touching story.

I just finished watching last night's Dateline NBC's story about Laura Van Ryn and Whitney Cerak. You might remember the story - after a van and semi accident in April 2006 involving several Taylor University students and employees, five people were killed instantly, and Laura Van Ryn was airlifted to the nearest trauma center in a coma with a serious brain injury. After five weeks, just as she started to come out of the coma, her family discovered that it wasn't Laura after all who had survived, it was Whitney Cerak.

I graduated from Taylor, and still keep in touch with many of the friends I made there (one of them, Trish, lives nearby in Virginia Beach and attends the Bridge Church with me). Lisa, Laura Van Ryn's sister, and I graduated the same year and lived in the same dorm, though I didn't know her well.

The story of the van crash made national news, and started a blog about her sister's progress. I followed it, and still remember the shock when I read the entry with the news of the mistaken identity. I didn't post about it at the time, because I had no idea what to say.

The Dateline story was incredible moving, and often had me in tears. But what impressed me most was the story the two families had to tell, of trust in God's sovereignty in the midst of horrible circumstances. Over and over, their words and actions, both now and during that time, testify to a deep faith in God, and their story is powerful. Really, really powerful.

easter photos.

So, random thought: what's with the bunnies and eggs as a celebration of Easter? Those don't really go together - bunnies don't lay eggs.

I ate Easter dinner at Nick and Heather's with their family, which makes three Easters in a row that I've spent with them (though none in the same place or with the same people). I made two coconut cream pies, by special request, though I'd never really made a pie or meringue before. They took a little while, but it was all worth it when everyone loved them (and took leftovers home, which is how you know they really like what you made).

Some of my favorite photos from the day:

Me and baby Seth

Nathan and Seth - its kind of hard to see, but I love the expression on Nathan's face


Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won't stay there.
- Clarence W. Hall

My friend Nick has written a series of emails about the days leading up to Easter, and he's posted copies to his blog. My favorite is the thought for today (Saturday).

It's like that long Saturday between Your death and the rising day
When no one heard a word, wondered is this the end
But You were down there in the well, saving those that fell
Bringing them to the mountain again
- Valleys Fill First, Caedmon's Call

It blows my mind to think that in the midst of all the grief and desolation that Jesus' followers were feeling, in the midst of His pain in being separated from His Father, Jesus was doing the work that paved the way for our salvation.

hello spring.

I came home to spring in Virginia.

There may be snow in other parts of the country, but here, there's all this fun color outside.

These little purple flowers are growing in random places all over my front and back yard, and the daffodils came back, despite the fact that I have completely ignored them since I moved in.

The little tree in the backyard that I thought was dead has a single red pink bud on its branches, so this year I might actually figure out what it is. The red bud tree that Robbie planted in the front yard is budding, and soon will be covered with beautiful little flowers.

I love living here.


This commercial annoys me:

Larry Winget is a personal finance author and hosts his own TV show, where he teaches people how to get ahead financially. I've seen one episode, and though his personality is a little annoying (as is his fashion sense), his advice seemed to make sense. Save for emergencies, pay off debt, get on a budget - all key parts of a good financial plan.

But buying a brand new car, likely on credit, and then using the money you "save" on a special cash-back offer to pay down credit card debt - that just doesn't make any sense.

The more I'm in FPU and taking control of my own finances, the more I realize just how out of control we are. We buy things we don't need with money we don't have, we always want the biggest and best thing, and we're never satisfied with what we have.

When it comes to material things, I want to learn to be content with what I've got. I'm getting there.

disney pictures

I hate having a lot of things to carry at a theme park, so I only really used my camera one day on this trip - when we went to Animal Kingdom on Sunday. So, most of my Disney vacation pictures are of animals, not people. But here are a few of the good ones of people.

the most magical place on earth

Its late Thursday night, actually early Friday morning, and I'm writing this from the floor outside my hotel room in Orlando. My grandmother and sister are asleep in our room, and I'm trying not to wake them up. I brought my laptop because I thought I might need to do work for a couple hours while I was here, but luckily that hasn't been the case, at least not yet.

I arrived Wednesday night, and by the time my dad and sister picked me up at the airport and we drove to WalMart to buy a few simple groceries (so we wouldn't need to eat out as much for meals), it was pretty late by the time I got in. I spent most of today at Downtown Disney and the Magic Kingdom with Katie and Jacob, Katie's boyfriend Vince, and his kids Ally and Cameron.

I'm sure that over the next few days and the myriad of family things I'll be doing, that I'll have a lot to say. For now, though, I'll just say this - the entire Walt Disney empire just blows me away. There is nothing, absolutely nothing on earth like it. I'm amazed by the level of detail at each part of the experience, and just the hugeness of the whole experience, and even the excellence of it. The parade tonight was just amazing, as were the fireworks (what I could see of them, anyway, as we tried hard to get out of the park before the mad rush after the fireworks, and so were each practically dragging a child walking sideways so they could follow us and still see the show at our backs).

The whole thing has really had me wondering about Walt Disney, the man. He's been dead for over 40 years - did he have any idea of the legacy he would leave, or the size of that legacy? What would it be like to have that kind of vision, to have that kind of impact on the world?

The good life

Ever have those days when you just look around your life as it is at that exact moment, and you're just overwhelmed with how good it is? That's what I'm feeling right now.

I'm sitting in the corner of my sectional (my favorite place to sit while I'm working), covered by the afghan that my mom made me when I bought my first place. Dakota is laying at the other end of the sectional, while Harvey is curled up under the blanket at my feet keeping my feet warm. The cable Christian music channel is playing in the background (Starfield's Everything Is Beautiful, and the title seems appropriate given what I'm feeling right now). I leave tomorrow for Orlando, and get to spends lots of time with one of my favorite people in the world. I have lots of good friends, one of whom came by this morning to help me stop birds from getting into my attic (there's a whole story there, but that's for another post).

Seriously, I feel like if I were to actually start to list out all the things that I'm grateful on this day, I would never go back to work.

Days like this are so precious, and so good to hang on to. It can be so easy to fall into the trap of longing for another life, the way I thought my life was going to be at this point in my life. Its hard to always remember to be thankful for right now, for the gifts God has given me here, in this place and at this time.

But on days like this, it's not so hard.

God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame.
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I'm just saying

I went to Target today to pick up a whole bunch of random things, and while I was there, I was searching for these:

These are incredible, but I can't find them anywhere, and this is actually probably a good thing, because I can eat most of a bag in one sitting.

But this isn't the story I was planning to tell.

While I'm in the food aisle at Target, I see this little girl, maybe three years old, calling for her mom and checking every aisle. She's starting to cry because she can't find her mom, and as I looked around, no one is paying any attention to the girl. So, I figured I would try to help.

I went up to her and asked her if she was okay. She said she couldn't find her mom, so I held out my hand and asked her to come with me, and we would try to find her mom. I had seen a couple of employees a few aisles back, so we walk back, when she sees her mom walk out of a aisle and runs to her.

And her mom gives me a dirty look.

Because that makes sense. You can't keep track of your daughter and don't seem to hear her crying for you, and I'm the one getting the dirty looks.

I'm just saying.

Another little house project

I finished another small project around the house today. Nearly two years ago, Dad helped me replace my old medicine cabinet. I wanted one with a nice frame, just to dress things up a bit, but they were so much more expensive than plain ones. So, I bought a plain one for around $15.

A couple weeks ago I found the right-sized frame, unfinished and on sale, at Michaels for only $10. I had to chisel out a bit of one of the inside corners to get a tight fit, but I finished painting it today and I think it makes a huge difference. I love it, and all told I still paid less that half of what I would have.

I don't know what they're teaching this kid

Tonight I drove all the way out to Windsor to get my hair cut and my highlights fixed - Heather and Nathan drove out there, too, because they also needed haircuts. So, while our stylist was working on Heather's hair, I was talking to Nathan to try to keep him entertained (even though I was laying with my head in whatever-you-call-the-hair-washing-thing, while the toner was setting). Here's how the conversation went:

Me: I'm going on a trip soon. Do you think I should bring you back a present?

Nathan: A present?

Me: Yep. What do you think I should bring you?

Nathan: Um, a knife.

Me: Okay, how about something that won't get me arrested?

Wedding gift idea needed

I'm posting this question for the backwards edition of Works for Me Wednesday - its the best way I can think of to ask for mass advice.

I need advice about a wedding gift, and if you know me at all in real life, you know that the very fact that I'm asking for advice and that I only have a week to figure this out is proof that I don't know what to do. Normally I buy gifts way ahead of time - I bought my mom's Mother's Day gift a month ago.

Anyway, one week from today, I leave for Orlando to attend my cousin's wedding. I've known her my whole life, but don't know her that well, and know next to nothing about her personal tastes, at least when it comes to things like decorating her house and whether or not she likes to cook. I do know that she and her fiance just bought a house.

I hate giving gift cards, because they seem so impersonal and I don't like advertising the amount of money I spent on a wedding gift. But, if I buy a "real" gift, it needs to be something is relatively small and lightweight, because I need to fly with it.

I've checked her gift registry - its fairly limited, and there's nothing appropriate to travel with in there.

Any ideas?


I'm feeling much better, thank goodness. I decided last night as I was laying in bed and feeling absolutely miserable - stuffed up and sniffly and headachey - that if I didn't feel a lot better today, I was going to see a doctor. I'm not taking a chance that I'll get stuck flying with something like a sinus infection next week.

And, I know what I want to do for my birthday this year.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian opens in theaters May 16.

The first one, I think, was one of my favorite movies of all time. I saw it in theaters three times.

And I want to go out to dinner some place nice with lots of calories.


On Thursday night I told someone I had made it through winter without getting really sick.

Saturday I got a cold. Today I feel like I've been hit by a truck.


Its been a busy weekend - lots to share, but I'm going to try and spread it out in a few different posts.

Today was Karen's baby shower, and I love how the decorations and food turned out! I made cupcakes, but wanted to dress up them a little. I added strawberry preserves to the batter (just layered it with the mix), and added strawberry extract to the frosting. They turned out great for the most part, though with a couple cupcakes I used a little too much preserves, so they didn't hold together very well. I also made Strawberry Sugar Bread - I've been bookmarking so many recipes lately that I'm determined to work my way through them.

I found this frame on sale at Michaels and painted it, then bought a paint pen specifically for wood, so all the guests could sign it. It took longer to paint than I expected because the base color (ivory) needed so many coats.

The nice thing about a shower just before Easter is that you can buy Easter M&Ms, and the colors look great for a baby shower. I found these little tins at the dollar store, and printed baby quotes on scrapbook paper for the tags.

I filled the base of this wire vase with diapers and topped it with a couple toys and bottles filled with more Easter M&Ms. I tied pacifiers to the side with colorful ribbon.

This photo is kind of hard to see, and I can't remember where I first saw this idea at a shower (maybe at Heather's), but I love it, because its cute, its easy, and its pretty inexpensive (I told Karen that I had used her gifts as decorations).

I've been seeing lots of homemade banners on craft and scrapbooking blogs, and though most are way too artistic and detailed for me, this was pretty easy to put together. I printed the letters on white vellum paper, then cut the letters and the background papers (I used a pack of scrapbook papers I bought a while ago, and never used). After that, it was just a matter of punching holes in the papers and threading the ribbon through them.