My Grace Notes

This post was inspired my good friend Lady Barefoot Baroness at If you have not read her blog check it out today. She has lots of inspiration for you!

The premise here is to describe your life in 4 or 5 musical choices. Here is my musical description:

My childhood was filled with encouragement to imagine and think. My father often said “I don’t care what you believe but I won’t let you just regurgitate someone else’s beliefs. If your going to believe something,J, know why you believe it!”

While Dad wasn’t completely truthful with his statement about caring (he wasn’t thrilled with my choice to become a practicing Christian) I will forever be thankful that he required me to be able to defend what I believed.

Charlie Brown was my first musical role if you don’t count playing Joseph in school pageants (that was back in the day when the birth of Christ was still allowed in public school).  I was in eighth grade. I didn’t realize how this one song would set my course for the remainder of my school days.

I was the “Wimpy Kid” through most of my high school career. I was labeled “Jesus Boy” and “the Band Fag” (that last one was a name all instrument players got from our good friends on the football team). For the most part I didn’t mind the labels.  I took the comments as persecution for doing and being something that few others had the guts to do or be. I determined to just keep running kite in hand until I graduated. Then I hit my stride.

I learned about “The Piano Guys” just a week ago from Deb, another blogger friend of mine. Check out her work at and Since I heard them I have been listening incessantly to their beautifully complicated arrangements.

The last twenty-five years have gone by in such a rush. I can’t point to one thing  that I would say is THE BLESSING of those years. So much has happened: marriage, children, four or five different career paths, ministry and miracles galore! God has done so many wonderful things for me and each blessing has played its part in making life a beautiful song for the world to hear Jesus through.

I have learned that the river of life cuts deep wounds into all of our lives. No one is exempt from the cutting. It has happened to you and it has happened to me.  While we have no choice about receiving the wounds, we can choose what fills them.The gorges of our pain can run with the waters of bitterness or blessing. God has helped me to keep my eyes fixed on Him in praise through it all.

I don’t know exactly where my life is going to take me. I don’t know what adventure lies beyond this morning’s sunrise.  But I’m secure in the knowledge that my ultimate end is Heaven. Between here and there and beyond even that this eternal life promises to be a great adventure!

Please! Please! Please! share your Grace notes in a post and link back to this site so I can read them!

Birthday Thunder

While Amanda’s birthday was in  April she opted for delayed gratification so that Tina and I could give her a night of Ireland. So last Saturday, after our September artist’s gathering, the three of us headed off to Boston for that evening of celtic wonder.

We started with dinner just off Government Center, at Kinsale’s Irish Pub. After the Fenian Pasta, a huge piece of chocolate guiness cake and a strong cup of Irish Joe (to refresh me after the early morning and a busy day with artists and musicians), we headed up Tremont Street to see Celtic Thunder perform  their one night in the city! I am a die-hard Thunderhead. It turns out so is the dean of student life at my daughter’s college. The dean ended up standing next to us in line as we waited for our section to open up!…Small world! Amanda was really glad she was in dress code. 🙂

A good time was had by all and I even managed to snap a few shots of the city while we were at it.

Lights in the city By JE Lillie

Celtic Pillars by JE Lillie

Boston Tea Party by JE Lillie

Neon Lobby by JE Lillie

Faces Looking Down by JE Lillie

Lights at the Wang by JE LIllie

City Scape by JE Lillie

gods of the mezzinine by Je LIllie

The Netherlands Pt. 5: Alkmaar

On this trip to The Netherlands I stayed well to the West of the country. I stayed in Womerveer which is northish of Amsterdam and travelled as far North as Alkmaar and as far west as Haarlem.

Until you have been to Holland it is hard to fully comprehend the national appreciation for two things: chocolate and cheese. So Brenda  planned in a day for us to see the cheese show and market in Alkmaar.  You may laugh a little but honestly how could a country with a city named Gouda ( pronounced howda with a guttural  at the front) not be fully dedicated to cheese?

Alkmaar is a beautiful old world city dedicated to cheese!

The most prominent building in the square is the cheese museum

I bet there were 500 people gathered for the cheese show

The man in the orange heart is “The Cheese Father”. Honorary leader of the cheese show!

We arrived a half hour early for the cheese show and it’s a good thing we did. By the time the show started (which by the way is translated from Dutch into English, German and French) people were standing 4 or 5 deep. Some lady used Brenda’s head as a tripod to take pictures!

The Cheese Maidens!

The Cheese Inspectors inspect the cheese to make sure it is mature. No really that is the job. That and giving out samples. So yummy!

The Cheese Racers load their cheese sleds with Gouda and take it to the weighing house.

The Cheese Judge weighs and records the cheese

The Cheese Racers then take the cheese off of the scale and run it wagons to be taken to market.

I am assuming that at the end of the race the team which clears the most cheese wins. But you cannot prove this by me. We left after 45 minutes of cheese racing. There was coffee to drink, shopping to shop and pictures to take.

An open air cafe on a cool and windy day

Back street shops, Alkmaar

Brenda on the canal bridge, Alkmaar
Cheese Museum in background



Alkmaar is reachable from Wormerveer by a forty-five minute train ride. If you go make sure you hit the city on market day. Take in the cheese show. Drink a capuccino.Take in a nice restaraunt and shop the artist’s  market which I thought kept pace with the art markets on Museumplein in Amsterdam. What a great day! Thanks Sis!

The Netherlands Pt. 4: The Many Faces of Brenda

Of course I love to travel. Seeing new places is one of my great joys. But my trip to Holland was not primarily about Holland. I never would have thought to travel there had my sister not moved. Brenda is in Holland assisting missionary Judy Mensch with a theater project. You see, my sister is both a Rev. and a professional stage manager; So she certainly fits the bill for this calling. If you would like more info on Judy and Brenda’s project go to

Life’s a play. And it’s a comedy!

Brenda by” Fishing For Souls”

I thought it fitting to get a picture of Brenda by this picture since it is her purpose in Holland. From here however our museum journey quickly devolved into madness!

Brenda by “Portrait of a Dead Bunny”

Brenda saying “Don’t eat fruit that looks like this.”

Bugs on fruit

Brenda and the “Angry Swan”

Brenda has made many new friends in the church.

Brenda and Judy Mensch

Brenda and friends Willem and Mirjam Jackson with son Ian

Brenda and Friend Mona Lichtenveldt at a cafe in Haarlem

Brenda and friend The Dutch Leprechaun

So as you can see, Brenda is adjusting well and meeting many new and wonderful people. Still no one can quite replace her big brother.

Brenda saying good-bye


Melanie’s Journey Pt. 2

So this week Melanie and her team have been busy with a painting project. They have also spent some time speaking with students from elementary school to junior high about American culture. Mel and her companions have also attended lectures on the worldwide issue of human trafficking.

Melanie has been greatly impacted by the need for children to provide for their families. She mentioned how the team had met a little boy trying to sell flowers in the driving rain to earn money for food.

The harvest is great and the laborers are few. Pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth more laborers! Also pray for a young lady Melanie had an opportunity to speak with who is interested in Christianity.

Thanks for being part of the prayer team!

The conveyor belt restraunt. You pick what you want off the plate and throw it into the stew.

The stew the team made!

Rambutan! It’s a fruit or so they tell me!

Share Your World With Cee Cee Pt. 13

Wow! What great questions Cee Cee has posed this week!

  1. What made you smile today?
    Today was my daughter, Amanda’s, first Sunday as lead teacher in the children’s church. During one portion of the service when the children were playing a game she got the group cheering for their teams so loudly it came right up through the floor boards into the sanctuary. Our whole section was laughing in the middle of the sermon.
  2. Have any hidden talents?  I can roll my tongue. All my other talents are pretty much out there for everyone to see.
  3. Are you usually late, early, or right on time? Oh so early. First in last out is my mantra!
  4. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?  For me the difference between being alive and truly living is two-fold: The first fold in the napkin of life has been coming to know Jesus as my best friend, hero and leader. Putting all my eggs in the Jesus basket was the best decision I ever made.The second fold in the napkin of life has been learning that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” I Tim 6:6. It’s not what I have or what  situation I am in but WHO I am in it with that counts!                                                                                               Here are some more pictures from Thailand:

Joe’s Journey Pt. 1

Joe made it safely to Bangkok! He has had a few days to recuperate from jetlag before the festivities begin. He has been reading Dr. Butrin’s book from The Roots Up, 

and exploring the market street. Joe has a unique ability to make friends wherever he goes. God told me long ago that this gift would serve him well in the service of the King! Thank you for your continued prayers for his journey!

New Endeavors

Life is full of change. This next month shall be veritably overflowing with it!

I said “Bu-bye” to my youngest last week as she embarked on her summer internship in Thailand. Soon I shall be posting updates on her perspective of the world from Chang Mai province.

A few days ago I said another “Ciao” to my son who is on his way to a  summer internship in Myanmar! You sill be seeing lots of pictures from the Far East in the weeks to come.

My daughter Amanda has just started a new job in a nearby town and will be teaching children’s church here at Cornerstone with me 🙂 (God knew I probably couldn’t handle all three out of country at once).

And then this month I have the awesome privilege of travelling to The Netherlands to visit my sister who is working as a missionary associate there!

So …yeah… lots of change which will bring lots of pictures. At least Cee Cee will be happy I can stop posting pictures of broken trees! 🙂

Pastor Wrinkles: What I Learned From Pictures

2011 was a year of many changes for me. It was also the first full year of learning how to put pictures on “Reinventing the We’ll.”  Let’s see what happened shall we?

In January I moved back to my childhood home.

You may remember my fight with the black berries at Muddy’s house. in the spring.








And the building of the “Pseudo-Elizabethan” garden. I learned that reclaiming and rebuilding territory is not a quick process.






In June I was relieved of my duties as interim youth pastor by one of my students who was newly credentialed and married. I am so blessed to have Pastor Brad and his wife Cassie on board!

 I got a great gift out of the deal and a name that has served me well since! I learned God wastes nothing, not even a good joke.


All three kids came home for a brief visit this summer. They still call this home but more and more their lives seem to be elsewhere.



I got to visit my brother-in-law and sister-in-law at their home in Maine…my first alone vacation. Weird! Yet in the midst of all the changes I learned that  family will always be family.


 These lessons all came between the wild storms of course!




I have wondered often about the clouds this year. What do they speak about our future? I can only say that change is definitely in the wind!


That notion of course was totally borne out by the fact that Christmas came at Halloween both outside and in. We had to celebrate early! After all Duddy was moving to Amsterdam to begin her career as a missionary.

So lots of changes in 2011. Virtually nothing went untouched. Some of the changes I am barely ready to look at…others I have embraced and walked into; Most I am still on the fence about. Truthfully though how I feel about ’em doesn’t really matter. I can take the snapshot and freeze forever the memory of the moment but in the end the picture is not life. No… life is that thing that draws us on into the unknown. It’s the thing we haven’t seen or photographed yet. Life makes us stand on the precious resources of memory and experience so that we may reach the hopes and possibilities it holds out to us.

     As I look at the year in pictures I see a year I never could have predicted. I guess I have learned to better hold my breath because prophet that I am I have no idea what adventure lies around the next corner.