Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I'm Thankful For

I'm thankful for Christmas mugs, decaf coffee, caramel macchiato creamer and Katie's pumpkin bread!

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Christmas is nearly upon us! These past few weeks have been a flurry of activity..though not necessarily with Christmas preparations.

For the last week or two I've been involved in a local campaign. I had an amazing time hanging out with my hometown friends and making new friends from as far away as South Dakota!

 I am very happy to announce our victory! Mike Crane was elected to the Georgia state senate on December 6th.

 I was very impressed with the integrity and passion for Jesus I found in the young adults I worked with during this campaign. They inspired me and challenged me to be more intentional in how I live out my faith in Jesus. And even though most of the out-of-town people were long-time friends, they accepted us newcomers and made us part of their group.

All the memories I have made, in just a few days! Hanging around a campfire swapping stories and singing. Walking in the parade. Laughter. Hugs. Singing praise after the victory announcement! Sad goodbyes...Promises to stay in touch. Memories I will treasure forever.
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3

(Pssst, if you poke around Mike Crane's website you'll find some pictures and videos of us.)

Our game of Ultimate Frisbee...in the rain.

After a while, not being dressed to play in the rain, I appointed myself official photographer...from the car. :)

Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
Psalm 106:1

Monday, November 28, 2011

Missing Rainbows?

Today when we got home from Good News Club we discovered this radiant rainbow, the biggest one I've ever seen!

Genesis 9:16

And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

Every time I see a rainbow it makes me wonder if it was placed there just for me. :)

 I read a true story once about a teenage girl who was going through a difficult time and happened to read the story of the rainbow in Genesis. She cried out to God, "Where is my rainbow?" and the very next day there was the most brilliant rainbow she had ever laid eyes on, right outside her window.

I always thought that was one of the sweetest stories I had ever heard of. And it makes me wonder, what rainbows am I missing in my life? Are there little assurances of God's promises that He leaves in my path and I have failed to notice?

What do you think?

Monday, November 21, 2011


There is a struggle of emotions that goes on in me when I look ahead to Thanksgiving. I am naturally pessimistic, not that I necessarily look for bad things to happen - though I certainly try to be prepared for them - but more often than not I see the bad rather than the good in my life. It is a terrible habit but, there it is.

Right now I am tempted to look at my dad's unemployment struggle instead of seeing how God has faithfully taken care of us through it all.

 I want to feel sorry for myself when I see how my family is spread out across the whole world, instead of thanking God for how close our hearts still are.

I want to mourn the loss of my grandparents instead of shouting for joy at the knowledge that they are in heaven!

But God has been cultivating a spirit of thankfulness instead of fear in me this year. He has opened my eyes to see His overwhelming goodness and faithful love. I am forever grateful. Or at least I should be!

This year -
~ I have been surrounded by people who love me.
~ I have regained my health.
~ I have spent time with my entire family, together.
~ My grandfather has come through two dangerous operations.
~ I made two amazing trips to Russia.
~ I have learned that money and health insurance do not take care of us. God does.
~ I have discovered what a great blessing it is to be so intimately connected with my siblings' ministries.
~ I have cried and struggled through many difficult things and been carried through it all by the Everlasting Arms.
~ God has allowed me to have a positive impact in childrens' lives.
~ God has taught me what true humility looks like.
~ I have been overwhelmed by Jesus' vast love for me!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I've been reading a lot about humility these past few weeks. God has been impressing on me my very great lack of it! But it hasn't been at all unpleasant...You know, only a gracious, loving God like mine could make something like learning humility something that fills my soul with joy and gives me a more confident assurance of His love!

I think the passage that most encouraged me during this study was Deuteronomy 8.

"And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your GOD has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD ...
...For the LORD  your GOD is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth into valleys and hills.
...In the wilderness He fed you manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end."
Deuteronomy 8:2-3,7,16

I've been through a lot of wilderness, barren places. I don't mean that I've had a hard life, but many times my spiritual life has been extremely dry. I used to think those times meant God was unhappy with or disappointed in me, waiting for me to get my act together...but I don't think so any more.

Recently we had a ladies conference at my church and one of the speakers said something very poignant for me; she was speaking about Sarah, Abraham's wife and how her barrenness was viewed as a disgrace, God's disapproval even! And then she pointed out how we, today, often view our times of "barrenness" as God's disapproval when it's not!

God says He leads us through the wilderness to humble us and teach us that we need Him so that He can lead us to good places. So, the times I have been thinking were proof of God's disappointment were instead proof of God's most tender, unending love in offering me His own strength. How marvelous!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Havin' Me A Think

Well, you will be happy to know I have NOT dropped off the face of the earth!....You ARE glad, right? *wink*

Nope, I am still alive and well! I have just been taking some time off to have me a think. (That's Southern talk in case you didn't know and are completely shocked at my terrible grammar.) I didn't actually know that's why I was taking time off, because at first I just didn't have any inspiration or will to write, except in my good 'ole journal of course. (Okay maybe I'm a terrible Southerner but now even I am sick of my fake accent.) But after a week or two I realized God had some things to teach me and it was time for me to be quiet for a while.

Now my itch to write has returned and I have never been so happy to "scratch" it. I was beginning to think it was gone for good!

With this fresh start you may have noticed my new look. I was appalled when I returned to see how limp my blog looked. I think this look is much more fun and represents my personality better. To be honest, I think the reason I had to take a break was because it was getting waaaay too stuffy on here! Or maybe I was trying to force myself to fit a stuffy personality. (Maybe it was just all in my head *smile* That's probably closer to the truth.)

To sum up, I had a very good break but I am very happy to be back!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy Birthday Mom!!!

This week I am grateful for: My Mom :)
My mom is my very best friend. (Seriously!)
The only person in the world I feel free to tell absolutely anything to.

Things I love about my Mother:
She always thinks of others first.
She loves taking care of people.
She gives me hugs.
She likes to be with me.
She listens to me.
She is wise.
She knows and understands me better than anyone else on earth.
She loves Jesus.
She is patient.
She is always kind.
She is hardworking.
She is fun!

Who can find a virtuous wife?
      For her worth is far above rubies.        The heart of her husband safely trusts her;       So he will have no lack of gain.         She does him good and not evil       All the days of her life.         She seeks wool and flax,       And willingly works with her hands.         She is like the merchant ships,       She brings her food from afar.         She also rises while it is yet night,       And provides food for her household,       And a portion for her maidservants.         She considers a field and buys it;       From her profits she plants a vineyard.         She girds herself with strength,       And strengthens her arms.         She perceives that her merchandise is good,       And her lamp does not go out by night.        She stretches out her hands to the distaff,       And her hand holds the spindle.         She extends her hand to the poor,       Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.         She is not afraid of snow for her household,       For all her household is clothed with scarlet.         She makes tapestry for herself;       Her clothing is fine linen and purple.         Her husband is known in the gates,       When he sits among the elders of the land.         She makes linen garments and sells them,       And supplies sashes for the merchants.         Strength and honor are her clothing;       She shall rejoice in time to come.         She opens her mouth with wisdom,       And on her tongue is the law of kindness.         She watches over the ways of her household,       And does not eat the bread of idleness.         Her children rise up and call her blessed;       Her husband also, and he praises her:        “ Many daughters have done well,       But you excel them all.”         Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,       But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.        Give her of the fruit of her hands,       And let her own works praise her in the gates.

(Well, Blogger is acting a little strange. I tried to get the Scripture passage above to be centered and it came out like this! But ya know, I kind of like it! :D )

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Things that Make Me Smile

Surprises (good ones!)

Real mail

Laimon Fresh (Long story...)



Listening to Nickel Creek (although sometimes it makes me cry too.)

A phone call from my big brother.

A comment on my blog. (hint, hint)

Spending time with my oldest sister (a rare treat)

Memories of my grandmother. (sometimes that makes me cry too..)

My brother's saaad jokes. *smile* (<-- see? I told you so.)

My nieces' antics and funny sayings.

Hugging my 93-year-old grandfather.

Wearing my favorite dress.

Cozy days.

Sunshine (It makes everything beautiful!)

Southern courtesy (a.k.a. chatting with a complete stranger just because you're in the same line.)


Happy Endings

And much more! I expect you’re yawning right about now though so I’ll cut it short. 

Friday, September 23, 2011


This week I am grateful for: My sisters
They make me laugh.
They make me feel special just to be related to them.
They've seen more good and bad in me than anyone else
and they still like me.

A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.  ~Marion C. Garretty

Sisters annoy, interfere, criticize.  Indulge in monumental sulks, in huffs, in snide remarks.  Borrow.  Break.  Monopolize the bathroom.  Are always underfoot.  But if catastrophe should strike, sisters are there.  Defending you against all comers.  ~Pam Brown

Sister to sister we will always be,
A couple of nuts off the family tree.
~Author Unknown

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Life Happens

Hello! I'm sure you've all been wondering what in the world has happened to me! No, I'm not dead or even sick. To put it simply, Life Happened!

I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that my schedule was going to start getting very full soon. Well, soon has arrived! This past week has been just about the craziest of my life. Normally I would chalk that up as a good thing; I love hustle and bustle and being smack in the middle of everything. And though it certainly hasn't been bad, this past week has definitely run me ragged.

(Am I making any sense?)

Let me give you an idea of my week.
        Monday (the12th): Our first Good News Club meeting! I was so nervous about this because we'd had some bumps in the road before so I was anxious to do it just right! Thankfully it went very smoothly and everyone was happy.
         Tuesday: I taught two piano lessons. I enjoy those so much. I have only recently discovered a passion for teaching that I never knew I had, and not just music lessons either!
         Wednesday: One of the craziest days of the crazy week! At 8:30 in the morning we left to meet friends at the lake and spent the early afternoon tubing and skiing. 
(There are not many things on my list of pleasures that top riding in the bow of a boat. It combines my love of colors and nature and sky and water and wind all in one delightful experience.)
At about 3 o'clock we had to rush home to get ready for AWANA that evening. It was another hectic night, but it was still great! I look forward to Wednesday nights as the highlight of my week.
        Thursday: I woke up early to walk with a friend. It was good to get some exercise and talk. I had planned to visit another family but after my fast-paced day before I really needed just one day to stay home and chill. It was delightful.
         Friday: I spent the day shopping with my mom and younger sister. We really get crazy when we're together; those two bring out the silly side of me.

          Saturday: I woke up at 6AM to go to the AWANA training conference. It was long, but fun to hang out with fellow AWANA  leaders.

            Sunday: This Sunday was Celebration Sunday! Every third Sunday in September we celebrate our church's anniversary! It is a wonderful day full of music, fellowship and food! My family partners with another family to organize the meal part of the day. 
This year we had the privilege of having the Peach State Quartet come sing for us! I didn't get to sit in for all of it, I had to go help prepare for the meal, but what I did hear was simply beautiful.

So maybe you can understand my prolonged absence and if you can't well, I'm sorry! Truly, I am sorry to fall behind like this. Not just for you, but for me! I like keeping up this blog, thinking up interesting posts, practicing my blogging skills (or lack thereof). *wink*

Thank you for your patience with me!

Friday, September 9, 2011


This week I am grateful for: Wonderful weather!!!

I know all there are terrible storms ravaging the upper and lower east coast, but here in GA we are enjoying the loveliest weather we've had in a long time. We've received the rain we prayed for, earlier in the week, while yesterday and today we've been soaking up the sun during a much-needed break from the humidity and heat.

And it looks as if it will continue! According to weather.com our temps will be in the 80s for at least another week! (Perhaps we will ease right into fall this year instead of swinging back and forth between indian summer and autumn.)

Thank you Jesus!

Monday, September 5, 2011


A dear friend from church sang this song yesterday in church. Tears were streaming down my face as she sang.


Last week was very rough. My grandfather has been in and out of doctor's offices since his pacemaker was put in. 

Another close friend found out her grandfather's cancer has returned.

And then we received some devastating news about a family friend.

So, I've spent much of this week in tears, particularly this weekend.

When Ms. Melissa got up to sing and explained how this song had touched her, I knew I was about to become a basket-case. But I still wasn't prepared for how deeply the song would touch me. But it was okay, they were good tears, tears of His own healing. 

I pray this song brings healing to you as well.

Friday, September 2, 2011


This week I am grateful - To be living in the South!

The yummy food.

The kindness of strangers

The lingering warmth of summer.

The quiet and restfulness of our neighborhood.

The sweet, warm, heavy air that wraps me in home.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Many Things

This week I am thankful for - a lot of things!
To still have my 93-year-old grandfather with me.
 (He had a serious operation this week but came through wonderfully!)
For joy! 
(I have been so full of peace and joy these past few weeks and I don't take a minute of it for granted.)
For the beautiful weather we've been enjoying lately.
(The blue sky overhead, the sweet-smelling grass underfoot, a quiet breeze, and a wonderful swing to take it all in on.)
For the most amazing friends ever!
(I've been able to see a lot of my friends lately and I am so thankful to have such good ones!)
For a purpose and a hope.
(I believe I am finally completely content where I am. It also helps that some new ministry opportunities are opening up for me. I am so excited to start working in a children's club soon, as well as the start-up of AWANA this year.)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A God Who Understands

I'm sorry! I forgot to post yesterday. Well, I didn't forget altogether...I just forgot to remember at a convenient time. Anyway, I'm very sorry.

This week I am grateful for: A God who understands.

A God I can tell anything and everything to.

A God who knows me better than I know myself.

He heals the broken-hearted,
and binds up their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars;
He gives names to all of them.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in strength;
His understanding is infinite.
Psalm 147:3-5

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Today, my last day in Moscow, is drawing to a close. Tomorrow I will drag my tubs and bags to the airport, answer lots of questions, check my bags, grab my ticket, say my goodbyes and walk through the barrier.

Tonight I'm babysitting for a few hours. I've made American mac-and-cheese, spread peanut butter on bananas and fed my three nieces. We played the quiet game while we ate and talked about the movies we watched today, namely, "Tangled" and "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs".

After dinner I sit down on the couch to work on a blog post about my recent visit to a mosque, but it's not right. I can't find the right words to express the subtle, gentle, but deep way it affected me.

The older two girls bug me to "do something fun", a tradition I created for when I babysit them. It usually consists of a special game or craft or movie. I reluctantly leave my "work" to search for a new craft online.

The baby needs more food.

I check my email.

The girls are loving on me, climbing and tugging. It's sweet but not practical with a computer in my lap. I grumpily brush them aside, find a craft and give them the materials and instructions, relieved to finally have some peace.

After a brief interlude my middle niece climbs up beside me to ask questions again...I only half-listen to her, giving her brisk answers.

Finally I catch myself....this is my last night with them! Is this the parting memory I want to leave, a distracted, grumpy aunt? I look down at the small face cuddled up against my arm.

"Am I grumpy?"
"Yes," she answers decidedly.
"What does grumpy mean?" the oldest one asks.

What is making me so grumpy tonight?

I put the computer aside determinedly and grab Kaela, then Abbie for a spin. Their delighted laughter lifts my spirit. I plop back down and just watch. I watch the girls leap around the room playing with the space ship I made them out of a toilet paper roll, construction paper and a few Werther's wrappers. They speak in their high-pitched play voices, happy as queens...or maybe happier.

I watch the baby maneuver around her sisters' antics, babbling to herself, experimenting with new sounds. She is learning so much, so fast, changing every day. I retrieve a stray marker top from her possession. I chuckle a little at her angry cry and pick her up to cuddle. Her indignation is short-lived; she gleefully pulls away from my embrace to climb on the couch, practicing sitting down and standing up, chattering happily all the time to me. I wonder what she is telling me all about.

All of this sends shards of pain through my heart. I will miss them so much!

And not only them...I realize I've gradually come to love it here.

I love:
~Studying the people on the metro and praying for them
~Practicing my (extremely) limited Russian.
~Understanding the culture/Knowing how things work here.
~ Eating hatshepurri!! (A Central Asian bread with cheese and egg topping. Very oily and cheesy and soft and soooo yummy! btw, I have no idea if I'm spelling it right.)
~All the fresh, soft, yummy bread!!!
~Hanging out with my awesome big sister!
~Watching my nieces grow up.
~Being with the people I've met and grown to love here.
~The different perspective on life I get here from seeing people begging, people working so hard to please a God they barely know and living in fear of Him all their lives, people who haven't bathed in so long you can't stand within ten feet of them, people trapped in a religion they were born into.
~The new level of dependency on God.
~The way I can take a step back from myself and my own problems here.
~Knowing that I am serving God in a practical way in everything I do here. How useful and productive I feel.
~The way I can enjoy the simplest things here like: a yummy meal, Coca-Cola, any and all outings, laughing with my nieces, chatting with people from home, making my little sister laugh at my craziness, reading a book.

I've learned that your home is not confined to a place, even a country.This place has become part of my home.

So tomorrow, as I walk through the gate that will separate me from this new piece of my home I will more than likely be fighting tears for all I am worth, but in the end I can be nothing but grateful. I have made such rich and precious memories. I have met such wonderful people. I have experienced things others only dream of. But most of all, I have been changed.

I only hope and pray that these fresh and still-delicate impressions will not be forgotten or erased with the pressures in America. I pray that I will keep the things I have learned here, treasuring them and pondering them in my heart. That God will keep my heart tender towards Him and towards the people here..and everywhere!

(Note: You made it all the way to the end! Hoorah! Thanks for putting up with the long, rambling post...I wrote it late at night in a very sentimental mood...something I try never to do but it happened and I've decided to keep this one no matter how choppy and unpleasant it may be to read. It expresses some true feelings that I don't want to forget. So...three cheers for you faithful reader!! Thank you for your perseverance!)

Friday, August 12, 2011


Well, it's Friday! I must confess I nearly forgot about this post. (Shame on me!) But now I am really excited. :)

This week I am grateful for beauty.

For eyes to see the beautiful sunsets over Moscow

For ears to hear my nieces' laughter.

For touch to feel a baby's soft skin.

And for a soul to appreciate it all.

Thank you God!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Graters and Gratefulness

Have you ever swallowed a cheese grater? No? Well, if you had you'd know exactly how my throat felt on  Friday.

Friday morning I crawled out of bed with a throat sore enough to rival the the my tonsillitis throat's record. I tried everything I'd ever heard of to find relief that day, warm tea with honey, plain honey, gargling vinegar-water, throat drops...the whole shebang. The only thing that helped  to any degree was two Tylenol, but still, tears came to my eyes and I tensed all over with the pain of swallowing anything.

I was mildly upset with God for throwing such a wrench in my plans. I felt even worse when I heard of the plans the others had made to pass out fliers at a mosque and eat out for dinner - plans I would have to miss out on to nurse my throat. I even wondered (somewhat bitterly) if these germs had slipped past when God wasn't looking (can we say drama queen?). But in the back of my head, or deep in my heart, or wherever, I knew God that must have some reason for letting this happen to me. So, not having much else to do or being too miserable to do it, I started trying to sort out what it might be.

I suddenly realized that it had never occurred to me to thank God for a healthy throat before. Then I began thinking about all the blessings I take for granted (sometimes even while complaining to God for not blessing me in other ways!). And not just the "common" things like life, clothes, food shelter but extra-special things like: 
~a homey house with a large yard,
~amazing friends,
~a beautiful town,
~spending money,
~a quiet neighborhood,
~parents who understand me,
~brothers and sisters who like me,
~a church that cares about me individually
...I began to see my life in a different light and I saw all the things I could and should be overwhelmed by gratefulness for....I was disgusted with myself but I still wasn't all that grateful...

I still haven't gotten to the point of being overwhelmed but, while I think gratefulness is actually a gift from God, I do think it also comes partly from discipline. So, as an exercise I have decided to pledge to post once a week with at least one thing I am truly grateful for. This post will take place on Fridays so check back on me!

Another way you can help me is to be praying for me, that this lesson will not slide off with time but will become etched on my heart and transform me and that God would take this weakness of mine to show off His own strength.

"Praise to the Lord
Who o'er all things so wonderfully reigneth
Shelters the under His wings
Yea, so gently sustaineth.
Hast thou not seen, how thy desires e'er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?"

Thou who hast given so much to me, give me one more thing... a grateful heart!         
~George Herbert 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Well, it's been a while since I've posted. Sometimes I have a hard time finding something to write about and sometimes when I find a subject I can't find the right words to express it. But then, that's what this blog is for isn't it? Practice, practice practice! :)

I have big news for you in this post! I am writing it from Russia!!!! I don't know if I mentioned before that I have a sister in Russia or that I have made three previous trips to visit her and her family, but I do and I have. :)

I can't remember when exactly, but a week or two ago I was suddenly taken with an overwhelming desire to go back to Russia. It might have had something to do with my fast-growing 9-month-old niece, or it might have been the restless feeling I've been struggling with lately or it could have been both plus a few other things! At any rate, that's what happened. I almost couldn't stand the thought that I had a Russian visa that was still valid (last year my sister and brother-in-law bought me a year-long visa) but no way to get there.

On previous trips I was able to fly to Moscow for free. My dad retired from an airline so, until I turned 19, I could fly anywhere for free. But my free flights expired a few months ago...or so I thought. Last Wednesday we found out I can still fly for free, but only for a few more weeks.

My previous trips were planned well before-hand; I had plenty of time to pack and prepare myself for spending time in a strange country. This time was different....

Long story short, the only flight I could take was on Friday. I found that out on Thursday so I had one day to shop for my sister's list of items she can't get in Russia and pack my suitcase! It was crazy but somehow I made it and found myself in Moscow on Saturday morning.

(more to follow)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What I've Been Up To

So, my brother and sister-in-law left a week ago today. I've been trying and trying to get this post out....it's been more difficult than it should be. I guess it stirs up a lot of emotions that I usually try to avoid and when I'm emotional I don't trust my writing. So let's just say it's been very hard, I miss them a whole lot but God is taking care of me...and them!

I have been keeping very busy since they left. While they were here I tried not to be too busy so I would be free to spend time with them. But in the week since they left (it seems like MUCH longer) I've taken apart our sewing room, watched Bleak House, had a visit from a friend, made pickles, run various errands, read a few books, cleaned and rearranged my room and written a lot.

Speaking of writing, the other day (when I was cleaning my room) I decided to go through my mounds of papers and organize them into a binder. I'm always writing and I prefer loose-leaf to notebooks so it can get pretty messy sometimes. Besides, I didn't want any papers to get lost. Someday I want to write a book and what I write now will be the foundation for it.

So, I started gathering my piles and sorting through them, adding them to the binder as I went along. I was getting excited as I worked. My papers were adding up. Some of them didn't have much written on them, just a thought or an idea. But some of them were solid writings and all of them were important. By the time I was done I could hardly close the binder. I was so excited. 

You see, ever since I graduated and even before I've struggled with feelings of pointlessness. I thought that my life would "begin" after high-school. I envisioned running hither and thither doing ministry work, meeting new people and working with girls. And yet none of that has happened. For the most part nothing has changed since high-school.

So, I was really excited to have tangible proof that this past year has not been pointless. I have been productive! God has been working in me!I have worked and sweated and cried and trusted and cried and waited and cried and...you get the picture. I have learned so very much. As my mom likes to tell me I've been in "God's College". Learning straight from The Teacher Himself.

Maybe this seems like bragging to you, but I only tell you this to encourage you if you are now or are ever in a situation like me. Don't fear. God has a specific purpose for you. Remember, He chose you! (John 15:16) Just trust Him to do the work in you.

Any comments and/or criticisms?

Monday, July 18, 2011


(NOTE: Please pardon the sad puns.)

Last Saturday Mom and I made pickles from cucumbers grown in our backyard. Our cucumbers are coming in almost faster than we can pick them!

Mom has made pickles before.  Her sweet pickles are out of this world! But I think this was her first time attempting dill pickles. Or at least the first time in a while. It was my first time ever participating in pickle-making. I was really excited!

Preparing everything takes a bit longer than the actual pickling process. Especially when you're not altogether sure what you're doing....

Our special tools >
I kind of felt like a doctor the way we had to sterilize everything...or thought we did....


After slicing and stuffing as many cucumbers in a jar as possible we added the dill weed, pickling spice and peppercorns, then the vinegar/pickling salt concoction. After that we put the lids on and popped them into the water-bath. A little while later, we had pickles!

Our pickles looked delicious. This morning I braved the unknown and gave them the real test. I ate one. It tasted great! 
However, there is more to a pickle than looks and taste. Much more. Any pickle worth it's salt (no pun intended) must be crisp. Who wants a soft pickle? Soft pickles are like soft apples. Rotten.
Ours were mush.

The story doesn't end here. We are not defeated. Mom and I will conquer the art of dill pickles. We will navigate the mazes of techniques and recipes until we reach the prize of the perfect blend of crunchy, cool, tartness.
Until then...we're in a pickle!

Monday, July 11, 2011

What I've Been Learning About...

Waiting on God.

Waiting is not about inaction.

 Waiting is about preparation.

It’s about learning about God.
           Seeking God.  
           Strengthening my relationship with Him.
           Building the foundation for living the rest of my life.
           Studying the Bible.
           I am learning to ask God what He wants to teach me instead of struggling against His restraints.

 It’s about worshiping God.
            Humbling myself and focusing on Him alone.
            Learning to make anytime worship-time.
            Trusting Him fully while I wait.
            Praising Him and enjoying His presence.
            God has been reminding me not to forget to worship. Waiting isn't all about sitting quietly with my hands folded...

 Waiting does not require silence.
            ...Waiting is all about my relationship with God. Communication is vital.
            I have learned not to be afraid to talk to God about anything. It's okay to tell God when I'm afraid, angry, or confused; God knows about it already and He delights in me pouring out my heart to Him. (Psalm 62:8)

I am just beginning to realize how vastly important this period of waiting is for my life. It has been hard to sit and wait while watching my friends move on and actively pursue their dreams. 
Still, I am learning so, so much! Even the desert-times have been rich with blessing. God is being faithful to love me, teach me and grow me. 

I am so grateful right now; even though I know more times of fear and trouble are ahead, I am certain in this moment that God will carry me through them and continue perfecting the image of Christ in me.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you [and me!] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6

Friday, July 8, 2011

My Most Memorable Independence Day

So how was your Independence Day? Mine was fantabulous!

It started out with our church picnic. Actually, I guess it started before that, at 7AM, when I got up to make two apple pies to take to the church picnic. I didn't feel like rolling out of bed at 7AM, especially since I went to bed at 11-something PM, but it was worth it!


At the picnic we had lots of yummy food and plenty of good friends to share it with! Before we ate, some of the men in our church read the Declaration of Independence. I had read it for school before, but I got a whole new perspective hearing it read by men. I thought of the men who wrote it and the risks they took, the courage they had, the absolute certainty they possessed that what they were doing was right. Amazing.

After lunch our church has a tradition of playing softball. I love it! I used to play baseball when I was younger and I really enjoyed it, so playing softball brings a little of it back to me. Plus, I love spending time with my church family. :)

After the picnic my family headed back home for a quick change of clothes, then to a friend's house for swimming and burgers. The pool felt marvelous after getting all sweaty and tired at the picnic. The burgers were amazing. Our friend guaranteed these would be the best burgers we'd ever tasted and he was right!

After dinner we left right from our friend's house to another friend's house to watch the fireworks with a lot of friends! It was great; we played Knot >,
there was ice-cream and we all just hung out! I haven't been together with so many of my friends all at once for a while. It felt really good.
Finally it got dark and we settled down to watch the show.

THEN....the deluge began. It started with some far off rumblings...then some lightening...then more lightening. Finally we felt a few drops. Then I heard a roar from behind and I knew some serious rain was here. All of us girls jumped up shouting and dashed for shelter. I ran for the car where I met my brother and two sisters. Unfortunately I didn't realize until too late that all my friends had taken shelter in the house and I got cut off from them. Still, it was really cool to watch the lightening/fireworks show. It seemed like God was pitching in to say "I'll give you a REAL show!" It was awesome.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Independence Day!

Today I'm going to our annual church picnic. I'm taking apple pie. YUM! There will be a big feast and latera huge softball game! Plus lots of fellowship!
Later tonight we're going to a friend's house to watch the fireworks! It will be fun! Hope you have a wonderful day!

What traditions do YOU keep on the 4th of July?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mini Family Get-Together

I'm back!! I had the most amazing weekend full of family and fun!

Sometimes they drive me nuts, but I love my family to death. :)
We arrived Friday night and were able to see my aunt, uncle and cousin. I hadn't seen them in two years so it was great to catch up again!

Saturday afternoon we went and saw an old settlement.

Lady in an old costume talking on the phone. :)

The Baker

The Bakery

 Saturday evening we went to a park where we cooked-out and played frisbee-golf!

 Usually frisbee-golf is a pretty mild game...not this one! I got hit with a frisbee three times! Once in the wrist, once in the HEAD and once on my arm. 

Those frisbees hurt too! They're not those light ones you use for ultimate frisbee, these are heavy, compact ones made to go a long ways. 

And THIS is what they do to you.

Sunday morning was church. After church we had a big lunch in the activity building, hung around playing games and finally headed back to our hotel for a short swim before the evening service.

The evening service was completely dedicated to commissioning my brother and his wife. In a few weeks they will be headed to Africa. That night was really hard for me. I love my brother and his wife. They've been living with us for a few months now and I've really enjoyed having them around so much. It's going to be tough when they leave.

After church there was a big reception with food and soft drinks and cake. I sat around a table with my siblings, cousin and two of my brother's friends. We told stories and laughed the whole time. It was great! I love to laugh. :)

After the reception most of our little family group went back to our hotel and payed MadGab. More laughter. :)

Monday after lunch we came back home. It was sad to leave. Every time we go up to NC I leave a little more of my heart there. Still, it's good to be home again.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm heading up to NC for my brother's commissioning! Sorry I haven't had time to make a "real" blog post lately. I promise you one when I get back. For now here's my latest and greatest pictures.

Be back soon!