Saturday, May 30, 2009

Summer Reading

So earlier this year, I was silly enough to make a top ten list for 2010. On that list, I mentioned that I wanted to read one book a month. Well, here we are, first of June and I have read three. Now if you count Bible books, I'm in good shape. But that's not the reading I was talking about. I think it's very easy these days to depend on electronic media to enlighten and entertain us. I still think it's important and enjoyable to actually sit down with a hard copy and read. Thus, my commitment to make more time to do it.

My current read is "Cast of Characters" by Max Lucado. Max is one of my favorite wordsmiths - puts spiritual things into down to earth words that still point toward heaven. This is a great read because it is broken into short chapters about different Bible characters. I can read a chapter or two in a very short amount of time and will likely be able to get through the whole book without forgetting the plot while I take too long a break between reading experiences.

I was especially captivated by his chapter on Matthew. The tax collector. The shady character that was considered a pariah in his society. The one that hung out with roughians. The one whose friends Jesus wanted to meet, so told Matthew to throw a party for them. The one to whom Jesus said, "Follow me" and he followed.

Max says it better than I could, so forgive the lengthy quote. But it's a good one!

"Quite a story. Matthew goes from double dealer to disciple. He throws a party that makes the religious right uptight, but Jesus proud..... What do we do with it? That depends on which side of the tax collector's table you find yourself. You and I are Matthew. Don't give me that look. There's enough hustler in the best of us to qualify for Matthew's table. Maybe you've never taken taxes, but you've taken liberty with the truth, taken credit that wasn't yours, taken advantage of the weak. You and me? Matthew. If you're still at the table, you receive an invitaion. "Follow me." So what if you've got a rube reputation? So did Matthew. You may end up writing your own gospel. If you've left the table, you receive a clarification. You don't have to be weird to follow Jesus. You don't have to stop liking your friends to follow Him. Just the opposite. A few introductions would be nice. Do you know how to grill a steak?"

"Sometime ago I was asked to play a game of golf. The foursome included two preachers, a church leader and a 'Matthew, B.C.' The thought of four hours with three Christians, two of whom were pulpiteers , did not appeal to him. I'm happy to report that he proclaimed the experience painless. On the ninth hole he turned to one of us and said, 'I'm glad you guys are normal.' I think he meant this: 'I'm glad you didn't get in my face or club me with a King James driver. Thanks for laughing at my jokes and telling a few yourself. Thanks for being normal.' We didn't lower our standards. We were nice. Normal and nice."

"Discipleship is sometimes defined by being normal. A woman in a small Arkansas community was a single mom with a frail baby. Her neighbor would stop by every few days and keep the child so she could shop. After some weeks her neighbor shared more - she shared her faith. The friends of the young mother objected. 'Don't you know what those people teach?' 'Here is what I know,' she told them. 'They held my baby.'

Normal and nice. Sinners and saints in the same room. I know how to grill a steak. I know how to hold babies. I think Jesus would like that answer.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sydney's Babies are Growing Up

The babies aren't so much babies anymore. Five weeks, running everywhere, chewing on anything, getting into all kinds of mischief.....but SOOOO adorable. I spend way too much time playing with them - on the premise, of course, that they need to be socialized for their new owners. In a week or so, the ad will go in the paper and around 7-8 wks. hopefully they will all be gone. Quick - before I get attached. My mantra: "They grow up to be dogs; big, hairy, dirty dogs....."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Seattle Sunshine

Spent the last two days in the "big city" of Seattle. Seattle in the sunshine is exquisitely beautiful like no other city. The sun on all that water, the varigated shades of green from the overgrowth of plant life, row upon row of sailboat masts in the sound, cruise ships docked at the piers, the outline of the space needle, snow capped Mt. Rainier in the distance. Incredible.

We took a road trip to Seattle with our friends the Teals to take in a Mariners game at Safeco Field. Granted, the game was not heart stopping by any means - the Mariners lost to the Angels. But there is just something fun about being inside the ballpark, taking in the sights and sounds. And the garlic fries and BBQ pork sandwiches aren't bad either.

On Thursday we had lunch on the pier at Anthony's, then walked through Pike Street Market, and even had coffee at the original Starbucks. It's always fun to people watch in downtown Seattle. And there was even a demonstration; something to do with being green, saving the endangered species, biofuels, etc. - SOOOO Seattle. On Friday we ventured to Ikea - always a Seattle hotspot - and had lunch at Maggie Bluff's on Elliot Bay. We sat outside and enjoyed the awesome view of the Seattle sound with downtown skyscrapers in the background. One of my favorite dining establishments (pictured above).

All in all, it was a very delightful and refreshing time. I won't even mention the traffic jam on Snoqualmie that took us three hours to navigate. With good friends to visit with, the time went by reasonably fast. I'm ready to go back, and I just got home.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

And They're Off.......

Now that the weather is nice, the puppies love to be out in the yard, prancing, climbing, wrestling, exploring.... It's a bit of a chore to get them all out and back in, but it's very fun to watch them play. Two have homes and new names. Two to three more weeks and hopefully they will all be settled in with new families. The best kind of puppies - ones you can spoil and love and pass on to someone else to raise.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Sad Day in Idol Land

I am addicted to American Idol. Granted, I could do without some of the hoopla filler stuff that they do to make the show longer and "more exciting", but I love watching the contestants sing their hearts out. This season has been the most interesting yet, with the field of talent being exceptional. From early auditions I have followed the story of Danny Gokey. He is a church music director from Milwaukee. His wife died of a heart condition 10 months ago. He has a foundation for kids in his wife's name; it's called Sophia's Heart. I found Danny charming and humble and amazingly talented.

Though he's had a great run and made it to the top three, he was eliminated last night. They showed his hometown visit and did a recap of his Idol adventure. I actually shed tears! Though bittersweet, in a way it's better for him not to be under the Idol contract and be able to make his own recording deal and do music his own way. I will purchase whatever he produces as I love his voice and his story.

So now we're down to Adam and Kris. Adam is not my cup of tea, though the kid has pipes. I will be rooting for Kris, another humble family guy who sings my kind of music. One more week and I will have to find something else to do with my Tuesday and Wednesday nights. And that's not all bad.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Their Eyes Are Open!

Back by popular demand.....the Gang. None to thrilled about being photographed. They are really getting fun now with more playfulness in their box and the occasional bark or growl. Syd is spending less time with them and they rely on each other to be playmates as well as pillows. Next few days they will start on some solid food - let the fun begin.
Looks like Penny will likely have bright blue eyes, Bailey may have one brown and one blue. Part of the fun of Aussies is how different they all look. Even the three tri-colors have very distinct markings. Two definitely have homes and possibly a third. And that's the way we like it....uh-huh, uh-huh.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cause to Celebrate

Had my five year checkup with my oncologist this morning. FIVE YEARS cancer free! No more blood draws, CTs, x-rays, drug side effects, six month visits to see him. At my last visit we had had a discussion about the fact that Tamoxifen (my nasty drug of choice) is no longer effective for recurrance odds after five years, and we talked about me doing another drug for a few years as a security blanket. Since that visit he had done a lot of research about whether there would be any advantage in that protocol and told me today that the side effects would outweigh the benefits and evidence didn't support the added years of drug therapy making you live any longer. He said it was my choice, but he and his nurse practioner both agreed that they would not start the Arimidex if they were in my shoes. The Tamoxifen has been leaching on my bones a bit and while I don't have osteoporosis, he could see evidence on the bone density scan. Nothing a healthy diet, long bone exercise and a calcium supplement won't correct. But taking the Arimidex would likely only contribute to thinning bones.

I look back over the five years and am extremely grateful that my life is so healthy and full now. Overall I feel better now than I did before I went through treatment. There are some lingering consequences that I have to live with, but they are minor in comparison to losing my life. While I know that our days are in God's hands, I am grateful for the extra time I have. I can't even fathom how great heaven will be, but I also know that life here is amazing (well most of the time) as well and I'm happy to be living it.

Let's party!!!!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Our Friends are Getting Old

Tonight we attended the 60th birthday bash of our friend Jim Peterson. We have know Jim and Linda for something like 25 years. Keith called on Linda at one of the big pediatric offices in town. They helped us find our house in Colbert, where they became our neighbors just two houses away. Their kids babysat our kids. Then they had a surprise #3 son , Nick, who is just a year older than our youngest, Alex. The boys were friends growing up. Jim and Linda were like Alex's other parents. He even went on a vacation to Mexico with them. (And they have a few stories to tell!)

When you know Jim and Linda you are automatically adopted into their HUGE extended family. We know their parents, their siblings, their aunts, uncles, cousins. They are all so much fun to spend time with. We have watched our kids grow up, graduate, get married, have babies (well, their kids, not ours yet on the baby thing). Even though they live so close, we don't see each other all that often. But when we do, it's like we've never been apart.

It was a grand evening where so many, including their kids, gave tribute to Jim. Alex had such a great time catching up with Grandma Pat, the Peterson clan, including his "adopted" brother and sister, Corey and Rebecca, all the cousins, nieces and nephews. I am grateful to their influence in his life. Just goes to show, one never has too much family.

60 - sheesh!!! That sounds old. Must be our friends are much older than we are. Happy birthday, Jim.