June 21, 2018

life lately... a day late

I try to post life on Wednesday, but last week it never happened, and this week I'm a day late! What is really going on is that I'm trying to write about my Mom's birthday trip, but I am in processing stages and can't quite find the words. I'll get there! 

1. Packing for Africa... I spend a little time each day fussing with one thing
 or another, just for fun. These stuffed elephants will go to an orphanage
we are visiting! I made 46.

2. We had our staff photo taken last week...
then I quickly changed and went to the zoo to volunteer.

3. This giraffe made of boxes & tubes is taller than me!
It was a challenge to paint, but fun! And it's going to the lions...

4. When the poinciana trees bloom, it encourages me to look up!

5. A little conversation with a friend at work had me craving a peanut buster parfait
from DQ... so when Eric suggest we go I said YES!

6. It was my sister's birthday Saturday, and I figured she needed a tiara for dinner.
Why not?! Happy #44 Tina! I love you!

7. Laura is settled in New Orleans and seems pretty happy. When you can hear a smile
in their voice over the phone, a mama can exhale! She is serving there at Camp Restore with
this young lady (I think her name is Bekah.)

8. Game night. Food truck night. Trying a new cider night. 

9. Sunday Cam and I had a little Mother's Day moment on Father's Day. 

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June 18, 2018

a friendship that lasts...

It could have been any Saturday of the 80s: Maria's subs, a walk along the jetty at the lighthouse, searching for seaglass, ice cream at Wilbur's, and the laughter that always happens between friends. But... it was just last weekend. More than thirty years later, we manage to tuck a quick conversation into the few calm moments in the frenzy of life... advice, something funny, sharing a memory. And if a visit is possible, we love to make it happen.
I've known Kim since 7th grade... and even though we weren't friends at first {she took my fear of middle school and life as snobbishness!}, by 8th grade I was giggling at her sleep-over party. We spent summers scooping ice cream, we wore the same color dress to the Junior Prom, and being December girls, we lamented about being the last to get our driver's license.
a couple of over exposed photos from 1988

Her hospitality and her family in the mix of ours only made the weekend better. {And it was a bonus that we had our own photographer for a family group shot or two, and tons of touring tips... right down to finding gluten-free cannoli!} I'm ever thankful for friends who hang around forever... the ones who choose to really know you. My life would be less without her.
april 2016, lot #3
We love the beach.
We love our people fiercely.
We never say no to ice cream... and we eat our ice cream fast.
And every time one of us drops an egg on the kitchen floor, we think of each other.

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June 12, 2018

before the storm...

Her 65th birthday celebration trip had been planned for months. Grown ups at Disney World!
When the talk of a hurricane started, we watched the forecast closely and tried to decide:
Do we go... or not? 

The New England in us thought... if we cancel and the storm never comes, we'd be mad. The Florida in us thought... Disney may be the safest place to be if it does come. The government agencies and the news urged everyone to get out if you could.  But Eric's boss told him he could still go, which made us lean into our New England roots. Our only disappointment was that my sister felt like she couldn't leave her kids here in town, just in case... which we totally understood. Three days before the hurricane, we filled the cars with gas, stocked up on supplies, documented our belongings, prepared the house... and headed four hours north to Disney.

Was it the right decision? Once we were on the road, it didn't matter. It was the decision we made. In the end, we were glad we went and everything turned out just fine. We enjoyed all of Disney we planned for (plus one more night)... and saw how Disney handles a hurricane - which was incredible.  

And the birthday celebration? Stay tuned...
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June 11, 2018

the buntings came back!

I was thrilled to spot three painted buntings at the bird feeder at the feeder this year! It is truly a joy to see them, and when they are perched having their afternoon snack, I can hardly turn away. I wasn't holding out hope for their return this winter, because half of their favorite tree came down in the hurricane.
: :
The hurricane... in many ways, we are still recovering from it, even nine months later. Thankfully, our home held strong and the two large trees in the yard are still standing. One of them split and fell away from the house, and while I fully prepared my heart for the other one to have crashed though the front of the house, I believe the criss-cross of roots held it back. Later this month our roof will be replaced - a few shingles flew in the wind (140 mph), and enough was damaged to warrant a new one - but no leaks!

We were at Disney during the storm, watched it play out on TV, and started home as soon as it was safe. Our community was without phone service, and we couldn't get in touch with Eric's parents (they live a mile away), so we had no idea what to expect. Pulling off the highway was a shock to the system. It was almost unrecognizable... trees down, just chewed up by the wind. I had already prepared Eric for the tears that would come when we got home - either way. But the tears that fell were of thankfulness. 

As soon as we knew our family was safe, Eric went to work. Overnights, in hurricane shelters and patrolling gas stations. It was five days without power, so we put our camping equipment and skills to work, trying to stay cool with battery-operated fans, using the battery-operated lights and candles, and setting up the camp kitchen on the lanai. We were asked to stay home, out of the way of first responders... but a couple of times a day I ventured up the road just far enough to get cell service. You knew you were getting close when cars were pulled onto the shoulder and your notifications started pinging! It was a chance to be in touch with the world, but not the people you were worried about most... unless they happened to have found a smidgen of service at the same time. It was a week before I talked to my parents again or was able to communicate with my sister.
In the aftermath of any storm come the stories we need to hear... neighbor helping neighbor, communities raising money for the families and areas that were hit hardest, volunteers pitching in to clean up the mess. My parents worked tirelessly at the zoo, helping it to open six weeks after the storm. We had a group come by and clean up the tree in the backyard. Our Community Foundation raised over two millions dollars for hurricane relief, and we are still doing good with what remains.

Our city is coming around again.
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June 10, 2018

sunday grace

Nineteen years apart...
I am ever thankful for these two...
the ways they have grown, and all of the ways they have grown me. 
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June 08, 2018

for the love of books...

We google mapped our way across Boston Common to a brunch spot that promised gluten-free deliciousness... but the hunger for food nearly disappeared when we spotted an outdoor book shop. Their love of books kicked in, but we managed to eat before the volumes called them back across the street.


They could have browsed for hours... 
Eventually we got back on track and resumed our wandering through the city.
Later we passed by again, and seeing it all closed up was almost just as cool...

A house without books is like a room without windows.
Horace Mann


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June 06, 2018

life lately... since february

Life goes on, even if you aren't blogging...and it seems that lately, all I'm ever doing is playing catch up! Here are a few slices of our spring, in which I started feeling GREAT {hooray!}
1. I love when I can talk him into a beach night!

2. One day of sewing, and my living room is finally living in the 21st century!
I love the new curtains, and it is a shame I waited so long to make them...

3. Our spring camping trip... was rainy and wonderful. It's always good to be outside. 

4. I chaperoned the Junior Deputy Fair Day with Eric again...
it was actually a beautiful day and it is fun to see how the kids connect
with their school resource officers! 

5. It is always a fun day at the zoo. This year Easter egg
decorating took on a whole new definition!
Giant paper mache eggs for the animals.

6. Camden is actually home for the summer!
He finished his junior year and he is spending the summer working.
It's fun to have him around again.

7. Memorial Day flags on Boston Common.

8. Shingles arrived over the weekend - finally getting a new roof, thanks to Hurricane Irma. 

9. How about a little hockey? In June??
Our ECHL team is one win away form the Kelly Cup!
Go Blades!

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June 05, 2018

the best surprise...

Last August marked our 25th wedding anniversary, but in our true fashion, we celebrated a little before and some after, and on the actual day, we ordered pizza and stayed in. {I'm hoping to share a little more about that later...} But in the before category, came this card from my parents...
It took me a moment to process what she had written in the card...
Mbegu. My sweet adopted elephant at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust... in Kenya.

Africa? Africa!
I hid my face in my hands and sobbed. There was no hint that this surprise was on the horizon, and there were simply no words for the emotion that overcame my whole self. I looked up at Eric and noticed a couple of tears roll from his eyes. Thank you doesn't begin to express the singing of my soul.

We are really going back to Africa. One month from today. It had become a distant hope in my heart, one I didn't quite have the courage to dream. But as we have endured this challenging fall and winter, the whisper of Africa has promised us that something wonderful is lingering just beyond the bend.

As I read back through my memories, I realized that from the moment we arrived {7 years, 10 months, 1 week, and 1 day ago} it was a constant balance of love and fear. Love for the dream, the land, the people, and a fear of ... everything. Of course, as love won over completely, the fear of never retracing those steps was the one that settled deepest in my heart.

This time I vow to leave the fear behind.
I will leave the fear behind and embrace the beauty of what I know... that every day will be a new adventure; that there is never a time that God doesn't want me to grow; that kindness is always the answer; to dance in the face of fear brings joy; that even if this is the last time I travel to Africa, I will always, always, carry it in my heart and soul.
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June 04, 2018

she keeps leaping...

We loved seeing Laura in Boston, and meeting the people she has been working with for the last ten months. They have become family, and we could tell, that as May progressed and the end of this assignment was coming closer, that it was getting hard. How do you say goodbye to the new life that you have created? And... where do you go from here?
She thought she was staying in Boston through the summer, but when that fell through (which may have produced my crazy thought) she had little time to figure out her options, and what might be the next best thing for her. Her new people jumped into limbo with her, and using their resources, worked to help her make a new plan.

God's timing is {always} perfect. Two days before we arrived in Boston, Laura left the land of limbo and found out she would be heading to New Orleans to serve with the Lutheran Young Adult Corp for 10 weeks. She is thrilled to have a new placement, a next adventure! And two days after we kissed her goodbye, she landed in NOLA to begin her new work.


"For I know the plans I have for you," declares
the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you,
plans to give you a hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11


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June 03, 2018

you can go home again...

A few weeks ago I had one of those crazy thoughts pass through my head... we researched it, decided against it, and then... things began to fall into place. Last weekend, that crazy Saturday morning passing-thought-in-my-head came to life, and spending three days in Boston was so much more than I could have even imagined.

With Laura at the end of her service, and her next step hanging in the balance, we decided we needed to see her, put our arms around her. And when I finally did hold her in a close hello, the tears just rolled down my face. How is it that you don't really know just how much you've missed someone until you are together again?
We happily exhausted ourselves as we explored Boston and retraced the footsteps of my growing up and our romance in my hometown of Scituate. When we stopped in at our old family ice cream store, the new owner even let me scoop my own cone! It was such fun to share these places with our kids... it had been 19 years since I had brought them there, and ten years since I had been back myself.
The best thing of the weekend was being all together, four. I have no idea how long it will be before it will happen again, and so I count my blessings that we could make this trip happen. Home? It is Boston, it is Scituate, it is Wilbur's, it is Beyond Grace... but mostly, it is four.

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p.s... four photo credit goes to kim... more on that friendship coming soon.

February 21, 2018

life lately...

In between bouts of sickness, I have felt well enough to enjoy a few outings. I probably pay for them afterwards, but sometimes the best thing for you is to get out of your own way...

1. It's been a few years since we've been to Empty Bowls in the park,
but when your sister & niece ask you to go, it might be time to add this tradition
back into the rotation...

2. because there is also the Chalk Art right around the corner!
Even though I enjoyed it, it wasn't as much fun as when my kids were painting
{can a Mom admit that?}

3. While I was in the hospital, I was surprised at the visitors that braved the germs!
My sister was sick, but she sent her own sweet message from the curb.

4. Opa! The Greek Festival proved to be too much for me... but it was fun for a while!

5. Last week he declared it Instant Pot week! We had three great meals, two okay meals,
and some delicious popcorn.

6. Wooden roses and a promise that  can count on.

7. Friday night we celebrated Mom & Bob. Thirty-four years of life & love...
and I am always thankful.

8. Some day call for a nice soft blanket, and stretching out on the couch with some popcorn.

9. When Laura came home for Christmas she brought me Boston Tea Party tea!
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February 19, 2018

ten minutes until sunset...

We were on our way to dinner when someone suggested a detour... did we have time?
When the beach calls, I always say yes.

We may not have put our toes in the sand, but the salty air and changing beauty in the sky were the perfect start to an evening with friends.

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February 17, 2018

her leap of faith...

She is more than half-way through her latest and greatest adventure...
We counted down the months, then weeks, and before it hardly seemed possible, she was commissioned in our church to serve with the Lutheran Young Adult Corps. In August she flew to St. Louis, with excitement in her heart, for two weeks of training before she finally made it to Boston, her city of service. A ten month commitment.

With her new roommates {and I imagine, lifelong friends!} she has explored the city, and embraced her new lifestyle. Hearing the joy in her voice brings tears to my eyes... she is really living. Thriving! It thrills me.

Last month there was an article in Lutherans Engage about what these amazing young women are doing in Boston. Between the two Lutheran churches in the city, they are building a college ministry and serving in an after-school preschool program. They take time to work with New England Seafarers Mission and the homeless. But they are not just serving... they are growing in faith as they stretch themselves and their hearts. {Read the article here!}
I know May will come too quickly for her... and that she will forever cherish this season in her life. My prayer is that there will be an open door for her somewhere at the end of this... that this journey will help her find the next. I know God hears every prayer, and I'm excited to see just how He answers it.
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February 15, 2018

these words...


A few of my most favorite words... breathe. hope. love. smile.
They are life to my soul, and I couldn't live without them. I loved coming across this display just after the new year - it reminded me of the way I want to wander through these days. Breathing easy, with the hope & love of Jesus all around me...and a smile on my face.
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February 11, 2018

in the waiting...

I took my last antibiotic this afternoon, and I feel like now I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. Was it enough? Will the infection rage back? Do I dare hope it won't? These aren't my best thoughts, and certainly no way to live... but it's hard to overcome them. I'm not doubting God's healing, because I believe He will... I'm just wondering about the when.

It's been a tough season... and maybe that is an understatement. When I last left off, we were in full celebration mode (empty nest, headed to Disney!), but then the hurricane blew through our community, and I followed it up with surgery after surgery, all urology related. Oh yes, the saga continues. A surgery per month through Christmas, and then I spent last weekend in the hospital so I could have IV antibiotics to treat sepsis.

I still consider myself a "better to laugh than to cry" kind of girl, even though I've certainly had my days. It helps to have a strong sturdy guy by my side lifting my spirits, praying words of love, and keeping up the house. He's always been my hero, but now, somehow more so. When I wonder how he can put up with me, I look into his eyes and see only love shining back. I can't begin to find the words to say how thankful I am.

These words, lyrics to a song I am loving, have carried me along...

Slow down, take time
Breath in He said
He'd reveal what's to come
The thoughts in His mind
Always higher than mine
He'll reveal all to come

Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He's in the waiting
He's in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He's never failing
He's never failing

Take Courage, Kristene DiMarco

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