A Happy 37th Anniversary

Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain !”

On February 18th Alan and I celebrated our 37th anniversary with a couple of wonderful days at Weber’s Inn (Ann Arbor), where we had spent the first 2 nights after our wedding. Besides lounging around enjoying the amenities at Weber’s, we took an exhilarating 3-mile hike through Hudson Mills Park in the sparkling sunshine and then enjoyed one of the best lunches in the world at the Gandy Dancer. On Friday we dined with Daniel at Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger joint (just for old times sake) and then headed over to Frankenmuth where we met up with Stephen and Joel  for a night at the Bavarian Inn and one of the inn’s famous  family-style chicken dinners.

The Bavarian Inn is HUGE and really lovely!

Saturday we had breakfast at Tim Horton’s and browsed through the world’s largest Christmas store (Bronner’s) before heading home for an old fashioned meal of McDonald’s with Jon and Gerlinde too. Sunday church was lovely (as always), and then Kathy and Carl came over to celebrate Carl’s birthday with grilled steaks and peach cobbler. (In case you can’t tell…I also took a holiday from counting Weight Watcher points for the weekend!)

I am so thankful for all the years of God’s blessing with a beloved husband and a priceless family! 🙂

“God setteth the solitary in families” (Psalm 68:6)

Happy Valentine’s Day to You!

How was your Valentine’s Day? Ours was very sweet. We started with worshiping our Lord at church and enjoying a great message on our “one perfect love,” the love of God. Though all other loves are somewhat transient and imperfect, God is love, and His love for us is perfect and unfailing. What an anchor and hope! After church, all the GRites in our family went to the First Wok for a great Chinese dinner and then home for naps. After nap time, I cut hair for those of my loved ones who wanted a cut, and then we skyped with Aaron’s family for almost an hour. Kathy also called us to let us know that she loves us (she is such a sweetheart)!  We also tried to call Mike and Grace, but they were gone to Austria skiing (poor dears 🙂 ), although Michael called me this morning to tell me all about it and let me know that he’d downloaded a picture album on FaceBook. I’ll just include a couple for your viewing pleasure:

Needless to say, I’m ecstatically happy for them…and only a tinge jealous!

God is good! I am so delighted that our kids are able to enjoy such fabulous adventures!

After dinner, Alan and I took Stephen back to MSU and then enjoyed a quiet ride home, day-dreaming about our future. What will the future bring? For the first time in Armstrong history, we ran out of time and didn’t get a chance to make home made valentines for each other. Well, I hope we get a chance to make them again next year. Life is so full that it’s impossible to carry out all the fun traditions as well as keep up with present pleasant and necessary activities!

So, I’m a day late, but I wanted to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day! Know that you are loved, and for those of you my friends who look in on this website, know that you are in my prayers too!

Weight Watchers: 5% in 5 Weeks

Well, I was happily gratified at Weight Watchers to discover that I’ve now lost 5% of my body weight. I was going to say “body fat,” but I guess not even I am that buoyant!! At any rate, I am a fan of their approach to losing weight. One of their sayings is “Stop dieting and start living.” That is good advice. Basically, it’s all about learning to enjoy eating healthy food. It makes me think of so many areas of life where I have to keep fighting the urge to slip into an unhealthy habit in this or that area. Sometimes it’s due to “the tyranny of the urgent,” (and I have total sympathy for young moms and dads), but for those of us whose kids are pretty much on self-propel and who no longer wake up in the morning with a saber clenched in our fists for chopping a path through the jungle to survive…well, it’s time to get moving in the right direction! Life is a marathon, and we’re in the final stretches. This is no time to be sitting on the sidelines munching chocolate-coated caramel corn!

True, true, true. May I be so motivated in five more weeks. With Valentine’s Day, Alan and my 37th anniversary coming up, and spring break…well, I’m not too sure if I’ll be able to report another 5%  loss in five more weeks…maybe in seven or eight. At any rate…I’ll keep plugging away and hope you’re also plugging away at improving in whatever area of life is forefront on your mind.

Alan had his second cataract surgery this morning, and so far, so good! Praise God from whom all blessings flow! We are both delighted. Alan’s had glasses since he was seven and was dramatically near-sided, so he’s been in his glory to be able to see well enough to get around without glasses now! Truly a wonderful thing!

We have watched more than our share of videos lately, however, while he’s been recuperating. Two that I want to really recommend are:

Something the Lord Made: The marvelous story of Dr. Blalock (head of surgery at Johns Hopkins) and his Afro-American assistant, Viviane Thomas, who made history by developing cardiac by-pass surgery during the 1940’s to save “blue babies,” starring Alan Rickman and Mos Def, 2004.

October  Sky, Based on the true story of Homer Hickam, Jr., son of a coal miner in West Virginia who worked hard with three of his buddies to build a rocket in hopes of winning a national science contest. Homer went on to become an aerospace engineer and worked at Cape Canaveral. This picture was the winner of Best Family Film, 1999.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of “Clear Play,” but we got one at our local Christian bookstore. It plays videos and somehow manages to delete extreme violence, profanity, nudity, and coarse language. It works great…so great that I can’t exactly tell you if the above biographies are perfectly family friendly, but I think they are. If not…you can always fast forward. 🙂  By the way, I would love to hear what some of your favorite movies are. We’re always in the market for a good, thought-provoking video for evenings when we’re just too tired to work hard at some more demanding enterprise!

Pics I Stole From Michael

I guess most of you probably have Facebook and have checked out all the pictures you want of family and friends, but I just loved these latest of Michael’s family. Here’s one of Michael and Grace attending the DENTAC ball. It was on the pretense of taking Gerlinde to the ball last year that Mike and Grace actually managed to get Gerlinde to the “perfect” place for Jonathan to find her and propose (after secretly flying over to Germany to meet up with them).

Here’s a picture of Grace and Eowyn that he just posted. Isn’t Grace beautiful?! Even better, she’s a sweetheart!

And here’s the littlest bee bop! Mike says you can just sit and watch her grow!

Who says you can’t have fun in the army? This is Captain Mike’s new igloo in his back yard!

Michael was just nominated for “Junior Dental Officer of the Year” from Bavaria. If he wins, he gets to spend a week tromping around Washington D.C. in May. Better than tromping around Iraq, I’d say! There have also been some happy rumors that he might get to do a residency in Hawaii at some point. I think with the army nothing is sure until it happens, but he and Grace would love it if it happens! I guess Alan and I would too…then we’d have to visit Hawaii sometime. Such a shame! I have to say, we really do miss our kids, but I’m thankful they’re all happy, healthy, and busy about their Father’s business!


After blogging bits and pieces about my dear friend Cheryl, I’ve asked her permission to write a post about her. Cheryl and Roger started coming to our chapel and joined our care group—enough years ago that I can’t exactly remember how long it’s been. Cheryl and I became good friends through singing together in our ladies’ ensemble as well as on worship teams, participating in ladies’ Bible studies, etc! If it weren’t for Cheryl, I wouldn’t know my way around the various coffee shops in GR. She keeps me from working incessantly, and you know how we all need somebody like that in our lives! 🙂

At any rate, we became especially close when she developed breast cancer about four years ago. Her husband is legally blind and can’t drive, so I had the privilege of helping commute her to chemotherapy and various doctor appointments some. Since that time, she’s been a great comfort to me during some very difficult times in my life. I went with her for her followup mammograms, and we’d celebrate over each clear report. And then, suddenly, horror struck. Around Christmas time she was diagnosed with metastatic lung and brain cancer. We’re halfway through her radiation treatments, and then she starts into chemotherapy. Throughout all this, Cheryl’s buoyant faith and spirit has been a constant source of blessing to me. Here, in her own words, is her response to her personal “extreme challenge”:

In my previous e-mail, I referred to my cancer diagnosis as “a gift.” Some of you may have thought I was being sarcastic, but that is not the case.  I truly am trying to view this recurrence as a gift, though at times it is difficult. Since the discovery was made at Christmas time, I found myself identifying with Mary.

In Luke 1:28, the angel Gabriel said to Mary, “Greetings, favored woman!  The Lord is with you!”  Verse 29 says, “Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.”  Confused and disturbed is a very accurate description of my state of mind in recent days. Very disturbed.  In v.34, Mary asked a question, which Gabriel answered without chastising her. Then she responded, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants.” Please pray that I remain willing to accept the Lord’s will for me.

…I’d like to close with a quote from “Come & Behold Him!” by Jack Hayford: “God has gifts for you, and in quantities you never dreamed. These gifts are infinitely more valuable than the tinsel and materialistic toys pursued so desperately by the world. He has gifts of peace, strength, joy, fulfillment, and a sense of significance in life that will draw you out of bed each morning like a magnet.”  May we discover them!

In Christ,

And soon following, this note came from her husband:

Thank you for your continued prayer support.  We got the news today that there are several small tumors in Cheryl’s brain.  That information means that Cheryl does not qualify for the clinical trial we were considering and that radiation treatments will start soon, probably this week.  We will know more after we see the Radiation Oncologist on Wednesday.  We thank God that the clinical trial required the testing that revealed the new tumors so that Cheryl can get the most appropriate treatment.  While we feel a little ‘dazed and confused’  we know that He is the Faithful One.

God is Good All the Time and All the Time God is Good  (Even when we don’t understand)


Weight Watchers: My List of Favorite Healthy Snacks

Just a quickie today. I’ve spent the week working in the basement with Joel cleaning, organizing, and sorting 37 years of accumulated junk! In my spare time, I’m also taking Cheryl grocery shopping, out for coffee, and for her radiation treatments, not to mention commuting Alan a bit, who had his first cataract removed successfully but isn’t supposed to drive for the two weeks until he gets his other eye fixed. Meanwhile, he needed a tooth extraction at the oral surgeon… a failed root canal where the  crown also came off a few days ago. The oral surgeon took an hour and a half instead of the half hour he thought it might take. Alan’s blood pressure went up for sure  (it was being monitored), but I’m thinking that the surgeon’s and mine both went up during the suspenseful wait too! Thankfully, Alan seems to be doing okay and wanted me to take him straight to work afterward. I was trying to talk him into going home when his secretary called: “Where are you? The staff for your 10:00 meeting have assembled…”

Okay, so Alan won, and I drove him straight to work with his mouth stuffed with gauze. At least he’s never bored! He also loves what he’s doing, so I guess I should just be delighted that he has such a fulfilling job.

On to Weight Watchers. Last week I got a star for having lost 5 pounds (yes…they treat you a bit like elementary school children, and we all clap for each other, but hey—it works, so keep the cheers coming!), and this week I was a mere 0.4 pounds from my first weight goal: losing 5% of my body weight. I was very disappointed not to have be reached that goal, but in fact, we had pizza and cheesecake for dinner last night…so what should I have expected??

In case you’re interested in any free tips on weight loss, the biggest thing I’ve noticed is that you can eat just about all the fresh fruits and vegetables you want and never get fat. In fact, I’m losing about a pound a week or more and rarely feel hungry. If I do, I drink a cup of cinnamon apple tea, non-fat skim milk latte or sugar free hot chocolate, a low fat yogurt, a cup of fruit, or…a handful of fresh veggies. One of the best discoveries is that you can make a pot of soup using all your favorite veggies (leaving out peas, corn, beans, or potatoes) in a tomato base, simmer it with your favorite spices, and you can warm up a bowl of soup “free” (no points) anytime of the day or night! If you like veggies (and I do), that can make a very satisfying snack! Oh, and don’t forget the 94% fat-free popcorn: you can have 5 cups for only 1 point. That can get you a long way on a cold winter’s night! Last but not least, sugar-free jello, pickles, and salsa are also pretty “guilt-free.” When I have a few points to spare and am really craving chocolate (did I tell you that I woke up dreaming I was wolfing down a chocolate chip cookie??), I make some pudding out of 1 c. skim milk, 1 T. cornstarch, 1 T. sugar, and 1 T. cocoa. Hot and yummy! But, no ice cream or whipped cream on top…that’s a privilege of the svelte.