Friday, November 30, 2007

Christmas Frugality pt. 1

Creative Packaging
On Nov. 25th, Taya over at Pure Joy has asked for our ideas for frugal Christmas decorating and gifts, so keep checking out the posts as more come in to her Mr. Linky. She also has more ideas in some of her later blog posts.
Here is one of mine, and I will have more later too, so check back.
An old reliable gift idea (and probably for you too) has always been home baked treats. But the creative way you package it can make it even more special. I will search any Goodwill, Salvation Army, flea markets, yard sales and Dollar stores. Look for these items in the proper size to fit the food you plan to give whether it be baked goodies, preserves or sauces, aromatic vinegars & oils, candies or flavored nuts, etc...
1. decorator tins with lids - with no rust spot
2. Wrap treat in a festive kitchen towel and tie it shut with ribbon.
3. any kind of basket - set it on a long length of cellophane (or plastic wrap), gather the ends together over the top to tie curly ribbon around it (like an Easter basket)
4. a festive bowl, or large mug - also wrap as in #2, or put in gift bag
5. a used Christmas cookie jar that can hold treats just for the holidays
6. wrap up your baked item and add it to a basket with some utinsils that the recipient can use to make the treat them self later on (add the recipe).
7. check out store isles for stockers emptying boxes ready to be discarded. Look for the right size boxes you need for your "gift baskets" (usually small-average, and shallow). Wrap the box with Christmas paper, fill with crumpled Christmas tissue, add your treat gift and then also wrap it all up together in cellophane and curly ribbon as in #2.
8. a small decorative storage box that matches the decor of one room in their house, so when the treats are gone they have a second gift for decorative storage.

Maybe these few ideas will stimulate your creative juices to think of more yourself.
Be sure to come back to check out my ideas for homemade craft gifts. If you also have ideas, share them at Pure Joy's November 25th post, and check out everyone else's ideas too.
There are lots of websites dedicated to Christmas ideas for handmade gifts and decorations, just google those words. Here is just one that I thought had some cute ideas for children as well as adults.

Frugality is not only good for your checkbook, but also good for stretching your creativity, and learning to resist paying full price for things that you can find cheaper. God instructs us in His word to be a good steward of the money He has put in our hands (Matt.25:15). So the further we can stretch it the more we will have to help others when needs arise (Acts 20:35).
Mat 25:15 "To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability;
Acts 20:35 "In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas Ornament Exchange Received

What a surprise! I've already received my ornament for the Christmas ornament exchange I signed up for over at The Open Window, on Nov. 16.
the participants were paired up to mail to each other by Dec. 7, so I wasn't expecting it until after then. I guess not everyone is a procrastinator like me.
This ornament also came wrapped in a festive appliqu├ęd kitchen towel. Thank you Aimee for your thoughtfulness, and promptness.
Sorry mine will be a little slower to you as I've ordered it through the mail. I hope it will represent one of your interests.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Workin' Man

We didn't really know if our son Stephen (Stevie) would ever have a job. Though we did have that hope, because shortly after he was born we attended some Down Syndrome support group meetings in my area and heard testimonies and saw films of the achievements of Down syndrome adults. We started Stephen at a rehab center for mental disabilities when he was just 6mo old at the request of his doctor. I went with him for the first year there, learning the excersizes and diligently following through at home. In public school I opted to keep him in the special ed classes up through high school, though it was frowned upon by some of the other members of the support group who promoted integration and were trying to eliminate special education classes. I knew the extra challenges work good for many mentally handicapped, but I did not think it would work for his personality and disposition, and he thrived there, also making friends with the "normal" students. Stephen now has the temperament of a 5yr old, but some of his ability levels are close to 7yrs. He got to stay in school until he reached 21. A job coach assigned to his class assessed him for learning different types of jobs during his last year. Such as volunteering at the public library 1 hr a week and helping in the school cafeteria. After graduation I got him on a waiting list for a job coach to find a regular job according to his ability. He had a couple of working interviews before the coach found one that I would agree he could deal with. Sweeping popcorn at the cinema. I was unsure that he could do the hardest part of the job which was to follow a team of co-workers into each individual room after the movie was done and the people cleared out, and VERY QUICKLY get down on knees to hand sweep popcorn, etc, from under the seats. There are lots of short breaks between movies to rest, and sometimes he just hands out 3D glasses or helps the ticket taker. It took a few nights before we decided that it wasn't too much for him since he would start with only 2hrs a night, only 2 days a week. He didn't dislike it too much (got more used to it later) and he got to know his co-workers who help keep an eye on what he is supposed to be doing, along with his boss of course. He loves getting a pay check and now at age 24 he tells his friends "I a workin' man". a book
a nice story

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Faith of Our Brothers (And Sisters)

Okay, another Christian biography. Well, this one wasn't in book form because she was a very early martyr, probably no record of her life before her martyrdom. Perpetua wrote of her account while imprisoned, and another wrote the account of her death in the gladiators forum. I know, stories of martyrs sounds gross to some people, but I think it is good for Christians to occasionally read one or two. Just like the faith chapter, Hebrews 11, these are accounts of great faith for us to admire and strive for. They also help remind us not to become attached to this temporary world and be prepared to leave it all behind when it's our turn to enter eternity. I hope I will have a fraction of the faith to leave a godly testimony for others to remember when the days He has numbered for me have come to an end.
Fox's book of martyrs doesn't always have much of a story along with the lists of the very early martyrs, but sometimes you can find more story elsewhere by finding the name of the person you want in Fox's and then googling that name with the word martyr. I found several sites for Perpetua, and then found the one with the most information. If you know of an easier way to find martyr stories with the most information please let me know. Here is the one I found for Perpetua
And here is Fox's.
Martyr's hymns #1 #2

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving: Lost in the Shuffle

Steve, Stevie & I had a nice relaxing Thanksgiving since Deliverance and Josh invited us to their new place. Bonnie & Alan, good friends of ours, offered to rent them the house they are trying to sell, and at a big discount. Since Deliverance & Josh are in transition right now after moving back from Scotland and trying to find jobs, this will be a relief until either the house gets sold or Josh gets accepted for a church staff job somewhere (hopefully not too far).
I had thoughts, as I do every year, of the many family gatherings in past years, and all the things there have been to be thankful for. I think for most families that is still what they look forward to on Thanksgiving.
Although, for a lot of families, the itinerary for Thanksgiving Day has really changed since our grandparents' time. In order to "get in the black", retailers have always had their BIG sale ads come out on Thanksgiving morning, and many would spend the morning planning out their strategy for the next day, Black
Friday, but Red Friday for the consumer who on average don't get those purchases paid off until October. People make sure they are at their favorite stores as soon as the doors open so they can snatch up their products before the limited quantities are gone.
T his was how we did it up until around 20 years ago. Gradually, every few years, stores started having their sales earlier causing "camp outs" at the doors on Thanksgiving night. Well, now many stores are having pre-Black Friday sales, all day on Thanksgiving, when most stores used to be closed, tempting families to give up the Holiday and go from sale to sale.
I've never had much to say against the Black Friday sales other than there wouldn't be enough of a savings to entice me to fight the traffic, crowds and no parking spaces. But Thanksgiving Day sales DO get under my skin. Merchants are asking us to give up what this special day represents, which is to set that day aside from busy schedules and other activities, so that we can can set our mind on remembering and being grateful for our blessings, and hopefully to share it with friends and loved ones. Kind of like a Fast from our self-oriented lives.

I think merchants would prefer to do without Thanksgiving Day, as it interferes with getting the Christmas items out on the shelves earlier. I would love it if they moved Thanksgiving to October (and down-play Halloween, which is not a meaningful holiday anyway), then it wouldn't be obliterated by Christmas merchandising. I fear it is inevitable that some day Thanksgiving Day will get lost in the shuffle, but we each personally can decide to make it a day that's set apart anyway, if we really want.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks Thursday

Today, probably more than most other days, I think about the many blessings in my life. Of course everyone is thankful for the obvious good things; food, clothing, shelter, job, health, loved ones. It took me some years before understanding that God also wants me to thank Him for trials, too. There are so many examples of Christians that have gone through tragic experiences, even unto death, and have had a testimony of gratefulness for them. Not focusing on the anguish, but on the faith they gain. The most famous example for today's theme would be the Pilgrims. Their losses and hardships were extreme and look at their reputation of gratitude. When bad things make me run to God, read His word and pray "without ceasing", even though my world gets crushed and I may never understand why, He assures me that it is for my spiritual welfare (Romans 8:28), so I really can thank Him for EVERYTHING.

Ephesians 5:20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God;

1Thess. 5:16-18 Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 12:11
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Psalm 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Story Behind the Hymn #1- Now Thank We All Our God

Now Thank We All Our God
Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices
Who wondrous things hath done, in Whom His world rejoices;
Who from our mother's arms, hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love and still is ours today.

Oh may this bounteous God through all our life be near us
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace and guide us when perplexed
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given'
The son and Him who reigns with them in highest heaven-
The one eternal God whom heav'n and earth adore;
For thus is was, is now, and shall be evermore

Martin Rinkart became a Lutheran pastor in Eilenberg, Germany at age 31, just as the terrible Thirty Years War, involving most European countries, was beginning. Being a walled city it was a political and military refuge becoming extremely overcrowded. This caused pestilence and famine, adding even more to the deaths caused by army attacks. One year before the wars were over, Rinkart was the only minister left in Eilenberg, having to conduct 50 funerals per day (including his wife's). Germany's population was reduced by 30%, 1/2 of all males, 1/3 of all towns. The Rinkart home was a refuge for victims even though there was very little for his own children and after mortgaging his future income for several years. At times 30-40 citizens could be seen brawling in the street over one crow (no, not a cow). Rinkart's health and faith remained strong, the hymns he composed during this time conveyed trust and thanks. He died shortly after peace came. To think that this long time of devastation was this mans whole ministry. He had to have constantly drown himself in his knowledge of his Savior in order to be an encouraging shepherd to his sorrowful flock, and eventually to what was left of the the city's population. Someone who had the courage to intercede for the impoverished against conquering commanders. It would seem to us that he had little to thank God for, but look at the words to this hymn he wrote. Among the years of utter devastation he still must have also seen some wondrous things, experienced love, found joy, felt peace, received guidance, adored his Lord and anticipated heaven. Having this example before me, there is no reason that I cannot always have an attitude of gratitude.
If you want to hear the song go

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Who Needs Fixing?

We all have times of feeling totally helpless. Either so frustrated at not being able to change something that our anger gets out of control, or so scared we feel like we're freefalling. Sometimes all trust of God having control, and any concern for our Christian example seems to allude us at that moment, leaving some regrets about that when the "episode" is over .
But everyone's life also has issues that don't end, and we are meant to benefit from having them. We have the choice to play the hand we're dealt or live in bitterness. To learn to trust that God is planning out our lives along-side these struggles or to create ourselves a shroud of self pity. I'm not saying I don't indulge in fear or anger at first thought of hardship, I do still have a human nature to battle, and each battle has it's own meaningful results.
Like when I finally realized that our Down Syndrome son Stephen was not going to "grow out of it" just because I insisted that everyone treat him like a normal baby. It seemed like the only thing I could do to force him to be what I thought he should be, when in fact it was denial. We did meet with our pastor and deacon board a couple of times for anointing and healing prayer. It's hard to accept it when God doesn't dumb-down His plans to agree with ours. I knew God didn't want me to waste my life hoping He would change His mind about how He saw fit to fashion Stevie, but to thankfully accept him as the gift that children are intended, from a wise creator who doesn't need me to tell Him how things should be. Stevie will be healed as all those redeemed will be, and in the meantime I can choose to either be disappointed with God and my life, or get past it, knowing He is sovereign and doesn't make mistakes; to examine my faith and find out if it is strong enough to surrender to His purpose. A purpose I wouldn't comprehend even if He did clue me in to it.

We were enjoying our easy, "normal" life with a very undemanding little girl when the Lord knew that our lives were going to benefit from this new challenge. He knew ...of the blessings of sweetness from our childs' simplicity ...the rewards from the struggles for his accomplishments ...that our fears would fade into adjustment and discovery ...and would learn to be thankful for things that some can't understand.
Stephens' Creator already planned that everything Deliverance would learn to deal with in those years growing up with a disabled brother would be shaping her character as well, and adding those dimensions to her life that we all instinctively kick against at first, because He was her Creator, too. Her life was not meant to be shielded from unpleasantries. Even if you ignore someone or something in your life, it is still there. As parents we want to smooth their way but we couldn't take the bumps out of a road we weren't familiar with. We had to realize it was God's purpose to effect her life as well. We hoped she would learn to find blessings and become strong from the winds she would have to sway with. I'm sure she has felt second to our concerns for Stevie's life, every sibling does at times, but each child has put us through the ringer just as much as the other. For each one we have a different kind of prayer, concern, joy, pride. Through each stage of her life Steve & I have often wondered why we had been so undeservedly blessed with such a daughter. Sometimes it's a whole discussion in itself. We think God has been molding her nicely and even though she has doubted it at times, Stevie has always relished her attention. From the time Deliverance was born we had prayed every night for the boy God was bringing up to be her husband, if that is what He planned for her. Joshua has been such a big asset to our family in may ways that we can't help but love and admire him, but since this story is about Stevie I will only emphasize that Josh means the world to him. That alone says a lot about our son-in-law.

This would be another kind of story if I didn't have a husband that believed so strongly in standing by your family, no matter what. So many things can break up a marriage even when you have a faith as strong as Steve's, but the Lord granted me a partner that has created a track record with his love and commitment that I can depend on. I don't know what else I could ask for that would mean as much. The Lord deserves so much more gratitude from my life than I have ever given Him. He has proven so many things that I might not have known otherwise.

Ever since he was born I've always taken Stevie most places I go in public so I've witnessed Stevie being God's vehicle for "awareness" as people learn to share their environment and communicate with those considered to be less than desirable. I would have missed out on a lot if it were possible to get my own way and God had "fixed" Stephen when he didn't need fixing. I thank the Lord that He knew what we needed, something that was more perfect for our growth than we would have thought. Maybe not perfect in tangible ways, but a perfect on-going lesson in trust, and through it He is "fixing" me instead (a frustrating task I'm sure).

Welcome to Holland - by Emily Perl Kingsley
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The COLISEUM, THE MICHELANGELO-DAVID. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go.
Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "WELCOME TO HOLLAND"! HOLLAND?? you say. "What do you mean Holland"? I signed up for Italy!!
But there's been a change in flight plans. Trying everything possible to gt what you want you finally realize there you must learn to enjoy what you have.
"The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a disgusting place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place"!
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole NEW LANGUAGE. And you will meet a whole NEW GROUP OF PEOPLE, you would never have met!
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there a while and catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills. Holland has tulips. Holland even has REMBRANDTS!!

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy and they're bragging about what a wonderful time they had there and for the rest of your life, you will say, YES, that's where I wanted go. That's what I planned! The loss of the DREAM is a very significant loss at first. But if you spend your life MOURNING the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about HOLLAND"

Saturday, November 17, 2007

First Impressions

After hearing such rave reports from people he knew that had owned them for years, my husband wanted to own a Pit Bull for a long time. But, knowing about the news reports of these dogs attacking for no good reasons, he found it hard to convince me that they are very loving (in fact downright NEEDY) dogs. After doing some research myself, reading dog books, listening to those who work with them and own them (including "The Dog Whisperer", and The Westminster Dog Show), I began to believe what they believed. That their owner had brutally taught a very people-pleasing dog to use those strong muscles for evil, because it's not inherently part of their nature.
6 yrs ago, when a friend of ours said that a stray Pit kept hanging around to play with his dogs every day,
we rushed over to claim him. I decided, with this breed, I would refuse him if there were any sign of abuse. As soon as we stepped out of our car he came charging up to us (which was scary enough) and we were taken aback by how BIG his head is. I didn't know how he had the strength to hold it up until I saw how thick his neck is, Whoa. Plus his jaw protrudes and made his teeth show in front of his lips. I told Steve "I don't think so...". We stayed at our friends yard for a while to talk, and to observe this Pit with the other dogs. He submitted to them when they imposed their dominance though he was stronger than they, but he wasn't timid (which was a good sign), was very playful, with no scars, unaltered ears and tail. The longer we observed him the cuter he looked with his floppy ears, and eyes that looked like he had eyeliner. Then we notice how pretty his coloring was and how the top of his head felt like velvet. We started laughing at his antics, and then admired how obediently he got into our car and sat still all the way home. It is important that owners be willing to learn how to train this breed and we had some work to do with this free roamer. His "Pit" variety is the American Staffordshire Terrier or AmStaff. Terriers being a high energy breed, we still have our frustrations over his "excitability", but I'd be a little lonely without Scooby, as our son named him. With the kids grown he has become the one I goosh over, and he puts up with it nicely, they do crave companionship. If we accidentally get hurt while playing with him he stops playing, staring at us, head cocked, to see if we're okay. We can always win at tug of war by pushing our face close to his. He'll submit and let go. If I had made my decision to give up on him based on that first impression I wouldn't have noticed the potential for him to be the best dog we've ever had. There are different kinds of Pit Bulls, and some look really ugly at first. But if it hasn't been trained to fight, and you can get to know it, I think it will win you over with it's friendliness.

How easy it is to decide NOT to get to know someone because they don't seem very appealing. There have been stories about strangers becoming very good friends because they had been forced to survive some circumstance together, they had really gotten to know each other. I guess it's a good idea to give it some time and a little work before you give up on someone. You never know if they will enrich your life.
*update - On one of our doggie walks an abused Boxer broke free from his yard and rushed at us. When Scooby sensed he was not being friendly he managed to mount his shoulders with his front legs and grab the scruff in his mouth, eventually immobilizing the Boxer. I was glad Scooby had him under control but I'm sure he was waiting for me to do something with it. the owner came out so Scooby let go and the dog ran away from it's owner. Of course I praised Scooby, and the Lord (different kind of praise) for deciding to spare me and for giving me such a dog. I have been learning for years this is very typical of this mixed breed.

*another funny story of our gentle giant - My friend Linda brings her little Jack Russell (Lady)over at times. I give them both a rawhide, with lady's being smaller. she usually finishes first and takes Scooby's away from him. when he tries to creep in to get it back she growls and he backs off, sitting there hoping she will leave some of it for him. He is a submissive dog, so any dog, no matter the size, will dominate him, unless Scooby perceives it as dangerous.
We had Scooby tied in the front yard a couple feet out of reach of the sidewalk. a man came walking his tiny dog, barking it's head off at Scooby trying to get at him. Scooby just stared at it, waging his tail thinking he could have a playmate. It's owner told his little dog "you don't know what you're asking for". 

The next day while walking Scooby we came across a Chihuahua on the loose that kept barking at us but to Scoob's disappointment kept running away.
 There are always certain children we pass on our walk that look for Scooby to come by every day to give him a hug and tell him they love him and say they wish he were their dog. So cute. A couple of them have even knocked on our door to see if Scooby can come out to play.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

My 13th birthday slumber party. I'm on the farthest left, my younger sister in the forefront. My mom didn't give us enough notice to come up with our goofiest faces. She was smart, at that age they would have been too ridiculous to tell who we were.

When I was young I had never thought about how boys don't have "slumber parties", at least I didn't know any that did. I have a brother and he never had any. My son has a friend sleep over occasionally, like most boys probably do. Do they think it's a strictly feminine thing? They could give it a different name, like "all night burp-fest". If you know why guys don't, let me know.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Example of Womanhood

As I've stated in my first blog post, I like Christian biographies. One of the first ones I read when I became a follower of Christ was "Kitty, My Rib" about Martin Luther's wife Katherine. In a day when women didn't come close to having the privileges we do today, she threw her whole self into whatever God brought to her life. Recently I found, on the Oct. 31 post over at titus2talk , what seems like a better biography on her life is Katharina Von Bora, so I plan to get it. Life was tough for Katharine but she was tough back, like the proverbs 31 woman must have been, which is a true example of femininity (practicing God's role for women) without being a feminist by today's description.
Todays post over at CBMW's gender blog says "A Christian feminist must be categorized as an oxymoron. A recovery of true equality and dignity for women will first begin at the Cross, and in men and women living in the way that God designed them to be. "

While I'm on the subject, let me also add that being fulfilled as a Christian woman nowadays does not depend on marriage as it did so much in the past, where society either ostracized or hounded women who did not marry. Probably out of worry that she could not survive otherwise. But Paul tells us it is better for us to be single, we can focus more on being God's tool with less distractions. There is enough in this world to distract us away from godly life choices, add the myriad of activity and emotion that is involved in spouse and children and it is that much harder. If God calls us to marriage, we should teach our children that it is just as important if He has chosen singleness for them. There have been a number of famous single Christian women that I have read about and I'm sure many of us know personally those who are very successful at blessing us with living out their love for the Lord. I recently found Carolyn McCulley's site on singleness and thought I would pass it on to you, or to pass on to someone you think may benefit. A couple of books on the subject to check out as well are Carolyn's book and another book on single womanhood.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Extended Veterans Day

I've been in a kind of slump but still wanted to acknowledge Veterans Day. Although it was yesterday, the banks, Post Office and some other businesses are observing it today, and other countries are observing their Remembrance Day today. This is an old commercial but very moving. Our service people give their lives to protect the liberties that we never think about, and deserve our thanks.

And this page is a reminder of our duty as Christians to pray for our leaders. Because even if we don't agree with them, God has a purpose for putting them in their office (Rom.13:1). He works everything to line up with His ultimate plan.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Beacon of Hope

A lot of people love lighthouses, whether it's because of their individual histories or just because of their purpose. This one is Old Mackinac Point, in Mackinaw City (you can see the 5 mi. long bridge), and the ones at the bottom were right off of Mackinac Island. We've done the whole Mackinaw area twice so far and were told no matter how it's spelled it's always pronounced Mackinaw. Like most places, there's a lot of history (and beauty) there, and we'd like to spend more than just a few rushed days next time, since it's a 7 hr drive for us.
Mariners off of the coastlines needed lighthouses to provide a fixed point of reference in the dark. The first recorded one was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, built in 290B.C. Egypt.
It's light was a fire by night and mirrors by day. More info here.
Since Jesus says that He is the Way the Truth and the Light, Christians often associate lighthouses with His
guiding light. In a dark world He enlightens us with his words on how to live so we don't have to crash on the rocks. What Jesus did on the cross for us became a Beacon of Hope to those who benefit from it. Hebrews 11 says that same faith has both certainty and evidence of that final hope that is now unseen, Heaven. God wants His children to be assured, not to have uncertainty. That's faith.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Birthday Girl

My daughter Deliverance had her 31st birthday yesterday. She was a Bicentennial Baby. Not just because she was born in 1976, but also within Election week and she was 19" 7#6oz. Steve & I, as very young, ignorant parents, privately dedicated her to the Lord as we leaned over this brand new real person on our bed. Every night we prayed that she would always seek the Lord's Will for her life, that we wouldn't mess her up too much, and also prayed for the boy who would be her husband if she were to marry. Yesterday, she and Josh, her wonderful husband of 6 years spent a relaxing day at our house. We watched some home movies and later looked through the old photos so she could pick out which ones she would allow me to post here today(he-he). It was hard to limit them to these 6.

She was always her dad's model whenever he practiced his photography skills as she was growing up, whereas her brother, Stevie, would never hold still. Remember the Spiral Perms? She's to the audience right of her friends. Happy Birthday Honey

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Christian Artist

I just love the art of Ron Dicianni, so much meaning in each one of them. In the books where his prints are featured he also writes the stories of how he came to paint each one the way he did. I bought the "Tell Me..." series of children's books that are put in simple language for children, but I love them just as much. The covers are so big and colorful that they would be interesting coffee table books for everyone to enjoy, but we don't have a coffee table. The whole list as far as I know is: Tell me the Stories, ...the Secret, ...about Heaven, ...the Truth, ...the Promises, ...Why. His art is also featured in many other books, you'll just want to frame each page.
Take a look at some of them on this site. And see more of them on
A list of all his wonderful prints to look at is here .

Monday, November 5, 2007

Mini Mental Retreats

You can't avoid the contrast in this photo my husband took of the Mackinaw bridge. As the flow of life's traffic speeds on as usual, someone seems to be finding tranquility in spite of it. Even when we can't physically separate from everything around us, we can always take refuge in the Lord. That is how some tortured prisoners have said they were able to survive.
In Psalm 138:7 David said "In the midst of my trouble you will revive me." Jesus tells us in John 16:33 "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

It used to revive me to tend to my flowers in the yard for a couple of hours, but nowadays it has the opposite effect. Although my husband would say that what I really enjoy is talking to myself, I prefer getting lost in song to feel a lift. But only when I'm alone in the basement catching up on laundry. I'd like to know how you sneak in a mini mental retreat when you are not able to run away?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Lean On Me

I hope this isn't a little too whimsi-goofical for some of you, but sometimes I just have those kind of thoughts run through my head, and my husband grins at me like I'm a little girl playing make-believe. But, anyway...

I know how this tree feels at the end of the day. Even though the Lord is our constant listener and shows us that He cares, It's nice that He also puts people in our lives we can depend on for support, and even unload on once in a while.

I've been having some foot problems lately so when I came across this photo again I just felt like the tree was saying "Ahhh", while it's thoughtful friend (or my hubby) lets it rest it's feet for a while. Any number of people would have a different thought coming from this same tree, depending on what is going on in your life at the time. One person I know would say someone just blew their top at the tree, so unexpectedly that it got thrown off balance, and now her husband is helping her recover (true story).
If you were this tree what would it be saying or feeling?

Pr.18:24 There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.