Friday, March 25, 2011

Green is on the Way!

Another Friday afternoon update.

I have been feeling a bit un-clever lately. With the exception of yesterday afternoon. I was just coming off my afternoon-coffee "high" and purchased a "Pep Upper" smoothie,

"With half the amount of caffeine, please."

A smoothie named "Pep Upper" is bound to have a dose of that.

Well. Caffeine is caffeine, and I had already had my fair share. After slurping down half of it, Kristi and I were sitting in the parking lot waiting for our senior to arrive for our photo session. Suddenly, everything turned hilarious, including myself. I laughed at everything I said. Kristi wasn't impressed.

Anyway, I don't make a habit of that. I really didn't think about it until it happened. I usually try to limit myself. (i.e. 1 soda a day. 1 coffee a day. etc.) And generally, I do a pretty good job. Except for days like yesterday.

So, for a week there, I was starting to get used to what Spring could feel like. One evening, I even took a bike ride. I love bike rides. Of course, I had to swallow my fear of wiping out again (it was about this time last year that I had my near-fatal crash). That doesn't stop me from wearing headphones, but I do still sport my pink & purple helmet (the one I purchased at Walmart after the incident-- in the kids' aisle). And yes, I strap my helmet OVER the headphones. Not the safest option, but it just makes me that much more aware visually, not to mention that if I DID fall, at least my head would be padded.

Hunger is creeping in... supper time is near. So I will close with a picture that I took at a recent family event. This was one of those too-good-to-be-true days in March where the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and everyone wore t-shirts outside. The grass even looked greener.

Enjoy your weekend!

Love you all- T

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday's 5

I want to update, but it's Friday afternoon at 5:30 and my brain is mostly fried from the week. So the goal is optimal viewer satisfaction with minimal provider effort. Solution: post pictures.

Here's to a Friday's Five... I love taking pictures of my family, and I love capturing the fun moments that somehow seem a lot more packed with action when caught on camera than in real life. But hey... that's the joy of locking a split second away in time forever. The candid emotions make you feel like you're a part of it. Here is the selection... if you feel so moved, you may comment on your favorite!

(These are extracted from the photos of a recent family birthday celebration).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pass It On

The day we left Florida, we connected with the guy who owned the house we stayed in.

"Give any of your leftover groceries to Ted," he told us. "He'll love them."

Ted was our next door neighbor. He was in charge of turning our Cable TV on and off, and he always had a 3-4 cars in his driveway at a time. He was usually outside working on something.

As we were all packing up, I grabbed the plastic sack of leftover groceries and crossed the yard.

"Hi Ted," I greeted. "Here is some food we had left-- you can have it," I told him.

"Thank you!" He was grateful.

Standing in the driveway with him was a friend.

"You girls were here visiting?" he asked.

"Yes, headed back home shortly, though," I told him.

"Oh, well you have a nice trip," he told me, "and God bless you."


As I turned to walk away, he called to me, "Wait..."

I turned.

"I have a gift for you, before you leave," he said, reaching into his back pocket. He took out a small pamphlet and handed it to me. I flipped it over and read the title: Do You Know for Certain that you have Eternal Life?

I smiled. "Well, I already know the Lord," I told him, "But I will be sure to pass this along to someone else."

"You do that!" he told me.

I was headed to the airport, so I was sure I would meet someone.

We ended up with plenty of time. After an amazing chicken parmigiana bagel sandwich, a Starbucks, and a game of Euchre, it was time to board the plane. Nothing monumental happened. We were flying Southwest, so there was no assigned seating. Unfortunately, we were one of the last groups to board, and seating is frist-come-first-serve, which meant we headed toward the back.

As a group of 4 young girls, we had to split up 2 and 2. In the back was a group of 5 men in their 40s-50s who were just flying him from a golfing trip in Florida. It was clear that they were extremely intoxicated.

They had to spread out, as well, and one of the guys ended up sitting right by me. I knew he wasn't completely aware of everything he was disclosing, but I did learn a lot about him-- we talked about his kids, his job, his life. We talked for at least 30-40 minutes. At one point, he looked over at Leah, who was sitting beside me by the window, and frowned.

"What are you reading over there?" he asked.

"I'm doing a bible study," she answered.


"We're Christians," I told him. "Do you go to church anywhere?"

"I'm Catholic," was his answer.

Seeing this as my opportunity to learn more about his beliefs, I asked, "What do Catholics believe?" merely out of curiosity.

With that one question, his entire demeanor changed, even within the state he was in.

"No, no, no," he told me nervously. "I'm not going there," he said.

"I was just asking the question," I told him.

He proceeded to tell me a story that didn't make a lot of sense at the time, but looking back, I know he was trying to express that the only encounters with Christians that sticks out to him are situations that seemed hypocritical. He quickly welcomed a subject change, however.

A little later, we were talking about cops.

"You would be a good cop," he told me, pointing.

"Why is that?" I asked.

"Because," he said, "You were drilling me earlier."

"Drilling you?"

"Yeah. About religion."

I don't consider asking one question as "drilling," yet it was clear he was uncomfortable with the topic.

"I'll tell you what-- I have a gift for you," I told him.

"A gift?"

"But I can't give it to you know, because I can't get to my purse. I'll give it to you later."

He fell asleep for the last half of the flight and I really didn't talk to him again until we deplaned.

Everyone made their way to the baggage claim, and I spotted him in his group. I wanted to say good-bye and see if there was still a good opportunity to share with him. I walked over and thanked him for sitting by me, and I was met with a hug.

"And here," I said, holding out the pamphlet. "Someone just gave this to me, and I told them I knew the Lord so would pass it along."

"Thank you," he said, and smiled.


So often, I think we measure our spirituality or witnessing efforts in terms of results. If we didn't walk the person through John 3:16 or sign them up for baptism, we feel like our efforts were meager. If we don't "make someone a Christian" on the spot, then we failed.

That's all wrong. The power to save a life lies not in our hands. God saves-- we are just the messengers. And a messenger doesn't necessarily have to verbalize everything. A messenger can deliver a louder message by saying nothing at all, at times, than by talking.

I recently received a letter from one of the prisoners that I write, and on the outside of the envelope, she wrote the quote: The greatest sermon you will ever preach is the one you have lived!

What do people see from my life?

We may not all be there when a person decides to accept Christ in their life-- each person has their own unique testimony made up of many circumstances and people that brought them to the breaking point. That's OK. If being the "messenger" who delivered a pamphlet on salvation to a 45-year-old on an airplane gets him one step closer to interest in Christianity, then I am excited to see how God uses it. It may not come to fruition tomorrow, next year, or even within the next decade... but maybe it helped plant a seed or water the one that was there.

God has a way of working in and through people to carry out His purpose... and although some things seem so small and futile to us, nothing escapes His attention and master plan.

Monday, March 07, 2011

While in FL

Today was the first day back from my week-long vacation in Florida. While it was lovely, and by lovely, I mean: sunny skies, sand & water, eating out, and fun with girls... by the end of the week, I was ready to return. I love a good trip, but am usually itching to return to real life at some point. It doesn't take away from the fun I had, it's just a good sign that I love the life I lead away from my vacations so much that it's not a terrible thing in which to return. :)

Every vacation teaches me new lessons. Here were my FL finds:

It's All Relative
I couldn't stop using this phrase the whole week. While I feel it can be widely overused, it is so true in so many cases. "It's relative" can apply to a lot of things. For instance, morning coffee. My morning coffee consists of an instant Starbucks packet + a dash of cinnamon mixed with instant hot water, poured into a ceramic cup. Leah's morning coffee is a Diet Coke. Both give us the caffeinated start we so desire... so whether you drink SB or DC, it's all relative, right?

Now of course, my coffee choice changes if a drive-thru Starbucks is within range...

I love the sun. At times, I underestimate it's power. On Day 1 of the Florida beach, I lathered up with a generous amount of SPF, which in hindsight, was probably not strong enough for the first day, only once. No reapplications. No second thoughts.

Until we returned home that evening and saw the aftermath... then I used SPF 50 and 70 on certain areas the rest of the week. And the day before I came home, I was peeling everywhere.

There is a consequence for every area of your life you don't protect...

I Still Love Birds
It's true. I'm not sure what it is about birds, but I do love the ones that live on the beach. One day, I even fed them part of my PB&J. My first experience on the beach was in Siesta Key when I was 5 years old. There is a picture of me jumping up into the air and feeding the birds bread. I am including it below to see that in 20 years, not much has changed...

Sunsets are a Big Deal
In Florida, if you are on the beach during a sunset, it is like any big Hollywood Premier. Cameras are out, people are watching, and when the sun goes down... everyone claps.

"Pelicans : Water" are like "Taryn : Dessert"
You all thought that I loved dessert and would do anything for it. You may have even thought I was the only one this crazy about getting good food. Think again. I have some competition: pelicans. I had the opportunity to watch pelicans go after their meal, and it was quite the show. All at once, from their spot in the sky, they eye their prey and then nose dive at high speeds, splashing into the water to catch what they see. Similar to how I spot a peanut butter pie dessert on the menu, flag down the waitress, and order it immediately.

Ice Cream Tastes Better on the Beach
I have eaten ice cream in February in Central IL, and I have eaten ice cream in February on Siesta Key Beach. The beach wins.

Friends are Fun
Friends are fun while eating, dancing, driving, and walking. Friends are fun in Illinois, friends are fun in Arizona, friends are fun in Florida. Friends are fun anywhere you go, but especially when you're on vacation.

Love you all!