Friday, September 23, 2011

Into each life some leaves must FALL!

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

~ The Byrds based on Ecclesiastes 3:1

It's September 23, the first official day of Fall or Autumn if you prefer. And these days they are a changing, so today's feature is some Fall favorites. What are yours?

Fav Fall memories from back in the day:

2. Collecting leaves: glorious colors, crayon rubbings, big piles to jump in!
3. High school homecoming: a parade, a football game, and a dance. What's not to like?
1. Halloween: costumes, pumpkins, parties, and of course, CANDY!

Brian (noting that Sue took all the good ones)
2) The smell of Fall in the air - its a combination of rain, leaves, and a little coolness. You can't smell the snow coming yet, but it's not far off.
3) Reading stories - I don't know why I don't like to do much reading the rest of the year, but I've always tended to read more in the Autumn.
1) Camping and a campfire. I liked the weekend camp outs I went on as a kid in the Fall. I loved the night time by the fire, looking at the stars and telling stories.

Fav Fall food or drinks:

2. Pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream!
3. Taffy Apples with nuts - good! With chocolate and nuts- even better! Making your own - the best!
1. Creamy and savory soups! Some of our favorites 'round here: chicken noodle, tomato, or spinach tortellini.

2) Cider - hot or cold, spiced or plain.
3) Donuts - preferably from the same place as the cider.
1) Cinnamon things...

Fav Fall activities:

2. Apple picking - eating, baking, dipping in caramel - yum!
3. Sweater wearing - I have a favorite, it's long and grey, comfy cozy, and I've already started wearing it.
1. Soccer watching - now I know Brian will say watching football, but we are a soccer family in these parts.

2) ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?!?!?!?! (um... clearly I am)
3) Motorcycle rides. I don't have a bike right now, but when I did - it's always been a favorite time.
1) Walks in the woods. I can't get enough of that.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cough due to cold!

I've been feeling a bit under the weather lately which is not really a good thing especially for me because a simple cold can really wipe me out, not to mention it has the potential to easily lead into something more serious.

Nonetheless, I can muster up three good things that sorta, kinda, hopefully, do make me feel better while battling a cold.

2. A cuppa hot tea with honey and lemon. Add a cookie or two. Ahhhhhh . . .

3. A warm bath with soothing vapor bubbles. You know, like the kind they make for kids with colds. That's right. Sometimes I take the kids' gummy vitamins, too!

1. Lounging around in my pajamas for most of the day. Sometimes I even do this on days when I don't have a cold. I love me some pj's, and my sherpa-lined slippers, too. And I will admit it, sometimes I'm just lazy. I would wear pj's out and about if I could. Maybe.

Although I will take the kids' gummy vitamins, I will NOT take dog medicine like Kramer. Take a look:

Hot tea, a warm bath, and cozy pajamas. What makes you feel better when you don't feel good?

Monday, September 19, 2011

International Talk Like A Pirate Day

It's the most wonderful time of the year!!!

So here it is! ITLAPD again and I couldn't be happier. Last year I spent ITLAPD crossing the international date line and missed September 19 altogether. So sad! But this year YAR, I am BE talking like a true scalawag and on the right day! So, here be three good things 'bout that day of all days, International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

2) Pirate Jokes like this:
Q: What's a Pirate's favorite letter of the alphabet?
A: R?
A: Nay, it's the letter P. It's like R, but missing a leg! Yaaarrrr!!!

3) Generally talking like a Pirate. Seriously, what's not to love?

1) Piratizing many things!
Save this piratize bookmarklet I like to drag it to my browser's tool bar like a bookmark. Then visit just about any page and run it. It converts pages to pirate!

So, now go out there and Talk Like A Pirate!

And enjoy this bonus video:

Friday, September 16, 2011

More Random Good Stuff: Sue/Brian

Here's to Friday! It's the day for listing random lists because it's our blog, and sometimes we just need to be silly!

So here we go . . .

Three types of candy that I like to eat that are NOT chocolate:

2. Watermelon or green apple Jolly Ranchers
3. Twizzlers - Strawberry and Cherry are good, but I will cheat and note that the Hershey's Chocolate flavor is my favorite!
1. Starburst

2) Zagnut (like a Butterfinger, but covered in toasted coconut instead of chocolate)
3) Razzles (first it's a candy, then it's a gum!)
1) Gummy things (especially the raspberries)

Three books on a nearby shelf that I've not picked up for quite some time so they are most likely covered with dust:

2. The Big Book of Juices and Smoothies - (The juicer in the cabinet is just as dusty!)
3. The Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market, 2007
1. Betty Crocker's Parties for Children - This book is circa decades ago. My sister picked it up at a garage sale for me a few years back. I have no idea why I keep it on my shelf!

2)  We Interrupt This Broadcast
3)  The Galileo Connection
1)  If You Want to Walk on Water You've Got to Get Out of the Boat

Three fall TV show premieres I'm looking forward to because I'm tired of re-runs, reality shows, and infomercials:

2. The Big Bang Theory
3. Glee
1. Raising Hope

2)  How I Met Your Mother
3)  The Big Bang Theory
1)  Mad Men

Well, there ya have it. Random good things. Share yours today!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

9/11 Reflections

Where were you when . . .

It's a question that's been asked many times this week with the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 on Sunday.

I can remember vividly where I was, and what I was doing. I was at home taking care of a then 10-month old Miss O. Her little bro A was merely a peanut growing inside me as we learned we were having a second child just the week before. As I watched the events unfold on TV, I could not help but wonder how we would we raise our babies and keep them safe in such a terrifying, broken world.

Fast forward 10 years. Our children our thriving and growing, and now beginning to understand the enormity of 9/11. So this weekend, we watched some media coverage of the events, and talked about what happened a decade ago.

Here are some highlights:

2. An excellent documentary: We watched the History Channel's "Voices From Inside the Towers, a film documenting dozens of harrowing, heartbreaking stories of love and loss on 9/11." This program featured recorded phone calls from people inside the buildings as they contacted family members, friends, 911 dispatchers and local media as the events took place. T questioned whether or not we should let the kids watch this film, but ultimately it was a good idea. The program was very well done, thought-provoking, and touching.

3. A brief, but poignant conversation: "Could it happen again? Could it happen in Chicago? Those are the biggest questions Miss O had after viewing the program. We told her and A the truth. Yes, it could happen again. And yes, there are people in the world with beliefs different than our own who will harm others. We told them that our president, the government, the military, police officers, and firefighters are always working to keep us safe. "If you're scared" added T. "You can pray."

1. A round of applause: At the end of mass on Sunday morning, our priest asked all the military personnel, police officers, and firefighters in the congregation to stand and be recognized. Everyone enthusiastically applauded, then we concluded the service by singing "America the Beautiful."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years later

I was working at an accounting firm in Grand Rapids, MI and on the phone with Anna in our Manhattan office when she told me a plane just hit one of the towers. I was picturing a small single engine plane or something, never imagining that it could be anything so major. We kept the phone line open between us most of the day so we would know that we were both still there.

Later that day I met with the worship design team at my church, and I made this video.

Please forgive the amateur quality and clear copyright violations all over the place.

So, what good came out of September 11, 2001?

2) More people came to understand that God doesn't let or make these things happen, but instead we live in a fallen, broken world where awful things happen because of people, not because of or in spite of God.

3) We discovered a renewed pride in the USA, Firefighters, Police, military personnel, and every day heroes without uniforms or medals who made the choice on that day to do what was necessary.

1) With the memory of this day in my life, I do not take for granted the freedom I have to choose and practice religious beliefs, freedom of speech and ideas, and that as a Christian, I have the responsibility to be loving to even those where love is uncomfortable.
Matthew 5:44 "But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,"

Friday, September 9, 2011

Giving Back or Forward

As this posts on Friday morning, I will be on my way or already in Manhattan, New York City to do something good for the company where I work. With the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 attack approaching this Sunday, we are commemorating it with the Freedom Bible. My role will be somewhere in the city handing out the Bibles and talking to people about the event. In this way, I feel like I'm giving something back to the community where this happened. It got me thinking about giving back or "Pay it Forward" as you might know from the movie.

So tell us about the ways you like to give back or forward. Do you make donations? To whom? Where do you give your time? Here are ways Sue and I like to help out.


2) Taking the opportunity to do on-the-ground ministry like I will today, instead of just online ministry where I spend most of my time.

3) I'm not doing this right now, but I will get back into youth ministry and work with teens.

1) If a friend ever asks me for anything, I do everything I can to help.


2. Each year at Christmas, my family chooses tags from The Giving Tree at our church, then we provide gifts and treats for two children in need.

3. Throughout the year, we donate clothing, toys, books, and other household items to various charitable organizations.

1. I lend an ear to my friends and family who might need comfort, support, encouragement, or prayer during trying times.

So really - add your comments about ways you like to pay back or forward!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Good Cry

"Unless you have been very, very lucky, you have undoubtedly experienced events in your life that have made you cry. So unless you have been very, very lucky, you know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit."

— Lemony Snicket (Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid)

I'm a crier.

Not a tears-of-joy-isn't-that-wonderful type of crier, but one who is easily brought to tears in response to stress, frustration, anxiety, relationships, unresolved emotional issues, and . . . well, I can go on and on.

As it seems, I'm not alone. During recent conversations with some of my friends who happen to be facing difficult challenges in their lives at the moment, shedding a tear seems to be par for the course. "I cried three times yesterday," said one friend. "Right now? Too much," said another. "I cry everyday," posted a facebook friend.

Actual scientific studies indicate that women cry more often than men, and for a longer period of time, too. No surprise there. However, at least two men in my unscientific facebook poll about crying admitted that they do cry occasionally, and I have seen my hubby shed a tear or two or more from time to time.

In my small poll, the #1 reason most people cried was in response to personal problems. Once again, not a surprise to me. What is surprising to me is that from a very young age, we are told, "Don't cry!" or what I've been told a gazillion times, "You're too sensitive."

Well, pass the tissues! "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to" because crying can be a good thing.

2. Stress relief: In most cases, a good, long cry tends to make me feel better. A study by the University of South Florida found that almost everyone feels better after a cry, and that personality has a major effect on how often we cry. An overwhelming majority of participants reported mood improvement after crying.

3. Crying as portrayed in movies, TV, music, or literature can prompt an emotional response from the audience be it sad, empathetic, happy, or joyful. Here are three of my favorites:

This scene from A League of Their Own:

or this scene from Forrest Gump (Yes indeed, I'm a Tom Hanks fan!)

or this song by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova which in my view is a very good song, but makes me well up a bit when I hear it.

1. Babies cry, and I love babies. I didn't always like when my babies were crying especially in the middle of the night, during church, or in line at the grocery store, but it did let me know that they needed me to comfort them - or simply feed them or change their diaper!

Stress relief, stirring emotions, and babies to soothe - my three good things about crying. Do share yours.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Long Distance

I've got about 1400 friends on facebook.

That's pretty crazy.
But i'm a polar extrovert, so in that way, it's not too unusual.
I estimate that I've never met about 700 of them - that's half.
Of the remaining 700:
200 are former co-workers that I never see.
200 are from churches where I no longer attend.
150 are former classmates that I live nowhere near.
75 are current co-workers that I don't see on any regular basis.
50 are international or others I've met at conferences and never see.
10 are people I've met, but are at a distance enough that I never see them.
10 are family or friends at such a distance, I rarely see.
Leaving a handful of people that I actually ever see face to face.

(you know who you are)

So - what's the good thing about this? Oh - I'm so glad you asked! Long distance relationships are difficult. There's no hugs, handshakes, or friendly pats on the back. So... that's not it. There's got to be something...

2) Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Ok, I gotta give it up for this aphorism. It really does. When I hear from an old friend from long distance or if it's been a while, the heart swells. The joy is glorious! That's not to say I don't like hearing from people on a regular basis. People are my crack.

3) Real friends. Really? Really? Real friends? I say yes. I know most of the people I know don't live within 100 miles from me, and most don't ever want to go to a Cubs game with me. (I maintain that's a Cubs issue, and not a me issue) But, I've learned how people can really be there for you from far away. Some people are better at this than others, but at the end of the day, I have genuine feelings for these long distance real friends.

1) A whole world of impact and influence. As it turns out I am touched by and have the opportunity to touch the lives of people on every continent (except Antartica - fingers crossed) and see so many different ways of life, priorities, points of view and ways of communicating that my mind struggles to take it all in and fully appreciate it. It's great!

All that to say, yes, I would like to see more people more of the time, but I really am pretty happy with what I've got, and that's good too.

(and you know who you are)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Honest to Goodness Truth

em·pa·thy [ émpəthee ] understanding of another's feelings: the ability to identify with and understand somebody else's feelings or difficulties

If you’ve been following this blog for quite some time and you’ve read my bio, you may know that I have a chronic autoimmune disease called Scleroderma. It’s a complicated disease, so I won’t get into the nitty gritty details except to note that it has severely damaged my lungs making it difficult for me to breathe more often than not. This is definitely NOT a good thing! In the words of my blogging counterpart:

It bites. It blows, and it Sucks!

There I said it out loud with a capital S no less!

Phew! I needed that.

But what I also need from time to time is for someone to say this to me, and a few weeks ago, my good friend M did.

“It just sucks, doesn't it?”

Yep, it sure does.

Now, you might be thinking how can saying “it sucks” be a good thing? Oh, but it is. Instead of the typical clichés, she came right out and spoke the truth, and it made me feel better. By golly, she’s got it!

I then told this story to one of my pulmonary rehab friends, and we laughed and agreed that yes, saying "it sucks," or any version of that, can sometimes be just the right thing to say.

Which brings me in a round-about way to the purpose of this post: What are good things to do for a person who is living with a chronic illness?

2. Acknowledge their bad feelings. If saying “it sucks” is not your cup a tea, how about “I understand that you are feeling angry, sad, frustrated, etc. about your health.”

3. Be a good listener. In my case, sometimes I just want someone who will listen without offering their opinion, their medical advice, what they read on the Internet, and what happened to their friend's neighbor's boyfriend's cousin, and so on. Sometimes it's OK not to say anything. Just be there with ears open, mouth shut. Hugs and prayers are welcome, too.

1. Offer and give help, and then follow through with it. The person with the disease is not the only person affected by it. In my case, I have a husband and two kids, and some days "it sucks" for them, too. Perhaps you can babysit, take the kids (or the husband) out for the day, make a meal, do some shopping, or accompany me to a doctor’s visit.

You get the idea.


Climbing down from my soapbox now.

*Thank you to all my family and friends who already do these good things. It means so much to me!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Natural Disasters

It's been a couple weeks worth of natural disasters in my neck of the woods. As is customary, it's time to figure out what the good things about them are.

2) Eastern Earthquake
Comedy Gold!

3) Hurricane Irene
I know this was rough on many people. Lots.
THIS kid had fun.

1) Steve Jobs resigns as CEO of Apple
He strongly recommended Tim Cook become CEO and Steve was elected Chairman of the Board.

Good things...
Good things...
I got nothin'
Tim Cook is the iTunes guru and I'm sure he'll do well. I'm just pretty broken up about the Steve Jobs thing... I'm sorry.