Did the Book Say, “Close Lid?”…Oops

For many homeschool years, I avoided the very scary aspect of a certain subject despite my love of hands-on learning: science experiments. shudder… To me, this ominous phrase remained clouded in too many inevitables such as mess, confusion, unsatisfactory results…and … Continue reading

Hope in the Storm

The following remembrance and very intimate event I share with the desire that it leads you to look to the Lord in all circumstances. I have permission from the family to openly tell the story. I pray that their transparency, my words, and the presence of God’s Spirit will influence you to let this story inspire you to walk with God.

(beginning on February 20, 2018)
Yesterday, our dear friends, Stephen and Esther Widmeir, experienced a shock, a painful blow completely unexpected. And at 4:30am, my husband received a desperate call for help from Stephen. Seconds later, my phone rang and it was Lisa, their 15 year old daughter. In their short calls, the extent that we understood was that Esther had no pulse and please come right away….
It’s still so raw and painful, I’m still crying about it. But I also don’t want to wait until the memory fades. Oh my goodness, so many reminders of the song God gave me this morning. First, the Daily Bread devotional I get in my email every day said, “When God is our home, our hope is in Him.” The title for today’s devotional was “The Great Physician.”
Then, as I was just intermittently reading Psalms and praying for this family, several verses stood out to me. One was Psalm 9:18: “For the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever.”

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Goodness Gracious Chocolate Glazed Donuts

So I have a little anecdote/story to share with you from this weekend. It’s pretty personal – and it shows a little of the good-bad-ugly side of myself, so be gracious with me! I hope it does a couple of things – shows you that I’m still learning, just like everybody else; and reminds you to grow a little in graciousness.

GRACIOUS: pleasantly kind, benevolent, and courteous.

I was on my way home from dropping off a friend in the city. We were headed out of town for the weekend to Koblenz, Germany (lovely town, if you ever get the chance to visit). Our purpose was to drop off a friend and crash her parents 25th anniversary party. Good plans, yes? It is about a 3 hour drive from where we live, and I was running a tad bit late for us to get going. I had stopped for gas, and prayed that my family would be gracious with me for the fact we were running late to get on the road.

When I got home, ‘nothing’ was done except a bag of clothes packed for my son. I have to admit, did not act very gracious with them as I began to bark orders and angrily make a quick breakfast (earlier that morning, I had asked my husband to pack a bag for Zeke, make breakfast, take the trash out, and do what he could to help us get out the door when I got back…he heard the first thing at least…I guess). I was sort of ‘over it’ by the time we were halfway to the military base to fill up our gas card funds. We were conversing like normal people and had worked out the fastest way to get back on the road. The hubby ran on the military base (with one simple request from me to please get donuts at the gas station too) while the kids and friend and I waited at the park across the street.

My friend and I even had a good conversation about what these kinds of ‘disappointing situations’ are supposed to teach us. She had her own somewhat similar situation going on with her photographer friend who got the date mixed up for the anniversary party. We talked about how we expect people to be gracious with us, but fail to extend the same graciousness for their failures and forgetfulness. Hm. Then we prayed, and the car pulled in right then to pick us up and get back on the road. I got in, and looked at the box of donuts: they were the wrong kind. They were not the kind of donuts I like at all.

And so began again my frustrations with my husband. Poor guy – those donuts just made me think of how much ‘he didn’t think about me’ (even though I was completely overlooking the fact that he had waited on me to get home, he had packed our son’s clothes, he was trying his best: and he did buy the donuts! No, for me, it wasn’t enough and I was mad. Didn’t he know I only liked the plain hole-in-the-middle glazed donuts? None of this custard-filled chocolate icing crap! I wouldn’t eat one and I wouldn’t speak to him. (yes, folks, this is the point where you can shake your head and say, good grief! this girl is ridiculous!)

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The Christmas Tree and Memories

The Christmas Tree.DSC01646

I really don’t know why it’s such a special part of our Christmas celebrating. Maybe because it’s the largest visible item to mark the season? I’m not sure if that’s the reason, but I can say a part of the significance of it comes from all the good memories that surround the Christmas Tree. They come back to me as I sit and look at the lovely decorations collected over the years, my now-5 year old popcorn string (yes, it does keep! I don’t have to string it every year, and my son even stopped snacking on it at least 3 years ago, haha!) So here is my walk down memory lane, if you care to snoop, after we decorated the tree last night:

December 4, around midnight….I’m sitting here watching my sleeping children whom I allowed to drift off as they looked at our job well done on the Christmas tree this year. I’ll carry them to bed later. But now, I’m thinking about our Christmases past, at least the memories that the Tree reminds me of. I laugh about the one year we went and cut trees together with my husband’s family – my mom in law ended up picking the most sparce Charlie Brown Tree you’d ever seen. It was funny. But looked comically great once sprinkled with tinsel and covered in her various decorations. I also remember before that the year my husband was in Afghanistan for Christmas: the kids and I went with his family to cut a tree – with our boxer, Betsy, too. I fell asleep on the way home on my brother-in-law’s shoulder – a bit embarrassed about that when we got home and I’d left a little drool on his shirt.

I remember another year that my husband was home and we’d (well, I had, I guess) picked a ridiculously huge tree – it took up 1/4 of our living room. And my husband even had to cut the branches down in the back so it would sit near the wall enough. And when it came time to take that one down, he opted to saw it up inside the house to make removal easier. Then I also remember the tiny tree we put up in Florida at the vacation home that special Christmas with my mom and dad – and on Christmas day, we all went over to the assisted living for my last year to celebrate the season with my grandparents. Mom and I made lasagna to bake there at the home for a special dinner with them. Grandma talked about that day even up until she passed away in July this past year. She’d still say the same thing whenever it came to her mind: “you remember, Melissa, when you and your mom cooked that wonderful lasagna dinner for Christmas for us in Florida? Those people would pass through the hallway there and smell that good food and just get so jealous of us.” And then she’d smile and laugh. It’s still not come to my heart the full realization that I won’t see them again on this earth. But these memories certainly help.

I remember another year, I think it was last year or the year before, when we had just finished decorating the tree, and it made me think about Jesus’ proclamation that He is the light of the world. The beauty of the tree all glowing and inviting reminded me that Jesus called people to come to His light. So when the decorating was over, we sat together and read that account from the Bible.

I hope this Christmas tradition will continue to draw my children and myself closer together, and closer to the Lord. As I watch them sleeping (I feel I could watch them all night) I also feel the weight and responsibility to raise children who understand the meaning of Christmas and the love of Jesus. And my prayer is that God can use many of these tangible traditions they love to bring life to God’s truths.

So – if you took the time to read this and it reminded you of great Christmas Tree memories, share them with me please!

And the end of the Sicily Vacation Story…

And it happens to be the end of the month also. I have been playing a lot this month, these last good days of summer. I’m told that today will be the last hot day we have here in Germany – so it’s back to work, back to waking up early and getting school going with kids, back to a lot of things that I really did take a break from over the summer. I always find ending things kind of bittersweet. But I’m glad I shared here some key thoughts and words about our vacation in Sicily. It’s a nice way for me to be able to look back too, and remember the lovely Sicilian countryside, the sweet family time, and the dear dear friends who gave 2 weeks of their lives to spend time with us. Ti voglio bene con tutto mio cuore!

(written June 22, 2015)

“The morning that my hubby left, we enjoyed a relaxing time at the campagna until he had to drive off. The kids played with their Nonno as he drove them around in his forklift, let them help feed the animals, and what not. Hubby and I got his suitcase finished. And we enjoyed one last yummy meal together before he took the rental car and left for the airport.DSC00528

The rest of the day was a day of repose for me as well: Mamma took Cloe and Zeke for the afternoon, and I went with the girls for a treat at the spa for the afternoon. It was fun :)…

The next day, Sunday morning, we went back to Arinella beach, Mamma, Manuela, the kids and I. It was very packed, but we still found a nice spot to relax and take in the beauty of our last time playing at Arinella. The kids and I made up a song on the way back: Playing at the beach (echo), the sun and sand so lovely (echo), we’re swimming with the fishes (echo), and drinking in the beauty. Arinella, la bella spiaggia; Arinella, la bella spiaggia.DSC00504

And there’s nothing quite as wonderful as playing at the sea, then eating wonderful grilled fish from the sea. Which is what we did.

That evening, I shared the song, Pace. It was so dear to my heart to play that. The song had kept me company almost this entire trip. And it spoke to the people of that church as well. Paolo played base with me, and Marco on the drums. In the end, I sang it along on stage, but because I’d been playing it all the time, my family and a couple of friends were singing with me from the congregation…. Continue reading

Sicily Vacation, Part 6 (second to last!)

As I start wrapping up this vacation story, I hope you have enjoyed reading it. I’ll have one last post to make to complete the tale. I hope you have enjoyed reading about it as much as I did writing it out, choosing the photos to share, and remembering the wonderful experiences. I’m so thankful that we had this amazing opportunity. And of course, I’ve got to say that if you are considering a vacation to Sicily, go for it! It’s just such a magical place, so full of old country richness and beauty (and good food, too!)

(journaled after the trip)

IMG_0478” [June 18 was] the first evening we stayed out at the campagna to sleep. And that was super nice! I also love to stay with Mamma and Papa’, but it was so relaxing and more our style to stay out there in the kitchen/house…so it was so wonderful to get to do both. The night air was cooler, IMG_0486I woke up early and first thing made a latte and sat outside where I could hear the chickens and read my Bible in peace. Funny though, I did not get to writing anything that morning. Instead, I made breakfast with the American goodies from the groceries we had gotten on Sigonella base – pancakes and bacon! And Marcello and Elisa came over to enjoy that with us and Francesca and Marco.

We then headed out to another beach, this last day that my husband had with us (June 19th). This time, we went to Arinella. The water was so crystal clear and perfect, with lovely sand, a view of Ortigia across the way, just picturesque. I think that was our favorite beach spot yet.

Arinella, Siracusa

Arinella, Siracusa

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Sicily Vacation…Part 5!

Okay, I know I need to be wrapping this up soon. Especially since life keeps going, there are more events to share! But I must finish this complete picture of our vacation; I can’t leave you (or me!) hanging:

(June 17, ’15)

Gole Alcantara

Gole Alcantara

“So, on Tuesday (yesterday) the 16th, we got up and went just us four to Taormina; with plans of possibly stopping at Gole Alcantara on the way (a gorge nearby that we decided to visit)…It was a lovely drive. But the gorge proved to be spectacular: we paid the 30 euro and went down the elevator to the clear, crisp stream below. We had grabbed a few things from the car and stuffed them in a back pack for being about to go in the water. It was so much more amazing than I though it would be. At first, I couldn’t get used to the water though and I made my hubby piggy-back me to the first embankment on the other side. The rock formations were so surreal-looking! But after that first spot, I got some courage to step into the cold water. Its initial shock wore off surprisingly fast. The kids were hilarious! They were even running under a water fall spray – not me! We decided to go on through the gorge as far as we could – and that was a fun adventure… fighting the current, me trying to keep my purse dry and take a couple of photos, and Husband showing the kids how to cut through the water and not be taken downstream. we got to this one spot where we couldn’t tell how difficult things were going to get — having never been there before and not knowing what to expect. DSC00368My hubby went on ahead to check it out. The current was pretty strong and deep in places, so he carried the kids one at a time to a rock out shoot where we had a pretty view of another small waterfall across the river. And that’s where the kids and I stopped. There was an older couple there also, German, who were also venturing down the gorge. Hubby helped the man cross the rapid/waterfall to see if he wanted to keep going, but his wife stayed and chatted with me. It was fun to watch. If I had the right shoes on, I probably would have joined them a little. After the couple decided not to go further, my husband went ahead while I stayed there with the kids on their rock perch.

Finally about the same time I was feeling the need to get them back since they were getting cold, another family was braving their way into the area. The gentleman and I chatted a little, as he scoped it out to see if his crew would try to keep going (they decided not to). But before they turned back, I asked the man to help me bring the kids back to where they could walk themselves out. He was super nice and said sure. So after he had gotten us a little ways, and I was thanking him for his help, Ralph was just then making it back out from his solitary adventure (which I would love for him to write down). Ralph also said thanks then turns to me and said, ‘you know that’s a famous actor, right?’ I didn’t realize it, but later on we looked up his picture at the car and saw his name: Diedrich Bader!…Anyway, that was an entertaining tid-bit event. We spent quite a long time at the gorge before heading up to Taormina.” Continue reading

Sicily Vacation, Part 4, the Mishaps

So, something I was thinking about when I tell people about the things that went wrong, or accidents that happened. I like them. The bumps are part of the fun. My husband has been my best teacher that when ‘bad’ things happen, it doesn’t have to be taken badly. So here are our three from the trip. And when you read, please laugh! We did: Continue reading