Sep 28, 2009

Congratulations, Dr. Don!

My little brother, Don Lichi, 57, completed his 10th marathon on Saturday, Sept. 26 in Akron, Ohio.

He says this is his last one...we'll see!

Approximately 10,000 people from all walks of life came to participate in the various races, which included a 1/2 marathon, and a relay race.

In case you didn't know, a marathon is 26.2 miles. Don finished the race in 4 hours, 52 minutes (4:52). 1500 people set out to do the 26.2 mile marathon. Of the 1431 people who finished, the average time was 4:21. The longest time was 6:40.

The first place winner of the race was a 27 year old man from Kenya, whose time was 2:27...not the world's record, but not too far from it! How amazing is that?! This man is in the United States to run a couple races in hopes of taking the prize money back home to his family. He picked up $2000 in Akron.

The Bible uses the analogy of running a race many times to illustrate how we should live our lives while on this earth. One of my favorite verses is this one, which is a quotation of Paul from one of his letters to his protege, Timothy. He was chained up in a dreary prison at the time, and knew he was near the end of his life:

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day..." (II Timothy 3:7)

Paul is looking back over his years of laboring for the sake of the Gospel, as an athlete who has given his all for the prize.

Now, my brother knew before he started this marathon that he would not even come close to being the fastest runner. He did not let that discourage him from running the race, however, and striving to finish it, in spite of an injured calf. Nor did it bother him that he was 30 years older than the man with the fastest time. He was running according to his own abilities. After months of training and discipline, the satisfaction of finishing well according to his ability was his reward. It was a worthy goal for him. The same can be said, I'm quite sure, of the person who finished with the longest time. What mattered was getting into the race, and doing the very best they could, and with that comes the satisfaction of finishing well.

Isn't that just like life? We all have different abilities and talents. What are we doing with them? We don't need to compare ourselves with others...but we can be developing and using the skills that we each have been uniquely gifted with. That is a worthy goal. And the prize will be, at the end of our lives, to hear those coveted words, "well done, good and faithful servant" (Matt. 25:23).

Way to go, Don! You are, as always, an inspiration to so many...both in running the marathon 10 times, and in the race of life.

Sep 25, 2009

Celebrating 33 years of grace...

September 25, 1976 was a beautiful, sunny fall day, with a hint of summer still lingering in the air. It was also our wedding day, and rather unconventional as far as wedding days go. We were a little older, being 27 and 28, and both of us had been pretty disillusioned from previous relationships, and so when we decided we wanted to get married, we set out to do it simply and "our" way.

We had been high school friends, but had gone our separate ways for almost a decade before we dated seriously for two years. Our little secret is that one Friday night while enjoying pizza, we started playing "footsie" under the table, and, well, the rest is history.

We gave our families exactly 12 days notice of the time and place. We found a preacher, a Reverand Jacobs, who we were told would "marry anybody". He was connected with Kent State University's campus ministry somehow, and we had friends who had used him. We had exactly one pre-marital counseling session with him, which consisted of a little questionnaire he gave us to see if we were compatible. Then we talked about what we wanted the ceremony to look like, and he showed us several formats from a collection in a notebook. As we leafed through them, he told us if we found one we liked but it had "too much God" in it, he could always customize it more to our liking.

We ended up writing our own, changing the traditional vows that say we would stay married "till death do us part" to "as long as our love shall last". We threw in some familiar scripture verses, including the passage from I Corinthians 13 about love. Then we found a friend of a friend who would play some guitar music, and sing some songs from the '70's like "Morning has Broken" and "The Wedding Song". I stopped at a florist on the way to the ceremony and bought some flowers and candles, we had the marriage license, the rings, and we were all set.

Our immediate family and a couple close friends were the only guests in attendance. My parents hosted a small reception in their home, and at my request, my mom made us stuffed cabbage rolls and mashed potatoes, and I can't remember where the cake came from.

We were in the middle of real estate training classes at the time, so we didn't even go away on a honeymoon. Instead, Bob moved into my apartment, which he tolerated for exactly one week, and then we put an offer in on our first little house.

Thus began the journey of our lives together. While we started out thinking we were in full control of our destiny, little did we know that God had a plan for us. Because as you can see from the above description of how we started out, even though we knew better, we were not really acknowledging God's presence in our lives or inviting Him into our marriage. Neither of us were living our lives to God's glory. We just wanted to live happily ever after, but we had no clue how to achieve that.

Looking back, it was really nothing but a recipe for disaster! It always is when we try to put ourselves at the steering wheel. I share all of this because today we can look back and see God's amazing grace has been at work in us in spite of ourselves.

During the first year of our marriage, God put some friends in our lives who invited us to church, a different denomination from the one I had grown up in and felt alienated from, and it was there that God wooed me back to Him right away. It took Bob another year or so. I'll never forget the night the pastor called him and asked if he could come and visit at our home. Bob's answer made me want to crawl under the floorboards: "you're welcome to come and visit, but don't expect me to join your institution." But this faithful minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ came anyway, and he and Bob hit it off right away. Before long, we were attending an"inquirer's class", which was a non-threatening way of saying "Basic Christianity 101".

Bob began reading the Bible from cover to cover, literally. God was at work in both of our hearts. We were surrounded by a group of people from the new church who loved us and taught us. We began to grow spiritually. By the time we were expecting our first child, we drove a stake once and for all that we were committed to living not for ourselves, but for the One who died to save us from ourselves. We received God's gift of grace in our lives and have never looked back. Scripture tells us that God's paths are beyond tracing out. (Romans 11:33) We don't know how He accomplished this in our lives, but we know that He did it. Left to our own devices, our marriage most certainly would have failed. We are so grateful that He saw fit to save us.

The Wedding Song (There is Love)
by Paul Stookey

He is now to be among you at the calling of your hearts
Rest assured this troubadour is acting on His part.
The union of your spirits, here, has caused Him to remain
For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name
There is Love,
there is Love.

A man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home
And they shall travel on to where the two shall be as one.
As it was in the beginning is now and til the end
Woman draws her life from man and gives it back again.
And there is Love,
there is Love.

Well then what's to be the reason for becoming man and wife?
Is it love that brings you here or love that brings you life?
For if loving is the answer, then who's the giving for?
Do you believe in something that you've never seen before?
Oh there is Love,
there is Love.

Oh the marriage of your spirits here has caused Him to remain
For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name
There is Love,
there is Love.

Sep 20, 2009

Five Words...

See full size image

My blogging friend, Pat, has sent me five words that I am to write about. If you would also like to play along, let me know and I in turn will send you five words! OK, let's go!


This week my hubby and I celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary! We were friends in high school, but each went our separate ways for a while after that. The fact that we got together and joined our lives is a miracle with it's own story for another time.

I have no idea how a marriage can survive without God being at the epicenter. A few years ago billboards were popular that proclaimed "messages" from God. One that stuck with me was: "Loved the wedding...invite me to the marriage"--God. Weddings today can be very elaborate events that can cause a lot of stress and cost a lot of money. All the work and preparations are over in a matter of a couple hours. But what is left is the marriage...the union of two lives.

A real marriage happens when each of the parties stop thinking in terms of "I" and start thinking in terms of "We". God has said "the two shall be one".

There is so much more to be said about marriage but in the interest of keeping this short I would like to highlight the book Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. Think about this question from him: "What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?" I believe it is true. Through our marriages, we are to demonstrate to the world what God's love looks like. When marriage vows are broken, a corrupted and inaccurate view of God is displayed.


I am going to have to admit that this word can put me on a guilt trip. I don't often feel like I am a very good neighbor. I have a huge and close extended family and a large church family as well as my own busy life that involve most of my time. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a friendly person. I wave to anyone I see out in the neighborhood, and I'll even chat with them now and then. But I don't feel particularly close to most of my neighbors. The ones we were close to when we were all moving into the new allotment around the same time almost 15 years ago are mostly all gone by now, except for us. Neighborhoods today seem so transitory, and at least for me, it takes time to develop friendships.

In Luke chapter 10, Jesus was asked directly: "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus proceeded to tell the familiar story of the good Samaritan. From this, and from other passages of Scripture that talk about "neighbors" I have concluded that the real definition of "neighbor" has more to do with people whose lives somehow intersect with ours, if even momentarily. In other words, the person standing in front of us at the grocery store can be our "neighbor". How do we act if they are taking a long time or if they don't have enough money to pay? What about the waitress who is serving us at a restaurant, who seems grouchy or unhappy? Do we offer a smile or a kind word, or are we more inclined to report them to management?

"Love your neighbor as much as yourself." I'm working on it.


Now here is a word I really like! i.e. "Smell the aroma of good coffee" or "aromatherapy" (my favorite fragrance being eucalyptus spearmint). II Corinthians 2:15 says that those who are being saved are to God the "aroma of Christ". Whenever our small group meets in our home, I try to remember to pray ahead of time, that the Holy Spirit will fill the rooms with His sweet aroma and that all who enter our home will be blessed. It has been amazing to sense the very presence of God in our midst when this happens.


When I think of this word, I usually think of how far I've moved down the path of life from my own! We used to sing a song in church "Give of your best to the Master, Give of the strength of your youth"...Well ain't THAT the truth! When I look back through the decades and think of all the things I used to be able to do with great ease I am amazed. How did I ever DO all that stuff and still work outside the home and raise a family? I still enjoy doing a holiday dinner for anywhere from 10-30 family and friends, but I'm pretty much toast for at least a week afterwards!

Another way that I look at this word has to do with the way our culture worships youthfulness. I mean look at all the advertising for clothing. I just read that tight legging style stretch pants are coming back into fashion. Well, not for this grandma they aren't!

And with all the health care debate going on in our country, I am beginning to fear the sick and elderly will be regarded as less and less as deserving of expensive medical treatment.

And what I would give to be able to sit with my grandparents or my father just one more time and hear their words of wisdom. Oh that our society could respect and value what the elderly among us could teach us.

Our days of youth can be wonderful and exciting, but they are fleeting. I wouldn't want to go back without the experience and wisdom I've gained through aging, but I sure could use a strong dose of youthful energy!


Here's a word with negative connotations. We see indifference all around us in our world today. Our lives are just too filled up and too busy it seems to really connect with people in a meaningful way. Indifference is like ignoring.

And its not only the development of meaningful relationships that we often ignore, but we are also indifferent to the most obvious things going on in our world. Child abuse, the poor, the handicapped, vulgarity, coarse language, cheating, oh the list could go on forever.

Perhaps the opposite of indifference would be courage. Courage to confront, to get involved, courage to make a difference in someone's life.

Of course we can't change the whole world. But we do have a choice about our reaction to situations within our own sphere of influence. I love the story about the man walking along the beach, picking up star fish that had washed up onto the shoreline, and one by one tossing them back into the water. His friend asked, "Why are you doing that? You think tossing a few of them back to the ocean can make a difference?" The man answered, "well it made a difference for THAT one."

Sep 16, 2009

more on the murder case...

Good morning friends. This is just a quick update on a difficult subject. The clemency hearing for Lawrence Reynolds was held last week in Columbus, OH. Unless something changes, he is due to be executed by the State on October 8.

Regardless of how you feel about the death penalty, would you please pray for everyone who has been touched by this horrible crime, the brutal taking of the life of someone's mother, someone's aunt, someone's grandma. Would you also pray that in what seems to be the last days of the life of the perpetrator, that somehow he would demonstrate true remorse and repentance, and be prepared to meet his Maker. Pray that all involved in any way can find the peace that can only come from God in the coming days.

Sep 15, 2009


I've thought long and hard about what to say in this post, or if I should say anything at all. Without knowing all the history or having a personal acquaintance with the people involved in this story, I'm fearful that readers might make a quick judgment about the circumstances and not see the point I want to make here. But I'm going to proceed anyway.

This past weekend my hubby and I, along with about 150 other folks, gathered for a most unusual celebration. We drove about two hours to get there, but others came from as far away as Florida. God surely smiled down upon this outdoor event, as He caused the weather to be perfect. We, and most other attendees, didn't even know the people whose house (and yard) we were at. There were even some in attendance who had never met the couple who were the object of the celebration.

So what was this all about and what was the common denominator here?

About five years ago, we attended the marriage ceremony of a wonderful young couple, the groom the son of good friends of ours. The wedding and reception were beautiful in every way--a warm, sunny day, a lovely old church, a brass orchestra, a fairy-tale like reception with a sit down dinner--the kind a guest would never forget. Off the newlyweds went to dreamland to live happily ever after!

Both recent (Christian) college graduates, the newly married couple soon embarked on their careers and settled in a new town, found a good church and made friends easily. Life was good.

But a secret sin was lurking in the background of the new husband. It involved an internet indiscretion, an activity that he had engaged in back in college days. The Federal government calls it a felony, and this young man was arrested at the public school where he was teaching. Literally overnight his life was changed forever. After a long, agonizing judicial process, he began serving out a nearly two year prison term in a Federal facility a state away from home.

We were so close to this situation and there are so many details that are impossible to retrace here, and that would only distract from what I really want to say anyway. What I want to proclaim loud and clear is this: When followers of Jesus Christ take His teachings to heart and put them into action, they are being the true Church, the true Body of Christ. There is nothing like it on earth that can compare to this reflection of His love, His compassion, His forgiveness.

Believers from many backgrounds and many geographical locations joined together unrelentingly for several years as members of that mystical Body, to love and support this young couple and their families. We held the tears of a heart-broken mother and father. We sent monthly checks to help support the young wife who was left alone during her husband's incarceration. We prayed around-the-clock for them. We visited; we sent letters of encouragement. They were ever on the hearts and minds of all of us who had the privilege of taking up this cross and helping to bear this burden.

Finally the day of freedom from prison came. Finally the couple would have a chance to celebrate and meet so many who had been there for them in their time of need. It was a day of rejoicing, a day for prayers of thanksgiving. A day that helped us all remember the unmatchable grace of God.

This precious couple still has a long road ahead of them. There is a time of probation and other legal restrictions. A new career path needs to be found. Trust needs to grow. A myriad of unknowns that may await. But God goes before them as they humbly walk with Him down a new path. And the Body of Christ on earth surrounds them. The way it is supposed to be.

"How Beautiful the radiant bride
 Who waits for her Groom with His light in her eyes 
How Beautiful when humble hearts give 
The fruit of pure lives so that others may live 
How beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful 
is the body of Christ..." --Twyla Paris 

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

Galatians 6:2

Sep 13, 2009

Where the pansies never fade?

We made a quick trip to South Carolina over the Labor Day weekend. We've done this several times in the past couple of years. I think it could be my sub-conscious way of extending my summer. When I asked Ellie, my daughter-in-law, what the weather was like, she said there was a "hint of fall"... Well, you couldn't prove it by me; when we arrived at 6:26 pm on Saturday night the temperature was 92 degrees! ("but no humidity" they gleefully explained!) She was pulling out some of her dried up petunias from her flower boxes and replacing them with pansies. The word on the street is they will last at least through January.

Owen is now 20 months old! Just as cute and ornery as ever, as soon as he sees a camera his face automatically breaks into a huge smile!

Sadly, big brother Deacon, 3 1/2, wasn't himself, as he ran a fever for a couple of days while we were there, perking up just hours before we had to leave...

This is how Andy gets to work -- on his vintage 1979 Vespa scooter! The church where he has just finished his first year as Associate Pastor isn't too far away. You can click here to see more about their church and his bio is a good read too :) After you get to the site, click on "leadership", then "staff" then on Andy's picture.

You can also read all about and see pictures of Ellie's bow tie business by clicking here:

We are very proud of this little family and all they have accomplished in the past few years. We hate that they had to move so far away, but it brings us comfort to see God's fingerprints all over every aspect of their lives.

One of the things that Ellie and I have in common is our love to play in the kitchen. I always come home from a visit with a new recipe. She had this waiting for us when we arrived, and it was sooooo good! It's from a Taste of Home magazine.

Italian Beef Sandwiches

1 boneless beef sirloin tip roast (2#) cut into 1/4 inch strips
2 jars (11 1/2 oz. ea) sliced pepperoncinis, undrained
1 small onion, sliced & separated into rings
3 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 can (12 oz.) beer or non-alcoholic beer
Mayonnaise (optional)
8 hoagie buns, split
8 slices provolone cheese

In 5 qt. slow cooker, layer the beef, pepperoncinis and onion; sprinkle with oregano and garlic salt. Pour beer over the top. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or till meat is tender. Spread mayonnaise on cut sides of rolls if desired. Place cheese on bottoms. With slotted spoon, place beef mixture over cheese and fold sandwiches. Use the juice as a dip if desired.

Italian Beef Sandwiches Recipe

Sep 12, 2009

Introducing my 2nd blog...

Good morning, friends...

Yes, I know. I don't have my pictures posted yet from last weekend. I'm getting there...check again soon! I'm trying like crazy to figure out how to get my grandson's video up so you can hear him sing his Z to A's !!!!!

I would also like to invite you to follow my new blog which is dedicated to my dad. You can now find it at

Could one of you more adept bloggers email me with instructions on how to reference both blogs on the sidebars, and also I would like my profile to be accessed by just clicking my picture instead of having it shown on the front page. I'd really appreciate the help. I've already spent way too many hours trying to learn how to do formatting!

We have a very busy weekend here, and will be doing some things I hope to tell you about next week.
Please know that even if I don't always comment, I'm reading you all as much as I can and thoroughly enjoying getting to know you all better.

Many blessings on your day,

Sep 11, 2009

a change of heart...

I was going to be a whiner today and write just these words to explain why I'm so behind in my posting this week: "mom, babysitting, sciatic nerve"

Then I saw a post on Facebook by an old friend of mine who I grew up with. So until I get a chance to catch up with myself, I will leave this for you to ponder as well:

As I was leaving the rec center today after working out, I saw a man with no legs sitting beside the door in his wheelchair. I said "hi, how are you?" and he replied, "I can't complain". Made me think...

Made me think too, Cheri. Thanks for the wake-up call.

"The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble." Proverbs 19:23

Sep 9, 2009

I'm back...

We made a quick trip over the holiday weekend to see the SC kids. I'll post soon and share some pictures. Have a great day!

Sep 4, 2009


Did you ever give someone a gift that you put a lot of thought into, and went to some effort to obtain, only to feel that the recipient was less than thrilled, or worse yet, rejecting of your best effort to do something thoughtful for them?

Maybe it's because one of my personal "love languages" is gifts, but I find that scenario a little hard to take. I love gifts. I love shopping for them, I love giving them, and yes, I love receiving them. I especially love being surprised, and I love thinking of the giver whenever I see, use, or remember the gift. And I really love it when the recipient of my gift is as excited to receive it as I was to give it. It doesn't have to be something big or expensive. It could even be a gift of time. In fact most often much joy comes from the little things in life that tie us to relationships on a daily basis. A gift doesn't have to be expensive to be priceless. In my humanness, I also admit I love thank you's...both giving them and receiving them. That's how I feel about gifts.

I'm reminded of the best gift of all, the gift of eternal life. And the daily blessings that come from the Lord of that life. Humm...have I showed my appreciation and given Him thanks lately? Because Jesus lived the life I could never live and died in my place, and because I accepted this unfathomable gift, the abundance of His blessings will never cease. The gift is really called grace.

I saw a great quote recently: "God's gift to you was life; what you do with your life is your gift to God" (Manuel Diotte).

That reminds me of a children's liturgy that a Sunday School teacher taught my boys when they could barely sit on a little chair:

teacher: "What does the cross mean?" (while pointing to a cross)
children: "God loves us!"
teacher: "And what do the flowers mean?" (while children bring flowers to the altar)
children: "We love God!"
teacher: "And He is here today, He hears each word we say, and listens when we pray."
(followed by a recitation of the Lord's Prayer) A gift is given and a grateful heart receives it and responds.

I love the way John puts it in his gospel (1:16) "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another." I can't help but wonder how the heart of God feels when He has given so much, in fact His all, to bestow the gift of eternal blessing for those He loves so much, and yet so many ignore, disregard, or reject it. There is no way I could be given a beautifully wrapped gift and sit it in the corner and not open it! Luke tells us there is great rejoicing in heaven over even one sinner who repents (15:7) and embraces God's gift.

I'm counting my blessings today; won't you join me?

" shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?..." (Heb. 2:3)

Sep 1, 2009

Sextuplets go off to school...

As a follow-up to my post of August 23, '09 "Party of Nine" about Ohio's only sextuplets, please click the link and see the story that was in our local paper this week. And don't forget to check out the pictures.