Merry Christmas!

Sending love to your house from our cast & crew of Imagine Christmas... with all the joy a snow angel playing cello, a couple of great guitarists, an angel wearing a bouquet of glorious turkey feathers, a boy with a bear, and a trapeze-artist angel all mixed up together can do to share the beauty of the Christmas Story. Hope your celebration is just as fun ~
but I doubt that's really possible...
"Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth, Peace. Good will toward men."
Merry Christmas,




In the midst of Christmas chaos, many of you are fighting very real battles. Our good friend Jon over at Stuff Christians Like has posted a most unique post on his blog today. It might be just the words you need to read today.


I'll be back more often after the snow has melted when Imagine Christmas is finished...



Wishing you and yours a most blessed Thanksgiving weekend.
I'm sure we'll have good material for humorous stories next time, but for today, just for today, it seems right and good to stop and simply say thanks to God for every blessing we enjoy.
If you're over-joyed because life is just so amazingly wonderful ~ He has the biggest balloons to share with his angels who rejoice with us. If you're hurting ~ He understands. If you are lonely ~ He understands.
Whatever situation you find yourself in, I pray you know you are safe in his large hands.


Happy Veteran's Day!

Forgive the advertisement for the grown-up beverage...but the photo was just too adorable.

For all our honored veterans ~ please enjoy your closest parade and know you are loved and appreciated by everyone out here in Sunny. We salute you and thank you from the bottom of our hearts and raise our very large glass of Sweet Tea to you today.

And we ask God to protect all our active military today whether they are close or O-so-far away...


Ready for Thanksgiving

Took this photo recently in downtown Sunny...

Can you imagine? Months on a vessel like this because you wanted a place to be free? a place where you could pray and join the religion of your choice?

hmmm... And this one is a nice one all fixed up for the movies...


Christmases Past and Present

Rising early to prepare the turkey for Christmas dinner, I did not expect to see family members awake at the early hour of five o’clock in the morning. Nearing the edge of our second floor landing, the scene was one of those delightful family moments I have come to cherish over the past 17 years. Our five year old son was teaching his roly-poly “Grandmommy” the finer points of rescuing the princess from the castle with the assistance of Mario and Luigi. The gifts under the tree would have to wait. Climbing ladders, forging force fields, collecting stars and bouncing to the constant melody of the Nintendo game had captivated two very willing souls.

Grandmommy was a bit older than the usual grandmother of a kindergartener. She’d had me very late in life and my husband and I had waited a few years to have our son. Living in different parts of the country, we were challenged with making connections via telephone calls and the mail. At best, visits occurred three times a year. Computers, Web cams and Skype had not become a part of everyday life at the time of this event.

As a young boy, JJ was interested in the world of X-Men, Batman and “Where the Wild Things Are.” Grandmommy was quite prim and proper and thought he was adorable. She was sure he would look like such a little man in the newest suit she would give him. Yes, each and every holiday brought a lovely package with a new suit, dress shirt and clip-on bow tie. Our son did a very good job of acting sincerely surprised and pleased upon opening the thrice-annual gifts (Easter, Birthday, Christmas). Needless to say, they were in quite different worlds.

Finding them together before the crack of dawn that special Christmas morning was truly a sight to bring heart-warming joy to the soul. With each bump of the cartoon characters, stars exploding in the sky, or jumping of the monkeys, Grandmommy’s entire body would jump, wiggle, giggle and slide as she helped the characters through the various mazes or dungeons-of-doom. Our son, JJ, remained steadfastly serious and somber teaching her the intricacies of the Mario Brothers, proper use of the control pad and reaching each new level to conquer.

Cherishing family seems to be a forgotten art to many these days. Spending time together without the distractions of everyday hustles and bustles are becoming increasingly rare. The time we have with those dear to us is central to our family’s Christmas celebration each year. Church services are important; shopping is fun, but the heart of our Christmas traditions center on remembering our past celebrations and enjoying the present together. This one particular Christmas morning is recalled each year with special tenderness and love. Grandmommy is no longer with us and neither is the Nintendo set. But remembering the love shared between a roly-poly grandmother and her ever-so-technically advanced grandson in the wee hours one special Christmas will always remain.


Life at Warp Speed

It's been a momentous weekend. Honey and I were at the Big Box store and I caved. We spent a few minutes looking at the new phones as it was time for an upgrade.
Does anyone speak Verizon Ozone?
O my goodness! I feel so very blond and so very frustrated. It's a beautiful device and promises to know when my laundry is ready to move from the washer to the dryer and when to add the softener to boot. There are buttons for muting, calling by simply speaking, speaker-phoning (which is a personal irritant) and checking online activity at every possible time one could imagine.
It came with two DVDs and they both have been loaded on my computer. I've figured out how to dial, how to charge it, and how to pull up a website. I took notes Sunday morning during the sermon. It was far easier once I figured out how to type numbers, too. But other than that...well, if you leave me a message (either texted, e-mailed, spoken or in French) trust me, there are no guarantees that it will be retrieved. JJ was able to load my e-mail and connect the data from my home computer - all 1, 432 messages. But then they quickly disappeared. Such a mystery.
I'm waiting for a good three hour time space to devote to ringing up the tech support from Verizon. I hope I get their office in California or Kansas. I most assuredly plan on asking for another blond to assist me.


"Called To Worship"

I'm sure some of you wonderful readers of Grace Today have no interest in a book about worship. If that's the situation, maybe you'd like to scan back a year or so and find one of my best "Big Box" stories about the frozen chicken. No guilt will be placed upon you whatsoever!
But if you spend a major part of your life pondering things like, "What is the purpose behind worship?" "Does God care if I raise my hands in church?" "Why do they have to sing that song one more time - O please let them stop right now God ." Then this book is for you.
It's not an easy quick read. It's far more a reference book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The author's in-depth analysis of the why and when and "just becauses" of our worship life and relationship with God are amazing. It's full of biblical references and could easily be used as a textbook for a college course on music or worship. Note, I said "or." Music and worship can be considered the same thing, but they aren't necessarily identical.
Although "referency" most Christian adults will have their understandings of worship theology deepened through reading this book. There is much more to the concept of praise and worship than simply remembering to put your white hanky in your bag and pull it out to wave when you feel a "Hallelujah" comin' on. But thank goodness, there is a time for waving your hanky!


It's Autumnishy Here!

We may have to break down. We're looking for the matches and the fireplace is ready. The logs are waiting in the box out in the garage for this momentous event. Tonight is the night... It's fall. We shall have a fire in the fireplace.

The pot roast is in the slow-cooker, it's Monday which means nothing else but "Monday Night Football." Honey and I are preparing mashed potatoes and we may even do up some gravy.

Life is so good in our house here in Sunny tonight. Yet I struggle when I think of the song I'm working on for a service in the near future. The video shows the homeless and the despair in which they live. Life is good here for us. And sometimes, that makes me cry.


Find Your Strongest Life

Ok friends... this book is written for women. When our daughter-in-love saw it, the first thing she said was, "A book for women on how to live, written by a man." Hmm, I thought. Interesting observation.
I found the first chapter to read a bit slow, but also found that with each subsequent chapter I became more and more intrigued with Marcus Buckingham's research and observations. He has studied what makes people happy and happy with or without success for many, many years.
When I reached the halfway point of the book, I went online and took the Strong Life Test (which was free, by the way). AMAZING! That's just about the only thing I can say. Both the primary result and the secondary result for how I'm put together were dead-on accurate. Sort of scary accurate, honestly.
If you're looking to achieve more with less stress in your life, I really hope you'll pick up this book. It's just out this week and is a fairly quick read. Doing life better... who doesn't want that!


A Mystery Someone

Rarely am I truly curious...but it's just the sweetest mystery. I've been working at a church for about a month now and last week the mystery began... Every day I'm greeted with a single fresh rose on my desk. Now, the church has a beautiful rose garden, so the flowers have probably been cut from there. But I must confess ~ my heart is smiling.

I've been more of a sticker person myself. I've given people stickers every once in a while just to brighten their days. But this may be motivating me to have a change of heart. Even if a sticker is scratch-n-sniff, it will not cause your soul to smile too often. But roses...well. That's the stuff of great novels and love sonnets.

And honestly, who doesn't need a little more love in their Tuesday.


Carefree Days

Tomorrow, or perhaps today, is my birthday. (It all depends on when you're reading this, eh.) The photo on the right is from one of my best years. It wasn't a birthday celebration ~ just a few friends getting together for some summertime fun. We did that a lot.
Mom would get on the phone (that was plugged into the wall in the hallway) and dial some numbers that all began with JA. We don't have numbers like that anymore. Spur-of-the-minute adventures were one of her specialties.
TV was still in black & white and we were all amazed when we could see Jeannie's beautiful pyjamas, Gilligan's island and Johnny's monologue in color the next year.
But back to the day in the backyard here...we all took our favorite role and put on an impromptu re-creation of the Cinderella story. Everyone must have grabbed their favorite outfit from their dress-up closet and brought it over. I'm the one in white next to the girl who looks like a princess in her lovely red ensemble. My dress was an actual church dress with what might be a tablecloth wrapped around my legs to make it "full-length."
I'm still in touch with a few of the friends in this photo. Some of their moms send us Christmas cards every year. This day was completely free-of-charge ~ and completely priceless. The only expense was for the cupcakes to celebrate. Thanks Mom. For all the good times.


"Hmmm," she said.

Some days I just shake my head. Today is one of those. It seems everywhere I go I'm amazed on some days and that's today, this day.

I'm going to take a few hours and contemplate the mysteries of life. Feel free to join me. It's one thing I often do while the NFL is consuming the attention of the family. I watch ~ but actually spend a lot of time pondering, musing and what-not. A lot of 'what-not' honestly.

Hope your day is absolutely fantastic, NFL or not.

Find your spot in the sun. You're entitled.


Off to the Sea

Honey is smiling a bit brighter today. Her sister and brother-in-law arrived last night to spend a few days here in Sunny. They're planning a few hours in the sand to catch up on sisterly news today. And then perhaps a bit of shopping at one of the marketplaces downtown.

Master Max is not at all sure of this arrangement. You see, Honey and her sister have the same voice. He's just a bit confused. And the big guy with her goes by JJ, also. Yes, the sisters married men with the same name.

I think their other sister, Lovely, should make a video for youtube introducing her brothers... Yes, you're way ahead of me. "This is my brother, JJ. And this is my other brother JJ."

Hope you have a great weekend and find a good spot in the sun, too!


This Ain't Prettyville

Tonight ~ Sept. 15, please check out Chonda Pierce's show on CMT. It's on here in Sunny at 5 or 8 pm, depending on your tv access. If it's dish it's one time/cable, the other.

It will have laughter. It might have singing, not sure about any dancing. But I know it will connect with your heart at some point. You can count on Chonda for that! Because she knows the Heart-Connector and He's gifted her with this ability.

Her skill as a comedienne is fabulous, no doubt about it. But her love is greater. And that's one of the reasons I'll be watching CMT tonight for an hour. I'll also ask Honey to make us all some Sweet Tea so we can raise our glasses a time or two...


Interesting Changes

We've probably all seen the video from the VMA awards by now. You know the one...the one everyone is talking about on facebook, twitter, cnn and such. I feel so sorry for Taylor Swift and so proud of Beyonce. The other individual does not deserve credit by name (at least not here at Grace Today).

But the thought that came to mind this morning was the change in focus for so many of our lives. I grew up spending Sunday nights in church, rarely listened to secular music, did not attend dances and such. None of this seemed odd to me as the youth group and Sunday night services were the ultimate cool thing to participate in ~ at least in my home town. Yes, my home town was two thousand miles away from Sunny and it was an entirely different culture.

We all want to be relevant. That's a huge buzz-word in Christianity and church leadership these days. But I wouldn't trade the focus of my youth for anything ~ even being able to watch MTV for ideas to use on stage at church.



I recently finished this amazing book. Oh my goodness! I think I'm going to give it to several friends this Christmas. What a beautiful treasure of hope. Max Lucado has an amazing gift of stating the richest theological truths in everyday language. I found each chapter to have many "keepers" to post on the fridge, or cross-stitch. ;) It would be a beautiful source for a daily calendar. (Let me know if you go with that, Max.)

Not to give anything away ~ but the final chapter includes one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I've seen in years. Right there at the end... a poem/psalm from a little boy. I predict it will become quite well-known.

Scripture references are used throughout "Fearless", but in a very non-threatening, loving manner. It should be an inspiration to any reader regardless of personal belief. Light shining in darkness ~ casting out fear. Something we all need a bit more of these days. I highly recommend "Fearless" to you. Enjoy!


You're Free, Little Friend

We had a lovely walk this morning at the lake. It honestly was too hot to be walking, but we finished it anyway considering we would burn more calories that way. I don't think Max supported our decision, but he was a very good sport about it.

Along the first turn, before we reached the Eagle Scout beautification section, Honey spotted a little black caterpillar on the pavement. I encouraged her to pick it up to snuggle a minute and discovered Honey is not so interested in snuggling with stray caterpillars.

Max was curious. I picked it up, named it Winslow and we had a nice little chat about life as a caterpillar near the lake. The softness of a caterpillar is one of life's finest touches, in my opinion. It is to be preferred over pill bugs (or a roly-poly if you're from the south) and definitely nicer than a bumblebee, as that can turn horrific before you can say "Winnie-the-Pooh."

I helped Winslow find a new home several yards away from the pavement under a nice, fat Eucalyptus tree. I hope he'll make it through this season. It would be the nicest surprise ever to have Winslow land on my shoulder when he's found his new life as a butterfly.

We definitely need to start taking the camera along. But for right now, I assume you've seen a black caterpillar before. There's no telling what Winslow will look like in the future. I hope he lets Max know it's him. Max will be able to tell us.


Congrats! Go Cali!

Feel free to join in with this celebration. Go on ~ find your pom-poms and give a cheer or two. They're just the absolute cutest kids and by the way, so was the other team. Hats off to all of them. Winners all around!



Are you keeping up with the Little League World Series? If not, please tune in on Saturday at noon (Sunny time) and cheer for our state's team. We're so proud.

I've been very impressed with the skill level of the players, but more importantly the attitude of the coaches. I've only seen the games with the Chula Vista team , but all-in-all the entire league gets points in my book. Positive attitudes, great coaching support and incredible smiles. All around they're growing champions!

I hope our team wins. But I honestly think every young person there is a winner. No doubt about it. I'm secretly cheering for them all... If any of them need a team mom, I hope I'll be considered.


End of Lazy Summer Days

The time has come. Friends are taking their little ones to Kindergarten and First Grade. A few other friends are leaving their babies at universities far, far away. Some of these friends are VERY happy and some have new water spigots where tear ducts resided formerly.

If you have the opportunity to be involved with your children's school, I hope you'll be there as much as possible. Your presence means a lot to the kids and to the teacher. And you never know...you might end up helping a little boy slice apples for applesauce day and he'll grow up to play in the NFL. I did. Too bad I didn't know anything about football back then either. He was already in love with football in the third grade. I'd probably have much more to add to this story if I'd really listened to him closely!

We have no idea which little angel (or the opposite) may become a world changer. That's the thing with potential...it is usually hidden. Let's go change the world this year...how about it!


Lovely Day at the Bay

Yesterday I was privileged to spend some time with a lovely gal, her two little ones and Max at the bay on the other side of Sunny. I think we walked about three miles. No, I'm not exaggerating although I will confess that has happened on occasion here at Grace Today in the past.

I don't think dogs sweat. If you know for sure, please let me know on that. But regardless...I think it's time for Max' twice-a-year bath. Shoo-weee.... Maybe he caught something from the seagulls.

Keep smiling. It helps.


"Everyday Greatness"

With the start of school....Here's a suggestion for your family. Enjoy!

This is a beautiful collection of encouraging, challenging and inspiring content. It is a wonderful reference for parents and supervisors to use for "thoughts of the day" in raising children or uplifting employees and/or co-workers.

It's a mix of short stories and quotes covering many different subjects such as integrity, pursuing goals, character, gratitude, excellence and faith. The contributors are from all walks of life, many ethnic backgrounds and different time periods. Some are famous, some are average people who have above-average wisdom or fortitude.

I highly recommend it for your bookshelf!


A Bit Tacky

It's going to be a lovely day here. I'm planning some fun stuff. JJ & Honey have interviews and we're so thankful for this good news. Hopefully jobs will open up soon for them. We'll keep you posted.

I started the day catching up with life on facebook this morning. It always amazes me to see the status updates (if you're not on facebook, that line tells people what's going on in your life) that indicate "Going to the beach with friends" "Having great friends over for dinner" "Off to a party with good pals tonight." And I always think to myself, because Max is not necessarily interested in hearing about it, "Golly, that would be fun." And then, I must confess, a little part of my heart wonders why we weren't invited.

Ever felt that tinge of not-so-goodness?

Just musing. Hope you understand my pondering... I know, I know, you need to invite people over if you want to be asked to some one's house. And we do. But still. If I'm not going to be included in your event, please don't tell me about how awesome it is going to be or how great it was. I'll really appreciate it.


Good Friends

This is my good friend, Mr. Security and his lovely wife, Angel. Honestly, his name is not Mr. Security, but he is in charge of keeping everyone safe in his job, so that's what I'm going with here at Grace Today.

Mr. Security and I were the best of friends years ago. Long before he was married to Angel or I was married to DJ. It's really so incredible to see friends from your childhood or 'youth-group' days after you're all grown-up and doing things like paying for electricity and time-shares. When you're in youth-group, you rarely consider that you will have to pay for anything other than pizza or mascara after you're on your own.

Mr. and Mrs. Security have a fabulous life out in the Midwest. They have great kids and even little teeny grandchildren, too. We're hoping they will all come out sometime so we can visit Sleeping Beauty's castle together. That would be so much fun. DJ and Angel will just have to put up with all our silly references to things like taco salad, pizza from Domino's and old dorm jokes. They'll smile, I'm sure and probably be glad they must us after those silly days.

Hopefully, the cost of electricity, water or 401k's will not be mentioned at all during the visit to Fantasyland.


Marley & Me

You've probably all seen this movie, Marley & Me. But if for some reason you haven't, please, o please, do not watch it if you are seriously in love with your dog as we all are with our Max. We may have tears for a few days. Not the type of "Oh what a sweet movie" tears, but tears that flood your face and smoosh your nose all out of place and make your eyes look like jawbreakers because you, too, love your dog like another part of your soul.

Just know. I thought it was merely a cute dog comedy...




Our denomination is having their General Council in Orlando this week. (Many pastor's kids are enjoying the conference immensely due to the location.) If you've got a spare half hour and a fresh cup of coffee, I highly recommend the worship and the message by George Wood, the General Superintendent. It's about the legacy of Leah and quite an amazing sermon. So click on the link above ^, sit back and listen to Travis Cottrell for a while and enjoy some good church!

There is a bit of blank video at the start. Perhaps the technical crew was having a bit of coffee themselves...

Shared via AddThis


Sweet, Sweet Summertime

I can't believe it's August! We've not been over the hill to visit Shamu, trekked the wild at the Animal Park out east, or danced under a full moon yet this year! It seems life is full of have-to's and I'm ready for some let's-do's...

Wouldn't it be fun to take a day and ride a carousel with a purple hat?
Or go on the big wooden roller coaster wearing plaid?
Imagine if all your best girlfriends joined you at the Post Office and you greeted all the customers with fresh daisies!

I think we should start a club. Summertime Surprisers. What do you think? Any takers? Any suggestions? We might even make the 6:30 news some night. Hopefully, in a very good way ~ not because they think we've all lost our minds...


We All Screamed for Ice Cream

Saturday was far too warm here in Sunny. But thankfully, we'd been planning a neighborhood block party ~ thanks to the good people at Dreyer's. It was a great hour or two sharing laughter, smiles, and fun with the folk who live on our street.

It seems we tend to come and go through our garages these days. The air conditioners are on and the windows closed most of the time. Rarely do we have a chance to check in with our neighbors. Saturday was a great time just sharing a bit of love and joy. And the ice cream was enjoyed by all ~ especially Max!


The Squirrel with Electricity

I've seen some amazing things in my life, but yesterday's sight was one of the oddest. Max wanted to go to see the ducks at the lake, so we packed up all our trappings and ventured over to enjoy an hour or two. Unfortunately, I forgot Max' settle-down towel, but that's a story for another day...

We found the perfect shade tree. We were far away from all other humanity, except for the occasional jogger. It was at least 15 degrees cooler than at our house, and it appeared to be a relaxing spot.

I noticed a cute little squirrel sitting next to a concrete picnic table and he greeted us with a nod. (Not really, but it makes the story much cuter.) Max and I had our lunch and I began to read a few pages from my book. Max stood on-guard since I'd forgotten the towel and we were enjoying the sounds of nature. The wind gently blowing on the water, the trees softly whispering and the tapping of a few oars out on the lake.

And then it began...I heard an annoying 'beep' .... 'beep'.................' beep'....'beep'.... 'beep'.................. you get the picture. I started looking around and couldn't see anyone near us. Max raised his head as if helping me try to locate it, too.

Then I saw it. I could hardly believe it. The squirrel by the table was still sitting there and he had the hiccups. Yes, hiccups. With each up-of-the-hicc a most noticeable beep came out of him.

I'd left the camera at home. "Oh, no!" I thought. No one will believe me. I rapidly phoned my good friend Judy Trudy and had her listen to it. I explained the source and the distance (around 20') and she can verify it for you. The cute little squirrel was beeping.

I really hope he is all right. I hope he didn't explode. And I hope if he swallowed something odd, it comes through without causing major distress. But perhaps, he is just one very cool squirrel.

We plan on going to the same spot next week. It would be great if you could join us!


The Leaking Window: All I Want is for My Daughter to be Whole and off those Antidepressants

The Leaking Window: All I Want is for My Daughter to be Whole and off those Antidepressants

Usually, things are quite light-hearted here at Grace Today. This post is one that I want any of you to read if you, or anyone in your family, is battling depression, bi-polar issues, or perhaps other mental illness. The key word here is 'illness' ~not 'crazy-in-the-head-ness' or 'why-aren't-you-more-holy-ness.'

Sister Sheri is a wonderful friend and I hope you will take a few minutes to absorb her thoughts. And if you're struggling, send me a comment (I'll use discretion in posting, promise).

Grab some coffee or a tall glass of Sweet Tea and sit a spell.




We had the most lovely serendipity last Friday night. Our good friends, Sal & Louise, invited us to dinner over the hill a ways up the coast. If you're ever coming down to this part of the world, be sure to check this place out for brunch, lunch or dinner: Pacifica Del Mar.

Oh my goodness! The food is incredible and the view is spectacular! We had calamari that was probably caught that afternoon by a fisherman out on the pier nearby. Two sauces! Imagine. Our salmon was sitting on a little pastry house covering the mashed potatoes garnished with asparagus.

We finished the evening with taste treats of mango sorbet and a dessert trio of chocolate bonbons and creme brulee. (Sorry, I don't know how to add the French accent in blogger.) The mango sorbet had a cookie for garnishment that would be perfect to serve all by it's self. I'd be happy going to the restaurant and ordering the cookie from the mango sorbet and a cup of coffee any afternoon. Want to join me sometime?

Thanks Sal & Louise! You guys are the best friends ever!


beloved MaMa™: Today's a New Day and I'm Back!

Check it out! Click on this link > beloved MaMa™: Today's a New Day and I'm Back!

This is it! This is the amazing answer to prayer I recently referred to using such discretion. Please check in and say hi if you've not seen belovedmama's site. If you love her and wonder where she's been...well, I think she's been praying for most of the whole world and the Lord is blessing her with moving her back to Southern California where she'll be close enough to visit Sunny once every blue moon or so.

Please forgive the suspense; I needed to respect my darling friend's wishes. I trust you understand. That's just what friends do...



Is everyone having a great summer? It seems things are slowing down in Blogland for a season. That's ok with me, I just hope nobody feels I've forgotten them. Life seems to be zooming along and good things are ahead!

JJ & Honey are still looking for work. I've got my projects here and there with lots of laughter in-between them all. We've started playing badminton each evening and Max is our birdie-boy. He's becoming quite skilled at getting the birdies we've hit far too far.

The bunnies around here are too cute for words. Max runs after them, but is quite nice if he catches one. I would not be happy if he was, well, looking for a snack, you know.

All in all, life is good in Sunny. Wish you could join us for some Sweet Tea tonight. We'd have so much fun!


Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl

I've been on a crazy ride with Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl by N.D. Wilson! It's a delightful look at the world through the author's eyes. He poses questions a mile a minute and bounces around the scenery in a way that makes the title completely appropriate. Some of the questions he raises have often kept me awake at night. Tending to keep those thoughts to myself, it was an amazing adventure on this tilt-a-whirl feeling I was sitting with a good friend. Sensing a bit of motion sickness at times, I'd have to put the book down for a few minutes to let some of the content soak in. He brings it all together in the last few chapters. I enjoyed the ride and the spins were fabulous!


A Good Day

Some days are just filled with roses, sunshine and hummingbirds. Every lovely thing you can imagine. Today is one of those days.

No, I don't actually have the roses and hummingbirds, but we do have more than our fair share of sunshine. Our heavenly Father has answered a prayer request today that we have been bringing to Him for a few years. So it's time for a happy dance. Go on ~ put on your wiggly slacks and tennies and join in. The exercise will feel good and you'll breathe a bit deeper and sleep a bit sounder tonight.

When I have clearance from Intelligence Central Up North, I'll let you know the particulars. I really do hate to keep you guessing, but it's just that good. I had to let you know we are all going to finish off a large pitcher of Sweet Tea tonight! Come on ~ raise your glass too!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow...


Sunny Times

We share so much fun via long distance, twitter and facebook...but there's just something extra special about being together.

We played with water guns, had a great barbecue, laughed with our families until our sides hurt, viewed the wedding video ~ much to Honey's delight, and encouraged each other with hope. It was a fabulous evening having our friends here. You may know her ~ she's belovedmama in bloggyland. And my amazing friend.

When an absolutely wonderful afternoon or evening of fun happens, I often wonder if it's just a wee taste of Heaven. I think we're going to share some great times around fire pits or barbecues or ice cream trucks there. We may perhaps even engage in some water gun fun. I think joy is definitely in the works...


Yes, She Is

Beloved Mama, hostess of the amazing belovedmama blogspot is coming over to play at my house tonight! I promise to post photos tomorrow! and she better get back at her blogging soon, eh!

We'll raise our Sweet Tea to y'all for sure!



We had a quiet July 4th around here. JJ & Honey were away with her family celebrating her sister Lovely's birthday, as well as the birth of our nation. Lovely wants to go into government work, so a patriotic birthday is most appropriate for her.

We watched the Capitol Fourth on PBS and I must confess, televised fireworks just simply are not the same. The music was wonderful and Aretha was earth-shakingly delightful. I had hoped to see the famous hat again, but she chose a yellow ensemble instead. The gray hat would not have worked well.

We've been working on a puzzle of the American flag. We may finish it by labor day. DJ put together three sections of firework blasts last night. That is most admirable in the jigsaw puzzle hall-of-fame.

Sunday morning we were privileged to attend two patriotic services. It's always nice to see friends in the band, choir and/or orchestra at these events. There was even a horse involved with one of them. And yes, he left a special gift near the stage. It filled the auditorium with a true sense of 'being there.' Lots of kids involved in the drama, and it's great to see teenagers wanting to serve in church. Next time you see one at your church, let 'em know you love 'em. The size of that tattoo doesn't matter nearly as much as how much you love 'em. Right?!?

Seeing the bright spots in America certainly helps these days. Its about time we began focusing more on our bright spots overall, eh. (Just had to throw in a little Canadian there. Just because.)


Here's to You, America!

Hope you have a wonderful 4th of July! Go find a good parade, listen to some great music, eat some corn-on-the-cob...use sunscreen, but most of all, say a prayer for our troops, our president and our country.

And have an amazing day with family or friends that feel like family!


I'm Going to my New Home

The time has come. Most of the puppy angels are on their way to their new forever families. Little Sam here is not quite sure what that means, but he's hoping it will be wonderful. His mama, Roxy, has done an excellent job of raising him so far and he's ready to face the world.

He'll run, chase, sit, shake, roll over, stay, and most importantly of all, take very good care of his new Big People. We're sure of that!

It is puppy season now. Please, o please, if you want a new pet, find a reputable breeder or a good shelter for your selection. As much as I love puppies, the thought of supporting a puppy mill in any manner brings tears to my eyes quite quickly.

And please, keep your lil' ones inside this weekend! I'm sure Max will be hiding out under his favorite chair. He's still a bit nervous over hearing a firecracker back in May...


I Feel Like Travelin' On

I've been humming that tune this morning for awhile. If you grew up listening to Hillsong, Mark Schultz or even Evie, you might not recognize it. But in my childhood, there was nothing quite like a good Southern Gospel quartet singing "I Feel Like Traveling On." I can almost smell the fried chicken, too.

It's been a month of highs, a few lows here and there and bunnies scampering about in-between. Max is pouting due to a new sack of food, which he seems to be less-than-thrilled with. Hopefully, he'll try it soon. We bought it at the Big Box Store, so we've got a few days worth of bowls to fill.

JJ & Honey are doing well. Marriage seems to be bringing out the best in them. Honey is making a lot of Sweet Tea.

I knew I liked her.


What Energy!

Look at these champions! JJ & Honey are settling into life here in Sunny and offered to help out with a bit of our yard work yesterday. This bottle-brush tree was well past its prime and needed to be removed.
The French doors there are on our bedroom, if you're curious. I know you are ~ otherwise you'd be checking out some serious Web site, eh. ;)
We're enjoying a beautiful summer and are seeking God for direction for our paths. Taking time to enjoy some nature with a bit of hard work tossed in is right up there with the best of days!


So Sad, Little Birdy

It's happened again. I found a little feathered friend resting on our patio. I suppose he blinked a time or two and then was amazed to see the Pearly Gates. At least I hope so. Thankfully, he was altogether and not in pieces.

DJ found a little critter in our storage shed last week. He was not altogether. Certainly not altogether lovely... I think DJ still gets a teeny bit sick to his stomach thinking about that sight.

Other than those two encounters with the circle-of-life, things are beautiful here in Sunny. Max is king of the castle and amazingly, we've not had much sight of coyotes this year. We heard some a time or two late at night in the spring, but so far... our bunnies are free to roam about.

JJ, Honey and I are getting things fixed up around here and are enjoying the sunshine as much as possible. Laptops are worth every dime, eh.


All Settled

JJ and Honey are settled into their new couple-in-love quarters on the other side of our ranch here. It's a little tight for them, but should be fine for the next short season in their lives. They're right behind DJ's workout room and who wouldn't want to be right next to a workout room?

We found a nice portable closet-in-a-box for Honey and have it set up in one corner of the workout room. It makes me smile ~ it was in my mother's things and had never been used. So I'm sure she is smiling every time she sees Honey place a jacket on a hanger in there.

Max is becoming accustomed to the changes. He likes Honey very much, although he is not sure yet about letting her pet him. A few more treats, and he'll be good for life.

We had a busy Father's Day yesterday. Our niece and her family of four-under-seven were leaving right after lunch (yes, the SUV was filled to overflowing) for a six-week tour of the United States of America. The boys had even packed their bicycles. I think they should have added a web-cam to the dashboard. That could be a smash of a reality show, eh!

Thankfully, most thankfully, they left their two snakes and five lizards at home. At least we think they did...


The Cake

The couple was beautiful, as you can see.
The cake was amazing.

But doesn't the barrel just make the whole picture pop? Honestly! And if only you could hear the frog chorus that began singing right as the sun set.

I think they were singing the frog version of "I Love You Truly." I think they knew this was the most special wedding that ever has been, or ever will be, at their vineyard.



Mmmm....yes it was yummy! Here's a look at the dessert we had last Friday night at the rehearsal dinner. We were at a cute little Italian place a few hours north of Sunny. The menu was delightful with assorted Mediterranean items; just a bit different than the normal pizza fare. So Tiramasu all around seemed the best way to conclude our event.

We expect JJ & Honey to arrive sometime this weekend to open their wedding gifts. I decided to make our dining room table festive and we have all the gifts piled on it for fun. I promise to share a photo or two of the celebration.

Your congratulations have been so sweet, bloggy buddies. We feel the love regardless of your distance. It's almost like you were with us ~ dancing at the reception.

No. I don't dance. There was no dancing, but if I did dance, I would have. It was all just that happy. :)


She Was a Princess ~ He Was Prince Charming

What an amazing wedding! The vineyard was incredible, the bride and groom were gorgeous, joy was dripping from the trees! It was wonderful to have family, friends, laughter and joy everywhere we looked this past weekend.

Honey seemed to be floating down the aisle and JJ was standing a few inches taller while she made her entrance. The music was glorious ~ provided by my dear friend Ruby Dee and a violinist from Honey's world. Ruby Dee's husband was the musical assistant and kept the music from blowing away...that's always a good thing.

The two little flower girls (both aged three) were adorable. They kept the flowers in their baskets until after the ceremony. I think the photographer got a nice shot of them flowering the hillside with no one else around ~ too sweet!

Now as to the "cake" (please imagine Father-of-the-Bride) it was definitely the most scrumptious wedding cake ever. Wish I could send you a piece...

I'll share more details tomorrow ~ Mama Grace is just a bit exhausted! But it's the best exhausted you can imagine!


Her Favorite

Honey really likes this photo. We all had an incredible day when we visited this theme park. It was in August of 2007.
I think I already knew Honey would be part of our family one day.
I hope life will bring JJ and Honey way too much fun, lots of laughter and joy. Being a grown-up can bring a fair amount of pain to one's life and I pray they will always know laughter helps. It doesn't take away the gloomy stuff, but it helps.
Seems like I've read that in a famous Book somewhere...


Joy, Joy

I won! I won! Amidst all the excitement of the wedding, I received a note from Cindy last night. She's just celebrated her 100th post and had a book giveaway as part of her celebration. Sort of like bringing treats to first grade ~ remember?

Please head on over to her blog Consider It All Joy and raise a glass of Sweet Tea to her today!

Thanks Cindy!



JJ and Honey's wedding is just days away now. We've got tables full of boxes, gifts, bows, candles, programs and all the other wedding necessities. It's quite the busy place here. And in the midst of it all, I received this photo from our dear friends who captured this in the puppy pen.

O my goodness! Here she is, "Miss Lucy."

No, we don't have plans to adopt any of them. Yet.
Photo by R.B. Anthony


Lovin' Life in Sunny (again)

It's another beautiful day here in Sunny. I honestly hate to rub it in, but God wanted us to live here, so if you live in the cold, dreary Northwest...well, talk to God about it. (Yes, comments will be posted, Beloved Mama.)

Max has some new adventures these days. He's off chasing bunnies that have recently appeared in our yard. Of course, he's always on guard for the coyotes, but we haven't seen too many yet this spring. We've heard them though and that is always a bit unsettling.

Max has also taken up the cause of protecting some baby birds in our pepper tree. He tries his best to jump up and scare away the crows when they come in pursuit. It seems he scares them away, but then they return after they figure out that our brave soldier cannot actually climb the tree to get them.

It's very hard when you're the mama bird and your baby is leaving the nest. However, when Mama Birds see a room full of laundry, actually piles and piles of laundry, it tends to get a bit brighter through those tears...


Almost Grown-Up

JJ is frequently reminding me that these are not our puppies...But still. How can you resist falling in love with each and every one of these little angels?

From left to right:
Lucy, Sam, Frodo, Rhino, Mr. French, Bruce, Amber, Honey, Buffy, Tinkerbell and Pongo

Next time I'll try to share their faces with you. But on this day, their faces were smooshed into their respective bowls on a very important mission.

Happy Memorial Week-end!


Such Fun

We recently had a bridal shower for our dear Honey. Doesn't she look amazing?!? But then, who wouldn't look amazing when they're as incredibly happy as Honey...

Now, about the other "brides." If you have any information as to the origin of this oh-so-classic shower game, please pass that along. I'm sure we'd like to know the history. It really is fun and looks so completely ridiculous. Laughter is the only appropriate response. And laughter is just about the best possible thing two weeks before a wedding.

Things are a bit of a flutter here in Sunny and up north in Honey's house. We've got boxes full of love and cards full of wonderful wishes all about the place. Please keep JJ and Honey in your prayers as the job searches continue and thoughts of apartments, budgets, pots-n-pans, linens and all the wedding fun mix with all the thoughts of grown-up responsibilities.

What a special season!


Hard at Work

His name is Rhino. I don't know if I've ever seen a little Golden Retriever puppy so cute! Yet again, he has ten siblings so it's a close call.

Today is far too busy around here to be ooh-ing and aaah-ing over such sweetness, but we may have to take another trip over to see these little ones this afternoon.

Sometimes a little bit of puppy-cuddling inspires you to greatness.


Snug as Bugs in a Rug

They're growing up! They're starting to walk now and are just as cute as you could imagine. Mama is fine. She was outside getting some sunshine when I snapped this photo. I think she knew it was Mother's Day weekend and wanted to do a little "I'm so happy I'm a mama now" dance.
Fridays are the best days for spending time with puppies. I suppose if we are blessed with grandchildren one day that will far outshine time with puppies. But for now ~ a few hours with these little angels is the best therapy one could have!
Happy Week-end!


Next Year...

I've made my selection for next year's Mother's Day. It's going to be lunch on the Zephyr , not too far away from Sunny. We will be whisked away to another time, and imagine the train jostling, chug-a-lugging and zooming through the mountains of Colorado at top speed. We'll ignore the people outside on the sidewalk. They will be mirages in our mind. We'll be absorbed in the music of the 1940's and it will be just a bit like time travel.

For dessert, I plan on having a funnel cake somewhere across the park ~ perhaps in Tomorrowland...


With Tender Paws...

My dear friend, Ruby Dee, took me over to visit with her grand-puppies yesterday. They are just about a week old now. They're not quite able to stand yet, their eyes are still closed and they are the cutest puppies ever!

Mama Roxy is very protective. That is, unless she takes a break for a tummy rub. I was honored to rub her tummy a few minutes.

We'd put Mama Roxy outside for a bit of fresh air while Ruby Dee showed me the babies. They all have names, of course, and each have their distinctive markings. They're very good at stretching, squeaking and are attempting to stand on all four legs now.

When Mama Roxy came back into the garage, she immediately counted the puppies and made sure we didn't have one in our pockets. With 11 little ones, that is most likely a full-time job.

As Mother's Day approaches, let's all raise our glasses of Sweet Tea to this incredible new mom. Did I mention she's caring for eleven bundles of joy???



JJ and Honey arrived on Monday night! We're having a lovely celebration around here. We're not sure what the primary celebrating is about ~ the choices are graduation, home from the university, engagement or the very soon-to-be wedding. Regardless, we're doing a lot of smiling.

Last night the festivities did take a different turn, however. JJ brought home a few small firecrackers (we can't purchase these in Sunny, but you can in LA north of here). He set off a small one in the middle of the afternoon. Max was not happy. After dinner, JJ set off a couple of crazy (very safe, thank you) sparkly-shiny-shoot-all-over-the-patio ones. Max became hysterical. A few hours later, after the puppy-sized-dose of Benadryl took affect, he was starting to calm down.

I suppose we'll make sure Max stays home when we all go to the lake on the fourth of July. Maybe he can watch the celebration on PBS, although we'll turn off the surround sound...


We're So Very Proud

Finally! They've written all the necessary essays, studied all the proper textbooks, scored exceptionally well on the exams, and here they are...

JJ, Honey and Lovely ~ our favorite graduates.

We pray for God's guidance, protection and richest blessings as He leads them on the next part of his path.

In the words of our beloved Dr. Seuss, "Oh the places you'll go!"



It's Finally Here

Things will be a bit slow around "Grace Today" for the next week. I hope you'll understand. DJ and I will be heading out on the American Airlines jumbo liner soon for our trip out to the Midwest. The jumbo liner will take us as far as Dallas, and then we'll have time for lunch at the wonderful DFW airport. In Dallas we'll board a slightly smaller aircraft to go to Missouri.

We're so proud of our JJ. He and Honey, as well as Honey's sister, will be walking through the graduation line. I suppose I should pack a hankie or two... I've already ordered the DVDs of the two ceremonies. Thankfully I won't have to hold the camcorder.

We'll appreciate your saying a prayer or two for Max while we're away. He'll be staying with friends and snuggling on their sofas for a few nights. He likes them, so we're hoping it will be just as much fun as sleepovers for the Cub Scout troops.

I promise to take some fun photos and post them as soon as we return. And then the real fun begins...the wedding bells are getting all tuned up for June.


Take Me Out of the Ballpark

We were delighted to take friends out to the game last night. Our seats were fabulous and it was a gorgeous evening here in Sunny. I sent a couple of photos to JJ and a friend. "Wow, good seats!" was the ever-so-envious reply from JJ who is still off in the bitter cold wilderness of the Midwest.

About the sixth inning, the seats just across the aisle were freshly-occupied by two men that I thought were just horribly late. "Hey Joe," said one. "Can you see me on t.v.?" as he phoned his buddy. "Yep, I'm right behind home plate. We stole these seats." They'd also spilled an entire beer all over the floor within two minutes. The game went into more innings, so we had the lovely aroma for about an hour. It appeared to be a game to see how many of their friends could come occupy these seats and each new friend splashed the beer soup with their shoes.

As we sat there enjoying the fireworks after the game, I was oh-so-happy that these men had finally left. I suppose they were off to find Joe somewhere nearby.

Walking up the steps to the lobby, I was once again dismayed to see all the garbage (imagine it with a French accent) in the seats and covering the floor. Why do so many seemingly intelligent, thoughtful, polite and wonderful Americans feel it is all right to treat a ball park like an over sized trash can?

I don't get it. Any thoughts?

But I'm sure ~ we'll be back in a few weeks. And I'll sing along in the 7th inning stretch and cheer for the home team...


On My Street, He Lives on My Street

We just received a lovely directory and map of the homes in our new neighborhood watch area. I'm always impressed when someone takes time to do something really well, with lots of detail and spells things the correct way.

I glanced through the list, of course primarily to see if our names were there and they had them listed properly, and who do you think lives on our block? Mr. Rogers. Mr. Fred Rogers to more exact. My heart skipped a beat.

And then I realized that, sadly, that dear Mr. Rogers lives in the heavenly neighborhood now.

I may do a bit of spying on this man anyway. Just to see if he arrives home in a suit and comes out to get his mail after he puts on a blue cardigan and slippers.


Max - 1, Coyote - 0

"They're Baaaaccckkk!" Oh dear, it's that time of year again. Sunday night was the first time we'd heard the yipping, yowling and barks of the pack. The neighborhood dogs were united in their barking as well. We didn't see them then, but we knew they had taken up residence once more.

DJ will keep the large flashlight by the door where it will remain until the fall. He may set up the hut for tracking them with his BB gun soon, too. No ~ we've never actually done that. But JJ suggests it each year. "Come on, Dad. Let's get some straw hats, set up our chairs and chew on some hay. We can scare 'em away."

We didn't hear the familiar barking, yipping or yapping here last night. But Max heard them. And he took off in pursuit. Our little snugly critter who is petrified of the leaves from the eucalyptus tree as he hears them land on the roof of our family room. The one who also jumps in my lap when he hears the wind blowing or sees the rain falling, yes, he's the one who takes off to patrol the bushes.

I know they're God's creatures too, but I would be happy to see them all move out to the desert nearby...


Spring Cleaning

I was feeling fairly proud of my efforts today. I'd taken our fat broom with the very long handle and swooshed off every single edge of the windows, rain gutters and doorposts all around our house.

Then it dawned on me. I probably just killed Charlotte.


And Now, from a Guest Blogger...

I received this note today and found it to be quite special. So please join me in welcoming a few words from DJ's little sister who is all grown up and ever so successful living off in the woods enjoying the snow... (We have no understanding of why she left Sunny, but it seems she is quite happy off in the mountains. Good for her!)

Hey there! I had a dream last night that I thought I'd share with you. It was a pretty cool dream in that I was at a church service or more like a theater event and near the end of the event, Palmerine got up and took the microphone and started singing. She was singing in German or Swedish or something, but it was beautiful and she was having an awesome time.

When I woke up, I was thinking that's probably what she's doing today in heaven is performing a song to tons of people and having a blast!

Just thought I'd share :-) Have a great day!

This is a photo of our family in 1982 when we were ministering in Sweden. Thought you might enjoying seeing a photo of Palmerine from those days... And nothing makes your heart feel warm and cozy like hearing of someone who's dreamed of your mother and how happy she must be...


Real Men

I passed a Real Man this afternoon. He was standing next to his parked car. Right outside a costume shop near here in downtown Sunny. A rather large bunny head was on top of his automobile and he was trying to get all the pieces of the bunny suit back on the hanger "just right."

I don't know if was wearing it yesterday to be the Easter Bunny or if his wife is perhaps a children's pastor and she's worn out from the Egg Hunt, but regardless... He deserves a raising of the Sweet Tea Glass as only Grace Today readers can do...

Here's to ya!


What a Story!

"It's all true! I read the story in this big book. People saw Him! They saw His hands. They touched His side.

There are pages and pages to read in this story. I want to read them all... but it's going to take a few days to finish this! I want to know everything I can about Him. He sounds like someone I'd like to have for my Master.

But for right now ~ I'm going to take a little break and soak it all up. It's been quite an adventure so far and it looks like the best is yet to come."

photo by R.B. Anthony


What Will Be, Will Be...

It's been raining here and the skies are somewhat gloomy today. And Max is not happy. He's staying right by my feet and seems to want me to pick him up ~ unless I actually try to pick him up!

DJ thinks he may be feeling some earthquake trembling that we can't sense. Could be. I try not to think about earthquakes too often.

I grew up in Tornado Alley. That's my kind of natural disaster... If it gets you, it gets you, no preparation will help much. If it's not after you, you'll be fine. The drills in Elementary School were fun, too. We hid under our desks like little mice hiding from a large cat. We were supposed to stay quiet, but I think that was just the teachers' idea. I don't think quietness affects an F-5.

If you're at home when one is coming, you're supposed to go get in the bathroom and stay away from windows unless you have a tornado shelter. We had one of those, but it was pretty creepy. It was not stocked well at all. Just spiders and darkness. I was very jealous when I watched "Blast from the Past." That was a cool shelter! Remember "Twister?" I don't think you'd be too safe in any room of the house if a tornado was coming right for you. But that's just my opinion.

Earthquakes or tornadoes...both are great reminders to be prepared for leaving anytime. The best is yet to come, regardless...


Easter Centerpiece

It's that time of year we love so much - coloring eggs, pulling out the spring tablecloths and linens...Beatrix Potter (does anyone else think, "Trix are for kids" when you see her name?) and chocolate bunnies. I was watching Martha Stewart recently and saw a fun idea. I've planted grass seed in a basket that I hope will be full of lovely tall grass by Friday. So far...it's just dirt.

I plan on blowing some eggs to have the empty shells and coloring them one afternoon soon. JJ's still away, so Max will have to help. It should be interesting. I'll let him pick the colors.

When we're all finished and it looks lovely in our dining room, I'll post a photo for you. Right now though ~ like I said ~ it's just dirt.

Somehow, I think that may be similar to what God thinks when He looks at me. "She's got promise, once she grows a bit..."


Sunny Sunshine

We're now almost to the middle of Holy Week. It will probably get gloomy and rainy toward Friday. I've noticed that usually happens...But today it's extremely sunny and the perfect temperature for sitting on the patio sipping some sweet tea.

I doubt that the disciples had time to sip sweet tea during the first Holy Week. We do know they stopped to enjoy a meal together. Imagine it. Did they have any idea what was about to happen? Did they talk about their plans for summer and where they were going on vacation? Did they discuss their neighbors and how the cat keeps them up at night? Or did they soak in the presence of Jesus...

Sometimes I remember the last Easter I shared with my mother. We'd been to church quite early and played for a couple of services in the orchestra together. The family met together at Grammas to hunt for eggs. Right after lunch, DJ and I were in a hurry to get to the ballgame as I'd won some free tickets. We quickly scooted away barely taking time to say, "I love you" to them and dropped Mom off at her apartment. She was with us one more week.

I don't even enjoy baseball.

I think about that every Easter.


An Ocean View

We met at the Gliderport yesterday morning to say goodbye to a dear friend, Anne-Marie. It was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine and just the perfect temperature. No breeze, no wind, not too hot, just delightful.

Anne-Marie lived an amazing life and the hillside was full of friends who'd gathered together. It all started with a pancake breakfast outside. We were a teeny bit late, so we didn't get to enjoy the yummy treats. The next item on the agenda was an opportunity to share memories of her. They had a microphone set up and the host was a nice gentleman who wore a white shirt. I don't know his name, but he looked familiar.

The stories were sweet. Our friend was a bit of a rebel who also loved life dearly. She'd been a career flight attendant and flew small aircraft as well for the adventure of it all. Her husband, Michael, brought along their dog and she seemed very interested in all the stories and did a great job of staying by her papa.

We were able to release little packs of Anne-Marie's ashes out on to the hillside. It was a lovely grassy, flower-filled sight. And right as we began, a plane flew over us releasing most of her spirit into the sky. Two parachute jumpers began descending on us at the same time. There were toasts made, and cheers for her life right as a Scotsman began playing bagpipes in the middle of the field.

I hope Anne-Marie was able to see the love there. And I pray she has found another beautiful seashore to observe her Michael and their loved ones here.


Babies and Sunshine

It's been a "Goodbye", "Welcome Little One", and oh no, oh no, "Oh how do you say goodbye now?" week...

To sum it up and try to keep the tears back ~ we're off to a goodbye celebration for a dear friend in the morning. She had a favorite spot and we're meeting lots of friends there on what we hope will be a beautiful day to share stories about her and give her husband a big dose of love.

My good friend's niece and her husband welcomed their little prince into the world last Sunday. He's everything you could ever imagine about a beautiful little boy. The videos are simply precious. They include lots of snuggling and baby sounds.

My sweet-sister-since-two-thousand-and-four also celebrated the long-hoped-for adoption of her first grandson. He's as darling as little boys can be. His hair curls and curls and all the girls will want to be his girlfriend when they're in kindergarten.

We also heard that our other friends back home (in the Midwest) welcomed their little angel-baby granddaughter into the world, too. Her photos are just like you'd imagine a tiny newborn with all the frills and ribbons and love. Except this little angel only stayed here for a couple of hours. She'd gone on to Heaven and I can't begin to imagine... well, I can't even express it.

I remember when my dear dad was passing away several years ago. It became so real to me that people lose their special someones somewhere every day. I decided to be more patient when I'm driving by the hospital near our house. And understand a little bit more when someone is irritated for no obvious reason.

And I also decided to celebrate the joys of births and adoptions and weddings and anniversaries as much as possible. These are the good days. And maybe someday I'll understand why the hard things happen. Maybe someday.


As Fast as a Weed

Last week, before we heard about the situation on DJ's job site... DJ brought this down for me from our hill. It's just a silly ol' weed, but look at it! It's two feet taller than I am!

We didn't keep it. And DJ thought it was quite silly of me to take the picture. But I had to share it with you.

Happy Weekend!


Some Days It's Hard to Wait

Do you ever find yourself just dreaming about our next life? It's cloudy here today, and for some reason, clouds bring heaven and all my family there to my mind. I imagine they're having pancakes, laughing, rejoicing, watching and loving all of us.

Although, they may still have to do laundry. I can't seem to find laundry duty listed in the Bible. Eating is mentioned there, as well as talking and maybe dancing. Heavenly dancing... hmm, I wonder if it has to be choreographed.

Until then... we'll wait to know. And we'll have so many answers. Answers to questions we probably haven't even considered.

Any ideas are welcome as comments....


No Joke!

"Howdy Neighbor!" We had our first Neighborhood Watch meeting last night. There have been a few close calls lately and one home was broken into during the daytime while the owners were home. Along with our prowler situation last October, it seemed only right to attend the meeting.

There were four uniformed policemen there as well as the nice gal who led the meeting. She didn't have a gun, but she was wearing a lovely embroidered polo shirt that told us she was a Crime Prevention Specialist. I left with a nice magnet for the fridge that says the name of the police department in large print, but has the phone number in a much smaller font with red type on black print. We're also planning on getting a "Beware of Dog" sign for our house at their encouragement. Our neighborhood will also receive several brand new signs to let people know we're watching them.

About ten minutes before the meeting was over, a home security alarm went off just a few doors down. It was priceless watching the policemen as they decided to go check it out. I guess normally it would be up to the security company to respond... The policemen came back a few minutes later ~ everything must have been fine on our street in Sunny. Hopefully, it will stay that way.


Today I Make This Choice

This little light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine
This little light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine

Let it shine
Let it shine
Let it shine

My life is just as much in His hands now as it was in 1963...


Most Treasured

It's been a beautiful weekend here in Sunny. We spent Saturday doing yard work...yes, even I pitched in which will be quite a shock to some of you. You know me far too well. After filling all our recycle bins and most of our trash cans with greenery, we sat down to relax for the evening. Our hopes of snuggling in with a good movie didn't last more than a few minutes.

DJ received a call that the gate had been left open on their job site. We all loaded up in the big truck for our adventure. (Max loves to go for a ride once in a while.) It took about 45 minutes to get there and that was some good snuggle time for our guy. He was a bit too scared to look out at the zooming traffic and scenery, so it was purely time to be with Mom & Dad!

Upon our arrival, we saw that not only was the gate open, but the lock and chain were missing. "Uh-oh." We then found that every lock box and some of the trailers (it is a very large building project) had been broken into. It seems tools were the primary target... or they may have been planning a return trip for more goods later.

Sunday morning we visited a different church and ran into our dear friend Ruthie after service. (We ran into her by opening her car door and sneaking into the back seat of their Buick while she was resting, waiting for her husband.) As our visit was ending, I noticed quite a treasure. Her Bible was on the floor next to her purse. The tabs were worn down and the spine was falling apart. Rarely does something touch my soul more than the sight of a Bible that's clearly been covered with tears, spotted with hand lotion and has a few pages worn at the top with those patches of thumb-rubbing...

I firmly believe the thieves at DJ's job site need a Ruthie praying for them. Perhaps they have one, but the prayers need to continue for awhile. If only they knew the Treasure in Ruthie's Buick is far more valuable than any jack-hammer, saw, roto-tiller or such...


Fun Friday

I had lunch with my good friend Kathy today. We go way back ~ around 20 years or so. There's just something about lunch with a friend you've known forever. We didn't have an agenda, no events to plan, no horrible news to share or concerns to cry over...just lunch. Turkey, tomato soup and a chip or two...

If you've had a friend for a long time and you haven't spoken to, instant messaged or met for tea in a while...do it. Call 'em, ring 'em or set that date. You'll be ever so glad you did.


I Don't Think So....

As promised, here it is. The story of Max and his long weekend.

We'd made arrangements for a house-sitter. He's one of JJ's friends. He came to visit last Thursday for some play time to gain Max' trust. We showed him the microwave, the garage code, the famed snack drawer, and of course, Max' treat cupboard.

Apparently, Max was being friendly on Thursday because his mama was home.

Apparently, Max was not happy that his dad had loaded up the car with those long sticks and jackets and big shoes.

Apparently, Max does know how to growl.

Apparently, Max did not want to play chase or keep away with the touch-down towel.
Apparently, Max preferred solitude.
It was a long, long, long weekend for both Max and our friendly house-sitter. Sometimes, things are just not right until Daddy's home...and the reunion was full of jumping, dancing and kisses for a half-hour or so until Daddy said he needed a shower from all the "kisses."


Not Exactly Sunny

We had a wonderful treat over the past weekend. DJ needed some time on the mountain and we loaded up in the wagon and headed north. Not quite to Alaska ~ but fairly far away.

The ride up was sunny, and then on Saturday afternoon this mysterious little covering of powdered sugar started falling all over the tiny town. It was amazing! Everywhere we went we saw little bits of it. And then...on Sunday morning we awoke to pillows of it all over the place!

It truly was a delightful weekend. We didn't do anything much of great importance, but sometimes that can be the most important thing to do.

Max was very glad to see us when we returned home...but that story will be saved for another day. There is only so much joy one can put in a single post...


Beautiful, but No Aroma

Ah, yes...it's springtime here in Sunny. We are blessed to have a few of these beautiful camellia bushes ~ trees? I'm not sure what they are, but the flowers are spectacular! We have three of them in the same area as this one, right on the front side of our home. I often say it rains more on one side of our house than the other...this is the rainy side.

We have another bush right by our front door. It's not doing quite so well. The leaves are sparse and the blossoms started out quite pale. They're up to a pale pink and starting to bloom in the deep red again.

I want to be part of the tree that has the deepest roots and the healthiest foliage. But unlike these beautiful blossoms, I want it all... I want to have the sweet aroma of the most blessed flowers in the Garden.

Hope your Wednesday is wonderful...and full of, "Miracle-Grow,"....grins!


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I know, I know...he was a pagan and there's all that stuff about the early religion of Ireland and I haven't fully researched the life of our dear Saint... But the point of this post is to say, "Enjoy the day!" Grace Today does not intend to support or encourage you to go out and be completely crazy ~ drinking until the wee hours ~ or cavorting mindlessly with strangers in the street. However, our wee little family has always had fun with this holiday.

When JJ was young, at least until last year, St. Patrick would always find a way to turn our gallon of milk green before breakfast. We'd often have green pancakes, green eggs or oatmeal. I truly am a bit Irish (aren't we all on this day?) and celebrating life is one of the best Irish traits.

I'll try to find a green ribbon to add to Max' collar. I'll do my best with the corned beef for dinner. We may listen to Celtic music during dinner, as well. We'll probably listen to it until DJ sighs deeply and says, "Do we have to listen to those fiddles much longer?"

And at some point, I'll remember watching my dad kissing the Blarney stone...and I'll send him a wink through the clouds. I'm quite certain he'll wink back.


Daylight Saving Time

Master Max is finding this time change to be a challenge. He wants to sleep in until 10 a.m. every morning regardless of who may be in our garden. Please don't misunderstand, he gets up with DJ at 5:30 as is expected ~ the paper must be brought in promptly. And he certainly is in the right place to receive the morning's assortment of properly ordered treats (duck breast, beef sticks finished off with a bit of chicken jerky), but then it's right back to the cozy mattress-warmed bed for a few hours.

There are days when I think Max has been given a special amount of wisdom...


They Listened

Please read Chicken Tonight? if you're a new friend...

No, I don't know for certain that the folks over at the Big Box store have been checking in here at Grace Today...but I was overcome with glee to see the return of the unwrapped skinless chicken breast packages in the freezer there today! The joy of it all simply overwhelms me. No more chicken juice squirting out onto my hands and over the counter! No frustration rising up to cause me to want to say "Sugar!" when I can't get the little plastic packages to separate as they should and finding myself grabbing the closest knife to stab them all and show them what's what...

I also remembered to take in my large insulated shopping bag from Trader Joe's today. (That'll show 'em.) It worked! They didn't ask me if I wanted a box and I was able to carry the purchases in from the car all by myself. Not bad for a rainy Monday....not bad at all.



Louie's back! How is that for inspiring hope! If you're new to Grace Today, you may not know his story...you can find it here. He is chirping outside the window and it looks like he's building a nice little condo for the future family right in the same spot.

I'll have to put a cozy comforter on the ground, won't I...


Sunny Times

It's been a lovely week here in Sunny. Honey and I went to have a quiet hour at the seashore one day and today we're going up to DJ's project for lunch. It should be beautiful as he works in a woodsy part of our world. We thought about making egg salad sandwiches, but he said he would prefer we find a local eatery. Egg salad has never been a favorite of his, as you may surmise.

I've been watching the news and seeing the snow in other states. How can that be? How can it be so gloriously glowing with springtime here and snowing there? Is it fair of God to allow us to have amazing beauty and yet our cousins and friends have to shovel their driveways in bitter freezing air?

And then I began to ponder ~ snow. Just think about snow for a minute... It comes down so tenderly and gracefully. The scene of the Walton's Mountain Christmas special does pop in my head... However if you wait a few hours the ground may become hard with ice, cars may freeze, trees may break from the ice, oh the sight can change so quickly.

Perhaps the imagined snow scene is merely a reflection of my week. I'm looking forward to a drive in the sunshine today. I'll think about snow again when we're ready for a fireplace here. And I'll trust that God knows where I should live, what I should do and whether or not I'm fit to shovel snow.


A Beautiful Sunday

There must be a special sprinkle that God puts in the clouds on Sunday mornings. He must. It seems the sun is always brighter, the sound of the birds are a pitch higher and the air smells quite a bit cleaner.

Or perhaps it's just me. Perhaps on Sundays my eyes want to see clearer, my ears want to hear more closely and I want to breathe in more deeply. I know that's the plan for today.


A Bit Misty

When my heart with sorrow swells
When my eyes with tears do tell
Longing from so deep within
To find a place secure again

This I know, my Hope is sure
For my life is His to lead
When my works are finally done
He will know my heart was pure



Wrap Me, Please

There is a balm in Gilead,
to make the wounded whole,
there is a balm in Gilead,
to heal the sinsick soul.
There is a balm in Gilead,
to make the wounded whole,
there is a balm in Gilead,
to heal the sinsick soul.
Sometimes I feel discouraged,
and think my work's in vain,
but then the Holy Spirit
revives my soul again.
If you cannot preach like Peter,
if you cannot pray like Paul,
you can tell the love of Jesus,
and say, "He died for all."