Sweet Sorrow

A few weeks ago, Matt and I made a trek down to the farm to spend a week with our people there. It was a good, healing time…the weather was warm (at least warmer than Belleville) and a few trees were beginning to show off their Spring finery.



While we were there I took a few more pics of our Senior. He has changed so much since the first round of senior pics we shot last summer.


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This one is my favorite…my sweet Mama graciously gifted Daddy’s truck to Matthew for graduation. Its sweet to see my son, who had such a bond with my Daddy, driving around in that white pickup.


So much sweet sorrow captured in one photograph.

The raw wound that Daddy’s sudden death left in my heart is starting to heal a bit. Every few days the wound gets bumped and I’m moved to tears again, but I’m slowly finding my way back into a pattern of more good days than bad. Writing helps in the process, and someday these posts won’t feel so heavy. I’m thankful for the grace that I’m given from friends and family to work this all out at what seems like a snail’s pace, and especially thankful for the amount of time I’ve been able to spend at the farm. Life without Daddy is much more difficult to get used to than I ever could have imagined. But God is gracious to me and his presence is felt, when I allow it to be. He’s even gracious in forgiving me when I choose to ignore his comfort, wallowing in my sadness and self-pity. He truly restores my soul.

He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:3-4

This Long Winter

The doors and windows will be opened wide at The Polish Palace today. The temperatures will rise to well above average for the second day in a row, like a surprise visit from a dear friend. The warmth is so welcome, a brief reprieve from this long winter…this winter that brought bitter cold to our land and to my heart.

Summer is my season. I thrive in the heat of the season that allows me to walk barefoot in the grass, dig in the garden soil and grow things that are pleasing to all my senses. I get that love of heat and dirt and growing honestly, from my Daddy. My beloved Daddy, who is now gone, who died in winter. This long, long winter.

My heart is continually broken as I walk through this great loss. Every day seems to bring a new version of grief, packaged differently, never pretty. I’ve read of other’s experiences of loss and grief, and I relate to their descriptions…waves that are light and steady one day, then overwhelming the next, weights that seem heavy one moment, then lighter, but always there, always felt. Unexpected triggers pop up out of the blue…a man whistling in a store, a dog in the back of a pickup truck. I am comforted knowing where he is, with Jesus, in his new body, no aches or pains or arthritic joints, singing like never before. And I’m grieved knowing where he’s not, at the farm with Mama, a phone call away from me, sitting in the swing as I pull in after our ten-hour drive. The balance between the hope and the grief is sometimes excruciating. But there is also beauty. Beauty in knowing that my Daddy lived a life that honored God and taught me and countless others to do the same. Beauty in experiencing the presence of Jesus in a new way, a deeper way, through grief.  The reality of death and grief in this world is inescapable. But the hope provided in the truth of the gospel is real, and it is comforting me in ways I could never have imagined.

Tomorrow it will snow again, reminding me that winter is not quite done, in our land and in my heart. But today it is warm, reminding me that spring is coming, then my beloved summer. I am grateful for that hope. That this bitter winter, along with this deep, raw ache of this loss, will not last forever.


Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
Psalm 116:15 

Photo(s) of Today

I know, I know, this little blog ‘o mine has been wildly neglected. I could give you a million reasons why, but I’ll just share 1…I’m in the middle of a major re-work of this little personal project that will incorporate a major announcement (major to me, at least). Hopefully it will be completed before or during the Christmas season. We shall see. In the meantime, I thought I’d share some special shots I took over the summer while visiting the farm. Just Matt’s first round of Senior Pictures. No big deal.

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He’s already changed so much since we took these photos in August.  As I did with his older brother, I’ll take some more closer to graduation. It will be interesting to compare the two sets.

So far, his Senior year has been less traumatic for me than I anticipated. God’s grace is evident to me as I feel him walking me through this awkward time of parenthood…the time where you try to let go and let them make more of their own decisions (and mistakes), trusting that you’ve guided them well and taught them the gospel as clearly as you can. Even as I type this, I feel a bit of anxiety creeping up in me, reminding me of all the lessons I wish I had taught him, and all the mistakes I wish I wouldn’t have made. But God’s peace is greater than the anxiety. He is reminding me that He loves Matthew more than I ever could, and He will be with him wherever he goes, to guide and protect him and lead him in His truth. And for that, I am grateful beyond words.

Photo of Today…Memorial Day

TSgt Scott Konieczka, KC-10 Boom Operator, 1993

Memorial Day is an incredibly special day in America. It’s a day set aside to remember the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for the freedom we enjoy in this amazing country. While driving to visit some friends today, we passed by a cemetery that was holding a Memorial Day Mass. There were flags lining the cemetery road, and several people standing outside the chapel. At that moment, I thanked God that my man was not among those who were being remembered, and I prayed for all the wives who lost their husbands to the horror of combat. May we be ever mindful that the freedom we continue to experience in this country comes at a high cost. Join me in praying for the families that are mourning their loved ones today.



Photo of Today

It’s a reminiscing kind of morning here at the Polish Palace. I’ve been going through my hundreds of photo files and came across this little gem from 2 summers ago. You know, that time when our son and his cousins caught an alligator behind my Aunt Nell’s house? Crazy.

Holy Week Snow

This past Sunday, Palm Sunday, began with a light pecking against our windows. Sleet was falling like tiny pellets from the gray sky, soon to be followed by the heaviest snow we’ve seen since we’ve lived in this area. When all was said and done, we’d received a twelve-inch-thick blanket of heavy, wet snow, outlining every twig and branch in our landscape.

Monday morning, my man was scheduled to leave on a morning flight to Charleston, SC. He woke up early and confirmed that the flight had not been cancelled, so we got up and prepared to make the snowy trek to the airport. The roads were surprisingly passable, and we made it there in plenty of time. I kissed my man and sent him on his way, then headed back to the East Side to get ready for work.

While driving along I-70, I marveled at how the snow had transformed such an industrial part of the city into something truly beautiful. Then I remembered that one of my favorite spots in the city, Bellefontaine Cemetery, was on my route home. I prayed that the gates would be open at such an early hour.

What I found when I arrived was truly spectacular. This is a historic cemetery that I have visited many times and am quite familiar with, but the snow had transformed it into something other-worldly. I drove around its winding streets for an hour, worshipping, snapping pictures with my iPhone and thanking God for such a precious gift on the second day of this snowy Holy Week.

Here are a few of the images that I captured. Even though I would prefer to begin this season with some warmer temperatures, tulips and buds on the trees…signs of awakening that are associated with celebrating the resurrection, this particular morning was a precious gift from our Savior, whose blood cleanses us whiter than snow.


For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:19-20, ESV)

This is 40

Last week, I hit the big 4-0. It seems to have crept up on me, like a villain. All of the sudden, I looked in the mirror and there it was, staring me squarely in the face. And quite honestly, I’m totally ok with it.

Here are the fun things I’ve found myself coming to terms with in my 40th year:
1. The lines on my face are much more defined, especially around my mouth and eyes and neck.
2. What used to be considered “reading glasses” have become “necessary to see all things” glasses. I can’t even give myself a proper pedicure without wearing them.
3. Things I used to see as “hobbies for old people” have become my most treasured activities (gardening, reading).
4. Our son is in his junior year of high school.
5. Recently I was asked if I was our pastor’s mom (I’m only 10 years older than he). Two days earlier I was asked if I was his wife’s mom.

While all of these little “issues” could be a little disheartening and drive a person to the nearest botox center, I can honestly say that I am enjoying this stage of my life. There is a sense of contentment that I feel that I never experienced in my younger years. The lines on my face have mostly been developed through laughter. My glasses are a cool accessory that make me look smart while hiding the dark, puffy circles under my eyes. Gardening is a calming and therapeutic activity that reminds me of my roots and keeps me connected to God’s creation. Reading keeps my mind active and continually exposes me to great wisdom. Our teenage son is growing more and more mature and independent by the day, making the time we have left with him more about connecting with his heart and less about meeting his basic needs.

The one thing that I feel most grateful for during this milestone year is this: my community. And by community I don’t mean the geographical location where I reside. I mean the people God has placed around me to share in all the joys and sorrows of life. My birthday was filled with so much love from my family and friends…phone calls, sweet visits, THREE birthday cakes (thankfully spread out over a few days) thoughtful gifts…The only sadness I felt was due to the absence of my most precious friend, my man, who got called to go on a last-minute business trip over my birthday week. But honestly, he showered so much love on me the weekend before, I couldn’t even be too sad that he was gone on my actual birthday. It was a sweet day that ended with some of my dearests meeting me for a fun dinner.

To know and be known, to love and be loved…these are truly the most precious gifts.
I have a feeling that 40 is going to be my favorite.

Photo of Today

These cows crack me up…it’s like the one in the front is checking me out, the one directly behing him is sheepishly peeking to see if all is well, and one behind him is gossiping about what’s about to go down.
Honestly, they really only wanted to see if I was going to give them some treats,
which I didn’t. So they walked away as soon as I snapped this photo.
Silly animals.

Letting Go…

I love cooking and baking. So much. One of the most therapeutic activities for me is to spend an afternoon in my kitchen playing with new recipes and baking treats for my family and friends. For the past 20 years, this has been my greatest friend in the kitchen…

Those who know me well know how attached I tend to get, not only to people, but to things. I’m not what you’d call a hoarder, but I’m also not the greatest at letting go of things that are (or have been) meaningful to me, even when I get a newer, better version of my treasured object. (Examples…I’ve had the same car for 14 years. Her name is Myrtle. My favorite hoodie has been around for at least 16 years. You get the point.) This is definitely true of my “relationship” with this mixer. We’ve been through so much together…we’ve made countless batches of chocolate chip cookies together…my kids and grand kids have eaten cookie dough and cake batter from the beater…this thing literally helped me learn to cook, and has helped me teach my kids to cook. But even the most treasured tools can fall to the longing of a bigger, better model. Which is what I got this week. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the Binford…

Isn’t she beautiful? And what a work horse! This baby can make not one but TWO batches of my homemade granola in one shot! And the new yeast roll recipe that made my old mixer push and strain to incorporate the 9 cups of flour? No problemo for this beast. Prepping for Mardi Gras is gonna be a breeze. I’ll bet I can even double my King Cake recipe in this thing!

So tomorrow, I’ll deliver Old Faithful to her new home. A dear friend and fellow foodie is going to take her and continue her legacy. And that makes my heart so very glad. I cleaned her up and gathered all her attachments, and shed a few tears remembering all the cookies, brownies, pound cakes, cheesecakes, birthday cakes, granola, muffins, mashed potatoes, meatballs and other delicious eats she’s helped me prepare throughout the years. Thanks for the memories, my dear Classic White Kitchenaid…I know you’ve still got a lot of years left in you.

Want to know the first thing I made in the new Binford? Ah, good old Supernatural Brownies

So ridiculously good, and the new mixer whipped them up like nobody’s business. I think we’re gonna be good friends.


I stopped making official New Year’s Resolutions several years ago. I had reached the conclusion that making that kind of list provided me too many opportunities for failure. But this year, I’ve been thinking more about it, not from the standpoint of a list of rules to keep or superficial goals that are never met (lose weight, anyone?), but as an opportunity to truly submit myself to God and see what HE would like to do. Then my pastor brought it up on Sunday morning, and there was my nudge. God has graciously provided me with some sabbath time this week, so I’ve taken the opportunity to go through my journal from this past year and pray through some things I think God might be leading me towards. So, with that, I’ll share with you my resolutions – things for which I aim to be resolute –  for the year 2013.

1. To think more highly of others than I do of myself.
(Philippians 2:3)

2. To be motivated and controlled by Christ’s love, not by what other’s think.
(2 Corinthians 5:11-21)

3. To confess and repent well. At least better. (Psalm 32)

4. To learn a new skill. (Psalm 101:1)

5. To put to death whatever is separating me from Jesus. (Colossians 3:1-16)

Now…what’s on your list?