Friday, October 24, 2008

My Leaf Story

This is the story I've been wanting to tell about the picture of the leaf I posted a few weeks ago. It unfolds over the course of a few weeks and is a little long, which has made me hesitate to post it, but it's something I want to share, so I'll just hope the details aren't too overwhelming. It sort-of has two parts that came together one day and made a third, more wonderful, part. Or maybe it's all a part of one big whole. :-) Who knows. But, here it is.....

The first part happened one night a couple months ago when I went for a walk in my neighborhood and my family left while I was gone and, thinking I had a key, they locked the door. I had no key- so I was locked out for about 1/2 hour waiting for them and spent the time in the driveway praying and singing to myself (softly, of course). It was dusk, or right thereafter. I was going through a pretty hard time emotionally and seeing stars in the sky, I sang the lyrics to a Tenth Avenue North song, "Could the Maker of the stars, hear the sound of my breaking heart?" I looked across the street and noticed in the silhouette of a tree that was dark against the sky, the outline of a shape of a heart near the top, as if the branches were forming a heart. I'm practical and I thought to myself, "Well, that answers that question". :-) I praised God for his love and nearness.

A couple days later, I was at Jacob's soccer practice about that same time of day and this time, listening to worship music on my MP3 player, on a whim, searched the trees for hearts and saw TWO hearts overlapping in two tall trees that were standing side-by-side. Again I praised God for his love and journaled about all of this later that night. Like Mary, I treasured this all in my heart.

That's part one. In part two, I was reading my bible in the middle of the night one night and reading in Jeremiah... I read this verse... Jeremiah 17:7-8, "Blessed are those who trust in the Lord... they are like trees planted along a riverbank with roots that reach deep into the water... they never stop producing fruit". Well, that reminded me of Psalm 1, which I had recently memorized... so I recited it to myself, "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked... But his delight is in the law of the LORD,...He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither".
I enjoyed the "coincidence" for a minute and then got distracted a while and ended up flipping to Revelation, near the end, where it talks about Jesus coming on a white horse and the glory of heaven.... and I read this: Revelation 22:2, "On each side of the river (that flows from God's throne), grew a tree of life- bearing 12 crops of fruit with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations".Well, this was just too much of a coincidence- I knew this theme about trees planted by streams was somehow something God was trying to communicate to me. I just didn't completely understand it. Still, I enjoyed him speaking and journaled about it, treasured it in my heart once again.

Part three starts around the beginning of this month ... I was at church and we were singing the song that goes, "Flowing from His throne, there is a river... bringing life and health wherever it goes...." and I realized that it came from Revelation and really spoke to my little theme from that middle-of-the-night time with God. When I got home that night, after a tense time at church, I couldn't sleep- I grabbed what I thought was MY bible from the end table and went back to bed and read the last few chapters of Revelation again, really meditating on that river and the trees and the leaves that are for healing. I had not, in fact, grabbed my own bible, but Sarah's. Sarah has a "Backpack Bible" for kids and it has little devotionals in it and after reading Revelation and dreaming of heaven a bit.... I turned to one of the devos and it was about eating your lunch and giving your body fuel to grow, etc. Nothing special until I saw the verses they quoted to go with the devo: Psalm 1:1-3! (see above). I had one of those moments where I just sat up straight and said to God, "Okay, God, what are you trying to tell me?" I still wasn't completely sure, but I prayed that I would plant myself by his stream and stay there. I went to sleep feeling very close to God.

So- it's not over. The next morning, I emailed my friend Lisa (who I had previously told about the hearts in the trees) and told her all that I had been thinking, starting with the song at church and my bible reading the previous night.... and then.... I left the computer and went outside for a walk in the neighborhood. As I was enjoying the beautiful cool temperatures and the sunshine, I started to think about the trees by the water, the leaves not withering and then JUST as I started to tie that into the whole hearts-in-the-trees thing and wonder about the connection, I looked down and that is when I saw the leaf with the heart "painted" on it-- the one I blogged about a few weeks ago. I have to stop here and say that God is just so awesome- so caring- so involved in the details... I meant it when I said that if you don't know him- you should. The more I give myself to Him, the more incredible I find Him to be. You'd think the story was over, but it wasn't quite... I skipped home with my gift from God and took a picture of it. I opened my email to send the picture to Lisa and before I could do that, I had an email waiting from her that said:

I was about to flip my calendar over but when I noticed this saying, it reminded me of what you just sent, so I’ll pass it along:“We see God reaching out to us in every wind that blows, every sunrise and sunset, every cloud in the sky…and every leaf that fades.”~ Oswald Chambers

Wow! I couldn't believe it! :-) I felt God so near in that moment and I felt so in love with Him that it actually hurt! I serve the most loving, creative, artistic, faithful, amazing, big, attentive, patient, long-suffering, forgiving, trustworthy, perfect God. He is all around and we can't miss Him if we are looking... I am so grateful I was "looking" that day!

To honor and preserve this gift from God, I created this today:

Here is each panel up close (the leaf is only a picture of the leaf, not the actual leaf):

That's the story so far. Knowing God, it's not over...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It worked

I started cleaning this morning! No kidding! And I haven't even laid back down yet today and it's 9:31 a.m.! I have already gotten sheets washed and put back on two beds and two more are in the dryer. In addition, I have done ALL the dishes (big job!) and cleaned the counters and appliances in the kitchen. And put away alot of stuff that was in the kitchen that didn't belong there. The house is already smelling so good... I had bought a new Mr. Clean with Febreze scent... I really like it! My next job is to clean the kitchen floor. Then I'll move onto another room. But, that will be later because I have plans with friends... not that I don't want to do things with my friends, but I really hate to lose my momentum! :-)

I thought you might enjoy reading what I got in my email from my mom this morning. Isn't she funny? :-)

REASONS FOR A CLEAN HOUSE: (in no particular order)

1. It is your job description
2. You will feel better about yourself
3. Read Proverbs 31:10f
4. Your family will feel better
5. Your Mother will feel better
6. A place for everything and everything in it's place
7. Less stress to finding things
8. No germs
9. Healthier family and friends
10. No rush when company is expected
11. Good discipline for the children-to prepare them for life in the world
12. Good excersize
13. Pride in a job well done---don't read Proverbs 11:2 : )
14.Fewer household accidents
15.Need I go on?


Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I think I need some encouragement. I've always thought of myself as a clean and tidy person. As a kid, I always wanted my room clean and picked up and since I shared with my messy sister, was often frustrated at her disinterest in my vision of cleanliness. At times, I voluntarily cleaned the house as needed- without being asked (is that the same as saying "voluntarily"?). In college, I was the only one who ever cleaned the bathroom I shared with three other girls. I've always been one who made my bed every single day. And I've tended to look down on people whose houses were in constant need of cleaning (my confession). Through the first couple of children I had, I was still on top of things in my home. And even through homeschooling, I think I made a pretty good effort. I think that was partly because I was on a schedule and things had to get done at a certain time. I think having three kids has caused me to lower my standards some for my own sanity. But here lately- when I have more time with my house than I ever have had.... I don't feel like doing much of any housework and I'm really starting to notice it around here. It's starting to get to me mentally. The kids' rooms are a mess, as always. This wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to walk by them to get to my room. I envy my friends who have their childrens' bedrooms on the other side of the house or upstairs where they don't have to see them. But- I do have to see mine and they are just not good at keeping them clean- I fear I am not teaching them well at all. On top of that, I cannot seem to stay on top of the laundry, wash sheets as regularly as I'd like, or even make my bed most days... I almost never dust, the kitchen floor is really, really in need of a good sweeping and scrubbing, the carpet in the living room and kids' rooms is stained and needs a good steam cleaning, there is just general clutter that needs to be picked up and there is alot of stuff that just needs to be thrown away.... I have trouble keeping the dishes done on a daily basis, bathrooms cleaned, counters in the kitchen clean, etc. etc. What I need is to find some motivation that I seem to be lacking and just take things one room at a time and CLEAN MY HOUSE. Does anyone know where I can get this motivation? Do they sell it on the internet? :-)
I *think* if I could get things cleaned up, I could get myself re-motivated to keep it clean. I think I am at a point now where I am feeling overwhelmed. Also, I need to be better about making my family help me. I don't know why I am typing this for anyone in cyberspace to read-- it's just what is on my mind today. Also, I was thinking if I made my "problem" publically known like this, I might feel shamed into doing something about it. We'll see....

This is a test....

.... to try out my new signature. If you want one, click on it. :-)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Soccer Updates

Sarah had her tournament yesterday- her team tied both games 1-1. (No goals by Sarah, but she played strongly!) That put them in second place (out of three!) and makes it likely they will proceed to the next level of the tournament.... details are to come.

Jacob's game was at 8:30 and I thought it was at 9:45, so we completely missed it. Thankfully I checked the calendar before we drove all the way over there. But I felt really stupid and he was very disappointed. We originally thought it was his last game, but I found out today he has one more next weekend....

Libby had her second art class on Thursday and has made some very nice clay creations.... I'll try to take some pictures this week and post them.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Levites and Priests, Offerings and Feasts....

I finished Leviticus a couple days ago! I am moving SOOOO slowly through the Old Testament right now... it's crazy. But, my bible-reading philosophy is "keep going, no matter how slowly and no matter what day it says on the calendar" and if you've ever read the bible through, you know that Leviticus can be a big obstacle... or at least, it can take some perseverance to get through it. So, I am excited to finish it and move onto its close cousin......... Numbers! :-) I actually think that once a person finishes Leviticus and Numbers, there is nothing they can't do. And to think, once upon a time, Jewish children would have to memorize the entire Torah by age 13. Wow. I can't even fathom.

So, anyway... here are some parting words of love from God, from Leviticus 26, that wouldn't hurt anyone to memorize:

“If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land. I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear. You will have such a surplus of crops that you will need to clear out the old grain to make room for the new harvest! I will live among you... I will be your God, and you will be my people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so you would no longer be their slaves. I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk with your heads held high".

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Messed Up

I somehow messed up and can't figure out how to fix it, but the post I made today about hockey appears below the one about The Shack.... so scroll down if you haven't read the one about hockey. I know you won't want to miss it!


Monday, October 13, 2008

The Shack

My dad gave me his copy of "The Shack" and I read it this weekend. It has gotten alot of publicity, some good and some bad, but it seems liked "everyone" is reading it, so my curiosity was up. I had read "The Wisdom Hunter" a couple months ago and actually enjoyed it better just as far as the story was concerned. But, spiritually, I have to say that The Shack has really impacted me far more than I was expecting. I don't want to give too much of it away, but to enjoy it, I think you have to first, realize you are reading a work of fiction and second, suspend your pre-conceived notions of what God is like. Even in trying to do this, there were times while I was reading that I just couldn't get past the inaccuracies that I saw. I don't know that I would call any of it heresy. But I felt there were a couple places where it really missed the mark doctrinely. And at times, maybe it just didn't quite portray God as I think I honestly see Him in the bible. But there were just a couple of places like that and I just glossed over them. Those are just my disclaimers.

I actually highly recommend the book, especially if you don't trust God's love for you. I came away from it with a new craving for God and a heightened sense of my own awareness of his presence in my life. And a stronger trust in that love that he has always shown me and I have not always appreciated. God is truly a loving and wonderful God... I love him more every day.

Hockey Musings

We are big hockey fans. So the fact that our son gets a chance to play real ice hockey even though we live in the South is quite a delight, especially to his father. Let's put aside the exorbitant amount of fees and the expenses in buying the equipment because I'd just rather not talk about that anymore than I have to.... (when I think of the beads I could have with that money... well... let's just say I could buy ALOT of beads and add a room onto my house to store them!)... the following is what you need to know about hockey if you are thinking of it for your son.

First, and most importantly, you must know that ice time is very valuable and there are lots of people competing for it. Here we have a semi-professional team, a college team, high school teams, traveling youth teams, house teams, and then there is the whole figure skating community that must all vie for ice time. This explains why our games are scheduled for Saturday mornings at 7:00. The rink we have been assigned to is 30 minutes away. Doing the math and allowing time to dress (more on this in a minute), that means getting up every Saturday for the next six months at 5:30 a.m. Also, we have practices every Monday night.

Second, here is a picture of all the equipment you will need. Not included in this picture are the jersey, undergarments (and related paraphenalia) and mouth guard....

Make sure you don't forget your huge hockey bag (a must) to carry all your stuff in.... don't assume your 7 year old can actually carry this bag, either.

Of course, the other option is to put your 7 year old IN the bag and have your 12 year old carry it!!! :-)

And finally, don't mistakenly think you can get to the ice rink 5 minutes before your practice and get your child dressed in time. No, dressing for hockey takes time, patience and a manual. I am not kidding. We had to go online and get a detailed description of how to dress... this stuff has to go on in the right order, or you will mess everything up. So, I was armed with my instructions... I found out the only real benefit that I can see to all of this... he looks really cute in all this stuff. :-)

Hockey players work hard on the ice. Here he is after practice:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Trip to Michigan

Here's a little photo journal of our Fall Break trip to Michigan in no particular order. I forgot to get my camera out at my parents' house and so I didn't get any pictures there or of our visit to my grandpa... I was really disappointed in myself about that. Most of these pictures are at Melissa's...

This was a common sight... Claudia, Kelli and Libby playing the Wii:

Libby, Claudia and Sarah in the backyard on the fort:
Sarah, my mom, Libby, Kelli and my dad on the day we left:

My sister completely redecorated her powder bathroom since I was there in June- it is SOOOO pretty- they did such a good job. I was (obviously) impressed.:
This is the pumpkin cake we made.... my cousin had made one that was so delicious, we got the recipe. Well, ours didn't turn out exactly like hers... but ours was really tasty, too. I plan to try it again now that I'm home and see if I can get it right this time- if so, I will post the recipe.
My silly niece Kelli being silly:

Sarah and Kelli:Melissa in the kitchen cooking chili. Yum! She didn't want her picture taken, so I had to sneak this one: My mom folding Melissa's laundry. (Believe me, I miss her folding my laundry):
Me, Libby, Sarah and my mom at the cider mill. I know Sarah's eyes are closed, but it was the best picture of me that I had. :-) The cider and doughnuts at this place were SOOOOOOO delicious:

Claudia and Libby on the front porch:
Melissa's husband David after a long day at work - with Kelli:

Libby and Sarah at my aunt and uncle's farm getting FREE pumpkins!:

This is the view from my sister's back deck. Isn't she lucky?! Notice the tree on the right side that is turning colors... there were several like that- I wish I could be there in a couple weeks when the colors are really at their peak. Anyway this faces West- so she gets to see the sun setting behind this barn all the time! I am so envious of this view. What I am NOT envious of are the snakes that like to sun themselves on that dirt road you see right in front of the barn. Yes, we took a walk down that road and saw TWO snakes. Here's an important thing you should know about me: I don't do snakes. But, I could look at this view all day.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hat Trick

In hockey, when a player scores 3 goals in a game, they call it a "Hat Trick" and sometimes people will throw their hats onto the ice.
Today Sarah got her first Soccer Hat Trick.... 3 goals!!!!!!!!!!!! Another player on her team also scored a goal, making the final score 4-3. Go Riot! I missed the third goal because I was turned around watching a fire truck and ambulance attend to a sick fan on another field... but I knew she had scored the goal when I saw the coach waving his hat around.
After the game someone said "Good job Sarah" and her coach said, "She's not Sarah. She's 'Princess Three Goals'" :-)

Friday, October 3, 2008


Sonja and I think we have found a name for our jewelry.... JEZELS; it is the first initials of all of ours kids' names... and is pronounced like "Giselle's"

Here are some pictures of our creations. The pictures are kind-of shadowy- I will work on some better ones. I seem to be attracted to the blues and earth tones for some reason. Sonja likes greens and browns and bright colors- she says green is the new black. She should know. Sometimes she laughs at what I create! Can you believe that?!!! Occasionally, I get her approval. We are thinking of having an "open house" in November, so most of what we are making is getting ready for that. After that, we are going to start posting on Ebay and stuff. Isn't this exciting?!
Our first customer, wearing a custom JEZELS design created by Sonja... who wouldn't be photographed without borrowing Sonja's lipstick first:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Love from the Master Artist

God is so loving and so amazing and if you don't know Him- you should. I found this leaf on a walk this morning... and there's a long story that goes with it that I would like to tell sometime... but for now, the quote that my friend Lisa sent me today (below) really says it all....

“We see God reaching out to us in every wind that blows, every sunrise and sunset, every cloud in the sky…and every leaf that fades.”
~ Oswald Chambers

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Out of the Ordinary Thought from Leviticus....

I can now personally attest to the "dangerous" nature of the "Dangerous Chocolate Cake-in-a-Mug" recipe. It is way too easy to make chocolate cake any time I feel like it. I think I have used that recipe 5 times now... and that is sort-of a scary thing. Every time I make it, I make myself a mental note to buy some spray-on whipped cream to use on it next time I am at the store. Wow- won't that just add to the already-nutritious nature of the snack! Anyway.... despite other issues that are pressing on my life right now, my weight is a continual source of aggrivation for me. I am not where I want to be at all and the stress of life just makes me want to eat more. At times for me, it is like idol worship- in that I run to food when I ought to run to God.

So... that leads into a verse I journaled about in Leviticus a while back. By the way, I'm almost done with Leviticus!! I am starting to make real progress on my reading schedule again... I am pleased with myself. And my renewed interest is being helped by a class I am in on Wednesday nights on the Jewish sacrificial system- it really is very interesting, believe it or not!

Anyway... this is the verse from Leviticus 4:31:

"He (the priest) will burn the fat on the altar and it will be a pleasing aroma to the Lord. Through this process, the priest will purify the people, making them right with the Lord. And they will be forgiven".

Well, needing to burn some fat myself, I really like the idea of fat being burned up on the altar as a pleasing aroma to God. I am not trying to extrapolate more from this verse than what is there... and this is not to say that fat people aren't "right with the Lord". (God help me if they aren't!) But I do know that God desires the best for us... and that when we do things to make his temple more healthy and to help it function the way he designed it... it is pleasing to Him. So I just like the thought that when I go for a walk or exercise or decide NOT to make that next mug of chocolate cake-- I can think about the fat being burned on an altar as an offering to the Lord and it makes it so much more meaningful to think of it as a pleasing aroma to Him.