Sunday, October 28, 2007

Happy Together!

October 2nd we celebrated our 31st anniversary. I can't believe that we've been married that long. Some days it feels like it's been forever - in a good way - and then yet, can it be that 31 years have passed by since we said, "I Do"? The hopes and dreams of a young couple started with the total remodeling of an old home in Sheboygan Falls. That presented us with our first of many challenges. We were both working full time and putting in long hours working at the house while living in a nearby apartment. So my day started before 6 a.m.. I headed to work making sure that Dale was up before I left. I'd return mid-afternoon, make supper so that it was ready for Dale when he got home at 5 so that we could go right to the house to work some more - often till 10 or 11. Depending on what they were doing that night, I didn't always go to help, I'm not too handy with a hammer. So that meant that I'd see Dale maybe 15 minutes a day. That went on for 3 1/2 months. Not what I had pictured for myself as a new bride and not what I would recommend for anyone starting out.

Well, many years and projects later, I can still say that I'd marry that man all over again. We have both learned so much about each other, life, family and the part that God wants to play in all of it. As Dale and I were talking the other day, he said that our life has sort of gone in 5 year spans.

Years 1-5: life without kids - time to get to know each other, ski vacations, fun

6-10: Josh, our first born, boy, did we have a lot to learn - poor kid!

11-14: Zach enters the family - more activity & friends, start of homeschooling

15-20: Life on the farm - rabbits, chickens, eggs, horse

21- ? No animals - except the mice in the farm house and the cows that stayed
in our barn and who we at times helped chase at all hours of the day
and night to get back where they belonged. Dale awoke one morning to
find several sleeping on our lawn. What a way to get the lawn aerated -
and fertilized!

Now it's the new house, even though it's almost 3 years since we've been in, no kids except when Zach's home from college and back to working full time for me. Would I change anything if I had the choice to do it? Having hopefully matured over the years, the one thing that I would want to change would be "me". I would want to be more patient, more selfless, more giving... just more of who I now know that I could have been, should have been.
In Genesis 2:18 God created woman because He didn't want Adam to be alone. "I will make him a helper suitable for him." I think that the King James version called us a "help meet". What in the world is that? In a book that I am presently reading,"Captivated", the author points out that a better word would be "ezer" - "a sustainer beside him". You see I'm not to be just a helper in our worlds' way of seeing it, but it translates better as a "lifesaver". Now to me that has a much bigger sounding job description attached to it. Have I been someone that Dale has needed like that? Have I been there to encourage, praise and come along side to help him live life? I'm still working on that one.

SO, we celebrated at Lola's in Elkhart Lake. Love the place!

A great Bruscetta

Wonderful desserts: a chocolate sampler tray and a pumpkin cheesecake with a ginger crust.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

When Cancer Pays a Visit

I could tell from her voice in the message which she left me on my cell phone that the test results were positive. She tried to sound upbeat, but there was something different... something that let me know that all was not well. I find it ironic that in October - which is breast cancer awareness month - my Mom gets diagnosed with it. It is in its very early stage, so the prognosis is good. She'll find out more on Mon. after she meets with her dr. and they schedule the surgery.

On the morning of the biopsy I was reading Ps. 116. Verse 7 states, "Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you." I sent that verse to Mom. You see she is not new to the word cancer. Ten years ago she was diagnosed with a different type of cancer and went through surgery at that time.
Just hearing the word, "cancer", has an affect on me - and my family. With it comes varying amounts of fear, change, physical pain & uncertainty. But, it also brings the reminder that "the Lord has been good".

I find that it's easy to live life when all is well. But, I know that it's through the difficult times that we grow closer to God. Just because I am a Christ follower, it doesn't mean that I'm spared the hardships of life. James 1:2 says, "Count it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds...". He said "Whenever" not "if" we face trials.
I love the song by Mercy Me called "Bring The Rain". Here are some of the words.

"Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings you glory.
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise you
Jesus, bring the rain.

I am yours regardless of
the clouds that may loom above
because You are much greater than my pain.
You have made a way for me
by suffering Your destiny
So tell me, what's a little rain
So I pray,

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory.
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain."

God, help Mom, help me, not to fear the rain.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Men in My Life

I have been so blessed by the men God has placed in my life.

First there's my Dad. We just celebrated his 76th birthday. What a blessing! Just 3 years ago one of my brothers and I hurried to Florida, where Dad and Mom were for a month, when he had a heart attack and needed bi-pass surgery. I was always "Daddy's Little Girl". But, I'm also his only "girl". In a young girl's life it is so important to know that her father loves her. I never doubted that. We didn't always agree - I wasn't always obedient - I didn't always make the best choices - but, I always knew that he loved me. He set the standard for the type of man I would look for - loving, caring, hard working, God fearing.

Then there's Dale, the loving, caring, hardworking man, that God brought into my life many years ago. He is the optimist and the giver in our family, just what God knew I needed. He's not afraid to take on new projects and learn how to do them.
Take all of these hickory nuts, for example. While driving around to his job sights he came across a hickory nut tree that was dropping them all in the road. So he stopped and his "new" project began. That table full is a small portion of what he has collected - so far. So the hunt is on to find the best way to crack them, store them and use them. In fact right now, he is cracking some while watching the Badger football game. I must admit that they do taste good.

Then there are our boys - young men really. Both are also hard working and loving. They also like to have fun. Here are 2 pictures of Josh finding a new use for Zach's PT putty.

Josh and Lauren have been married for 3 years already. We are so thankful for Lauren and the fun that she brings. It's nice to have another woman around to give the guys a 2nd feminine perspective. And with these guys there are times that they need it.

Zach and Christina have been dating for 1 year. I've enjoyed the times that she has come to visit Zach. And as we've gotten to know each other I feel that she comes to visit us also. She just sent us some caramels that she made at home (Holland, MI) after having them first here. We're excited to see how God leads in their relationship.

Here's a picture of the 6 of us last Christmas.

I can't wait until all of us can be together again. It might be a while, maybe Thanksgiving or Christmas. But, I look forward to more games of Dutch Blitz or Settlers of Catan, times of laughter, times of going to church to worship together, time to just be together. Life moves so fast and we need to cherish each moment that God gives us with those we love.
David in the Psalms talks about our children being our reward. I feel like I've collected mine. They are precious to me, a joy to watch grow, mature, learn to use the gifts and talents that God has given to them. I'm excited to see where He takes them!

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Brule River

Any fly fisherman in the United States knows of the Brule. So of course, when we were up in Superior, Dale needed to fish it. Unfortunately, because of the drought the fishing wasn't so hot. At one of the fly shops they requested that people not even fish a nearby stream at all because in some areas it was so low. We were able to canoe it one of the days along with my folks. I didn't fish, I just waded along and took pictures of Dale enjoying the river.

We also spent part of a day along Lake Superior. The temperature of the water was surprisingly warm. The sand on the beach was as fine and soft as that here in Sheboygan. We wished that we had brought along our swimsuits to go for a quick swim, but settled for a quick smooch instead. :)
Vacation to Superior
Early in August we went camping with my folks and my brother, Terry, and his wife, Sandy. Once a year we get away together to relax, eat, explore and laugh. This year we went to Pattison Lake State Park which is just South of Superior, WI.

Here are some of the pictures: our campsite, the Black River that runs through the campground and works of a chainsaw artist that did the most amazing pieces of their kind that I have ever seen. There were trails that we hiked on along the river which was very low because of drought conditions in the Northern area of the state.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Another Season

I love all of the seasons that we have here in Wisconsin. Each of them have things about them that I love. But, Fall is one that I enter into the most reluctantly. I love summer: open windows, swimming pool, camping, not working, (WOOT!) less structure and busyness. I don't even mind mowing the lawn.

But, when the end of August comes, I have a hard time focusing on the things I love about Fall and instead I am mindful of things that are ending. Like, my relaxing coffee and quiet time on the screen porch - but more so, things that involve my relationships with others. It's the time when students that I have had the joy of serving with in our church youth group for 4 years head off to college. They have been a regular part of my life. Each year there are some that are hard to say "Good-bye" to. They will be missed.

This Sunday morning as we were praising God in song, I was mindful of Zach's voice next to me. I became overwhelmed with emotion thinking that this will be the last time in a while that I will have the joy of hearing him. Then, yesterday as I was looking for some pictures I came across a poem that was in a photo album. It's titled, "If I knew..." This one verse caught my eye.

"If I knew it would be the last time
I'd hear your voice lifted up in praise,
I would video tape each action and word,
so I could play them back day after day."

I stood in church taking in the sound of his voice, loving most that he was praising the God he loves. We are so blessed! He, too, is leaving soon. I am so excited for what this semester will hold for him at the Contemporary Music Center on Martha's Vineyard. But, I will certainly miss having him around the house. Maybe it's a good time for me to be heading back to work. I am so mindful that even though both of the boys are a long ways off in miles, our hearts are close and bound together by Christ. We will always be together!

note to self: start getting up earlier
-- remember how beautiful Fall is
-- pray for the new youth group lives yet to be poured into
-- be thankful for God's MANY blessings

Friday, August 17, 2007

In loving memory of my Grandma

Grandma Grace Arnoldi
February 1, 1913 - first breath on earth
August 17, 2007 - first breath in heaven

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Time Flies!

WOW!! Has it been a year since I've updated this thing? How do I capture it all in a short time & space. I'll try with some photos. First, Grandma Grace is still with us. She is a precious woman whom I love dearly.
There was Dale and my 30th anniversary, my folks 55th anniversary, and Dale's folks 60th anniversary. What a tremendous blessing to be a part of families who are committed to our God and to each other!!

There have been vacations to Door county with all of us, a trip out East to see Josh and Lauren, a trip to FL to see Mom & Dad and Sharyn along the way. A stop in Grand Rapids on the way back for Zach's recital. Just got back from a week camping near Superior. We have been so blessed. I'll share more in detail later.

Thoughts for now: It rained this morning. I love the rain. Things here are so dry and I listened and watched as I was having my time with God. It's as if I could hear the earth sighing with the relief that the rains brought and I was reminded of the verses from Ps. 42:1-2 "As deer panted for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God." I was so thankful for an unhurried time with God, time to be refreshed, to sit in His presence and be filled with the awareness of a God who loves with an "unfailing love". I AM BLESSED.