Thursday, February 26, 2015

Zentangles

We might not have had any big plans for this week off of school - no travels, no surprises, no exotic adventures - but we sure know how to be lazy and we've learned about "glorified doodling"! :)

I read about drawing Zentangles a while back and was intrigued enough to check the library for more information. Our local library didn't have any books about Zentangles, but they got one in for me and this week we've been doodling away! I knew immediately it would be something Jasmine would enjoy, but was pleasantly surprised to have Jennifer and Lillian join the fun. The ideas are endless and the more you do, the more inspiration and creativity flows!

I'm not going to go into an explanation, if you're intrigued you can check it out online or at the library. It's supposed to be done with fine tip pens, but so far we've been using pencil. I've seen lovely, homemade cards made out of this stuff or even pieces that are suitable to frame. Some people incorporate it into their scrapbooking or journaling.... like I said, the ideas are endless! Check it out, and have some fun! :)

PS It's also a great thing to keep you from getting your work done..........

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Musical Wreath

I've been wanting to do a wreath like this for a long time. A final piano lesson seemed like the perfect occasion to make one as a gift, so with my 10 cent, Goodwill found sheet music in hand, I set to work. What better way to spend a cold day of school vacation, right? Ignoring my children and my work and absorbing myself in a crafty project? Because, no. I didn't get my children involved. I'm kinda selfish that way.

I'm not going to tell you how many hours I spent on the dumb thing, nor how many times I picked apart hot glued paper (it CAN be picked apart, in case you didn't know) in order to end up with a finished product that wouldn't swallow up someone's front door were the wreath to be hung there. I will say this - on the last round, when the papers were once again trimmed smaller and once again shaped into cones, had you been present you might have heard some sort of declaration about the whole mess hitting the trash can if it didn't work this time!

I'm not a super crafty person. I don't 'do' Pinterest,(although I'm not opposed to following a link if I see something neat or googling how to do a project I've seen somewhere) but I've found it's good therapy to create something with my hands just for fun. I'm happy with the finished product and glad I took the time.......and now it's off to take care of the wet laundry that got piled in the basket and *cough, cough* forgotten about.......

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Tale of The Lady and The Snowy Roads

There once was a lady who hated to have to drive on snowy/icy roads. Having been born and raised in the South, where one look out the window at the flurries coming down was sure assurance of staying put for the day, she had never needed to learn the art. Add to that the fact that she was the youngest in her family, with two brothers and a father who were always up for an excuse to drive in inclement weather, and you really couldn't blame her for never having developed any driving skills!

Now it so happened that this lady married a man from the North. Ten years later, she finds herself far, far from her safe, confortable South. Here, the snow falls in thick, heavy flakes and the wind whips and shrieks and the temperatures drop to alarming digits and she waits in vain for the phone call that will signal a huge sigh of relief and staying put on a school day. Indeed, she has come to not even expect the call, although the hope is always there in the deepest corners of her heart.

It was on just such a blustery, snowy day as this that the lady looked grimly out of her window at 7 a.m. and gritted her teeth. In vain she hoped for a phone call from the man or his son who lived up the hill offering her the hallowed words "I can take your children to school!" Bravely she swallowed the urge to make that phone call and grovel for yet another favor and prove once again her chicken heart. Resolutely she packed lunches and fed children and combed hair. "I will do it myself," she vowed, and stomped out into the freezing air to scrape the snow and start the van.

And she did.

Carefully she manuevered the curves and the hills. "If you Ever live Anywhere close to a woman who needs to drive in this stuff and you know she hates to drive, promise me you'll Offer To Drive!!" she forcefully admonished her son as she went. The words of her husband rang in her ears, "You'll be fine, just drive slow!" Not once did she spin; not once did she slide. Children delivered, she turned again into the falling snow and carefully retraced her tracks. Only one thought clouded her proud satisfaction at accomplishing the dreaded task on her own (Well, make that two. She knew she had a bad attitude and rather deserved to slide into the ditch...): The Lane. Could she make it back up the lane?

And she did!

She gave it the gas and she battled her way and she made it, safe and sound, back into her own warm little house. "Ok," the lady said. "I shouldn't have been so mad," said she. "That proves it's not as bad as I make it out to be," she decided. "But how does one know when one should swallow one's pride and ask for help or whether one should put one's 'big girl panties' on and do it oneself?" And thus arguing in her mind, she sipped her tea and checked in on the happenings in the world of Facebook.

Much to the lady's surprise (and delight) she found much comfort and companionship in the FB world! There she found other ladies who hated the driving, who gritted their teeth and prayed their way through. Happily she joined with the commentors who wondered at the wisdom of school boards and who dreaded the thought of the afternoon run which awaited them all on roads which could only be worse with the snow continuing to pour from the sky! And as the hours sped by, the feeling of dread grew and she texted her husband "What am I going to do come 3:00? I don't want to be a baby and I hate being a pain but I REALLY don't want to go back out there!!"

The lady's husband replied predictably, "It's only 1:00. Just chill." To which the lady shot back a quick reply informing him in no uncertain terms that 2 hours could only make things worse with the snow that was coming down and etc and so forth and the husband calmly returned "Right but in the next 2 hours the Lord will take care of it. Sit tight." Ok, decided the lady. We shall see. And she waited. But then a thought struck her "But can He do it in 1 and a half hours? Its Wednesday you know.... :)" To which her husband replied "He probably forgot that part........ :)" and she returned "I'll be sure and mention it to Him! :)"

At 1:45 the lady's phone let out a shrill ring! Hurrying to snatch it before the baby stirred, the lady wondered briefly at the number she didn't recognize "Hello?" oh, it was a lady from church. "Oh, I'm pretty good." "Have you found a man to bring your children home from school?" "Well, no. I haven't asked anyone yet," she admitted. "My husband is coming over your way and said he'd be glad to bring them home. Would that help you out?" What?! You're kidding, right? ....stammer, stutter....eyes wide as plates.... "Yes! Yes, that would be wonderful! Thank you so much....."

Immediately the lady dialed her husband's phone "Did YOU ask someone to bring my children home?" "No." Amazement. Unbelief. Tear filled eyes. And the lady sat with head bowed, a feeling of awe engulfing her, for the thought would not be shaken that the ground on which she stood was Holy.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Because You Asked......

Several of you asked me to share my favorite blogs so here you go...... I picked my top 10 and then there's probably four or five others that I read ocassionally. I have a hard time linking things from my phone. I'll try, but if the links don't work just google the names and you should be able to find the blogs. I'll give them to you in the order that I discovered them:

1) http://enjoyingthesmallthings.blogspot.com

Like I said before, Kelle Hampton's blog was the first one I ever read. I still keep it on my list partly just for that reason and partly because I do love her "enjoying the small things" take on life, plus she's a great writer! She also has a book called "Bloom" which tells about her journey of having a daughter with Down's.

2) http://babynumber10.blogspot.com

I think this was probably one of the next blogs I started reading. Patti is a Pastor's wife and mother of 11. She started her blog "A Perfect Lily" while pregnant with her 10th child who was then born with Down's Syndrome. Patti's faith is inspiring as is her heart for adoption of children out of the US who have health issues and are doomed to life in institutions if they are not adopted. I love her sense of humor!

3) www.flowerpatchfarmgirl.com

I can't say how much I love Shannon and her writing! She has impacted me more than I even know with her all out heart for God. Shannon and her husband, along with their adopted children, left their beautiful farmhouse for a tiny house in the neglected streets of the city when God turned their life upside down and asked them to. Her writing is really amazing and she challenges me over and over!

4) www.emilywierenga.com

I probably found Emily's blog sometime around the same time I found Flower Patch Farmgirl. She is deep! My world view has been stretched outside of the box by this lady. She has an amazing story about her recovery from anorexia and has written several books. I recently read her memoir "Atlas Girl" and feel like I know her a bit better since then.

5) www.michellebeachy.com

Three years ago, my sister told me about Michelle's blog which was then called "Smiles by Miles". I quickly fell in love with her style and she became the first 'Mennonite Blog' on my list :) Her blog is now called "Chesed" and her husband is involved with a Wilderness Boys Camp. I always enjoy her writing!

6) http://dorcassmucker.blogspot.com

It wasn't long after starting to read Michelle's blog that the name Dorcas Smucker kept popping up. It didn't take me long to hop over to her blog and I've been a faithful reader ever since! I've had the privilege of reviewing 2 of her books and having her share her "How we met" story on my blog. She makes me laugh and she makes me think and sometimes she even makes me cry :) Someday, just maybe, our paths might cross.

7) http://homejoys.blogspot.com

I found Gina's blog while doing my first book review for Dorcas. Gina was also on the blog tour and after reading her review, I stayed :) I've gotten several new recipes from her blog - she's got lots and lots on there! And I just enjoy reading about another Mennonite mom with a row of chilren!

8) www.wildflowerdays.com

Rachel and I went to CBS together a way back in the day! I was delighted when my sister told me about her blog and it's been such fun to renew our friendship via our blogs :) Her oldest is a boy and she has adorable twin girls and as of Friday they've added a tiny baby brother to the family. I love her honesty and getting to peak in on her life!

9) http://shari.zook.us

I honestly can't remember how I found Shari's blog but I'm sure glad I did! If you want to read someone who is willing to think and brave enough to step outside the box and share, go here. Not only that, she's hilarious! Her posts are varied and always worth reading. Dig back in the archives, it'll be well worth it!

Oh my, this is hard! I suddenly realized there's several more regulars and how do I decide who should have 10th spot? I probably started reading http://lifeisntbychance.blogspot.com first. Rosita is my first grader's teacher and goes to our church. But a close second to that is http://shannonhostetler.wordpress.com I went to CBS with Shannon also, although I never learned to know her well. I think I found her through a comment on someone's blog and was curious if it was the same Shannon? :) I love, love her sense of humor and she takes lovely pictures!

Whew! Lest you think reading is all that I do, just remember these ladies don't all post every day, nor even all once a week! It is strange how they've become like virtual friends to me and how they've each enriched my life in their own special ways.

Now, I've humored you - it's your turn! Do you read blogs? Who do you love?

Friday, February 13, 2015

On Blogs and Love

I remember the day I discovered blogs. It was September 2010 and I had picked up a Parents Magazine at the library. It so happened that particular issue contained a story titled "The Baby I never Expected" by Kelle Hampton. Kelle's writing style immediately grabbed me, and my mother heart ached with hers in the drama of discovering her long awaited baby had been born with downs syndrome. At the end of the article, a small footnote gave the link to her blog. I had never heard of a blog I don't think, but the story had sucked me in and, like reaching the end of a book and wishing the author had kept writing, I wanted badly to hear more!

Having internet access on my phone was new to me, and it's uses were limited, but I cautiously typed the link into google and....there it was! It was like opening the pages of a brand new book, only I started at the back instead of the front, and dug my way through the archives. To me, the comments were almost as interesting as the blog itself. I took note of the people who commented frequently and I soon discovered that clicking on some of their names opened the pages to more stories! It wasn't long before I had at least 4 blogs I was following closely.

One of the interesting things about my discovery of blogs was the fact that these writers were all non-mennonite. One of them didn't believe in God, another believed in a Sovereign Being but didn't have her beliefs all figured out, the other 2 were Christians who's writing often challenged me deeply. Over the years I've dropped some and picked up others. I just now checked and realized that gradually my blog roll has come to include more Mennonites then non but I'm still an avid reader of blogs!

Sometimes I've felt guilty for all the blogs on my reading list. I've wondered - am I wasting my time on this stuff? But then I hear about the long lists of books some other ladies read and I decide, no. These are my books! It's rare for me to read a book these days. For me it's much easier to grab a few "bites" here and there instead of trying to eat a "whole meal" in fits and starts. The blogs I read have broadened my horizens tremendously. They've widened my world view and opened my eyes to the realization that we all have a story - Mennonites and non-Mennonites, Christians and non-Christians alike! And there are things we can all learn from each other. Just because this one doesn't believe in God doesn't mean she doesn't have something to teach me about living off the land; just because this one doesn't have her beliefs all figured out doesn't mean she can't teach me something about looking for and enjoying the small things in life; just because this one doesn't dress like me doesn't mean she can't challenge me to the core in her love for the "unlovely" on the streets of her city.

I'm not really sure why I am saying all of this except maybe to say this: All of us, the wide world over, are humans with a soul. All of the ladies who's writing I read are real people and we share a lot of the same inward needs and longings. We all have children who cry in the grocery store, responsibilities that stretch us thin, losses that cause us to weep in pain. We all long for our children to make good choices, for friends who will stick by our side, for relationships that will encourage us along life's way.

We all need Jesus.

And, just maybe, if we all laid aside our differences a bit more, if we put away our judgements and held out our hands to help and encourage and say "Yes! Me too. I know how you feel. Let me walk by your side." Maybe we would all find Him a little sooner, a little more easily.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

In Other News

Okay, so I re-read my "Dear Mom" post last night and realized that I kinda left the wrong impression. While my Dad is amazing, and I'm fine with everyone thinking that, I had actually mentioned the teapot to him in my email reply. That was supposed to come through in my little 'story thread' there but I realized later I kinda left the wrong impression! So, anyway, just so you know :)

In other news -- this lady, who has been saving her precious $5 of cleaning money to help pay for a new keyboard for months now, is the proud owner of a full length one with weighted keys!! Her dad completely surprised her last night and her eyes are still shining this morning! The little guy is pleased as well :)

And its Hot Lunch at school today..... oh Hot Lunch, how I love thee..... :) Have a good day!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Dear Mom

I missed you terribly last week, Mom. I was reading a book that reminded me of you and then, several days before my birthday, I got an email from Daddy. "Is there something of Mom's you would like to have for your birthday?" he wondered. That did me in!

I tried in vain to think of just the perfect thing that I would want. I considered this and that, but nothing really struck me as just right. I finally emailed him back and said that I'd just as soon have you!! It's things like this that cause reality to hit me suddenly with the realization that you.are.not.here. That you will.never.be.here. That my time with you is o.v.e.r. It just seems so impossible that I can never ask you anything again; never tell you anything again; never listen to your stories again. I'm thankful for the years I had you, Mom. So thankful. But sometimes I miss you desperately!

There was one thing you had that kept coming to my mind that I've always wanted. I bet you could guess what it was, Mom, you knew how much I liked it! It wasn't something that was really sentimental. Not something that went way back or held lots of memories, but I knew I would love to have it.

Every year on your birthday you received a gift from a girl who shared a birthday with you. I remember the year your package contained a beautiful, blue teapot with "chimes" of cups and spoons hanging from it. Since I owned quite a collection of teapots, I thought your gift would look quite nice in my house! You just smiled and hung it in your kitchen window and said maybe you'd give it to me someday.

Today a package came in the mail, and there was my teapot chimes! I blinked back the tears, and swallowed the lump in my throat and listened to my girls exclaim and told them the story of your birthday gift. They didn't say that they wished it were theirs, but maybe I will pass it along to one of them....someday. For now I'll find a special spot to hang my gift, Mom. And I'll treasure a little piece of you every time it catches my eye.

PS. Thank you Daddy, you made my day!