What’s happenin’.

Summer has flown by, but I haven’t documented much here.  I am part of an August photo challenge, so that is fulfilling my photography bug.  Three of my girls have been home more this summer, so I’ve tried to take advantage of the time we’ve had together.  Katherine starts her last year of nursing school, and then gets married.  Maddie starts college in October.  And Rebecca started high school full time yesterday – my first year of homeschool retirement.  So now I’m eating bonbons, and watching Dr. Phil.  Or not.

We moved Ashley to Atlanta from Bloomington, Indiana.  Matt will pursue his doctorate in Jewish Studies at Emory.  It was so good to see their new place, and tour a bit of Decatur, where they live, and Atlanta.  They will enjoy this new adventure, and I’ll enjoy living vicariously through them.  🙂

These pictures are from this week:  Bec’s first day of school; Kat and her dad talking after lunch; and Ash Facetiming her sisters, to check in on Bec’s first day of school.

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Life Group.

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Life Groups are small groups at church that meet to study God’s word, fellowship, pray and in our case, eat.  And then we go back for seconds.

I have been in a few Life Groups, and I must say our current one astounds me, because when I look around at the people God has brought together, I see something only God could do, and I am grateful.

My friend Keri and I have prayed over the downtown neighborhoods for years.  She had to move from the area we prayed over, yet God has brought the very folks we’ve prayed about through my front door on an acreage south of town.

We are all so different:  A single mama working and raising her two kids.  An airplane mechanic from Texas.  My son-in-law’s sister and husband from Washington. A gal who hopped on a bus in Oakland, California a year ago, and hopped off the bus in our fair city to start a new life.  The neighbors she invites!  Our neighbor and her son from Ohio.  A woman with an intellectual disability who loves people, loves to gather together, and calls me her aunt.

So we give God the glory for bringing this motley and amazing snippet of the Body together, giving us a rich fellowship and oh, so many different perspectives.   And a side blessing is that my kids enjoy this, too.  They actually get out of bed on Sunday mornings to join us.  That should tell you something.

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Today I did paperwork alllllllll afternoon.  At 4:30, I escaped outside into the 50 degree (!) weather just before the sun went down for one of the shortest days of the year.  I almost missed it.

The only thing wrong with a micro lens is not being able to pick one picture for the DPP.  Pity, that.

 

 

 

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Chicago

Last fall Ashley told me she was already making plans for her third anniversary, and wondered if Marcus and I would be interested in going to Chicago with her and her husband.  They had honeymooned in the Windy City, and wanted to show us the sights.  I told her to COUNT US IN!  I was just a little excited.

We found a great hotel deal on Hotwire, and Ash sent me an email from time-to-time, suggesting activities for our time there.  I didn’t care what we did, but only that I had an opportunity to see Chicago and Ashley (and Matt)!

We had a fantastic time.  Our cheap, clean and very conveniently-located hotel permitted us to use our legs as transportation.  The architectural boat tour took us down the Chicago River, and the guide explained the fascinating history behind the buildings along the shoreline.  How about that Old Chicago Main Post Office, with an abandoned 2.5 million square feet?  Matt said he bought the space for us, so we are open to suggestions on how to use it.

We ate breakfast in our room, then tried to find an inexpensive lunch (almost impossible), and had wonderful suppers (twice we gorged on Chicago-style pizza).  Despite what the menu and waiters told us, we were only able to barely eat a medium.  Don’t order the large!

We traveled to the top of the John Hancock Center at warp speed ( I don’t want to think about how the elevator ascends that fast), and were allowed full reign of the cocktail lounge and its spectacular view if we bought a drink.  Bottled water went for $5, but I ordered a Skyscraper.  How could I resist?

Ashley and I gawked at every building and took a picture of it, while the guys waited patiently.  We also did a bit of shopping.  I am sure there were deals to be had, but we didn’t find many.  Going into a store on Michigan Avenue is an experience in itself.

The people were as interesting as the architecture, and we took them all in each time we stopped to rest.  Matt saw some professional hockey players, and a hockey coach.  I am sure Ashley and I saw some famous people, too.  We just didn’t know it.

Many things were free:  walking into a car dealership that sold Porches, Bentleys, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and Bugattis.  We tip-toed into a cathedral.  We admired the planters along the sidewalks, and enjoyed all the green spaces.  A lady saw us admiring a beautiful building, and told us it was free to go inside – the adjacent museum was $20/head, so we tried it.  A surgeon had started an association of surgeons, so they could gain credibility.    He built this mansion as their meeting place.  There was an art showing there, featuring  an artist who painted Chicago landmarks.  It was so fun to recognize the buildings in the paintings!  They had great bathrooms, too.  Public bathrooms are a rare commodity in Chicago!

The last night we revisited the special restaurant Matt and Ashley fondly remembered from their honeymoon:  McCormick & Schmick’s.  We shared our meals and everything I tried was top-notch.

The only drawbacks I had was that the food was more expensive on the trip than I anticipated.  We finally found a reasonable lunch spot on the last day, where we ate chili-cheese dogs and Chicago-style wieners (hotdog, dill pickle, mustard and onion).  Also, by the third full day, all of our legs were turning to lead.  Had we known two full days of walking on concrete would have left us so tired, we could have planned more sedentary activities for the last day.  As it was, we made impromptu plans:  we hauled our carcasses to the huge downtown library, which is a true architectural monstrosity, and rested, trying to find something to read.  It was harder to find a book there than expected, so Ash and I read what was already on the table.  Upcycling couldn’t have come at a better time.  Ash and I almost split a gut laughing at the ludicrous suggestions:  sewing old belts together to make a door mat; dipping plastic bananas in silver paint, then hot-gluing them together to make a fruit bowl; hanging pillow filling from the ceiling for decorative clouds?  We felt like we had been up all night giggling at a slumber party when the library closed.

I have trimmed our trip down from five hundred pictures, but there are still too many.  Scan through at warp speed, and slow down if you see something interesting.  Then make plans to see Chicago yourself!

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Notice the lovebirds hugging in this picture.

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The “corncob” towers.

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The previous four pictures were from the Chicago Cultural Center, formerly the downtown library.  (FREE!)

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The Bean and the outdoor amphitheater in Millennium Park.  The Bean was worth the whole trip.

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Matt was first in line at The Doughnut Vault, which he had heard about on The Splendid Table.  At 6:00 a.m., he had walked to Do-Rite Doughnuts.  Then he went to the Vault so we could compare.  The Vault won sticky hands down.

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Lake Michigan from the John Hancock Center.

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Yiddish, anyone?

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Trump Tower.  No sign of Donald.

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Slurpee break on the last afternoon. 

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The library Ash and I almost got kicked out of.

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We should have peeked inside!  Next time.

Favorite.

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The trail to Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park left me speechless.  So I won’t try to describe it beyond the photographs above.

Our trail guides were very patient, as I was compelled to stop around every corner to take it all in, then try to poke my camera lens out of the hood of my rain poncho without getting it too wet.  I felt childlike awe, which meant I was lagging behind like a toddler, too.  I suppose our friends could have bribed me with chocolate (or seafood!) so I wouldn’t have been so poky.  But even that wouldn’t have worked.  At the end of our rainy hike, the sky cleared and the sun peeked out, radiant through the droplet-covered branches.  Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, it did.

The only other item I will add is that my 12-24mm wide angle lens made the most of the forest.  You can’t truly capture the beauty of the place, but this lens made a valiant effort.

Yellow.

I’m tired, but it rained last night, and the sun was glistening off of everything this morning.  Irresistible.

Later in the day, I listened to “Your Love is Strong” by Jon Foreman.  It was the perfect complement to the wildflowers in the field.

Good night.

“Your Love is Strong”

Heavenly Father
You always amaze me
Let your kingdom come
In my world and in my life
You give me the food I need
To live through the day
And forgive me as I forgive
The people that wronged me
Lead me far from temptation
Deliver me from the evil one

I look out the window
The birds are composing
Not a note is out of tune
Or out of place
I look at the meadow
And stare at the flowers
Better dressed than any girl
On her wedding day

So why do I worry?
Why do I freak out?
God knows what I need
You know what I need

Chorus (3x):
Your love is
Your love is
Your love is strong

The kingdom of the heavens
Is now advancing
Invade my heart
Invade this broken town
The kingdom of the heavens
Is buried treasure
Will you sell yourself
To buy the one you’ve found?

Two things you told me
That you are strong
And you love me
Yes, you love me

(Chorus 3x)

Our God in heaven
Hallowed be
Thy name above all names
Your kingdom come
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us today our daily bread
Forgive us wicked sinners
Lead us far away from our vices
And deliver us from these prisons