Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Best of 2014

In no particular order, here is my year end list!

Best book

There were so many great books ‘on my nightstand’ this year but this was my favorite.

Best new product find

No more rubbing and rubbing to get my toes de-polished.  Why did I never know about this?

best celebration
We celebrated 30 years… several times this year!  First on a trip to North Carolina and then, on our actual anniversary, with a weekend near where we honeymooned.  I am a BLESSED woman to be married to this man of mine. 

best news
We are expecting grandchild #2 in May!

best family outing
We had a wonderful long weekend at the beach in September – beautiful weather but best company ever!

best app
If you haven’t downloaded and used this app, give it a try!  There are lots of free devotionals with scripture and commentary, plus a place to leave your own thoughts.  Love it.

best milestone
I celebrated 40 years of friendship with my two sisters! 

best ‘have a cup’ post

Of course there were some very difficult things this year that won’t make it onto a blog list.  That’s why I’m heading into a new year with a big desire to know my God better.  I’m asking Him to help me do that.  I want to read the Word looking to learn about Him (not necessarily to find how it applies to ME - a revolutionary step).  I also want to pray with that goal in mind – getting closer to Him.  I gave my life to Him over 40 years ago but this need to know Him more grows greater the older I get.

Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received!
1 Peter 1:3 (The Message)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Things I Love About Christmas

It’s weird that The Pioneer Woman had the same blog post idea as I did - to write about her favorite things at Christmas – and that she posted hers right before I did.  Our blogs are so similar that sometimes you’ll find this kind of thing happening.   So here goes my list…

Remembering how it feels to assemble toys

Candlelight service at church

Baking cookies with my nieces

wizard box-india     FC---Box---Transparent-Background---10-8-10 k2-_3983fcf5-a1e9-4357-8972-1b8822942a01.v1

Playing games.  LOTS of games!

Family.  Home where they belong.
(Actual people pics coming when they all get here!)

Anticipating.  I love the anticipating.
And this year we are also anticipating another grandbaby… in May!

We had a great message at church on Sunday, reminding us that Christmas is really all about receiving.  Don’t you always hear that it should be about giving, not receiving?  But we are desperate for what God has to give us, whether we know it or not.  And we can miss receiving during all the busy-ness.  Join me in taking time throughout these wonderful days to receive God’s gifts to you… His unmatched love, His forgiveness and grace, His strength, His peace.  He is a good giver. 

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

On my nightstand

This post should probably be titled ‘Dusty on my nightstand’ as there just doesn’t seem to be too much extra time for reading during the holidays.  It is a true luxury to find time to sit by the lighted Christmas tree with a book and a cup of coffee but it’s something I love to do.

So here are two books I’ve read this month.  Very different but I loved them both!

download (1)
The Handsome Man’s Deluxe CafĂ©
by Alexander McCall Smith
If you haven’t read this series, do start at the beginning with the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.  This is #15 in that great series which takes place in Botswana.  I love so many things about it but especially the understated humor and the slow pace of the narrative, which perfectly matches the slower pace of life in Africa.  Because I’m a sucker for accents and regional lingo, I find myself wanting to say things like “Ko Ko!” (which you say in Botswana when you enter a house).  Love this series!

Something Other Than God
by Jennifer Fulwiler
The subtitle of the book is ‘How I passionately sought happiness and accidentally found it.’  It’s the autobiography of I blogger I follow ( who describes her path to faith in Christ from her atheist roots.  I liked her honestly and humor which are part of her ongoing ministry now.  LIfe is messy and Jennifer’s story includes all of her mess, making her relatable and engaging. 

I hope you find some quiet time to read in these days before and after Christmas too!

Monday, December 15, 2014

In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas

It’s been a wonderful, busy, going-by-too-fast Christmas season so far in the Burns’ home.  As soon as Thanksgiving was over, we cut down our noble fir and decorated it before our youngest headed out on the highway back to Montana (this time with new studded snow tires – thank you Lord). 

How we missed having Amy, Ray, Lisa and Hadley home for Thanksgiving but it has made looking forward to a full house at Christmas even more sweet!  The photo above is Haddykins at a local Santa event in Enumclaw where her daddy is a firefighter and got to play Santa Claus in the town parade.  Doesn’t she look excited to be with Blitzen?  I wouldn’t be surprised if she buried her face in his neck (as she often does with her own reindeer-sized doggie).

The first weekend of December was a Jubilee weekend when Karen and Liane came down from Tacoma to stay with us.  We went to the Women of Faith event in Portland.  This was taken on the first night from our seats in outer space.


You can see that there were lots of empty seats so we got to move down a little closer on Saturday morning…

MUCH better. Except now we were seated next to three women wearing homemade tutus and carrying light-up wands who had to pass in front of us multiple times that day to use the bathroom, get snacks or just stretch their legs.  This is understandable but the fact that they had covered themselves with glitter made their passing unforgettable.  (They explained to Liane that the reason they wore tutus was to remain in a child-like, teachable state for the conference.)

We also celebrated Liane’s 29th birthday at an old favorite Italian restaurant- Giovanni’s.


I am a selfie-taking failure.

This last week I was up in Puyallup for our staff Christmas lunch at Joy’s cozy house – so fun for me to get to be with my co-workers face-to-face since I work out of my old bedroom home office.  Unfortunately I took no pictures of this!

Thursday I got to spend the day with Amy in Seattle – something I’ve been looking forward to so much!  We went Christmas shopping, then out to dinner with her boyfriend and then the two of us got to go to the Pacific NW Ballet’s Nutcracker performance. 

PNB photo credit

RAB photo blame

We especially loved the costumes and sets designed by Maurice Sendak (of ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ fame).  This is the last year the PNB will perform this ballet so it was fun to get to be there.  I love my firstborn girl so much and LOVED spending this day together!

Friday our good friends Frank and Janet had us for dinner and took us to the Oregon Symphony’s Gospel Christmas. 

Wow.  This was a night of worship.  Absolutely great voices singing very few familiar carols but incredibly God-exalting, hand-clapping worship songs.  Us white folks tried to clap on the off-beat as best we could.  It was awesome.


Saturday we got to serve at our church’s annual Christmas dinner at the Union Gospel Mission in downtown Portland.  It is humbling.  Difficult to face what is real life for so many in our cities.  I don’t want to forget them as I come home to my warm house with soft throws and scented candles. 

This is Christmas, isn’t it?  God came to us in our greatest need and biggest mess.  And He gives us opportunities every day to show ‘God With Us’ to those near us who are in great need and big messes.  Lord, keep me always ready to meet needs.  Deliver me from my self-absorbed state to give what I have received. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Links I Liked

Hello December!  It’s cold and wet here in the NW.  The month is filling up with lots of things to look forward to… a jubilee weekend with my BFFs, Women of Faith, The Nutcracker, a Gospel Christmas concert, staff Christmas party, serving at the Union Gospel Mission, family birthdays and having everybody home for Christmas.

The key is to start every single day with my eyes and heart focused on Emmanuel, isn't it?  I want my challenges and short-comings and overwhelmed feelings to drive me straight into His peace.  He is more than my need!

An Inside Look at Amazon’s Massive Fulfillment Centers
I love Amazon.  But just looking at this kind of makes me sick when I think about how much STUFF we Americans buy.  Someone invented robots to find our STUFF in the Amazon warehouse so the Amazon workers can box up our STUFF more efficiently because the amount of STUFF we order this season requires 80,000 employees and 15,000 of these robots to just to process.
(Want a different way to give and make a huge impact in someone's life?  Check out our YWAM Gift Catalog! It's a pretty awesome way to change up your Christmas giving.)

Don’t Make Me Take Away the Nativity and Other Things Moms Say in December
I love Kristen.  She just keeps keeping it real.

When Things Aren’t So Merry and Bright
Merry Christmas turns to Weary Christmas as it kicks your “merry and bright,” cheery goodwill right off the front porch.

Memorize the Mind of God
Scripture memory, at its best, is about feeding your soul today and mapping your life and mind onto the very life and mind of God.
When I read this it added to what I am already hearing from God over and over, in lots of different ways, about how I need to make this a priority.  Beth is starting her scripture memory project again in 2015… care to join me in joining her?

The Heavy
Being a mom, to me, feels like this stripping down to my truest self. It exposes my nakedness, my selfishness, my neediness. It shows my incompetence. It highlights my lack of skill. Motherhood is showing me the outer limits of myself: my great capacity to care and to love. It reveals my quick temper and lack of control over my tongue. It shows me fierce and protective.

This is my friend Natalie’s story.  She’s living in India as a full-time foster mom.  She’s 23. 
I am so proud to know her...

Beauty for Ashes
I pray that I will never stop looking at my children and being broken for them. Because without brokenness there can never be any redemption. And one day, my kids will be redeemed. On this side of heaven or not, they will be whole. Their past will be wiped clean. And their tears will be no more.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Adding to my general health and well-being, our #3 daughter is safely here after driving through the night from Montana. 

She and her dog Tala arrived at 2:00 this morning, a little shaken by the ice in the mountain passes.  Today we will start looking for studded snow tires (which she decided she didn’t have time to get before she left).

I love this girl.  I am SO glad she’s here, safe and sound.  Our other two won’t be with us this year on Thanksgiving… this is reality but I don’t have to like it.  Some things are just sad…

We’re looking forward to having EVERYONE here at Christmas. 

I am thankful… for a God who gives me lots of grace, patience and blessing.  For my family and friends.  For new mercies every single morning!

I hope you have a wonderful, THANKFUL weekend!

Monday, November 17, 2014



Thirty years ago today on a rainy Saturday, a wonderful and improbable covenant was made. The story began many years before that (11 to be exact) ~ it's not one anyone is going to make a movie about but it's a story I love.  On that day in November God sealed up something He had been planning long ago - which just goes to show that you can't out-plan God.  His ways are always SO much better than ours!

Today I give thanks for a loving husband, a wonderful father and grandpa, one of the kindest men I know, full of integrity.  We aren't two peas in a pod - more like salty and sweet.  I love that we are better together.


Happy Anniversary my love!  Here's to the next 30!  (Let's ask our kids to roll us down to the beach and prop us up on a piece of driftwood for our 60th, ok?)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Completely ridiculous

Because that's what these videos are... but they're fun!

What if someone wrote a song using only the words in your texts between you and your husband about your kids?

What if your iPhone autocomplete function were a song-writer?

What if you ran around New York City, high-fiving people who were hailing taxi's?

And what if a 70's band came out with a new Christmas album?

Earth Wind and Fire Holiday
Kinda weird to me.  

Shining Star?  Yes.

Away in a Manger?  Not so much.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

On my nightstand

The Insanity of God
by Nik Ripken
This was an excellent book – one I didn’t want to put down.  The author (not his real name) and his wife spent six years doing relief work in Somalia, living there as Christians working for a secular organization.  The sheer magnitude of suffering and tragedy they faced left them wondering how (and even IF) God could work in such circumstances.  Out of their ‘crisis of faith’ they determined to find out how other Christians maintained hope in the midst of persecution and darkness.  The stories of their encounters with Christ-followers in countries closed to the Gospel were both eye-opening and encouraging.  So good and challenging.      

He Loves Me
by Wayne Jacobsen
This one came highly recommended to me by a friend and I love the subtitle: Learning to Live in the Father’s Love.  It addresses how so many of us can think, though often subconsciously – I got a raise: He loves me.  I lost my job: He loves me not.  I shared my faith: He loves me.  I let my anger take over: He loves me not.


The Color of Water
by James McBride
This is the true story by the son of a black minister and a woman who would not admit she was white.  He saw his mother as an embarrassment until he learned her story.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Family beach time

Way back in September our family got away together for a long weekend at the Oregon coast.  Manzanita is the place Jeff and I spent part of our honeymoon and we’ve gone there as a family most every summer while the kids were growing up. So it really is our favorite beach town and holds LOTS of memories for us.

Lindsey couldn’t be with us (because she got a great job and moved to Montana – can you imagine that excuse?). Ray also had to work and we missed both of them terribly.  Why is it so hard to get everyone together at the same time???

Jeff’s mom came with us which made for a four-generation family time – so fun!
The view from our front deck, looking over Nehalem Bay State Park toward the ocean. 
Check that sky!

It was Hadley’s first time in the ocean!

Aunt Mimi holding a tired little girl.

Lisa and Miss H

It was naptime when we headed down to the beach that day – what were we thinking? 
She did great for about 15 minutes, then it was just all too much.

Grammy time


Lots of peek-a-boo

Hadley loves books and exactly like her mommy did, she'll sit and read a book out loud using lots of inflection and drama.  She knows how to tell a good story!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Celebrating 40 years of friendship

I have many wonderful friends and more than a few friendships that have spanned decades.  But I have two sister-friends that are priceless to me.

The backstory:  We met when we were all starting college at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma.  It was 1974 – when Nixon resigned his presidency, Earth Wind & Fire was on the radio and The Waltons were hollering good-night to each other on tv.  There we were in our REI 60/40 coats, embroidered tunic tops and flaired jeans, eager to make new friends.  I think we met via mutual friends in our dorms (Liane and Karen lived in the cool old dorm that looked like a mansion) and later were all involved in Young Life.

Liane, always the initiator (she’s from southern California), called me one night during Interim (January term when lots of students are home for an extended Christmas break) and asked if I wanted to come over for popcorn and hot chocolate.  This was awesome because I knew she was someone who everyone loved – and she wanted to hang out with me!  While I was getting my coat on, the phone rang again.  “I just realized I don’t have any cocoa… do you have some?”  Of course I did and I grabbed the can.  Before I locked the door behind me, the phone rang again.  “I don’t actually have any popcorn… can you bring that too?”  I smiled and asked if she had a popper.  “Well, no but I hoped you did.”  She ended up coming over to my room and the rest is history.

Karen came all the way from Colorado Springs, had thick blond hair down to her bum and her own car – an Audi Fox.  I was in awe of her for all those silly reasons but as we got to know each other, I found someone who was always up for an adventure and who loved to laugh as much as I did.  She genuinely cared for her friends and we had lots of great talks about the Lord. 

We went to Malibu (a Young Life camp in British Columbia) together, took vacations to California, back-packed through Europe (we used backpacks instead of suitcases – but ‘back-packing through Europe’ sounds very cool), cried on each other’s shoulders and laughed for more hours than would ever be possible to record.  We have always found the same things to be incredibly funny.

il_340x270.355437682_bawqAt some point after graduating from college, we all bought a little plastic groom (the cheap kind people put on wedding cakes in another era) and began to pray for our husbands and for each other’s husbands.  We talked about what kind of men we’d like to marry and offered each other lots of free advice on what kind of guy we thought the others needed.  We continued spending a great deal of time together, though they lived in Washington and I was in Oregon.  We had many weekend get-togethers in either Seattle or Tacoma or Portland or at the beach.  We all went back to school for graduate degrees and we supported each other through those stretching years.  Karen got married first and her ‘little man’ (as we affectionately called them) had a rug fuzz beard glued onto his chin as he perched on top of their wedding cake.  Brian is a one-in-a-million and we welcomed him into our family.  Then Liane started dating Mark, who is a also a genuine gem and a great compliment to Liane.  At 28, I became certain that I would be spending my golden years having quality time with my little plastic man, when God absolutely astonished me by giving me the man I had loved for the last 11 years.  We actually got married before Liane and Mark but only because Mark didn’t want to steal any of our thunder.  He’s nice like that.

Along came babies – three for each of us – and despite the fact that we moved to California, we continued to find ways to get together at least once a year.  We began calling these weekends our ‘jubilees’ and they have been a highlight for all of us.  

June 92007 Sept 94017 Lee, B & K1 38IMG_1404
Sometimes the guys have been a part but mostly they have been girl-times, filled with talking, shopping, talking, eating out, talking, laughter and talking.  We’ve been to exotic places like San Francisco, San Diego, Victoria BC and to familiar places like Sunriver, Whidbey Island, Manzanita and Bay Lake.  It doesn’t really matter where we go, we always settle right into a place of comfort.  Our photos record our bad hair periods, our weight fluctuations and our crow’s feet but what hasn’t changed one bit is how known and supported and loved we feel with each other.  These women pray for me, laugh with (and sometimes at) me, compliment me, challenge me and love me unconditionally.

The three of us couldn’t be more different… which is a very good thing.  And is also something we laugh about often.

Last month we celebrated 40 years of friendship (which is clearly impossible because we aren’t that old) with a long weekend at Young Life’s Malibu Club in Canada.  It was a women’s weekend so we stayed in a cabin with 11 other women we didn’t know.  We had gorgeous weather and lots of great shared memories.

Our view each morning

The women who unknowingly got to share our jubilee!

The Malibu Princess – the only way (other than sea plane) to get to Malibu
This was likely the last summer the Princess will operate so it was a bittersweet trip!


I loved this quote, which sums up how I feel about this gift of Liane and Karen in my life:

“When I am feeling as exposed and vulnerable as I have ever felt, you are gentle… You put me on a stretcher and cut a hole in the roof where Jesus is and lower me down.  Herky jerky with sawdust in my hair, singing show tunes and complimenting me on my outfit, feeding me and praying for me.  Laughing and crying with me.  Thank you for getting me to Jesus.”
                                  ~Leeana Tankersley, Breathing Room

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