Saturday, June 30, 2007

First Steps

I was standing outside this evening talking with my neighbor when I looked over and OH MY WORD Caden was taking three consecutive steps. He did it a few more times after that, but he still seems to think he "can't" walk just yet. I'm not convinced!

I am sure the entire neighborhood heard me shriek and cheer and that's perfectly fine. I don't care if they think I'm whacko. In the meantime, I'll enjoy these last weeks (or days) of just a few steps at a time, because pretty soon, the chase is on!

On a different note, does ANYONE know how to shrink the size of the pictures you put on your header? In case you haven't noticed, mine is huge. And I can't figure out how to fix it. If anyone can help, I'm sure Steph can! Thanks everyone.

Hope you're all enjoying a lovely weekend!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wow, two posts in one day!

I have been keeping quiet about something that's been going on this week because I saw no need in posting about it if it turned out to be nothing.

Let me elaborate...

I went in for a routine physical last week, and my labs came back indicating that my white blood count (WBC) was lower than it should be. This is not atypical for me, as I am anemic and taking injections to keep my counts up. It's not serious, it's not life-threatening, but upon hearing last week's verdict, I must admit I got a little panicky. The "what ifs" began playing in my mind and it was all I could do to keep my eyes to the heavens and resist the urge to play the "what if" game.

This morning was my appointment with the hematologist/oncologist, and to tell you the truth, the 45-minute wait proved agonizing. I sat there, watching patient by patient walk through the doors, many of them there to receive chemo treatments. I noticed a young woman, I presumed to be around my age, waiting to be seen by the doctor. Both of us ended up together in the back to get our blood drawn and wait for our labs to be analyzed. Out of nowhere, she said (almost as if she thought nobody would hear her), "It's amazing, you know? Two years later and this place STILL makes me nauseous." I gently asked what she meant, and through our conversation, I found out that this then 23 year-old woman had fought and won her battle with breast cancer. She was sitting at work one day, wearing a wool sweater and while itching, she discovered a lump. The doctor told her it had probably been there for a year, growing itself into stage 3 cancer. For two years, however, she's been cancer-free, and she was in for her check-up.

As I drove home, I called my mom to let her know everything with me was fine. My counts were back in "normal" range, and I said a silent prayer, thanking God that I was okay and that this young woman was in the clear. I prayed that she would continue to stay cancer-free and I prayed for all the other cancer patients I witnessed while sitting in that office. The man and his wife, the mom with her two daughters, the single woman talking to the experienced older woman, one of them nearing the end of her treatment while the other was just beginning.

We take so much for granted. My thoughts often go to Amy, a young wife and mom who continues to be in the fight for her life. And I think of little Joshua, a brave little three year-old battling Wilm's Tumor. And Andrew and Julie, his courageous parents and our friends whose faith has stood strong and touched so many during this time.

Throughout the day, as I thought about how fragile our lives are and how quickly our health or other circumstances can change, the words to a favorite worship song rang through my head:

"You give and take away...
You give and take away...
My heart will choose to say...
Lord, blessed be Your name.
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
Blessed be Your glorious Name."

I'd Rather Have Jesus

An excerpt from Joseph M. Stowell's book, "Simply Jesus"
"If you had to choose between Jesus and something precious to you...some alluring dream or tantalizing desire...I wonder, would you choose Him?
The meal was just about finished when I leaned over and asked Billy Graham the question I had hoped to ask him all evening. Martie and I had been seated next to Dr. Graham at a dinner for the staff and board of his organization. Billy, eighty at the time, was lucid and interesting. Wondering what he would say about his highest joys in life, I asked, 'Of all your experiences in ministry, what have you enjoyed the most?'
Then (thinking I might help him out a little), I quickly added, 'Was it your time spent with presidents and heads of state? Or was it---'
Before I could finish my next sentence, Billy swept his hand across the tablecloth, as if to push my suggestions onto the floor.
'None of that,' he said. 'By far the greatest joy of my life has been my fellowship with Jesus. Hearing Him speak to me, having Him guide me, sensing His presence with me and His power through me. This has been the highest pleasure of my life!' It was spontaneous, unscripted, and clearly unrehearsed. There wasn't even a pause.
With a life full of stellar experiences and worldwide fame behind him, it was simply Jesus who was on his mind and on his heart. His lifelong experience with Jesus had made its mark, and Billy was satisfied.
I found Billy Graham's statement that evening more than convicting. I found it motivating - right to the core of my being. With everything in me, I want what he's experienced. I find my heart saying, If I make it to eighty, I want to say the same thing."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This excerpt from Dr. Stowell was for me this morning as I sat and had my quiet time. So often I look elsewhere, seeking many other things when what I really need to do is keep my eyes and my mind on Him. Nothing else can even come close to the peace and joy Jesus brings.
No matter what I or anyone I know is facing, there is One who can calm my anxious heart, ease my troubled mind, and satisfy my soul. His name is Jesus.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Mommy and Me

Daddy took this picture while Mommy and Cody shared a tender moment.
I hope he never stops wanting those hugs!

You Know You Failed at Dinner When....

1. Five year-old looks at plate and says, what else are we having?

2. Oh, so this eggplant isn't ALL? (Sighs with relief until...)

3. He finds out we're also having marinated cucumbers. But wait, we're also having corn on the cob!

4. Then he asks, "Are we at LEAST having dessert?"

5. Folds hands with resignation when told no.

6. Eats it anyway and even smiles and says thank you afterwards.

7. Cleans up his spot at the table and gets a big hug from mommy for being such a good sport.

F.Y.I. We had fried eggplant (the way my mama used to make it, though mine never tastes as good as hers), marinated cucumbers in Italian dressing and corn on the cob. I lovingly refer to this meal as "veggie nite." I love it in the summer because it's light and fresh and I happen to love all the things on the menu.

So it wasn't as big of a hit as I'd hoped. But the produce looked so good at the store! Hopefully tomorrow night I'll hit the jackpot with "make your own pizza." Surely that's going to get a standing ovation!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Let's just say it was nothing short of amazing...

Thank you so much to those who were praying for us on Saturday. It meant so much to us and we could feel your prayers because the peace of God was truly upon us. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, but I think that's alright, because the time didn't really present itself for pictures. We were either rehearsing or performing and there wasn't much time in between. Plus, I never really felt like there was an appropriate moment to say, "Hey, can we get a picture with you?" It just didn't feel right!

And now for the recap...

Upon our arrival to the Chicago Hilton and Towers, we were directed to the International Ballroom which seats approximately 3,000 people. There were that many chairs set up. It was overwhelming, to say the least. I think the first words out of my mouth were, "Oh yeah. This is no big deal." Ha! There were huge screens on both sides of the mainstage and the sound technicians were setting up our stage, which was a smaller one in the corner. We were directed to the green room by the AMA's creative director where there was a huge and beautiful spread of food (my word, who could even think about eating at a time like this????), and we were shown where we could change and get ready.

When Rod, Alfreda, their pianist and string players arrived, we talked briefly about the set of music and then we began rehearsing. We didn't have as much time as we'd like to practice, because the president of the AMA was needing to run through his speech, but it was enough to get us through all the music. Rod and Alfreda were meticulous in the sound check, making sure everyone was heard, even in the very back row. Did I mention this place was huge? I especially appreciated each and every time he pointed to us and our microphones and told the sound person to crank us up. He genuinely cared about every person up on that stage being heard.

After rehearsal, we were able to sit and talk with them and we were pleasantly surprised, even from the moment we first began rehearsing, to find out that they are the warmest, most genuine (and passionate) people. A highlight for Jerry and I (and one of our prayer requests) was getting to sit and enjoy a long conversation with them. Both of us gleaned so much from their expertise, their love of music, and their heart for the Lord.

During the actual performance, I kept having to pinch myself, thanking the Lord for the opportunity to sing such beautiful music with all the talented people up on that stage. The final song we did was commissioned for the AMA and was entitled "What's in Front of Me." You can follow the link to learn more about it and listen to it. It is also on i-tunes for any who might be interested in purchasing it. Rod blew that thing out of the water and at the end, the entire place erupted and all in attendance were on their feet.

It looks as though this might open a few doors for us in the future, such as performing with the choir at next season's performance of Too Hot to Handel, both in Chicago and Detroit.

It was an amazing, mountain top experience. We had a ball and we felt so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to sing alongside these wonderful people.

Thank you to all who were praying for us. And thank you, Lord, for such an awesome experience!

Friday, June 22, 2007

A big thank you and a big request...

First of all, I was looking back at some previous posts and wanted to say thank you to all of you who read my blog, comment consistently and keep coming back. My goal in blogging was never to have a bunch of readers, but to those of you who have kept up with it, I thank you! I love reading your blogs every day (or at least weekly) and I thank you for helping me get acquainted with each of you and the blogging world.

And now for my request. You may remember me mentioning that Jerry and I will be performing this weekend in Chicago. It is an event for the American Medical Association, and we are singing with the people that we saw perform back when I posted this. These people are really well known in the opera world, and I am so anxious. I am a preparer, a planner, a practice-way-ahead-of-time-'til-it's overkill kind of girl, and I only have once piece of sheet music out of the three pieces we're singing. Mind you, we are back-up singers, so it's not like we're front and center, but we need to know our stuff! We only have two hours of rehearsal to practice all the songs (we are only doing three out of the total six that are being performed, and there are vocalists, a pianist, and string players to coordinate as well). This is an awesome, awesome opportunity for Jerry and I, and we really want to do well. So, if you think of us tomorrow, would you please pray for us to think quickly on our feet, to have strong voices, and for me to be calm, relaxed, and confident? Thank you so much!!!

A little side-note...these people have also been a wonderful connection for Jerry as he has written his master's project on the aging voice and how it pertains to professional singers. They have answered all of his questions and lent a great deal to his paper. They are also Believers, which is equally as wonderful, and I am hoping that we are able to have even a little time to talk with them personally and learn more about them as people.

Thank you for praying and I'll be sure to take pictures and let you know how it goes!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Just Call Me the First Lady

Around lunchtime today, my husband called me from campus and shared the most wonderful news...he has been elected president of his graduating class! This means that he will be delivering a speech at Commencement as well as conducting the choir and orchestra for the college at (drumroll, please) the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Hall! For those of you that don't know, my husband has been working on his master's degree in music education and will complete it at the end of July.

As you can see, I am very proud of him and just had to share. You may now address me as "Madame First Lady" now. I'm only kidding. NO really. Bow down.

In My Quiet Time....

I was reading this morning from a book called "Baby Boot Camp: Surviving the First Six Weeks of Motherhood" by Rebecca Ingram Powell. I don't have a newborn baby in the house, but the devotionals in this book are relevant to motherhood, each and every day, no matter what age your children are. When Cody was born (he's now 5 1/2), I received this book from a dear friend and I journaled every day right in the book. I love going back and reading what I wrote as I fumbled my way through the first six weeks of new mommy-hood. I thought I would share my thoughts in hopes that they might be an encouragement to you today in your motherhood journey. The devotion was titled "At Ease" on Day 12 and is all about discerning each and every day what's most important. Asking oneself what needs to be done and what can wait, perhaps learning to not worry needlessly about a temporary situation. Ms. Ingram encourages us moms to "focus on the picture Isaiah's words create: Our Gentle Shepherd, Jesus, who carries us close in His arms, close to His heart, tenderly leading us mothers and our little ones. At ease, Mom. At ease." And this is what I wrote in response....

December 26, 2001 (Cody was 11 days old at this point)

"Today I am feeling driven to 'do it all.' This devotion was so good for me - it reminded me that sometimes housework can wait. The best part of my day is right now...holding you close with your head resting on my shoulder. It is a privilege to be your mommy! As I read from Isaiah 40:9-11, I was so comforted by the part of the chapter that reads, 'He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.' This verse has been such a comfort to me in the troubled times we are facing. Jesus IS the Gentle Shepherd caring for you and me. Lord, thank you for the privilege of being a mom. May I never take it for granted."

Monday, June 18, 2007

I've decided too much of the Food Network can be a good thing

We had two sets of neighbors over this past Friday evening for dinner. One of the ladies is allergic to eggs, which eliminates quite a few things from a dinner and dessert menu when you think about I was in a bit of a meal-planning quandry.

As I was sharing this with Cody, he said, "MOM! I know what we could make for her! Since she can't eat eggs, we can make what I saw on Sandra Lee's show...Semi-homemade. FRUIT KABOBS! It's really easy, you just take a bunch of pieces of fruit, like strawberries, pineapple, melon, grapes, and then you know, put 'em on a stick! That's what you should do!"

So, my five year-old, as it turns out, is a better and more creative meal planner than I. Sigh.

They actually were quite beautiful and enjoyed by all. I also made little angel foodcake cups and filled them with vanilla pudding and topped them with blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries and added a little whipped cream. Very pretty, fresh, and yummy! I only wish I'd taken pictures.

So...just in case any of you were looking for dessert ideas, you know, my five year-old would be happy to help you.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day

Wishing all you dads out there a blessed Father's Day!
To Jerry: Our boys are so incredibly blessed to have you for a father. Thank you for the love and grace you extend to them and to me. We love you!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I've been tagged!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Boats has tagged me for a Meme. I love these! So here goes...

Five things I was doing 10 years ago
1) Graduating College. Moving to a new town to start a new teaching job. Oh, and I bought a new car. Almost exactly the same as Steph's!

2) Started dating a fellow teacher (the students found out about it and I couldn't live it down...we were seen at a shopping mall twenty minutes north of the actual school)! I was on a slippery slope spiritually (say that three times fast!), and it would be another year before I reached the end of myself and looked to the One who had my future in His hands.

3) I was working part-time as a singing waitress (yes, you read that right), thus paying for that aforementioned new car.

4) I went on a cross-country trip. We went through every state from Chicago to Las Vegas. In a convertible. We visited every place from Graceland to the Rocky Mountains, to the Grand Canyon to the MGM Hotel and Casino in Vegas.

5) I was living in an apartment that was actually "low income housing" (I was new to the area and didn't realize this. And I was young and stupid. There, I said it.). There's nothing better than coming home after a long night of waitressing and seeing drug dealers making an exchange on your front porch. YIKES! (God's been so good to me!)

5 Snacks I enjoy
1) Tortilla Chips and fresh pico de gallo
2) flatbread and cheese
3) fruit and nut mix from Costco
4) popcorn
5) veggies and homemade dill dip

5 songs that I know all the lyrics to
1) Every Watermark song
2) Every Nichole Nordeman song
3) lots of jazz/big band tunes
4) lots of worship songs (lately I'm totally into Chris Tomlin!)
5) many Italian and french art songs and arias, and every song I've ever taught my students (my head is chock-full of music ALL the time!)

5 Things I would do if I were a Millionaire
1) Give a bunch to the church
2) Pay off our house and probably buy a bigger one
3) Sponsor/adopt needy children
4) Take a great vacation
5) Shop. I know. It's selfish.

5 Bad Habits
1) Picking at my nails
2) Running late
3) Interrupting when I'm afraid I'll forget what I wanted to say
4) drinking coca-cola
5) falling asleep before the movie is over

5 Things I would Never Wear Again
1) jellies
2) Parachute pants
3) cut-off tops
4) panty hose...I know, it's unavoidable.
5) Maternity Clothes!!!!!

5 Things I Like to Do
1) Spend time with family and friends
2) Take long walks with my hubby, kids and doggie
3) Talk on the phone to my mom and sisters
4) Watch movies
5) SING!

Five Favorite Toys
1) Strawberry Shortcake
2) Cabbage patch Kids
3) Barbie
4) I used to love playing super mario brothers with my sister on nintendo when it first came out
5) Puzzles

Five People I Tag:
1) Marc at Strathman Stuff
2) Jaime at Howdy from the Halls
3) Kari at The Powell Place
4) Charity at Chair's Table
5) Jessica at Itty Bitty Bits of Me

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

She always knows best

So hubby and I have this gig a couple weekends from now to sing for a benefit in Chicago. We have a friend who is in the recording industry and he is representing a lovely, incredibly talented couple who need singers of the back-up sort. It's an awesome opportunity, and he called us to see if we would do it.

The first thing out of my mouth was, "I'm not doing it. I mean, what would we do with the kids, and I'm so out of practice, I mean all I do is teach these days and there's no rehearsal and these people are BIG, I mean they're really BIG and seriously do I really want to go in there and stink? I mean, what if I totally STINK?"

Hubby states, very simply, "He's counting on us. I told him we'd do it."


I grabbed the phone, left a message for mom, and rested, knowing she would know what to say.

Then, I grabbed the next best thing, my ipod and dog, and took a nice long walk to clear my head and start to give myself a pep talk.

It truly was the right thing to do, because as I walked, I was transported to that wonderful place I go when I listen to my favorite vocalists sing in my ears. Over and over again I was reminded how very much I LOVE to sing.

I got back home and not long after, the phone rang. It was mom. Ready for her response?

"Oh for pete's sake, honey, this is what you DO, it's where you live. So what if there's no rehearsal??? You do your best work off the cuff anyway, you and Jerry, and well, you'll be awesome. So take a pill, suck it up, and go sing for crying out loud. There's no question here, just do it. Okay? OKAY??????"



Yeah, she always knows the right thing to say.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

I could get used to this!

I woke up to a beautiful morning and went and sat out on the patio, read the paper, and had a nice chat with our neighbors (who as I mentioned previously were safe and sound!). Dinner tonight was enjoyed outside once again, and afterwards, we decided to go fishing. It was so relaxing...quiet and serene...(we even caught a couple of fish!) and I thought this is definitely something I'd love to do on a regular basis.

I go back to teaching tomorrow (it's been a really nice break), and to kick it off, I attended the senior recital of one of my students this afternoon. She is so talented, playing piano, violin, and being an accomplished vocalist. She honored all of us, her teachers, by introducing us, acknowledging us in the program and giving us flowers afterward. I will miss her so much next year, but it's been very rewarding working with her these last four years and watching her grow.
Do you ever have days when you put your head on your pillow at night and honestly think, wow! This was a really nice day? So often, I'm too tired to even really notice...but I was reminded afresh today that I am so blessed with a great family, good friends and neighbors, a home I love, a job that's rewarding, and a God who loves and watches out for me. Truly, it doesn't get much better than that.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


So we have these wonderful neighbors that live right next door to us. With windows open, I can hear the jingling of their dog's tags, see the birds feasting at their feeders, and I always have a general idea of whether or not they are home. I can see their cars from our windows, and to tell you the truth, I always find great comfort in knowing that someone is home. I trust them and feel safer knowing they are right next door, especially when it's just the boys and I during the day. Today, we noticed both their cars were in the driveway. They are outdoor people...if the sun's shining, they're generally outside working in their yard, playing with their dog, or just enjoying the day from their deck. But today, despite the nice weather, they appeared to be home but inside.

I know this seems like an odd post, but all of this is to say that I have the world's most active imagination. I am having visions of horrible things going on...that they're trapped under something heavy and need assistance, that they are both ill and in need of medical help but can't get to the phone, etc. etc. and on and on....

So I called them. From just feet away. Instead of bothering them and knocking on the door to make sure they were okay, I simply called to say that I noticed both cars were there but it's been very quiet, and are you okay and do you need anything???? No answer. Again, vivid imagination running wild.

I really don't want them to think I'm a crazy lunatic stalker neighbor, always looking out my windows, wondering what they are up to. Because I'm not. And I don't. And, I also realize they are two grown adults, able to look after themselves and each other . But I have been concerned. So, it seemed like a good bloggy topic. What Would You Do?
***Updated to add: I just saw them this morning. They went to a party yesterday and carpooled. That is where they were. See??? All was well and I worried for usual!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

A look back on a day at the beach!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I have been trying to think of something blogworthy to write about, and I keep coming up short. There's not much to report on this end (a good thing, I think!). But I did realize a few hours ago that we are all about reaching milestones in our house right now. Allow me to elaborate.

Cody just graduated pre-school, and he will attend full-time kindergarten in the fall. He is becoming more and more independent, social, and seems to be out playing with friends more than he's actually home these days! Caden is oh-so-close to walking, and he's starting to trust himself enough to take a single step every once in a while. I noticed today he is cutting teeth on top and teeth on the bottom. His little mouth currently hosts six little teeth, three on top and three on the bottom, with many more to go. Even so, more baby teeth are on their way and pretty soon the teeth-cutting days will be over. Additionally, I am weaning him. I've decided it's time, and while that is bittersweet, it's another milestone that will eventually be reached. Jerry is almost done with his paper and graduation is about six short weeks away. He will finally have his Masters degree in Music Education. He said incredulously last night, "Wow. I can't believe I'm almost done!" Me neither, and praise God from Whom all blessings flow!!

I have found myself considering the possibility of going back to school for my master's degree with certification. I currently hold a bachelor of music degree, but I've let my teaching certificate expire (I never contemplated going back into the classroom after I left my first teaching job...that's a post for another day). Lately, I've had the desire to work on myself a little, to grow and to learn, to return to the a student. This is a long-term goal, as my first priority right now is to my husband and my boys, but it is nonetheless a goal.

All of this is to say that I believe we're all on the brink of something new. Even my family members seem to be in the same spot, each of us wondering what God is up to. I find comfort in knowing that He is on His throne, reigning supreme, with His fantastic plans for each of us. What a walk of faith each of us is on as we wait on Him, faithfully seeking His face, waiting to see what He does next. It is a sweet ride. And I am learning to relax and enjoy it.
But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Wedding Singers

Some of you might remember when I wrote about this. I think I forgot to tell you that just a few short weeks before her wedding, she finally called to say that she wanted my husband and I to sing at her wedding this past Saturday. I am pleased to report that, although it was a European wedding and they apparently operate on their own time table (the wedding started 45 minutes late), everthing went beautifully. I have never seen a more goregous gown than the one she was wearing. WOW is all I can say. The boys had a great time with our friends who watched them, and we even got to go out to lunch afterwards on a date to Biaggi's. Oh how I love that restaraunt. YUM. (I have noticed I often talk about food on my blog!)

Yesterday we were invited over to some friends who have a goregous home and a pool. We swam, BBQ'ed (there's that reference to food again!) and had a great time catching up.

Tonight we are being "interviewed" once again for another wedding and it happens to be the same weekend my husband graduates. We think we can squeeze it in since it falls on a different day, but still...are we nuts?? The groom is our neighbor's son and we just couldn't say no.

This week is filled with T-ball games, parties, get-togethers with friends, a senior recital for one of my students (and my rehearsal with her), and savoring my last week of freedom before I begin my summer teaching schedule. I'm trying to cram in as much leisure time as possible this week!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Ball, Barbie, and Beth

Yesterday was Cody's first T-ball game. What a hoot. All my other friends-of-boys told me that I would get the biggest kick out of seeing a bunch of four and five year-olds attempting to play baseball, but it truly was better than I expected! Jerry is coaching our team, lovingly named the Bluebirds, and it was so cool to see father and son throwing the ball around during warm-ups. Four out of the five kids on the team are from Cody's pre-school class, and he was so! excited! when he found out who was on his team. He was a real trooper through all five innings and Caden even seemed to enjoy himself, despite being hit in the head by a ball. Good thing heads are hard.

My friend Barbie had her fourth little girl, Kendra. Please stop by to wish she and her family of six well! The entire family had battled the dreaded stomach bug just prior to baby Kendra's arrival, and I was so glad to know that they all had just enough time to get over it before their sweet little one arrived. God is so good.
Finally, I read this yesterday from our beloved Beth Moore and just had to post a link here for your reading pleasure. If you're a man, don't bother. You wouldn't understand.
Have a great weekend!