Monthly Archives: January 2014

You Snow Day


You Snow Day

 We were thrilled to sleep in and go play

Now I need a place to hide away

Oh, I’m so sick

Of You, Snow Day.


I’ve got half of all my sanity

There’s a stink cloud hanging over me

Oh You, Snow Day

Should leave someday.

Why they cannot go, I don’t know, they wouldn’t say.

Snow came tumbling down now I frown

Another snow day-ay-ay-ay

Fourth Snow Day

I’m weary of kids surrounding me

There’s an empty fridge and bare pantry

Oh I’ve grown tired

Of You, Snow Day.

NO!  NO!  NO!  NO!

BOO!  Snow day.

Hope & Humor


This time last week I was preparing to hang with some youngsters as we all figured out our Chazown (VISION) for our lives. This includes figuring out your core values, reviewing past experiences, and assessing spiritual gifts.  Turns out Netflix Binge Watching and Prone Couch Yoga were not on the assessment or the list of core values.

I narrowed my actual core values to these 5:




humor (humor)


The longest and most thoughtful part of this experience was determining chapters for my Past Experiences.  It wasn’t that easy for the <14 year old set either.  What’s a turning point?  What’s a milestone?  Who are my significant others?  (Please don’t say mom & dad)…Once that section was completed it looked like this:
1) God is stable and I can trust Him.
2) Change is necessary.
3) Death is not the end of a relationship.
4) Hard times develop perseverance, resulting in hope.
5) Purpose can be found easier with God’s help.

Finally, my spiritual gifts assessment revealed these:




Taking all that information into account, I came up with a purpose statement:

to engage with others, pointing them to God using hope and humor through writing.

Have you figured out the vision for your life?  Do you want to end up somewhere on purpose?  Chazownify yourself! I’d love to hear what you learn…

CMDCM Barbrey Going Ashore


On Friday, the seventeenth of January at eleven o’clock I had the honor and privilege of attending the Retirement Ceremony of my pal Lee and his family from 30 years of service in the United States Navy.  Driving onto the Naval Air Station, Oceana is itself a rare and solemn moment for me as a civilian.  Driving the proper speed through the base, I ruminated on the many ways the military would have been good for me…though I don’t think I would have been very good for the military.  Thank God for Lee Barbrey.

CMC invite

Inside the hangar, we prepped the reception tables as the air of celebration danced alongside the weight of loyal patriotism.

CMC navy cupcake

CMC buffet

Uniformed soldiers at attention exemplify dedicated, excellent leadership resulting in a powerful ripple effect that protects our country.

CMC Enterprise returns

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,

whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;

who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again,

because there is not effort without error and shortcoming;

but who does actually strive to do the deeds…who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement…”  ~Theodore Roosevelt

CMC Lee and Emily

CMC Barbrey and Emily bringing Big E home.

Commanding Officer J. Sager and Master Chief Petty Officer M. Stevens both spoke eloquently and respectfully of my friend.  I gather that they are as important as Lee if not more, as they hold him in such high regard, thereby showing their intelligence and good taste in a Shipmate.  MCPON Stevens told a great story about a special event where a flag was raised upside down during the visit of a respected dignitary.  The soldiers quickly regrouped and hung the flag again–upside down.  The rope was on a loop and would have eventually righted the flag but there was squirming and appropriate fear in the ranks.  However, Lee plopped down in a chair afterwards and drawled to his shipmate, “I think that ceremony went pretty well, dontchoo?”

cmc barbrey

Commander J. Sager congratulates CMDCM Barbrey

Brave men and women in uniform inspire awe as they exude respect, honor, and integrity.  There was not a dry eye in the house during the CMC’s closing remarks, and as a comrade read “Pipe the Side” through tough guy emotions and we watched the entire family symbolically go ashore.


This order has been passed on naval ships from the 1500’s through today.  Spanish, French, English, Dutch…yes, all navies of the world use the boatswain and sideboys to bring abord or send ashore all ship’s company officers, visiting officers and dignitaries.  The sideboys would haul on the ropes and raise or lower the boarding platform so dignitaries would not have to climb the rat lines that were used by the crew.

CMC Enterprise live

Big E returns

It was not uncommon for the commanding officer of a ship to order up the jolly boat, a crew of eight strong backs, sideboys, and boatswain to send an old Shipmate and fellow officer to his shore retirement…home…never to sail on Naval ships again.

CMC lincoln

Lincoln 2012

“All hands on deck” was passed, speeches were made about great victories, battles fought upon the open sea, raging storms weathered, and voyages to distant and strange lands with ports of call others only dreamed about.  Then, a fine sword…a brace of pistols…a rifle or musket…or maybe a sea chest of fine wood and bound in brass…was presented to remind him of crews and ships he has served with.  The boatswain would stand tall the sideboys, the retiree would request permission to go ashore and step to the platform as the sideboys lowered away.  As the jolly boat pulled away, the gunner would fire a salute from the ship’s main battery as the retiree sat in the stern sheets…going ashore.

CMC Barbreys

It’s blurry because you are crying too.

Today our navy has given most of the pomp and circumstance, the honors, traditions, and ceremonies back to history.  Time does not give us the freedom to do these things from the past, but we still have to stop all engines, lay about smartly, and drop anchor to pay honor to one of our Shipmates going ashore.  To honor the years served, the guidance, the leadership, the experience, and above all the friendship that this Shipmate has freely given these 30 years. 

CMC team Barbrey


Boatswain…stand by to pipe the side.  Our Shipmate, Command Master Chief Lee Barbrey and family, going ashore.

going ashore

going ashore

Dad's home!

Dad’s home!

"Welcome home, babe!"

“Welcome home, babe!”

If not for the traditions and training of these fine men and women, I would not feel as comfortable with the knowledge that CMC Barbrey is no longer standing the watch.  However, his leadership leaves a legacy which will carry on and I can be brave, as he has been, as he leaves the Red Rippers in capable hands.

The Watch

For thirty years this sailor has stood the watch.

While some of us were in our bunks at night this sailor stood the watch.

While some of us were in school learning our trade this Shipmate stood the watch.

Yes, even before some of us were born into this world this Shipmate stood the watch.

CMC Brandons family

In those years when the storm clouds of war were seen brewing on the horizon of history,

this Shipmate stood the watch.

Many times he would cast an eye ashore and see his family standing there

needing his guidance and help,

needing that hand to hold during those hard times,

but still he stood the watch.

CMC family

He stood the watch for thirty years.

He stood the watch so that we, our families, and our fellow countrymen

could sleep soundly in safety each and every night

knowing that a Sailor stood the watch.

Today we are here to say…

“Master Chief…the watch stands relieved.

CMC pin

Relieved by those you have trained, guided and led.”

CMC banner

Welcome Home

Be Thou My Calzone


I’m preparing to participate in a Staytreat this weekend with the yute. What is a “yute” you may ask? The answer shall be found while watching a period masterpiece of historical fiction–a Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei classic, full of one-liners known far and wide as My Cousin Vinny. You’re welcome.

In an effort to save money, we are staying in town and studying the concept of “Chazown” which sounds a lot like “calzone” and makes me hungry for one. However, Chazone is actually the Hebrew word for vision.  Now that I have learned that, I have visions of cheesy, bready goodness dancing in my head, however I don’t think that’s the point.

It is an interesting journey I am on, finding this Chazown and ending up somewhere On Purpose, along with my chosen 2014 Word which is TRUTH.

Oh and also?  There will be jumping at Cloud 9 trampoline center.  So it’s not all, you know, homework.

Working through the Chazown leader prep process, I discovered that some of my core values include HOPE, RELATIONSHIPS and HUMOR.

My Spiritual Gifts Assessment shows TEACHING, WISDOM, HOSPITALITY, FAITH and WRITING/ENCOURAGEMENT for my top 5.  For some strange reason NETFLIX BINGE WATCHING wasn’t listed.  I definitely excel in that one as well.  Otherwise known as PRONE YOGA.  I may need to speak to Craig Groeschel about adding those two.

I will be participating with my girls in making a timeline of life events and circumstances.  Mine will be about 4 times as long, chronologically, as theirs, but we will all have significant events which will help point us in the direction of our purpose and vision for the future.  One of my favorite things in life is that no painful circumstance or dumb mistake is wasted in God’s economy. I’m saving this activity to do together with the ladies along with our purpose statements.

We will all end up somewhere, but few people end up somewhere on purpose.  Even though I value spontaneity, still I want to be one of those few people who knows where they are ultimately headed in life.  I want to refine my dreams, my purpose, and make a plan for getting there!

And if there are calzones along the way, SO BE IT!

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;

Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.

Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,

Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;

I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;

Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;

Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;

Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;

Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:

Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,

Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:

Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,

High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,

May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,

Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.


Neighbor Friends


Everyone has a neighbor. They are sort of like roommates in your neighborhood, in an extended family sort of way.  We don’t have to see them all the time or clean up after them, but when you get a good one, you are extremely thankful.

I am counting my blessings today for a lifetime of great neighbors.

It began in Timberlake Subdivision with Andy, Mark, Mike, James, Scott and Wade.  Notice they are all dudes.  BONUS.

Kids have an easier time, I think, being good neighbors.  All it took was a bike or a basketball hoop,  a day in the snow or a deck of cards.

I didn’t meet any of my neighbors in the post-college bachelorette apartment in the suburbs of Orlando.  I do know that they were nice enough not to rob my fine collection milk crate furniture after I sometimes left my keys in the door, exhausted after my first days as a second-grade teacher.  For that I am eternally grateful.

The Michigan neighbors we had before our children came along were informative–one of them was quick to show us the news reel where our new-to-us rental house was the site of the biggest drug bust in Detroit history.  Well, I’ll be.  That explains the bashed in closet door.

In a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT neighborhood, we were blessed with a cul-de-sac which lovingly held 21 children in 5 adjacent houses.  Those were amazingly busy, loud and fun times as we made our own little York/Thames Court Village to raise our rambunctious toddlers and bickering elementary aged children.  One summer the “big” 8-10 year old girls held their own Summer Camp for the preschool girls, complete with snack, craft, and story time.  It was a delight to observe these neighbor friends out the window.  Our sunflower house and stepping stone princess pathways produced some wonderful memories as the children bounced door to door.  The big boys were quick to include the toddler boys as well, helping even the youngest conquer fear as his little yellow & orange car careened down the driveway into the waiting hands of his big brother.  Sticks became sabers and piano lessons gave way to Star Wars humming as young jedi developed strength, defined rules and conquered everything in their path.

This same group of neighbors share scars of loss through our times together–infant loss, parent loss, and other family deaths which serve to drive us to find the hands and heart of God within each other.  Though we haven’t lived in that neighborhood in almost a decade, we are still bound by our caring and shared parenting experiences with one another.

More good neighbors awaited in a new home–co-workers, dog-sitters, wise counsel, adopted aunts and uncles.  Older kids that made me say their name like Seinfeld says “Newman.”

Now in coastal Virginia we find even more treasure of neighbors–activists, sports fans, gardeners, foreigners, so many patriotic Navy men and women who come and go too soon and often, but not without taking our hearts and gratitude with them.  On one side of the house we currently live in is Bob the retiree who blesses me every day when I walk the dogs.  Sometimes with a wave and a greeting, sometimes with a longer chat.  He and his wife Connie came to our son’s graduation party and chatted with our family.  They fit right in.  On the other side are Randy and Randy Jr.  They are always out in their gorgeous yard and we get the benefit of their hard work.  They do not complain about the neglected leaves and pine cones that is their view of our house.

It doesn’t matter how nice, convenient, big or updated your house is if your neighbors are a pain.  Our neighbors have always been the best feature of any house we have inhabited.

Everyone has neighbors, but not every neighbor is a friend.  We have found more than our fair share of neighbor friends.  I sure hope you have too!

Case d’Amour


“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”  ~When Harry Met Sally

“I’m in love!  I’m in love!  And I don’t care who knows it!”  ~Elf

                                                                                                                    “You complete me.”  ~Jerry Maguire

I do have a wonderful husband of 22 years, growing old together, soulmates, etc. but this is something very different.

Yesterday I found a part of myself I didn’t know was missing.

My world was rocked.  Right there at Charming Charlie’s.

phone case

How do I love thee, iPhone 4 case?

Let me count the ways.

The beads, they move and transform,

giving the eye a new perspective upon every flirtatious glance.

The overall effect is like a breathtaking, awe-inspiring stained glass window.

It was under $15.

So I guess that’s three.

Be still my heart.

Parting is such sweet sorrow…

That I will take a screenshot

until it is ‘morrow.


Theme Song 2014


Here in the stillness
Where thoughts are born
Here in the frailty
We’re tattered and torn.
Tattered and torn.

Here in confession
Here in our mess
Here in the places
We’re mostly undressed.

Oh, honesty.
Oh, honesty.
The truth be told
For saving of our souls.


Here in the corner
Where we craft our pain.
Here in the open
We’re laying our blade.
Laying our blade.

Here in the hallway
Here behind doors
Here in the places
We wage our private wars.

Oh, honesty
Oh, honesty
The truth be told
For saving of our souls.


Only the truth and truthfulness
Can save us now
Only the truth and truthfulness
Can save us
Only the truth and truthfulness
Can save us
Can save us now

Oh, honesty
Oh, honesty
The truth be told
For the saving of our souls.

Honesty — Sara Groves



In 2012 the word PEACE served me well as our family barreled towards a lovely, heart-wrenching crisis.

In 2013 the word FOCUS surfaced time after time in many ways in my relationships, writing and self-care.

My One Word for 2014 is TRUTH.

truth in love

In each of these three instances, the word that bubbled up for me was something I was reaching for, striving for, not quite mastering.

In the past few months I have recognized the need for TRUTH–learning and speaking my own, and discerning then acting on the truth around me.

Art by Beata

Art by Beata

I love how the artist made this lady look serene, but not overjoyed.

Truth blindsides.

Truth shocks.

Truth is often delivered by a gut-punch.

Truth sometimes is unbelievable, takes time to process, and requires a period of recovery.

Mareike Böhmer Graphics

Mareike Böhmer Graphics

On the up side…

Truth is a worthy journey.

Truth is deserved awareness.

Truth breeds authenticity.

Truth is productive and fertile and unifying and an effective tool of discovery.


What is your One Word for 2014?

Turnt Down


To usher in 2014 I got a 2000 piece puzzle of a castle and a bottle of peach Firefly vodka. They don’t make the mint any more. Sad face.

It’s mostly for my husband. (wink wink)

We had some leftover lasagna, cracked open that big ol’ box and got to work–him on the clouds, me on the edges.

Dogs snuggled us. Teens breezed in and out of the room.

One kid said, “Why do you like puzzles so much?”

I guess he could see in my face that I was enjoying myself.


I thought about when that kid had last seen me do a puzzle.  It has been at least a year.

One memorable puzzle was during Hurricane Bonnie in Wilmington, NC in 1998.  With no A/C, no electric and three kids under three. What was I thinking?  Somehow it kept me sane. But that one was before he was born.

Another fun puzzle I received for Christmas one year was two houses ago. It was shaped like a sphere and required quite a bit more hand-eye coordination than I usually like to expend, but I got her done. I kept it like a trophy. In our laundry room.

As hubby and I combed through the pieces last night looking for white clouds and end pieces, I tried to figure out the answer to my son’s question.  Why DO I love puzzles so much?  I was surprised by how happy I was to be doing one again, and why it had taken me so long to remember how much joy and satisfaction they bring me.

I think it has to do with shifting attention from one “problem” to the next. I noticed how my hubby–in life and in puzzles–has a laser focus that does. not. change.  He studies the box with the concentration of a rocket surgeon (see what I did there?)  I, however, begin looking for an edge piece, then see a white piece and happily give it to him. I continue looking for an edge and find an interesting shape and think maybe I will look for other shapes like that one. Eventually I find an edge and remember, “Oh yeah. This is what I was originally looking for in the first place.”  It is a grand pursuit for someone with ADD. All the decisions! All the distractions! All the procrastination! And it all pays off in the end at some time TBD.


The final product looks the same whatever level of hunt & fit focus is used. Puzzles can be a solitary activity or a group activity. And one thing I need to remember for 2014, it is always good to look away, stretch, and take a break for a minute.

Things do always look a lot different in the light of day.