So Much Good Stuff

You guys! There is so much stuff going on! I had been feeling overwhelmed, but now I’m just feeling blessed. I’ve been going through the most recent online IF:Equip study on the Spiritual Disciplines and it’s been so magnificent. It has reminded me to slow down and lean into God instead of hyperventilating over my super long to-do list. Which I already knew, but sometimes you just need a different voice to remind you.  I even wrote this post for Renewing the Heart Ministries about what I’ve been discovering (or re-discovering and putting into practice.) I’m still struggling in certain areas – always will, no doubt – but they are called “practices” for a reason. So let me tell you all the good stuff!

First, Grace & Such has published our first in (hopefully) a very long line of devotionals. Ten of the writers (myself included) have contributed to 30 Days of Grace.   It is currently available through Amazon.com and will be available for Kindle sometime in the next month or so. I read through the book several times during the editing process and let me just tell you this. I was amazed at the wisdom and encouragement every single time I read each entry. I mean, I might be biased, but I really do think this is a lovely book. And it’s just in time for Mother’s Day! Both the title and the picture link to the Amazon store.

Next on the agenda, this Saturday, April 29th, is the Iron Sharpens Iron Conference for Women in the Reading area. (For those of you who grew up playing Monopoly but aren’t from around here, it’s pronounced “Redding”.) The ministry I’m involved with – Renewing the Heart Ministries (RTH) – is the sponsor so we’ve been planning and planning for months. We have two keynote speakers, a regular worship team, a mid-day concert and testimony by TAMMY TRENT, nine workshops in the morning and nine workshops in the afternoon, one of which I’ll be leading.

I am truly excited about this event, not to mention RTH in general. Because RTH doesn’t just put on a conference and then say, “See ya next year!” We provide resources and training and follow up and everything after the conference. We are, as our fearless leader, Diane Karchner, says, “boots on the ground” and we do much more than just host a conference once a year. Trust me when I say you’ll be hearing more about RTH. Much more.

So then, after the conference is four straight days of house cleaning because Todd’s parents will be here next Thursday. We haven’t seen them for what seems like forever and their timing is perfect because I am in desperate need of decorating help from his mom. She’s really good with colors and styles and such.

But they’re not coming to help me choose a paint color (though I’m planning on that being a bonus). They are coming because Katie graduates from college on the 6th of May. GRADUATES! FROM COLLEGE! Or camp.  Whichever way you want to look at it.

After graduation, Katie will come home for the week so she can hang out with her grandparents before they go back to California. Then she will go back down to Virginia to start her real, adult life. And I gotta tell ya. As much as I wish she would be closer to home, I can’t even be sad about it. I’m just happy for her.

On Sunday, May 14th, I am going to go to church and then come home and do nothing. I’m going to truly practice Sabbath. I will not have a to do list and will only do what I want to do. And while I’m looking forward to being able to breathe for a minute, I’m pretty sure I’ll be a little forlorn that all that good stuff is over. Until the next round of good stuff.

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Good Things, Man

 

Oh my, but it’s been two-and-a-half months since my last post. I’m sure that is a great disappointment to my reader. Or readers. I think I have two, now.

I have many things to tell you! 2017 is looking very promising with an awful lot to look forward to. Today I’m just going to give you some of the highlights and then I’ll expand on them later. (See what I’m doing here? This is my way of making sure I have at least a few more posts in line. Brilliant, don’t you think?)

Okay. Now that we’ve agreed on the genius of my plan, let’s carry on, shall we?:

I’ve been consistently busy designing websites and thoroughly enjoy the challenge. It’s both logical and creative all at the same time.
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There are exciting plans for Grace & Such in the works, not the least of which is the fact we’re publishing a 30 Day devotional, hopefully by April. I read all the devotions several times while editing the book and all I can say is, I know how to surround myself with talented people. They really make me look good!
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Renewing the Heart Ministries, the regional ministry I’ve been involved with for the past year or so, is gearing up for our first conference at the end of April. There is so much more to tell you, but you’re going to have to wait. Suffice it to say it’s super exciting stuff! (And check out the website designed by Yours truly.)
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Todd and I are starting a new blogging adventure. Well, what I really mean is I’m starting a new blogging adventure and he’s coming along for the ride. Well, what I really mean is he’s coming along for the ride because he doesn’t actually have a choice. Well, he has a choice, but he’s being very supportive. Well, what I mean by “very supportive” is he says, “Whatever.” Due to the first three items above, I don’t have a target date for this new endeavor. Trust me when I say you’ll be among the first to know. As a show of my affection for you, I’ve given you a hint by revealing the logo my very talented friend, Gail, made for us. My requirements were that the characters looked like us, except not fat or old and she certainly delivered!
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Katie graduates from college in May. Did you read that people? GRADUATES. FROM COLLEGE! Yikes times infinity, man.

I’ve booked our vacation for this summer. With two adult children, being all adulty and everything, there’s no telling if or when we’ll be able to plan another family vacation. This could be our last one for a while. I hope not, but it’s going to be fabulous and memorable just in case.

I’m back to eating healthy again. The difference this time is that I’ve been doing it for about two months now and it’s FINALLY starting to make a difference.

And that’s all you’re getting. Seven little teasers to bring you back. As P.T. Barnum famously said, “Always leave them wanting more.” Of course, I think he was talking about fierce animals and death defying acts. This isn’t quite that exciting, but I think you should come back anyway.

 

So Many Bits

so-many-bits

Today I’m going to take random to a whole new level. I’m talking chocolate smeared on a piece of paper level.

See? I found this in my scripture writing notebook from back in March. I don’t know what I was eating while I was writing out my scripture that day, but whatever it was, it had to be wonderful. Because it was chocolate. And I smeared it. On my paper. And then I commemorated the occasion. If I thought it would be helpful to analyze this further I would, but I’m afraid no good could come of it.

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In the past two weeks, I have followed five different people on Facebook as they recorded their fabulous vacations. Italy, Scotland, New Zealand, England and Germany. Each one has done a spectacular job of making me want to go to Italy, Scotland, New Zealand, England and Germany. But Lancaster County will have to do for now.

Because my mom and my sisters are going to be here in less than two weeks and we will be going to Lancaster to chase see Amish people and take in the beautiful scenery. And probably eat yummy things. Which may or may not include chocolate. We have a lot of other things planned besides just Lancaster and will probably all need a vacation from their vacation when it’s all said and done. And we’ll probably have delicious, Amish jellies for our post vacation vacations.

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But before they come out, I get to go see the Rachael Ray Show with some girlfriends. Did you know you aren’t allowed to wear capris to a taping of the Rachael Ray show? So now I have to hope and pray I have slacks that still fit me. Because it would be really embarrassing to get kicked out for wearing capris.

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And speaking of television, I’ve been binge watching “Once Upon a Time” in between the office project and my work. A couple times I’ve thought I might be losing interest, but then new fairytale characters pop up and I have to see how they work them into the storyline.

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This past Monday was Asked & Answered over at Grace & Such and I was the subject. Which was kind of weird because they were my questions. I was both the interviewer and the interviewee. Which maybe isn’t actually so strange when you consider I not only talk to myself, I answer myself. Complete conversations. I have the best chats and really help me work through a lot of stuff. So if this wasn’t enough you can read more random here.

 

Forget Me Not

Forget Me Not

It’s kind of funny that I chose the word “Remember” for June over at Grace & Such. I had no idea just how far into reminisce mode I would be as the month began. Todd and I came to Arkansas for a Thompson Family Reunion – the first time we’ve been back in 8 years.

We moved here the day after our wedding and resided here for the next 18 years. We did a lot of living in that time. This is where we learned how to be married, where we brought two precious babies home from the hospital, where we raised those babies into school aged children. This is where I was diagnosed with breast cancer and where my surgery was performed, where my treatment was given. This is where Todd had his knee rebuilt and where I left him – he in his cast, still recuperating from the surgery – on the side of the freeway while it was sleeting. This is where he decided that Jesus was real and worthy of his devotion.

The happiest days of my life were spent here.

Each friend or family member we’ve seen has brought back those memories with such a force. I reminisce with every landmark we pass and the bittersweet emotions are raw and heavy.

I think it’s kind of funny that we will leave to return to Pennsylvania on the same day we left Arkansas for good ten years earlier. That was a rough day as well. But an exciting one, just the same.

The past ten years have been spent building a new life in a new place we have come to love. We’ve made cherished friends and are happy there. We love the location and the proximity to different places – the shore, DC, NYC, etc.. But it’s also been a hard stage of life, in my opinion. The empty nest (or pseudo empty nest, really) syndrome has its benefits, but it’s also painful. And there are times I still carry bitter and angry feelings towards cancer and how it changed me, both physically and emotionally.

I long for the days when I was still me and when my kids were around and we would explore and have fun. Where I lived life to the fullest. And all that happened here, in Arkansas.

Next week when we’re back at home and doing our thing, I’ll be happy to be there. I will get back into my routine and enjoy what Pennsylvania has to offer this summer. And I’ll fondly think back on this trip and the treasured people we were blessed to see.

And I will continue working on learning how to enjoy this stage of life so I can live it to the fullest. But I will always remember.

Tea and Quilts

Today was a lovely day for me and The Girl. She goes back to school on Sunday and we decided to finally make our way to the Penn Museum in Philadelphia, a place she’s wanted to visit since we moved here nearly ten years ago. Turns out, however, the museum is closed on Mondays.

Undaunted, we still made our way into the city, managed to find a decent parking spot and met The Boy for a cheap, delicious and way too large lunch. Philadelphia is known for its murals and, in fact, there are more than 3,000 of the colorful works of art scattered throughout the city. I’m always awed by their vibrant beauty so I grabbed these pics with my phone. (I made the conscious decision to leave my camera at home. *sigh*)

Mural 2

After we ate lunch The Boy went back to work and The Girl and I walked four blocks to Miel Patisserie, a divine French pastry shop, so we could finally experience French macarons. They’re quite as colorful as the murals and look like the little cookies on the time wasting game, Cookie Jam, on my iPad.

Macarons 2 Tea and Macarons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They also had really good tea. My tea was caramel toffee flavored and Katie’s was called Noel and was flavored with cinnamon and cardamom.

We enjoyed our sweet refreshments and walked back the four blocks to the car with about 15 minutes to spare before the meter ran out.

On our way home we made a stop at IKEA because IKEA. It’s like Disneyland. It even has flags at the entrance to the parking lot. The Girl bought a plant and named her Mabel, while I bought a $5.00 cheese grater. I spare no expense for my cheese preparations.

When we got home Mr. Jenster was off bowling so we made more tea to go with the macarons we brought with us and watched a few episodes of “Call the Midwife”.

Even though our original plans were dashed, it was an absolutely delightful day.

And as for quilts, it’s my day over at Grace & Such.

I Grow Rocks

I’m sorry I haven’t been very good about writing. (Is it just me, or do I seem to say that a lot?) I’ll be better about it once I get my act together. (Again, I say this all the time, don’t I?) Actually, my act is fairly together right now as I’ve been spending a lot of time on my website and I’m having so much fun! It’s a lot of work, though! How come nobody told me!? Well anyway, if you haven’t been over to Grace & Such since my last post, you need to take a gander. It’s starting to really come together.

But I’m here to tell you about the home front. I mean that literally. I’m going to tell you about the front of the home. And a little about the back, but mostly the front.

My story begins a long time ago. Back when I tried to grow something. And then it died. I didn’t give up. I tried to grow something again. And then it died. And then I planted petunias around a mailbox in a whiskey barrel and I watered them every day and they were glorious and beautiful and I thought I’d finally figured it out. But then they died.

After a while I would bring plants home from the nursery and Mr. Jenster would apologize to them. “I’m so sorry it’s come to this,” or “You’re not long for this world,” or “dead plant walking.” Eventually he would say cruel things to me like, “What dead plants did you throw our money away on this time?”

I finally had to accept the fact that I have a black thumb. All my plants wither and die slow, painful-looking deaths and I’m helpless to stop it. Except for weeds and unwanted grass. Those I’m really good at.

About a month ago or so Todd cleared out the flower bed in the front of the house. And when I say he cleared it out, what I mean is he took out everything, including the nasty junipers and overgrown “little” evergreen tree. He dug down about 6 inches to get rid of the lousy soil,  took care of some drainage issues and filled it with premium soil from the local landscape supplier.

And then he turned it over to me. The one who kills plants with a mere glance. So I decided I’d start with rocks and see how that goes. Turns out big rocks from a landscape supplier are expensive! So I did what any sane person would do. I asked on Facebook if anyone had any landscaping boulders they wanted to get rid of. Ding, ding, ding!!

The hows of getting the rocks into the flower bed are a whole other story and one I don’t have the energy to tell. Just suffice it to say it was quite the ordeal. Not for me because I just went along for the ride and said, “I like that rock.”

Anyhoo, I’m so happy to report that we’ve had the rocks for over two weeks now and I haven’t killed them yet. I think I may actually try some plants next.

Rocks Collage

 

And on the homeback, Todd has put two bird feeders in the tree next to the deck. He can see the upper feeder from his office upstairs and I can see them both from the kitchen sink.

Bird Collage

So far we’ve seen a lot of sparrows and another type of little bird that is as of yet unidentified,  a downy woodpecker and yesterday there was a hawk in our tree. I’m not kidding! Why was there a hawk in our tree?? He was fairly close to the upper feeder so I think he may have been waiting for his lunch to come eat some lunch. It’s like Marlon Perkin’s Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom all up in here! The only thing that would have been better is if he hadn’t flown away before Todd could get his camera phone to focus.

Oooo, no! The only thing that would have been better is if his lunch would have come for lunch AND Todd could get his camera phone to focus. That would have been fabulous!

As you can see, Sookie is fascinated.

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It’s A Real Thing Now

Today I published my first post for Grace & Such. For the past eight months I’ve been dreaming and planning and thinking and writing and designing and, and, and…  And then this morning, September 1st, the first scheduled post went live. And I’m excited. We’ve had over 250 visitors to the site so far today, which means it’s a real thing now.

If you click on the picture it will take you to the website and the first post.

What's Grace Got To Do With It

There’s no going back now.

 

The Summer of my Content

It’s been close to three months since I quit working and I feel really good about the successes I’ve achieved this summer. If these accomplishments are any indication of what the rest of my years will be like, then I can look forward to a very fulfilled and satisfied life.

I watched the first four seasons of Scandal in a matter of weeks. We can look at this one of two ways:

  1. I am able to focus to meet my goal. I am that dedicated; or
  2. I  could have watched all of it in one day, but I didn’t. I am that disciplined.

Either way I come out looking good.

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I scored tickets to LIVE with Kelly and Michael for September. (This maybe isn’t such an accomplishment as it was much easier than scoring tickets for the Tonight Show.)

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I baked one day.

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I read a book. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. I read it for book club and enjoyed it for the most part. It ended kind of abruptly, but it wasn’t a waste of my time. (I’m really good at book reviews, too.)

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I have been able to keep up with the laundry. Mostly.

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I hung out with Katie until she left for school yesterday. This included watching the last season of How I Met Your Mother with an impressive determination so we could both move on.

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I went out to lunch. A lot.

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I started a website – Grace & Such. It will be launching next Tuesday, September 1st. The concept is something that I’ve had on my heart for a long time and I’ve been working on it since January so I’m super excited that it’s finally about to be real. And maybe a little nervous about it, too. I’ll tell you more about it on the 1st, but here’s a little clue.

FB Cover

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See what I mean? It’s been a productive and contented summer. Or something like that.