Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Remember To Remember

The alarm went off this morning, and I remembered that I needed to get up. I remembered that it was Tuesday and that I didn't need to take the children to school, that Isaac would do that. I remembered that I needed to pack lunches and that there was pizza in the fridge. I remembered that one classroom was trading lunches, which meant I wasn't actually packing a lunch for my daughter but for someone else. I remembered what time everyone needed to be ready and heading out the door and the things that needed to be done to get to that place.

What would it be like to not remember?

Chris and I once watched a dvd about a person who suffered from antegrade amnesia. I'd never heard of it either. Basically, it means that a person suffers a brain injury and looses their ability to create new memories. They can remember events from before their injury, but no matter how much time passes, they wake up every morning thinking they are back at the day before their injury occurred. As you can imagine, this condition would lead to huge issues in trying to lead a normal life. Our ability to remember impacts so much of our every day work and quality of life.

I am reading through the chronological Bible this year -- along with everyone else in our church, I might add, but maybe I'll talk about that some other time. We are currently in Deuteronomy and that's really what started all my thoughts about remembering.

I'm intrigued with this theme in Deuteronomy; with the way Moses leads the Israelites back through the archives of their memories. He relates to them their whole story, starting back in Egypt. This is not a short little discourse on the highlights of their history. No, Moses drags it all up; the hard, the amazing, and the terrible. He recounts all God's mighty acts, all the Israelites pathetic failures and all the details in between. But that isn't all. He tells them to keep remembering. And he gives them a reason.

After Moses describes to them the land they are about to enter -- a land that is beautiful and plentiful; full of food and comfort and wealth -- then he tells them this:

“But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today." Deut 8:11 NLT

When I am reading about the children of Israel, I almost always start comparing them to 'my people'. For some reason I'm constantly drawing parallels between them and my Anabaptist heritage. As I've read through Deuteronomy, I can almost hear my ancestors saying, "Beware lest you forget!" And I've looked around with tears and aching heart and wondered, is this what we're missing? Is this where we're failing?

If our ability to remember impacts so much of our every day work and quality of life in the physical world, is the same true for the spiritual world? Is it critical to look back and remember as a people; as a church; as a family; as individuals? I can't help but think it is important. Looking back and remembering my own story -- the good, the bad and the ugly -- has been a good checkpoint for me. A good reminder to beware.

What do you think? Is remembering an important part of your spiritual quality of life?

P.S. The pictures are to
help me remember 
that winter 
will not
last forever...

Monday, March 4, 2019

February In Review

I loved reading your comments, I think I'd like to come gaze out y'alls windows!  Scene 1 was my current view... And by the time I had finished writing, it had changed to scene 2:


The winner of giveaway #4 is Karen, who commented: "I see my bird feeder  (which is empty) I'll fill it up yet before leaving my classroom... blue sky, brown field, an astute brick southern mansion up on the hill beyond the field that separates our little white school house from them. "

Karen, email your address to christopherbethany@juno.com and I will get "The Ministry Of Ordinary Places" sent your way!

I really enjoyed doing this month of giveaways; thanks for participating and making it fun! The only thing I don't like about giveaways is that I can't make everyone a winner. I'd love to. ☺

February held more than just giveaways and more cold days. I thought I'd give you all a little review of the highlights with pictures....

On February the 4th, I turned 40.
That's a big number.
But the celebrating made it almost worth it   -- there were no less than six different celebrations, each one special and unique. It made me feel humbled and tearful. 

My youngest came home from kindergarten reading words and little stories!

There was a school open house with a powerful speaker and fun exhibits. Lillian's classroom made this little town...

Complete with so many fun details...

She was proud to point them all out. 

Jasmine turned 15 on the 8th.
Yes, she's that much taller than me. 

Current favorite game. 
This particular time his first question was
"Does your person have a mustache?"
You can imagine his glee 
when the answer was yes!

My birthday surprise from Chris was scribbled on a napkin at the restaurant...

After consulting my children, everyone wanted to go back to Florida again!
As I told a friend 
who asked about our trip afterward --
"It was good, in a 'very-much-not-how-I-envisioned-it' kind of way".

We got an Airbnb in northern Florida this time and the weather didn't cooperate very well -- not so much lovely sunshine and blue sky as we were hoping for, the promised pool not open... but we really did have a good week together. 

We have a science museum membership right now, so we enjoyed two museums!

The first one had lots and lots of hands on projects we all loved. 

This was a challenge to hang 10 to 12 nails on one upright one. 

Chris and I managed to get
 20 nails on there!

This fellow showed up one day to check out our picnic. Came right up and snatched a tidbit off of the picnic table!

The second museum was a Naval Aviation Museum. Simulated flying with The Blue Angels and watching a video about the space station had to be the highlights here. 

Blue skies and sunshine though we may have lacked, it was still a lovely far cry from the snow and cold of Ohio!

Putt Putting was a big hit. 

And the most fun of all was having our own little house to hang out in. It meant cooking most of our meals but that was actually kind of fun too, to see how efficient we could be with using up every little bit of food by week's end. 

Scum was the game of choice, 
even while traveling home. 
I also had discovered an app that allows me to borrow audio book through our local library so we enjoyed "Cheaper By The Dozen" and "The Phantom Tollbooth".

And then it was back home and straight back to real life the next morning!

And this was my view on March 1

And now I really must run along and take care of laundry and get something else done. Happy Monday to all!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Giveaway #4

It was interesting to hear about people who have influenced your thinking. Sometimes those people are the ones closest to us and sometimes they show up in unexpected places. We never know who we might be influencing with our own lives; stop and think about that sobering thought for a minute.

Ellie Miller is the winner for giveaway #3. Ellie, your comment tugged at my heartstrings and I'm so happy to be sending you "Falling Free"! Please email your address to christopherbethany@juno.com and I will get it sent your way!


I'd been thinking about this post all of last week, wondering how to tell you about Shannan's second book, "The Ministry Of Ordinary Places". One day, couped up in a van with my family, the audio book we were listening to suddenly provided me with the perfect picture of the message and heart Shannan is sharing with the world.

"Many years ago, on this very spot, there was a beautiful city full of fine houses and inviting spaces and no one who lived here was ever in a hurry. The streets were full of wonderful things to see and the people who lived here often stopped to look at them."

"Didn't they have any place to go?" asked Milo. 

"To be sure!" continued Alec. "But as you know, the most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what's in between, and they took great pleasure in doing just that.

"Then one day, someone discovered that if you walked as fast as possible, and looked at nothing but your shoes, you'd arrive at your destination much more quickly. Soon everyone was doing it. They all rushed down the avenues and hurried along the boulevards, seeing nothing of the wonder and beauty of their city as they went...

"No one paid any attention to how things looked, and as they moved faster and faster, everything grew uglier and dirtier. And as everything grew uglier and dirtier, they moved faster and faster and at last a very strange thing began to happen. Because nobody cared, the city slowly began to disappear. Day by day the buildings grew fainter and fainter and the streets faded away until at last it was entirely invisible and there was nothing to see at all."

"What did they do?" asked the Humbug...

"Nothing at all," continued Alec. "They went right on living just as they'd always done, in houses they could no longer see, on the streets which had vanished, because nobody had noticed a thing. And that's the way they've lived to this very day."

"Hasn't anyone told them? asked Milo. 

"It doesn't do any good," Alec replied. "For they can never see what they're in too much of a hurry to look for." 

~excerpt from The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

This is the eye-opening truth Shannan is trying to tell us; the revelation our world needs. Far too many of us have stopped paying attention to anything but the tips of our own shoes. We've gotten so wrapped up in our own agendas, our own ideas, our own lives, that the world around us -- the sky, the trees, our neighbors -- have faded away. We preach the Bible, the loving and caring gospel, but the truth is we can't truly love and care until we slow down and pay attention to our ordinary places.

In her book, Shannan shares how she is learning to do just that. How walking her children to school has made her slow down and notice her neighborhood; how accepting a gift sometimes does more than being the giver; how opening her home to strangers has opened her eyes and built friendships. How making a point of stopping to listen, to pay attention, has opened doors and provided opportunities and begun ministries she never would have dreamed of.

To be sure, this shift in vision not only opens our hearts to caring and loving and seeing, it also guarantees a front seat to more pain and hurt and heartache than we've probably ever experienced before. But isn't this what Jesus is all about? Isn't this how He lived out His life on earth? I long to learn more about living like He did; about seeing with His eyes.

For a chance to win a copy of "The Ministry Of Ordinary Places", look out your window and tell me what you notice. Come back next Monday and I'll announce our last winner!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Giveaway #3

It was fun to hear your ideas for the Heart + Art journal. Nobody seemed to think they would have any trouble putting it to good use!

According to random.org, our winner is Shirley Martin who commented,  "So beautiful! I would take it to journal on our next trip to India. And I would color the pictures with my daughter on the 17 hour flight. "

Shirley, email your address to christopherbethany@juno.com and I will see if I can get your journal to you before your India trip!

Don't forget, if you would like to order a journal for yourself, you will find them here.


My last two giveaways are of a different variety; they're books.

Shannan Martin came into my life about 10 years ago as "Flower Patch Farmgirl". I had discovered the world of blogs through a magazine article by Kelle Hampton and during late night sessions of feeding my baby, I accidentally stumbled upon the fact that you could click on names in the comments and find even more blogs. I believe it was in the comment sections of Dig This Chick that I saw the frequent name Flower Patch Farmgirl and hopped over to check her out.

I am forever glad that I did.

Shannan may not look like me at all; may not have been brought up the way I was; may not believe all the same things I do, but I have learned so much from her. Not only have I learned from her but I realized looking back, our lives have had a strange sort of parallel-but-different story the past 10 years.

Shannan and her family lived on a farm in Ohio when I first 'met' her. They worked at great jobs and had adopted three children. They were living the American dream. Around the same time that we were struggling financially and making our decision to move to Ohio, Shannan and her family were in the process of letting go of all the things they ever thought they wanted and choosing to move to Indiana to the wrong side of the tracks. I moved in with my in-laws and she moved into a tiny, ugly rental. She began to open her heart to a new neighborhood and way of life and I began opening mine to a new community.

I don't think I fully grasp how much her life and testimony have spoken into mine. I quoted her book "Falling Free" here and here. I shared one of her blog posts on my blog here. I hadn't really stopped to think of it, but my inspiration to share 'How We Met' stories came from her, as did the ambitious idea to spend a whole month writing a series of posts on one subject. Y'all owe her a lot, just saying.

Shannan has graciously answered messages from me and returned emails; she even commented on my blog once! Some day I'm going to get up the nerve to meet her instead of being a shy stalker and looking up her house, only to drive by, when I was in the neighborhood (true story).

Shannan is by no means perfect but she follows the Lord with a whole heartenedness that is refreshing and inspiring. She tells her story in "Falling Free - Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted". Today I'm giving you a chance to win a copy for yourself and encouraging you to go buy yourself the book if you don't win!

To be entered for this giveaway, leave me a comment telling about someone who has influenced your thinking in a powerful way. Come back next Monday to hear about her second book, "Ministry of Ordinary Places".

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Giveaway #2

I loved reading all your comments about giving and receiving notes. My personal favorite has to be this one from facebook  --

"My favorite note that I wrote was about 28 years ago. I drive a tractor in a field back and forth, back and forth down the rows and every other time I turned around I saw a glorious multicolored display of flowers in front of the house across the street. I got the house number off the mailbox and sent a note to the unknown lady who executed this work of living art. I just had to tell her how much her garden cheered me up and added so much beauty to my day. Well, she wrote back and invited me to visit! We had a wonderful time getting acquainted, she and I, and we became friends. An older widow with an Amish helper and a young lady new to farming and rural ways in general. I visited from time to time. One day I found her grown children at home with the message that Gretchen Amstutz had passed away from cancer. I never knew. I grieved, of course, but the memory of her is a very special blessing in my life, all because I sent a kind note to a stranger."

You never know the far reaching effects the bit of extra time and energy you put into writing a note might yield!

I used random.org to choose a number and the winner of the cards is..... Melinda Kornelson! Email me your address, Melinda, and I will get those cards sent your way. My email is christopherbethany@juno.com


This week's giveaway is a shout out to my oldest niece.

This lovely journal is a collaboration of my niece's artistic talent and the design skills of Abiart Creative.

In the front of the journal, Janae writes:

"... for as long as I can remember, drawing is something I loved. It has been a stress reliever, a way of expressing myself, and also one of the ways Jesus has worked in my life.

My grandma was my biggest fan, always supporting me and nudging me to show my drawings to the world. She passed away 3 years ago. These pieces are finally being printed for other people to enjoy, Grandma, because of you."

Mom would be so proud of her granddaughter.

The heart+art journal has plenty of lined pages to fill with whatever your heart desires. Scattered among the lined pages with Bible verses, await twelve unique illustrations - therapy for the mind and soul.

They're perfect for coloring...

Or just for staring at in awe...

Or for inspiration in making note cards...

It's the kind of journal that's so pretty I have a hard time actually using it.

For a chance to win this beauty, leave me a comment telling me what you might use it for. Would you keep a daily journal? Use it to write out scripture? Give it as a gift? Color the pictures? Keep it in your drawer to pull out and feast your eyes on occasionally? I'd love to hear.

Come back next Monday and I'll announce a winner and tell you about a book.

If you'd like to order a journal for yourself, they can be bought here. There's lots of other lovely items you might enjoy from Abiart Creative, go check it out!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Giveaway #1

To start off our month of giveaways, I have a little something hand made for one of you to enjoy.

My mom was a lover of note cards. One drawer in her desk was always dedicated to envelopes, paper and a supply of cards; particularly, pretty blank ones with space inside for writing. Mom was the queen of letter writing, whether it was weekly letters to her children, keeping in touch with old friends or countless little notes of cheer to brighten someone's day.

In this era of emails, texts and private messages, I fail miserably compared to my mom's letter writing. But I do love blank note cards. Keeping a few packs of them on hand means I have a card for any occasion... even if I forget said occasion until the very last minute, which I usually do. It's great to pick out a card that just matches the need perfectly, but some simple writing in a blank card can turn it into just what you need in a matter of minutes!

For my first giveaway, Jasmine created a set of six cards for me to give away to one of my readers, wasn't that sweet? Envelopes are included in the pack. Each card is hand drawn and blank inside so that you can use them for whatever occasion arises. They are intricate, detailed and so, so pretty; I don't know how she does it. You'll probably want to just keep them in your drawer to look at because they're too beautiful to use.

If you're like my mom and enjoy brightening someone's day with a note or like me, who never remembers to buy a card for that special occasion, these would be perfect.

For a chance to win this pack of six cards and envelopes, leave me a comment telling about the last time you wrote someone a note or a time when you were the recipient and someone's thoughtfulness made your day. Next Monday I will choose a winner so be sure to check back for that and to get in on giveaway #2 which will show you where Jasmine got her inspiration.

P.S. The sun is shining brightly this morning and the snow has nearly disappeared! The hope of spring is in the air and I'm looking forward to reading your comments.... have a good week!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Giveaway Month

The Ohio winter marches relentlessly on...

I really shouldn't complain. We had such a mild introduction to winter this year, you would think this January weather would be greeted with gratefulness. But, like the grumblers, all I can think of is the fact that I'm cold and I'm tired of waking up to bad roads.

There is beauty, 
I will have to admit. 
But that's from the inside looking out!

I am thankful for a cozy house and a family to share it with. We fight the winter vibes in different ways... some of us come up with new ways to play old games...

 Some of us set up elaborate displays of dominoes to entertain...

Some of us coach tiny people in practicing their music....

Some of us spend hours cutting dolls out of American Girl Doll magazines and creating tiny stands for each of them....

They may or may not
have gotten a little carried away.

Some of us waste our time looking through old photo albums and discover old relics from the past...

Babies, that's what we were!

Some of us set up a game and play it all by ourselves and win every time....

And then, some of us decide to spice things up in the blogging corner of the world...

Since I'm feeling the need for some spark of excitement and cheer, I thought perhaps there are others in the same shoes and maybe I could do something about it. Here's my plan. Throughout the month of February I will be doing four giveaways; one a week. If you need a spot of cheer in your days, come by every Monday in February for a chance to win a little something or just to follow along for the fun. 

 Stay tuned and stay warm!

Current view and still coming down...