Monday, September 29, 2008

Seven Random Things...

Good morning!

Both Lea of Shabby Olde Potting Shed and Kristi of KiKi’s Corner have tagged me for Seven Random Things. The rules are to share seven random things about you, tag seven friends, then visit their blogs and let them know they’ve been tagged.

I came to a conclusion while trying to think of what seven things to share…I need a little more adventure in my life! Hopefully, you will find these at least somewhat interesting. If nothing else…insight into my quirkiness. Here goes…

1. I can’t swim. I can float, but only on my stomach (strange, I know!) I’ll go into water up to my chin, but never deeper than that. (Call me chicken…it’s ok.)

2. I love to create things (ornaments, note cards, scrapbooks, etc…)

3. I’m an organizer. In fact, you could say that’s how I make my living (setting up and organizing large files and projects for a law firm). On the home front, I’m not quite as good at maintaining the organization (which somewhat defeats the purpose of trying to be organized in the first place…)

4. Due to circumstances completely beyond my control, I was 20 minutes late for my own wedding! (In fact, I had a friend who nicknamed me “10 till 8,” because my wedding, though scheduled for 7:30 pm, didn’t start until 7:50 pm!)

5. I love to color. When Tom and I were first married and money was in short supply, we bought two coloring books and a 64 pack of crayons. When we couldn’t afford dinner and a movie out (which was often), we’d fix grilled cheese sandwiches and pull out the coloring books. We spent many weekend nights coloring Snoopy and Masters of the Universe (I still have these somewhere in storage!) lol

6. When I was a little girl, I always wished my name was Julie or Holly. Most of my Barbies, stuffed animals and baby dolls were Julie or Holly. I always chose one of those two names for myself when playing school or office, too.

7. I love talking to people one-on-one, but public speaking before a group absolutely scares me to death. Just thinking about it quickens my pulse and causes me to break out into a sweat!

Still with me? Still awake? (Hope so.) These are my tagged friends…can’t wait to see their answers!

Cheryl of Hope for Each Day

Cindy of 12 Arrows

e-Mom of Chysalis

Julie of Jewelz Sightings

Krista of Krista's Chronicles and Coffee Talk

Lynn of Somewhere in the Middle

Tricia of It’s All About Him

Be a blessing to someone today…

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Good morning,

First, I want to thank Iris for faithfully providing us the opportunity to share our thankful hearts each week. What a blessing it has been, and continues to be. I understand this sweet sister has a birthday this weekend…Happy Birthday Iris! ☺ We’re so thankful for you!

Today also finds me thankful for…

The hope and promise we have in Christ. As we’ve spent time with Karen’s immediate family, we’ve been able to encourage a number of them with God’s word. Her family is a very musical one, so we knew songs like “With Hope” by Steven Curtis Chapman “Homesick” by MercyMe and others would be especially encouraging, so we’ve shared those with them over the past few days, as well. In our conversations, several of them told us they struggle with things of faith, yet they were so grateful to be reminded of what God promises for His children, because Karen had that faith. It is our prayer that they too will come to embrace or restore their faith in Christ through this loss.

The Holy Spirit. Tom and I have been more aware than usual of His presence throughout the past few days. You could undoubtedly sense Him in her room during prayer, and we have felt His promptings and guidance in many of our interactions and conversations.

Your faithful prayers and kind friendship. What an encouragement you’ve been! Karen’s sister, MaryBeth, told me she knows it is the prayers of friends and family that are sustaining them right now, and will continue to in the time to come. Thank you for being willing to pray not only for their family, but for lifting us, as well. It means more than I can adequately express.

The eight people who will benefit from Karen’s loss through organs she donated. What a gift to pass along! She was a registered dietician, so she understood the importance of eating healthy and exercising, so her organs are likely very healthy ones. I always thought I wanted to be an organ donor, but having a better understanding of the process has confirmed it. (I hope you too will think about it. If it's something you would like to do, tell someone close to you and indicate your wishes on your driver's license.)

May this Thursday find you thankful…

To read what other thankful hearts are saying, join us at Sting my Heart.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Word-Filled Wednesday

For more Word-Filled Wednesday posts,
join us at 160 Acre Woods!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Please Pray - UPDATED

Tom and I just returned home from the hospital. Earlier tonight, we received one of those dreaded and surreal telephone calls saying that Tom's cousin, Karen had suffered a "devastating head injury" today. She was airlifted to a local hospital and after a battery of tests, confirmed to have no brain activity.

We know God can do anything, so of course we immediately prayed that if it be within His will, He would work a miracle and bring about some activity, and ultimately restore the damage that had been done. We headed to the hospital and were shown the way to a waiting area that was absolutely overflowing with family and friends, most of whom are in shock. Around 10:00 pm, her parish priest arrived and called everyone to her room for prayer. There were so many people filling every space around her and spilling out into the hallway. She is undoubtedly well-loved.

Karen is one of the most kind and caring people you'd ever want to know. She has a very strong faith in the Lord and is an incredible servant. This month, she and her husband, Mark are celebrating 25 years of marriage. They have three sons. One who is a sophomore in high school, one who is a senior and their oldest, who is a junior in college. The oldest has been on a mission trip in Spain. He's in the process of trying to get home as quickly as possible. Karen and Tom are the same age (51). They grew up together. When Tom and I were engaged and then married, she was one of the first people in the family to reach out and try to make me feel welcome.

Even though there are already many praying for Karen, her husband, their boys and her siblings, could you please pray, too? We pray with hope, yet fully trust in God's sovereign will. Many thanks.

UPDATE (Sunday afternoon): We learned a short time ago, Karen has passed away. God did indeed heal her body...though not the way we would have hoped. I do ask your continuing prayers for Mark and their boys. They're all great guys and they adored Karen. Please also pray for her siblings. Their family is strong and very close. They have endured a number of tragic losses and difficulties in the past few years. This loss will be felt deeply. Thank you so much.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thankful Thursday!

As you can imagine, after Sunday’s windstorm I am so very thankful this week…

♥ First, that our damage was truly minimal. I’m especially grateful none of the trees surrounding our home came down. There are so many in our area who lost very old, large trees and many suffered substantial damage to their homes. There were a number of people who died as a result of fallen trees or power lines. The husband of a good friend narrowly missed being hit by a falling utility pole while driving their van on Sunday.

♥ That our power was restored by Monday night! You really don’t know just how much you utilize electricity until you don’t have it. I truly have a new appreciation this week for lights, my appliances, computer, tv, air conditioning, etc. I still have several co-workers and extended family without power.

♥ The weather since the storm has been absolutely beautiful, and there is no rain in the forecast until early next week! This has been and will continue to be a huge help to the linemen working to restore power, as well as the contractors trying to repair home and roof damage.

♥ That we were able to call on linemen from North and South Carolina to assist our crews in repairing downed lines, replace transformers/utility poles and restore power. They’re still working around the clock to get power back for the remaining residents (about 200,000).

♥ The opportunities for service this has provided. One local ministry gave out thousands of bags of ice. Several churches have provided dinners for those in the community without power. I’ve also heard of those who have grilled what was left in their freezer and shared it with friends and neighbors. I was able to talk with many co-workers and offer to have them in our home either to stay, to take showers, etc. I offered to do laundry or anything they might need. Most importantly, I was able to encourage them and let them know I would pray for them. I believe God was planting some seeds through those conversations.

♥ That I have an even greater understanding and compassion toward those who endure hurricanes year after year.

♥ That my fridge and freezer haven’t been this clean since they were new. ☺

♥ That I now have the opportunity to be a bit more prepared next time!

Please continue to pray for those affected in any way by these last few hurricanes.

May this Thursday find you thankful!


To read other Thankful Thursday posts, join us at Sting my Heart.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ike's Remnants Felt Strongly Here

(Photo Courtesy of Cincinnati Enquirer - Anna Listerman)

Would you believe substantial remnants of Hurricane Ike made it all they way up into the greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area?

I woke up Sunday morning thinking it was quite windy. By midday, as my husband was watching the Cincinnati football game, the local channel kept losing their signal due to high wind. Within about an hour, it went from high winds to really intense, sustained winds. There were intermittent clouds and sun, but no rain, no storm warnings, just this crazy, continuous gusting wind that didn’t let up for more than three hours. (We later learned they were 75 mph.) Our electricity went off at 2:00 pm. The winds continued. These were the hardest sustained winds we’ve ever experienced and we began to see shingles from our roof tumbling into the back yard. Then we started praying and tried not to worry about the old, large trees surrounding our house that were taking quite a beating. There were huge limbs and branches everywhere.

Around 6:00 or so, things seemed to start settling down. We went outside to find we had lost a fair number of roof shingles, and a number of our landscape plants were mangled, but minimal damage considering what could have been. By now, we were hearing sirens continually from fire trucks, police, paramedics, etc. all throughout the evening into the overnight hours. We went to bed late still with no power, not having any inkling of how far-reaching the outage was.

Woke up Monday still without electricity. Both Tom and I took a vacation day. We placed a call first thing to a contractor for our roof damage and started cleaning up some of the mess in our yard. We were still working in the yard (as were many around us) Monday afternoon when our next door neighbor returned home from work. He told us the power outage was enormous, and had affected 90% of the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area. There were trees and power lines down everywhere. The energy company had restored power at that time to 200,000 people, but there were still a vast number of people without. Apparently our linemen had headed to Texas to assist with Hurricane Ike, leaving very few to service our area.

Our neighbor also told us all the local groceries were without power, that Kroger was rationing ice to two bags per person and the police were stationed in those areas. There were long lines at the gas stations, but most weren’t working because the pumps were electronic. I was stunned. In my recollection, nothing like this has ever happened here.
Our energy company had called in crews from North and South Carolina to help in getting power restored. Our neighbor said news reports were estimating it would be the end of the week before all power in our area was fully restored. We began to consider how blessed we were. The weather after the windstorm was unseasonably cool and breezy, unlike the heat and humidity we had just a few days ago. This was no doubt a huge help.

Despite feeling blessed, I must admit I did get a bit heartsick about the food I had to throw away from the fridge and freezer Monday night. (I had just done our grocery shopping on Saturday.) The outage had extended beyond the point where the food was safe, and trash was to be picked up the next morning.
I was washing dishes by candlelight just before 9:00 pm, when our power was restored. I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated it more. I kept walking through my house just thanking the Lord. Then we turned on the news. Talk about eye-opening. It confirmed everything our neighbor had told us, and then some. Seeing there were still over 500,000 people without power and images of severe damage (trees into homes, telephone poles down, fires, water main breaks, etc.), my loss of groceries and roof shingles was nothing in comparison. We were able to go to bed Monday night with our electricity restored. Many people on our bus and at our workplace yesterday were still without. Even in downtown Cincinnati, I saw two buildings with shattered windows and severely damaged revolving doors.

I feel both blessed and very sympathetic to those who don’t yet have electricity. (As of now, approximately 350,000.) Many of the local fitness centers and the YMCA branches have opened their shower facilities to the general public, for those who don't have friends or relatives with power. Local hotels that are operational are offering rooms at discounted rates, as well. One of our local ministries has been passing out free bags of ice by the thousands and nearby churches are providing dinners for those in need.

I don’t begin to compare this to the devastation in Texas. Doesn’t even come close. The local weather forecasters say this was a highly irregular phenomenon for our area that a took everyone by surprise. Even so, I discovered just how ill-prepared I was for something like this. I had allowed my cell phone battery to get very low so when the power went out, I hardly had any charge with which to call or hear from anyone. I had only one working flashlight in my house, no batteries and very little in the way of non-refrigerated, ready-to-eat food. I will definitely be a little better prepared should this type of thing ever happen again. Hope you will take this as a loving reminder to make sure you, too are prepared in the event of an unexpected emergency or power outage.

Some additional images of damage to our area…

(Photograph courtesy of Cincinnati Enquirer - Charles Kapiotis)

(Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Enquirer - Brock Heterington)

(Photos courtesy of Cincinnati Enquirer - Scott Martini)

(Photo courtesy of - dmrsrn)

Please continue to pray with me for those everywhere who sustained damage, but especially those in Texas who received the brunt of Hurricane Ike’s wrath. Please also pray for the service men working around the clock to repair lines and restore power.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Happy Anniversary to my Sweetheart!

Hope this finds you well. Thanks once again for your prayers and kindness for my hubby and I. We’ve been able to spend some sweet and precious time together in the last couple of weeks. A few rough moments (as we expected), but we’ve truly sensed God’s unmistakable presence through your prayers.

In the midst of my blogging break, Tom and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to reminisce a bit, and share some sweet thoughts, both to and about my beloved.

Here we are, September 1, 1984. (I dare say a few of you weren’t even born yet!) Would you just look at my man. Is he handsome or what!?! I had always wished as a little girl my hubby would have brown eyes. God certainly delivered that and then some! ☺ I can’t help but smile when I see my hat in this photo. It started in the right place, tilted down at the front in a very sophisticated way, but after several hours, many hugs and a few dances later, it looks more like I was a cowgirl bride. (lol) All kidding aside, we had a beautiful wedding. I remember thinking that day I couldn't possibly love him any more. All these years later, I'm thankful to know that was but a glimpse of the love I have for him today.

As others have done, I want to share with Tom 24 special things I love about him.
1. I love that you always reach over and take my hand when we pray.
2. I love that you call me “your very best girl.”
3. I love that you always make a point of thanking me when I make a meal.
4. I love watching what an amazing Dad you are.
5. I love they way you're so attentive to take care of trees, our yard and especially the flowers I plant.
6. I love riding the bus to work with you each morning.
7. I love the way you sneak and do the laundry sometimes to surprise me.
8. I love that you’re so careful to keep your side of the vanity so nice and neat.
9. I love your sweet e-cards.
10. I love the name game we always play.
11. I love that even when you’re tired, you’ll often ask, “What can I do to help you?”
12. I love watching storms with you from the back porch.
13. I love that anytime we finish a meal, you insist on clearing the dishes and putting away the leftovers.
14. I love that you’re a kid at heart.
15. I love that you’re a man of a thousand faces and voices.
16. I love watching movies with you, especially when they make you laugh.
17. I love how much you love everything about fall.
18. I love the way you call me outside to see a beautiful sunset or starry sky.
19. I love the way you surprise me with sweet treats.
20. I love how excited you get about Christmas.
21. I love taking walks with you, especially on snowy days.
22. I love how excited you get and how much you want to “see all there is to see” when we travel someplace new.
23. I love that you always encourage me more than usual on Bible study days, because you know I get a bit anxious.
24. I love that you truly cherish Brennan and I.

I could honestly go on and on…there so much more I love about you. I’m beyond blessed. Happy (belated) Anniversary, Sweetie!