypt, I was changed.  I saw, by juxtapose, how the Lord has blessed me.  I marvel at the sweetness of my life.  I marvel at a people that are struggling to simply eek out a living while at the same time being surrounded by some of the world's most extraordinary treasures.  I saw children putting their very lives at risk, stepping out into busy traffic, trying to sell cigarettes to the passing motorists.

"All during this experience, I was under the protection of an armed security agent, personally protecting me and my tour bus from the dangers that lay at every side. In the midst of all this strife, poverty, and danger, I was there to enjoy the carefree life of a tourist.  I paid ten dollars for a 3 minute camel ride on the outlying desert sands surrounding the Great Pyramids of Giza.

"Perhaps one of the most poignant experiences happened as I was sitting at the foot of the Great Sphinx.  I was moping because both batteries for both of my cameras had died.  How ironic!  I had come all this way to see these wonders of the world, and I hadn't prepared carefully enough to be able to take as many pictures as I wanted.  As I was sitting there, feeling sorry for myself, a beautiful, tiny Egyptian girl came up to me and pointed to my camera, wanting me to pay for the privilege of taking her picture.  She couldn't understand why my camera didn't work, and why I wouldn't take what would have been a treasured photo. Brian gave her the money anyway.

"I think of my own beautiful children back home; wonder about the life of privilege they have had.  They have never gone to bed hungry.  They have never had to risk their lives to earn a little money.  Do they realize the great blessings of their lives?  Or are they like me, going through life, often focussing on what they "don't have"?

"After an exhausting day of sightseeing, as the tour bus headed back toward the ship in Alexandria, I was sitting in the very back corner of the bus.  All alone with my thoughts as the sands of Egypt blurred past me.  As I pondered the miracle of where I was, I was filled with wonder.  Here I was in one of the most historically and Biblically significant parts of the world.  And even though I may not have shared the same importance as Joseph of old, Moses the great Deliverer, and of course the Holy Family that sought refuge and safety in Egypt, I felt that the Lord was still aware of me, knew that I was there, and sent a witness by his Spirit that He loves me. I silently wept.  Feeling God's love for me, a truly great treasure, indeed."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Have I mentioned...

that I love hydrangeas?  I'm pretty sure they are my favorite flower.  They are so bold and "in your face".  Nothing shy, or unassuming about these beauties.

And they have so many different personalities.

Near the beginning of their bloom cycle they are the most lovely shade of spring green, the perfect background to support and highlight the show-off roses.

I have a whole bank of hydrangeas around the front corner of my home, following the porch all the way around the side.  Here they are teasing, just starting to show a little color.

Then throughout the long summer months they are the showstoppers of the garden.  Big, beautiful, bold blossoms in a variety of colors.  I have pink ones, and whites ones, and LOTS of blue ones, and my favorite which are the big burgundy ones.

And the thing I like best about my hydrangeas is that their beauty lasts well into the autumn months.  After everything else has bloomed its last, has faded, and fallen, the faithful hydrangeas are still going strong, like no one ever told them it was okay to stop filling the measure of their creation --so they don't.  They don't give up until the very last second, until the eventual killing frosts of winter.

Even when it is time to clean up the yard for winter, time to pull up all the other flowers and prune the roses, it is too painful to cut down the hydrangeas because who wants to interfere with something that still thinks it is in its prime?

I couldn't resist the other day when I peaked out my kitchen window and delightfully saw that they were not giving up.  I went out and cut a huge, lavish, gorgeous bouquet.  If they weren't giving up on themselves, neither would I.

I think I would like to be as the faithful hydrangeas.  I want to shine and be a source of joy even past my expected expiration date.  Who's to say when we are done; who's to say when we have given all we can give, when we are no longer needed?  So, don't cut me down yet.  I'm still going strong!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Power of Empowering Songs

It sometimes takes me by surprise how much power music has.  Why, at my age, is this still coming as such a surprise?  It seems that whatever I am feeling seems to be amplified by a particular song that happens to turn up on my various music players.  And this isn't always welcomed.... but most of the time it is. 

The following is an example of an empowering song.  There is something so uplifting and inspiring about it that it never fails to motivate.

The other day I was taking my daughter to work.  She was dreading it because of a difficult co-worker.  I could see that she needed a boost.  I flipped my car stereo to the previously mentioned song.  Soon she was singing with gusto and determination (and let me tell you, SHE's got a set of pipes!)  It was stirring.  It was contagious. 

So even though sad songs can make me even more sad, I'm glad to have the power of music in my life.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I think I must be

a little GREEK at heart.  Although we weren't able to visit Mykonos, one of the many islands of Greece, because of choppy seas, we were able to make our next stop in Rhodes, Greece. It felt somehow like I was coming home.

Isn't it strange how some things feel not completely NEW, but whisper of familiarity?  That is how the Greek Islands seemed to me.  I guess I must be a very old soul...

Coming into port, one instantly realizes there were many influences in Rhodes throughout history.  There is a distinct Medieval flavor representing the Christian Crusaders that spent many years here. Put that alongside the strong Greek, Turk, and Italian influences, never mind the incredible natural beauty, and one can see why Rhodes is the undisputed tourist capital of the region.

With its craggy hilltops, whitewashed buildings, all set next to the blue of the Aegean Sea, this is the Greece represented in many movies.  This is what I think of as modern day Greece.

We saw our share of Old World Greece, too.

I think our favorite memory of Rhodes, though, was when we "ditched" our tour group and set off on our own to explore the ancient alleyways ourselves; to get our own feel of the place and spend a little time shopping.  Rhodes is known for its goldsmiths ;-)
Two of my favorite souvenirs of our entire trip came from Rhodes.  The gold bracelet that I wear ALL the time was purchased there.  I also got the opal ring with the Greek Key design that I wore often until I recently lost the opal out of the setting.  So sad.  I need to find something else to put in its place.

Fortunately because of my photographs, my impressions of Rhodes are securely tucked in my memory.  What an enchanting place.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sifting through...

hundreds of photographs!  How do I narrow it down?  We saw so many delightful things on our trip.  I wish I could share them all.

The magic of Turkey began when we debarked the ship.  There was Turkish music and Turkish dancers to greet us.  Instantly we were immersed in a culture that was completely new to me.

Our first stop on the tour of  Ephesus was the Basilica of St. John.  This is the traditional burial site of John the Beloved Apostle. 

I assume that his followers desired to have a place to honor him.

There were the remains of a beautiful marble Baptismal font.

We also saw the traditional final home of the Virgin Mary, the mother of the Savior, in the hills above Ephesus.  When the Savior gave John the directive to care for His mother,  John must have seen to it that she have a lovely, secluded place to live out her final years. There is a shrine here, and it is obviously a sacred place to those that recognize the holiness of Mary.

Ephesus was an important center of Christianity, with evidence of  several "big names" that resided there. This is the tomb of St. Luke. It is near the upper entrance of Ephesus.

After a walk down an ancient marketplace, we beheld the beautiful Library of Celsius.

Nearby is the amphitheater where the Apostle Paul preached to thousands, particularly calling the silversmiths to repentance.

Part of experiencing a new culture is trying the authentic food.  It actually tasted better than it looked.

I loved Ephesus, Turkey.  It was a highlight of our trip.  The people were hospitable, the history was amazing, the scenery and ruins were beautiful.  Very charming!