Thursday, September 30, 2010

This Chick met the Sister Chick

I was privileged to meet Sister Chick  Robin Jones Gunn
at a writers' conference in Oregon months ago. 
In rereading my notes from her messages,
I was so refreshed, I wanted to pass her encouragement on.

You might not dream of becoming published,
but you all have dreams of using your
talents and abilities to serve and honor the Lord.


At the age of 12 at Bible camp, Robin committed herself to being a missionary.  In 1976 at Urbana, Inter Varsity's Student Mission Convention, she filled out a form with all her special gifts and talents. Information was fed into a computer and the students were matched with mission openings that suited their abilities.

Robin matched the position of Laundry Supervisor in Nairobi, Kenya.  She said it was "not exactly what I had in mind," but threw herself into praying and readying herself to minister in Africa.

She was rejected.  Devestated, she wondered how she could be such an  ineffective Christian she wasn't even fit to be a laundry supervisor.

As she shared her disappointment with her Sunday School girls, one girl raised her hand and told her she should tell stories. Robin didn't take their urgings seriously until she saw what they were reading on a church outing.  The Christy Miller series was born and the rest is history.

Years later, she was at a Conference and met a woman from Africa who was thrilled to meet the author of the books she had been reading to her students.  Through these books some kids had trusted Christ as their Savior.

Robin shared her early life disappointment of not even being fit to be a missionary laundry supervisor with her new friend, and sister in the Lord.  She said to Robin, "You didn't need to come to Nairobi to wash clothes, God sent your books to Nairobi to wash our hearts."
The  early love and desire to serve Africa was answered years later, in a way Robin had never imagined possible.

"I didn’t go to Africa, but those stories did."

When she finally made it to Africa,
her friend let her do her laundry,
just for old dreams' sake.

"Be prepared to be surprised by God.

He has planted these dreams in your heart long ago.
It is fire in the belly, it won't go away.

But, maybe you are restricting the way those dreams can go
 by being so limited on how it has to happen.
Open your heart..."

When Robin was aksed how she keeps her writing fresh, her answer was applicable to anything we are doing in our lives for the Lord as we minister in our homes, our neighborhoods and our local fellowships.

"The joy of the Lord is our strength, so drop a  bucket into well of joy,  so you keep full in the Lord."

"Those Dreams,
because they're His,
were planted in your hearts from the very beginning."
Robin Jones Gunn

What spiritual dreams are filling your hearts?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Company Only Company Towels

After 25 years of marriage,
our love is strong,
but our towels are trashed.

Nothing lasts like they used to,
especially when the towels are used inside, outside,
 and at the beach.

They are taken to Bible camp, and if they return,
they are never in the same shape.

They have been stained by make-up and make-up remover,
fingerpaints and wall paint,
bleach and Silly Putty.

It was embarrassing to set out towels for the guests.

"Would you like towels with bleach spots or
towels with unraveling edges?"

I bought a set of company towels,
but once in the linen closet,
they became fair game.

They soon blended in with the rest of the
family towels.
Now they are stained with make-up and
 go to Bible camp every year.

So, I bought

Company Only Company Towels.

I also bought a set of  wicker baskets with liners
to slide under the couch for company only supplies.
(Another basket holds the company bed sheets.)

Under the row of washcloths are two hand towels.
They even match and aren't stained.

When overnight company comes to our home,
 the basket goes into the room they're staying in.

When company leaves, the towels are returned to the basket,
covered to keep clean, and slid back under the couch.

Oh, yea, I  do wash them first
before I put them back in the
Company Only Company Towel Basket.

I knew you were wondering,
just in case you come to stay with our family,
and needed a towel...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cheap Can Be Elegant

I love to decorate for birthdays,
and make the day feel special for my children,
but am a little miserly about spending money on
things I am just going to throw away.

Each package of plates, cups, napkins, silverware
and party favors can cost $3-$4 at a party store.
They come in stingy little packages of 8,
so sometimes one is not enough for our celebrations.

It's like throwing away money.

I was feeling bad that I didn't have time to run to the dollar store,
my favorite place for party supplies,
in time to decorate for Bethany's 20th birthday.

She was celebrating a step closer to adulthood,
and I was celebrating the fact that I will
have three teenagers living in my house
at the same time.

Then again, I just reminded myself that I have
three children over 20. 
Now I feel old.

Then I remembered the treasures I've been buying for Thanksgiving.
I blogged about this meal 216 days ahead of time.

(Yea, I have been planning for the past nine months.
My MIL is coming for the first Thanksgiving in 24 years of marriage.)

I had a vision of making the table beautiful and elegant,
like my daughter, with my newfound  treasures.

I pulled out the gold chargers from a thrift store
in Helena, MT this summer for $.25 each.

They were topped with the gold trimmed china plates I found
10 for $7 in Fargo, North Dakota this summer.

The gold goblets, about $.50 each, were added.
Thrift store goblets cost less than a package
of paper colored cups from the party store.

Gold napkins were gently bound with a simple piece of lace,
clasped together with vintage earrings.

There wasn't enough time to fuss more,
but I dreamed about using more vintage jewelry
and putting bows on the chairs.

Maybe for Thanksgiving.
Afterall, this was a trial run.
I have 59 days left until my MIL comes.

But, who's counting?

I am counting
on a lot more beautiful family dinners,
without counting out any more dollars for decorating.

And I am counting
on Bethany having a wonderful year,
growing in grace in the Lord Jesus.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dirty Socks, Dirty Hearts

Like many Type A Moms, I like to plan ahead.
I like to make lists.
I like to be organized.
I like to remember everything.
I like to plan things that make life not just organized,
but special.

When traveling as a new Mom,
I easily figured out I had to do conquer Mount Washmore
just prior to packing.

Do laundry too soon,
and you have nothing to wear. 
It's all packed.

Do laundry too late,
you're washing when you should be packing.

Doing the laundry first was a no-brainer
in learning how to travel with kids.

All moms do that, even the ones who aren't
 feverish, frantic list-makers-crosser-offers.

But, as a young Mom,
I learned the hard way I was forgetting a major step.

all the dirty laundry
you finish all the laundry.

The first place you check,
is the dresser drawers.
Yea, I know clean laundry goes in the dresser,
but my kids don't alway get that concept.

Oh, don't forget checking
 between the wall and the bed,
under the bed and 
under the covers.

Check in the closet.

If they're girls, look in all purses, backpacks, boxes
and anything they would pack to travel to Europe
in their wild imaginations.

Look in the toybox, the front hall closet and all vehicles.

The amazing thing about this process is,

that even though you thought you were "caught up" on laundry,
you could find enough to keep you outta' trouble for a long time.

This was one nameless child's dirty laundry stash.

When I completed this process when all six kids were at home,
it became a scavenger hunt.

Not only did I find all the dirty laundry,
I found many other treasures, like
my fingernail clippers,
my scissors,
my ruler,
my stapler,
my library card,
my flashlight,
my water bottle,
my toenail clippers,
my favorite pink fingernail polish,
my missing socks.

Only after the Dirty Laundry Scavenger Hunt,
was I really ready to do laundry.

If conquering Mount Washmore
is a beautiful reminder of being washed and made whiter than snow,
doncha' think searching for the dirty laundry
also has spiritual significance?

Psalm 139: 23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

When we dig into God's Word
and apply it to our hearts,
 dirt will be revealed
and treasures will be found.

I found all the dirty laundry,
washed and packed.

Now, I'm searching my heart.
Ya' never know what dirty socks could be lingering
in those dark corners.

Today I'm linking up!

Follow my trail of dirty laundry to

Sunday, September 26, 2010

MM Meditation - the Stave of the Crucifixion

Mark 14

42 Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrays me is at hand.

43 And immediately, while he spoke came Judas,
one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves,
from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.

44 And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying,
Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely.

Men with weapons of war came after the One sent from the God of Peace to help mankind find peace with the God.

In the strength of their flesh they brought weapons to subdue, to conquer and to overcome. Their sweaty, sin-stained hands gripped blunt, wooden clubs drawn in anticipation of silencing the mouth of the innocent One who preached and purchased the salvation they were rejecting.

They did not know the ironic foreshadowing spoken by their powerless wood-hewn clubs.

The same word that was translated "stave" was also translated "tree."

Their first weapons, the clubs, wielded no power.  Their second weapon, the cross used to crucify our Lord, was the greatest form of torture.  The wooden beams brought suffering to the Lord Jesus, but what they meant for evil, God meant for good.

I Peter 2:24
"Who Himself bore our sins
in His own body on the tree,
that we, having died to sins,
 might live for righteousness—
by whose stripes you were healed."

They had no power in their staves, but we have power in the tree, because the grossest weapon of cruel murder was the greatest tool of salvation.

May we praise, thank and adore Him for enduring the the torture of men's wooden weapons, while bearing our sins on the Cross.

Our joyful response for Him dying for us, should be to fully live for Him.

Each item mankind used to torture or mock the Lord Jesus Christ,
the Lord Jesus Christ used to show forth His glory in Salvation.

Friday, September 24, 2010

mommy quotes

Even since the invention of Mother's Day, and probably before that, Moms have been sentimentalized and gushed over.  I love seeing all the DEAR MOTHER paraphenlia in antique stores.  Ornate satin pillows with heavy fringe,with  mushy gushy poems about Their Dear Mother, the equally ornate cross stitch wallhangings, the cards that are so gushy you wonder who really feels that way about their mothers. 

I know my kids love me, but not enough to imortalize their feelings in threads that neatly criss-cross for hundreds and hundreds of rows.

I'm happy with those scribbled notes on little corners ripped from lined paper that say, "I love you, Mom!  Your the best Mom in the hole werld!"

Some adults have overly sentimental sayings about motherhood, too. After a few common Mother quotes that I sentimentally agree with, I added the reality check in fine print. 

Henry Ward Beecher- “A mother's heart is the child's classroom.”

If this is true, then why do some kids play hooky?

And, I wanna know, if my heart is the classroom, where's the principle's office?

Helen Rice- “A mother's love is patient and forgiving when all others are forsaking, it never fails or falters, even though the heart is breaking.”

Well, to be honest, sometimes moms throw things, stomp their feet and slam doors, but that wouldn't sell many greeting cards, would it?

James Russell Lowell - “That best academy, a mother's knee.” 

 Is that academy called the  School of Hard Knocks?
And does that learning take place sitting on the mother's knees, or bending over them?

Emily Dickinson- “A mother is one to whom you hurry when you are troubled.” 

That's funny, my kids always run away from me when they're in trouble...or hide in their rooms, or under the table or behind the couch...

Mildred B. Vermont- “Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs in my field, since the payment is pure love.”

Yea, I agree, but I am finding it difficult to find a grocery store that accepts love in payment.  My  heart may be full of love, but my wallet is still emtpy. Dandelion bouquets and sticky kisses are priceless, but are not legal tender.

Cardinal Mermillod - "A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take."

It's not only that nobody could take a mother's place, nobdy would. 

I don't see anybody lining up to wash stinky socks that have crusted into lefts and rights.  Never had anybody volunteering to come wash puke out of the sheets in the middle of the night.  Haven't had too many volunteers to clean the three toilets that need bulls-eyes painted in them.  Nobody has stepped in and wanted to referee any of the disagreements over major items like pencils, cards, quarters and the last piece of candy. 

You're right.  Nobody could take my place for all those hard jobs.

And even if they could, I wouldn't give my job to anyone in the world.

Because, then someone would be getting
the  "you're-almost-choking-me" hugs,
the "I-just-had-strawberry-jelly" kisses,
the "I-just-had-a-bad-dream" snuggles where they steal all the covers,
 and the "Mom-do-you-have-a-minute" conversations.

Oh, and don't forget the piles of notes.  I save them.  I cherish them all. I would love to wallpaper my bedroom with them if I knew I was never moving again.

Nobody can take my place, because my place is from the Lord.

Psalm 113:9
 He grants the barren woman a home,
Like a joyful mother of children.
Praise the LORD! 

Yes, praise the Lord, who has blessed us Moms with children, and given us endless love and joy through their lives.

Just don't forget to read the fine print.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fading and Failing Flowers

We have high ambitions of teaching our six children to answer the phone correctly
"Hello, this is the ______residence, _______ speaking."

We also have high ambitions for our children to take detailed
messages and deliver them in person with a smile.

We grill drill them on phone etiquette over and over,
cautioning about things like mouth full of marbles,
and mumbling like a teenager.

To help make message taking easier,
I found a vintage tin for paper and my daughters made cute flower pens.

Nobody should have had an excuse not to take a good message.

The problem is,
the pens ran out of ink at least two, maybe three, years ago,
and I kept running out of paper.

It became a simple project I kept putting off.

The phone messages ended up being scratched onto
random pieces of mail, napkins, receipts or any stray
piece of paper within grabbing distance of the phone.

Of course, I mean scratched,
cuz when all the pens were out of ink,
you really were scratching.

It made the ol' Abe Lincoln scratching out his math homework
on the shovel with a piece of coal,
look pretty high tech.

I just had to remember to buy a new pack of pens,

and unwrap the old pens,
saving the flowers and the leaves.

You cut off the flower stem,
leaving an inch of wire.
Using about 4-5 inches of floral tape,
you wind enough just to secure the flower to the pen.

The leaves are added a little further down from the top
then you continue winding all the way to the end.

Jon jumped in and helped finish the project in minutes.

They were finished so quickly,
I couldn't figure out why I put it off for years.

Wouldn't you know, the phone rang,
just in time for Jon to test his creations?

I saved all the bad copies from the copying machine
and cut them to fit into the old caramel can.

Handy, useful, but still vintagy and cute.

And flowers are always a great spiritual reminder -

Isaiah 40:8
The grass withers, the flower fades:
but the Word of our God shall stand for ever.

The Word of God also lasts longer than homemade flower pens.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rules to Survive My House

I've always had a lot of rules for my family.

Rules make sense.

They tell little children how to live.

They also tell big children how to live.

Rules benefit husbands, too, but we can't talk about that now.

Rules like,

"We write on paper, not walls."

"We eat food, not paper."

"We don't write on walls with food."

I have rules for conduct.  I have rules for cleaning.  I even have rules for where stuff goes in my fridge.

But, I guess everyone in my family likes that ol' motto, "rules are made to be broken."

It's Romans 7 in action.  Nobody wants to really do anything until they are told NOT to do it. The Bible tells us because our "sinful passions were aroused by the law." 

In other words, the more you tell people not to touch wet paint, the more they want to touch wet paint.

Like father,

like daughter.

I must be the source of the problem, because there was no way I wanted to sit on that bench in DC until I read the sign that said WET PAINT.  It was a subtle, double-dog dare.

So, the more rules I make, the more my kids desire to break the rules, so the more rules I need to make, to protect the people who VISIT my home, from the people who LIVE in my home and don't obey all MY RULES.

1.  DO NOT take your shoes off at the door.  Your socks will become filthy.  Only take off shoes if you are willing to spray a little Endust on the bottom of the socks and skate your way through my dining room and kitchen.  Don't forget the corners.

2.  DO NOT leave your shoes by the door if you opt to polish my floors with your socks.  They will be slipped on by the next random member of my family who has to mail a letter, retrieve something from the van or take out the garbage.  Leave them only if they are size 7 and really, really cute.

3.  DO NOT put your elbows on the table.  Not only does Emily Post consider this rude, they will stick.  Seriously, day old honey or jelly is about the best adhesive known to everybody except Elmer. Ya' know, the guy who makes glue?

4.  DO NOT use your Emily Post manners. You won't fit in.  This is proof.

5.  DO NOT leave your towel on the bathroom floor.  The next person will use it for a bathmat or a floor mop.

6.  DO NOT drop by unannounced without a shovel.  You will need it to make a path through the living room, that is also the sewing room, the craft room, the school room,  the dining room and the fireplace room.

7.  DO NOT call ahead for a visit.  I am not that formal.  Besides, then guilt will MAKE me clean.  I love drop by company, just refer to Rule #5.

8.  DO NOT stick your hand between my couch cushions if you drop something, like your cell phone or your wallet.  I value you too much for you to risk your welfare.  You could be poked, scratched, cut with any number of objects, or the crumbs of a thousand sandwiches could wedge under your fingernails.

9.  DO NOT use my bathroom without first checking for toilet paper.  We use a lot each day.  Only 1 out of 8 family members is skilled enough to replace the tp.  If I didn't get to it and you didn't check, you're on your own.

10. DO NOT drink the milk without sniffing it.  If you forget to smell it and there are chunks, I am NOT making cottage cheese.  You have permission to throw it out.  Just rinse and recycle the container.

Above all, make yourself at home. 

We want you to feel comfortable.

We want you to feel a part of this crazy, rule-breaking family.

Just don't put your elbow on my table, ok?

Linking up today with:


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Not a Mini-Me

This blog was inspired after reading my daughter's blog, an honest reflection about the ways she's like me and the ways she isn't.

I realized we've been tugging on opposite sides of this struggle in life from the very beginning.

The best advice my Lamaze coach gave me when I was pregnant with my first child had nothing to do with labor, contractions or breathing.

It had to do with the appearance of our newborn children.  She shared her story of expecting a petite, dark-haired little girl, a little miniature of herself.  Instead, she had a chubby, red-headed little boy with freckles.  She adored her little guy, but was in shock because he didn't look anything like her or anybody else on either side of the family.

She warned us, "Have no expectations about what your child is going to look like." 

I have thought about this over and over -  her wisdom has permeated many aspects of my life, whether she intended it to or not.

Not only did my first child come out with hair and skin so dark I would have thought they handed me the wrong baby if I hadn't been awake for the whole thing, but as she grew,  I realized she didn't always think like me, either.

I learned to have no expectations.

From a young age, I learned she had her own ideas in life about the world around her.  She didn't see the world through my eyes, she saw it through her own.

It wasn't wrong, it wasn't rebellion, she wasn't rejecting me.

She just wasn't a little Mini-Me.

She didn't follow my exact taste in clothes, decorating,  or crafts.  She didn't like sewing.  She didn't like museums. She didn't like camping. 

As I learned to let go of my ideas on how things should look, should function and should be, I was blessed to see her own taste, confidence and faith develop. 

This was a valuable lesson to learn, since she was the first of six children.  

I am not raising children to be imitators of me, I am raising children who were knit together in my womb by the Heavenly Father, who created them with their own personalities, gifts and abilities.

If they are to imitate anybody completely, it should be the Lord Jesus.  Our example is supposed to point them to Him.

1 Corinthians 11:1
Imitate me,
just as I also imitate Christ..

Jana and I celebrating her gradution from High School
at the top of the Space Needle.

She doesn't like this picture of herself,
but I think she is beautiful.

Jana likes this picture, but I don't like the picture of myself.
We still don't always agree.

Even though I tried to not conform her into my image,
and even though she tried not to be just like me,
we ended up a lot more alike that we ever imagined.

Ya' know what?

We're both really, really happy about that.

3 John 1:4
I have no greater joy
 than to hear
that my children walk in truth.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Prairie Photographer

While on vacation this summer,
I drove by Prairie Petals,
traveled down a  Prairie Path,
and gave my friend, Janet, a Prairie Pedicure.
We've traveled through tears, tares and turds, horse, that is.

Today we tackle Prairie Photography.

When I was rebuying maternity clothes and a new diaper bag at 38,
with my precious 6th baby,
my high school friend, Janet, was celebrating emtpy nest syndrome,
so started a photography business
 and started toting a camera bag.

We both loved our different bags and the lives they symbolized,
but laughed at the opposite paths our lives had taken.

In her photography business,
Janet uses creative settings and props
to enhance and highlight the personalities of her models.

High school senior McKenzie,
yes, we went to school with her parents,
wanted her first pictures taken with her best friend.

 A walk down the gravel road to set the stage.

It is amazing to see such a common scene,
the weedy patch next to a house, a girl and her horse,
become this.

It was fun photographing the photographer.

I had to be in one picture.

I loved watching the moments unfold.

Janet allows her clients to suggest poses,
as McKenzie did here,
and adds tips that would make the pose succeeed-
lift your feet, tip your head, don't fake smile,
suck in your tummy, relax,back straight, lean this way,
weight on the front foot, chin this way.

Some moments unfolded better than others.

This is one pose you won't see on Janet's website.

Yea, it's a pic nobody would choose to pass out to their friends,
but it marks the spirit of the photo shoot.

It was just fun.

Where else would a girl named McKenzie
want to pose for a picture?

This truck was parked out behind the house.

You know those old rotting country bridges other that people just drive over?

Janet likes rustic appeal for pics.
Since people expect to wear the prom dress inside the studio,
Janet likes to take them outside to contrast the setting.

When Janet showed her how to move her hand to her hip,
this sassy pose was created.

For further shock appeal,
how about sitting in that crick in your rhinestone studded dress?
It was worth it.

Before a shoot, Janet often scopes out the area,
seeking out interesting backdrops.
This building is in a small town a few miles away
made Janet's pic turned out great.

With a  few mouse clicks from the photographer
and you have Kenzie reflecting her horse dreams.

Into her studio for more clothing changes
and more chin up, turn your head.

Simple sheers add splashes of color,
the huge "umbrellas" are part of her light system.

Advice from Janet Schill,
Prairie Photographer,
for great home photography -

"I think the most important thing for the home photographer
 to do with kids is get down to their level.
You'd be surprised at how many people stand
 and point the camera down on their kids.
When you look at the world from their level,
everything takes on a whole new look.

Watch which direction your light is coming from.
Don't shoot towards the light,
have the light behind you or from the side.
Window light is great light, use it.
Also, if shooting outdoors, use open shade or cloudy days if possible.
It elimates harsh shadows and gives you great soft light."

Be inspired in the images you capture of your children.

Shoot under the horse,
under the bridge,
and outside the box,
just like the Prairie Photographer.