Monday, September 28, 2009

Color Me Patina

Okay, you dear hearts have requested some photos. Thanks for humoring me! Suggestions are always welcome. Here are some photos of the FAVORITE wall in my house. The pictures do not capture the color quite right unfortunately. It is such a beautiful shade of green, not too dark or too green, just a whispery light pine green with a breath of creamy whiteness to let it flow so nicely with the oak woodwork. Truly next time you're at Lowe's@ stop and get a paint chip of "Patina" in the Signature EddieBauerCollection. The wall I painted is the one the door is on with the framed photographs and the painting (done by my Great Great Aunt Vlusta Marty in the early 1900's.) I'm not sure if I should paint another wall too or not. The bedroom flows into the sink area and the closet is behind the wall with the painting. There are few separations between rooms throughout the house as it is very open. Upstairs we have a loft that overlooks the living room and also our bedroom is open looking over a ledge down into the living room. It may sound bizarre ... but it is a very warm, home-y environment. And we like it. We designed it to be a timber frame but built it with conventional construction (a few less "cha-chings" that way!)

This photo is taken from the loft across toward our bedroom. You can kinda see the oak trim of the ledge. Oh yes, and the tip of an elk antler from a previous elk hunt. Sorry this one is so dark.

And to answer the question as to why we have an opening on one side of our bedroom? This is the view from our bedroom down into the living room and you can kinda see the loft adjacent to our bedroom. It's supposed to be a toy area for now ... but when it grows up we hope it's a neat work/reading area. The fireplace is so cozy to watch in the winter time, especially at night even if you just kinda see the glow. Our home has an abundance of cozy I guess and walls just kinda seemed to stop the flow of it.

You'll also notice the abundance of white on the walls throughout the other photos. I'm somewhat partial to accent walls especially since some of ours are quite tall (17 feet.) yikes. Those will probably remain white for a good while.

My next project? The entryway wall opposite the front door. I'm going to paint it "Khaki" in the same EB line. "Barley" was SO close to being my choice ... it is a wonderful color! But I chickened out that it might be too dark. So for a second opinion I asked my four year old (good idea?) and he chose this color ... twice.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Happy Sunday

I am at home today with my husband who just returned from a 10 day elk hunting trip out West and my boys--all of whom are sleeping.
He was not eaten by bears (thank you God!) But he did not harvest any elk either (bummer) and the balance of the family (me and the kids) survived pretty well coming through a nasty sore throat, coughing yuck thing that hit the night he left. Brayden is sick now and is miserable just as a side note.

But while Jeff was gone I was able to paint our bedroom (1 accent wall) a GORGEOUS color! It's the first time I've painted and actually ended up liking the color. Thank you Stefanie and Tara for the suggestion of The Eddie Bauer Signature line at Lowes! I went with a green hue called "Patina" and it is SO beautiful. I have found myself going to my room just to sit and look at the wall! I know that's sad and pathetic, but we have lived here 9.5 years and have only painted 2 bathrooms and the dining room, which turned out to be such a subtle color you can barely tell it's different than the rest of the "Colorado White" in the rest of the house. To finally find a color I like, well, it just leaves me so happy!

While online recently looking for some fabric I found this design that found a happy place in my heart. It sums up how I feel right now. However, with 3 boys I don't suppose OUR household will be using it very soon (not being cars, dinosaurs or sports) ... but I just might have to buy some to have in my stash I love it so much! You just never know when you might need a sunshiny flower to brighten the day and I think any project made with this would make any little girl feel so special.
P.S., where the above swatch is from, has Incredible fabrics especially for kids! ... dig around a bit and you will find TONS of super cute ladybugs, flowers, dragon flies, frogs, monster trucks, girly girl prints and boy themes galore. There are even some chinese character batiks that brought me to the site originally while I was searching for some special material for a bai jia bei quilt for my blog-friend Tanya! It's an incredible fabric resource. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

How big is God?

So today Easton SO very much cracked me up ... oh my goodness. If he ever grows out of being four I will be so sad. He is just so true and pure. I love him! On the way home from Preschool I looked in the rearview mirror and saw him with his right hand in the air, his eyes closed and his head bopping in time with the music and singing some lyrics (which were absolutely hilarious as he had about every third word or so) and I asked, "Uh, Easton what are you doing?"--"I'm singing to God Mom" ("obviously Mom, come on" was what he was thinking.) "Easton, where did you see it done like that?" I asked ... "Church"
It was SO precious.
Coming from a long line of devout midwestern Lutheran and Presbyterians, I'm not sure if my arms are able to be unpinned from my sides in order to worship so freely ... but it was SO cool to see him doing it with free abandon and loving every minute of it. I could literally feel his joy exploding from him! It was AWESOME! and inspiring ... maybe I'll try it on Sunday ...
I pray he will stay so on track, so trusting, so true to the way we ALL should be.

And while I'm on the topic of Easton. Every morning he loves to go through the same routine of "How big is God mom?"--
"Is He bigger than ... the toaster?"
"Is He bigger than ... the ocean?
"Is He bigger than ... a frog?
"Is He bigger than ... the whole world?
"Is He bigger than ... China?
"Is He bigger than ... (this goes on for a very long time but I will allow you to use your imagination)

Anyway, the other day, it was early, I had stayed up way too late the night before and I was in one of those moods where I knew I didn't have a big reserve of patience right off the bat in the morning ... and he said, "Mooooommm?"
"Oh no," I thought, "I know what's coming" ... and sure enough he started in with, "how big is God mom?"
I patiently played along while unloading the dishwasher, kinda letting my mind wander as I answered on auto-pilot thinking of all I had to do that day and also thinking to myself "Man, what's he going to name next? hmmm, I wonder when he will understand that God is bigger than everything he names?" So after a good 3-4 minutes of naming things and in an effort to conclude the day's quiz I decided to sum it up for him, "Honey, God is bigger than everything ... anything you name, God is bigger than. He made everything, He is in charge of everything. He knows everything. He is everywhere all the time. God is the biggest thing you can ever, ever, ever imagine!"
And it suddenly struck me, standing there with the dishtowel in my hand ... it wasn't him who wasn't "getting" it ...
It almost seemed like he wasn't asking me so much as telling me something I so much needed to be reminded of. Oh to have the faith of a child. He gets "it" so much deeper than I do and sometimes I am so certain that God uses these blessed children of ours to teach us too.

Because God Sees

I'm sure you've all probably read this before ... but it's such a good reminder to each of us of our important contributions that are so often "unseen." I don't mind reading it again every so often and I wanted to post it just in case someone would be encouraged by it today. Maybe even someone outside my normal readership of ... um ... about 6. You just never know. (And Carrie, your post about Cathedrals a few weeks back jogged my memory of it. Thank you!)

"It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'

Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible - The invisible Mom.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more.
"Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?"
Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?'
I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?'
I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner,celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well.

It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:
'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built,
and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man,
'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof?
No one will ever see it.'

And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.
No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.
The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime
because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Talkative Tuesday

This is how I kinda feel when Jeff is traveling.
Now, I know that he will be the first to admit that his gift is not idle chit chat. BUT I really do miss the conversation that we do have when he's here.
There is something to be said about just being with someone that speaks volumes without saying anything at all.
7 days away already, how did I do so well when he was in China for 10 days? Hmmm. Oh yes ... he had his email and cell phone so we talked quite a bit throughout the trip actually. This time he's on a mountain far from a cell tower.

Nolan by the way was not hurt in this photo. He had decided to step into the stoneware crock and try out sitting down. He forgot to get the other leg in first and was quite frustrated that he was then stuck without any leverage to get back out! (And me running to get the camera chuckling quietly didn't help I'm sure!)

I really thought this could be a Wordless Wednesday post I've always wanted to do one of those ... but I think I'm gonna have to post it under Talkative Tuesday and leave the explanation.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mom and Me

My 15 month old is toddling around my knees as I type this, gurbbling into the toy plastic cell phone, "Dad, dad, dad, dad." I'm sure he's waiting confidently to hear his dad's voice at any moment just as he heard it come from the real phone not that long ago.
It never ceases to amaze me how these wonderful bundles of blessings I hold as sons L*O*V*E their dad! Well, so do I. It is absolutely amazing though how they yearn for him in BIG and small ways especially when he is gone whether for work or hunting with the guys or travel for work. Sure, they would probably miss me too if I were ever gone ... but rarely am I ... in fact, not only am I rarely gone, I'm not even sure if we still have a bathroom door since it has ceased to remain closed when I'm in there since having children it seems! Children are a blessing that is for sure and I savor and relish them much of the time because I know it is so brief that I will be able to hold them so close.

But the real reason for this post isn't really about my sons or my husband or my relationship with my kids. But really about my own mom. We haven't always been totally in-sync ... but we've always gotten along for the most part and did so many things together because we had so many interests that were the same. And not only that, ever since I was a wee child I've heard from family and friends how very much I remind them of my mom when she was younger. That's not necessarily music to a teenager's ears. But, now that I am older I think it's pretty generous for people to have seen such a huge resemblance. Keep in mind my mom was a size zero when she was married ... I have never been a size zero, not even when I was in grade school! She had LONG gorgeous brown hair ... I may have long hair but I have and will continue to be hairstyle challenged. And I'm 5'10" and my mom is about 5'6" So we're far from carbon copies of one another. But I must admit that quietly inside I found it to be a deep compliment and enjoyed this visual link that people found between us and which I had nothing to do with nor could I stop. But I guess ultimately it made me feel like I belonged.

Once when I was around 14 a relative (who I don't really know) sat in amazement as he watched me and said, "this can't be, but I know I rode the school bus with you about 25 years ago!" It kinda freaked me out ... but it made me kinda laugh too once the whole idea sunk in and realizing that he didn't really mean that he thought that but that I looked like my mom who rode the school bus with him back in the day. And this summer at a family reunion my mom's dear cousin Bonnie was just beside herself with giddiness feeling like she was in her 30's again I think. She came up to me and confessed that she felt a strange bond to me even though we probably had never spoken before. She and my mom had grown up together and I'm sure meeting me was a reminder of yesterday. Even if in reality time somewhat has blurred the details to be more similar than the truth.

Recently on a fellow blogger's site I was noticing a similar likeness between another mother and her daughter (and I wasn't the only one who noticed!) I just find it neat how God creates us all as individuals and yet he has a heart that knows how we enjoy feeling like we truly belong, even on small human levels, even beyond the surface.

My mom (around age 25)

Me (around age 25)

P.S. My sister who is blonde, fair skinned and blue-eyed had me convinced when I was little that I was adopted after being left on their doorstep. (chuckle) What do you think? possible? I think I was a little gullible. Too funny.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Thank Goodness for Mothers

Thank goodness for mothers.
My mom put aside her busy schedule (no seriously, although retired she is the busiest person I know!) to come keep me and the boys company for a few days while Jeff is away on an elk hunt out west. And none too soon. She got here yesterday and last night our middle son started coughing ... and then was up ALL night coughing nearly continuously. It was fortunately nothing serious, just the case of our genetics making small bronchials and all the seasonal pollen and allergens colliding with a respitory bug. He was just miserable all day. Little did she know what she was getting into when she suggested coming over for a few days! And yet, that's just what mom's do best isn't it? Tonight Brayden (our oldest) was able to play Mite hockey during the intermission of the big guy's semi-pro league and guess who volunteered to stay home with my sick sweetie that finally was power-sleeping on the couch? Grandma. And not only that ... he was well on his way to healed when the other 2 boys and I arrived home. Moms/Grandmas. They sure are special!

(Now I'm feeling a sore throat coming on and my voice has gone somewhere on vacation ... do you think she'll stay a few more days?) haha?!

Quote of the day after trying to talk Easton into taking a cough suppressant so he could rest:
"If my kids are well enough to agree to take medicine, they are most likely not sick enough to really need it."
They make medicine no picnic that's for sure!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Speaking Louder Than Before

If any of you said a prayer for my arm after reading my post yesterday I would like to thank you SO much! And thank God even more for hearing those prayers! After a week and a half I was resigned to a slow healing ... and after last night's marathon evening on the computer (don't ask me why) I thought I'd foolishly be in big pain today. I'm happy to report it's feeling much better amazingly! I've still got a ways to go but I'm so tickled with no shooting pain I'm giddy.

I'm going to make a small post so I don't push things. I want to share my new favorite song but was unable to find it on @playlist. The boys even surprised me tonight by coming in from playing outside singing it. I was really impressed by this since I have only heard it on the radio a few times. (Of course after singing their hearts out their question was, "What is "desperation," mom?"--And my four year old who is a HOOT especially lately chimed in to answer their own question, "It's about GOD!"

Here are the lyrics in case you haven't heard it yet. Very good. And it's got a good beat too.

Speaking Louder Than Before
Jeremy Camp

Hear now this declaration
From out across the nations
We need to wake up and understand

Many hurting hearts are crying
But our voices seem to be dying
Can you see the battle raging on?

We are the light to reach this world
We are the salt preserving these souls
Let's show them the love that we've received now

We are, we are in desperation
We need to reach this generation
We are speaking louder than before

We are the hope that's been forgotten
We have the love that will be brought and
We are speaking louder than before

Take every chance that you can
Move together taking a stand
Never losing heart, we'll speak as one

We need to be the image of Christ
Show love and serve at all times
We can make a difference in these lands

We are the light to reach this world
We are the salt preserving these souls
Let's show them the love that we've received now

We are, we are in desperation
We need to reach this generation
We are speaking louder than before

We are the hope that's been forgotten
We have the love that will be brought and
We are speaking louder than before

Every thing's so surreal
But this urgency I feel
We should be reaching out to
All these desperate pleas

Oh, the meet is real, can't you feel
Let's call it revolution
My beating heart is breaking for them
That's why I'm speaking now
That's why I'm speaking now

We are, we are in desperation
We need to reach this generation
We are speaking louder than before

We are the hope that's been forgotten
We are the love that will be brought and
We are speaking louder than before

We are, we are, we are, we're speaking louder
We are, we are, we are, we're speaking louder
We are, we are, we are, louder than before
We are speaking louder than before, oh yeah

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The gift

One of the unforeseen hassles with upgrading my computer (this is a reoccurring theme sorry!) is that I've pinched a nerve somewhere between the elbow and shoulder of my right arm. Ya. Not fun. I am right handed--like SUPER RIGHT handed. Everything I do is with that arm I now notice! Drawing, painting, reaching, writing, typing, the list is endless. It turns out the perfect spot for our computer at the desk between the kitchen and living room does allow me to be with our kids while they play and for me to get some work done but it is far from ergonomic. And until now I didn't pay much attention to the fact that there is often times dangerously no wrist or arm support if there is any clutter on the desk. (And unfortunately there is clutter.) So, the posts and emails I've made in the last week and a half have been made through a lot of pain and left handed work. I've actually moved my mouse to the left side for now to just force myself to let my arm heal. I can get through most of the day without shooting pain and numbness though so that is a blessing knowing that it's healing. And quite honestly, although challenging, it is kinda neat in a bizarre way to force my brain to use the other side of things! (It's not so great on the creative side though ... weird how something like that can affect HOW you think ...)

But last week while I was on sabbatical from the blog I was blessed with hearing a beautiful story that I can't get out of my head. It's funny how things you may have heard before can strike a new chord in you in relation to new passions and points of view in your life. I happened to be watching Tim the Toolman Taylor (which I never ever watch, so it was one of those God-incidences I think that it happened to be on.) And the guy over the fence shared this story with Tim and it is a nugget I hope to keep in my heart and remember to help me when I'm not sure why I'm on the road that God has put me on. Or when I'm impatient and just wanna get to the good stuff! I hope as you read it that you are blessed by it as well.

Here goes:
There was once a little boy in Africa that wanted so much to bring his teacher a gift. But he had no money. So he walked 2 days to the coast to get a handful of sand. And then he walked 2 days back home. When he presented his gift to his teacher the teacher was overjoyed and amazed by it. "The walk was so far," he said! And the little boy replied, "The journey is part of the gift."

Talk about a good student!
I hope to remember that in God's perfect timing we will discover certain gifts in our lives ... but also the journey itself is a part of it and that I shouldn't be in such a hurry to get to the GIFT but also enjoy the things along the way as He grows me and loves on me as His child.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Photo of Camp Wyoming

Remember a few days ago when I blogged about my friend Shawna and her realization that I was her Church Camp Counselor when she was a young'un. (It was a post on Sept. 8th)
Here's the Camp Counselor story from Shawna's blog. SHE HAS WRITTEN IT SO BEAUTIFULLY on her blog and included a lovely photo. Oh the '90's were fun with the big hair, neon colors and paisley lined yolk front shorts. HA! I'm sure you'll have no problem spotting me (I'm in the white staff shirt and the fanny pack of emergency counselor items like band aids.) Shawna is at the opposite end on the top row.
What a blessing to be a counselor, to meet Shawna, to have this story revealed to us and to share it! I truly believe as Shawna pointed out, God does this all the time we just may not realize it and how cool it is. Check out Shawna's cool etsy@ site where she markets her wonderful Firefly Photo Jewelry.

Also please read the previous post about LWB. What a great opportunity to bless youself AND the life of an orphan!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Love Without Boundaries-Check This Out!

In 2004 Love Without Boundaries Foundation published "Love's Journey: A Collage of the China Adoption Experience". Parents from around the world submitted photos, essays, and poems about what their adoption experiences meant to them. This beautiful, heartfelt book raised over $100,000 to help orphaned children in China. LWB used the funds to help heal heart babies, to help begin foster care programs, to support school programs, to buy needed medicines and supplies, and so much more. They affectionately began calling some of their medical kids "book babies," as time and time again they would use the funds from this book to help change their lives forever.

"Love's Journey 2: The Red Thread" is their second volume in this series. This new volume uses the imagery of "the red thread," a popular belief in the adoption community, to show how our lives become entwined with our children's, as adoption weaves a beautiful tapestry of love and family. The moving photos and essays in this volume, again submitted by parents from around the world, talk about discovering the thread that connects us with our adoptive children, weaving the fabric as our children become integrated into our families, and cherishing the intricate tapestry that evolves.

Love Without Boundaries is giving its supporters an opportunity to receive this book for no charge (except for $5 shipping) simply by telling others about their organization. To receive your book, please visit the LWB website ( and follow their instructions on how you can receive YOUR copy of this great book!

You may remember this post about a quilt I made for the Love Without Boundaries' Art Auction last Spring. This auction that helps to defray medical costs for heart babies in China's orphanages was an event that spurred me to start a family blog page and it was incredible to be a contributor for such a worthy cause and to link 2 things so close to my heart. It is a wonderful organization changing lives forever. It is also the organization that provided Lei with her cleft lip surgery in Shanghai in April. What a precious child she is and I pray that she is on her way to her forever family and that this family will show her such deep love and also teach her of her Heavenly Father's deep love for her! Please check out LWB website and dare to share all that you have been so richly blessed with!
"We love ... because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Green Kit-Kat Bars and Ham?

Would you could you with a mouse? Would you could you on a house? Would you could you eat green kit-kat bars?

This was a recent test for our kids as Dad was lucky enough to bring them home this treat from China via his co-workers that are visiting here throughout the past few weeks. They look like a normal kitkat ... but they are VERY green ... and also they are VERY good! If you find the opportunity to try one you should. The package says (in Chinese, so I'm trusting the person who told me is telling me the truth since I cannot read Chinese) that they contain green tea ... and hey, isn't that WAY healthy for you? Takes eating candy bars to a different level!

I think it tastes like white chocolate or almond bark, but it's very good regardless. My son who does NOT like chocolate (gasp, I know ... he is MY son though amazingly enough) really liked these. My other son who LOVES chocolate was a VERY hard sell on trying them, although after several days he finally caved and tried them and found out like Sam in "Green Eggs n' Ham" that they really are good!
Nolan, our 1 year old, was happy to eat it regardless of the color or really if it was even food! (HA!)

We've gotten to try many interesting new things thanks to Jeff's traveling co-workers, like these spicy noodles that I totally could not eat with chop sticks and that really cleaned out my sinuses because of the heat and another candy called "Pastilles of Wild Jujube." Ah, the jujube ... I've never tried that before. I am looking forward to tomorrow and trying some Moon cakes that we received as a gift too. They sound really good! I'm also hoping that the lunch I am hostessing turns out well. Yikes ... I just don't have as much practice as I would like at this kind of thing. I'm serving a good ol' midwestern Sunday Pot Roast dinner followed by a delicious Harvest Apple-Pecan Cheesecake. If nothing else, the cheesecake will be good because it's chillin' in the fridge as we speak.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fruit of the Spirit

Our God is SO AWESOME! (In case you EVER had any doubt.)

I recently decided to try my best at taking the word "awesome" out of my vocabulary and use it only for things that are truly AWESOME. This is not as easy as it might sound. The word "awesome" had become a commonplace word used by me to describe the big, the little, even the unimportant that just filled the void when I truly didn't know what else to say. And by watering down that word I didn't have much else in reserve to use for those occasions that truly called for a description beyond, "hey that's cool."

One of those occasions happened on Sunday morning. It was a usual Sunday ... kids to Sunday School, Nolan to the Nursery, me to my class eventually, after getting Nolan settled, trying to make sure that I had some input instead of just auditing the class as a listener. But between Sunday School and service God gave me the biggest hug and I don't know if I have ever felt so loved or at least not in this way.

One of my friends who started going last year to church where we attend who I had gotten to know 2 years ago when our first born children were in preschool together stopped me and asked if I remembered being a Summer Church Camp Counselor years ago ...

WOW. Talk about blow me away! It was a blast from the past to say the least as that was quite awhile ago (1990) and in some ways it seems like a lifetime ago (before college graduation, working, marriage, kids.) And as she went on she mentioned how she had always thought I seemed familiar to her. (I get this a lot for some reason ... I think there must be many people out there who look like me or something. So when she mentioned this over the years I didn't really think too much about it thinking that she probably just had run into one of these look-alike Valeries. I seriously get people who I do not know stop me and start talking to me like they've known me for years until it becomes apparent to them through my confused look that I'm not the person that they thought.) But on Sunday Shawna started telling me things that even I had almost forgotten. My days as a camp counselor at Camp Wyoming, my pretend Counselor name ("Teddy"), the cabin that we were in (Robin), and how she had dug up a Church Camp photo and there was no doubt that it was ME as on the back was written after "Teddy" in parenthesis was (Valerie.)

It may not strike a cord with all of you in the same way that it did to me (and Shawna) but to know that something I did nearly 20 years ago coming back to me was like God circling His mighty arms around me in a big embrace. And it of course happened with the most perfect timing that left me with tears rolling down my cheeks throughout the rest of the service as we sang "O how Jesus loves me" and Sonicflood's "Holiness" whose lyrics are :
"So, take my heart and mold it
Take my mind, transform it
Take my will, conform it
To Yours, to Yours, oh, Lord"

(the pastor probably thought I was just especially moved by his sermon!) To explain I need to back up and set the stage for how I got to be a camp counselor.

My parents wanted so much for the three of us kids to enjoy our years as young people and not be harnessed by a work schedule that wooed us into the love of a paycheck and money. They also wanted us to continue to cultivate our relationship with my grandparents who lived next door and needed help with their LARGE garden (farm) about 30 miles away. In retrospect they were teaching us such priceless gifts that I am still unwrapping the treasures of as I grow and mature and appreciate their foresight. Time with grandma and grandpa was simply priceless. They had seen and lived so much I cannot even begin to write about how much I treasure that relationship and how it has bound our family together through the good and the bad and the incredibly painful. But because of this freedom from a job I also was available when our Church Camp was in need for an emergency counselor one week due to a counselor becoming severely ill. Someone from church asked if I was interested and a little voice inside me said "YES!" It was an incredible week of growth personally and in the Lord. It was a year before I met Shawna and the senario included TENT CAMPING and helping 10 year old BOYS and GIRLS work together and cook 2 of 3 meals over an open campfire all week. Besides being the best weight loss method I've found (haha) it drew me so close to God as I really felt out of my comfort zone in so many areas. But by the end of the week I had made so many friends and had such a wonderful time I went back for 3 or so more years whenever they needed a spot filled. And one of those years was a week that I had Shawna in my cabin!

Now, flash forward to this Season of my life. If you've been following my blog you probably realize that I have a passion for orphans. It's deep. I can't explain it, I seem so drawn to China especially ... I've asked God to take it from me because I at times wonder if it is Me-driven and not He-driven. The roads that I keep thinking He's leading me down don't seem to make much sense and leave me searching ... and searching more for Him. God has taken it from me ... but Instead of releasing me from this burden He's growing and blossoming it into so much more than I could ever really have thought. And as my husband and I prayerfully consider how God wants to use us for His good I am reminded of how 20 years ago He used me in a season of my life when I was afforded time away from the worldliness of the importance of money and how the fruit that was planted then is now being revealed.

It is so AWESOME to feel useful to God, to feel used for His work, to feel that He's taking you in His arms and saying "Good job!" Thanks Shawna for being a part of God's special plan for sharing this coolness of God's special timing and thank you God for letting me be a part of growing your fruit in the little ways and the big ways. God, you are truly AWESOME!

" Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight." --Proverbs 3:5-6

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Back Up and Running.

I was able to fix my MAC Mail system this afternoon. Yay! It took a bit of work and feeling like I was knee deep in techie-jargon. But I managed to do it and I feel pretty good about it too. Feel free to email me at my regular address. Thanks for humoring me during this technical difficulty. Now I need (some sleep and) to figure out PhotoShop@'s problem and then hopefully I can relish the bliss of being only one step behind in upgrades (as I just heard the newest upgrade came out Aug. 28th.) Man, just when I thought I was hip and with it I fall behind.

Upgrading woahs ... and yays

Update: I cannot figure out what's wrong with my regular email at this time ... LUCKILY I have a fallback. Please use my gmail account if you'd like to contact me until I can figure out my other account. Thanks.

I FINALLY upgraded my OS system after waiting as long as humanly possible. I don't like change ... but the loss of the ability to hear even my own pl@ylist, not being able to post comments on a growing number of blogsites and finally not being able to run programs finally sent me over the edge. Just to show you how strongly I did not want to back everything up and upgrade on nothing more than a wing and a prayer ... I have not been able to print for a year and a half because the new printer we got in the Spring of 2008 was not compatable with my older system.

A YEAR AND A HALF without printing ... this is from the desktop of a GRAPHIC DESIGNER ... it's like being mute! (chuckle.) Now I need to find that printer install cd, hmmmm, wonder where that is. Not to mention that my Ph@toshop is now not working. I love that progam and will definitely need to work out the kinks to get that running again. I wonder if the program that I use to create my Vinyl Lettering still works? Oh boy. It may be a long weekend ... seriously named Labor Day for this gal.

Anyway, the biggest loss known so far from this upgrade is my mailbox. I totally overlooked backing that up. So all the awesome emails that I've had during the last 4 years are gone. Including the ones saying hello to the birth of my sons as well as all the cool things that have been emailed to me lately. For that I am bummed ... but I once had someone tell me that you must have room in order to grow. Perhaps this was one way to get there. If you emailed me and I haven't responded please try again ... I'm not sure if my email is even working as my IN BOX is empty ... and it's 3am, not a lot of people awake at this hour. Well, maybe in China. Hello, China ... send me an email and let me know my mailbox works?! HA!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Future Football Player

Our big preschooler is getting to the point of not wanting to nap in the afternoons ... however this mom really wants him to. Mostly because I know he needs it even if he doesn't think he does. Lately he's been taking his football to nap with him. I just love 4 year olds. They still are young enough to be silly and serious all at the same time. Maybe we all should be more like them in this way.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lil' Dancer

I've been cleaning off my computer for the past few days/weeks in preparation for upgrading my OS system (and potential problems that may arise afterwards) and decided to get super serious about it tonight. So I'm burning CD's of folders I didn't even know I still had and yet cannot part with. Oh I wish I wasn't such a sentimental pack rat!

I did come across this artwork that I saved a screenshot of a few years ago and wanted to share it in case it "sings" to anyone else too. I just think it is the sweetest! I don't think the link is active currently but they might be opening a new site OR maybe you can google off of the title or artist. Try clicking on this one if you want to see the website or other info a little better. It'd be great if someone benefited from my packrat tendencies!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Kids make life so sunny!

Easton is loving preschool! What a praise, especially after his first day last week. Today he was such his sunny, happy, funny self and after having a spur of the moment bread and butter picnic in the church parking lot he was set to do some traveling.

Let me back up a moment here. Easton has half day preschool. So while he was away today Nolan and I took a quick trip to the local greenhouse to diagnose the Crabgrass plaguing our lawn and also for me to pick out some ideas for plants around the house (that I'll probably never buy or decide on, but it's fun to look.) So, we finish the shopping/looking and picked Easton up but when we got closer to our driveway we noticed that the County was in the process of digging up the culvert under our driveway as we've noticed a HUGE sink hole growing massively under it since spring. (We called them in May not knowing when they would get to it ... well, today was the day.) Luckily I had just bought a loaf of bread and a tub of butter right before picking up our little preschooler. Perfect for a picnic :-) But I'm not sure what the folks at the church must think of us--what an odd place for a picnic!

Anyway, after the bread and butter we made our way home and checked out our new driveway-yay! No sink holes to lose children or horses in! And being the mom of boys who LOVE trucks we spent some time watching the digger clear the ditches on both sides of the driveway. The boys were mesmerized by it! But between the arrival home and the driveway checkup Easton exchanged his backpack for a small suitcase that he totes around the house now and again and after a small time packing exclaimed, "Well! I'm going to China!"
What a hoot!
I guess because that was the last place Jeff went he was thinking obviously he should go too. Maybe that's the new hot spot.
Kids are so wonderful!

The family

The family