Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dr. Jak's Spring Fashion Trends

What's "IN" for Spring 2009

FLORALS.... everywhere!  Specifically big patterned florals.



 (can you tell I love the shoes?)
AND... BAGS!!!

Note: Just because they're all in... doesn't mean they should all be worn together.  :)  
Also, stay away from dark colors, specifically black.  Pair your floral skirt with a pastel top, shoes and bag.  
What's in for jewelry?  This is, after all, the fun stuff... :)

Colored Stones.  Out of the ordinary materials.  Look for unique and unusual pieces.  A good place to look is Etsy.com where everything is handmade and exclusive.  I can specifically recommend Marie's Miracles and Think Victorian.  I've ordered from both these sellers before and LOVED what I got! 


Monday, March 30, 2009

Stone Walls

As I drive home from choir practice, I can see snow still remains in the woods. There are patches here and there, startling whiteness against a carpet of brown leaves. It’s mostly in the hollows where the sun rarely goes, sometimes banked up against stone walls.

The winding stone walls that have been there for nearly two hundred years are surrounded by trees where they once marked the edges of pastures and fields, the borderlines of a farm’s property. During the winter, those walls disappear under a covering of snow, and I almost forget them. But with spring - with spring and in spite of the untouched hollows - they return and I wonder about the people who built them.

There is an old legend about the Roxbury ‘pudding-stone,’ immortalized perhaps in Oliver Wendell Holmes’ poem, “The Dorchester Giant.” Although I have lived in the New England area all my life, I had never heard of this myth or legend until I read Melissa Wiley’s Charlotte books. A fabulous interesting story…

As the poem goes…

What are those lone ones doing now,
The wife and the children sad?
Oh, they are in a terrible rout,
Screaming, and throwing their pudding about,
Acting as they were mad.

They flung it over to Roxbury hills,
They flung it over the plain,
And all over Milton and Dorchester too
Great lumps of pudding the giants threw;
They tumbled as thick as rain.

. . . . .

Giant and mammoth have passed away,
For ages have floated by;
The suet is hard as a marrow-bone,
And every plum is turned to a stone,
But there the puddings lie.

The stone walls in my area may not be made of puddingstone, but when I see them, my mind turns to giants - and enormous bowls of pudding.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Dear Lydia #2

You can find out about these letters and read the first one of the series by clicking here.

Dear Lydia,

I know a very nice girl. She is very pretty, with hair that some people call titian, some people call, auburn, some call it red, others blonde, and some even think it’s brown. “N.D.” says she is “just a normal 18 year old American girl” but I think she is very, very talented. She rides horses, tap dances (in Morse code), deciphers codes, speaks several languages, and plays the bagpipes, the piano, and the violin. She paints, sings, sews, bakes, skis, swims, cooks, acts, and does ballet. She is a superior chemist, knows about art, literature and music can fly and land a plane as well as skillfully maneuver her car at high speeds. She wins at golf and tennis tournaments, and has an uncanny ability to discover hidden staircases and rooms. She’s also a brilliant amateur detective, and is always helping people. She can do anything. She is a wonderful girl, and I’m very happy to be her “special friend” as she calls me.

The problem? I feel so inadequate next to her. I’m just a tall, dark, handsome collage football/basketball/baseball star who is headed for the pros. I feel like a nobody next to “N.D.” It bugs me that all the men she meets with falls in love with her. “N.D.” has always been true to me, but it still worries me, because “N.D.” never commits to anything in our relationship, whenever anybody asks her about it, she coyly changes the subject. We’ve been together for forever, and nothing ever changes. It makes me wonder, does she really care about me? What if she meets a guy as talented as she is? I’ve heard there’s a pair of brothers down the river who are detectives, hopefully she’ll never meet them.

While on cases “N.D.” has a knack for always breaking our dates and then getting into dangerous situations. I tell her over and over and over again to be careful, but she’s always getting kidnapped, or lost, or left to die etc. I try to be the hero and save her, she is always gracious grateful, but usually I show up too late to do anything but watch the authorities cart the criminals away. Sometimes I wish she would stop being a detective, but “N.D.” only seems happy when she’s working on a case, and I want her to be happy, but I also want her to be safe, and to commit to our relationship. And I won’t mind if she was a little less talented. Do you think I am making a big deal out of nothing? Or are we are not meant to be?

Please help,

Football Star

Dear Mr. Football,

First, I have a couple of questions: Are you sure this girl is real? When does she have time to eat and sleep? You seem to adore her, has she ever shown any particular affection for you, besides being gracious? You seem to want a deeper relationship, does “N.D.”? You are right to be concerned, lopsided relationships are never healthy. The way it sounds to me, for now “N.D.” probably just likes you as a close friend, nothing more. Will you be happy with just being friends for now? If you can be then let the relationship continue as it has been, and let things work themselves out, time will tell if you are meant to be together. If now you want more than just being friends you should try to make “N.D.” tell you her real feelings.

Second, you don’t seem so bad yourself, “N.D.” may be inhumanly talented, but you are an all-around athlete, and sound like a good chap, although not overly modest.

Thirdly, if you want her to be happy then you are going to have to put up with her breaking dates, almost dying, and having every guy fall in love with her. I find most detectives have a knack for those things, my apologies. I’m sure she can’t help that her good nature causes amore in men, give her credit for staying true to you so far.

Finally, I’d watch out for the detective brothers. They sound like competition to me.

As Ever,



Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chocolate Chip Scones

4 cups flour
3 Tblsp sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
3/4 cup cold butter (no substitutes)
1 egg, separated 1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
additional sugar

In a bowl combine the first five ingredients; cut in butter until crumbly. In a bowl, whisk egg yolk and milk. Add to dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in chocolate chips. Turn onto a floured surface; knead 10 times. Divide dough in half. Pat each portion into a 7 inch circle; cut into 8 wedges. Separate wedges and place on greased baking sheets.
Beat egg white and brush over dough. Sprinkle with additional sugar. Bake @ 425 for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with Spiced Butter:
1/2 cup butter softened.
3 tblsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Combine all ingredients. Beat until smooth. Serve with warm scones


Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring Cleaning

It’s that time of the year again. The world is coming back to life again after a long, cold winter. Birds sing outside my window in the morning again and glorious spring skies stretch on and on.

And it’s spring cleaning time.

Every year, we go through the entire house and clean. We empty the cupboards in the kitchen and sweep away cracker and bread crumbs. We removed every speck of anything that is leavened, anything that is made with yeast or any other form of baking product that makes things rise. Why? Because Passover is creeping closer and closer with each and every warmer and brighter day.

And so, we clean.

I sweep under the bed and in the corners, wash the windows and…think.

Every year, as I clean for Passover, I think of the house that is my soul. God dwells there, I know, and as I live the life of a Christian, I strive to keep it clean for Him. But…I’m lazy. I’m a sinner.

And crumbs, big ones, small ones, still linger.

I can try as hard as I can to sweep away all the crumbs, but I can’t wash the house clean. Only God can. I fall, I disobey, I sin and I make a mess of the house again. And again and again, He is there to forgive me, pick me up and to tell me that this house can be set to rights. That yes, it is dirty, it is filthy…but it can be clean.

And so…this spring, I spring clean an earthly home and thank God for cleaning the house inside of me.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.
- Robert Frost, 1915


Friday, March 20, 2009

A Hymn in Pictures

Could we with ink the oceans fill
Or where the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill?
And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the oceans dry
Nor could a scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.
If you don't know this lovely hymn you can hear a clip of it on this YouTube Video


Thursday, March 19, 2009

The "Handy Little Chart"

I've come across this at various times, and it's always a great reminder!

Handy Little Chart - God has a Positive Answer




You say: 'It's impossible'

God says: All things are possible

(Luke 18:27)

You say: 'I'm too tired'

God says: I will give you rest

(Matthew 11:28-30)

You say: 'Nobody really loves me'

God says: I love you

(John 3:1 6 & John 3:34 )

You say: 'I can't go on'

God says: My grace is sufficient

(II Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)

You say: 'I can't figure things out'

God says: I will direct your steps

(Proverbs 3:5- 6)

You say: 'I can't do it'

God says: You can do all things

(Philippians 4:13)

You say: 'I'm not able'

God says: I am able

(II Corinthians 9:8)

You say: 'It's not worth it'

God says: It will be worth it

(Roman 8:28 )

You say: 'I can't forgive myself'

God says: I Forgive you

(I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)

You say: 'I can't manage'

God says: I will supply all your needs

(Philippians 4:19)

You say: 'I'm afraid'

God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear

(II Timothy 1:7)

You say: 'I'm always worried and frustrated'

God says: Cast all your cares on ME

(I Peter 5:7)

You say: 'I'm not smart enough'

God says: I give you wisdom

(I Corinthians 1:30)

You say: 'I feel all alone'

God says: I will never leave you or forsake you

(Hebrews 13:5)


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Light is Coming Soon....

Don't let your eyes
Get used to Darkness
I am so guilty of this.  My family and I went on vacation to Florida earlier this month.  I remember driving in the Florida sunshine the day after we arrived and remarking to my sisters "Is it this sunny in Wisconsin in the summer?  I don't remember."  I think it is.  I've just gotten so used to the gray skies of winter that I'd allowed myself to forget that sunlight exists. 
The light
Is coming soon
The winter is almost over here in the Midwest.  The sun peeks out at us every once in a while now.  In a few weeks it will be here to stay.  Soon.  Soon.  

Don't let your heart
Get used to Sadness
Guilty again.  Have you ever thought this?  "This is my life.  I better just get used to disappointment."  

Put your hope
In what is true
Ecclesiastes 2:26 For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight, wisdom, and knowledge, and joy.

1King 10:8  Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.

Psalm 128:2  For thou shalt eat the labor of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
Psalm 144:15  Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.

Psalm 146:5  Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:

1Peter 3:14  But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

No matter how
The wind may blow
Tribulation.  We all have it in our lives.  Heartache.  Sadness.  Depression.  Loneliness.  Fear.  Hard times.
It cannot shake
The Sun
Hebrews 13:8  Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. 

1John 2:8  Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.
1Thessalonians 5:5  Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
Ephesians 5:8  For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

Luke 1:79  To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. 

(italized portions taken from "Back Home" from JJ Heller's album Painted Red)


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Several Ways to Make Yourself Miserable

1. Count your troubles, name them one by one - at the breakfast table, is anyone will listen, or as soon as possible thereafter.

2. Worry every day about something. Don't let yourself get out of practice. It won't add a cubit to your stature but it might burn a few calories.

3. Pity yourself. If you do enough of this, nobody else will have to do it for you.

4. Devise clever but decent ways to serve God and mammon. After all, a man's gotta live.

5. Make it your business to find out what the Joneses are buying this year and where they are going. Try to do them at least one better even if you have to take out another loan to do it.

6. Stay away from absolutes. It's what's right for you that matters. Be your own person and don't allow yourself to get hung up on what others expect of you.

7. Make sure you gets your rights. Never mind other people's. You have your life to live, they have theirs.

8. Don't fall into any compassion traps - the sort of situation where people can walk all over you. If you get too involved in other people's troubles, you may neglect your own.

9. Don't let Bible reading and prayer get in the way of what's really relevant - things like TV and newspapers. Invisible things are eternal. You want to stick with the visible ones - they're where it is now.

                                      Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart


Friday, March 13, 2009

The Promises of God #2

Promise #2

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Single Passion

"God created us to live with a single passion: to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and work not to be made much of, but to make much of Him in every part of our lives." ~ John Piper


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Meeting of IDDiots

During our family vacation to Florida Katie and I had the opportunity and privilege to meet Sarah Dee.
We had a fun afternoon, talking and giggling in the Famous Florida Sunshine.

Even though we had never met before face to face we were definitely already "kindred spirits."

Katie                       Sarah                        Rebecca


Monday, March 9, 2009


God made us: invented us a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on gasoline, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Just being me

For years I've prided myself on being one who doesn't follow the crowd. I still haven't seen Lord of the Rings. My fashion sense is completely my own. No, I don't intend to read Twilight any time within the foreseeable future. I don't see LOTR, fashion or Twilight to be bad things, I was just not going to get obsessed with them because 'everyone else' was.

Recently I realized that though I've escaped the peer pressure of the world so far, I haven't escaped the insecurities of being just  me.

It happened one night when we had a friend over for pizza and ended up playing Mario Karts on my brother's old Nintendo 64 ( which is, incidentally, the best video game ever). I'm not the greatest when it comes to video games. I get stuck and fall off ledges a lot. But I am always trying really hard to finish in at least the top three. And I almost always fail.

My friend Heather hadn't played Nintendo in years (Perhaps she's one of those strange people who keeps up with technology?). She struggled even more than I did, but it didn't take long for her to cheerfully give up trying to win. She did her own thing; she drove most of a race backward just for the fun of it, and discovered you could go down a train tunnel quite a ways, which none of us had ever discovered before. She was having a ball while I was feeling rotten because I came in 4th place again.

I see it as a reflection of much of my life - as a middle sister. Now, I'm not going to go into a woe-is-me fest about the neglect and emotional trauma of the poor middle child. My point here is that most of my life I've seen the achievements of my siblings and felt insignificant because of them. My older sister is mature and serene, the darling of so many of our acquaintances. My younger sister is the wonder-child, master musician and theological genius, at a young age. For years I made attempts to be serene and attempts to be musical and miserably failed.

When I saw Heather happy, literally just doing her own thing I was inspired. I have now admitted to myself that I'm just not musical - except for my voice. And I'm not often serene, but I do have a lot of laughs and plenty of deep conversations with my circle of friends.

I'm not saying we should never emulate anyone. We all need our heroes and role models. But we shouldn't miss the chance to be ourselves and develop the gifts God gave us - not our siblings or friends - by chasing after someone else's dreams. Just be yourself.


Friday, March 6, 2009

The Handiwork of God

The heavens declare the glory of God; amd the firmament showeth his handiwork.
Psalm 19:1
(Jupiter Beach, Florida March 5th, 2009)


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Vital signs

I want to live my life.

That sounds a bit “well, duh!” doesn’t it? By definition you do live your life. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be living.

But I want something more than just vital signs. I want to experience my life fully. To feel the wind rushing against my face. To bask in the first sunlight of spring. To know the glory of God whatever I’m doing.

And that’s the rub. Because things catch us up in their net and all of a sudden here I am thinking about the paper I need to write, the room I need to clean, the tickets I need to buy, what time do I need to leave to get to class on time, why doesn’t anyone ever reply to my e-mails, do I really have to call that person to get an answer? And I’m not living anymore. Not really.

It’s not like I don’t need to do some of those things. Papers must be written. Rooms must be cleaned (especially mine). Tickets to La Boheme will certainly make me happy. Getting to class on time would be a plus.

All the time I’m worrying about those things, I can feel part of me crying out for something more. Some beauty, some moment of sheer wonder.

Sometimes I need to stop and think and listen and be. Notice the crocuses on the walk home. Thrill to the flight of the bird by the Tube station. See the beauty hidden in the everyday acts of our lives. I don’t particularly feel the need to go climb Mount Everest or something extreme like that. But I do need to avoid getting caught up in the cares and worries of the world and forgetting about true life—the life that experiences every day and in everything the wonder and majesty and love of God.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dear Lydia

Dear Reader.  
The following is the first in a series of guest posts by my sister Lydia.  We'll be publishing three of her "Dear Lydia" letters over the next few weeks, so keep watch!  

For now, enjoy the humor :)

Dear Lydia,
To say I was in love would be an understatement. I have true love for the most beautiful women in the world. She has skin that is the color of wintery cream and long golden hair. She is beyond perfection. I worked years at hard labor just to hear the sound of her voice. When we fell in love 3 years ago I left to make a life in America for us, My ship was captured by The Dread Pirate “Bob”, whose motto is “There will be no survivors.” I survived umm… for a reason I’m not at liberty to reveal to you.

Anyway, I returned home to seek my bride, only to find her engaged to an evil man who had arranged to have her kidnapped by three circus performers. I then followed the kidnappers in my ship through shark infested waters, climbed the Cliffs of Insanity, and tangled with a fella who knew a little something about fencing. After that I spent a few happy moments grappling with a giant. After that I had to outface a Sicilian to death when any mistake meant death to my beloved “Peanut Butter”. I rescued her and then we ran our lungs out for a couple of hours. Then I was pushed down a rock ravine and survived the fire swamp, then in an effort to save me, my true love walked away from me hand in hand with her fiancĂ©e. He promised to protect me, but he won’t and is now my arch enemy. I am now in his dungeon recovering from being bitted by a rather large rodent.  When I am well my enemy is going to kill me slowly and painfully and marry my true love, and then kill her. What do I do?


“A Boy From a Farm”

Dear Farm Boy,

First off, and I’m sorry, but I have to say this, what is wrong with “Peanut Butter” ???? She left you for your arch enemy? She’s going to marry him? I thought you were “in love” are you sure she’s worth it? I know she’s the most beautiful women in the world but still, brains and a little consistency are always nice to have. This must be some kind of true love, to make you be so forgiving to her. The truly true love type of true love. I only hope she realizes what a dork her fiancĂ© is. My advice to you is to stick it through, in the event of your situation getting any worse (I can’t see how it could get worse without loss of life) I think the power of true love will always sustain you. Keep going as long as you can. Since your situation is so terrible, I recommend (which I normally don’t) if you can manage it, find a miracle man, see what he can do for you. Do you think you could possible get the giant and fencer on your side? They might be helpful.

As always,



Monday, March 2, 2009

Dream like New York

Mail time has always been a much anticipated event at our house. People have argued over the priviledge of getting the mail from the mailbox and everyone jostles over each other to see what has arrived in the day's stack. Will there be letters from pen-pals or the latest issue of a good magazine? Maybe there will be a surprise package even!

And then there are days when the mail is a disappointment. Usually it's the lack of fun mail that is disappointing. But today, for me, it comes in the form of an envelope that holds a rejected manuscript from a children's magazine.

I had promised myself not to get my hopes up, but in spite of myself, I did hope and wish, for maybe, just maybe, a nice slim letter telling me that they loved my short story and would be happy to publish it.

They didn't.

Most of me didn't expect to receive the response that I would have liked, but I'm still a little sad. I wish they liked it. I wish it were easier to find a magazine that would want to publish my work.

And I'm trying to fight discouragement today. Writing hasn't been easy for me lately, inspiration being low and time even scarcer. Will anything I write ever be something worth publishing? I find myself re-reading journal entries from close to two years ago. In one entry, I copied and pasted the lyrics to a favorite song, and suddenly, I find them incredibly encouraging.

Race to work again today
From nine to five
I only strive to stay awake
But the child inside me
Dares to believe I still can fly
Can’t let those dreams just die

I got to dream like New York
As high as the skyline
Aim for the stars above those city lights
I want to dream like New York
I’m running down Broadway
I got to catch the next train
I’m making my way

("Dream Like New York" - Tyrone Wells)

With life as of late, full of work and studying and busyness...I feel like I'm constantly striving and not always succeeding, especially when it comes to writing. But...I still dream. I dream about words, longing to create something that will thrill the reader, just as words have always excited and thrilled me. I want to write. I have to write, even when my words feel petty and small and foolish.

Setbacks always come. Discouragement always comes. But we can't give up on dreaming and trusting and hoping. Dreams always take work, but in the end, it's worth it.

This week will find me going to the post office with another envelope and another manuscript for another magazine.

I'm dreaming like New York and this manuscript just might make it on the next train.


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