Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Math Distraction...

004The offender

003Impressed our own gymnast!

Marme will head out later today to put longer string on the feeder, lets see just how acrobatic this squirrel is!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sketch Tuesday ~ CLAWS

My little, well not really that little anymore, sketchers really enjoy their Sketch Tuesday assignments.  Honestly, since starting to participate with Harmony Art Mom's weekly sketch assignments I find my children sketching frequently, beyond the assigned project.  They are encouraging me with their enthusiasm to give it a try myself soon!

chica claws

mae bird and cat claws

claws 1

To see the slideshow of all this week's great sketches, go here.  And if you want to join us next week, for FRUIT SALAD sketching, go here to learn the details.

Monday, March 28, 2011

One Thousand Gifts,

gifts appear everywhere, too often to write down each one, too numerous to remember all at the end of the day...

#s 466-482
This day
Afternoon quiet time

Miss Sunshine made it for our St Patrick Day lunch of Irish Stew, Irish Soda Bread and Apple Cobbler.
Healthy chicks
Hot Air Balloon over the house on a beautiful quiet morning
Saturday morning walk with the dog
Easy Nachos for lunch, delight 3 girls
Kitchen Aid mixer that also grates cheese 
Field trip opportunity arises during an afternoon walk
Green haze atop a neighbor’s tree
Robins all over the place!
Gentle brisk walks with a pup that is learning.
Planning and dreams
Sensing we may be “home” at the neighborhood church
Warm welcomes
Daughters who like each other
Mercy new everyday

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Emilda is Special Olympics Bound!

 A while back I posted about Emilda and the needed funds to send her to the Special Olympics in Athens, Greece this summer.  Our family decided how much we were able to give and began brainstorming in how we could further contribute or raise funds.  About a week ago I checked the Compassion International site to see how things were going in fundraising for Emilda's opportunity to attend the Special Olympics in Greece this summer.


How delighted I was to see that this opportunity is now fully funded!

It's exciting to see how God moves in the hearts of His people and things happen!  And I am looking forward to an update from Compassion when the Olympics happen this summer.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Getting out of the Line of Bitter Women

So I come from a long line of bitter women.  And from a childhood of horrid abuse and neglect.  And the roots of bitterness sunk deep within my own heart as a young woman, choking the life right out of my life. I am so thankful, daily, moment by moment, of the journey of forgiveness and choosing of JOY that my HEAVENLY FATHER and precious husband are walking me through!

Over the last week I alluded to the fact that some scars had been rubbed raw, and were sore once again. 

But as I came out of that time of pain remembered, something new had sprouted from my heart.  Fresh roots of peace.  What happened is in the past.  What happened is forgiven and healed.  BUT, it is still a part of me.  Woven into my BEing like a part of the pattern in the fabric of a beautiful dress.  So the garment of life I wear is woven of all of my life.  And all of it, together, is becoming something beautiful.

Thank you for sharing your story Maribeth. And ANN, thank you for sharing yours daily and through your book. You are part of the landmarks and standing stones the LORD is walking me through on this journey of laying down bitterness and embracing joy, grace, mercy, gratitude.

  linking up with the gratitude community...

a few pieces of gratitude from my growing list #459-468

Hearing that my husband has placed his children’s hearts over his career.
Seeing that his employer moved the meeting.
Witnessing that God honors these priorities.
Hearing the harmonica play Silent Night (in March)
Hearing the harmonica and piano play When the Saints somewhat together.
Reading delightful stories from Mae’s pen.
Wearing the beautiful beaded bracelet of 3 strands, made in an evening by sisters.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Love, What Is It? A Book Review

Book Description

Best-selling author Calvin Miller has written an in-depth, biblical based study on the Fruits of the Spirits (Galatians 5:22). This unique study guide, part of the Fruit of the Spirit Study Guide Series, which is focused on cultivating Spirit-given character can be used as a personal study or in a small group setting. Companion Fruit of the Spirit Study Guide Series that are available include: Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodnesss, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.

Features include:
•Lesson overview of each 6-week study
•Questions for reflection
•Character studies
•Bonus parable study
•Questions for small group discussion

LOVE.  We use the word so easily, so often, but do we really know what it means?

This six week study is a part of the Fruit of the Spirit Study Guide Series by Calvin Miller, as already stated.  It is a gentle, but deeper discussion on the definition of love, as defined by God's word.  I really enjoyed the Scripture references from both the Old and New Testaments.  In this season of my life, I usually avoid topic studies, but I appreciate the opportunity to read this book as I look for materials to use in discipleship opportunities. 

Each week's lesson is broke into 6 days of looking at different aspects of that week's topic (The Evidence of Love is Giving, Love Forgives, The Definition of God, God's Passion for His World, Unconditional Longing of God, The Incarnational Force of God) and a 7th day option for group discussion.  The lessons include study questions for personal reflection and group discussion questions.

This study is probably more suitable for the new believer, or for the young believer.  I am considering using this series with a group of middle school girls in the near future, as a tool to help them sort through all the messages they hear from the world, through media, from the Church as to what Love truly is.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review, but was asked to give my honest opinion.

I review for BookSneeze®

Friday, March 18, 2011

On Waiting...Five Minute Friday

Waiting...a few years ago a dear friend shared a song with me, While I'm Waiting.  That song became my song, my breath, while  I'm waiting I'll be hopeful.  While I'm waiting I will praise You.  While I"m waiting, I'll keep waiting here for you.

And friends, I want to tell you, KEEP hoping, KEEP praising HIM, KEEP waiting.  Sometimes the wait seems so long, but then, when the answers are given, the fulfillment of the hopes come, the satisfaction is  complete.

Not that I have done this gracefully.  Not that I haven't wavered.  But even while I wobbled in my waiting, the ONE I waited on is steady, full of GRACE.

These are my thoughts "on waiting."

Linking up with The Gypsy Mama for 5 Minute Friday.

"Here’s how the game works: you simply stop, drop and write. Set your words free. Don’t edit them, don’t fret over them, don’t try to make them perfect."

(Can I tell you how hard that is?  The not editing, not fretting...)

Anyway, to join in, click here.  And if you have a few minutes, wander around and get to know LisaJo a bit, I think you'll be encouraged.

Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes! A Review

Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes! (a sisterchick's novel)

by Robin Jones Gunn

From the back cover:
"A sisterchick is a friend who laughs with you till you cry and cries with you till you laugh; a gift from God.

A multi-tasking mama, Summer Finley has found ways to handle whatever life throws at her with grace and a grin. Until now, that is. An “abnormal” medical test result sends Summer into an emotional tailspin and prompts her to fulfill a life-long dream of “meeting” her best friend and pen pal since fourth grade, Noelle Van Zandt, face-to-face.

Their blissful week together in the Netherlands finds Summer and Noelle floating down a canal in Amsterdam, visiting Corrie Ten Boom’s Hiding Place, sipping decadent Dutch cocoa in Delft, and bobbing merrily along through a sea of brilliant, spring-fresh tulips. Each day takes them further from midlife anxiety and closer to trusting God in deeper ways.

As their week of adventure comes to an end, the two friends find they needed to be together more than either of them realized."

It has been a couple of years since I read a Sisterchick's Novel.  After doing some pretty heavy reading in this first 2 1/2 months of 2011, it was good to read something a little light hearted.  Robin Jones Gunn has a way with these Sisterchicks books, of weaving the delights of friendship, the trials of life, the day to day struggles and the truth of God's love in a way that ministers while entertaining.  I am so glad I got to read this book, this week!

Summer and Noelle are friends who have never met, pen pals since the 3rd grade, knowing each other only 2 dimensionally.  When Summer get the "abnormal test results" call she decides to put off the further testing, to do what she has always wanted to do.  Summer books a flight to the Netherlands to finally meet her dear friend Noelle.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book is the characters.  I Corinthians 15:3 tells us "Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good morals."  Summer and Noelle have been company to keep with as this week wrapped up and I found some quiet hours to relax and read.  I love the relationships each of these women have with their husbands, and vice versa, it's very good to hear husbands being esteemed and wives supported emotionally, even if it is in a fictional read.

I love the way the truth and love of Christ is shared, woven all throughout this story.  Real, just like life between friends and family ought to be.

Another enjoyable part of reading this book was touring the Netherlands with the characters.  Robin Jones Gunn's descriptive language helped me to see the tulip fields, the beauty and starkness of the cathedrals and to think on the story of loss and forgiveness while visiting the home of Corrie Ten Boome in Haarlem.  A little bit of Dutch Culture & History is an added bonus.

If you are looking for a little fun fiction during spring break, I recommend Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes!

Thank you, WaterBrook Multnomah for providing this book for my honest review.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Backyard Chicken Adventure, Week 4

 little miss itty bitty
Little Miss Itty Bitty

The chicks have been with us 4 weeks and 3 days!  It's so fun to see how they change, to watch the fuzzy down be replaced by those beautiful feathers.  We are being able to recongnize the Lace Wyndottes and the Giant Black Jerseys now that the white is disappearing from the Giants and the Wyndottes are getting the lacy white markings on their wings.

3 weeks feathering out
The chickens are enjoying the warmer weather we've had.  It's fun to see them running around and stretching out their wings. 
Ninja at 3 weeks
Ninja,  Petal Rose's Black Jersey Giant, before the black feathers replace the white down

chicks roosting
And what fun, the chicks have started finding places to roost!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday Garden Party ~ Dreaming!

A little dreaming...

We are excited to try to grow a bean tepee this summer, along with a pumpkin patch so we can invite neighbor kids to share with us.

And here are a couple pictures of seedlings!


I apologize for the blurry photos, we have tomato, celery and onion sprouting!  I just can barely wait for chicken soup with that fresh celery!

linking with An Oregon Cottage for Tuesday Garden Party.

Sketch Tuesday ~ Something You Might See at the Circus

by Mae

Petal Rose
by Petal Rose

by Chica


to see more fine art, or to join us!  click here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rubbed Raw ~ and Still the Gifts...

This past week has been a very emotional wordy one.  Deep scars in my heart have been rubbed in such a way that I began to think they had ripped right back open.  Rubbed so raw that I forgot to keep counting gifts and instead, counted the throbbings of pain.  So here is the end week efforts to remember that the answers, the healing, begin with gratitude.

#441-458 of 1000 gifts

Time to play at the park
Friends who are praying for me during this difficult time of sifting through my thoughts.
A husband who keeps listening
Children who long to be HOME
Sweet sleep
Kitten affectionate purrs
A husband who tells me not to apologize.
The husband who listens and listens and offers a task to bring healing.
The same husband who tells me nothing will be wasted.
Extra days to be home, he will be here for the ballet recital.
And SURPRISE, the newly scheduled puppet show.
Builder will be home for one of each of the children’s special events!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Love Mercy by Lisa Samson and Ty Samson ~ A Review, A Question

Love Mercy, A Mother & Daughter's Journey from the American Dream to the Kingdom of God. written by Lisa Samson and Ty Samson

Product Description

In Love Mercy: A Mother and Daughter's Journey from the American Dream to the Kingdom of God, having lived a life of plenty in suburban America, Lisa Samson and her eighteen-year-old daughter, Ty, thought they were traveling to Africa to minister to the people and chronicle the AIDS crisis devastating the continent. Their trip, they assumed, would be missional, merciful, giving. Instead, they experienced a life-changing, soul-rattling journey. As mother and daughter are confronted with incidents of child prostitution, preventable illness, poverty, oppression, abuse, and death so prevalent it leaves no time to mourn ... their journey takes a decidedly different tack. Love Mercy confronts us directly with the AIDS crisis in Africa---in particular Swaziland, which has the highest AIDS rate in the world and where the average life expectancy is thirty-two years of age. Offering two unique perspectives, Lisa and Ty share the questions they encountered on their journey and tell the stories of those they met along the way---from the children themselves, to adult AIDS victims, to the compassionate mercy-givers who seek every day to alleviate their suffering. Smiles in a place of aching sadness. Mercy in a place of heart-wrenching poverty. Two people transformed by God in ways, and places, they never expected, discovering that even in a land riddled with heartache ... Christ's love and redemption are ablaze.
So I've been slowly reading through Age of Opportunity by Paul David Tripp, and I took a little sideline to finish Too Small to Ignore by Dr. Wess Stafford.  And then I was sent Lioness Arising by Lisa Bevere, after which I stumbled upon Love Mercy.

A theme of poverty, abuse and neglected children, AIDs devestation of the guilty and innocent alike slams right up against my own past, as an abused neglected daughter who grew up to be "one of those girls" until God took my hand and heart in his hands and began severe mercy surgery.

And here I am, now, a child of the Most High God, redeemed, forgiven, much loved wife of one and mother of many precious daughters.  And I want to know, how to make my life count?  And how to lead my daughters to this question.  Love Mercy caught my attention.

The subtitle of this book is what really caught my attention, A Mother & Daughter's Journey from the American Dream to the Kingdom of God. That is what I want, to pursue the Kingdom of God, and to show my daughters the way.

While this story was written about Lisa and Ty Samson's trip to Swaziland, Lisa takes the reader to the beginning of the story, the place where God began to make her uncomfortable and moved her family from their home, to the place HE chose for them.  Lisa and Ty are each honest about their desire to follow God, but the pain and struggle involved in giving up those things that get in the way.

The story of the journey in Swaziland is beautiful, heartbreaking, hope giving.  It is beautiful to read the perspective of mother, then daughter, side by side.  Different, yet the same.  Thrilling to read between the pages of the life the FATHER is breathing into them as they seek to find where HE is in these broken, seemingly hopeless places.

This story ends with such honesty.  I appreciate this most about this story, the honesty that bring comfort to me that I am not alone in these struggles to find God in the broken places, and then to find that the broken places are so big and vast, and I am so limited and small.

What a gift that this mother and daughter were able to go on this journey together, and that they were able to find the words and courage to share it with us.

linking up with Life as Mom

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Backyard Chicken Adventure, Week 3

Week 2 with the chicks was pretty uneventful, thankfully!  So this is post 2 of the Backyard Chicken Adventure, but about week 3.

In in our parts, March came in like a lamb.  Beautiful blue sunny skies, little to no wind and 60 degree temperatures!  As I think about it, I remember many Marchs arriving in this way, and I'm bracing myself for the out like a lion that is probably to come.

So with that warm sun shining on the chicken enclosure, I decided to open up the hen house and let the chicks out. 

IMG_0013 (1)

They were so timid at first...and flitted about so much that it was difficult to get any pictures.  I actually had to shue the birds out, and block their way back in for a bit, to get them to see that it was a lovely thing to be in the fresh air. 

IMG_0012 (1) You can see that they are getting their feathers in.  It is very fun to watch the birds grow and we've all been excited over the new feathers.  Petal Rose and Chica are learning about birds right now in Exploring Creation with Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day, so our chicks are a great supplement to all the reading about feathers, flight & anatomy and nests!

IMG_0011 (1) On Wednesday I noticed that the water in the 3 mason jar waters we have were running dry.  I pulled out the big 5 gallon water can and filled it up.  I've been worried about the birds falling in and drowning after that first one, but with all the flapping of wings and jumping I think the chicks will be alright.

IMG_0006 (1) On Wednesday evening I noted that I had filled the chick feeders every day and decided to fill the big feed bucket and start tossing them our scraps.  Thursday morning the chicks enjoyed strawberry tops with left over pumpkin waffles and a bit of  yogurt.  Thursday afternooon the scraps were all but gone, so I guess the chicks are ready!  That's a very excited development.  Fast processing compost!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

high white belt!

karate class 2

A Pretty Dog...

groomed pretty girl

I don't have any "before" pictures, just these "after" shots.

We have always had larger outside dogs, but Shiloh is a different story.  She's small, snuggly and pretty much likes to hang with us.  Since moving back to the city we've noticed she looked kind of rough and shaggy so Builder suggested I take her in for a bath and grooming.  Now, I've never taken a dog to be groomed, and didn't think it would make much of a difference!

What a funny surprise to have them walk out this shiny, pretty, pup, with a pink bow in her hair (she promptly rubbed her head on the ground and removed it)...and she smells "good" too!

groomed Shiloh pretty dog

Imagine all the coos and awws and "pretty dog" chatter that flew around the van on the way home!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday Garden Party


Mae has an indoor herb garden.  She is studing Botany this school year, using Exploring Creation with Botany by Jeanne Fulbright.  This has fueled an intense interest in gardening, especially herb gardening.

During Christmas break Builder took Mae shopping and came home with great shelves, that sits in the south facing picture window, and a lot of herbs, plants, pots & dirt.  Builder also installed a light fixture and put it on a timer.  He is a wonderful dad!


Last week Mae started our Tomato, Celery and Bell Peppers. Exciting!  Garden plans are starting...

And Mae made fresh mint tea for my upset tummy (lactose intolerant people should really avoid ice cream, even if it is her daughter's birthday and a stop by Cold Stone Creamery was part of the celebration).  The tea was delicious and we've made many more cups!

Sketch Tuesday ~ Something that Starts with the Letter H

Petal Rose HayStack & Hat

Chica Blue Heron

Mae Honey


to see the slideshow of this week's art, or to join in next week, click here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Break from Winter, A Gift to Count in Many Ways

Last week March strolled in, sunny, warm, wonderful!  I remember many sunny warm starts to March, releasing us from the deep chill of winter with a good dose of Vitamin D.  A kind gift from the Maker of all seasons and weather.
IMG_0018 (2)

The sunshine was a gentle reminder to me, to stroll a bit myself, with my children and just BE.  To walk the dog.

To twirl in the park,

to climb high,
IMG_0008 (2)

swing high

IMG_0022 (1)

and higher still
IMG_0003 (2)

and to bury feet in the sand
IMG_0012 (2)

and even to balance your sister on your arm IMG_0013 (2)

counting the love gifts of our Father with the gratitude community #418-440

Tea with my girls, made by my girls
Lemon cookies
Chicks in the sunlight
Pink sky
In like a lamb.
Girls on the monkey bars, playing hand clap games.
Card love from a much loved fun Aunt Heather (would you say a prayer for my sis and her family?  Such challenging times are upon them)
Morning doves calling
Sunshine through all the windows
Daughters, Sisters who love much