Family vacation 2012


 This is the view from the beach house we have rented for “family vacation”. For the last few years some time  between Thanksgiving and New Years my daughters will ask “is there family vacation next year?” To which I respond “do you want to go on family vacation?” Family vacation is code for mom plans and mom pays. I am blest that my girls and their guys want to go on vacation with me and that I can afford to do that. The planning usually starts in January with “where should we go and when are you available?” This year there were emails back and forth with links to possible beach houses. And by the beginning of February the beach house was reserved for the third week in July.

I enjoy beach vacations but I am a brat so I want to be right on the beach and I want nothing to do but be with my family, read, chat and sip ice tea. This year’s family vacation is in Broadkill Beach, Delaware. The beach house is a block from the bay. It is a short walk over the dunes to the beach. The weather has been great a little warm but if you sit right at the edge of water you don’t feel as hot. My youngest daughter’s golden retriever has joined us complete with his own life jacket and water toys. I have read 2 books (A Secret Kept by Tatina De Rosnay and The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thorton Wilder) and been able to watch  5 episodes Newsroom – the new Alan Sorkin drama on HBO. I don’t have HBO so it was exciting to learn the beach house did. We also have played Wits and Wagers – fun game.

I have had the opportunity to share with my daughters stories of other beach adventures. As a child I remember going to Blackpool to visit my Uncle Bill. As a child, Blackpool was a magical place. There was Blackpool Tower, the circus, trolleys going up and down the boardwalk, fish and chips, donkey rides on the beach. The beach was huge and you could walk out “forever”.  I have a vivid memory of playing soccer with my brother and sister, when suddenly my brother when flying across the beach. He had slipped on something – a jelly fish. There were many jellyfish on the beach that summer. We would later learn that because of a change in the Gulf stream there were man of war in Blackpool. Yuck.  On another note, because Blackpool is in England, you don’t water a bathing suit on the beach – it is too cold. Another beach memory is taking my “little sister” to the Jersey Shore, Sandy Hook to be exact. My “little sister” is 12 years younger than I am so when I was old enough to drive she was still young. I remember standing at the edge of the water and a big wave came and knocked us over. Luckily I was holding her hand and I kept holding on to her – that was scary.  As a teenager, I have memories of day trips to the shore with friends – baby oil, little bikinis and Parkway traffic. I remember snorkeling with Bruce on our honeymoon in St Thomas and being afraid of the fish. His comment was “you are the one who isn’t suppose to be here – this is where they live” Family trips when my girls were young to Wildwood Crest, Island Beach State Park and North Carolina. And trips to the beaches of St Thomas with my girls when they were in high school. And family vacations with my sister and her family to North Carolina and Rhode Island.

As I was packing for this trip, I realized I didn’t have to pack sand toys. No one is building sand castles on this trip to the beach. Things change. But the waves continue to roll in and out. And family vacation becomes more and more precious.

Epic fail or was it???


I taught Sunday School yesterday and near the end of the class one of the 4th grade boys commented “is this story about the same  Abraham who helped settle things with the black and white people?” At first I wasn’t sure what he meant and then I realized he was talking about Abraham Lincoln. What?? Really I just taught this lesson on Abraham and Lot. I made sure we found the “story” in the Bible – “Genesis  chapter 13- big number 13, verses 1- 18 –  little numbers 1-18” I commented that I was reading it in story form but the same story is in the Bible. After the class was over, I thought the whole class was an epic fail. I mean I read the story, we acted it out, we did this fun through the soda can game, we threw marshmallows and we had lively discussion about each part of the lesson. A fun time was had by all but he thinks the story is about Abraham Lincoln. The more I tried to figure out where I went wrong, I realized something. He got the lesson. According to the curriculum, the lesson aim is “to help kids learn that God wants us to be peacemakers”. I also had another thought I have no idea what the kids are learning. My responsibility is to be prepared, to faithfully present the lesson to the best of my ability, to love my students and enjoy our time together.  So as a word of encouragement to parents and teachers, don’t give up because they may miss the facts but they may be learning the lesson.


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Two weeks ago while running errands with my mom I had stopped by her home to pick up something that she wanted at her “new” home at the assisting living facility. I had left the front door open and gone upstairs to search for the item. I wasn’t sure if it was in one of the few boxes still in the house or if it was in the many boxes in my garage. As I turned to exit the bedroom there was a dog standing there.  A pit bull. I screamed. He wagged his tail. I pretend to like dogs but I am very cautious with dogs. So I am “saying go home doggie, go home.” I am waving my arms and he is acting like he has found a new friend. I finally “shoo” him outside but he is all happy. He thinks I am playing. I try to reach for his collar to see where he lives but at the same time I am remembering every headline I have ever seen about “pit bull attacks someone”. I am also thinking if this dog bites me my mom will try to get out of the car and she will fall and I can’t do this, give me a break. So this scenario is running in my head. And my mom is in the car watching and smiling. My mom’s home is on a very busy street and even though I am afraid of this dog I don’t want him to get hit by a car.  So I decided that just leaving is best thing so I lock up the house and my new friend Mr Pit Bull is still right there. I again encourage him to go home. He isn’t listening. I open the car door to get in and you guessed it Mr Pit Bull jumps right in my car. My mother is laughing I am on the verge of tears because  I am afraid of this dog. I yell at him to get out and he finally does. I jump in and lock the door. My mom is still laughing and I don’t know whether I should laugh or cry. It was good to see my mom laugh but I couldn’t have been eaten by a pit bull and my mom could have fallen and…. I have a vivid imagination.

“His thoughts said, I dreamt a distressing dream last night….His Father said, When did I promise to give strength and grace in a dream of the night? My grace is for that which is, not for that which may never be.”  His Thoughts said…His Father said… by Amy Carmichael

what if…

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This is really a continuation of my last post – Respect in the Real World -4th of July & book club.  At book club, one comment that was made more than once last evening was “I wonder what I would do if…?”. I don’t think we can know what we would do in any given situation until we are in that situation. Projecting what we hope we would do isn’t necessarily helpful. I feel knowing what we believe, what we cherish, what to us is not negotiable is of utmost importance. But until we are in a situation we can’t know what we will do or how we will react.

I remember hearing a story about Corrie ten Boom about what if…. I don’t remember the whole story but the part that has stuck with me and I tried to instill in my own children went something like this: Corrie had asked her father “how will I know what to do when _____happens? How will I get through_____”. Her father told her a story. “When we are going on a journey by train when do I give you the ticket?” Corrie responded “when we start the journey, when we get on the train.” Her father stated “And God will give you what you need when you need it. He will give his grace when you need it.”

I have a vivid memory from September 2001 of sitting on the floor of my living room with my daughters and sister and asking them “Where do you think daddy is right now?” And they answered “in heaven”. I said “it is time to plan a memorial service”. And then I said something like this “I have no idea how we are going to get through this but if a week ago someone had told me we would have to go through what we have already gone through, I never would have believed them. God has gotten us through the last week and we had moments of sadness but we also had moments of peace and even laughter. And He will give us what we need when we need it.” And He has.

Respect in the Real World – 4th of July and book club

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Last night I attended my monthly book club at the public library. Our book  for the month of June had been The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway. What an amazing book and what a wonderful discussion. “The Sarajevo in this novel is only one small part of the real city and its people, as imagined by the author. This is above all else a work of fiction.”  It is fiction set in a real event in the recent past and that may be what makes it so chilling. More than once during our discussion last evening someone commented “why, don’t I remember this. why wasn’t I aware of this.”  I defaulted to “maybe the media wasn’t reporting it. Maybe it wasn’t in front of us.” But that isn’t a reason not to be informed. There was also discussion about what it must be like to live with war waging around you. We shared stories of images seen during childhood that shaped us today. We also wondered what would we do in those circumstances would we be brave, would we be our “brother’s keeper”.

“The city he lives in is full of people who will someday go  back to treating each other like humans. The war will end, and when it’s looked back upon it will be with regret, not with fond memories of faded glory.  In the meantime, he will continue to walk the streets. Streets that will not have dead and discarded bodies lying in them. He will behave now as he hopes everyone will someday behave. Because civilization isn’t a thing that you build and then there it is, you have it forever. It needs to be built constantly, re-created daily. It vanishes far more quickly than he ever would have thought possible. And if he wishes to live, he must do what he can to prevent the world he wants to live in from fading away. As long as there’s war, life is a preventable measure.”

I have been pondering that quote in light of today being the  4th of July – America’s birthday.  I am grateful to the men and women serving in our military  whether at home or overseas. I am saddened that their families will have empty chairs at the tables due to deployment or even worse due to the ultimate sacrifice. I also feel that as a nation there are “wars” waging within our borders – poverty, unemployment, healthcare reform, care of the aged, immigration, religious freedoms,etc… Mr. Galloway, I hope you don’t mind but I  tweaked Dragan’s thoughts on page 151 of  The Cellist of Sarajevo for the 4th of July, 2012 – “The country she lives in is full of people who will someday go back to treating each other like humans. The issues/problems will be resolved and when they are looked back upon it will be with regret, not with fond memories of faded glory and which party won. She will behave now as she hopes everyone will someday behave with respect for her fellow countrymen. Because civilization isn’t a thing that you build and then there it is, you have it forever. It needs to be built constantly, re-created daily. It vanishes far more quickly than she ever would have thought possible. And if she wishes to live, she must do what she can to prevent the world  she wants to live in from fading away. “

a sticky situation

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It has been really hot and sticky lately. This isn’t a hot summer memory  but it is a sticky situation that happened a few years ago. I had traveled to the Barn to host my friend’s daughter’s 13th birthday party.  I was bracing myself for an overnight adventure that would include giggles, whispers, shrieks and “drama”. It was December so there was much to do when we arrived- turn on the water, turn up the electric heat and start a fire. For whatever reason, I had opened one of the lower kitchen cabinets and noticed a caramel colored liquid. I assumed a can of soda had frozen and exploded so I quickly closed the cabinet and decided to deal with it later. “Let’s get the girls fed and then they can go in the hot tub.” The tacos my friend had made were a yummy success and the party goers decided to go in the hot tub. “Perfect” they can go in the hot tub while we clean up from dinner and then I can tackle the soda spill.

The table is cleared, dishwasher is loaded and leftovers are put in the refrigerator. Ok, time to empty the bottom cabinet and see how much “damage” the exploding soda did. SURPRISE!! There is a dead mouse stuck in the soda. I hate mice especially dead mice that are petrified in a caramel colored liquid. So the clean up begins. Bad news. There are no rubber gloves so plastic grocery bags will serve that purpose.  I put the plastic bag over my right hand, reached into the cabinet without looking, closed my eyes and grab the mouse. But it was stuck, really stuck. It won’t move. Between my squeals of disbelieve and thoughts of dismay, my friend’s older daughter suggests pouring hot water on the sticky liquid. Did I mention the birthday girl and guests are outside and this situation needs to be resolved without their knowledge? Alas, the hot water works and I finally loosen the mouse, and throw it out. Upon further investigation I realize there is a second dead mouse.  So the clean up continues, more plastic bags, a whole roll of paper towel and success. All cleaned up. The door to the deck opens and the birthday girl comes walking in and says “Mom, I have been yelling for you. What are you doing in here?” Oh if you only knew 🙂

But what happened here. And then I see it a giant warehouse size bottle of pancake syrup with a hole  in the side. I guess one little mouse found a sweet treat and then invited a friend to join him and they both got stuck.  There must be some life lesson  in that.