Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"It may be that the night will close over us in the end, but I believe that morning will come again. Morning always grows again out of the darkness, tough maybe not for the people who saw the light go down. We are the Lantern Bearers, my friend; for us to keep something burning, to carry what light we can forward into the darkness and the wind."
Rosemary Sutcliff, The Lantern Bearers, p. 279

Rosemary Sutcliff is, in my opinion, the best of the best when it comes to historical novels. While she is considered a children's/young adult writer, I'm still discovering new works by her and being entranced by the beauty of her language and the way she draws her characters.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pumpkin Art

I love pumpkins.  :)
I love fall and I love pumpkins.  :)

I DO cook with pumpkins, but my favorite thing to do with pumpkins is decorate with them!

Here's some fun ways to dress up plain pumpkins.

Use tape to make a design on your pumpkin.  Remember that the design you make will be a negative of the finished product.  You'll be decorating on the un-taped parts of the pumpkin.  So, wherever you put the tape will be pumpkin colored when you are done.

Now comes the fun part.  You can use whatever you want to decorate.  Paint, Decorative pins, Ribbon, Glitter, whatever you like.

For this particular pumpkin I sprayed the entire thing with spray adhesive glue which you can get in any hardware or craft store.  Or, you can make your own spray-on glue by mixing glue with water. 

Then I generously dumped black glitter all over the entire pumpkin.  Put something underneath to catch the extra glitter.  You can put it back into the container to use later.

Let it dry.

Remove the tape and decorate to your hearts content!

Try using different colored paints or glitters for custom looks.  Here's a few more I did just to help get your creative juices flowing. :)

Beware!  This project is addicting!  I almost couldn't stop!  
Have fun!  Be creative!  Give them as gifts! 


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Do Hard Things: A Review

Teens today…

That phrase alone is enough to set any mind toward negative thoughts. Teens act up. Misbehave. Do things they really shouldn't do. Flunk school. Don't work. Don't even keep their rooms clean, for crying out loud. Or, if one does, he is the exception.  One online teen-parent help guide suggested that teens should be expected to do one chore a day, make their bed every morning and clean their room once a week; but that parents shouldn't expect their teens to do ALL of those things, as long as they are doing some. Those are the types of thoughts that most people have about teens. It's what's expected of teens, so we all kind of groan and try to ignore it as well as possible.

Alex and Brett Harris are two young men - teens - who have refused to ignore it. Their book, Do Hard Things is a challenge to young people everywhere that there is more to the teen years than goofing off all summer and just trying to pass tests all through the school year. They take us back in history to read about teens who did marvelous HUGE things very early in life; and did you know that teenagers weren't even invented til 1941?

Their point is that teens are capable, MUCH more capable than people expect, to do hard things and take on responsibility, change their world for the better. First off they tell the story of the truly hard things they've done, not to brag about their accomplishments, but to show us that they don't just have a neat idea that sounds cool as a book title. Their theory that teens  are being suppressed by low cultural expectations is real, and teens like themselves can Do Hard Things.

The most encouraging section of the book to me was entitled "Small Hard Things". As an adult daughter living at home I sometimes look around at the amazing things my peers are doing in the Christian culture, and wonder where I can possibly fit in to all of this. The Lord has not lead me to amazing, world-changing ministry (yet ) or founding an organization or program that glorifies Him in some profound way… but there are many daily, ordinary things that are hard, especially because I am young and see the whole world laying before me, asking me to come discover it all.  It can be as simple as washing dishes. Washing dishes with a joyful spirit is HARD. Honoring my parents when I disagree with them is HARD. Sticking to priorities and not getting distracted is VERY HARD.  But with encouragement from the Harris boys and thousands of young people who are part of the Rebelution, and the grace of God, all of these things can be accomplished to His glory. Our culture does not expect it of us, but God does… that's why we rebel against low expectations.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Friends and Fellowship

I've been thinking recently about the fellowship and friendship that is IDD.  You see, a few days ago I was reminded of a conversation I had with my mom about 10 years ago.  In this conversation I was bemoaning my lack of close friends and generally just the lack of fellowship with girls my own age. (Not counting my lovely sisters, whom I could never do without.)  I really didn't have any close friends outside of my sisters and I longed for an outside source of fellowship.  there was a family in the local homeschool group that I had decided we should get to know.  I thought we would get along well and wanted Mom to help me start something.  She understood my request and said she would try.  It never amounted to anything.  God had other plans.  I had close friends growing up but it seemed like once I hit my teen years I become friendless, that's what it felt like anyway.  Maybe I'm just a hard person to get to know, I don't know.  All I now is that there was a desire within me for friends to talk to and share with, to laugh and cry with.
It was about a year later that I started hanging out with a different group of girls in the homeschool group.  Sadly it was our senior year and college separated us.  We still talk, its just not the same.  Later that year I stumbled on IDD quite by accident.  Let me tell you it was the best accident ever!  I found out that a friend of my sister's was on IDD and figured why not!  It didn't take me long to feel accepted.  I fit in.  We talked and laughed, prayed and discussed. I felt needed and when I was internetless for one summmer the heartfelt cyber hugs when I returned felt awesome.
IDD became a safe haven for me.  A place to share thoughts and struggles.  A place where my friends were.  Years went by and I now have real friends, best friends, soul mates.  Granted we rarely see each other in person and most of our conversations involve a computer and an invention we call cyber space.  But its real.

Looking back, I realize I've kinda taken IDD for granted all these years.  The fellowship it brings is irreplaceable.  I don't know where I would be without it.  So, to all you IDDiots out there., THANK YOU!!!!! Thank you for the fellowship and friendship.  For the times you've listened to me.  The cyber hugs and shoulders you've lovingly gave.  For the laughter and memories.  For the unexpected snail mail and texts that arrived just when I needed the reminder that someone cares.  Thank you for everything.  You have impacted my life and the friendships we have formed will never be forgotten.

No, I'm not going anywhere.   I just wanted to tell you all that you are appreciated  For those of you who aren't on the forum feel free to jump on the band wagon.  The link is on the right.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Making Memories

It was the sight I looked forward to all year.

I'd hear the dogs barking and rush to the window, in the hopes that maybe I would see her coming.

My Grandma--coming down the pasture lane seperating our properties. With a batch of freshly-made cookies in her hands.

Not just any cookies-- my birthday cookies.

My grandparents were simple German farmers who couldn't afford to give numerous gifts to their grandkids for birthdays.
So each year I expected the same thing--a birthday card, a dollar inside the birthday card, and (the absolute best part) my favorite cookies from Grandma.
You had to get your order in early enough so she knew which kind you wanted. I usually chose the same thing--Lebkuchen, a spicy German honey cookie that melted in my mouth and made me dive for a book and comfy spot as I indulged.

Every year I got Lebkuchen for my birthday. Every year I saw my Grandma coming down the lane.

Then one year, she was diagnosed with cancer, and became too sick.
After she had gone home to be with the Lord, the thought hit me that I wouldn't have birthday cookies anymore--and I wouldn't have Grandma.
But I have my memories. And I have her recipe, which I've included down below.

I've made this cookie numerous times over the years, but it never tasted as good as Grandma's. I guess there are some things that just have to have the right hands to make them--loving Grandma hands.

Share them with others, and make memories yourself.
Life is too fleeting to forget the little things.

Grandma M's Lebkuchen (has to chill for several hours before rolling out)
1 egg
3/4 brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 dark molasses

1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 & 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp nutmeg

Beat egg--add brown sugar and beat till fluffy. Add honey and molasses, mix well. Sift dry ingredients, add gradually to first mixture, mixing well.
Chill several hours or overnight. Roll out and cut with cookie cutter. Bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes. Let cool. Brush with Glaze Icing.

Glace Icing:
Boil 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water till mixture threads. Remove and mix in 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Brush on cookies.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pride and Prejudice: My Experience

I am a convert.
I have joined the ranks of the Austen-Insane.  And may I never recover.

ok, that's a tad dramatic.

Let me explain: 

So, I (or, rather, all my friends) went through this phase about 10 years ago, when ANYTHING Jane Austen was just fantastic.  We loved it. 

So, I did love Austen, for about a year or two.  But, I got over it.  Austen's stories never were as high on my list of faves as Charles Dicken's works, or Victor Hugo, (umm... or Agatha Christie *shhh*)  but those stories weren't the rage, and no one I know of ever formed a Dickens fan club.  And, while I would certainly admit that Jane Austen is a genius in her own right, what I was too embarrassed to admit is that I didn't love the movies enough to invest time in the books.  And that is what is wrong with novel to film adaptations. (But, I digress)  The only Austen novel I had read was Emma.  I once started Persuasion.  Until this week.  My guilt finally overcame me.  Why do people always ASSUME that I must be an Austen fanatic just because I'm a 20 something girl?  And if I squealed slightly when faced with the prospect of seeing the new adaptation of P&P, or if I was very willing to join in the "girls night" when the new Austen adaptations aired on Masterpiece Theater last winter, or if I bought DVDs of my favorites of those adaptations (Just Sense and Sensibility) it's because I knew it was expected of me.  All the while knowing I was not really a "Jane-ite."  Wouldn't a true "Jane-ite" love the movies enough to buy the books so she could devour them at least quarterly if not monthly?  Or, in all truth, a TRUE "Jane-ite" would have loved the books long before the movies were even heard of.

One of my goals this year is to read the books I always planned to read, but never did.  The ones I pretend I have read, but really have only read the cliff notes.  To read the classics that I never before had the stamina to wade through. One of them is Pride and Prejudice.

I have a new-found, freshly formed respect and delight in this story.  I LOVE it.  You know Colin Firth?  The "Oh-so-perfect-Mr.-Darcy-help-I'm-going-to-swoon"???  Yeah.  I never liked him much.  What's his name who plays Darcy in the '05 version with Keira-Pirate-Queen-Knightley?  Him not so much, either.  Maybe better than Firth.  Maybe.  The Mr. Darcy on the page in Austen's own words?  SO much better.  I'm still not a swooning fan-girl but I definitely did not expect to like him as much as I did.  I liked him better than Elizabeth, especially in the beginning of the book.

And Elizabeth?  It's so interesting to read a character for the first time as the author intends and not how the actress interprets.  She is an interesting mix of Jeniffer Ehle and Keira Knightley's interpretations... and yet... not.  Much less likeable (especially in the beginning) than Ehle.  Much less self-consumed than Knightley.  Much more prejudiced than both of them.

I really can't express my thoughts completely on reading this novel for the first time.  The A&E, 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice is almost word for word adapted from Austen's original work.  And yet...  how interesting to read the exact same dialogue and so much more fully understand and appreciate it.

I don't know if there is anyone else like me out there in blog land.  Maybe you've seen all the movies and when people suppose you to be enamored by anything Austen and imagine that you must harbor a secret crush on Mr. Darcy (or at the very least Colonel Brandon) you just allow them to suppose it.  Read the book.  If you're still not an Austen appreciator, fine.  But, maybe you'll be like me, and after seeing the '95 version 50 times and the '05 version maybe 10, and you're heartily sick of both of them, you'll read the book and discover a story and characters you had previously underestimated.


Friday, September 18, 2009

What are the ALT and CTRL buttons for?

Along with a little help from my brother I've compiled a short list of keyboard shortcuts involving your alt and ctrl buttons.

Alt + Tab = switches between open windows (any open windows)
Ctrl + Tab = switches between tabs in firefox and internet explorer
Ctrl + mouse wheel = zooms in on screen (mostly the text)
Alt + F4 = Closes current window
Ctrl + L = selects/goes to address bar


Tuesday, September 15, 2009


There is a picture in my head that I will never forget.
It was a sunny day in Florida and we were at a church picnic.  Someone was organizing games for the children and oneof them was "tug-o-war."  I wandered down to see what the kids were up to and enjoy their antics.  I'll never forget the lesson I learned next.  Some of the children decided to challenge some of the dads to a game of "tug-o-war."  The dads were against it at first, afraid they'd hurt the kids, but finally gave in... and lost.  The dads recruited reinforcements... and lost again.  More dads came.  More kids joined the kids side.  Again and again, those little kids pulled the dads slipping and sliding across the finish line.  I stood on the sidelines with some of the moms and watched in awe, we cheered at first, but as we continued to watch silence descended among us.  There was something amazing about this.  The dads had all the muscle, all the strength, but the kids had the TEAMWORK.  They had a person on the sidelines keeping the beat. "PULL!  PULL!"  Every single little foot moved in rhythym, every hand pulled in time.  Every time they out-pulled ten or twelve dads.

Teamwork goes beyond individual strengths.
Andrew Carnegie said that "[Teamwork] is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results."

In my life I have been blessed to be involved in many different situations that have taught me the value of teamwork.  Families are the first place to start.  Every family should function as a team and every member is vital to making that happen.  I was having a story-swapping session with a co-worker recently and she said: "You and your sisters (referring to the two sisters I share a house with) don't fight, do you?  You don't seem like you do.   That's amazing."  I felt like I had to clarify.  "We DO disagree," I responded, "And we do talk about our disagreements and sometimes there are hurt feelings, but we don't FIGHT."  I thought about that for a minute.  Why don't we fight?  I can think of one reason, my mom didn't ALLOW us to fight when we were little.  We're not in the habit of fighting when we have problems.  When we had a disagreement as children my mom's constant response was "Work it out."  Just work it out.  Make it work.  You'll probably have to give a little.  You may have to give a lot.  But, work it out.  Because whatever you work out between all of you is going to be stronger and better than whatever you were going to do by yourself with no support. 

I worked at a fast food restaurant.  It is absolutely impossible to run a restaurant through a busy lunch hour by yourself.  Similarly, you can have a big crew, but if everyone is trying to do everything themselves or nothing themselves it will be equally impossible. 

My current job is somewhat different.  I'm a florist, and a lot of the projects I work on are individual efforts.  I design bouquets by myself, but my boss is a HUGE advocate of teamwork.  At the end of a busy day she never forgets to say "Great job guys! See what we can accomplish with teamwork?"  It's the kind of team where we bring everything we have to the table, we depend on each other's strengths and cover each other's weaknesses.  We make it a point to encourage each other and learn from each other.  I'm a better floral designer because I work with other good floral designers.  We ask each other's advice and opinions.  Because we know we're stronger that way.  The shop is stronger and does better that way.  And if the shop does better WE do better.  Ultimately, we're looking out for each other, and each other's lives and families. 

And that's what teamwork is all about.  It's really true that
Together Everyone Achieves More


Friday, September 11, 2009

Memories of 9/11/01

September 11th, 2001.

Yes, I remember where I was when I heard. I know what I was wearing.

I remember how it felt to realize the enormity of what was happening.

The tragedy.

The hopelessness.

I felt so helpless.

My first emotion was denial.

Then horror.

At that moment, as I watched the footage on TV

As I took in people screaming, crying,

The death

The despair

I knew that if I could have prevented this massacre

I would have


Never Forget




The moment I saw the pictures on the television is forever etched in my memory.  And with that memory is the memory of the immediate fear that gripped my soul.  Which was followed by a complete peace that can only come from God.  The world was gripped with terror, but I was not afraid.  Words like war, bombs, hijacking, had little effect on me, whatever was to come couldn't faze me, my God is real.
"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,
shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
~ Philippians 4:7


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Have Mercy on Me

Dear Girls,
It's hard to write something encouraging when you're not being encouraged yourself.  Today I'm sharing with you something that has encouraged me when I was low.  Sometimes it helps to admit that we're afraid or that we're lost.  Sometimes when I'm discouraged the first thought that gives me any hope is the knowing that I AM discouraged.  God is bigger than my discouragement.  He's bigger than my life.  He has good plans for me.  And He has good plans for you.  There are days when I don't see Him moving.  There are days when I'll swear He's forgotten all about me.  But, all along that's only my own little mind that can't see Him.  It doesn't mean He isn't there.  Peter Marshall once said "How can my tiny mind prove God?"  
When I first heard this song I was in my car driving home from work.  It's a good thing I know that route like the back of my hand.  Tears were streaming down my face.  This song describes my life.  And the truth of it hurt my heart.  I've listened to this song many times since then.  But, I'll be honest.  There are times when it comes on my CD player and I push the 'skip' button.  Because I just can't handle it right then.  
I hope it encourages you too.  And I hope anyone reading this today knows that God cares about them more than they even care about themselves.  You may be worrying about your future, but God's not.  He's got it covered.  And if you're struggling with even believing that, than just know that I've been there too.  Many times.  There's nothing wrong with admitting that we have struggles, that we have doubts.  Sometimes I just feel like I have to be honest with God.  I tell Him exactly what I'm thinking.  I don't hold anything back.  I tell Him I'm afraid of everything.  I tell Him I wonder if He's still there.  I challenge Him to prove to me that He is.  
The amazing thing is: He always does.  Not always right away.  Sometimes I have to struggle more.  Sometimes I have to wait.  But, He ALWAYS DOES.  
I'm tired of being afraid
I'm wondering how I got this way
I'm trying to remember what life was like before
Panic moved in without even knocking on the door
Have mercy on me
I'm not who I used to be
Have mercy on me
Jesus please
I've been praying and asking you to take it all away
You never do exactly what I say
You see me from the outside
A lover looking in
But, all I see is danger moving underneath my skin
I know it's not because I don't love you enough
It's not because I'm weak, it's how you choose to speak to me
- J.J. Heller


Monday, September 7, 2009

Longing for Home

There's more that rises in the morning
Than the sun
And more that shines in the night
Than just the moon
It's more than just this fire here
That keeps me warm
In a shelter that is larger
Than this room

And there's a loyalty that's deeper
Than mere sentiments
And a music higher than the songs
That I can sing
The stuff of Earth competes
For the allegiance
I owe only to the Giver
Of all good things

So if I stand let me stand on the promise
That you will pull me through
And if I can't let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to You
And if I sing let me sing for the joy
That has born in me these songs
And if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home

- Rich Mullins

Sometimes, life surprises me with its beauty. Days go by and I don’t notice the sky as much. I used to see the leaves on that tree across from my office and admire them every day, the green against vivid blue. How long has it been since I stopped looking up?

One day, I look up.

And I am surprised, once again, by that sudden and intense ache in my chest. I’m not so much surprised by the beauty, but rather by the ache. It’s a sudden rush of joy, yet homesickness, too, combined into a most bittersweet of flavors.

Beauty does that to me, when I truly notice it. I’ve written about it before. I find myself smitten and homesick, nostalgic for things I’m not sure I’ve ever seen or known. “Do I dream of heaven?” I ask.

I think I do.

Recently, while reading Things Unseen by Mark Buchanan, I found myself once again pondering my homesickness and wondering if these pangs are longings for a place I cannot see or experience yet. A heavenly Jerusalem.

“When God wants to carry a point with his children,” Emerson said, “He plants his argument into the instincts.” Our deepest instinct is heaven. Heaven is the ache in our bones, the splinter in our heart. Like the whisper of faraway waves we hear crashing in the whorls of a conch shell, the music of heaven echoes, faint, elusive, haunting, beneath and within our daily routines.

There you are, standing at a window, watching oak leaves flutter down from dark boughs, and without warning your whole body fills with a longing for something you can’t name, something you’ve lost but never had, that you’re nostalgic for yet don’t remember. You sense a joy so huge it breaks you, a sorrow so deep it cleanses.

Or in line at a store one day, you turn and look at a child who doesn’t notice you. The skin on her face curves down flushed and smooth along her cheekbones and creases into delicate folds at her eyes. There is a wild hope in those eyes, and her beauty pierces you in a way you don’t understand.

Or you listen to Ralph Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending and somehow it is both laughter and mourning, spring and winter, homecoming and exile. It makes you feel supple and playful and young and yet old, with brittle bones and trembling hands. And you wonder, How can this be?

This is how: You want to go home. The instinct for heaven is just that: homesickness, ancient as night, urgent as daybreak. All your longings—for the place you grew up, for the taste of raspberry tarts that your mother once pulled hot from the oven, for that bend in the river where your father took fishing as a child, where the water was dark and swirling and the caddis flies hovered in the deep shade—all these longings are a homesickness, a wanting in full what all these things only hint at, only prick you with. These are the things seen that conjure in our emotions the Things Unseen. “He has set eternity in the hearts of men,” the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (3:11).

I think I’m finally beginning to understand it.

Yes, I dream of heaven. I’m homesick, homesick for a place I’ve never known. My loyalties aren’t to this earth, but to a kingdom to come. I love this world, this shadow kingdom, but it’s a love that makes me ache, which is just as it should be.

And there's a loyalty that's deeper
Than mere sentiments
And a music higher than the songs
That I can sing
The stuff of Earth competes
For the allegiance
I owe only to the Giver
Of all good things

I want to always notice the beauty and always ache with the hope of what is to come someday, someday, one day when all things are new and all is well with the world, the whole, whole world.


Friday, September 4, 2009

A Quote From Winston Churchill

I've always loved to laugh and be happy.   Then I found this quote and it all makes sense :)

In my belief, you cannot deal with the most serious things in the world unless you also understand the most amusing.
~ Winston Churchill


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dr. Jak's Fall Fashion Tips

What's in for fall?

Glad you asked!

Because Fall is one of my FAVORITE seasons!  I LOVE fall!! I love the smell of it and the colors and the FASHION!

Fall is a super season for dressing great because there's so much more room for creativity.  Mainly because you can wear MORE clothes and you can mix and match so many more pieces of your wardrobe.

For instance:

  • Try your darker toned summer shirts with a cardigan over top.  
  • Wear your capris with knee-high boots
  • Pull out your heavier sweaters and wear them with a shorter skirt or capris
  • And WAY exciting!  You can wear TIGHTS!  
Here's some tips on what's in for fall 2009

Knee High Boots.  If you do not already own a pair of knee high boots I highly suggest you make the investment.  You will wear them ALL THE TIME.  Make sure you get a pair you're comfortable in.  I wear mine almost exclusively in the winter.  Granted I live North :)  and almost can't step out of my front door without stepping into at least 6 inches of snow.  Which means that in a regular pair of flats my socks would be soaked in a matter of 22 seconds.  So.  I wear boots.  And you should too.  :)  Plus, they look cool.  :)

Belts. Big belts.  Of course these are designed to accentuate the oh-so-perfect waists of the oh-so-perfect.  But, look at how cool that big belt looks tied over that chunky sweater!  It almost inspires me to start doing crunches.  :) 

The Layered Look I couldn't find any really good pictures of this but I'm sure you all know what the layered look is.  Basically, layers.  :)  Mix and match textures to really get the look you want.  And if you're feeling REALLY adventurous, try mixing up patterns!

Chunky, Statement Jewelry in Autumn Hues.  Big is in.  If your necklace reaches your waist, that's good.  :) 

Fall is your chance to wear those yummy metallic colors.  Gold, Copper, Burgundy...  Have FUN with it!


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