Category Archives: Relationships

How it went down <3

So here was the guest list.

And we took multiple pictures to get at least one where everyone was facing in the right direction. Let me just say Rocco, Zach and Rachel never moved from picture to picture but the rest of the cast must have thought I was taking a video.

Clicking through the pictures is like a flip book cartoon…hilarious.

Besides eating our weight in turkey and carbs…

we watched a smidgen of Elmo…

did some crafts…

which some people took to a whole different level…

fell more in love…

took selfies on mom’s camera when she wasn’t looking…

and walked off a little bit of our pumpkin pie…


All in all…

Best. Day. Ever.

Now it’s time to deck the halls so have a blessed weekend and I will see you on Monday




As we gather around the table <3

As I make the first of several grocery lists to prepare for Thanksgiving Day dinner, I am mindful of some ways that our traditional fare has changed over the years.

We have learned to work around a variety of dietary adjustments in our family and as I was thinking about what that has meant for me as the mom, I thought perhaps it would be helpful to those of you who have had to learn to realign the way you cook for loved ones and offer some thoughts about how we can make this less uncomfortable for them as they gather around our tables.

These are not well researched tips.

They are just things I have learned through trial and error and talking to people about what they can and cannot eat and how we can make them feel less singled out in the process.

Asking ahead is one great way to determine if there are any special diet needs, particularly if you are having guests around the table who are first time visitors.

If one of your guests is bringing someone who has not been to your home for a meal, just ask them if his or her friend has any allergies or preferences.

For someone in your family who has developed food allergies, you can ask for a couple of their current favorite recipes and add those to the spread.

Our family has learned to add some new dishes that have become year round go-to’s through just asking this simple question.

Since gluten and dairy are high on the list of problem foods for many people, try to have multiple dishes that do not have either of these ingredients.

Often we throw in one thing that we know our guests can eat, but think of how limiting it is for them when your loved one  has only a vegetable tray to snack on as you set out a variety of appetizers.

There are so many great websites with ideas for everything from hors d’oeuvres to desserts  that are both gluten and dairy free.

Researching and providing a nice variety for all to select from is just a kind and thoughtful gesture that will make a world of difference to someone who has restrictions.

You can rethink dishes and sometimes choose to sacrifice tradition over making your guest feel left out.

For example, oven browned potatoes with olive oil can be substituted for the traditional mashed and I have yet to hear many complaints. Or offer a dairy/gluten free sweet potato dish alongside the usual mashed potatoes.

I also try to make several different vegetable dishes and salads, which is really healthier in the long run for all of us.

When I make desserts, I sometimes adapt if possible by substituting an alternative flour and lactose free products and we actually have two gluten/dairy free cookie recipes that are so popular with everyone I have to double the batch.

I also will have several selections, some that are gluten/dairy free and some not.

I have gaffed this next tip enough that I cringe thinking about the times I made a big announcement to the group at large about which dishes were peanut free or dairy free or whatever needed to be free for one or two people and this is just not cool.

There are a couple of ways around this.

One is to make cute signs for everything and identify the availability of items to those with restrictions…an example being “Mashed Potatoes with Almond Milk” and “Full on Mac and Cheese”…ok maybe not the fanciest way, but you get the idea.

Another simple way is to just quietly let any guests know that either all food is fine or to steer clear of this or that dish.

There is also a factor that we often forget about.

Even children who have dietary restrictions like to feel autonomous about their food choices.

Most people with issues will typically ask if they are in doubt and sometimes if the allergy is not life-threatening, they may actually want to risk the unpleasant side effects to just enjoy an old favorite.

So making a fuss if your dairy/gluten free adult child takes a nibble of the cheesy potatoes they loved in their youth is not what they need on that special day of family gathering.

Last of all, as the keeper of traditions in the kitchen area, I am particularly sensitive to those in our family who can no longer partake NOT being made to feel like they have interrupted customary dishes.

We still put out the Monkey Bread and Egg and Cheese Casserole on Christmas morning, but we have added a delicious crustless egg quiche with spinach and tomato and a sprinkling of goat cheese.

The important thing is not what is on the table, but who is gathered around it and making each person feel welcomed and prepared for.

By taking a little extra time to think of a menu that makes everyone sense that their being there was something you anticipated and planned for, food truly can be a love language for all your guests.

Be blessed with a sweet weekend…even if you are watching your intake of sugar….and I will see you on Monday <3



When you just can’t enter the fast lane

Anyone else finding it a little hard to believe that Thanksgiving is NEXT week???

Me too.

On Tuesday I made a day trip down to visit Sarah. I hit the city at just the right time because there was not much traffic at all on the highway.

Which is great for me because it can feel like you stumbled onto the track at Daytona at times; and even with the few cars that were zooming around me, I was feeling a bit nervous and had to give myself numerous pep talks.

At one point, I was holding steady in the lane I needed to be in for an upcoming turn (as in I would need to exit a good 4 miles on down the road, but changing lanes is not my thing); when I saw a car coming up the entrance ramp to my right. It was moving slowly which I interpreted to mean another timid driver such as myself.

I slowed a little to make room for the car to enter, but it just kept creeping along.

Talking to the driver as if we were wearing headsets to allow for auto to auto communication, I began cheering him on….

Come on…just speed up a little…you can make it. I’m slowing down for you, just accelerate man and get on this crazy train.

Apparently he had his earphones turned off because he just kept slowing down at the same rate I was decelerating.

Finally it was clear that one of us was going to have to speed up, so I shouted my apologies that he hadn’t gotten the memo and sped ahead of him.

As I looked behind, I noticed that he was not really going much faster and then I took in the condition of his car.

It was an older vehicle and the front end looked like it had been bashed a time or two too many.

Puffs of blackish smoke wafted behind it.

I realized, it simply could not go that fast even if given the best of opportunities and all the breaks and encouragement it needed.

And I thought as I drove how sometimes we are like that car. Or at least I am.

The “holidays” are beautiful and wonderful and exciting. We have all kinds of opportunities and encouragement from friends to join in the festivities.

But we have some stuff that is weighing us down.

Changes in our finances, relationships, circumstances can leave us feeling a bit like that old beater car chugging along and trying to enter into the flow of those who are seemingly unhindered in this season.

Perhaps today we can examine our hearts and ponder which “car” we are as 2017 winds to a close.

Are we zooming along, giddy with the abundance of blessings flowing or are we limping up the ramp to the holidays with some heaviness in our hearts.

And then let’s take it a step further and look around us at our fellow travelers.

How can we quiet ourselves and step away from our busy-ness to extend a gentle hug to one who is struggling?


How can we develop an openness to find the JOY of this season by trusting God with our circumstances and asking Him how we can embrace the celebrations just as we happen to be this particular year?

It is, as always, a pleasure to be traveling this journey with each of you.

Forgive me if I have, in moments of personal happiness, mowed you over with my abundance.

And thank you, most tenderly, for the times you have helped me to ease back into the flow of life when I have experienced set backs.

Be blessed today to know that whatever your circumstances are, you are loved and prayed over even as you finish reading this <3

How did I get so dumb without my smart phone?

Good morning to you!

Twenty-four hours ago as I type this, I was running around the house gathering my wits and my travel mug of coffee and doing last minute things to head out the door and make the 2 plus hour trip to see this gem…

We had a day date and with tight schedules on her calendar and mine, I had hoped to get an earlier start…but well…it’s me so…delays were inevitable.

But I was feeling pretty good about the window of late I was leaving in as I made my way through the backroads toward the interstate.

Until I was almost to the entrance ramp and decided to charge my phone as I drove.

Only to discover in all my packing up to leave, my phone was still back home.

I realize there was a day when we did not have phones and we made trips all over the world without knowing what politicians and athletes were thinking about in 280 words or less every two seconds.

We didn’t know if someone needed to get a hold of us until we got home and checked the answering machine, and I even remember a time before there was that recorder of information available.

Sometimes we had to wait until….gasp…we saw someone to tell them what we  were thinking or needing.

However; this is not such a time.

Not at all.

And what happened next was a carefully executed u-turn and a slightly stress-filled return trip home while I gave myself the usual lecture about running late, being forgetful…yada…it plays on a loop so I won’t bore you with it here.

I also did one of my “what-if” nightmare obsessive role plays of the scenario if I had not realized I forgot it until the turnaround was too late to make up for the lost time.

This one had my blood pressure soaring far above it’s usual comatose numbers as I envisioned things like …. me trying to navigate the traffic and even standing a chance of finding her house because I am the WORST big city nervous driver on the planet and I have absolutely no sense of direction let alone recall of how to get to places I have been to hundreds of times.

I also realized that pay phones are probably non-existent so where does one make a call if one does not have one’s phone with one?

I was basically hyperventilating playing out in my mind the image of begging strangers to use their cell phone so I could call Sarah from some truck stop at some exit and then try to copy her directions onto the back of a receipt so I could get to her.

All that to say I am a bit freaked out today at how much I rely on this phone.

It often serves as my clock, calendar, notebook of to do’s, my communication method with friends and family, map, phone book, photo album, email, newspaper, encyclopedia/dictionary, entertainment when I have a long wait and even keeps track of how many steps I have taken in a day.

Oh my…I may need to excuse myself and breathe into a paper bag just thinking of it.

Which is why I think setting it aside intentionally a certain amount of time each day is not only healthy but necessary.

Ok. Now you probably need a paper bag.

Take your time and consider how much of your life is on your phone.

I think it is a wake up call that I might regain some skills like map reading, memorizing directions (ouch) and actually taking time to talk to people face to face.

That’s what I got out of it anyway.

So  now it’s off to another late start to my day..and I hope you have a blessed one <3



A thought about buses and being blindsided

As we start the month of November, I was thinking it might be interesting to do some kind of “thankfulness” theme for the whole month and I had the first one going through my brain off and on yesterday….phrases would come to me and I would jot them down.

And then I sat down this morning and…nothing about it seems right anymore.

So I sat here praying for a while and I am thinking it is time to share a little slice of life learned on the streets of London quite a number of  years ago.

The Lord and my sweet husband granted me the opportunity to travel to that city with Sarah and a group of high school students and parents in the spring of her senior year.

Thanks to the knowledge and skill of our teacher/leader who knows the city inside out and upside down, we saw as much as is humanly possible and with much learning and laughter and joy.

But one of the harrowing memories I do have is from the near death experiences of crossing narrow streets without remembering the flow of traffic is different across the pond.

We don’t realize how naturally our inclination is, as we cross a street, to look to the left and thinking all is clear and our bodies begin to lean forward; we scan the distance to our right to determine safety in the far lane.

Well…in London, invariably this habit is rudely interrupted by a large double-decker bus blasting by within inches of your nose while the entire group you are traveling alongside yells………

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BUS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I wish I could make the font bigger on that…

It would have to be at least 85 to truly make my point.

And that is what it is to be blind-sided.

We are going along in the day or just life in general….

doing the things we normally do in the way we normally do them.

And so far so good because our routines work and the flow around us is pretty much on the same program with us and suddenly we enter foreign territory and we do something we have always done in the appropriate way and ….


some crazy red rocket of a bus comes blasting out of nowhere and hopefully we have a good support group around us to grab hold of some piece of us and yell…

!!!!!!!!!!!! BUS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

or at least come soon enough to pick up the pieces of all that is shaken and hold us while we pull ourselves back up on to our feet.

So travel in groups people.

We are in a  foreign land and we need one another to navigate the journey safely.

That’s all for today.

Be blessed as you travel and watch out for buses <3