Monday, November 10, 2014

How To Plan An Anniversary Party

Earlier this fall we had a very special event here in the country. It involved many of my favorite things:

Good food.
Live music.
Fresh garden flowers.
And burlap.

We were blessed to honor and celebrate our parents, Ted and Alice, on their 60th wedding anniversary and my dad’s 85th birthday.

Sixty years with the same person. What an example and privilege!

When 50 years married rolled around, neither of them wanted the traditional-around-here- cake and punch reception. Instead, we all took a beach vacation together and had a great time.

Fast forward 10 years and their feelings changed. Realizing how rare and fortunate it is to be able to celebrate 60 years together and both still be in relatively good health, they happily agreed to a big blow-out this time.

We decided early in the year that we wanted to have a late summer hoedown in the beautiful park- like setting of my sister and brother –in-law’s backyard. And promptly put it on the back burner. That’s the way we roll.

As the summer breezed by, we finally “came-to” near the end of July and began to seriously plan and delegate responsibilities among we three sisters and my two ready and willing daughters-in-law. We decided who would be in charge of food, decorations, invitations, entertainment, and photography.

Coordinating an evening when the essential people were all available as well as the musicians and Rick, the BBQ Guy, was one of the more stressful parts of the whole thing! After much texting back and forth, we finally selected a date and kicked into high gear.

“A” started us off with the vibe we were looking for with some adorable invitations. They were just perfect. Originally, mom and dad thought the party would be just for family-around 100 people. The guest list kept growing and we ended up inviting over 200 people, and the majority of them came!

Sidebar: I wouldn't suggest doing the guest list and invites the way we did. We planned to only send paper  invitations to out-of-towners and those who were not on Facebook. We did the rest by private message since most of us planners ignore event invitations received on social media.

Disaster! It was hard for us to keep track of who we had actually invited, who had replied, who had read the message, etc.

For their 75th, we will send paper invitations to everyone.

We were so happy to have so many people who personally cared for our parents to provide the services we needed. The food was prepared with love and care and delicious BBQ sauce by the same community members who catered the high school graduation parties for our boys. They wheeled their smoker in the yard in the early morning hours and the food was SCRUMPTIOUS!

A family member prepared the delicious and beautiful cakes. We gave her free reign to decorate them however she wanted and we were so happy with the results. The cakes looked perfect and were so yummy that even skinny I-rarely-eat-dessert people had more than one piece. Good thing we ordered plenty!

We were able to borrow a tent and extra tables and chairs from church friends and family. Aren't we lucky to have friends who just happen to have their own tent? They like to have parties, obviously!

One of our cousins is in a blue-grass band, The Flat Mountain Boys, and their happy music provided the perfect background noise for all the visiting and reminiscing. Even though they were stuck on the “stage” most of the night, they played their hearts out and had a great time, too.

My mom is a "picture" person who has her walls covered with family photos, so we knew we needed to have some professional ones taken. Kristen, from Rake Photography, who is also my parents' neighbor, stayed from start to finish capturing so many things that we never would have been able to see while running around as hostesses. Her pictures were taken with love and it shows!

Our decorations really helped set the stage for a relaxed evening. Twinkling lights, mason jars, and burlap aided to the ambiance.

We used lots of garden flowers and "old stuff" from the family. whenever possible. My folks have really enjoyed all the cards they received.

We wanted to display some of my parents' wedding photos and my baby sister came up with these ideas. Aren't they adorable? She scanned the old photos, printed them, and stuffed some in jars that came from our mom or grandma's stash. 

Others were hung on this pallet "clothesline" with old pins. Amy made the burlap pennants and her husband drew the letters freehand-style. I would still be trying to get them all the same size and shape if I were doing it! You can get custom prints like these done on Shutterfly.

My parents are so cute, don't you think? They were married outside at her parents home in front of that cute little picket fence. And I love my mom's wedding suit and her going away dress.

Good food. Good music. Wonderful company. Laughing children. Cousins getting reacquainted and our children and grandchildren happily becoming friends, too. A hay ride. A photobooth.

Our goal was to have a FUN evening of food and fellowship with old friends, family, and neighbors. And to do it at a reasonable price.  I’m happy to report that we accomplished exactly that.

This turned out to be a perfect way to honor and celebrate our parents-our dad a Korean war veteran who still works hard on the farm everyday and is the rock of our family, and my mom, a retired elementary school secretary who delivers meals to shut-ins, is a hospice volunteer, gardens and quilts like a fool, and taught us all the gift of hospitality.

My parents have loved many, many people over the years and it was so fun to see that love returned to them on this happy night.

I'm working on the perfect ending to all this, a memory book that I will make on Shutterfly. I have used them several other times and I know that mom and dad will enjoy these pictures for years to come!

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Now They're Cool

I was one of the lucky ones in fifth grade.

I flunked the vision test given at school by the county nurse. This was back in the day when the nurses in their white uniforms would show up- not to do lice checks, like they do now- but for vision and hearing checks. And the occasional school bus trip to the "big" school where we lined up in long rows and tried not to cry in front of our classmates when those same nurses gave us our vaccinations. Ouch.

I must admit I was a little excited about the possibility of wearing glasses then. That good feeling lasted about 24 hours. From then on, my eyes are instantly drawn to my glasses (she says in a sarcastic tone)  in every school picture -not the adorable little outfit my mom sewed up for me or my new perm with the short little bangs.

Winnie is actually wearing glasses that look more like the ones my grandma wore than mine at this age, but you get the idea.

Since then, I've suffered through lots of trials wearing contact lenses with no luck and many pairs of glasses. Ugly glasses. Cute glasses. Slightly-crooked-on-my-face glasses. Digging-into-my-nose-glasses. And sore-ear-glasses.

Now however, I am embracing my inner geek and claiming my nearsightedness.

And my bifocalness.

I am cheering that thanks to fashionistas like these in their cute specs, wearing glasses is now fashionable. Eyeglasses make a STATEMENT. And  add that certain "something" to a person's overall look.


I'm in the market for a new pair of glasses, and I've promised myself that I am NOT going to drive an hour and 15 minutes one way to find the perfect pair. I did that last time, and even though it has worked out fine and I do LOVE my old pair, it is just silly.

I don't have time to do that.

What if I need an adjustment or have problems? Too inconvenient.

The main reason though is that I WAY OVERPAID for my last pair. I don't keep financial secrets from my farmer husband, but he would CROAK if he knew how much I paid for the pair on my nose right now. 

Thankfully, he never asked. And I didn't offer the info. And snatched the credit card bill and paid it before he saw it.

This time, I 'm going to give Warby Parker glasses a try! This is an online company, with a few brick and mortar locations, that is doing the glasses thing a new way.

Here are some reasons the company appeals to me:

1. adorable frames
2. free shipping and returns
3. adorable frames
4. can test drive 5 pairs at a time to see which ones I like
5. adorable frames
6. reasonable prices
7. adorable frames
8. one pair given to someone in need for every pair purchased-so far a million pair
9. adorable frames
10. can still support my local optometrist with my eye exam

Their new Winter 2014 line is going to be revealed today and I will have NO PROBLEM finding 5 pairs that I can't wait to try.

So, how about you? What is your glasses story? Have you ordered from Warby Parker? Would you? Go check them out and let me know which pair is your favorite!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Just Breathe

How are your insides today?

Are you peaceful and calm or are your "innards" roiling and churning and anything but calm? With everything that is going on in our world today, it is easy to be discouraged or flat-out scared.



Drug cartels.

Holy cow. What's coming next?

It is enough to send stress levels and insecurities through the roof. This stress is very hard on us and results in our bodies not working efficiently- all the way down to the cellular level.  This eventually leads to lots of different illnesses. Research is proving that stress is literally killing us.

Thankfully, God never intended us to live that way. We can come to him even in our very scary times, when nothing seems stable, when things around us are falling apart. Prayer is always available to God's children and peace can come from sharing our cares and concerns with God the Father.He will restore our soul.

I don't know about you, but sometimes, I just can't calm down enough to even prayer. Anyone else?

I'm so thankful that God created our bodies with a built in stress reducer. It requires no extra equipment, can be done anytime, and it is FREE.

I’m talking about the breath. 

By adulthood, on average, we are taking 15 to 20 breaths per minute-three to four times faster than optimal. We hurry through our days, weeks, years, -OUR LIVES, for Pete's sake- operating from our sympathetic nervous system, taking shallow breaths from our upper lungs. Stress hormones are being continually released and we essentially are living in a state of FEAR.

Not the abundant life God has planned for us. 

I love how God created the parts of our bodies to be interconnected. They are ALL affected by the breath. Our very breath is a direct GIFT from HIM. Learning to take slow complete inhales  and slow complete exhales through the nose majorly affects the pituitary, the master gland that controls the rest of the glands in our bodies. Medical research is proving that deep breathing is not only relaxing, but it also affects the heart, the brain, the immune system. It is sooooo good for us. 

Deep breathing helps us function from our parasympathetic nervous system-the rest and digest system. We can relax, think clearly, and respond to others from a calm space. We would feel better, and wouldn't that make all our relationships better, too? 

The breath is a "common grace"- available to believers and unbelievers alike. I'm so thankful for that.
However, as a Christ follower, the breath also provides a way to commune with my Heavenly Father, as the very breath becomes a prayer for me in Holy Yoga. 

I don't know about you, but I am more than ready to trade in my spirit of fear for NEW LIFE  and NEW BREATH.

I hope you take some time today to sit quietly and just breath. 

I love this prayer from Light for the Journey.

I breathe in the wonder of your love,
And say thank you.
I breathe in the fragrance of your life,
And say thank you.
I breath in the joy of your presence,
And say thank you.
Thank you for love and life and presence.
Thank you for abundance and generosity and faithfulness.
Thank you for blessings that overflow.
I breath in and am filled with the glory 
that is you.

Even if you don't do the physical practice of yoga, give the breathing a try. I'd love to hear how it works for you!

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Holy Yoga Moment.....

I have been practicing yoga for many years now, and I love it. I would not want to grow old without it! 

Here are some reasons ( in no particular order) why yoga is my primary exercise.

1. Increased strength. The longer I practice, the stronger I get. I can hold poses longer and my core is definitely not the same as it once was, following 3 C-sections.

2. Improved balance. As we age, we need to work on improving and maintaining balance. Holy Yoga helps with that-both physically and spiritually.

3. Weight control. We  generally do a gentle flow in the classes I teach, but Power Yoga is a great way to burn calories and work up a sweat. As you build strength, you will be able to amp up your own practice.

4. Stress relief. Stress wreaks havoc on all systems of our bodies. Yoga, especially Holy Yoga, is a wonderful stress reliever. Using our breath brings calm to our spirits and lowers blood pressure and takes us out of "fight or flight" mode.

5. Flexibility. I often hear people say that they could never do yoga because they aren't flexible enough. That comment makes me want to scream. We don't do yoga because we are flexible but because we want to become more flexible.  I don't want the recliner to be my best friend, so I need to "use it, or lose it".

6. Challenge. There is always somewhere else to go in asana practice "Asanas" are the physical poses of yoga.  I am still trying to conquer Crow pose and many others but am happy to report that I can now easily do Half-Lotus. I'm not bragging, but I am encouraged that with continued practice, it isn't all downhill!

7. Body Image. Holy Yoga has helped me see my body in a new way. I used to look in the mirror and only see flaws (Trust me. I am well aware they are all still there and increasing with every birthday.) but now I am able to view my body with more gratitude for the places it has take me and the miracle and gift it is. I want to be HEALTHY.

Holy Yoga is a wonderful practice. I love combining breath and movement and worship. Click over to the and find a class in your area.  If you can't locate one, consider subscribing to Holy Yoga TV. You won't regret it!

Any yogi's out there? Why do you practice yoga?

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Where do You Go To Fill the Empty?

Disclaimer: A large Diet Pepsi was consumed during the writing of this post. 

I, along with many people in our town, seem to be addicted to Polar Pops. The gas station on the corner is busy day and night with customers, young and old, bellying up to the pop fountain.

I've visited many times. It is cheap and self serve, so I can get the pop to ice ratio just the way I like it-heavy on the ice. I have seen and visited with many of my former students while getting my Diet Pepsi fix, so that is another good thing.

There are 3 sizes available- big, bigger, biggest.

Nobody gets a small pop anymore. Now the 32 ouncer isn't even enough; many people want the Super Duper Size. I, personally, have never purchased the 42 ounce size, mainly because it is just embarrassing.

Do you think soon someone will invent a tank we can carry on our backs with a straw that comes around the shoulder to give us our constant fizz fix? Time will tell.

But, this post isn't about Pepsi, or Coke, or Mountain Dew.

It's about empty places and yearning and the search for satisfaction. And standing at the checkout counter of the gas station gives us lots of visuals.

Super sized candy bars.
Energy drinks.
Little bottles of alcohol.
Lottery tickets.

Oh my. We are a mess.

I've been learning recently through the study Recovering Redemption that humans tend to turn 4 places in a search for significance and purpose.

Ourselves- We strive for self improvement. According to US News, Americans spend more than $60 billion a year on weight loss. Barnes and Noble offers 186, 532 self help titles.

We instinctively know that we need "fixing".

Others- "If only I were friends with the right people"..... "When I'm in a relationship, I'll be happy".... "My kids, my kids, my kids"

World-alcohol, food, fame, fortune, shopping, hobbies, more, more, more

Religion-Attempting to save yourself through your good works and checklists of rule following

I have dipped my toe in everyone of these at one time or another and went under the water a time or two in some of them.

But all of my striving and searching left me still empty and frustrated and with more clothes than I needed and more weight than was healthy and one more box to take to the give-away pile.

None of these outside forces will do the trick.

Our joy and significance come from a RELATIONSHIP with the one who came to save us, Jesus Christ.

Oh, that we would turn there instead of the things that do not satisfy and never will.

Share your wisdom in the comments please. I'd love to hear your take on this!

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

He Is

He is.

These words seem like a twin phrase to "but God" which has shown up over and over in my Bible study this year.

Because "he is" in every circumstance around us, he can take what seems for our harm and reverse it to a "but God."

Often my eyes and heart remain closed to what is happening around me and days, weeks, or months later, I learn how God has worked something ugly or confusing for good.

When I become aware of this, I learn once again that the wisdom of man isn't wise at all, and I need to see things through "kingdom eyes" not my green ones that require glasses for the details and fine print.

Once upon a time, I thought I knew what to pray when circumstances were sticky or relationships strained. I prayed for my will to be done, and then worked hard to make it happen if it was in my power at all to do so. How presumptuous of me!

Now, I pray with confidence and much less worry and brain scurrying on my part, that God's will be done. I am learning to hand over my "control" which is laughable because I can only "control" one person-me- and as I've said on this blog before, I don't even mind myself all that well.

My Heavenly Father really does know best, and because "He is",  I don't have to be.

And I'm glad.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dr. Phil, Jerry Springer or God?

Where do you go for advice? Ellen? Dr. Phil? Judge Judy? Jerry Springer? (Goodness. I hope it isn't the last one!) Or maybe you turn to your friends whose lives are a mess, too.

Our natural reaction is to go to a person who will agree with us and tell us what we want to hear. If our issue is with another person, we want someone else to be mad right along with us, someone who will be outraged on our behalf, someone who will not only listen as we drag our "enemy" through the coals but will throw in a few zingers of their own. It feels good at the time to receive confirmation that our reaction is justified and the other person is at fault.

If it's a decision we need to make, we look for someone who is already doing the very thing we are pondering. Hooking up with an acquaintance? Moving in with a boyfriend? Quitting a job? Spending money we don't have? Eating too many french fries? Your friend who is already participating in foolish behavior will probably never tell you that you shouldn't, even if in fact, YOU SHOULDN'T. 

It may feel good temporarily but often times that kind of advice doesn't solve a problem or result in a good outcome. My dear friend, Debbie, says, "How is that working out for you?" We can't keep making the same knuckle-headed decisions and expecting things to turn out differently.

I love that Proverbs says that WISDOM isn't quiet. She calls aloud, she raises her voice, she cries out. We can be wise if we truly want to be.  

If we want to make the wise choices, let's try this:
  • Get into the word. Proverbs is a great place to start, and I challenge you to read a different chapter in that book each day. It will change you.
  • Ask God for it.  James 1:5  "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."  
  • Pray about it with a mentor or someone who has your best interest at heart and will help you see all sides of a situation.
  • When we know the wise thing to do, do it.       
Let's be known as a community of wise women who is allowing the Holy Spirit to CHANGE us from the inside out as we make the wise choices for our families, our communities, ourselves.  That is the kind of life that will bring glory to Jesus.

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