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Monday, March 30, 2015

I'm the Map...I'm the Map...I'M THE MAP!

I will share more of the details of a trip we took today in the next couple of days but here is the question of the day from my darling daughter. "Mom, how was looking at a map while driving any safer than texting while driving?"

It seems that on this road trip Stacey thought it was very annoying that I would ask her to get out the map from the glove compartment (I know, some of you may not remember those day before GPS and smart phone navigation). I am not saying I don't very much appreciate these modern marvels but, our GPS has bit the dust and we were relying today on my phone which I wasn't used to and didn't like the limited view of the map.

So I asked Stace to grab the map out of the glove compartment. "What?" was her response. She really had no idea what I was talking about. I explained to her that when I was young, all we had was the map or the atlas and we could find our way that way (I actually think it was a rather reliable way to get around however less convenient, definitely!)

She grumbled a bit as she answered "can't I just GOOGLE it?" No, I insisted that I just wanted to look at the map a minute. She did give it to me and as we were tootling along on an open stretch of highway, I located where we were on the map and showed her which country roads we were looking for. I was thinking to myself "they watched Dora...how do they not get the concept of a map?"

Both girls thought the experience was quite burdensome and that is when I realized how much life has changed in just my lifetime. And the debate began on the safety of "map viewing while driving". I told them that USUALLY the person in the passenger seat is the navigator but that I wasn't having much luck with my argumentative pre-teen! "MOM!" was her answer to that. So, I got to walk down memory lane with my map and they got to chalk another one up to "weird things Mom did when she was a girl".

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday From the Heart: Mom's Best Source

I taught Jakobi how to write his name today. I actually taught quite a few kindergartners some tricks about writing their names and how to keep the letters where they belong in the lines. Fridays are my mornings in the kindergarten room. It is spring and these kids have been writing their letters and their names all year. But there were a couple today who with just a few tips (from someone who has been writing letters for 40 plus years) were able to see for themselves how much better they could control their pencil and get letters that looked like they wanted them to.

I love volunteering at the school. I love that I am not paid to HAVE to be there and it is just fun for me. The conversations that I have had with some of them are real and sweet. The challenges we have overcome and the stories they tell just reiterate the reason I am there.

There are a lot of things going on in my circle lately. There has been some real daunting prayer needs that have come to my attention in the past month that have been weighing down on me. As I take on the privileged task to pray my friends, family and even some acquaintances through their very real storms of life, I am humbled. God can actually let me share the load in this very real way, a very different way than I have let myself be used in the past.

This heart post may also be a little like a book review because after a couple of parenting discussions this week, I realized that I have become a little rusty. Just like teaching a child to write their name "in the lines", God's word gives us "lines" in which to live our life. I am rusty because I haven't been steering my loves to the light of His word as I should be doing lately. Maybe that is why the disrespect, laziness and unkindness to one another has crept back in.

It is a big job to teach our children the parameters that God has set for us. There are some who learn and have a seemingly stress free time following Him. Others may struggle at times and still others may fight it every step of the way. I have some of each in my brood, so unfortunately what works with one doesn't necessarily work with another.

In my discussions with other moms this week who are dealing with the same kind of sinful kids (lets face it, we were all born with it), I remembered this great book that I loved when we were in the preschool/early elementary years. There is a way to approach our children to turn the argument from being between you and them to being between them and God. It doesn't have to be between us and them at all. I love that I can share with them a passage of scripture that shows them God's character. I get to watch as the Holy Spirit convicts them and holds up the mirror to their heart. Does it happen that easily every time? No...I have one who is very prone to intense spiritual warfare and I have spent hours in the course of many days to pray her through some of the hardness and stubbornness that rears its ugly head. (She is A LOT like her mom!)

My kids know they have an enemy. They know that that enemy is powerful. But they know 1 John 4:4 that says "Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world." Tell your kids the truth, teach them the truth. Let them know they may be afraid sometimes and then show them where their strength comes from. Tell them you struggle too. It is okay if they know that you battle attitudes that aren't from God. I love this book "Teach Them Diligently" as a guide to help them. It helps me too, because we can't teach our kids what we don't know and practice ourselves. I love that now there are times my pre-teen kids come to me and tell me what is going on in their minds and ask me if I will help them find a few verses that will help them. My answer to that is always a smile, a big hug, and "Of course I will!"

Thursday, March 26, 2015

TBT: 10 Year Anniversary

I was sitting with a couple of sweet friends today chatting about life and they were both talking about their plans for the celebration of their 10 year anniversaries coming up within the next couple of years. My mind wandered a bit when I thought to myself...10 year anniversary? Wow...I AM OLD! We had one...a ten year anniversary - let's see, when was that anyway? OH YES, now I remember...

My anniversary meal

We had big plans for celebrating our first decade together back in the day. We were going to take a two week trip, the two of us up the east coast to Maine and see everything that New England had to offer. I suppose it wasn't that glamorous, but we did have a plan.

August 9, 2002
Keeping those babies in!
The plan was thwarted in a miraculous "hand of God" way when we found out seven months before our anniversary that we were carrying not just one but THREE babies! I don't know, I think that trumped a trip to New England in a big way! Not only was I NOT able to travel, I was NOT able to leave my hospital bed on our tenth anniversary. You see, these three little ones didn't really want to stay in any longer by the time I hit 29 weeks.  I was in the hospital on magnesium sulfate (and if you think that a trip up the east coast to Maine for a milestone anniversary isn't glamorous, you should be in my husband's shoes with a wife in the hospital on mag sulfate - anything is more glamorous than that!)

Our first picture together after our anniversary!
So, where was I on my tenth anniversary? Desperately praying and trying to keep my little loves right where they were. I don't have any pictures of David and I together because I was in the hospital bed and he was the one with the camera. NOT my most glamorous shots!

Happy Belated Anniversary to us!

We celebrated our 10th anniversary in a very different way than most I am sure, but as you can see above, it was totally worth it. And, we did actually spend an evening out at the Melting Pot on October 11th when my mother, mother-in-law and sister-in-law stayed with the babies so we could celebrate the miracle that was our tenth year together. As old as I feel listening to my two young friends, I am excited that they are looking forward to time alone together with their husbands and that within the next couple years we will be planning a quarter century celebration - seriously though, where has this time gone?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Two Down - One To Go!

Here are the final pictures of Matthew's Mario quilt. It has been finished for a couple of weeks and he is by far the most excited about the results. He did pretty well at first pulling up the blankets and "making his bed" each day but I do have to say the newness of that has worn off as I expected it might.

He had asked if I could have it done by his half birthday. I got it on his bed with a week to spare. That was a surprise to him. He got home from school and there it was! He told me he couldn't wait til he goes to bed. 

These quilts have definitely been a labor of love with all these tiny squares but the results are so fun and the boys love them! Ryan's will be done by summer if I stay on track. The nice weather is really hindering my desire to go downstairs though.

Monday, March 23, 2015

For the Birds!

A Little Upgrade

I did a little organizing in my sewing room with the help of a friend during spring break. I have a lot of fabric I purchased for different projects. I had been meaning to make new cushions for our swing outside for two to three years since the squirrels ripped through the fabric and pulled out the stuffing to use in their winter nests. I was so mad!
An attempt to fix the old canopy

Last summer I watched the sales and ended up getting fabric and better cushion stuffing that will not attract squirrels for 1/2 off. The new update made me happy. I also bought fabric to cover a couple of forms to make coordinating pillows. That makes it a great place to sit and read or chat with an iced tea and good friends

Beyond repair
NCIS marathon requires a little serging in the living room!
The other thing I attempted was to zig-zag up the places on the canopy that had ripped from wear. That part of the project ended up in disappointment last summer when after spending all of the time to fix it, two new rips developed as I tried to stretch the cover over the frame. Needless to say, I put aside the idea of having an updated canopy.

It was the end of the summer when there was another sale and I got enough coordinating fabric to remake the canopy but I didn't have it in me to follow through. I do have to say, the cushions didn't stay on very well and so  this weekend I remedied that by making ties for them before I put them out for the season. They now will be tied in place for this summer and I am pretty happy with the results.

The finished product

I felt a little bad that I had been putting off the canopy project after getting the ties made so Saturday morning I ripped apart the old canopy and laid out the pieces on the new fabric. I do have to say that this was the fastest project that has ever gone together for me without a pattern to follow. I am pretty pleased with the final product. And now there are a few less yards of fabric to store in my sewing room and a great place to sit in the shade and relax this summer!

My Favorite Store!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday From the Heart: I Am Unleavened

Spring is arriving as it does in Iowa slowly and teasing. One day it is in the 70's, the next day in the 50's and we have to have every type of clothing available for whatever temperature we are facing when we wake up. One thing I love most is the increase in the sunshine no matter what the temperature. There are less dreary gray days and more bright sunshiny ones.

Spring means a gushy sloppy mess in my yard, an increase in mud tracked shoe prints on my linoleum and carpet and layers of sand to sweep out of the garage that was tracked in by the vehicles through the winter months. It also means flowers blooming, the brown grass giving way to new green sprigs and leaves budding on the trees.

Spring also means we celebrate the greatest gift of all. Yes, Christmas brought the world a Savior in a manger but Easter brings us the fulfillment of all that He was meant to do while He was here. This week I found myself in the book of Exodus (chapter 12) and reading about the first Passover. For those who don't know the story, the Israelite people were in Egypt as slaves (God prophesied to Abraham years before that his people would be slaves) and it was time for God to lead them out through his servant Moses.

The process was long. The Pharaoh who held them captive was hard-hearted and it took much "negotiating" and the hand of God through His plagues on the land that slowly changed the hard heart, forcing Pharaoh's hand. God was describing to Moses what was going to happen during the coming 10th and last plague upon the land of the Egyptians who were oppressing His people. The death angel was coming. He would be coming in the darkness of night (as all evil does) to take the lives of all of the first born in the land of Egypt.

How awful! This was the final show to a leader who would not humble himself before the Almighty God. For all he had gone through with blood for water, frogs, hail, boils, and the other nine plagues that came before, it is hard to believe that it would have to come to this, but it did. The Israelites had been waiting for their way of escape for over 400 years. They knew nothing else besides a life of slavery and a promise of freedom.

This was the last step and they needed to obey because God had specific instructions for them. And, if they paid attention and walked in obedience, they would be saved. Their instructions were specific. They were to take a lamb or a kid without blemish. It couldn't be the one that wouldn't be missed, it had to be their best. They brought it into the house on the tenth day of the first month. They kept it until the fourteenth day at which time they would sacrifice it following God's instructions. They were to take the blood and paint it over the top of the door and along the sides. This was imperative along with the command to stay in the house and do not come out all night. If they were inside, they were safe. The death angel would "pass over" their home and all would be spared.

Verse 23 in chapter twelve stood out to me this year. I have heard this history and told this story to so many through the years but this time, the words that come from the mouth of God rested on me in a new way. "For the Lord will pass through and smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two door posts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your house to smite you." WILL NOT ALLOW. The sovereignty of God. They were His and they were under His protection. 

Before turning to Exodus, I had been in Luke 22 reading of the last supper. Jesus was a Jew and He would have celebrated the Passover as a child and young man growing up. He knew the history because it is HIStory! He is the fulfillment. Celebrating a version of the Passover my whole growing up years I missed that somewhere. This week was a reminder in a big way as I reviewed the disciples in the upper room, the bread and the wine and how so vital it is that I am covered by the blood of the perfect Lamb of God. He wasn't just a prophet who did good things. This is the Perfect Lamb free of blemish who needed no leading to the cross He was committed to. Is there evil around you? Accept the blood of the Perfect Lamb, His protection is everlasting!

There are no words to describe the work that He has done for me. Before I was born, before I had sinned my first sin. I am not worthy of that blood but He loved me first. He is the One whose blood covers my every wrong step, compromising thought or evil intention. And that is just my sin. The sins of the world were and still are ugly. Watch any reenactment of the Crucifixion. It is not something we can even imagine having not been there. He took it all on Himself.
The last place I turned as my time with Him came to a close was in 1 Corinthians 5:7. The Israelites were told to eat their lamb with unleavened bread. They were about to leave Egypt and didn't have time for the leavened dough to rise. Here, Paul tells the Corinthians to get rid of that old leaven (picturing sin) because YOU are unleavened. "For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us." Just like Egypt was soon behind the Israelites, sin is behind me. I am unleavened...because He is my Passover.

So the question I ask myself this week is this...am I living an unleavened life? I can not be perfect but the Perfect One was sacrificed for me. If I stay within the boundaries of His blood (because lets face it, He put the understanding of right and wrong in all of us from the beginning and if we don't like the "legalistic" sound of that, let's just say He put us in the "center of His Will") we are going to be able to escape because we belong to Him, it is His blood bought us. The beauty is, if you want that unleavened life, the one where His blood covers and protects and makes you walk in newness of life, all you have to do is ask! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Fried Green Tomatoes

Used to be that you could only have fried green tomatoes during the summer when we could pick green tomatoes off of the vine and fry them up. I tried last fall to slice the green tomatoes and can them so they would last and we could have green tomatoes all year long.

I can't believe that it took me this long to try them! This past week I opened a couple of jars and fried up some. They were so good and I WILL NOT hesitate to can more green tomatoes at the end of the Iowa growing season when there are still green tomatoes on the vine the night before the first frost.

YUMMY fried green tomatoes in March! Next year we will have them in November and December and January!




Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Happy Birthday to My Love of a Lifetime

My favorite line to my favorite "our song" is "with you I never wonder, will you be there for me?" From day one David has been committed to me and our family. I NEVER wonder. I spent some time going through some pictures today of this man and smiling at the life we share. Happy Birthday to my Love of a Lifetime!
"I guess the time is right for us to say, we'll take our time and live our lives together day by day. We'll make a wish and send it on a prayer. We know our dreams will all come true, it's love that we can share.
"With you I never wonder, will you be there for me. With you I never wonder, you're the right one for me. I finally found a love of a lifetime. A love to last my whole life through. I finally found a love of a lifetime." 
"Forever in my heart, I finally found the love of a lifetime."
"With every kiss our love is like brand new, and every star up in the sky was made for me and you. Still we both know that the road is long. We know that we will be together, because our love is strong."
My love of a lifetime...
we all really love him a lot!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Another Year at Downton

I enjoyed the last episode of Downton Abbey Season 5 this week and have a few thoughts. Because my relationship with the Downton gang has changed through the years, I will elaborate.

At the end of Season 3 when our dear Matthew Crawley died in the very last episode I swore I was done with the show. We had already lost Sybil and we weren't over that tragedy enough to be able to handle another. Two endearing characters gone while so many I couldn't stand would be back for Season 4. Yes, I was a little bitter (and too wrapped up in these characters for my liking). Yes, it was time to be done.

But, after some time off, the bitterness wore off and then the curiosity set in, would I even like the show at all? I had to find out. Matthew Crawley was the only reason I warmed up to Mary who I couldn't stand from day one.

Two years later, I find myself still watching and liking Mary more as she has grown up and although it took awhile, I moved to her corner. I never would have imagined that I would think about her with any type of fondness.

So what else has changed with my thinking in the last two years?

  1. Who would have thought two years ago that Molesley would have ever been capable of "saving the day"?
  2. Speaking of Molesley, who would have thought I would ever like him at all? I have to admit, I kinda do. It is somewhat refreshing to see a man grow a backbone!
  3. Speaking of liking...Mr. Barrow? I am actually toying with the idea of letting the writers keep him in the show. It has always been my desire that they write him out, preferably killing him off so that he could never ever return. Who knew I would ever admire him for his sliminess or that I would ever loathe anyone more than I loathe Barrow himself!
  4. I no longer want Isobel to get together with Dr. Clarkson. I don't want her to get together with anyone. Her relationship with the Dowager is priceless and not a week goes by when I don't look forward to their spirited exchanges.
  5. It is about time that Carson and Hughes make it official, I knew that was coming at least two years ago, bravo for the writers who were able to drag that out this long!
  6. This year I surprisingly found myself cheering for dear Rose who found herself a perfect mate in Aticus. What a cute couple. Who would have thought Rose would be part of anything cute after she moved in and took the place of dear Sybil. No, I will admit, I didn't like her for a couple of seasons.
  7. Lord Grantham has come out of cluelessness - good for him to figure out Edith's plight and to forgive and accept. She needs something to go her way for a change.
Is there anything that hasn't changed for me?  Sure.
  1. Mrs. Patmore...sure and steady getting the food out of the kitchen multiple times a day with no complaint (except for her poor nephew).
  2. Edith...hopelessly the same, no life can be that miserable or unlucky. I hope for a turn in her life soon, maybe Season 6? I would also like for Mary to back off!
  3. The poor Bates' will they see a turn to their bad luck in Season 6?
  4. Elizabeth McGovern in any scene still subconsciously takes me back to she and Kevin Bacon in "She's Having a Baby".
So, in the end, there are plenty of things to bring me back for next season, now that we are told that there is going to be another season. January 2016. Thankfully I am not a fanatic or anything!