Friday, November 23, 2007

Am I Grateful?

Indeed, I am grateful this Thanksgiving. We just got back from a few days in Virginia with Aimee and Gary, Faith and Avery. What fun...what neat people, each one! If you visit this blog very often, you will see lots of pictures of the grandchildren. Skip over them if you like...I tend to spend a lot of time enjoying them.

Faith had such fun decorating the tree for Christmas, enjoying each and every ornament as she hung it with a smile. She and I also spent a couple of hours one afternoon creating a gingerbread train, decorating it to the max. We visited her preschool for a Thanksgiving Feast and little program, spent a morning at Crump Park and Meadow Farm Museum, and another morning at Maymont Children's Farm. It was warm enough that we ate a picnic at the park. Never a dull moment.

Avery is such a sweetheart. One minute she is quiet and shy, lowering her chin, closing her eyes, saying nothing with a smirk on her lips. The next minute she is answering your question with a definite "NOPE" and twinkle in her eye. But much of the time right now she is attached to her Mommy, holding on for dear life. Alas, clinging!
We are grateful for two happy, healthy little girls. They have great parents who love them dearly and provide a wonderful caring atmosphere for them to thrive and learn and grow. In THE MESSAGE Psalm 127 asks, "Don't you see that children are God's best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?" What more could we want?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Celebrating 60 in Alaska

2007 is the year Andy and Nancy both celebrate 60! In June we took a two week vacation in Alaska to commerate this milestone in our lives. What a wondeful adventure! The beauty, majesty and power of water and mountains have always spoken to our hearts. We had been on an Alaskan cruise 8 years ago for our 30th anniversary and discovered that Alaska had an abundance of water and mountains ~ it restored our souls. So we went back ~ and invited our children to join us this time.

The first week Andy and I spent on our own up in the vast, beautiful Denali National Park and the quaint little town of Talkeetna. We enjoyed exploring in a variety of ways...a plane ride over and around Mt. McKinley, an ATV jaunt up into the hills, hiking thru the forest enjoying the wild life, and an afternoon boat ride on the 3 rivers converging around Talkeetna.

We met up with the Gary, Aimee, Joel and Sarah in Ankorage and headed down to Whittier to begin our cruise. (Sarah has a couple of great posts about the trip on her blog in June 2007 if you would like more details.)

Reading Anytime, Anywhere

Both Andy and Nancy love to read, tho their interests in reading vary a great deal. I (Nancy) read anytime, anywhere ~ on the boat, in the car, waiting in airports, flying in airplanes, late at night when I cannot sleep, down by the lake on a sunny get the idea. I keep a list of the books I read ~ I cannot trust my mind to remember what I have read anymore. I have LOTS of favorite authors: Francine Rivers, John Ortberg, Catherine Palmer, Ruth Haley Barton, John Grisham, Mary Higgins Clark, Ted Dekker, Bret Lott, Lynn Austin, Nancy Moser, Mary Alice Monroe, Anne Perry, Nicolas Sparks, Kristin Hannah, Rosamunde Pilcher, Penelope J. name a few. Can that many ALL be favorites? I love the way I can go on line, put books on hold and have the library e-mail me when they are available. The Delafield library has a VERY small, crowded space and I don't enjoy going there, so stopping by to pick up books set aside just for me has been great.

One of my all time favorites is WISDOM HUNTER by Randall Arthur. I read it when it first came out in 1991 and have re-read it a couple of times. It's a gripping story about a pastor who faces his own legalistic tendencies after great loss in his personal life ~ his search for who he truly wants to be and who God is takes him on a 18 year journey.

Some years ago, Andy's mother introduced me to Eugenia Price and I've read all of her books a couple of times over the years. I'm partial to historical novels and these are some of the best.

A couple of years ago I came across Liz Curtis Higgs series THORN IN MY HEART, FAIR IS A ROSE, and WHENCE CAME A PRINCE. Two brothers fight to claim one father's blessing. Two sisters seek to claim one man's heart. Sound familiar? The series is set in the late 1700's in the Scottish lowlands. Lies, deception, jealousy, family secrets, broken promises...redemption. This series is fascinating.

This time of the year, I enjoy reading a few heartwarming Christmas stories about family, love, hardship, and overcoming. There seem to be several authors who write a short book each year that fills the bill. Donna Van Liere is one that I enjoy.

Earlier in 2007 I read Paul Hattaway's book about a pastor in China called THE HEAVENLY MAN. Since then I've come across a couple of other books with stories about women married to men in ministry in the persecuted church around the world. It's a challenging and somehow encouraging part of the Christian life I have experienced in very small doses.

ROOM OF MARVELS is a small book by James Bryan Smith that a friend recommended recently. Take a look ~ it's an unusual look at Heaven through the eyes of a man whose faith has been deeply tested.

This fall I took a new look at prayer with Larry Crabb in his book THE PAPA PRAYER. It has been very helpful to me in strengthening my relationship with God through honest conversation with Him as I walk in the morning.

Just today I finished John Ortberg's new book, WHEN THE GAME IS OVER IT ALL GOES BACK IN THE BOX. John is a master storyteller and I have enjoyed several of his other books. He is open and honest ~ and he communicates well to men and women. In this book he speaks to the real object of this game of life ~ being rich toward God ~ by playing for the right prize.

I'm open to suggestions...what are you reading these days?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Upper Room Project

The "Upper Room" in Scripture was a strategic gathering place for Jesus and his disciples. There they shared the intimate fellowship of meals and the deep conversations of eternal truths. It was a refuge from the angry mobs, the demanding crowds, and the sheer busyness of ministry. It was sacred space ~ a place the disciples returned to, even when they didn't know where else to go after the crucifixion. And, it was there that Jesus met them, in their confusion, uncertainty and unbelief.

We're building an Upper Room at Cedarly in the Carriage House for the same reasons and purposes. Over five years ago, people of vision and faith began a project we long to see finished ~ sacred space where pastors, church staffs and leaders meet to spend time with Jesus and hear his voice in a fresh way. We're getting close, but now we need some additional financial resources and some additional volunteer hours. We need help with some of the plumbing work and some trim carpentry. The pictures give you a glimpse of the space. Pictures don't do it full justice, however. The soaring 12-foot vaulted ceilings, and the warmth of the cedar paneling on the second floor of an 1880's era restored barn don't translate well in one-dimensional pictures. Better yet; come see it for yourself!

If you have questions, call or write me. At a minimum, I hope you will pray with us that God would prosper this work and bring it to completion. If you would like to contribute financially, make checks payable to "Pastors Retreat Network" (and include the designation "Upper Room Project"). Mail to Cedarly Pastors Retreat, 2841 Mill Road, Oconomowoc, WI 53066.

Cedarly Pastors Retreat

Welcome to Cedarly. We have now been at Cedarly for five and a half years ~ the longest we have ever been anywhere in our thirty eight years of marriage and ministry! And we still love it! 2007 has been a banner year in many ways. Pastors are coming eager and prepared to meet with God, to know Him better and to consider how to stay better connected thru Sabbath rest. Churches seem to be more tuned in to the need for this kind of retreat for their pastor to be refreshed and renewed ~ filled up with God so they can share from the overflow of their hearts. We are grateful to God's Spirit for drawing pastors this year ~ our occupancy was the highest ever at 92%. Encourage your pastor to check us out at

Lighthouses and Sunsets

Two of the sights I enjoy most when we are sailing are
lighthouses and sunsets...

The best sunsets are viewed from the west coast of Door County over Green Bay and from the west coast of Michigan over Lake Michigan. The vibrant firey orange and yellows and blacks are magnificent. On Sunset Beach in Fish Creek everyone claps just as the sun dips below the horizon.

There are a great variety of lighthouses around the Great Lakes ~ different in size, shape and color ~ and each one is unique. On one adventure we biked out to Big Sable Point outside of Ludington, MI and discovered it has a nice tour to the top. Recently we found out Rawleys Point allows military familes to rent the lighthouse for vacations...what a great experience that would be.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Sailing Lake Michigan

Andy and I love the peace and tranquility of being on the water ~ we both grew up taking vacations on or near the water. Over the past 4 summers the WHITE IRIS has provided a wonderful, restful oasis for us. This summer several different couples and families came to join us for an adventure on water for day sails. We had a safe and fun trip up the west coast of Lake Michigan to Door County over 4th of July and across the pond to Manistee, MI, over Labor Day.
Andy does a lot of work the three weeks before the season and the three weeks after the season be maintain the boat ~ it's a big commitment. We'd love for you to come join us some time!

Joel and Sarah

Sarah, Joel, and Haiku live in beautiful Colorado. Last summer they purchased the home where Joel had grown up and they have had fun (I think) updating the home and making their own. It looks great. Joel is teaching English, literature and creative writing at D'Evelyn High School. The kids there love Mr. J. Sarah is in her 7th year at Lincoln Academy. She is head of the gifted and talented program, acts as the instructional coach for teachers K-8, and oversees the mentoring program at the school as well. They are active in their church, helping in various programs and active in a small group.In December Haiku came into their lives...she has provided much entertainment, exercise, and fun, as well as fulfilling a long time dream for Joel.

Gary and Aimee

Now here are Mom and Dad, proud parents of Faith and Avery. Gary and Aimee met in high school and married right after college in June of 1998. Gary is president of Principium Consulting (public policy and public affairs)and vice president of Century Strategies (public affairs and public relations). We love having our own "insider" who is a great resource on what is happening on the political scene. Aimee is trained as a nurse, but right now is content to be a busy mom and involved in church and community activities.

Faith Ann

Faith is our other granddaughter and she also lives in Virginia. Faith was born in May 2003 and is already 4 1/2. We are enjoying many adventures with Faith ~ it seems she has no fear and loves trying new huge slides at water parks, putting worms on fishing hooks, and looking for bugs, mushrooms, and scary creatures in the woods. At Christmas we will be in Colorado together, so we are hoping to take her skiing, ice skating, and tubing. Faith goes to pre-school where they are talking about the mail and the post office right now ~ so we have received some fun mail from her with some of her artwork enclosed.

Avery Elizabeth

Just a quick intro-
duction...this is Avery, our little grand- daughter, who was born in January 2006. She is a real sweetheart and easy to be around. Avery lives in Virginia so we get to see her 4-6 times a year and it is not nearly enough. She is just getting to the point where she knows who we are. I'm told words are coming quickly so it will be fun to see her in a couple of weeks when we go to Virginia for part of Thanksgiving week.