Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Start Spreading the News...

I'm so excited!  Hubs and I are leaving tomorrow for The Big Apple!  We're going to my 10-year reunion for my acting school.  It will be so great to visit with friends who I haven't seen for a decade, and I'm thrilled that I'll get to introduce Hubs to my New York City.  I say my NYC because everyone who lives there loves it for different reasons and has their own haunts and favorite places.

Breakfast at my fave bagel shop, a walk through Central Park, and of course a Broadway show!

Give my regards to old Broadway, 
And say that I'll be there e'er long!

Monday, May 26, 2008


This is a guest post written by my sister, Jilly:
Hi Everyone,

My husband, G, was in a wedding this weekend for 2 of our old friends who married each other. Ryan (the groom) and his groomsmen all went to the Astros game on Thursday night. Somewhere along the way in the planning, they decided to all go dressed as super heroes. I honestly thought they would chicken out and end up just wearing a Superman t-shirt or something. Boy was I wrong! They were all decked out head to toe. G went as Super Mario from the Nintendo game. I took this picture in our front yard as our 3 year old across the street neighbor watched with a VERY stunned look on his face. Ryan is in the purple wig and hadn't put on his body paint yet. He painted himself head to toe in green and went as the hulk. They were on the jumbotron and on t.v. A LOT! The announcers were even commenting. After the game, it took them an hour to get to their cars because of everyone wanting to take their picture.

Fun times,

Friday, May 23, 2008

Baby Love

My mom sent me these photos of when I was in Texas visiting Sam a month ago. I think I just fell in love with him all over again.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but it would lack a certain pizazz!

On Saturday morning, I walked down the road from the retreat house where we were staying to the beautiful public rose garden across from the famous mission in Santa Barbara. It was a loverly, warm day, and I couldn't resist snapping away with our camera. The roses in this garden are just gorgeous! 
As I was moseying through the garden, I was so tickled by the wonderful names people have given to these flowers. It reminded me of the Garden of Eden when God invited Adam (Eve hadn't been created yet) to name the animals. 

Two books I've been reading lately (Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engel and To Own a Dragon by Donald Miller) have both talked about the power of naming and being named. I think it is a wonderful honor that even today, we get to join with Adam in naming our children, our spouses (terms of endearment), our friends (nicknames), and even flowers! My maternal grandfather raised and developed different varieties of hibiscus, and even named two of his created varieties after my sister and me.

Enjoy the beauty and the names of these Santa Barbara roses. (Note: The roses pictured below do not necessarily correspond with the pictured names.) 

Monday, May 19, 2008

In His Image

The reason for my retreat this weekend was to make space in my life to be alone with God. To create some margin just for Him and me. To open my heart up to Him and quiet my mind enough to hear from Him.

I can't say that I had this crazy mountaintop experience with God while on retreat. It was, however, a peaceful time with Him. If I came away with one impression of what it is He spoke to me, I would say that He affirmed my calling as an artist. All weekend long, I found myself responding to Him (and to what I was experiencing on the retreat) through artistic expression--writing, taking pictures, painting and drawing. It all felt like such an organic response, and I suppose that's because that's who I am. It was just so affirming to come away realizing anew that when God created me in His image, a big part of that image is in my creativity. I identify with Him as Creator; and when I create, it brings Him glory!

This is the retreat house we were at, taken from the back patio. Isn't it adorable?

The fountain had the most colorful flowers planted around it:

I enjoyed sitting in the rocking chairs on the back patio taking in the gorgeous view. 

I loved sitting in one of the rocking chairs right in front of these eucalyptus trees. Their twisty trunks mesmerized me.

Isn't the color in these trunks amazing? They are God's own artistry!

They were part of the inspiration for this painting I did:

His creation was singing of His glory, and it was a joy to respond in creative expression!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Weekend Retreat

Hubs and I went on a retreat this weekend in Santa Barbara.  It was a refreshing time, and I enjoyed it so much. I brought my computer with me so that I could write down my thoughts along the way. There was no internet connection there (and I knew there wouldn't be...half the point of a retreat is to "unplug"!), so I wrote a few posts in Word about what I was experiencing on the retreat and published them when we got home this afternoon.  

My posts from the weekend are published below.  Have a great week!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Getting Comfortable with Peace

There is a little chapel on the grounds of the retreat center where four services are held each day:

Matins (the morning service to greet God in the new day), Mass (a service at noontime where they “celebrate the Eucarist”, aka "The Lord’s Supper" or "Communion"), Vespers (a service just before dinner to meet with God at evening), and Compline (a service to close the day with Him).

When I made arrangements to come on this retreat, I didn’t think I would attend many (if any) of these chapel services. They are optional for those here on retreat, and frankly, I thought I might find them boring. Interestingly, though, I have attended all of them, so far! They are not boring at all, but quite meaningful.

This surprised me because I was raised in the Episcopal church until I was 16 years old, and I generally found the order of the Episcopal church service very boring and ritualistic. It seemed that in the liturgy of the service, all of the meaning leaked out. I found it devoid of true passion for God, and an unnatural way to worship Him.

However, this retreat has changed my view. The services are only a half hour or less, so they don’t seem overly long to me. The responsive readings of the Psalms and of the liturgy now appeal to the actress in me. I no longer see them as just words on a page, but as words of life to speak to one another, ripe with meaning and even love.

Part of the Mass included “The Prayers of the People”, which is a chance to pray for different people in the world and in your life—from government leaders to your own family members. They came to the part when you can offer prayers for the sick. During this part of the prayer, you can say out loud the names of people who are ill and need healing. “My Dad,” I said out loud, tears filling my eyes.

Soon the prayer was ended with an “Amen,” and the priest said, “The peace of the Lord be always with you,” to which we all responded, “And also with you.” Then came the part that I often dreaded growing up. That uncomfortable part where you have to turn to the strangers around you and “exchange the peace”, which means shaking their hands and saying “Peace be with you.” Today, though, I just felt so full of gratitude for having a place to pray for my Dad. A place to lay down my burdens. A place to remember the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross by taking Communion. I turned to those around me and realized that I only needed to give that uncomfortable feeling a small nudge to get out of the way. Then we hugged each other with heartfelt gratitude for each other’s sheer presence, and mostly for the presence of God. Our very own Prince of Peace.

"Oh, the food there is GREAT!"

This is my first time to come to this retreat center, but Hubs has been here once before.  When I told him that we would be coming here for our retreat, he mentioned several times how good the food would be. In fact, he mentioned it so many times that it became a running joke.

Now that I have had breakfast here, I understand what all the fuss was about. If this retreat is about opening my heart to God, breakfast was a completely religious experience:

-Cheese stuffed crepes drizzled with strawberries and strawberry sauce.

-Fresh fruit—pineapple, banana, and pear

-A ginormous cup of freshly brewed coffee with heavy whipping cream and splenda (Let’s just be honest and call that dessert.)

It is a gloriously sunny and clear day.  I’m off to enjoy some time in the great outdoors (with sunscreen on, of course!).


Afternoon Update:

Have mercy!  I just had lunch, and it was another spiritual experience. The food at this place is divinely inspired. Today’s lunch:

-Beef Stroganoff

-Gingered Carrots

-Granny Smith Apple Cobbler with whipped cream

Mrs. G, if the chefs at The Women’s Colony are in need of recipes, they need look no further than this dear little retreat house snuggled cozily on a hill in Santa Barbara!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Julie Andrews would appreciate this...

Hubs and I are on a weekend retreat.  We’re staying at an Episcopalian retreat house in Santa Barbara, which is run by an spunky nun.  After a simple yet tasty dinner, the Sister led about six of us in a Compline service, which is sort of a service to say goodbye to the day with God before heading off to bed.

At one point, it was time to sing a hymn. Since there was no organ player there, the sister stuck some kind of a key into the organ and it started playing the hymn.  Oh my stars!  It’s like a player piano, only an organ!  The hymn sounded like a lullabye, which is appropriate for a Compline service. As we sang the last verse, which was asking God to grant us a peaceful night’s sleep—I kid you not—Hubs let out a nice big yawn! It wasn’t loud or anything.  It was just a totally organic peaceful yawn. I don’t even think he was aware of it.  It just tickled me so! It reminded me of the scene in Mary Poppins where she is singing “Stay Awake” to the kids and they start relaxing and then yawning before falling into restful slumber.

Sweet dreams, sweetie pie!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Blog Redesign

I found this free blog background at The Cutest Blog on the Block.  They have lots of fun designs there and best of all, they're FREE!  The website also has instructions on their side bar of how to plug the html code into your blog template's existing code.

I liked my old blog design, but was ready for a change.  What do you think?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Imitation is the Sincerest form of Flattery!

Hi Everyone!

One of my new friends from church, Abby, let me sneak a peak of her private blog, and she has this cool slideshow feature on her sidebar.  So, of course, I copied her right away!  Thanks for the great idea Abby!  If you want to add a slideshow to your blog, just click here, and it will lead you through a simple process to set up your own.

I hope everyone's week is off to a great start!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Mom, it's your first Mother's Day as a grandmother!  So how do I say it?  Happy Mother's Day Squared?  ;)  Seriously, I am so blessed with the close bond that we have.  You are a dear friend and a wonderful mom, and I love you un monton!

Jilly, it's your very first Mother's Day as a mom!  Congratulations!  Sam is one well-loved baby boy with a fabulous mother in you.  You're a natural, and I'm very proud of you.  I love you, Sissy!

This is also a very special year because it is my first time to have a mother-in-law on Mother's Day.  Happy Mother's Day to my wonderful mother-in-law, J.  I treasure our relationship, and I'm so happy I get along so well with my MIL!!! 

And Happy Mother's Day to my other mother-in-law, A! (Because Hubs is adopted, I have two MILs!!!).  We are looking forward to seeing you in less than a month now!

I also have a Fairy Godmother!  I love you Meribeth!

And then there's my spiritual mother, Laura.  She mentored me in my faith during my high school years.  Then, about 10 years later, we were co-workers in Spain.  She was one of my bridesmaids when I got married, and continues to be my dear friend.  I love you, Laura!

What wonderful women God has placed in my life!


I was thinking today about how I have loved making a home with Hubs, and I definitely get my nesting instincts from my mom.  Whenever I go to my Mom's house, I love the way it feels so cozy and inviting.  Today, Mom sent me these two photos of how she just rearranged the outdoor furniture on her back patio.  See what I mean? I wish I were there to share a lemonade with her for Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 08, 2008


After writing my way through April (inspired by the "letters" theme), May greeted me with a lack of inspiration.  Plus, I've just been enjoying a short blogging respite.  Still, I have enough blogging neurosis that I don't want to let too many days go by without posting because I'm afraid my loyal readers will give up on me.  So, to tide you over until inspiration strikes again, I'll leave you with a few ADORABLE pics of Sam that one of Jilly's friend took. I miss the little guy!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Comfort the Children in Kenya

My friend Janet is going to Kenya in July for two weeks to do relief work with refugees. Tribal conflict in Kenya has left over 150,000 people without food, water and shelter.  

Comfort the Children International has chosen Janet to join an outreach team that will spend two weeks working to better the lives of the people there.

Our mission is to help provide hope and a future for the less fortunate. We share in the lives of local communities through acts of love and labor. Our education programs, building projects, medical/healthcare assistance, outreach ministries, and AIDS awareness create a better tomorrow.

Janet is raising funds to get to Africa. If you are interested in supporting her in this work, please go to her website. Her passion for this work is inspiring.