Monday, October 31, 2011

West Coast Trip

For the third time in six years, I was treated to a trip to California for work, where there is an annual Wining & Dining event.  In the past Shaun has gone with us, but this year we hired a new employee and so I had a new roommate.  

Because we work remotely, I hadn't spent much time with her outside of the interview process so it was good that we got some time together.  In the midst of getting to know her, I was also able to see myself through her eyes.  A couple things I came away with...things I already knew, but were pointed out or accentuated from a new perspective

  1. I fall asleep fast
  2. I sleep soundly...anywhere
  3. I am obnoxious with my camera
  4. I am better at directions than some
  5. I don't worry about a whole lot

We left from Boston so we could have a direct flight.  Since we were flying West, we had a sunset for well over an hour.  I did get some work done on the plane but I also did lots of looking out the window.  I could not get America the Beautiful out of my head!

 The next day we hit meetings early and all day.  In the evening they had a reception on the 32nd floor and I enjoyed yet another sunset.
 In between the reception and dinner, my sister and I walked around Union Square for a bit.  This is the Westin where we stayed.

 The SF Women's Marathon was the same was fun to be among the race "buzz".
 We were treated to a posh dinner and ended up with a very entertaining, pleasant table of eight.  The next morning was breakfast, back up on the sunny 32nd floor.
My sister and brother-in-law (and boss).
 While Colombo went golfing, Amy, Pat and I went on one of the several excursions offered.  First stop...Golden Gate Bridge

 After an "adventurous" bus ride weaving through the mountainside, we arrived at Muir Woods.  It was 75 and sunny everyday we were there and all the natives kept telling us what unusual weather it was.  I just thought it was perfect.

 We stopped in Salsalido for a three-course lunch over looking the water, on the water.

 We did a little window shopping before hopping back on the bus.

We finished the day with an awards banquet.  Colombo got special recognition for his achievements...its such an honor to be associated with him and his company....he is highly loved and respected among his peers.
 The next day the event was officially over, but we opted to take the red-eye out so we could spend the day in the city.  In true Lisa fashion, we got lost walking down to the pier.  When I finally called Shaun in CT and told him where we were, he was flabbergasted....and that takes a lot cause he knows me so well.  :)  BUT, we got to see lots more of the city (on foot) that way and it was a beautiful day to be wandering.
 SF Giants stadium.
 Once we got to Pier 39, they had a huge farmer's market, where we taste-tested many varieties of fresh fruit and bought some for the ride home.

 Then we had to get back to the hotel, on foot.  That meant more "exploring" the city.  :)
 I took this picture for my BIL.  I don't know a thing about cars, but this one, with a wood interior, must be cool to someone.  :)
We flew out at 10:15 with no issues.  It was a memorable trip and I feel so blessed to have been able to go.   Also so incredibly blessed to have such a competent husband and father.  Shaun runs things even better than I do around here and I have his full support in all my endeavors.

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the LORD and seek the LORD Almighty. I myself am going.’

Zechariah 8:20,21

31 Ways to Live in Peace, Day 31


We are all worshipers and were created to bring pleasure to the God who created us.  The word "worshiper" may throw you, but think of worship simply as our response to what we value most.

Its what we do all day, every day.  Worship is about saying, "This person, this thing, this experience, (this whatever) is what matters most to me...its the thing of highest value in my life."

That "thing" might be a relationship.  A dream.  A position.  Status.  Something you own.  A name.  A job.  Some kind of pleasure.  Whatever name you put on it, this "thing" is what you've concluded in your heart is worth most to you.  And whatever is worth most to you is--you guessed it--what you worship. ~Louie Giglio

The heart of worship is surrender.  Surrender is an unpopular word that implies losing or admitting defeat....Everyone eventually surrenders to something or someone.  If not to God, you will surrender to the opinions or expectations of others, to money, to resentment, to fear, or to your own pride, lusts, or ego. 

This is the paradox: Victory comes through surrender.  Surrender doesn't weaken you; it strengthens you. Surrendered to God, you don't have to fear or surrender to anything else.  ~Rick Warren

God has a plan for your life.  Once you put away your own ambitions, pride and self-will He can begin to put that plan into motion.  Give Him your fears, regrets, dreams, habits, hurts, hope and let Him be the One in control of your life.

Stop quarreling with God!  If you agree with him, you will have peace at last, and things will go well for you.  Job 22:21

When He created you, He included a God-sized hole.  You will not, can not, have true peace until you give it all to Him.  Don't wait another day to surrender all.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

31 Ways to Live in Peace, Day 30

Speaking of things that don't belong in October...sheesh!!

Wait For Your Peace

The other day I was on a college campus doing a photo shoot for a family.  While I was waiting for them, someone asked me, for the first time in my life, if I had a cigarette.  With a smile I quipped, No.  Those things will kill you, you know.  His response, as he walked towards the next person was, Well, you only live once.

Right.  Just once.  We get exactly ONE shot at this life.  I've never understood that as an argument to waste the one opportunity.

The brevity of life grants power to abide, not an excuse to bail.  Fleeting days don't justify fleeing problems.  Fleeting days strengthen us to endure problems.  Will your problems pass?  No guarantee they will.  Will you pain cease?  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  But heaven gives this promise: "our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (II Corinthians 4:17)

The words "weight of glory" conjure up images of the ancient pan scale.  Remember the blindfolded lady of justice?  She holds a pan scale--two pans, one on either side of the needle.  The weight of a purchase would be determined by placing weights on one side and the purchase on the other.

God does the same with your struggles.  On one side he stacks all your burdens. Famines.  Firings.  Parents who forgot you.  Bosses who ignored you.  Bad breaks, bad health, bad days.  Stack them up, and watch one side of the pan scale plummet.

Now witness God's response.  Does he remove them?  Eliminate the burdens?  No, rather than take them, he offsets them.  He places an eternal weight of glory on the other side.  Endless joy.  Measureless peace. An eternity of him.. Watch what happens as he sets eternity on your scale.

Everything changes!  The burdens lift.  The heavy becomes light when weighted against eternity.  If life is "just a moment, " can't we endure any challenge for a moment?

     We can be sick for just a moment.
     We can be lonely for just a moment.
     We can be persecuted for just a moment.
     We can struggle for just a moment.

Can't we?

Can't we wait for our peace?  Its not about us anyway.  And its certainly not about now.  ~Max Lucado 

Project 365, Week 43

What a week!  I'm not even sure how to put it in a nutshell.   We received some wow-only-God-could-do-that news that I'll share here just as soon as I think its the right time and there was also a sad ending, but I won't spoil that until, well....the end!

I'm (once again) taking advantage of the ease of Project 365 and, at least for now, making it an all-in-one post.  Didn't seem like it at the time, but it looks like we crammed quite a bit into seven days.

Shaun, along with a crew from our church, spent this week driving to MA to set up and practice for a show they are putting on at a church there.  Countless hours.  He was leaving here about 3 pm everyday and getting home sometime after midnight, once was 2 am.  They are all so excited to be taking the "show on the road".  Most times he's taken a kid or two with him...all three are such theater rats.

Okay, I think that's all you need for onto our week!

October 23
Amanda loves, loves to ride her bike and asks me everyday if we can go riding.  I oblige her as much as I can, especially on a quiet Sunday.  Just she and I went on a walk/ride and got some good time together....well, plus Dumb Dog, which is what Aiden calls Trot most of the time.  (No, I don't correct him! :)
Later, we went to watch Daddy play football and the kids had a blast playing with Alayna.  She  doesn't always understand what her big cousins are doing, but she's always happy to go along with it to be one of the "big" kids.

October 24
Amanda was so excited to be going to play practice with Shaun.  She's actually got this whole story worked out in her head where she is one of the leads in it.  She knows all the songs (her versions anyway) and lots of the lines.

One of the songs she sings often is "what's done in Vegas stays in Vegas".  Anyone who hears her and doesn't know about the play must wonder about us.  :)
(This is the show they are taking on the road!)
October 25
Rocco and Aiden sitting together watching tap dance class.

 October 26
I was up at 4:40 and spent the day at a photographer's event.  I took this picture so I could show Avery I was wearing her easily carried my laptop, lunch, notebook, water and several books.

Once I got back to the bus station, I went to pick up the kids from play practice, where Shaun had them and drove the hour + home, getting home after 10:30.  Long day, but good.
 October 27
Avery and I played Scrabble after school while the other two were napping.

Having her away at school everyday has definitely made us more intentional about our time with her.  Not that I believe in quality over quantity, but, know.
 October 28
We celebrated my mom's birthday.  Its been a very, very long time, if ever, that this particular group has been assembled.  My mom, her four kids and her sister from NY.  My sister hosted a lovely dinner and then we were off to a show.  It was so special to be with these people (and none of our 14 kids...Ha!)

My brother was stylin'!
 Isn't she pretty?   She's ageless, I tell you.
 We saw Jersey Boys (my second time).  They put on a great show at this venue.  I had a headache that got progressively worse through the evening and on my way home, about midnight I had to pull over and puke.  I was crouched down by the highway in my heels and I thought, some people do this for fun.  No thanks!
 October 29
This is where the sad news comes in.  Snow.  White, cold, wet, heavy, EARLY snow.

Except.....if you have kids!!

Then its wonderfully exciting!  Then you exclaim over and over with glee that "its Winter, Mommy, its Winter!".  And you stand and watch the first giant flakes come down completely in awe.
And then, just as fast as your mom can scrambled to get out some mismatched winter gear, you head outside (after first asking for Uncle Nathan) to collect snow to add to your syrup.  And your sister is gone and your brother is sleeping and your mom can't stand the smell of syrup so you eat, wholeheartedly, by yourself and think YAY snow.  I'm SO happy it snowed today!!

Shaun and all the cast drove up to do the show.  They were warmed up, in full costume and makeup, all systems ready to go even with the snow coming down hard and, twenty minutes before curtain...the power went out!  SO heartbreaking!  They had to pack up with flashlights and head home in terrible MA driving conditions.  Shaun, who is out plowing in every storm, said its some of the worst conditions he's ever seen.

He's amazing, that man.  After being SO disappointed about the show not happening, and a very stressful two hour drive home, the first thing he does when he walks in is hug me and the kids and then is chasing after the squealing little ones as he tries to tickle them and "throw them on the bed".  Love him!

There's another show scheduled for tonight...if they get power back in time.

This is the second highest power outage our state has ever had, right after storm Irene, which was just two months ago.  Its crazy, in a nightmarish kind of way.  If you have never lived in the Northeast then its hard for you to know how LONG the winters are here, and to be starting it two months early is very disappointing.

I'm linking up with Sara and crew today.  Have a blessed week!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

31 Ways to Live in Peace, Day 29

Believe That God is a Good God

I'd love to say that I am rock-solid in this belief, never questioning.  But the truth is this is something I wrestle with from time to time.  When I hear stories of war and famine and children dying and being abused, of cancer striking, families being ripped apart, of innocence makes me wonder.  Is God really good?  All the time?

In the times of my deepest questioning, I always come back to a question.  What if God isn't good all the time?  What is the alternative for me, for the world?  What hope do I have in this life (or for the next) if I can not, will not believe that the God of this universe is good?

Max Lucado, in his (wonderful!) book Its Not About Me, asks the questions more boldly than I ever could:

The tension at home. The demands at work.  The bills on you desk or the tumor in your body.  You aren't taken hostage, but aren't you occassionally taken aback by God's silence?  He knows what you are facing.  How do we explain this?

Maybe God messed up.  Cancer cells crept into your DNA when he wasn't looking.  He was so occupied with the tornado in Kansas that he forgot the famine in Uganda.  He tried to change the stubborn streak in your spouse but just couldn't get him to budge.  Honestly.  A bumbling Creator?  An absent-minded Maker?  What evidence does Scripture provide to support such a view?  What evidence does creation offer?  Can't the Maker of heaven and earth handle bad traffic and prevent bad marriages?  Of course he can.  Then why doesn't he?

...Your pain has a purpose.  Your problems, struggles, heartache, and hassles cooperate toward one end--the glory of God....Rather than begrudge your problem, explore it.  Ponder it.  And most of all, us it.  Use it to the glory of God.  

"And may I always hold in my heart the amazing truth that He is accomplishing His purpose in me, even if it takes a thousand sleepless nights and a lifetime of being refined through the pain. May I always run to the Light."
From So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore:

God has promised that his grace will be given according to our need and that not only will we survive by the skin of our teeth, if we trust Him and hang on to Him for dear life--grieving, yes, but as those who have hope--we will also thrive again.  We can give ourselves to something greater than painlessness.  We can give ourselves to purpose.

We must not let the enemy of our souls get away with convincing us that anything can utterly destroy us.  If we do, we will hand him an engraved invitation to attend our constant torment.

There is so much I don't know.  SO much I'm uncertain of.  So much that makes me wonder.  But sister, I'm certain of this.  I promise you, based on the authority of God Himself and centuries of witnesses to His faithfulness, if you will place your trust in Him, He will always--I said always--make sure that in the end you will look upon your foes in triumph.  No illness, loss, rejection, or betrayal will ever get the last word.  You will stand to your feet stronger than ever.    And oh, may your unseen enemy regret the day he set the crosshairs of his weapon upon your forehead.

This is a beautiful, must play it over and over song...

Shattered dreams are never random.  They are always a piece in a larger puzzle, a chapter in a loarger story.  The Holy Spirit uses the pain of shatterred dreams to help us discover our desire for God, to help us begin dreaming the highest dream.  They are ordained opportunities for the Spirit to awaken, then to satisfy our highest dream.  ~Larry Crabb

Friday, October 28, 2011

31 Ways to Live in Peace, Day 28

Oh wait...that shirt doesn't belong in October.  Only kidding!!  Friends, Shaun and Shaun's family, please don't disown me!  :)

We've talked about many things this month surrounding the topic of peace.  Hopefully something has resonated with you, or maybe nothing has.  I think much of the "tips" can contribute to peace, but the real, inner, unshakable peace, the kind that just doesn't make sense when looking from the outside, comes when we...

Trust in God

Peace. Whisper the word to yourself and you can almost feel your heart relax. When you're at peace, you feel an inner confidence that things are not running wild - regardless of the circumstances. Your mind is at rest. Your heart doesn't flutter with anxiety. Your focus is clear.
But far too often, peace is like that elusive butterfly. Even Christians chase after it and find it just out of reach. Perhaps the rarest of all virtues, real peace comes only when you decide to take God at His word.
So, if God promises peace, let's discover how to find it on our most stressful days! Look carefully - resting on the edge of Isaiah's prophecies sits that elusive butterfly:
"The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the LORD forever,
For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock."
(Isaiah 26:3-4)

Let's break down that promise and discover the secret to peace. Steadfast means "to lean on for support." Of mind means "to frame or to form." Together, this phrase means God will give complete peace to you if your "frame of mind leans on and is supported."
On what should you be leaning? On God, as the verse says: "The steadfast of mind . . . trusts in You." When you trust Him, you "throw yourself down" - just as you do when playing that trust game, falling backward into the waiting, ready arms of those behind you. When you trust God, you refuse all other crutches and lean your entire weight on the One who gives stable support.
Can God hold you up? Yes. As verse 4 says, He's "an everlasting Rock."
And how will He hold you up? In two ways: He will "keep" you, meaning He'll "guard or watch over" you, and He does this with "perfect peace," which in Hebrew means shalom. Literally, God will guard you with shalom - an unending security, an uninterrupted rest, and a complete calmness.
Did you notice where that complete calmness comes from? Not from you, but from God, whom you lean upon and trust. No wonder humankind's frantic search for peace leaves them empty-hearted - they're looking in the wrong place! Paul said God's peace "surpasses all comprehension" (Philippians 4:7). It's not found in mind control or managed situations. The secret to shalom is trusting God.
Want a good summary of our Bible study above? God gives complete rest to those who lean on Him for support - to those who trust Him as an unmovable and strong Rock.
So, in what circumstance do you need peace today? Are you facing a frightening situation? Lean on Him. Do you feel panicked, unsure of what to do? Trust Him with it. Are you worried about your job, someone you love, or a situation outside your control? Give it to God. He promises you shalom if you lean your full weight against Him, not yourself:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Today, choose one thing that distracts and disturbs you. Intentionally give it to God. Release your grasp on it, and let it go.
Who knows? In its place, you might find a butterfly resting in your open hand. 

Adapted from "Peace That Exceeds Understanding," Insights (April 2001)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

31 Ways to Live in Peace, Day 27

Live in Grace

Accept it for yourself, extend it to others.  Peace comes when you accept that you cannot do enough or be enough to earn it.

Grace isn't picky.  Grace doesn't look for things that have been done that deserve love.  Grace operates apart from the response or the ability of the individual.  Grace is one-sided.  Grace is God giving Himself in full acceptance to someone who does not deserve it and can never earn it and will never be able to repay. ~Chuck Swindoll

*The moment we have to do something to make ourselves more acceptable to God, or the moment we have to have a certain feeling or attribute of character in order to be blessed of God, then grace is no more grace.*

“If all’s a gift then it’s not mine because of my intellect. The pressure’s off to be the brightest.
If all’s a gift then it’s not mine because I earned it. The pressure’s off to work the hardest.
If all’s a gift then it’s not mine because I’m good. The pressure’s off to be the best.”

All's Grace from Shaun Groves on Vimeo.

All’s Grace
Words & Music by Shaun Groves
(C)2011 Simplicity Street/ASCAP
You have loved us
You have loved us all
You have loved us all so
We love all
You have blessed us
You have blessed us all
You have blessed us all so
We bless all
Thank you for Christ and cross
Through us tell the wand’ring
Thank you for making peace
Through us love our enemies
You have loved us
You have loved us all
You have loved us all so
We love all
You have given
You have given all
You have given all so
We give all
Thank you for daily bread
Through us fill the empty
Thank you for bodies whole
Through us mend the breaking
All’s grace
All’s grace
All’s grace and grace enough, o
All’s grace
All’s grace
All’s grace and grace enough
For all of us
For all of us
You have loved us
You have loved us all
You have loved us all so
We love all

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

31 Ways to Live in Peace, Day 26

Seek Contentment

Do you ever find yourself saying I'll be happy when...?

     If I could just find a husband, then I'd be happy.  If only I weren't married to this man, then...

     I would be so happy if I could have children.  These kids are making me nuts...I'll be so happy when
    they're out of the house!

     If only I had a job.  Ugh!  I can't stand getting up everyday and going to work!

     Its been so hot this summer...I'll be happy once it cools down.  It freezing!  Will winter never end??

And on and on and on.  We do this with the big things in life as well as the small.

We live in a completely imperfect world.  Its such a rare day, if ever, when all outside circumstances line up just to our liking.

When you look around you and see happy people who are enjoying life, its not because life is perfect for them or that, finally, everything has lined up just the way they've always hoped.  Its because they have gotten up everyday and made a choice.

See that verse that stays at the top of my page?

This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.

I love that verse.  Its very basic and clear.

Every day that I wake up breathing (yay!) is yet another day that, for one reason or another, God has chosen to give me.  "I will" implies I have a choice.  And sometimes when I'm staring down at my day that's a really hard choice.

But...I hate my job!  But...I don't have a job!

I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.  I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  Philippians 4:11-12

I have learned.

The secret of living....learning how to be grateful and happy and at peace whether our hands are empty or full.   Contentment.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

31 Ways to Live in Peace, Day 25

"Gratitiude can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." (unknown)

Live With Gratitude

When I am counting my blessings, and I am practicing thankfulness, it only stands to reason that peace would follow.  I stumbled upon an amazing book, an amazing writer.  In One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp teaches how to "lament loss, turning pain into poetry; intentionally embrace a lifestyle of radical gratitude; and slow down and catch God in the moment."

What if we really figured it out?  That gratitude, for the seemingly small and insignificant, this is the seed that plants the giant miracle in the midst of it all....   

In naming that which is right before me, that which I'd otherwise miss, the invisible become visible.  The space that spans my inner emptiness fills in the naming.

I name.  And I know the face I face.

God's!  God is in the details; God is in the moment.  God is in all that blurs by in a life--even hurts in a life.


How can I not name?  Naming these moments may change the ugly names I call myself.

Developing a habit of seeing beauty and blessings everywhere...image the peace that would come into your heart, your home, your mind if you spent your days laser-focused on being thankful for all the blessings that surround you. 

I don't mean to gush about this book, but I truly believe it could be life-changing.   Buy yourself a gift, just in time for November, the month of thanksgiving.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Milk Money

This notice came home with Avery on Friday.  A "balance due" for milk.  Milk is included with hot lunch, but if purchased separately, its $0.50.  Apparently, Avery's been using her milk "credit line".  She is her father's daughter!

When I asked her why she is asking for milk and not just drinking the water I fill up for her, she said, "Cause I like it".

"But, I replied, you drink milk at every breakfast and dinner.  We don't need to be buying it at school, too.

"Yeah, but its chocolate and you would say there is too much sugar."  Again...her father's daughter....happy credit line user and an unrelenting sweet tooth  :)

This morning I sent in money to pay off her debt.  We'll see how much more debt we end up with in the name of chocolate.  :)  By the way, don't feel too bad for her....Shaun slips her money for ice-cream that available each day.  :)

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.
Romans 13:8

31 Ways to Peace, Day 24

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow.  It empties today of its strength (and peace!) ~Corrie Ten Boom

Do Not Worry

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? 

What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with gettingso you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. 

Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. 
Matthew 6:30-33

I can't really put it better than these verses do.  I could talk for days and days about worry and I've actually written quite a bit in my drafts, but ultimately, in order to not worry, I think it basically boils down to just that...Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions.