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Monday, September 2, 2013

A Labor Day Wish

May your day be full of hopeful sunrises and thankful sunsets. May you see the sun rise on new tomorrows and days full of colorful falling leaves, cool breezes, the sound of acorns hitting the tin roof on the shed, and squirrels collecting them and hiding their treasures for later winter munching. May you find one yourself, plant it deep in some rich dirt, water it with the faith that believes and hopes in tomorrow’s oak trees and God’s promises and miracles. May you watch your orange and yellow and pink, vibrant sunsets with a thankful heart for all that summer leaves behind you --- the scent of flowers, the sounds of singing birds, the fresh mowed grass, births, growths, and the creations of an artful heart! Thank Him for lessons learned on dark days, gifts received on bright days, tears shed on sad days, smiles shared on happy days. May you always remember that all are gifts, all are from His hands, all freely given . . .to YOU!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Weekend Blessing

Emily, over at Chatting At the Sky, does these wonderful "For Your Weekend" posts. I have always loved them so much and have forwarded them on many times. Today, I thought, I'll just write one myself. Lea from the Shabby Olde Potting Shed told me she was vacuuming, etc., today. So this was written with her in mind. But it's for whoever reads this today! Even YOU!

May your day be filled with eye-squinting sunshine, glistening leaves that dance in the breezes, and magical whispy clouds that float across the sky. Drop your vacuum and your dust mop and step into the world of turquoise dragonflies, dancing yellow dandilions, and droopy-faced sunflowers. Breathe in the freshness of God’s joyous creation. Breathe out your thanks to God, the Creator of the beauty around you. And may you hear Him whisper, “You are very welcome and it My pleasure to provide it for you!” Don’t miss the splendor this weekend! Dust bunnies will be glad to wait until Monday!

And if you can't find a turquoise dragonfly ---- make one"

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Lessons Learned

I read a “daily devotional” today that talked about how we face our past --- do we look at it through the lens of guilt, despair and shame, or do we look at it through the lens of God’s forgiveness, redemption and restoration?

Sprinkled throughout these past months has been the reminder of the word I chose for 2013 --- restoration. I can’t believe how many times the Lord has brought into the forefront of my mind stuff from my past. Some of it was covered with cobwebs as it had been hidden back in the dark corners of my mind. Others rose up out of cloudy, misty memories that I had hoped would stay out in the cold. I do know that we shouldn’t dwell on our past, that we should move on, press on, “forgetting those things which are behind.” Yet, there are times when we need to learn from our mistakes and pass those learning lessons on to others or leave lights along the pathway so others don’t trip over the same things we stumbled over.

I’ve been keeping a list of things I learned when I was in places that seemed to be nothing but desolate deserts. I’m sure the list isn’t complete and I’ll be adding more, but I wanted to share this with you today:

In my hunger, He alone could feed me.

In my thirst for Him, He proved only He could satisfy.

In my weariness, He taught me how to sit and “rest awhile.”

In my loneliness, He became my true friend.

In my restlessness, He became my contentment.

In my longings, He became my fulfillment.

In my desparation, He became my hope.

In my desires, He filled my needs.

In my broken dreams, He became my reality.

In my wanderings, He became my pathway.

In my darkness, He became my light.

In my despair, He became my encourager.

In my questionings, He became my answers.

In the heat of my days, He became my resting place.

In the endlessness of the desert, He became my horizon.

In my questions “why?” He became my answer, “Because I am that I am.”

In my blindness, He became my vision.

In my doubting, He became my faith.

In my midnight hours, He became my song.

In my falling, He lifted me up.

In my sinfulness, He touched me.

In my brokenness, He healed me.

In seeing Him, I became nothing.

In my nothingness, He became everything.

In finding Him to be everything, the desert became my Promised Land.

In finding my way through the desert, I found my ministry as a guide.

So yes, it is true that He DOES restore the years the locusts have eaten. I don’t think there is one thing on this list that was not worth learning!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Update on Paper making

I'm obsessed! Not a day has gone by where I haven't made at least one sheet of paper, and I love how every one has turned out. Usually, I'm a "neutral" kind of person, staying with the earth tones, tans, off white, ivory, etc. But now???? I'm all for COLOR, sparkles, specks, patterns, textures, etc. It's like a new ME has emerged!!! Nothing is safe in my kitchen, my garbage, my mailbox, etc.

My first experimental venture was with strawberries. My sister had some left that were turning a little dark and mushy, so I dumped them in the blender with my paper scraps. Just the color of that blended mix of pulp looked like some delicious homemade ice cream. I followed all the steps of making the paper, but I couldn't wait for it to dry, so I ironed it dry. It's still sitting here in one piece ---- I can't even bear to cut it up. In fact, I haven't done a single project with my papers yet. They are too pretty to cut them. I have all these dies for my Accucut and Sizzix machine and I can't make up my mind what to do, so I just look at them.(The blobs of white in the photo are actually little sparkles I threw in with the pulp!)

Yesterday, my sister gave me one of her beautiful, sparkly, blue sheets and asked me to cut some bookmarks for her. I cut her four. I had the perfect blue ribbon yarn with a glittery weave through it, so did the tassels out of that. She was so thrilled and proceeded to make flowers for them and decorate them up. She is soooooooo hooked!

After the strawberry success, I branched out and made paper out of oatmeal, rose petals, and even used my carrot peelings to make the most beautiful pumpkin colored paper.(no pictures yet ---- it isn't dry!)

I also tried my hand at paper casting, as I had a few of those Brown Bag cookie molds hidden away. It took a while to find them, but it was worth the effort. Paper Alice (video in the last post) has these neat molds for paper casting, and my sister has three of those. They turned out fantastic. I'm in love with my angel castings and can't wait to do more.

I have a collection of antique butter molds, and they have the most unique carvings in them. I got brave and did a paper casting of one with acorns, leaves and wheat. I couldn't believe it turned out!!!!! Now I want to do them all.

So here I am, like a third grader playing with paper scraps, a blender, and a bucket of water!!!!! I have to get a card made and something DONE to show you how beautiful it really looks. I know some of you are trying this, making handmade journals, cards, and artsy stuff, and I can't wait to see your projects! Let me know if you post about your papermaking!!!!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New Projects for Spring

I am just soooooo glad that Spring has finally come! I'm tired of being cold. I was shocked when I saw that my wisteria had started to bloom. Not a day too soon, either. I'm as busy as the bees that have found those wisteria blooms, believe me.

I don't know where I read about making your own paper ---- perhaps as I hopped down rabbit trails of blogs ---- but it jogged my memory back to a time when I REALLY wanted to get into that. But I never did. So that idea began to brew and boil over in my mind until I couldn't stand it anymore. I googled the topic and read everything written on the subject and watched about 237 videos on how to do it. I am now the "expert" and know more than I will ever, ever need to know about making my own paper.

Then, I found "Paper Alice", a gal who not only makes the most beautiful paper, but gives classes, does shows, and also sells the supplies. I could tell from her videos that she just loved doing what she does. And I was hooked! So last week, I ordered what I needed to get started, and let me tell you, I was like a kid waiting for it to come in the mail. Monday, it came. In the meantime, I picked some of my wisteria blossoms, got them pressed and dried, all ready for my first piece of paper.

The nice thing about making paper is, you can use all the junk paper, junk mail, envelopes, etc., that usually ends up in the trash. Napkins, tissue, wrapping paper, etc., are all appropriate. So I dug in the trash for two envelopes, some cardstock scraps, and I was in business.

So here is my first attempt:

I was tickled pink with it. All I did was, tore up two business envelopes and a half a piece of blue cardstock and put it all in a blender. I covered it with water, turned it on for 30 seconds or so, added some parsley from the spice rack, and poured it into my mold. Unmolded it, and there was a perfect sheet of paper. I carefully pressed my flowers into the wet paper, covered it all with a screen, sponged out the water, and DONE! I am SOOOOOOOO into this! It will go with my card making and add so much to what I'm already doing. The neat thing is, the possibilities are endless ---- like adding sparkles, glitter, flower petals, leaves, colorings, etc. The sky is the limit.

Here's my second attempt:

This one has green moss and oregano in the mix. Once again, I used two envelopes and some scraps of green cardstock.

If you would like to see "Paper Alice" and her YouTube videos, you can find them here:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Again!

Five Minute Friday

Linking up with Lisa Jo and 5-minute Fridays. It’s a time when we set the timer and write for 5 minutes with no corrections, editing, backspacing, or “do overs.” So here it goes:

Today’s Word ---- “Again”

Go!

Once again, I made the journey to the Cancer Center for my three--month check up. I’m coming up on my 5-year anniversary in July -- it was in July of 2008 that I was diagnosed with breast cancer and started that journey through treatment. No matter what anyone says, no matter how positive and “on top of it” I am, I was never the same after that. I don’t think anyone is. It’s not a detour, it’s a whole new path.

Once again, I get weighed, I get the finger prick, I get the exam, I get the blood draw from my chemo port, and I get the port flushed out. In some ways, I’m tired of it. In other ways, I am reminded again and again of God’s abundant grace in healing and giving me these past 5 years.

Again, my oncologist reminds me of his own surprise at my “amazing recovery” and absence of any signs of cancer. We discussed those chemo days, how he didn’t think the surgeon would be able to close that spot where the tumor was, how the radiation burned me to a crisp, and yet, it looks so good.

And so, again, I lift my praise and thankful heart to Him who walks with us through the each and every valley! And again, I thank all my friends here who stuck with me through those days, walked with me, prayed for me again and again, and have praised God for all He has done!

Stop!

Be sure to visit others who are participating in 5-minute Friday here:

Five Minute Friday

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Regrets, Redemption, Restoration

I never meant to stop blogging. I love it here and love all of you who came to visit. But it seemed that I ran out of words for a while. One day passed, than another, then a week, a month, and now. . . . It seems like I’ve disappeared forever. It just seemed that I was boring. I was bored with me. My days seemed to always be the same and finding topics to discuss was just not happening.

Perhaps a break was best for me, though I didn’t even know I was going to take one. But lately, I’ve found myself writing, so to speak, in my head -- especially during sleepless night. And it always sounded like blog posts. So here I am, back again.

I wasn’t completely gone. I loved blog hopping to so many of your blogs. They are always so thought-provoking, beautifully written, and God honoring. I’m so thankful for all of them, believe me!

So many of you have picked words for this new year. I found that to be so interesting, as I really had never done that before. So I decided to think about it and my heart settled on one word ---- no, maybe it’s three words, really. “Regrets,” “Redemption,” and “Restoration.”

It all began with the verse in Joel 2:25 where God says He will restore the years the locust have eaten. Can He really do that???? Immediately, my thoughts went back in my journals of memories and seemed to highlight all the regretful stuff, even from my childhood: Bad choices, no’s instead of yes’s. “I can’t” instead of “I’ll try.” Running instead of staying, and staying when I should have run.

Oh my, do you have any idea what a review of your regrets in life can do to the weight of the burden on your back???? It’s not a good thing, that’s for sure. Especially since there is no way to change any of it. It’s over, done, and I am who I am because of it. But. . . .

Praise God, there is a BUT ! Through the darkness of all those regrets there still stands a Cross of forgiveness and cleansing and He pays the debt owed for all of it. ALL! Redemption! Suich a great word of comfort, isn’t it?

But Restoration. I had never really thought much about it until one day when I was sharing with someone who was hurting, and I told her about how I understood because I had messed up and made some bad choices just as she had and how that sometimes there are consequences we can’t change, but we can grow through them and use them. She asked me how in the world could that be? I read 2 Cor. 1:4 to her, “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

It was at that moment that I, myself, understood the whole thing of Restoration: When I am willing to accept God’s forgiveness and comfort, it is then that I can help someone else going through the same thing. And that, my friend, is when the ruins turn to rubies, and the locust loses out.

And so, Restoration has become my word for this year. Whenever I find a “regret” pestering my life and pulling me down, I will pray for a way to use it in the life of another and find redemption and restoration.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Stepping into the Stream

“It’s amazing what happens when we are willing to step into the stream!” Dawn told me this in an email about a week ago as I told her about sending cards to nursing homes for forgotten elderly people who never get any mail or visitors. I couldn’t stop. I stood at that stream and saw the flow slowly moving and I stepped in. I don’t often do that. And most often, I’m sorry I didn’t. But when I do, I get caught up in the currant and find out that God already had this stream prepared with others who were willing to step in, do their part, until we all spill into an ocean where we see an enormous job completed by the most unlikely people in the most unlikely places with unique gifts to bring and talents to use.

Here I am. Just little, old me with not much to offer. Just a ton of weary, old craft supplies that I’ve saved over the years. Just a week or two ago, I planned on throwing it all in the dumpster. Simplify. Clean up. Travel light. Streamline. All the words thrown at me when I complain about my . . . . . .junk. I’m looking for the right word here. My parents were Dutch and they always used a word for junk lying around that looked messy and random. I don’t know how to spell it, but the phonetics would be “RUM-a-lah!” We all just knew what it meant: Toys scattered across the floor, books and papers strewn on the bed, or clothing not hung up or put in drawers. And that’s what all my crafting stuff is beginning to look like because I’m out of room. Rum-a-lah!

But the card thing. . . . It grabs me and won’t let go. I have all I need to send out tons of cards --- cardstock, envelopes, paper, die cut machine with tons of dies, rubber stamps --- you name it - I’ve got it.

So I get on eBay to find some ideas -- fresh stuff that will help me out. I find this one seller with the most beautiful of cards I’ve ever seen. I place my bids on about 10 of them. I couldn’t stop! After winning most of them, I email her and tell her what I’m doing, and can I purchase about 25 cards? I figured after I drool over them for a while, I would attach my own poems on the inside and take them to the nearest nursing home. Then, I receive an email back.

Here is someone else that is willing to step into the stream! She loves the idea and is sending me 25 handmade cards --- get this --- for free!!!!

I tell some friends about this and how I used old cards and cut the pictures, etc., and recycle them into new cards, and they are collecting up cards for me. More people stepping in the stream!

So here I am, busy as an excited little beaver, cutting away. My cards are cut, I have piles of coordinating stuff, I’m stamping, gluing, feeling like a third grader with glue sticks, LOTS of glitter, punches, coloring pens, etc., etc.

The real thing is --- I’ve always wondered how I could use my poetry in an effective, more reaching way. Why didn’t I think of cards like this?

Several people have asked to see the cards, so I’m putting some pictures here. I can’t believe this gal makes these cards so beautifully. If you want to buy some, you can find her on eBay here:

http://www.ebay.com/sch/scrappygalore/m.html?item=290720649424&sspagename=STRK%3AMEWNX%3AIT&rt=nc&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649&_trksid=p4340.l2562

Friday, June 1, 2012

Can You See?

It's Five-Minute-Friday, and today's word is "SEE." The rules are:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking

2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community... So here we go. . .

Her face

Her eyes

I look into her soul

And I see fear

Fear of being alone

Fear of going hungry

Fear of being cold

Fear of all today will bring.

----

Her face

Her eyes

I look into her soul

I see hopeless

Longing for someone

Longing for love

Missing yesterdays of long ago

Dreading more tomorrows of what is now

----

His face

His eyes

I look into his soul

And I see sadness

Reaching for someone who still needs him

Reaching for love unconditional

Reaching for trust and acceptance

Reaching for a hug, a snuggle, the sound of a soft purr

----

Their faces

Their eyes

And I see their love

Clinging to all that was between them

Clinging to what still is

Clinging to what little may still be

Clinging to all to all they have left -- each other.

----

Her face

Her eyes

I look into her soul

Hope rises in her heart

Hope reaches out

Hope is tender in its kiss

Hope brings a smile once again

-----Cora

During the month of June, The Forgotten Ones: Compassion for the Elderly is striving to bring some love and hope to the millions of forgotten elderly men and women in the nursing homes of America and around the world. Many of these people never have a visitor, a phone call, a gift or a card for year after year until they die . . . Alone. Compassion for the Elderly has a Facebook page and you can access it from here. If you wish to participate in sending cards this month, here is Pam’s email address: pamohalloran@yahoo.com -- and she will send you a list of Nursing homes with the addresses and you can become a part of bringing at least one smile to one of these faces. (Or, you can contact me at: countrypatches1@verizon.net) Won’t you help?

Linking up with:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday!

He says to open our Bibles to 1 Peter 2:1-3. We bow our heads and ask the Lord to open our eyes and hearts to what He has to say to us. My pen is in my hand. My notebook is on my lap. My Bible is open to the appropriate place.

He points out the word, “therefore,” the first word in this chapter, and reminds us to always ask, What is it there for? The preceding chapter ends talking about the Word of the Lord enduring forever, never changing in an ever-changing world. I think of how my world has changed, things I could not control, things I never thought would happen, things I can’t go back and fix, things that might change tomorrow. I liked the statement that the Book I was holding open in my hands would never change and would endure through anything forever!

He continues with the passage: As a result of this Word enduring forever, what was our reaction to be in light of this?

1. Lay aside all malice (wicked ill will towards others), a desire to see someone trip and fall.

2. Deceit -- deliberately dishonest.

3. Hypocrisy - a front, a mask, trying to portray yourself as something you are not.

4. Envy -- When you compare yourself to others and you feel you are coming up short. But we should know that He deals with each of us personally, and supplies each of us with exactly what we need.

5. Slander -- Did you know that even TRUTH can hurt other people if spoken with the intent to belittle?

There are times when we should just keep our mouths shut!

It is these five things that we need to put aside.

And then something happens. Deep within my heart. Almost a voice, a whisper. VERY distracting to me as I like to take good notes. But HE wouldn’t quit. And so I listen.

“Why is it you never talk to me about YOU?”

“What???” I think silently.

“You heard me.”

“Yeah, I did, but what’s that got to do with this sermon?” (As I’m trying to listen to Pastor and take notes.)

“Everything!”

I try to squish it down, part of me taking notes:

Verse 2 says we should be as newborn babies, as innocent as these sweet ones, cleansed, with none of the above blemishes, with no unrighteousness, and desiring (longing for) His word. The word, desire, shows a continuous action, to keep on desiring.

Pastor says, God loves us as we are, but doesn’t want to leave us there. He wants to see us grow and change. How does this happen? Through His Word. We should desire it in such a way that nothing keeps us from it. And once we have tasted it, nothing will keep us away.

Verse 3 uses the word “gracious.” Peter wrote in Greek, but he spoke in Aramaic. So what was he really saying here? In Aramaic, this was an often used word, like when you put out a delicious meal, fantastic, more than good!

“So when are we going to talk about YOU?”

There it was again.

I go home frustrated. After all, I pray! A lot! I sit all afternoon stewing. I start tearing apart my prayers.

I pray for others -- whenever anyone comes to mind, I usually pray for them and if I know of any need in their life, I will pray about that, too.

I’m thankful. I try to thank Him for all things, even the hard things. Since reading Ann’s book, 1000 gifts, I’ve even been more thankful than ever.

I come to Him with my needs, my failures, my sins. . . What in the world is He asking of me when He says, “When are we going to talk about YOU?”

I finally have to admit, I don’t talk about ME -- the real, personal, the intimate, the what’s-troubling-me ME! I don’t talk about dreams and disappointments, likes and dislikes, gains and losses, etc.

“Can’t you just read my writings, Lord? It’s all in there!”

“No, we are not pen pals. What’s so hard about face to face, ear to ear, get to know each other kind of talk?”

And so --- my life takes a new direction. Prayer will change. Tomorrow will be different.

Did you get that from this sermon???? I searched my notes and I didn’t see it. But that’s what I heard on Sunday, and I’ll live it Monday, and Tuesday. . . And Wednesday.. . .

Linking up with other bloggers who heard it on Sunday and are striving to put it into practice on Monday. You can find their posts here:

Friday, May 25, 2012

Remembering on Memorial Day!

Please scroll down to the bottom of my blog and turn off the music player so you can give your attention fully to this video!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Still Counting my Blessings!

661. A short visit with a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. I’m sure my feeder was just a short stop for refueling on his trip back to his northern summer home. If you are waiting for one to come back, he’s on his way!

662. Searching for a “roadmap” of sorts or a plan to begin a home group study and it all coming together in the dark hours of a sleepless night.

663. A much needed shower in the morning hours.

664. Watching the heavy, wet branches of my sycamore tree bend low as they are washed clean.

665. Hugh leaves --- big enough to be the perfect umbrella for a titmouse caught in the rain.

666. How all the leaves glisten in the sunlight after the rain.

667. Watching a group of turkey vultures all land together on the limb of a dead tree, and that limb cracking and falling under their weight. I don’t often laugh out loud, but this just cracked me up to see them all squawking and flapping and looking under their feet as their perch crashed to the ground.

668. Stressing over a mother cat as she tried to get her kittens to cross a busy road. I can’t stand to watch, but I always do. I don’t understand the process --- as these kittens get old enough, Momma takes them on this long journey to --- who knows where --- and just when I think they are gone and lost for good, they all come back, starving, wild, scared and skinny. This group made it between the cars across the road and decided to rest under my car.

669. My Ninja blender/ice crusher. I am on a mission to make my own iced coffees and smoothies.

670. Two angels who took time out of their own schedules to mow and weed wack my lawn. Thank you Jarred and Daniel!

671. A car that will not die. It just keeps going, and going, and going. . . .!!!

672. A beautiful, delicious dinner prepared by special friends.

673. Comforting a friend who begins her jouney with breast cancer, hearing the courage and faith in her voice, glad I could be a living witness to what God can do in the worst-case scenerios!

674. Finding strength and support from friends when eating right and dieting are NOT what I want to do.

675. Sticking to it and shopping right, inspired by new recipes.

676. My washing machine. How did I get so much laundry for just 2 people? I can’t imagine taking it all down to a river and washing it all on a stone. . . .!!!!

677. Digging my way through a Bible Study on the Women of the Old Testament and wondering if I could really teach a group of young women. . .???!!!!

678. My “gal” all excited about me thinking about teaching and opening her home for this to happen!

679. Adding a new food to my diet, Quinoa, and loving it! A grain full of protein and tastes delicious!

680. Eating lunch out with a friend, enjoying fellowship together, as well as good food.

681. Realizing Buster is well aware of wardrobe and puts together what will happen when I wear certain things. Like. . . Old yellow Crocs are ok as I stay home when I wear those. Black crocks are nerve wracking. . . I’m going out, probably shopping which means treats, but I’m gone -- not good. . . Good black shoes, nice blouse and makeup mean I’m going to be gone for a while -- reason to pout! Nothing in it for Buster.

682. Flycatchers teaching their young ones in the birdhouse their song. I don’t think they are allowed to come out until they have it right.

683. Fresh eggs from my sister’s chickens.

Linking up with Ann VosKamp and a multitude of others who are still counting. . .!