Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Six years ago, Amanda was thrown from a horse.

It was an accident that left her wrist shattered and her left knee torn.  Unfortunately, she didn't have the best medical care back then. A surgeon put her wrist back together, but the knee was left to fend for itself.  That knee has been the source of intense pain for our girl over the years, namely this past year.  It randomly locked up on her and gave out on her, and sent shooting pain throughout her body.

We got her a quality brace from a physical therapist friend in the church, and she exercised thinking that stretching it out and keeping it in motion would help.  Sadly, the damage was deep.  2011 brought more than one trip to the ER because of the knee, plus X-rays, narcotics, an immobilizer, crutches, and an MRI.

It was the MRI and the doctor who read the MRI that made all the difference.  This doctor right away recommended surgery.

Amanda had surgery on her wrist in 2006 after the accident, which was a traumatic experience all by itself, causing her great anxiety at the thought of going through it again.  After heaps of encouragement and the prayers of many and my promise to be by her side, she faced her fear.  We are so proud of her!

Granted, this meant our day started at 4am.  After a bleary-eyed wake-up and coffee tumblers filled to the brim with sumatra, hubby and I caravanned 45 minutes to the surgical clinic in Wooster.  Chris sat with us while they checked Amanda in, then he prayed over her and drove back to Medina for work.  I stayed with Amanda and her mom until she recovered from the anesthesia several hours later. It was a long day, but one for celebrating.  Not only was the injury less extensive than the doctor originally thought, but he was able to repair the offending meniscus and assure her she would know relief from pain in a few days.  What was initially a 6 month recovery is now a matter of weeks.

God is at work in our girl's life.

Big time.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

healthy 2

I've been told we crave what we eat.

I tend to crave sugary things because.. well.. I normally eat them by the container-full. This might involve me starting at the candy aisle in Target and eating my way through a box of Red Vines or Mike & Ike's while I shop.  Or I might be the type of person that sits down with a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and devours the whole thing while watching my favorite TV show.  For sure, I've been known to eat buckeyes like popcorn and turn popcorn in to dessert (hello M&Ms, coconut oil, and sea salt!).  Certainly no cheesecake is safe around me, and cupcakes?  Mercy.

What to do?  For me, going off of them "cold turkey" was the way to go, making sure my entire day's worth of eating was (and is) filled with organic whole foods: veggies, fruit, lean meat, beans, eggs, avocado, salad, nuts.. and protein shakes.  I have found that staying full throughout the day is the key for me.  If I eat small meals every 2-3 hours, and have a dinner filled with protein and greens, I'm a happy girl.

Don't get me wrong, the idea of dessert always sounds appealing to me, but I have a choice of when I eat it and how much of it I eat. "Reign it in, sister."  That's what I tell  myself.  When we decide we're ready to go off of the regimented diet, and create a daily eating plan we can live with that includes some of our favorite carbs, I'm going to try my hand at making desserts with a healthier spin.  This means reading more recipes and baking from scratch.  Win.

Fruit, dried fruit (low sugar), unsweetened applesauce (with a dash of cinnamon), and fresh juice from a juicer (our own or from the nice lady at EarthFare - pictured above) have all helped satisfy my sweet tooth this month.

And can I just say?  After three weeks of healthy eating and exercise, Chris and I are feeling the best we've felt in years, our unhealthy cravings are fewer, and our midwest fat is slowly making its exit.

Saying goodbye to something never felt so good.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Twice a month, this is the scene in our living room.

What started as a way to share music together and help Rachel grow as an artist, has turned in to a sweet time of connection and musical limbering for the three of us.

(Usually the mugs are wine glasses, but we all made dietary changes at the start of the new year, so our wine is temporarily replaced with tea and hazelnut decaf.)

Tomorrow night, Rachel, Chris and I are performing at our church's first Live at the Stone Cafe event.  Rachel is doing most of the singing, Chris is doing most of the guitar playing, and I get to live my dream of being a back-up singer.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

rest in peace

Our neighbor, Irl, shuffled across the street today to pay us a visit. He has done this several times before to tell us about a project he's working on, ask for help moving something, or to remind Chris to put more mulch in our flower beds.

This is the first time he's come with sad news.  

Rose Biliczky died on Thursday.  Charlie, her husband, died three months after we purchased our home, which was their home first. Fifty years ago, Charlie and Rose built the house we live in, raised their family in it, and moved out only when they become too frail to live independently.

You can read their obituaries here and here.

It was sweet having Irl sit at our dining room table and tell us about his former neighbors.   He said the kindest things about them, which reaffirmed for me that we are continuing their legacy of love.   We may not be the gardeners they were and supply the neighborhood with tomatoes, but we are filling the Biliczky dream home with lots of love and laughter and good food of our own.

We've done some remodeling since our house was theirs, and now that they are both passed, we will probably uproot some of the 50 rose bushes Charlie tended so carefully to while he was alive (did I mention, we're not gardeners?).   What won't change is the spirit of love and goodwill that I felt the first time I stepped foot in the living room - the feeling that made me want to buy the house before seeing the rest of it.

I'm sad we never got to meet Charlie or Rose, but I am blessed by the stories we've been told about them, and am grateful God saved their little rambler just for us.

Rest in peace, dear ones.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

snowma.. what?

My parents called me this afternoon from north of Seattle, where they are experiencing "Snowmageddon."  Over a foot of snow has fallen in their area in the past three days, and they are homebound.

Seattle isn't equipped for heavy snowfall like we are here in Ohio.  I remember what that was like when we lived out there.  Snow was a welcomed wonder, until it got inconvenient.  The city tends to shut down in this kind of inclement weather.  I fondly remember doing a lot of movie watching with an occasional hike to the grocery store during those days, passing people sledding down hills and gliding across the snow on cross-country skis.  It was an adventure, to be sure, including that one time we were without power for three days. Chris & I huddled under a mountain of covers trying to stay warm in our 30-something degree house.  We lasted one night before showering at my brother's house, and bunking with my sister and her family.  Electricity is a beautiful thing.

So far, everyone we know in the Seattle area is faring well. Granted, Facebook is flooded with status updates claiming "cabin fever" and "going crazy," not to mention my best friend (Amie)'s family who is stuck inside their house in a remote south of Seattle neighborhood. Apparently, they have dozens of downed trees that her husband and brave neighbors are attempting to clear.  I'd say they are living the adventure, too!  I hope their generator holds out.

It's times like these I wish I could hop on a plane and bring them all fresh baked banana bread and hot chocolate.  The last I heard, dad was cooking up a pot of Top Ramen and Amie was reorganizing her pantry.    

Meanwhile, I'm drinking hazelnut coffee and thinking about what to write next. I am surrounded by random CDs, the remains of my husband's various airline audio projects.  Fernando Ortega, Cesaria Evora, Lucky Dube, Rihanna, Adele, and Chaka Khan.. who says blogging is lonely?

Stay safe, Seattle.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


The Wynnes and Zietlows are two dear families with big hearts for their community.  As members of Cornerstone Chapel, they would regularly drive the 45 minutes one way to church on Sundays, and 45 minutes back to their home in Wellington.  They visited other churches in their area, but never found what they loved about Cornerstone in those places.

So, they presented an idea to our pastoral staff about planting a church in their living room.  Chris and I have had the privilege of helping see this idea become a reality.  As I mentioned in this post and this post, we encouraged the vision and have worked with the families to iron out the details.  

Last Sunday, we celebrated their first service!  It was church the way Chris and I have dreamed for our own planting someday: intimate, organic, a little rough around the edges, and all heart.

Simple church.

I think my favorite part about the meeting on Sunday was how relaxed it was.  Sure, the initial introductions were as nervous as a first date, but it wasn't a nervousness that lasted long.  The children were on their best behavior, but even they settled in to the casual atmosphere a half hour in.  I smiled at them lounging on the floor, while watching Pastor Jeff's sermon with us via simulcast.  I mean, who wouldn't love listening to a sermon, with arms propped behind their head, and not be considered disrespectful?  We followed the message with prayer, and then gathered around the piano for a time of singing.  The two host families played instruments and we all joined in the familiar choruses.  We ended our gathering with food, which I'm convinced is heavenly.

It was as we ate that I felt a sense of everything in its right place. 

"Where two or more are gathered in My name, there I am with them." - Matthew 18:20.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Before we moved to Ohio, we joked with our Seattle friends about all the weight we were going to gain from eating casseroles.

Ummm.. not a joke.  It's real life.

Chris and I have both expanded our waistlines since arriving in the midwest.  Like, a lot.  We now weigh more than we ever have. While I would love to blame it on gravy, pie, Pillsbury crescent rolls, and cheese, I know I am responsible for what and how much I eat.

I've gotten lazy, and have fed my emotions with food.  Happy, sad, frustrated, impatient, blissful, excited, stressed.. there is always a way to cope with food.  Food is a passion of mine, too.  So, there's that.  Bottom line: it's time to make a change.

Despite the New Year's cliché, hubby and I are ready to get back to good health.  I will miss that second helping of cake, but I won't miss the extra calories or the bigger pants size.

If you're making a change of your own, high five to you!

Sunday, January 8, 2012


December is always full for us.  In addition to the traditional holidays, we celebrate our birthdays, my brother's birthday, my mom's birthday, and the birthdays of friends.

It's a month of happy madness.

Chris had to work on his birthday this year.  Since I like to surprise him annually with something, my time was limited.  I decided to let him off easy, by making dinner plans with friends at a favorite dining place of ours, followed by dessert with more friends.  I told him about these things, but I didn't tell him about his present, which was two tickets to see one of his favorite authors on tour at Playhouse Square this April: Anne Lamott.

Emily's birthday was a spontaneous collaboration by me, Chris, and our friend, Rachel.  The three of us planned an after-sushi party at our house a week before Emily's actual birthdate.  We made the evening complete with balloons, champagne spritzers, brownie cake, gifts, and a Cary Grant movie on Netflix.  Emily welcomed her mid-20s with friends and a touch of old Hollywood.

For Amber, I conspired with her hubby (Justin) to create a day of surprises for her.  They had family time in the morning (Justin & Amber have four kids - the youngest is a darling one month old), then the Allen girls and I showed up on their doorstep and stole Amber away for Thai food and pedicures.  We snuck a Starbucks run in-between venues, and  relished our hours together.  After our nails were dry, we returned our friend home to a cake on the table and her favorite lasagna in the oven.  At some point, her hubby presented her with a gift certificate for a facial at my salon, and let her put her pretty feet up for the night.  

My birthday was also on a workday, so I picked a new-to-us Ethiopian restaurant in Cleveland for dinner and followed it with two hours at a Middle Eastern teahouse and a midnight snack at Denny's.  Empress Taytu is the only Ethiopian restaurant in Cleveland, and one we did a Google search for before we moved to Ohio.  We just wanted to be sure we could find some of our beloved west coast flavors on the other side of the country.

Empress was everything we hoped for.  We sat in a hut and drank honey wine before our meal was served, and I challenged my tastebuds to a lentil-filled sambusa and a raw jalapeño (stuffed with hot peppers and a tomato relish), accompanied by traditional injera bread.  Our dining companions had never tried Ethiopian food before, so this was a treat on all accounts.  The consensus was "yum," while we savored our platter of savory meats and vegetables.  I did leave out the part about driving around Cleveland looking for an IHOP, which was comedy all by itself.

Last night, we got to be part of another birthday surprise.  This one involved a train car, pasta, balloon hats, and beautiful Agnes. Thanks to her boyfriend and daughter, she didn't suspect a thing.  I should mention, this is the second birthday in a row Agnes has been surprised by her friends.  I'm liking the trend.

Here's to another year of joy amidst heartache, peace that transcends understanding, hugs that change a moment, and love that means everything. 

Friday, January 6, 2012


© photo credit: www.facebook.com/acupcakeaday1.

Happy 2012, friends!

The first week of my new year has included deer meat on a stick, homemade bread pudding, two rounds of pork loin, a haircut, helping set up a church plant in Wellington, and eating cupcakes.

How about yours?

Remember that cupcake place on the square I've been stalking since November?  It's open now!  It actually opened the day after Christmas, and today was my day to drool on the inside of the building, instead of the inside of my car as I drive by.  Let me just say, the wait was worth it.

Shawna Rollheiser has already put the other cupcake vendors in town to shame.  That's right, I said it.  I'm no cupcake connoisseur, but I do know what I like, and Shawna has it.  Cute little storefront next door to a gourmet hot dog joint, which is next door to a coffeeshop.  It's practically perfect.

And the cupcakes themselves?  Love at first bite!

I'm thinking 2012 is going to be a sweet year.