Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Signs of the Times

Seen in my travels the last couple of days:


Seen at a local restaurant...
ahhh...the irony.

If only dogs could read.

Muffed Target

Each Tuesday post a picture which is completely crazy, messed up, with nothing on etc, which normally you would immediately delete. It can be everything, like only shoes instead of the whole person, a blurred building or whatever you want. Then tell us the little story how it happened and what it should have been. 


Now my friend Thom is a little distressed at the lack of participation in this meme. We ALL screw up photos, so come on, parade some humility!
Thom is offering an incentive to playing, but you'll have to go

to find out about it!

And now, my MUFFED TARGET:

The little story?  Well...I was trying to get my hands, and the camera, inside the bird cage without getting bitten, and without freaking her out too much, so I could get a photo of our sweet bird. This was the first attempt.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Coaching Life

There's been a lot of press lately given to the concept and profession of "life coach."  I originally read these articles with disbelief, wondering why on earth someone would pay someone else to tell them what to do. Most of us go to great lengths to AVOID being told what to do!

Then my avaricious bone kicked in. I'll bet I could be a pretty good life coach, I thought to myself.

And recently I've seen a lot of press given to professional organizers, and the desperate ends many people go to  -- including paying someone else to tell them what to do -- to organize their lives.

Again, I thought, I can do that.

Thinking about these trends though, I realize that the problems the people in both of those situations are struggling with are:

a.  overcommittment
b.  too much stuff

The pressure people feel to "keep up" either for themselves or their children's future is ridiculous. The idea of organizing or life coaching our way around it is a laugh. And the enemy of man is laughing all the more because we buy into his lie about needing to get "OUR SHARE."

Certainly, if you believe that your existence is ONLY in this life, and there is nothing beyond it, the desperation to do everything on your bucket list is great.

But if you know, like I do, that we are just visitors here, then activities, stuff, and achievement lose their grip on us.

Philippians 3:20 tells us "Our citizenship is in heaven"  and 4:6 tells us "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, in thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount said, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"  (Matthew 5)

So I guess if I become a life coach or an organizer, I'll root it in Scripture.  I wonder whether anyone would hire me.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Truly Memorial Day

Seventeen years ago today, a first time mom-to-be went to get an ultrasound since the baby was two weeks overdue.  The ultrasound revealed, "oops, this baby is breech."

After a scary time of turning, cord getting wrapped, and emergency c-section, I woke up to meet my beautiful daughter.
5 months old

1st Grade

Today she is seventeen and all the joy and happiness she has brought us has made every minute of that scary time worth it.

Dec 2010

Dear one, we don't know what the Lord has in store for your future, but we are confident that you will meet it with grace and confidence and passion.
Now that's passion!

We love you!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cache and Carry

Met a friend yesterday in Herndon for a bike ride. We decided to do some geocaching to make it interesting. That's the one splurge app I've purchased for my phone and I love it.  It makes caching so much easier!

We found two pretty easily. For the third, since we were on bikes, we had trouble getting to the park where it was supposedly located before we ran out of time (I had to get somewhere by 11:30).  Still, it was a fun ride and fun to be with my friend.

What?  You've never heard of Herndon?

Well, if you saw the photo of the Naval Cadets climbing the greased monument the other day, it is the monument for the same person this town is named for.  From wikipedia:

Herndon was named for Commander William Lewis Herndon, American naval explorer and author of Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon. Commander Herndon captained the ill-fated steamer SS Central America, going down with his ship while helping to save over 150 of its passengers and crew. The settlement was named Herndon in 1858. In the 1870s, many Northern soldiers and their families came to settle in the area, taking advantage of moderate climate and low land prices. Herndon also offered a group of friendly and local native Americans who helped the town to prosper via trade and instruction.[4]
Originally part of the rural surroundings of the Washington, D.C. area, the town of Herndon developed into a hub of dairy farming and vacationing for area residents, aided by its presence along the Alexandria, Loudoun and Hampshire Railroad (later to become the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) Railroad).[4] When the railroad was converted into a hike-and-bike trail, Herndon capitalized on history and small-town feel (in a major metropolitan region) by converting its train station into a museum and visitors center by relocating a Norfolk Southern Railway caboose to a nearby site and repainting it in W&OD livery.[5]
Although the caboose does not resemble anything that ever traveled through Herndon, it remains an iconic part of the downtown area that both locals and tourists visit daily.[5] The caboose and station offer a taste of the original town that has since faded into the suburban countryside.[5]

This is from a google image site.  They had it blocked off
yesterday preparing for a festival, so I didn't take a photo.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Destination, please

I love riding my bike, but I find that I enjoy it a lot more if I have a destination with a purpose.  If I'm just 'riding to be riding' I get bored.  Sad, but true.

So, today I rode to the next town over to get my hair cut and highlighted.  It was 8 miles each way and coming home was a slight grade the entire way. The path is an old railroad easement, so it's very straight and the grade is mostly gentle, but still...

Along the way I smelled honeysuckle, and saw lots of cardinals. I also heard lots and lots of birds and frogs. The path goes along a creek in several places. It's called "Difficult Run".

The crossing point of the trail from the next town over to mine is a place that was hotly contested during the Civil War. It's called Hunter Station and you can read about it here.  It is really quite interesting!

At one point there was a kind-of creepy guy on the trail.  Have you ever had that experience where the vibes coming off someone just said, "not right"?  I decided to cut my ride back short by going behind a school (a shortcut only locals know about) rather than press on through the more desolate part of the trail. As I turned around to go back to that turn-off, the guy was coming back up the trail, after having passed me going the opposite way earlier.  He didn't follow me on the turn, but I was keeping an eye out and noting every yard I was behind that had people in it so I could yell.

I hate when that happens.

Anyway, I'm a little sunburned, a lot tired, and much more blonde than I was before I went to see Tyler.

A good day.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


The First Ever Be AMYazing Reston Youth Triathlon was a HUGE success today!  Wow!  The kids were incredible, moving through the water, the bike course and the run without slowing down.  The weather was perfect.

My volunteer table was near the end of the 6-8 year old run course and they came down that path as they entered the stadium.  Those gap-toothed grins with sense of accomplishment were precious.  I got teary as I watched the first ones run in -- a lot of hard work and prayer was behind this event being successful.

Sure, we had a few cuts and scrapes, and a few unpleasant parents (you have to feel sorry for a 6 year old whose parents are both wearing triathlon gear, and have him in a little triathlon gear suit, and are screaming at him to go faster), but overall, this was a FUN and ENJOYABLE day.

Kudos to my teens (mine and one of my son's friends) who got up at 6 to allow me to be on the course at 7.  They were also AMYazing!

Now, because I was up at 4:30 thinking of more things to do, I'm tired, so signing off...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Simply AMYazing!

You all know I'm up to my ears in youth triathlon volunteer duties.  The big event is tomorrow morning.

But I wanted to take a minute to showcase the teens, who were friends of the little girl who died of brain cancer, who have set all this up in her memory.

We had so many volunteers show up to help (adult and teen) that we have almost a 1:1 ratio for tomorrow!  COOL!

And here is the mom, handing out the T-shirts to competitors.  Her daughter Amy inspired it all. I can't imagine life without my L-girl; I don't know how Hannah gets through every day.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I am NOT Woody Woodpecker

We live in a forest so we have woodpeckers. LOTS of woodpeckers. We have downy ones, hairy ones and pileated ones. They love our suet, and they love to drill on our house. We try to maintain peaceful coexistence with them because they do eat a lot of bugs.

This has apparently inspired our parakeet. This is what she did to the roll of paper towels on our holder.

And this is the look of NO SHAME.

I am not a woodpecker, but I play one when they're not paying attention!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Interesting Neighbors

I took my son to the medical clinic we use for his school sports physical for the fall.  This clinic is in leased space but has been there for at least ten years.  It serves ONLY military members, retirees, and their families.
The Saudi Cultural Mission

Across the parking lot is a new building that went up almost overnight. It is a beautiful building. It is the Saudi Cultural Mission in the US, the purpose of which is to help Saudi students get a good US education so they can return home to make the Kingdom a better place.

In their old building, they often hosted Friday prayers. I know this because if we had an appointment on Friday there were NO parking places anywhere around the clinic. This new building is bigger, and more people come, but now it's not just on Friday. They have classes there, so the parking lots are full all the time.  And, the number of taxis double parked or just "pausing" is incredible. (many of the taxi drivers in our area are Muslims from a variety of home countries).

There has been some controversy over this Mission because it funds and runs a high school here in our county which has an openly Muslim curriculum. Some people object because they view it as anti-Jewish and anti-Christian. But having had my kids in Christian school at one point, I'm hard pressed to say "ban parochial schools." I've also lived in a place where Christianity was NOT the majority religion, so those who say we need to put prayer back into public school need to think about whether it is "their" flavor of prayer that might be the one chosen.

But I digress. As I said, I don't really care whether the Saudis have a mission in the U.S. to help their home country.

What does bother me is the lack of quid pro quo.  When my father lived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, they had to meet at someone's house for church because there was no public building (even one belonging to the US) where they could assemble in the name of Christianity.  Of course, the Embassy couldn't allow them to meet there because of the way the US government flunkies interpret the separation of church and state, i.e., if it is going to offend the allies, we'll be politically correct. I know the Saudi Ambassador to the US -- I went to college with him. I'm sure he is quite amused by how easily they use our laws to benefit them and hamstrung us. And they don't even have to be very manipulative. The anti-religion forces (particularly Christianity) within our government are only too eager to hand over rational thought.

In this country, the Saudis exercise freely something they deny to us, and especially to their own people, in their own country.  Seems pretty backward.

On the other hand, Dad says that every time the house churches got big enough to attract notice so they were told by the Saudi government to disburse, they did.  JUST LIKE THE 1ST CENTURY CHURCH...

Acts 18:10 (New International Version)

10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Parting the Red Sea

Just had to jump on here for a minute and let you know God has parted the Red Sea again.

The Red Sea of my week.  He has eliminated some things, moved some things around, and given me perfect peace about the things I will forego.

Now THAT is the kind of God I love to serve!  And even if He hadn't done this, I'd still love to serve Him. He is just that kind of love!

Monday, May 16, 2011


This week is the week that EVERYTHING is HAPPENING.  So if I don't get back before next week, here's why:

1.  Daughter's IB Exam today (paper 1) and tomorrow (paper 2)
2.  End of Community Bible Study Sharing Day for Leaders (tomorrow) (must bring food)
3.  End of Community Bible Study Sharing Day for Class (Wednesday morning) (must bring food)
4.  Annual Volunteer Appreciation Event for Library (must attend as board member) (Wednesday afternoon)
5.  Son's big Science exam followed by sports/scout physical (Thursday)
6.  Friday evening - friend for dinner
7.  Saturday morning -- pre-race meeting for Triathlon on Sunday
8.  Sunday morning -- Reston Youth Triathlon


The kids' exams require me to do additional driving as their schedule at school changes.

NOW, add to this that

a.  a lady who rides with me to CBS who suffers from Parkinsons made some statements last week about her home life that have prompted an investigation
b.  our lead volunteer for the library is doing chemo and may not be allowed to come on Wed so I get to gather all the good wishes and deliver them to her.

Anyone else got anything they want me to add in?  I have 15 minutes or so on Friday that aren't filled...

I just have to remind myself that when I can't do it, He can.  Got to keep my eyes on Him.

See you when I can!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Welcome to My Front Yard

Some of you know I live in a forest.  Well, not really, but it does seem to be that way when we're raking leaves. The trade-off for the leaves is that we have lots of squirrels. Our job as humans is to help the squirrels evolve to higher thinking. Thus, the squirrely-gig.  This is a contraption my husband built for entertainment value. The silver cylinders have mostly empty peanut butter jars in them.  The entire thing sticks out from the tree about 8 inches, and the mechanism the squirrels try to sit on freely rotates.  Biggy-it by clicking, and watch what happens.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fun Drums!

This is from the Pyramid Band Concert on Thursday evening.  The Pyramid refers to our schools.  We have 6 elementary schools and one middle school that feed into our high school through our pyramid.  The concert is the Honor Band for all the elementary schools combined (auditions required), as well as the top bands for the middle school and high school.
My trumpet player

This is my son's last band season since he doesn't want to continue in high school. He played in the concert with the Middle School band.  They did very well, but the real treat of the evening was a fun number by the High School drum line.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Boggled Blogger

Blogger has been down for the better part of 24 hours.  And now that it's back up, many of my comments are missing.  Ah well ... the more we rely on technology the more easily we are disappointed by its seemingly human traits like unreliability.

Life goes on.


How AMYazing!

I got hijacked.  Yep, I said "yes" I'd help. So, two weeks before the event, I've been handed the job of Volunteer Coordinator after their original bowed out.

What event?

The inaugural Reston Youth Triathlon, in memory of Amy Boyle.  Amy lost her battle with brain cancer in 2008. She was 12 years old.  But to the end, she praised God and spoke of Jesus to her friends.  Three of her close classmates have kept her legacy of fitness and fun alive, forming a group called Amy's Amigos to raise money for brain cancer research and to service for others.  They are now high schoolers, and decided to establish a youth triathlon in our community.

It's May 22.  If you're a praying person, pray that the event will be safe, and that God will be glorified.  Two of the friends come from homes where God is a stranger to them.  That part of Amy's legacy has yet to bear fruit...but I am confident that it will, in His time.

And pray for me that I will be God-honoring in my duties as Volunteer Coordinator.  Even when only half the number we need are on the list yet.

Amy with Troy Palomalu

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Christmas in May?

This is a Christmas Cactus that sits in my kitchen window.  It has sat there since about 2006.  But for some reason, this year it started to bloom.  In May.  Perhaps it is confused.  (On the other hand, I just read wikipedia that says it blooms in May in Brazil.  Perhaps mine is just homesick?)

At any rate (you say) I SEE a Christmas card right next to it so of COURSE it's a Christmas cactus!

Well, yes, but that's part of our Christmas prayers that we do.  If someone sends my family a Christmas card, after Christmas we tuck it into a drawer in our kitchen table.  On Sunday evening each week, we reach into the drawer, and randomly pull out a card.  We re-read whatever the person wrote, especially about big events coming up in the next year (weddings, babies, graduations, etc.). Then before dinner each night that week we pray for that person or their family.  If you sent me a card, at some point this year you will be prayed for.  Every night for a week.  We even include you if we go out to eat!

This card happens to be from my son's trumpet teacher and his wife.  It is a privilege to pray for everyone, and we especially love praying for young couples like them.  Newly married (2 years), new home owners.  He is a professional musician -- plays with the Air Force Ceremonial Brass and is a truly nice guy.

He encourages my son and yet firmly moves him along to greater expectations for himself.  It's a gift.

So, Merry Christmas to Pat & Emily.  Enjoy the flower.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Thank you, Moms

Mother's Day is eschewed by some as a Hallmark Holiday. I know that as it approached, I once again had mixed feelings.

Don't get me wrong.  I love my mother. She has been the best mom I could hope for, and if I'm any good at being a mom myself, it's because she taught me by example.  (She's actually an amazing woman, but that's another post, another day).

But for those whose moms aren't here any more, or for the women who have been unable to become mothers, this day can be a difficult one.

In church this morning, our children's ministry director used the day, once again, to celebrate the women and girlss who work in our children's ministry.  In that way, she celebrated not only the mothers in the congregation, but the spiritual mothers that many of the women in our church are to other people's children. I like this approach because it acknowledges that mothering isn't limited to actually giving birth or raising children in your home.  Many women are mothers by the way they love other people's kids.

So, to my friends who have served in classrooms, helped direct a choir, listened while a youngster has told a story, or have in any way just shown love to children, thank you. You have been a spiritual mother to my children and many others.

I believe this verse is for you as well.  (A particular shout-out to Quilly, Cousin Louise, and Dana).

Her children arise and call her blessed; 

   her husband also, and he praises her: 
29 “Many women do noble things, 
   but you surpass them all.” 
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; 
   but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done, 
   and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31

Friday, May 6, 2011

Floods and Impact

If you've been listening to the news coming out of Memphis, and other cities along the Mississippi and its tributaries, you know that flood waters are at an all time high.

The story of Memphis particularly interests me because of my family origins.  Back in the 1860's, just after the Civil War, life was very hard in Memphis for many people.  My 3rd great grandmother (as in great x 3) lived there.  Her name was Elizabeth Jane Petty Wright.  Her husband, Samuel Creed Wright, died in 1860.  Having lived through the deprivations of the war, Elizabeth Jane was doing fairly well by 1867. She had five children, owned a bit of property, and was both well educated for her day and frugal.  We have a letter in her hand that she wrote to one of her brothers that year.  It spoke of rising prices and many relatives. It was dated June 18, 1867. It is precious to us for many reasons, not the least of which she added a p.s. to her brother that said,  Let the children go to school as much as you can for it is the best riches they can have

Later that year, August 3, Mary Amanda Elizabeth Jane Petty Wright (her full name) died from either cholera or yellow fever.  In her Will, dictated when she knew she was dying, she named all of her children.  She did not realize that two of her daughters would join her in heaven within a few days of her death. The three children who survived, Roxie (my great-great grandmother), Thomas Jackson (TJ), and Samuella (Sammie) would stay very close to each other throughout their lives.

They lived in Shelby County, and later, Germantown.

Elizabeth Jane Petty
The point of this is that Memphis, back then, was an easy place to die from the effects of high water.  Mosquitoes carried yellow fever, and poor sanitation caused cholera.  Now there are vaccinations for yellow fever (although it is considered a re-emerging disease). Our sanitation systems are very advanced, and simple antibiotics can stop the ravage of cholera.

With the advancement of science and 24 hour journalism, it is no mystery where the floods are coming.  As the river floods, people have the ability to evacuate.  And they have the knowledge that having all that water hanging around is really bad for their health.

Looking at the aerial photos of the flood waters, so many of the shots show Germantown Parkway and Shelby County -- our family's old stompin' grounds.  Which right now, would splash back.

I-55 Bridge into Arkansas

Thursday, May 5, 2011

1 Chronicles 16:34  34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Psalm 7:17  17 I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; 

   I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High.'

2 Corinthians 2:14  14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.

Philippians 4:6 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 1:3  3 I thank my God every time I remember you.

1 Timothy 2:1  1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—

I just love how God's Word has so many answers to the same question, and I can always find an answer to any questions I have. The filter through which I need to see everything is:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

So, am I loving God with everything I have?  Am I loving my neighbor the same way?
An easy filter; difficult execution

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Take on the Osama Bin Laden Story

Proverbs 24:17-18 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him.

As a granddaughter of a WWII vet, a daughter of a career military officer, daughter-in-law of a career military officer, wife of a career military officer, and a former military officer myself, (and if he has his way, mother of one too), my response to this news is tempered.

I rejoice that a very dangerous mission, that has been ongoing for many years, and that has undoubtedly caused much harm to military and intelligence people involved in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden (OBL), is over. We found him. Had he allowed it, we would have brought him back alive. He did not allow that.

I rejoice that the military personnel involved in the operation were able to get in, accomplish the mission, and get out, without casualties to the team. I rejoice that the loss of life among the enemy was very low. This was no indiscriminate 'kill em all and let God sort out the details' mission. Our military professionals are MUCH more honorable than that.

I mourn the loss of life because those who died lived in such darkness. They had embraced their own brand of evil, corrupted their own religion, and led many, many young people to deaths that dishonored the Creator of Life himself. OBL's encouragement of those young suicide-bombers is the thing that I find most reprehensible.  His contempt for their lives, much less the victims, was sickening. He could have spent his millions helping those young people do something productive, to rise above the hopelessness of refugee camps. He did not.

He and the others chose their path. I would not wanted to have been in their shoes face to the face with their Creator in the instant after their death.

In Matthew 5:24, Jesus says, "but I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

I wonder how many of us who call ourselves Christians embraced that about OBL.

Romans 3:23 says, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

I figure that means that no matter how much evil he promulgated, OBL is no worse a sinner than I am. Which means I need to make sure I'm right with God in every thing I do.  The only way to do that is to dwell with him constantly, to seek His face and His will, and to obey his commandments. The only way to do that is to first, surrender your life -- to ask Him to be your Lord and Savior.

On Sept 11, 2001, by the grace of God we were in the process of moving in to our new house, and did not have any TV hookup. Thus, my children never saw the footage until they were much older. We didn't even allow them to see the still photos for many years.  Yet they knew what had happened. I explained it to my 4 year old son at the time like this, "some terrorists -- bad people who don't like the United States and Americans -- took over some airplanes and flew them into some big office buildings and killed many, many people.  Some of the firefighters and police officers who went to help the people get out were also killed.  It's a very sad day."

I think it was the next day, when we were ready to pray over a meal, that little boy said, "we should pray for the terrorists that God will change their hearts."

Out of the mouths of babes.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Gas Gasp

Gas prices are high, we all know that. However, if you search for gas prices in my community, you'll see that they look like they're "only" right around $4 per gallon.  To see who is MOST getting screwed, check out this map.  (Sorry, the map doesn't show Hawaii and Alaska)

Now here's what bugs me.  I know that the people who work at these gas stations don't make very much money. And the people who own them struggle to stay afloat. But Exxon just reported RECORD profits.

I took Economics in college, so I know that the price of commodities goes up based on supply and demand. If there's less oil available, or if the supply line is interrupted, it makes sense that there would be some rise.  And I can live with the idea that a company has to cover that rise with a slight increase in price.

But then, I would expect the percentage of their profit to stay the same -- after all, they're "ONLY" covering their costs, right?

Yeah, they're laughing all the way to the bank. It really irks me that we have just rolled over on this and they're trusting that we're too addicted to our cars or too stupid to change. There's no thought of "we're in this together." It's all about their profits.  The oil companies have conditioned us to EXPECT a price rise due to instability of the producing countries, oil spills, bad weather, sunspots, etc.  So we gripe, but we STILL PAY the price at the pump.

Yes, I know they're a business and responsible to their shareholders. But an honest ad would go something like this:


So while I drive a hybrid, and I try to be smart about combining trips, I think my bike is going to see even more activity than in the past.  My own little personal protest.

But first, for Mother's Day, would someone tell my family I need a new gel seat for the bike?

Thank you very much.