Wednesday, December 31, 2008

People Pictures...

We desperately need to go have a family portrait done but until then I'll just continue to be snap happy with the digital. :) Here are some we took on Christmas Eve. My kids clean up nicely!

Can you see the "Mother!" look in her eyes! lol (I made her pose for me.)

He was so cute...

...his sisters wanted to eat him up...

...and I wanted a bite too! :D

Gracie was just plain wore out!

I don't like to have my picture taken (because like every other woman I think I look ugly!) but I've decided lately that I want to make sure there are pictures of me with my kids, no matter how I look. I actually liked how this one turned out (mostly because Jessica looks so pretty.) I seriously need to get to Sally's and color my hair though! Seriously!

Here's one of my two very favorite men! Aren't they handsome!? :)

And here's me with my girls! Gracie had just woke up and wasn't really interested in a photo op!

How I'd like you to think they always look....


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Photos of the Arctic Assault

Oh, the carnage! Let us have a moment of silence for my poor gazebo and table.

A close up of the shattered glass and bent legs....

But it wasn't all bad. Some of it was quite pretty and the kids had a ball!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


This is my note to self. It's my reminder that IT'S ALL ABOUT JESUS!

We've had quite a dramatic few weeks with an arctic blast that brought freezing cold temperatures and burst water pipes that flood garages. Snow that my husband navigated like a professional until he pulled off to help a neighbor who was stuck. . . then it was our turn!

My Suburban slid into the front yard of one of our neighbors (the one who loves his lawn no less!)Some other neighbors came out and they all got our car chained up and Jon had to continue on through the neighbor's yard to get us unstuck. A plate of cookies and an apology and all was well so that worked out okay. Fortunately the snow is so deep we didn't even touch his grass.

Then there are the power outages. Normally for us a power outage is an inconvenience and even fun. We usually like them because we pull out the games and light the candles. The kids laugh at my attempts to secure a flashlight in a strategic position so I can continue knitting (have you ever tried to tie a flashlight to your head? It doesn't work very well! I keep hinting for one of those miner's hats or something but so far, no luck!)

However, right now, I am so sick of power outages!! Our power has been out five times in the last week and it's still blinking on and off sporadically. This isn't good when you're in the middle of holiday baking! Our longest stretch was 13 hours so it hasn't been as bad as other times. (We were off for three days the year we decided to put in a wood stove.) But when you have a mile long to do list it's very frustrating.

Then there is the weather! My fudge and divinity hate me this year because of the weather! Two feet of snow in the front yard apparently affects how the stuff turns out (or doesn't!) I was up until two o'clock in the morning trying to get the fudge to work out! Now I have a lovely tub of fudge frosting in my freezer for the next cake I make but I finally gave it up and went to bed. This morning I did some more and while it isn't the best fudge I've ever made at least it isn't soup. In fact, it's pretty dry and crumbly!

As my grandma used to say, "I can't win for losin'!" I don't really no what that means but she always used it in situations like this, lol.

I had just finished mixing up the dough for dinner rolls when our power started flashing on and off again. I think my brain short circuited and I just about lost it. Or maybe I did lose it, it's all kind of hazy to me. You could ask my kids but I think my head may have spun around a few times. I know I was grumbling about fudge (haven't mastered the "do all things without grumbling and complaining" verse yet apparently.)

Then I threw up my hands and yelled: "IT'S ALL ABOUT JESUS!!! IT'S NOT ABOUT FUDGE! IT'S ABOUT JESUS!!"

I'm not sure where that came from but now it's my theme and reminder of what I need to be worrying about right now; namely, nothing! Because it IS all about Jesus. Yeah, we like all the holiday trappings; pretty lights and decorations, yummy food and tasty treats and yes, I do like getting presents. I won't pretend I don't! I am a big kid when it comes to Christmas and all the trimmings and I think that's okay, as long as I remember:


I told my kids that if they see me getting all kerbobbled (I like that word from "The Grinch" movie) they need to give me a hug and tell me it's all about Jesus. Or, they can start singing "Jesus is my Friend!" to remind me and help me regain my focus.

We do have water again and can now do laundry since Jon (with the help of our very highly esteemed friend Mike) fixed the pipes. Jessica just made some butter toffee and the rolls are about ready to be shaped. I have four healthy kids and a wonderful, doting husband who is my best friend. The snow is beautiful and my house is all dressed up for Christmas. We have enough food that we are all well insulated and though the finances of the world are in chaos, our Lord has continued to provide abundantly for us.

I have a lot to thank Him for but most of all for the reason we are celebrating right now; His great love for me that caused Him to leave the glory of heaven and be born into a lowly, filthy manger surrounded by stinky animals only to grow up to be mocked, abused, rejected and finally die on a cross to take the penalty for my sin.

All because He loves me. And all because He loves you.

I have to go bake some pecan pies now but my prayer is that I would remember each and every day of the year:


Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday Jesus.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Let's Play Dress Up!

Our whole family is taking Tae Kwon Do together from a great guy here in town. Every year near Halloween he asks the students to dress up in costumes for class. He has a few parameters (nothing disgusting or immodest and you have to be able to actually do TKD while wearing your costume). While our family typically doesn't dress up for Halloween we decided to go ahead and dress up for the class.

I must say it was A LOT of fun! I laughed so hard that it was difficult to actually do the moves. :)

Arielle decided to be "Miss Piggy", reporter pig from the Muppets in Space movie:

Jessica decided to be a Jedi Knight (mostly because she is a low key kind of person. I have no idea where she gets that from!)

Joshua went as "Rex" from Napolean Dynamite (you know, RexKwondo! Josh even had his lines down. He was so stinkin cute!!)

What else would Gracie be besides a princess? She is of course a darling little princess so we never try to get her to be anything else. It wouldn't be right! :)

Here I am with Richard Simmons! I was so excited to get to do a "Sweatin' to the Oldies" infomercial with him!!! (Or was that "Sweatin' Oldies"? lol) Jon was a crack up! He had his lines down too and had the instructor in stitches. I ended up as his groupy but originally I was going as "Hannah middle age Montana, another child star out of touch with reality" but I didn't think my costume worked. When I got there though a couple of the girls asked me if I was supposed to be her. :P All I know is, I was reeeeeeeeeaaaaal shineeeeee! Jessica told me she wouldn't lose me in that get up. I asked her if that was good or bad. She never did answer me!

And of course this wouldn't be complete without the picture of our instructor; front and back. He was really hamming it up. You have never had an abs workout until you've tried to do TKD while laughing hysterically!

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Anniversary...

Yesterday was our 17th anniversary and except for that one year where we mostly wanted to kill each other, they've been wonderful years! :D (Oh come on, everybody has times like that! Don't pretend you don't!)
Last year for our anniversary Jon took me to dinner and the Symphony and it was wonderful. I loved it and felt so fancy.

This year we did something a little different; we went shooting!

Over the past several months I've gotten into shooting handguns and I've found I really like it. We have a membership at a range that's not too far from us and we try to get there a couple of times month. It's nice because it's something we can do together that we both really enjoy.

Well, for our anniversary yesterday we went into Everett to Sam's Gun Shop and Range and my darling husband rented out the .45 caliber handguns for me. I got to shoot any and all of them that I wanted and it was so fun! He's such a gentleman that he would let me shoot them first and when I wanted a new one he'd go get it for me.

These are the guns I got to shoot yesterday:

XD45 Tactical: Really liked this one but it's a bit too big for my hand. I love the way it shoots; recoil is nice and it's very accurate.

Smith & Wesson M&P: This one has the changeable backstraps but I think they had the medium on the one at the range. I've held it with the small backstrap and that fits me much better. Jon liked the cocking serrations but wasn't impressed with it. We both liked the XD better.

Kimber ProCarry 3" barrel .45: Sigh. I have a love affair with Kimbers. This one was a bit sassy being so small but I still liked it well enough that I sent Jon back to the counter to get it for me to shoot again after I was done with the others. The one they had was plain black so of course I'd want a prettier one but as far as shooting, it was a nice little gun. Fit me almost as well as my EMP. DH liked it so well that he said if he didn't already have the ProCarry II with a 4" barrel he'd be wanting that one.

FNH .45 (but I haven't a clue what model it was!) I didn't like this one. The checkering on the grip chewed up my hand so it hurt to shoot it. I also didn't like the trigger. It was a long pull and very spongy. I kept squeezing it wondering if it was ever going to break! The reset was short but then you had the long spongy pull. (It felt like there was a marshmallow behind the trigger.) Jon only put four rounds through it and I only did three.

Kimber Custom Carry 5" barrel .45: It was nice but we both liked Jon's Kimber a little bit better. Maybe it was because it's a range gun and has taken some abuse, maybe it's the difference in the grips that were on it. I don't know but while I didn't hate it, I didn't love it like Jon's Kimber.

Kimber ProCarry II 4" barrel .45: Jon owns this one and was gentleman enough to let me shoot it again. Sigh. I love this gun. It feels wonderful in the hand, nicely balanced, beautiful trigger and the recoil isn't a big deal. He's got a stainless frame and slide so it's pretty too! Lovely, lovely gun. (He's not real sure he likes me referring to his gun as "lovely" though.)

Springfield EMP 9mm: This one is my baby and I'm still loving her. It fits my hand beautifully and shooting it is fantastic. I am looking for a .45 but this one will never be ignored! Very accurate and I haven't had one issue with it. I don't think I've ever had a FTF or FTE on this little gun. She's still my favorite.

Sig P229 9MM and .40: We love them both. I had to shoot them, I still had ammo! As always, I love the Sigs. They both shoot great and feel wonderful in my hand. The frame is a teeny bit large for me but I just really don't care with these! lol The 9 mm was my first gun and you know how it is with your first love! They've just come out with the .22 conversion kit for these and I'm wondering how long we'll be able to hold out. We have the Mosquito .22 that is designed just like it's bigger counter parts but neither of us like to shoot it as well as our bigger ones. Since my 14 yo has pretty much claimed the Mosquito as her own I need the conversion kit, right?

We had a great time playing with all of these guns. Then we went into the store and ogled all the guns in the case. When we were done we went and got a big steak dinner. All in all a perfect anniversay date. (Well, near perfect. I didn't come home with a new gun or anything so there is that. )

When I was shooting last night I was thinking back to when I first shot at Sam's. I was very nervous and scared because it was afterall, a gun. It counted every bullet out of my 9 mm that day and was relieved to be done but since I used to shoot (and like it) I was determined to enjoy it again. Like anything, once you learn some basics and get used to the whole process you can relax a little and enjoy yourself. It was cool to be standing there shooting any .45 I could get my hands on when just a few short months ago I was barely able to make myself shoot the 9 mm!

If you live in my area, lots of ranges have ladies night on Mondays....see you there! :D

Friday, October 10, 2008

My current favorite song...

I don't know how to get the actual song up on here so I can only give you the lyrics. However, if you want to hear it go buy the new Chris Tomlin CD; Hello Love. As usual, Chris has a tremendously worshipful collection of songs that just make you want to throw your hands in the air and sing at the top of your lungs or fall on your face in adoration of The One True King. When I first listened to this song I couldn't help but cry.

All the Way My Savior Leads Me
Chris Tomlin

All the way my Savior leads me;
Who have I to ask beside?
How could I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my guide?

All the way my Savior leads me;
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.

You lead me and keep me from falling.
You carry me close to Your heart.
And surely Your goodness and
Mercy will follow me.

All the way my Savior leads me;
O, the fullness of His love!
O, the sureness of His promise

In the triumph of His blood!

And when my spirit clothed immortal
Wings it's flight to realms of day,
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way!
Jesus led me all the way!

All the way my Savior leads me.
All the way my Savior leads me.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Psalm 33

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous!
For praise from the upright is beautiful.

Praise the LORD with the harp;
Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.

Sing to Him a new song;
Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

For the word of the LORD is right,
And all His work is done in truth.

He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.

He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
He lays up the deep in storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the LORD;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.

For He spoke, and it was done;
He commanded, and it stood fast.

The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.

The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.

The LORD looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men.

From the place of His dwelling He looks
On all the inhabitants of the earth;

He fashions their hearts individually;
He considers all their works.

No king is saved by the multitude of an army;
A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.

A horse is a vain hope for safety;
Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,

To deliver their soul from death,
And to keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.

For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.

Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us,

Just as we hope in You.

Father God, I thank You for sustaining me today. I thank You that You are made perfect in my weakness. Your grace is sufficient for me. I thank You that Your steadfast love never ceases and Your mercies are new every morning. You say in Your Word that mourning may come for a night, but the new day will bring gladness. Bless me with a healing night's sleep. Restore unto me the joy of my salvation. Help me to stay on the path that leads to life.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cake Blog

I have created yet another blog!

People keep asking to see my cakes so I decided to create a blog that is just cake photos. I figured this would make it easier on those looking to see them since they won't have to wade through all kinds of back posts to find what they want to look at. :) I may occasionally post a cake on here but I think for the most part they will go to the new one.

Hopefully I'll actually post something worth reading on this one from time to time! :)

Shannon actually named this blog without even knowing it: FranCakes (of course!)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fun with Fondant...

I've been taking another cake class, this time on fondant. It's a type of frosting that is rolled out and has a kind of a chewy texture, sort of like a tootsie roll. I have made fondant out of marshmallows (tastes like marshmallows and powdered sugar) and I've made one with white chocolate (that tasted good!) I do plan to explore some of the other flavorings because I can never leave well enough alone. :)

This first cake is the class cake we did. It's my first ever cake covered in fondant and it was pretty fun stuff to work with! I took it to church and fed it to everyone there so I didn't even eat a piece of this one! It was white cake with raspberry filling and buttercream under the marshmallow fondant.

These next ones are baby shower cupcakes that I did for my Sister in law, Michelle. I loved making these little guys! I thought they turned out pretty cute too! :) The cupcakes were chocolate with chocolate ganache filling. I frosted them with regular buttercream then put the white chocolate fondant decorations on top.

Some are awake and some are sleeping...

They have little bitty binkies (star shaped cookie decorations)...

I did twenty nine of them total and it took me HOURS!!!!

All the blankets are different too...

Monday, June 02, 2008

My Birthday Present!

My birthday is this week and my darling husband bought me my gift on Saturday. We had stopped into Costco in Issaquah on our way home from a family memorial service. We can never seem to go into Costco and buy just what we came for. We always wander around and look at everything and inevitably something jumps into our cart that we hadn't planned to buy.

Well, this time it was an expensive kitchen toy for me. :) I have killed so many blenders that just my presence on the blender aisle of your local store will set them all to trembling! You can hear their glass jars rattling on their bases when I'm near! :D I've even had to replace parts several times on my Bosch blender attachment! If you have a Bosch Universal with blender you know that those are decent blenders and yet, I've maimed mine repeatedly. :(

Because of this unnatural skill for blender killing I have been eyeballing a Vitamix for some time. I never thought I'd get one because they are very expensive and my husband, as sweet as he is, just didn't know why you'd want to spend that much on a blender!

Until he saw the guy in Costco drop entire apples, oranges and other big chunks of fruits and vegetables into that big bad boy!! He topped it all off with a mound of ice and let'er rip! Even I was amazed and I'd been ogling them for months!

I think the thing that sold him though was when the guy said it spun at 37,000 RPMs. When Jon realized it went faster than his favorite router the power hungry tool man in him rose to the surface and I got a fancy pants new blender for my birthday! Yay me!!!

We love smoothies at our house so it will be great for those alone. Add to that the fact that you can make soups, gravies and a bunch of other stuff right in the blender and I'm in love! And when I say soup, I mean start to finish put whole vegetables in the thing and it will actually cook it! You pour out of your pitcher and right into your bowl!

We love those JetTea smoothies you can get at the local coffee stand so the first thing I did was head straight for Cash n Carry for my own mix. We had Caramel Apple JetTea smoothies last night (and at $4 each at a stand we will pay for my Vitamix with those alone!)

Know what's even better? This morning I made my kids smoothies for breakfast. I'll tell you what they ate but don't tell them! :)

I put the following ingredients in:

10 oz crushed pineapple and juice (it was canned)
1 small banana
2 whole carrots (peel and all, scrubbed)
2 TBS whole flax seed
1/3 cup flaked oat groats (that would be old fashioned oatmeal)
1/3 cup 2% cottage cheese
2 TBS Davinci's coffee syrup - Raspberry flavor

When I was done grinding all of that up it was silky smooth and they drank it while exclaiming how good it was. I have a new tool in my quest to practice vegetable subterfuge. :D

This concoction has:
213 Calories
3.43 g fat
.43 sat. fat
.40 poly.
.39 mono.
1.49 chol.
109 sodium
294 potassium
40.5 carbs
5.26 fiber
7.02 protien

And oodles of vitamins and minerals.

My family teases me that I already put nuts, twigs, rocks and small woodland creatures in the bread I bake but now nothing is safe in my kitchen! :D

If you come over I'd be happy to make you a smoothie but I have a "don't ask, don't tell" policy on what's in there! :P
(Mine is just the like the one pictured but it's white. I could have ordered the black one with free shipping for the same price but I wanted the instant gratification.)
I'm off to the produce stand!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stuck in my head...

I've had this song running through my head for a couple of weeks now. We used to sing it at our home fellowship group but it's been over a year since I last sang it there. Maybe the Lord just brought it back to my mind because of the things going on around me lately.

It's been my song and my prayer...

Lord here I am
Nothing you should treasure
Still you do, I'm your child
Mercy beyond measure
Lord to will, and to do
All things for your pleasure
May the Heart of Jesus be in me

Jesus remind me
I live for your glory
Lord let the world see
Your Spirit inside me

Lord let me love them like you do...

I don't know if I have the words right and I suppose I could go look them up in Jon's song book but he's sleeping and I don't want to disturb him. At any rate, that's how I've been singing it. :)

I love the reminder that it isn't about me, it's supposed to be all about Him. I long for the world to see Him living through me. I hope they don't see me at all but I'm afraid too often they do.

But how comforting to be reminded that though I'm not anything to treasure, He calls me His child anyway. No matter what anyone else says or thinks, I am His child and He has mercy beyond measure for me.

I long to love people the way He does, with the same limitless mercy. How hard it is! Especially when they do hurtful things; to me or to people I dearly love. Mercy beyond measure, for me and for them.

I'll keep singing and praying because I'm not there yet, but He loves me anyway.

Lord here I am...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

May Birthdays

Well, I had two cake opportunities this month because Jon's birthday is the 13th and Gracie's is the 15th. For Jon's I just made a little 6" cake for our family. He asked for a caramel apple cake so the cake itself was a yellow butter cake. The first layer was moistened with apple cider syrup with butterscotch caramel spread over it. The middle layer was again moisted with apple cider syrup but then I sauteed some apples in brown sugar and butter and spread those on when it had cooled. The top layer was the syrup and butterscotch again. Then I frosted it with buttercream and topped it off with more caramel.

It was definately a diet buster but it tasted pretty darn good if I do say so myself! :) Here's a pic of the sliced cake (note the gooey caramel dripping down...)

Now Gracie's cake was a little bit larger. We had a few friends over to share it with us and did a very low key birthday for her. From the moment I got a certain cake book she had her heart set on a Tinkerbell cake (only she pronounces it "Tinklebell") In the book it was blue and purple but this being Gracie we had to change it to pink. It was a fun cake to make and she loved it.

It was a yellow cake with strawberry moistening syrup, a thin layer of buttercream and sliced fresh strawberries on the bottom layer. The middle layer again had the syrup with a vanilla meringue disk and a thin layer of buttercream. The top layer was a repeat of the first. Then the whole thing was frosted with more buttercream. I liked that one too and now I need to take up jogging or something! :)

Here's Gracie's cake:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

New Profile Pic...

Well, I figured it was time I came out of the closet so to speak and showed you the real me. This is more likely how I'll look if you drop by unexpectedly (either that or in my PJ's!)

So, there you have it.

Me, threatening my husband with a rolling pin while he laughs at my "fierce" expression.

Yes, there is flour all over my kitchen. You can't see it but there was a lot of frosting around the place too!

Either this makes you want to live with me or run away screaming.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


We scurried through our morning at church, got all of our details tended to and Pastor Chris drove us In to Seatac for our flight out. Too rushed notice any fear or excitement we dashed through this line and hustled through that one. Finally clear of all the different check points and with my shoes firmly back on my feet, I realized I was famished! Fortunately, the food selections are like hitting an upscale mall food court and we both found something we liked without having to take out a second mortgage on our house. Finding a seat in that crowded area was much more difficult but we did finally manage it. I felt compelled to finish my fish and chips quickly so I could give my chair up to one of the other souls wandering aimlessly with their food tray, hoping for a vacant seat.

We peered in all the little shops and gawked at the planes on the tarmac before finally wandering up to our departure gate. As we sat there waiting for our flight to arrive I couldn't keep my eyes off the little princess who kept dancing around in front of her mom and grandma. She was around my Gracie's age and I think they would have become good friends if that sparkly crown on her head was any indication of her love of all things pink and sparkly. I watched her for awhile, already missing my little chick before my eyes shifted to the older girls who were quite excited to be going to Disneyland. They could barely contain themselves as they heard someone say our plane had arrived. They were traveling with their parents, grandparents and their aunts and uncles. It was quite the production! I became good friends with their little 5 month old cousin. He had the sweetest little round head and drooly grin! I wanted to pluck him from his mommy's arms and squeeze him but that is generally looked down upon if you don't know the person. :)

My personal secretary Kim made the flight arrangements for us and since she loves me I got the window seat. ;) My poor husband was squeezed in the middle and feeling claustrophobic so I scooted over as far as I could to give him some elbow room. It must have been enough because he relaxed and leaned across me to peer out the window too. I never get tired of the view out that postage stamp sized window. As we lifted off and the ground fell away below us all the familiar landmarks grew smaller and smaller. The rivers withdrew until they resembled silvery ribbons strewn haphazardly across the landscape, but it's always the mountains that get me. Suspended there between the earth and sky I peered out at the mountains which now looked like rumpled bedclothes beneath us and I was in awe of my God. My view is usually restricted to what is right in front of my face. I deal with the here and now, day to day stuff and forget there is a bigger picture to be seen. But when you're 30,000 feet up and the usually majestic mountains now look like nothing more than fudgy ripples in a bowl of cake batter your perspective changes.

I realized again how great He is and how small I am. How could One so vast, so amazing see such a tiny little speck in the grand scheme of things? But He does and not only does He see me, He loves me. I was surrounded by people on that flight but for a time I forgot they existed. I was alone with Him as He showed me the beauty etched with His hand. I sat in wonder as He spoke to my spirit of the things to come when I finally see Him face to face.

I can't wait for that day.

"I will extol You, my God, O King;

And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You, And I will praise

Your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;

And His greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall praise Your works to another,

And shall declare Your mighty acts.
I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty,

And on Your wondrous works.
Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts,

And I will declare Your greatness.
They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness,

And shall sing of Your righteousness."

Psalm 145:1-7

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Time for Tea...

As far back as I can remember my grandma had a beautiful collection of dainty teacups. When spring break or Christmas vacation would roll around us kids would be shipped off to her house and I would head straight for those colorful cups and saucers. Over the years she'd given up trying to clean them, the arthritis that curled her fingers in like talons made it nearly impossible to wash one without dropping it. Finally, when I was sixteen and had driven myself to her house I was deemed worthy.

The only thing I've ever washed more carefully than those teacups was my first newborn child.

After my grandma passed away all of us girls split the teacups amongst ourselves. The four that I chose were the beginnings of my own collection. I didn't really plan to have a teacup collection I just loved the four I had, but one day my mom noticed them and gave me two of hers. Then my aunt found out and she gave me one too. My husband, picking up on all my "oohing" and "aahing", began to buy them for Mother's day and birthdays and slowly my collection grew. So did the number of people buying them for me as my friends got in on the act too.

I decided that I had better somehow make note of who gave me what so I went through and labeled the bottom of each saucer (because I am getting old you know!) My grandma never used her teacups and except for our yearly Ladies Christmas Tea at church, neither did I. My daughters were much like me, always admiring from afar but never allowed to touch.

Something changed over the past year though. I have decided there is no point in having beautiful things if you're afraid to use them or share them with the ones you love.


Our church had a time period where we didn't have a youth group. Since my girls are at that early pre-teen/teen age I really wanted to make sure there was something happening for them regularly to focus on their spiritual growth so we came up with "Disciple Night". Originally the girls and I had planned to go to a coffee shop and have some time together praying and doing a book study. We've found that the intimacy of our dining room table creates a far sweeter time for us. We put piano music on the CD player, dim the lights and spend our discussion time in the flickering glow of candles. We drink tea and eat cookies or whatever other sweet confection is on hand and just enjoy the moment.

When we began doing this they used coffee mugs but tonight I told Jessica and Arielle to pick which teacup they wanted to use. The look in their eyes was a hard to describe combination of excitement, love, awe and a touch of reverence; probably the same look I had when I finally got to wash my grandma's teacups.

Jessica chose a gleaming white cup with one large pale blue rose edged with the tiniest bit of pink and accented with lush green leaves. Arielle's selection was a creamy colored cup with tiny rosebuds strewn all around it. The one spray of rosebuds inside the cup sets it apart. I was amused with how clearly their choices reflected their personalities. Jessica prefers understated elegance, feminine but classy. Arielle is a typical girly girl and loves pink and ruffles. I had a hard time choosing but in the end settled on a delicate alabaster white one decorated with small bouquets of roses trailing elegantly around it. I might be a bit of a girly girl myself. :)

We prayed together, read our chapter and discussed it and prayed again. We laughed and giggled, we talked about God and being content with what He's given us. We enjoyed each other immensely and when we were done we washed those cups and carefully put them back in their places.

I look at all those delicate, flowery teacups lining my mantle and covering our entertainment center. Perfectly positioned and placed exactly so; beautiful to look at but mostly unused. But when we washed them and brought them to the table and used them as they were intended, they turned an ordinary moment into something extraordinary.

Most of the women I know are like those teacups; they come in an array of beautiful shapes and colors with every flower imaginable represented. Some are being used in the capacity they were created for and they shine and sparkle with purpose. Others remain on the shelf, unaware of their latent beauty; thinking perhaps they resemble a coffee mug more than a finely detailed work of art. They watch the others; wishing and afraid to hope, not realizing that they too were created by the Master for a purpose.

True beauty isn't revealed by self help books, diets or because we've painted ourselves to look like what we think is acceptable. We will only recognize our worth when we see it revealed by Him. He created us exactly the way He wanted to and He doesn't make mistakes. He made you a beautiful work of art; will you allow Him to wash the dust and grime away to reveal the beauty He placed there?

He is worthy and I promise He won't drop you.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sir Josh!

Josh's 8th birthday was a couple of weeks ago but as sometimes happens when you have a busy life we just had the party yesterday. Since his mother likes to decorate cakes the boy decided he wanted a castle cake he'd seen in a cake book. To his young mind there was no question as to whether I could actually pull it off or not!

His whole birthday party was planned around this cake.

We invited his friends with a pronouncement of "Hear Ye! Hear Ye!" written on scrolls we'd made. All the "squires" were invited to the "trials". If they successfully completed them they would be knighted by King Jon at the end of the party.

We had them decorate tunics with their crest (they colored clearance pillow cases with fabric markers and then put them on. We tied brown rope around their waists for the leather belt.)

Next they went outside and decorated their shields which were made of cardboard. When that was done they began the trials. The first thing they had to do was run the obstacle coarse. They started in the back yard where we paired them up. They had to run from the back yard, around one side of the house where there was a "log in the forest that they had to jump with their horses" (we put a board down that they had to jump over). From there they traversed the great desert (the front yard) and ran until they reached the "castle" which blocked their passage into the back yard again. They had to climb over or through the castle, run back to the starting point and use the "lance" they'd been carrying to slay their dragon. (The dragons were two saw horses with a green balloon stuck to the end. The lances were foam pipe insulation with a pin stuck in one end).

They had to rescue a maiden (while keeping a balloon aloft with their sword) and they had to find the King's treasure which someone had stolen and scattered throughout the land. And of course their was the opportunity to just sword fight (again made from foam pipe insulation).

I had so much fun watching them! Today we taught Sunday school and several of the boys were in our class. We've heard a few times that it was the best party ever! That makes a mom feel good!

I just hope he doesn't want a party next year because I'm not sure we can top this one! lol

King Jon did knight all the boys (like his crown? We sacrficed a gift bag! lol) Gracie decided to get in on the act and started knighting people too!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Nothing left


That's how I'm feeling today; just a teeny, tiny bit overwhelmed.

The e-mails have been rolling in like one demanding tsunami wave after another and I began to feel like I was drowning in a sea of "did you? would you? have you? when are you?"

I called Jon to hear a friendly voice and maybe talk myself down from the wall I was about to jump off of.

I told him I'd like to be a cat; they lay around all day sleeping and eating. If they do decide to get up it's to pounce on another cat or walk over to a nice lap for some loving. Mine are laying around like little rugs in front of the woodstove slow roasting their bellies.

I'd definately like to be a cat! He just laughed not understanding how overwhelmed I was feeling. I think he got it when I got all weepy though. He tried to reassure me that we'd get it all figured out and I appreciate his efforts, but that wasn't quite what I needed.

I asked him to remind me of who was in control so he did. He reminded me that God is in charge and all we need to do is seek Him and let Him direct us. I know all of this, I just need to be reminded now and again. I take my eyes off my Lord and get them on the storm and my sinking boat and just like those disciples I start panicking.

Jon and I finished up and I felt a little better. Not much, but a little. Josh and Arielle were sitting at the kitchen table finishing up their lunch and reading bible verses to each other. Arielle said something to me about what they were doing and I replied, "I'm having a nervous breakdown!" She asked me if it would help if she read me a bible verse and I said sure, try to read one that's comforting.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

If you know me, you know that is my life verse. It's the one I cling to when I feel overwhelmed, unsure or out of my league (which pretty much describes me today!) As soon as she began to read I started to laugh. God is not a God who is far off. He is nearby waiting for us to call on Him for help. He's not unaware of my state and He has all I need to do what He's asked of me.

It was like He reached down into my kitchen and tenderly lifted my eyes off my storm and back to His beautiful face.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Thank you

It appears you want to remain anonymous so I hope you read this post.

To the person who placed the gift in my purse the other day, thank you for allowing the Lord to use you to bless us. Not only did it meet an immediate need but it encouraged me greatly.

You have no idea how much it was appreciated.


Monday, January 07, 2008

Note to self...

I frequent an online bulletin board and someone posted this there; it's a question to flylady and her response. Unfortunately I will occasionally indulge in this stinkin' thinkin' so I thought I'd copy and paste it here as a reminder to myself . :)

"Dear FlyLady,
How do you stop the martyr feelings when they start to come up? I find this stinking feeling sneaking up on me at times, especially during those busy/stressful times. How can I stop them right away?

Dear Friend,
You said it yourself, "especially during those busy/stressful times. "The secret to stopping those martyr feelings is taking care of yourself. I know you don't believe this. I use an acronym to help me HALT! Don't let yourself get too Hungry, too Angry, too Lonely, or too Tired. When you feel those martyred feelings creeping up on you, I want you to stop and find out which one of these things you have allowed to take over your body.Routines are the key to keeping your brain from going into that martyred stinking thinking! One other thing is the second you realize this is happening to you; BITE YOUR TONGUE! DO NOT ALLOW THOSE MARTYRED WORDS PAST YOUR LIPS. Then go set your timer and take care of yourself. Take deep breaths and focus on what needs to be done. Being a martyr is just another form of whining!- FlyLady"

Ooh, that last line has teeth! It hurt! lol I would add that if I am not in the Word and spending time in prayer then I am much, much more likely to indulge in those "I'm a martyr" thoughts. I've read Unappreciated by Damian Kyle many times because of those thoughts! If you've never read it, do! And then remember exactly who you're serving because when we remember that it's the Lord we serve (not ourselves) we can let go of worrying if anyone has seen all the work we're doing. We don't have to be concerned that we haven't recieved our fair share of attention or applause because we know He sees.

On the WOW Hymns cd Chris Tomlin has a version the hymn Take My Life and Let It Be that I absolutely love. I don't know how to link the song to my blog (And though I'm sure I could figure it out I have to go grocery shopping here in a minute!) So here are the words with Tomlin's refrain. When I sing this song (at the top of my lungs) I sing it as a prayer because if we lived our lives this way, the only martyrdom that would happen is the real kind, where we lay our lives down in service to Him.

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use every power as you choose.

Here am I, all of me
Take my life, it's all for Thee

Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

Oh Lord, please make my heart right before you and help me to remember exactly who I serve. That it isn't me and it isn't for the praise of men but only to hear "Well done my good and faithful servant" the day I look into your beautiful eyes. Take my life, it's all for Thee.