Friday, December 28, 2012


JOY has been the defining word for me this Christmas.  I've always loved the simple hymn "Joy to the World" {written in 1719 by Isaac Watts}, but this year it meant so much more to me.   As you read these lyrics, allow the richness of them to wash over your soul -  

Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Doesn't that make your heart want to shout?  The Lord has come!  Joy is here!  Every heart that prepares room for Him can be filled with the unspeakable joy that only comes through knowing the Christ of Christmas. 

I want this joy to shine through my life like never before.  I want my countenance to radiate its brightness, my words to translate its beauty, and my actions to initiate its blessings

JESUS has brought JOY to my life!

Friday, December 21, 2012


December 21st.
The first day of winter.
The shortest "day" of the year.
And the birthday of the best granny a girl could have.
I miss her so much!
About 1 year ago, Christmas 2011.
Granny loved life.  She loved her family.  Most of all, she loved God.
Christmas ~ one of her favorite times of the year.
My eyes have been wet with tears many nights since April 15th.  They've been tears of sadness, tears of thankfulness, tears of hope, and tears of expectancy.   I'm sad for the loss that our family has experienced, but my memories are filled with rejoicing for the woman who allowed God to use her in the most humble of ways. 

I reminisce in the stories of those who came to pay their respects upon her death.  They each had their own unique description of the way their lives had been impacted by the quiet, little lady.  From the pastor's wife who, in long tiring days of childrearing, had received calls from granny offering to come wash her dishes or help with laundry, to the little girl (now all grown up) who would've never known the difference Jesus could make in her life had it not been for granny relentlessly showing her His love by taking her to Bible Club every Thursday night, to her friends at the Senior Center whose lives were made rich through her encouraging them to attend the Bible studies and making hymns a regular part of the music times.  God only knows the thousands of contacts that were made through her handing a tract to nearly everyone she met.  She was a woman of passionate principle, however, she never allowed bitterness or criticism to ruin her principled living. 

Here is one of the most touching stories that I was told after her death.  A mom said to me,
"When my son found out his girlfriend was pregnant, he was distraught.  We couldn't find him for awhile, but discovered that he had gone to Maxine's house.  He said that he knew she wouldn't criticize him or talk to others about his failure, but would show him love, pray for him, and keep his confidence."  Seriously, how many teenagers would run to an old saint when faced with moral failure, guilt, and shame?  Did she condone sin?  Of course not, but just like Jesus, she had compassion upon the one who had committed sin. 

So I think I'll don a red sweater (her favorite 'Friday' attire), make some peanut clusters (something she always had waiting for us at Christmas), and spend time today doing something to brighten another's day - this is the way she lived her life, and is certainly what she would encourage for the rest of us. 

"Happy Birthday, Granny.  I know this has to be the best one ever!"

The Christmas season can be difficult for those who are grieving.  The holiday atmosphere screams at us to be happy and carefree, to forget our troubles and have a light heart.  I have found that the best way to channel grief is to express it, but not be consumed by it.  Remember the moments, cry the tears, mourn the losses.  Do this as often as necessary to heal the heart.  While grieving, look outside of your grief to the looming needs of others.  With a sensitive, compassionate heart (tenderized by grief), pour yourself into making life better for someone else.  

If you have a moment, I encourage you to listen to this song from one of my favorite artists, Mandisa. 
"Sometimes Christmas Makes Me Cry"

Friday, December 14, 2012

Couple Time

If you've read my sporadic blogging for any length of time, you probably already know that I'm a big fan of married couples spending time together...sans kids...on a regular basis. Obviously, there are times where it's just not practical, like when the kids are sick or struggling, or when the family is in transition, and dates have to be put on hold for awhile.

Our family transitioned this fall, and it seems that since our anniversary get-away in August, couple time has been rare, if not completely non-existent.   I know that every marriage has different dynamics, but for our Greg and I, this "couple" time is important stuff.

Now that the kids are older and more self-sufficient, we do find it less complicated to take a date, but actually making sure it happens hasn't become much easier!  A week ago Thursday, we decided that we would take a shopping date to try to wrap up some of the loose ends for Christmas.  I can't even remember where or if we ate, but it was so refreshing to just have uninterrupted conversation!

This week's date was a bit less forgettable.  Awhile back, the president of the company Greg works for asked if we would like to attend a Christmas party in his place.  It was to be held at the most prestigious club in our area, the Shawnee Country Club.  He had a family obligation, and wanted someone to represent the company.  The invitation was from our local community college, and I took the pertinent information off of it, and didn't pay much attention to the fine print.  I thought it was the employee Christmas party for the college, and since Greg's company services many of the college facilities I figured they were reaching out to us, as well. The kids kept saying, "You're'll be hanging out with rich people and eating awesome food."  I confidently told them that these employees were middle class just like us, and we would fit right in.

About .3 seconds after receiving our guest badges and turning down tickets for "holiday" drinks, I realized this wasn't an employee Christmas dinner.  The remaining guest badges had notable names printed on them.  The first person I saw was Mr. Ayers, the most prominent photographer in the area.  He has been all over the world and won all kinds of awards in photography.  He happened to be photographing all of the couples at the event.  :-)

Greg hung my coat in the cloak room, and slipped into the restroom for a minute.  When he came out, we slowly made our way through this array of faces, many of which we recognized but definitely had no social connection with.  Once we had a second to ourselves, he looked at me and half jokingly said, "Let's go to McDonald's and get a coke." 

Greg knew it wasn't an employee dinner, but we hadn't had much communication about the whole thing.  Within a few minutes, we recognized that the mayor, city council, influential executives and business leaders, and top donors to the college were the recipients of this finery, and once we filled our plates with hors d'oeuvres and had a seat amidst the festive array of Christmas splendor, I began to feel a bit more comfortable.  Not knowing anyone at the event on a personal level, we found an empty table.   It wasn't too long before we were joined by six other friendly guests and were able to interact and mingle.  I have to say that the endless prime rib was better than any other dinner date we've had in awhile, and it was nice to have refills before having to ask.  :-)

I wanted to take pictures, but there was a marked absence of cell phones, so I snuck mine out for one shot of the room, and this is all I have.  In this ballroom, there were two beautiful fireplaces, a white baby grand piano, tons of Christmas trees (the white ones were revolving), and there was live music.  It was beautiful, to say the least. 

The exterior of the club was decorated really great as well, but I wasn't brave enough to take a pic on the way in while it was still light.  :-)

So, that's the story of our "couple time" for this week.  We finished out the evening with coffee and some Christmas shopping.  Let's just say I feel a lot more comfortable in TJ Maxx than I do at the Shawnee Country Club!  No, honestly, it was a fun evening, and we were able to meet some neat people. 

Now I'm off to find a fancy clutch in case there is a next time.  Haha!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Wrappin' Up Another Week!

A Saturday morning at home together has been pretty rare for our family for awhile! On the weekends we've been home, Greg has had the boys in the woods pretty early.

Last Saturday, my mom and I went to the craft show at the school where she works. We were in a bit of a hurry because of a wedding later in the afternoon, but it was fun and we did pick up a couple of cute things!

This morning we are having our church Christmas dinner. We've always had it in the evening, but a couple of years ago I noticed that a lot of people were talking about how difficult it is to fit everything in before Christmas. There are company parties, family gatherings, Christmas plays, etc., and only so many Friday and Saturday nights before Christmas. This year we were blessed with a bonus week, but that doesn't always happen. :-) So, a few weeks back, I mentioned that it might be nice to have it at lunch time. The idea caught on pretty quickly, and we're having it from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. today. If it's a bust, we can always switch back to evening next year! This year it will definitely be a blessing because after the dinner today, we will be preparing Sunday dinner for a college choir that will be doing a Christmas concert tomorrow morning! So, with about 10 lbs. of slow-cooked bbq pork in the crock pot and a double batch of veggie bake in the oven, I'm all set. :-)

Lima is lucky enough to now be one of the cities involved in a milk war! A Ruler Foods (kind of an outlet for Kroger) has recently opened, and they advertised milk at $1.49. Aldi says they won't be beat, so theirs is also $1.49. Not sure how long it will last, but it's definitely a bargain for now! I was a little skeptical about our town having another grocer (we have a ton of them), but this is like an Aldi (pay for a cart and buy or bring bags) and they also have brand names AND accept coupons!
Woo Hoo!

Greg and I finally crawled out of our hole and went to the mall on Thursday. Other than sporadically going into one of the anchor stores, we haven't been to the mall in months. I was happily surprised to see one of my absolute favorite kid's stores almost ready to open! I found Crazy 8 in Ft. Wayne several years ago, and probably made my biggest Black Friday purchases at their store in Florence, KY this year. They carry modest, adorable, girl's clothing at very affordable prices (when you watch sales and clearance), and they go all the way up to size 14! That makes me h-a-p-p-y!

Hope you are taking time to enjoy all the festivities this year! Some are still asking for the Veggie Bake recipe...we tend to need these kinds of things this time of year!

Vegetable Bake (Pampered Chef)
3-16 oz. bags California Blend
1 cup mayonaise
1 tsp. pepper (use more to taste)
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1-14.5 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
1 clove garlic (more or less to taste)
Spread California Blend into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Combine all other ingredients in a bowl, then spread evenly over veggies.
Bake @ 350 for 45 minutes, or until the veggies are like you like them (more tender or more firm).
Add French's Fried Onions (Cheddar Onions are great, too!), and bake another 5 minutes or until golden. Let set for 5 minutes or so before serving.
***I make this alot because it is basically foolproof. Baking time can be adjusted by letting the veggies thaw before baking. If they are frozen solid, it may take more than an hour to reach desired tenderness.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Allison: "Mommy, are you over 40?"

Mommy: "No."

Allison: "Are you 40?"

Mommy: "No, I'm not there yet."

Allison (with smile and a gleam in her eye):  "Well, when you turn 40 you can get on the Amberen program."

Thanks, you lil' stinker!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Decor Update!

Last weekend, we had LOTS of company!  Ok, so it was only nine guests, but after just getting settled in it seemed like there was a lot to do!  I was happy to get some decor on the walls before they arrived.  Although things are far from finished, I'll give you a few bits of the scenery to this point.  Keep in mind, decorating isn't my strength, but I want my house to feel warm and inviting, and it is working so far.  :-)

This shelf was an old window valance that a friend of mine sold
me for $5.  Ryan helped my tear off the front board, and I
sprayed it black.  It's not perfect, but primitive loves imperfection. 
I need to add something under the shelf, but I'm not sure what.
It can't be something that sticks out at all, or it will get bumped.
There was a corner shelf in the dining room (probably for a TV),
and I told the guys to keep it when we were remodeling.  It is a little
awkward, so I'm not sure that I'll keep it permanently, but for now
it holds Kaitlynn's favorite little Pilgrim figurines and some harvest decor.
Love this built in cabinet in the living room. 
It's full of a bunch of random stuff, but at
least it's not in complete chaos...this part of it anyway!'s the chaos.  :-)  I think I will buy white cabinet doors
to go on the front of this.  For now, it's a bit of a heap.  Hehe!
Getting rid of the mint green front door has to be a priority this
week.  I am not looking forward to doing it, but I know I'll be
thrilled when it's gone!
Kid's bathroom, which also serves as the main bath.
The one item in my home that makes me smile every single time I see it!
The southern half of the living room - it is more narrow than
the other half, and I haven't done much with it yet.  Alli
loves the remote controlled ceiling fan.  :-)

A not-so-great photo of the dining room, but you get the idea.
There is oak moulding waiting to go around the ceiling, and wall
decor will come eventually.  I have my eye on an ever-so-amazing
table and chairs that will seat more than six, but that might not be
happening for awhile. Depends on what kind of a lucky deal I find!
And that's it for now! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like...

Can anyone believe that Christmas decorations are popping up all over the place?  When we moved, my mom encouraged me to just go ahead and decorate for December, but I love fall and Thanksgiving so much I couldn't possibly think about skipping the mums, the scarecrows, the gourds, the pumpkins, and the leaves and going straight for the holly, the ivy, and the mistletoe!  However, it really hit me yesterday...just as I'm almost finished putting the final touches on my fall decor, I'm gonna have to tear it all apart and bring out the Christmas tree!  *Sigh*

About a week ago, I began my Christmas shopping, and those gifts were delivered to my front porch this morning.  I scratched four names off of my list in about 30 minutes and didn't have to darken the door of a retail center.  I think I'll be doing a little more of that this Christmas.  :-) 

I love how the holiday season reaches out and grabs each of my senses.  The sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and textures of November, December, and January make these my favorite months of the year {although June, July, and August rival a close 2nd for any teacher  :-)}, and I wish that we could just slow the calendar and add more hours to these short days!  Since that is impossible, we have to focus on making every moment count.  For us, this will mean prioritizing carefully and squeezing memories out of every occasion, being grateful for the ordinary parts of our days, finding ways to reach out to those who are less fortunate or hurting, and cherishing every breath that we take as a special gift from the God Who has blessed us with an abundance of good things.

How are you kick-starting your holiday season?  My prayer is that you are able to avoid the rush, the busyness, and the noise to find a quiet, tranquil oasis of celebration and worship this year! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Morning After...

***I composed most of this post November 7th, but it didn't make it past draft.  I felt that I should go ahead and share it even though it's late.

Apparently I didn't have that nauseating feeling in my stomach all day yesterday for nothing.  My confidence in the American voter was weak at best, and I'm not surprised that, as a nation, we are getting what we deserve. 

Yes, I'm sad and fearful, but I'm also fired up to stand for freedom and continue to do what I'm doing every single day, only with more passion and more commitment. 

But this time I'm going to follow the admonition of 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (ESV): "First of all then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may live a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way."

How am I going to pray for President Obama?  Here's my list:
  • that God will soften and change his hardened heart
  • that he will come under conviction for his sins
  • that in his sleep he will have nightmares of aborted babies pleading for his help
  • that he will waffle back to his 2008 statement that marriage should be between a man and a woman - and then quit waffling and develop a firm belief
  • that he will feel the need to be truthful with the American people about his past
  • that he will have an awakening to truth - something with which he hasn't been too familiar for most of his life
During this presidential campaign, I really came to appreciate (from afar) the Romney family and their contribution to this nation.  Although I'm saddened that we will not get a chance to see what a President Romney could do for this country, we must move past our disappointments and prepare to stand for righteousness, freedom, truth, and justice - maybe in a way that takes much more energy than ever before.

This election season has been a huge learning experience for my kids.  Because they are blessed to be able to learn real history (rather than some humanistic text writer's twist), they are relating what they learn to what is actually happening right now, and connecting the dots rather easily.  Ryan is studying FDR, and he is blown away by the similarities in principle and policy, and he is learning how history, unfortunately, repeats itself.

In the recent edition of the Answer's In Genesis newsletter, Ken Ham relates the words of an atheist who visited the Creation Museum in 2009:  "For me, the most frightening part was the children's section.  It was at this moment that I learned the deepest lesson of my visit to the Museum..."  He added: "It is in the minds and hearts of our children that the battle will be fought!" 

Let's face it, people, the enemy knows that if they win this battle, it will be through the minds of the children.  After 40+ years of brainwashing in education, we are reaping huge consequences.  Adolph Hitler wrote, "He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future."  And that's exactly how he did it. 

Most importantly, the thing I always knew but now know better is that spending effort convincing someone to vote for a candidate may have short term benefits; however, leading them to Jesus Christ and allowing Him to change their hearts will not only shape their values and world view, but it will also create a positive impact on all of those that their life is able to reach. 

The greatest privilege I have had in recent days is to lead someone to the Lord Jesus Christ.  My prayer is that each of us will be able to reach another, and through that effort truly turn our nation back to Christ.

I close this post with the word to a hymn that my husband led in worship Sunday morning -

God of grace and God of glory,
On Thy people pour Thy pow'r.
Crown Thine ancient Church's story;
Bring her bud to glorious flow'r.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
For the facing of this hour, for the facing of this hour.
Lo! the hosts of evil round us
Scorn Thy Christ, assail His ways!
Fears and doubts too long have bound us;
Free our hearts to work and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
For the living of these days, for the living of these days.
Cure the people's warring madness;
Bend our pride to Thy control. 
Shame our wanton, selfish gladness -
Rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Lest we miss Thy kingdom's goal, Lest we miss Thy kingdom's goal.
Set our feet on lofty places;
Gird our lives that they may be
Armored with all Christlike graces
In the fight to set men free.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
That we fail not man nor Thee!  That we fail not man nor Thee!

~H.E. Fosdick, 1930~

Friday, November 2, 2012

Proud. Free. American.


This season has my red, white, and blue blood running a little thicker and warmer than usual.  I love America, and contrary to some, I believe she and her God-given foundation and values are worth a fight.  And to me, this last political year has felt like a fight.

Both of my grandfathers served in WWII combat, and they made tremendous sacrifices physically, emotionally, and relationally to protect and defend the USA.  They actively loved our country, and because of them and a host of others, our great nation is free and has been the catalyst to helping others find or retain freedom.

Few things are more stirring and exciting to me than political rallies.  Yep, I've been to more than a few:

Gerald Ford

Ronald Reagan

George H.W. Bush
George W. Bush
I love hearing from men who have a passion to lead our country.  Yes, they all have faults.  They aren't talented in every single one of the areas that they are depended upon to lead.  Who is, really?  But when a man comes along who is willing to lead by example, uphold our Constitution, and keep America safe, he is a hero to me.

John McCain
I even took my four kids (which included a 9-month-old) to see this patriot.  I wasn't ever really hyped about the possibility of him being our president, but tears were rolling down my face as we sat inside the civic center and listened to him tell stories of American heroism, and the promise of our country's history and its future.  I hoped that my sons would one day have the courage of Mr. John McCain.

Today, America is in a time of crisis.  After the 2008 election, I completely lost hope for our current generation of voters, and the integrity of the ballot.  This spring, as the primary election came and went, my hopes didn't rise as much as I would have liked, but I began to sense an undercurrent which has since become a tidal wave of voters determined to do their part to bring America back to her liberties.

Because of our move this fall, we did something unusual and voted early.  Although it was a little anticlimactic (who wants to wait several weeks to hear the results?), it felt good to exercise my rights as an American woman at the ballot box.  I hope you'll do the same sometime between now and November 6th. 

Today our current president is giving a speech seven blocks from our house.  Although I respect his office and it's historical to be in the same room with a president, I'm so saddened by his disrespect for our country, his disdain for Christianity, and his neglect of human life - whether military, elderly, or unborn -  that I have no desire to be within a country mile of the place. I won't sit and argue about it...facts are facts, and what I know scares me.  What scares me more is that there is plenty I don't know.  So, I'm gonna go ahead and get political here...whatever you feel about electing a Mormon, etc., please get on your knees and pray, become educated about facts, and vote for the man who most closely aligns himself with the principles of God's Word.  Our children's future is at stake...and that's not just a political talking point, it's the dead honest truth.



Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tips To Try Before You Toss!

Several years ago, I bought a crock pot from a department store. I rarely used it because I rarely cooked and the lid latch was very annoying and unhandy. One time I had made Hormel chili dip in the crock, and the plastic part of the lid cracked releasing the two tiny metal pins that were holding it in place. I had a ton of dip in that crock and didn't want to toss it, so I spooned through all of it to find the two tiny pins. For the next year and a half, that crock took up space in our garage with all the little parts in a zip lock bag just waiting for a solution. The crock pot was several years old, I didn't have the receipt, and I didn't figure there was much hope for it. When we moved, Greg asked if there was a need to keep it. I told him to pitch it because I couldn't use it without a lid, and it was just taking up space. He leaned toward hanging onto it, so I inspected the bottom and found an 800 number. After spending just a couple of minutes on the phone with a very nice CSR, she informed me that a new lid was on its way. All I had to give her was the model #.  A week later, I have a new lid and it didn't cost me more than 2 minutes to make the phone call.

Back in 2001, my parents helped me purchase a digital piano. They had previously loaned me their upright, but with moving and wanting to use the piano at different venues, a lighter weight digital seemed like a good solution. The Clavinova has served me well for these 11 years, but a couple of years ago (about the time the kids started practicing on it) it started to develop some sticky keys. I figured it was because of the extra wear and tear. After awhile, it became frustrating to try to play, and having to practice for weddings with sticky keys was no fun. I checked with a guy from church who knows quite a bit about electronics, and keyboards in particular, and he didn't seem to think there was much hope for it. I knew it wasn't something that I wanted to spend hundreds of dollars on, since the whole piece only cost $2,000 eleven years ago. I called our local Clavinova dealer, and the owner informed me that Clavinova had done a keyboard recall because of faulty keys and that my model might be eligible. Within just a couple of days, he and another employee came out and removed my old keyboard and installed another from the factory. After he put it all back together, he began to play it and noticed some squeakiness in the pedals some excess stress noise, so he and the other guy flipped it over and tightened all of the bolts for me.  Works like a charm now!  And all for a $100 trip/labor charge. 

If you have something that isn't working quite right or has broken without abuse, check the product or the internet for a phone number and call the service dept.  I can't guarantee it will always work in your favor, but these two items made it well worth it for me to do a little checking!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Turning House Into Home

After almost two weeks in our new home, this was the extent of my decor. :-)

And it was up because we really needed a safe place for the keys, wallet, etc., in the chaos of unpacking. I don't know about you, but for me decorating is purposeful. And sometimes it's downright confusing.

When we remodeled our first home, it had a very country flavor, and I purchased new decor and curtains for almost every room of the house. I never was crazy about how the master bedroom turned out (it never felt finished), but the rest of the house fit together so well. Then we moved from the cape cod back to a ranch. Knowing that most of the window treatments wouldn't work in the ranch, we sold them with the house. The ranch didn't have the country feel of the cape cod, so I leaned a little more with my primitive preference, and after 6 years it felt comfortable. I wasn't crazy about every detail, but the family liked it.

Now here we are again: back to the cape cod feel, which I love. Our family agrees that this house is so much more cozy than the ranch, and it's my job to accent and enhance its coziness and beauty with minimal expense. Fortunately, the decor from the ranch will work much better in this style of house, but proper placement is important. Many of the walls are plaster, meaning there isn't much room for trial and error. I really want to get this done so that I can feel more confident when having guests, but I know that staring at the walls won't give them the motivation to dress themselves.  :-)

Sometimes I just have to clear my head and bring myself back to the basics of decorating our home.  And there are a few key things that I have to remember:
  • From the blog of a friend, decorate for us, not for others.  Unless my decor would be offensive or uncomfortable for guests, I should go for what we like.  In these days of blogs and Pinterest, it can be so easy to decorate to impress others when our real goal should be to provide an environment that feels comfortable to our family.
  • Avoid clutter.  I'm not big on knick-knacks (which often end up looking like clutter), but I have to be careful because primitive decorators love to sell them, and although they are very enticing to me in the boutiques, I don't have time to dust and arrange stuff.  And our family prefers the look of less.  Sort of helps one to breathe better.  :-)
  • Functionality is key.  How many times have I arranged and rearranged in my mind, simply because I want the spaces in my home to be functional.  After living in a place for just a few days, one can see placements that make things more difficult.  So we move them, and then we spend another week getting used to where things are now.  :-)  Balancing visual appeal with functionality isn't always easy, but it's worth the effort.
  • Incorporate sentimental pieces into decor.  This is something I have done minimally, but would like to do more.  When we remodeled the first house, we had the windows replaced.  I kept one of the old windows to use as decor, and whenever I see it I'm reminded of not only the work that we accomplished together, but of the really great times that we had when we lived in that home.  I have several keepsakes that I would like to weave into displays, and I'm anxious to see how that turns out. 
The atmosphere in our homes is created by a combination of aesthetics and values, but overall, there are several characteristics that I want my home to generate:
  • Wholesome purity
  • Calm
  • Warmth
  • Welcome

Monday, October 29, 2012

I've Found My Closet!

And I'm not talking about the one that has been stacked high with boxes, bags, or piles of random stuff that didn't have another home! 

All of my life I've heard spiritual people talk about the importance of a 'prayer closet,' which is in essence a 'place' that I consistently spend time alone with God.  All of my life I've been confused about whether this was mandatory or even possible.  Every time I would hear someone mention a 'prayer closet,' my mind would begin to spin again, thinking about a place that I could possibly designate as my 'closet.'  It always seemed that it would have to be a place that only I would go, and that there would need to be some sacredness about it.  Needless to say, I just continued to pray here, there, and everywhere. 

The night before we moved, I was in the shower, thinking about my last time in different areas of the house: our last meal in the dining room, my last night to tuck the girls in their bed in the only room Allison has ever known, etc., and the weirdest thing hit me.  I realized that for months and years, that shower had been my prayer closet!  I began to cry as I thought about all of the times that my soul had cried out to God in that very place.  Sometimes my shower prayers consisted of praying for a specific burden, sometimes they were me pouring out grief, pain, and questions.  And then there were those wonderful times where God's presence poured out upon my soul  just like the water from the shower poured onto my body. 

Now, you might be thinking that it's just a little odd to have such a prayer closet, but I can give you five good reasons why it's a great place:
  1. The door has a lock.
  2. Between the fan and the running water, you can count on being able to talk to God without everyone hearing your conversation
  3. Showering is consistent, so that makes praying consistent.
  4. Multitasking is smart.
  5. A warm (scalding hot for me) shower is a relaxing experience which typically allows one to release the cares of the day.  It is much easier to focus in prayer and hear God's voice when the mind is clear, the body is relaxed, and the spirit feels refreshed. 
Although every person in my house uses the shower, and it's definitely not what most would consider "holy ground," it's a place where I meet God and He meets me. 

How 'bout you?  Where is your favorite place to pray?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Just Do It


A few weeks back, a popular blogger was running a series of posts about personal discipline (a subject in which I could use some help). I was surprised when one of the topics focused on the blogger's struggle with getting dressed each day. The temptation was for her to get busy and stay in pj's or work out clothes all day, and then feel like a frump when her husband came home from work. Given her stellar example in business and homemaking, this was a bit of a shock to me.

Even more surprising was that there were hundreds of comments from women who identified with the blogger. Many of them were validating (or just excusing) her struggle, and I was completely taken back by the amount of women who feel that it is acceptable for them (and their kids) to - on a regular basis - nix getting dressed. "It saves on laundry when we all stay in our pj's," was mentioned several times. It was apparent by many of the responses that there were a lot of women who were trying to convince themselves and others that the behavior was acceptable. Of course, I typically visualize everything I read, and the images of smelly moms with stinky breath and grungy hair greeting their hardworking husbands at the end of the day just didn't strike me as excusable. Not to mention passing along this lifestyle to the houseful of kids they are get the idea.

Now it's probably not all that terrible to stay in our pj's once in awhile, especially if we're sick or have other circumstances, but it did occur to me that in the amount of time it took for the commenters to read and then comment, they could have been fully dressed and ready to greet the day with a certain amount of class and dignity. :-)

But it also occurred to me that while I was judging this group of people for their seeming lack of motivation to just "get up and do it," there are so many topics on which I am continually reading or studying, when I actually have all of the information I need. The big inhibitor is myself, and my own lack of motivation.

You've probably heard it said that it's not so much what we don't know that hurts us; it's what we do know and aren't practicing.   I've been thinking about that a lot lately, and wondering how much better my life would be for myself and for my family, if I would just act on every single discipline that I know.  If I would just force myself to do all the things that I detest, rather than ignoring even just one, how much of a difference would it make?  Hmmm...something to think about.  But then again, I need to quit thinking and start acting.  :-)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mentor. Nurture. Grow.

Every week I have the opportunity to talk with women who are on a unique journey.  A journey that is all their own.  Some are single, others are married.  Some are widowed, others are divorced.  Some have a house full of kids, others are childless.  Some are ministry women, others work in secular employment.  Some are stay-at-home moms who send the kids off to school, others are stay-at-home moms that gather the kids around the table and do the hard but rewarding task of being the teacher.   Some live here in the USA, others have made the sacrifice to live in another culture and shine Christ's love in a remote area of spiritual darkness.  Some are outgoing, others are quiet.  Some are Christians, others are not.  And the differences go much further than these.  Each woman is her own combination her genetics, her upbringing, and every influence that has brought her to this point.

Although women are unique, there is one certain commonality: women need each other.  I can hear a few sighs at this point, but I have no doubt that it is true.  Sure, some personalities are wired to enjoy social activities more than others, but even introverted women also need other women.  I once talked with a woman who is very melancholy, and she told me that most of the time she has to force herself to go out and participate in events because even though her personality screams at her to stay home and be alone, she knows that she needs the support, accountability, and fellowship of other women.  She also knows that God wants to use her to bless others, and in order to do that she must deny herself and leave her "safe" zone.  I admire this friend very much because I know that she gives of herself in many ways, and one of those is by simply "showing up."

Because of the need for a strong women's fellowship/mentoring group in our conservative holiness circles, Women of Worth/IHC came into existence several years ago.  The Interchurch Holiness Convention (IHC) is a three day conference in Dayton that occurs early in the spring of each year, and Women of Worth/IHC is a ministry of that large interdenominational group.  Our Lima WOW Chapter celebrated its 10th anniversary in May of this year.  We are so blessed to have this opportunity for women to gather in our local area. 

Our monthly meeting was held last Monday night, and the theme was Women's Health Issues.  Obviously, this is a complex subject that would require days to cover, but the focus was specifically on breast health since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I wasn't able to stay for the entire event, but it was a very informative time.  A physician, as well as the oncology coordinator, for the Lima Memorial Hospital Women's Health Center came to lecture on breast health.  They brought silicone models so that our women could feel them and detect problem areas, explained exactly how to do a self-exam, types of mammography, types of breast cancer, types of treatments, and stepped the group through exactly what would happen if a diagnosis was given.  They brought two packets for each woman (one for the woman and one for her to share), and did an amazing job of communicating to our women about breast health.  All of this, and they didn't charge a dime.  They considered it an honor to be able to share. 

Ladies arriving at the Commons for the WOW session. 
The decor was so pretty, and most of the women wore pink.

My mom has been our chapter
leader for 10 years.

Dr. Weyer giving useful information
and demonstrations

The lady on the right wrote a grant last
year that resulted in Lima's women's center
being awarded  $60,000 + from the
Komen Foundation.

I should have taken this at the beginning...when the food was
a little less picked over!  It was so pretty and sooo good!
Through the years, we have have a ton of fun, informative, spiritually nourishing themes and topics put together by our local WOW committee which is made up of three ladies.  They have always done such a great job!

Back in the early spring, I was asked to serve as an advisory member of the National WOW/IHC Committee.   When the request came, I was a little conflicted because I didn't want to add too much to what I felt was an already overflowing list of responsibilities.  In my mind, I decided to give it a year to see how demanding it would be and how it would flow with my personal and family goals.
Last weekend, I was able to attend my first committee meeting.  All but one of the eight members was able to be there, and after spending time with these ladies, hearing and feeling their passion and their hearts, I knew that I was a part of something that was well worth any energy I could give.  So...I'm excited to be on a team that is continuing with the original WOW/IHC vision, and making positive, forward movement to improve an already outstanding women's ministry. 

Now and then I talk to women who are reaching out for a tool like this.  Something that will bring them together and encourage them through fellowship, accountability, and mentoring.  If you are one of those, I would love to hear from you via email at  There are WOW-IHC groups set up in various places throughout the US as well as internationally, and if you aren't near enough to connect with one of them, you could consider becoming a chapter leader and hosting a group of your very own.

For centuries, women have depended upon one another for help, advice, and support.  In a modern era of independence, something valuable has been {for the most part} lost.   Wherever you are in life, you have something to give and you have a need to receive.  Be sure to make time to develop and nurture those connections that are so beneficial.  It is worth the effort.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Day 1

I must have been off a day (imagine that) cause Friday was the day we handed the keys to the new owners. Greg met them after work and did a walk through with them to make sure everything was satisfactory. It makes us feel good to know that they are excited about the house. Selling without a broker wasn't nearly as difficult as I had imagined, and it was a good experience overall (not to mention that we saved 6%).

This day was full. As soon as we finished all the business and hunted down clothes to pack our suitcases, we hit the road for MI to visit with family. So...the mess awaits. :-)

posted from Bloggeroid

Day 3

The kids are loving their new home and preferred to stay there while Greg and I completed the task of cleaning the old place. It was a relief to finally box the last item, clean the floors and appliances, and be done with it. That feeling outweighed the twinge of sadness that otherwise would have overwhelmed me.

I can definitely see a light at the end of this tunnel! :-)

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 4

I was up and at em by about 5:45 cause our school staff atteneded CEC in Columbus. I usually enjoy these times immensely, but I was so tired this year that I just wanted it to be overwith! That sounds really bad. I did get some excellent helps from the conference, and of course enjoyed spending time with some of the best people on the planet. Poor Greg had to do a lot more packing and cleaning while I was away, and we hauled yet another load of JUNK away to the new garage. :-)

Day 5

So...on day 5 my sister showed up to get fitted for a bridesmaid's dress for a very special wedding that is upcoming. It was fun to get to be with she and the girls and Amy for awhile. Although my mom and brother were working, the rest of us had a little Skyline time! :-) It just happened to be Kid's Night, so that helped the 6 little girls and one little Will to be occupied a little better.

As for progress, Greg and I were able to box up more junk (at this point, that's what is, and after showing all the family through the new place, transported it to the new garage. I'm wishing there were enough warmth left this fall to do a big garage sale...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 6

After school, we went straight home to Cridersville to empty the shed, the attic, and my curio cabinet. There are a few odds and ends left to move, and some cleaning which will have to be done yet this week. On the "new" homefront, while I was at Women of Worth, my hubs and dad were able to install the microwave and stove, and they straightened up the deck and garage. Both are large areas, and the clutter was getting a little overwhelming. :-)


Monday, October 15, 2012

Day 8

Moving Day!  Greg had a mandatory meeting for work (wouldn't ya know it!) down in Sidney, OH, so I left the kids relaxing at home and went on over to get a head start and tie up a few of the many loose ends.  Panera's Pumpkin Spice Latte made the morning a little more fun (why must my taste buds be so attached to my emotions?).  After a few minutes, there was a knock on the door, and it was my neighbor...exchanging her dishes from the previous night's dinner for this...

I didn't rotate the pic, but that
didn't change the flavor!  :-)
The new house was in chaos for the whole day.  Our friend Steve continued to work on wiring every outlet, exhanging the switches and plates, and helping put in some lights.  Rob Cantrell helped Greg move furniture.  Wendy stopped by my house, loaded her car with boxes and odds and ends, and Stephanie helped her unload. My parents continued to make trips to Lowes and Menards for supplies, they brought dinner, did laundry, bathed the kids, and helped to keep things organized as much as possible.  Everyone's help was appreciated so much!  Lots of people had offered to help, but not knowing exactly when things were going to roll, we couldn't really schedule it.  Everything was very spontaneous, to say the least.

By the time we fell into bed Sunday night, this was the view
from the front door.  It drove me nuts, but short of staying
up all night, there wasn't a thing I could do about it!
View from the kitchen - not getting any better, is it?!  :-)

Part of our bedroom
Fortunately, it's a big bedroom, and this was the only part
we even cared to see by that point in the day!
THIS is a lovely sight.  :-)
So Day 8 was pretty productive.  Stay tuned for updates which I will post randomly as we make progress! 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day 9

My "boss" unexpectedly covered for me for the afternoon, so I was able to get into my paint clothes a little earlier than planned.  Yay for me - just love those paint clothes {please sense the sarcasm}.
Friday's work made me feel like an old woman.  Not sure why all of the sudden every part of me ached like I had been beaten, but 4 ibuprofen were a necessity, that's for sure!  :-)

Our neighbor and friend, Stephanie Cantrell, brought us dinner on Friday.  Thank you, Stephanie, for your thoughfulness!  I'm sure McDonald's missed us, but we sure didn't miss them!  :-)

Stew and rice

Homemade cornbread (huge hit!)
I painted most of the dining room and touched up parts of the living room.  Didn't seem like I accomplished much, but it took hours and I finally wrapped it up and went home at about midnight.

I will miss my inset porch.  The privacy made it a nice
place to relax - when we actually had time to sit there.  :-)
I didn't decorate much outdoors because
of the move, but I love the color of
the mums this year.  So vibrant!