Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Life in Ecuador

Wow, I looked at the date of my last post and shrieked, "Where did the time go?"

Life (as I knew it) has changed drastically! We are moving to Cuenca, Ecuador to retire (well...sort of). Mark will be retired (taking afternoon siestas) and I will still be writing. I think my next novel should be, "Live, Eat, Pray and Laugh" because these last few months have been filled with a lot of that!

Our youngest son gets married on May 30, 2010 and we leave for Ecuador on June 3, 2010. Jon and Kim leave for their Jamaican honeymoon and we leave for our "forever" Ecuadorian honeymoon. The decision to retire in Ecuador was easy: cost of living, climate (perpetual spring 50 to 70 degrees year round), the people, the awesome landscape (Andes mountains), and the fact that we didn't want to retire and do the "normal" thing!

It's been an adventure thus far, but I wouldn't suggest: selling a house, packing, finishing a book, and planning a wedding all at the same time. Our house sold in two weeks (for which we are grateful). We are bringing only four suitcases with us (two a piece). We have a furnished condo awaiting us on the other side!

My books, Moms of Sons and Coffee Lover's Devotions to Go are with the publisher and I am awaiting their release. They withheld Moms of Sons until I get settled in Ecuador. The great thing about being a can do it anywhere in the world.

So this isn't goodbye...just hasta luego (for now). If you want to follow our adeventure you can "tune" into:

Living Life Passionately,


Friday, March 05, 2010

The Heart of Mentoring

Last weekend, I had the privilege of being part of Tapestry Ministries with Chelten Baptist Church in Ambler, Pennsylvania. The event was held at the lovely Talamore Country Club which was "dressed up" for spring. The women's ministry team did a fantastic job of making the day retreat a memorable event by providing a hint of spring in every corner of the huge ballroom. I could almost smell the daffodils.

At the heart of the event was the theme of mentoring. I had the privilege of presenting two of my favorite topics: "The Seven Friends Every Woman Needs" and "Called Alongside: Sharing the Joys of a Mentoring Relationship." Afterwards, two of the women shared what mentoring meant for them! I'm always blessed when I can hear testimonies of how a mentoring relationship is fleshed out in the lives of women.

Women's Mentoring Ministries was founded on the principle of helping churches develop a mentoring program and build stronger leadership teams. How wonderful to see a church who has done that. Immediately, I could tell their ministry team works well together and their mentoring ministry is a success.
While my husband was in Ecuador finding us a place to live, I was soaking up the fellowship of women who had a heart for mentoring and who believed in the concept of women coming alongside one another to help them through the twists and turns in life.

I wish you all could have been there to soak up the joy, experience the excitement, and the fellowship we enjoyed. Click here to see some photos of the day taken by Leah (my camera was with my hubby in Cuenca, Ecuador).

The heart of mentoring is about women willing to share their lives (flaws and all!) so that they can learn and grow from one another. I'm thankful for the mentors in my life who were willing to be vulnerable and to share their life with me.

Living Life Passionately,

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Cup of Comfort!

A Cup of Comfort of Bible Promises is due out March 18, 2010, but my story was submitted in 2007 -- that was THREE years ago!

Last week, I signed contracts for two books in the Chicken Soup series that are due out in spring/summer 2010 and those were submitted in September 2009.

Hurry up and wait is the phrase you need to get used to in publishing. There are many reasons for a book to be delayed and some of them are cost-cutting measures (yes, we're in a recession!), but when you have a story that you've been "sitting" on and waiting to be "birthed" -- it sure is hard to wait!

I look forward to sharing my story with you; it's one of my favorites. It was how God was faithful to His promises and provided for us before we left for Sicily as missionaries.

It's not surprising as we begin this new chapter in our lives (going to Ecuador) that God would postpone the printing of this story for such a time as this (maybe we needed a refresher course!).

Sometimes we all need to take a "cup of comfort" in the stories of our lives and revel in the fact that God's promises are just as real today as they were yesterday!

Leave a comment on one of your favorite Bible promises and I'll enter you in the drawing for the book -- scheduled to be released March 18, 2010.

Living Life Passionately,

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Record Snowstorm and Changes!

The sun is out after the blizzard!

We had a record 36 inches of snow for the month of February -- we broke all the records for the month of February (and it's not even over yet!).

We received two storms -- back to back and another one is headed our way next week. I hope they're wrong about that one!
We are slowly digging out, but life has come to a halt. My hubby has five days until retirement and I think the remainder of those days are going to be spent at home! And then comes our new life. I wasn't going to share what it was until I knew for certain, but who knows if anything is for certain -- right?

I've started a blog regarding our journey and I planned to reveal it once my hubby returned from his exploratory trip (February 24 - March 3, 2010), but since he already spilled the beans on Facebook I might as well share it here and link you to my new blog "Living and Retiring in Ecuador." Yep, you heard me right -- we are planning to retire in Cuenca, Ecuador!

Cuenca what?

I know... I thought the same thing, but as many "ex-patriots" have made the journey before us, it doesn't seem as crazy or far-fetched as it did in the beginning. Ecuador's currency is the US Dollar, the electric is 120 volts (same as the US), and Cuenca was rated the "#1 place" to retire in the world by International Living, beating out Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, and Italy!

A person can live well on $500 a month (excluding rent). If you figure that property taxes are $30 a year and electric is $3.00 a month, you can see that it is a hopping place for retirees. At present we are applying for our resident visas, which shouldn't take longer than 60 days once we get all the necessary documentation. Ours will be a pensioner's visa which means we can support ourselves on our pension alone.

Cuenca is regarded as an UNESCO Heritage site, filled with Spanish colonial architecture, cobblestoned streets, balconies bedeckled with flowering pots, and a view of the Southern Andes (Cuenca is 8,500 feet in altitude). There are modern shopping malls (Mall del Rio) filled with all the modern stores we have in the States and "yes" even PayLess Shoes and Kentucky Fried Chicken (I don't even eat fast-food in the States!). There are modern theaters (one is a 10-screen cineplex that shows only English-speaking movies) and even modern supermarkets (SuperMaxi) and SuKasa which is HomeDepot, Lowes, and Cosco all rolled up into one.

Ecuador is still considered a third-world country, I guess because you can ride the bus all day for 25 cents or take a taxi from one part of town to the other for $5.00 (the absolute most that can be charged). Or the fact that there is a 5-star hotel (El Dorado) in the center of town, an Austrian Tea House, WiFi on every corner, and "yes" there is "perpetual spring." There are only two seasons: spring and spring! Average temperatures range in the 80's during the day and 50's at night.

Americans are flocking to this place to buy up property. A modern condo runs around 30K; however, we will rent for a while until we decide on a suitable place to buy (probably the west side of town with a few of the Andes in the foreground). Actually, the "mountains" are called the southern and northern sierras and we will be living in the "southern sierras."

So what does our family think of this? Actually, I think they were shocked in the beginning, but now that they know we have four modern hospitals (one is an American Hospital), and more conveniences than I have in the States I think they will be paying us a visit!

And what about my writing? Well, I will probably still write, but about my adventures in Ecuador because we plan to do some traveling in this amazing country, including the Galapagos Islands. I've been asked to blog for a travel site on Ecuador and to be "editor" for the "How-to" section of an Internet blog site, but for now I am going to try to finish my book, "Coffee Lover's Devotions to Go" and start packing. I gave Mark permission to rent something while he is on his exploratory trip (we will be communicating through Skype).

Did I mention there is a church of 4,000 people (Calvary Chapel) and a Bible Institute in Spanish and English, so we are going to volunteer our time. Yes, we were former missionaries and Bible College graduates!

Who says that retirement has to be boring? We're starting a new adventure. So the blizzard of 2010 is bringing lots of change for us...good changes!

Living Life Passionately,

Monday, January 11, 2010

Living the Passionate Life List

This past week has been interesting! My hubby went in the hospital last Sunday for emergency back surgery which took place on Tuesday and he was released on Wednesday. And I have been his nurse for a week -- almost! This infrequent blogger has now gone two weeks without blogging; if there's a record...I've already won it!

This picture was taken right before Mark went into surgery; he wouldn't take off his wedding band, so they taped it on him!

I've spent my share of time in hospital waiting rooms and I hope that will be it for a while.

But I did get a lot of reading and writing done for "Coffee Lover's Devotions to Go!" And "yes" there are some hosptial coffee stories in there as well.

In researching one of the stories, I came across my "Passionate To-Do List" that was made after I was diagnosed with cancer. So many have e-mailed me through the years and asked what I had written down for the 27 things I wanted to do before I died, so I thought this new year of 2010 would be a good time to share it with you in hopes that you can make a list as well. This is not a New Year's resoltion type of list, but a long-term sustainable goal list. These were randomly written, so make sure that you don't linger too long (your heart will guide you!).

This list was written in 1996, so here goes:

1. Take a cruise.

2. Write a book.

3. Go back to Italy to visit friends.

4. Go to Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park).

5. See Jeremy graduate from high school.

6. See Jon graduate from high school.

7. See my boys through safe passage into adulthood.

8. Take a trip to Bermuda.

9. Volunteer my time and efforts into Relay for Life.

10. Give workshops on what to say and how to help someone through the cancer journey.

11. Start Women's Mentoring Ministries.

12. Run a 10k race.

13. Spend a weekend alone in Cape May, New Jersey and take pictures of the sunset.

14. Give education classses to resident physicans on what to say to newly diagnosed cancer patients.

15. Live for five years cancer free.

16. Live each day in the present moment.

17. Never miss a sunset

18. Go to Venice, Italy with my hubby.

19. Secure Life Insurance as a cancer survivor.

20. Start an Internet Gift Basket Company for cancer surivors.

21. Grow a rose garden.

22. Teach Italian.

23. Never let a day go by without being thankful for life!

24. See Jeremy graduate from college.

25. See Jon graduate from college.

26. Read the Bible through each year for the rest of my life!

27. See one of my son's get married!

Jon and Kim will be married on May 30, 2010! Am I making a new list? Yep, it's already done, but it's a little different than the original (quite a bit different!). Blessings for a great 2010!

Living Life Passionately,

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

I need to rename my blog -- "The Infrequent Blogger." It seems that I'm posting only on holidays...Christmas and New Year's Eve!

Where did this year go? Are you asking yourself the same question?

It's good that we have a moment of reflection each year to re-evaluate our purpose and maybe throw out some of the things in our agenda that don't fit with what God would have us to do.

I'm in the process of sifting through priorities and asking God for wisdom. This will be a life-changing year in so many ways: a son who is getting married on May 30, 2010; my husband who is retiring and entering a new phase of his life; a book coming out in the spring (Moms of Sons), and working on another one (Coffee Lover's Devotions to Go).

It's been a year of travel with my dear friend, Kathy Pride and her mom, Val. What memories we've had along the way (and Austria was by far the best part of the "world" tour!).

To see the snow-covered alps greet us each morning was breathtaking. It made me want to re-think my career and become a travel writer. Then my knee gave out and I thought, "Maybe I should just sit still for a while." And while I was "sitting" my hubby's back gave out (just as he was recovering from surgery #2 for his broken hip). Two days before that we discussed retiring in Quito, Ecuador! There's something in my spirit that screams "adventure," but then reality sets in...we're not getting any younger!

I'm excited for 2010, but I'm also pausing to be grateful for the opportunities that God has given me in 2009 to minister, to travel, to write, and to do the things that I love the most. What a joy, what a privilege, and what an honor to be able to wake up every morning and know that I'm doing exactly what I've always wanted to do!

I want to leave you with a bit of wisdom for 2010. Remember to always have a "Plan B" -- just in case!

Wishing you a joyous and prosperous New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Everyone is in bed and its 12:26 AM -- officially Christmas Day -- and here I am at the computer wishing my cyber friends Merry Christmas. We had a lovely Christmas Eve Service and a time of opening gifts at our home with family. I thought I would share with you in pictures our day because I'm just too exhausted to do much more. So Merry Christmas everyone and have a blessed day with your loved ones and family.

Merry Christmas!