Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my blog readers! I’m sorry this greeting is late. The power cord to my computer was broken until today but I‘m pretty sure that Jesus’ birth isn’t meant to be celebrated on just December 25th.

I love the Christmas hymn, “O Come, O Come, Immanuel”. Immanuel means God with us. God-with-us. God did not stay in heaven, unattainable. He came to be with us.

Cruising through Pandora’s Christmas stations, I heard this song and it’s my favorite of the season.  

Now my night has turned to day

An empty manger, empty grave

Baby born so I could say

Now my night has turned to day

Thank you, Jesus, for coming an being with us.

Seems almost wrong to write this after that but if you LOVE that song, follow this link to Amazon for the song and 4 awesome others.

Friday, December 23, 2011


That’s right- we saw an Alaska license plate!

Wednesday. Late afternoon. Near the Ames Ice Rink. He was pulling out. We were pulling in.  He was on his happy merry way. We were screaming ALASKA with our faces plastered against the glass.

We’re down to 5- D.C., Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Vermont Smile

New here and wondering what in the blazes I’m talking about? Read here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Are You Ready For Mutiny?

That’s right! We’re talking take over the ship, manning the wheel, blasting to smithereens some lies being fed to us by our comfy Christian culture! After being stirred by Kisses From Katie, haunted by Happy Day projects, I am now ready to swab the poop decks of my life with “7”. Arrr you with me?

Okay, after some wiki-searching, poop decks aren’t really for poop. It’s like the top deck at the back of a ship or something.

Anyway… Tally-Ho!

Really, truly, those two things, along with a handful of other things, have sort of rocked my boat this fall. Funny thing is, I wasn’t exactly seeking out this kind of treasure, or at least this wasn’t the trail I expected to take.

I’m gonna get right to the big red X that I don’t want you to miss out on. (Plus, I might be running out of pirate-isms. It’s been a while since I watched Jack Sparrow.)

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

Because you might think I’m totally losing it (I did tell you I was on the brink of insanity on Sunday , Friday.), you are just going to have to read part of it for yourself. Click on this link to take you to the publisher’s site where you can download the intro and first chapter to read. It’s not a hard read, I promise you.

Once you’re done, head over to Amazon to pre-buy. Pre-buying books on Amazon are the way to go! You purchase it at a discounted price but as a really nice perk, Amazon will reimburse you the difference if the book price drops from your original purchase price but they won’t charge you more if it goes up.

If you’ve read Crazy Love by Francis Chan, Kisses From Katie, The Hole in Our Gospel, Radical, etc. and are waiting for the next something, this just might be it. Please note, this might not. I’ve only read the intro and first chapter- I might have been at sea too long, a little salt exchanged for brain matter.

Or maybe I’m just getting my sea legs.

I talk of Jen Hatmaker like she and I are high school friends. We’re not. We’re only FB friends and she friends everyone. No one asked me to write this. I’m not getting a complimentary copy, etc. I just wanted to share it with you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Day-te

Today, I got the best gift: Bill surprised me by staying home and being with me all day!! He’s been so busy serving me and my family, saving the world from sandpaper shortages and building amazing boxes that hang on walls, that our “just us” time just hasn’t happened in a long time. Yesterday, I think I was at the brink of insanity- no wait, that was Friday. So for him to say today that he was staying home just to be with me, well, I felt really, really loved.

So what did we do? Caught a 10:35 am showing of the new Sherlock Holmes movie. We went to the movie theater in the morning!! On a Monday!! I’ve never done that before. There were four other people there. Then we got some lunch and ran a few errands before the kids came home from school. (After 16 years, we no longer consider going to Lowe’s a date, but inevitably we still stop there regularly on our dates.)

And that was my day-te with Bill.

He is the best!

Day 19 At the Movies

{I’m doing a December Daily- taking at least 1 picture a day for the month of December- and editing them with a new app, Pixl-o-matic, hence the post-processing on the picture. This is my Day 19.}

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Moment Caught Seeing

 I had cruised through the back alley to the parking lot of one craft store and then zipped down to the other end, my hunt proving unfruitful at both places. As I walked back to my car, I saw a man and a sign.

I didn’t need my perfect vision to see the writing.

I was prepared.

In my car for the last month has sat gallon sized bags eager to be given away. I assembled them out of the bounty of my own drawers- it practically cost me nothing to make them.

I was eager then but a month later they remained still un-given. I had even recently thought how pathetic of a life I had that I didn’t cross paths with someone needing one. None of my daily errands took me to places where lives were lived in the out. I wondered if my community was taking such good care of them that they didn’t need cardboard and a marker.

But today I saw.

And I sat in my car for more than a moment contemplating what to do.

How do I give it? What do I say? Do I get out of my car? There’s nothing in here but a few barely enough essentials. Will that even help him at all?

It is amazing how much a Ziploc bag can say in its silence.

You can’t make up some blessing bags, tote them in your car and then not give them.

I asked if my offering would be helpful.

He said Merry Christmas to me.

Our eyes met but mine fell away first, my welling up ready to overflow.

I was sad for his pain.

But, oh, I was ashamed. For not dying to myself faster. For my good, Christian charity which really meant my piety. For thinking I was thankful for him just so I could give away one of my  bags!

I drove away, humbled.

God had wanted my “yes”. He wanted me to practice. To see.

Today was a moment caught seeing.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It’s Concert Season, Part 2

Last night was Ben’s turn for the Christmas Concert season. Though he doesn’t love music, he’s still a good sport about the whole thing.

Classic Ben.

Ben's Not Thrilled

Side Hat Ben.

Ben's Side Hat

Reading Ben. (He read his lines very slowly and clearly- yay!)

Ben Reading

I got lucky with the song I decided to record; it’s adorable and the kids sang it really well.

Once the concert was over, Ben was hoping he’d get to stay for the boys basketball game that was going on at the same time but he had to go home. Only I got to stay since I had concession stand duties. (I’m an expert in adding two pops, 1 candy bar, 1 nachos grande and 1 popcorn now. $9)

p.s.- I also finally fixed Luke’s concert video so you can watch it. Sorry Grandma and Aunt Densie.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

While I’m At It…

I didn’t want to do this. Well, I sort of did, but I was putting it off, thinking the whole things would go away. I figured everyone has seen it circulate on Facebook and that’s well enough. My thoughts are my thoughts and I’ll just keep them to myself. I know what you could be thinking, “Great! Finally! For once!”

Well, today’s not that day. Smile

Today is a blog hopping, link clicking day related to giving gifts at Christmastime. These are other’s thoughts feeding into mine. So while I’m in the middle of it all, I thought you might want to join in.

Start here with Jen Hatmaker’s latest blog installment- A Christmas Conundrum. (psst… you can’t really get the rest of my blog post if you don’t read it.)

See what I mean? I was actually glad she wrote it all. It says to the world “Hey, we ARE doing this! We know, we look weird, we’re okay with that. Want to join us?” I do. I really, really do!

So last night the kids made out some wish lists. I tried the idea on them, gently, nonchalantly. My kids have a high sensitivity to their mom’s crazy ideas, so I had to act cool. Something you want, something you need, something to give, something to read. All went well until the something to give- mostly, I think because they aren’t quite sure how to think about it. Questions came popping up like “Do we all have to give towards the same thing?” “Why do we have to buy an animal or whatever? Can’t we just give money to the organization?” I didn’t have answers for them (except the last because, really, what organization is going to refuse money?). Their questions are a part of the thinking through process. And it’s also a part of the wrestling with selfishness process.

But you know how when God wants to get your attention He just sort of puts reminders in front of you time and time again? Yeah- so today’s mail contained Aunt Denise’s December prayer letter. Turkeys are a means to the gospel in Africa. I waved the little card to them from the couch. “This could be it!”

Popping in on a favorite blog, I was stopped in my tracks. So head over to Ann’s blog for When Christmas Gets Radical. Be sure to read it all. Then follow the links she has at the bottom. (Since I don’t want you to miss them, here they are: The Rich Family in Church and this one is a 10 minute video clip- The Gospel Demands Radical Giving.)

Wow! Bold statements! Radical thoughts!

So whatcha gonna do? I don’t know but I did read through the comments left on Jen’s blog and one person asked what she should do. She said she was full in the whole thing- could she jump ship mid-stream? Jen’s response encouraged her to start in some way and go from there. She said her own family’s process has been four years in the overhaul. For Ann’s it has been ten years in the making. You don’t get there overnight.

I’m not even sure what it’s going to end up looking like in our own family. It will undergo many changes, I’m sure. But while I’m at it, won’t you join me?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Books

I love a well written children’s book. A really good one can hold not only a child’s attention but also an adult’s. They can be read over and over, tasted, savored, swallowed to leave you satisfied, yet ready for more if the reader’s voice can last that long.

Here are three of my favorite picture books to add to your Christmas books.

Christmas Books

Let’s start with Red Ranger Came Calling by Berkeley Breathed. Yes, he’s the same guy for the Opus cartoons. He said he simply put pictures onto paper the story his dad told him every Christmas eve. Uh huh. That really isn’t the point of this book. A sour-puss boy with a Christmas wish crosses paths with an old man looking peculiarly like Santa. That’s right. I said Santa. That’s not the point of this book, though. It even has a little elvery, magic and lying in it. That’s right. I said lying. That’s not the point of this book, though. It’s a wonderful story that had my 9 year old scanning every picture, my uninterested 6 year old quiet from playing with his hot wheel cars, and my 13 year old… well, my 13 year old that evening didn’t want to enjoy it then. She’ll come around, though.

I first heard The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski one Sunday morning read to Audrey and her class by her teacher, Tori Haverkamp. It was beautiful and haunted my memory until I got it for myself. A little boy and his mother have just moved into a new town. They ask a very grumpy woodcarver, Jonathan Toomey, to carve for them a new nativity scene because theirs was lost. And now I can’t go on because I will start crying. It’s a tear-jerker, for certain, but a beautiful tear-jerker. You will want to have some tissues handy and also your 13 year old so she can finish reading it for you.

I think a big fear many people have about the previous two books and books like them is that if you read them only fiction, they will never know the truth and here the subject being the truth of Christmas- the birth of Christ. We don’t condone lying in our house (but remember, that wasn’t the point). We don’t teach that Santa is real. But a good story is one that masterfully weaves truths into a delightful scene so that if you look for them, you will find them and then the savoring will be all that much sweeter. And so I’m going to take a stab at a sore point- many Christian books fail. Oh, they’ve got truth all right, but it’s so numbed, it leaves little room for imagination. For a child (or adult) to enter into the story and see themselves as a character and how they could respond to such situations, that is the real power of good story-telling.

All that being said, I believe One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham hits the telling of the Christmas story right on. It starts with a boy getting lost in a snow storm, only to find shelter in a warm cabin which an old family friend lives in. She takes the opportunity to share the Christmas story with him while the storm passes. But she doesn’t just start with an angel appearing before Mary and Joseph. No, she takes it back to the beginning- creation- and from there she shares with him many key stories to show him why, not just how, the birth of Christ came to be. But the story isn’t over at the manger scene; the woman completes it. If you think the point of Christmas is Jesus being born, just to remain a babe, then you must read the end of this book. This book will take you several nights to finish reading but I don’t think you’ll mind. The illustrations alone are memorable. If you were going to add one to your library this year, I’d pick this one first.

I know my opinion here on books is very strong. You can think differently. After all, it is my opinion, not the gospel truth.   

Happy Christmas reading, friends!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It’s Concert Season, Part 1

That’s right everyone. It’s Christmas concert time. So settle back and enjoy the entire Pre-K, K concert.

Just kidding.

Classic Luke.


Normal Luke.


Clock Luke.


With his first school concert done, Luke’s impression was that it went good and bad. Good because everyone clapped for them when they were done singing. Bad because they forgot to leave to go back to their classroom and the teacher had to tell them to leave. Classic Luke.

Friday, December 2, 2011

When Valor Comes to Play

The oldest cousin is in charge of bottle time.

Oldest with Youngest

There’s a stare-off contest. (Ben looks ominous, but he’s really a big softie when it comes to babies.)


And someone get’s to prove his mama wrong and “An Minny” got clean up duty twice in less than an hour! (Beth said he’s a twice a day pooper and he’d already met his quota. Really?! Could have fooled me!)

Under Valor

I know, hard to believe this sweet dumplin’ is capable of such things! Smile

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Dirt Pile Bikes

Back Around


Behind the Window

(taken from inside, thus the reflection)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Still Thankful

It’s two days after Thanksgiving. My kids are all tucked in bed as the night wind howls around the house. I’ve been cruising the web: Pinterest, Facebook, Google Reader, etc. It’s getting on late and I should be going to bed. Tomorrow is an unknown known day. But I’m not going yet. I’m going to list out the things I’m thankful for from just today. Why? Because being thankful should happen in the middle of things but even if it doesn’t, it should still happen. I haven’t planned out this list; I’m just thinking back from the very beginning of my start of my day and listing as many things as I can.

  1. a warm bed
  2. waking up with a strong husband
  3. not waking up to a knock on the door
  4. two heads popping up from the couch
  5. help cracking eggs
  6. cleaning up messes
  7. cheers for french toast
  8. a garden hose conversation
  9. a listening friend
  10. remembering to give thanks in the middle
  11. remembering if it is from Him, He will make it happen- trust
  12. leftovers that aren’t loved but are not wasted
  13. Beethoven’s Op. 14 No. 2 and Moonlight Sonata falling under the fingers
  14. hooking up the computer to the tv to watch the game without a phone call for help
  15. changing the vacuum hose by myself
  16. jamming to U2 in the van
  17. cleaning an apartment
  18. complaining turning to compliance
  19. Perfect Games
  20. good conversations in the car
  21. homemade cookies
  22. Michael Buble Christmas music
  23. homemade pizza
  24. football games
  25. buttons on school crafts
  26. liquid applique
  27. mod podge
  28. glue guns
  29. heat embossing
  30. bedtime

Why do I do this? Because I have to practice. I have to learn. “I have learned the secret to be content.”, Paul says in Philippians.

This all started with the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I’d encourage you to read it or, at least, to visit her blog, A Holy Experience and read. It is well worth your time.  There are several things you can even download and print for your own times of thanksgiving. Finally, start your own 1,000 gifts journey by adding the free app or just a pencil and notebook (free printable for that, also).


Friday, November 25, 2011

The Happy Day Project Recap

It’s been a week and a half since I completed all they days of The Happy Day Project and I think a little recap is in order. A little reflection, so to speak.

I loved doing it. It was a spur of the moment decision to do it and I’m glad I did it. At first I was planning to do all seven days, then it kind of got overwhelming, so I was all, oh, I’ll do what I can but then decided firmly I would do all the days in whatever way I could. It was a good to complete all seven days.

Since often their posts didn’t go up until later morning, I just picked out what I thought they meant and carried it out. It’s not like the rules are very stringent in being nice to others. After reading what they meant or the ideas they linked to, I was really challenged to be prepared in the future for certain things. For example, in little town Iowa, I don’t run into homeless people (or haven’t yet) and the truth is, I give them a bad rap anyway. I’ve read some recaps already and this one, in particular, really struck me. And I’d really like to read this book. I’ve got to get my head on straight.

I am completely blown away sometimes at what a little bit of kindness can do for another. Maybe it’s like a cloudy day when all of a sudden one cloud moves and the sun beams down and you just know you can see a peak of heaven. (Probably the reason for the awesome graphic!)

My biggest concern was that as I wrote about them you might think I was showing off. It does say in Scripture to “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them”… and the rest of Matthew 6:1-4. But it also says “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” in Hebrews 10:24. It’s a very fine line and I hope, hope, hope that you did not perceive me as showing off but were spurred on. 

After doing this project and a couple of other “coincidental? I think not.” God-orchestrated things in my life, a new chasm has been cracked open in my heart and I’m glad for it.

Missed a day? You can catch up here.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7 

Thanks for reading along. I really hoped you did at least one day. If not, make today that day- no one will mind at all!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Living History Farms Race, 2011

What do you get when you combine 7,500 people, 7 miles, mud, variable weather and costumes? That’s right! The Living History Farms Off Road Race!! Off road meaning, well, off road. We ran through fields, timber, through creeks, under tunnels, around ponds and if you were feeling very ambitious, over hay bales! It was almost like running at Bill’s parents- which actually provided the best training for me.

Our friends, Joe and Jacqui and their girls came down so that Joe could run. It was at least his 3rd race. It was Bill’s second and it was my first! I ran with my friend, Tori. Jacqui brought the kids a little later so they could watch.

Costumes are a very big part of this race. Santa and his reindeer always get a pre-Christmas eve practice in. Brides run away all the time here. You’ve never seen faster turtles, Smurfs, trolls and more. Then there are always the “Wow! Does your dad know you’re wearing that?” part of the crowd. It’s usually men dressed in some form of women’s “clothing”. It’s just a tad uncomfortable to see. Finally, there are the minimal runners. By minimal, I mean, they can make their way through the crowds pretty quickly because, really, who’s going to enjoy watching that in front of them for seven miles?! Costumes don’t have to be elaborate, though. You can just roll out of bed and run in your pj’s if you wish. If you forget to take off your favorite house coat and slippers, no problem. The group of “Grandpa’s and Grandma’s” will offer you a warm welcome as you share their walker.

Isn’t this a race? Yes, yes it is. If you jockey for position at the start line. Be in the top 500 hundred if you want a chance at running the entire thing. From there, you can also actually hear the gun signal the start, or so I’m told. Tori and I were far enough back that we didn’t. We sort of heard a whoop come from the front of the crowd and stood there another 30 seconds before we even took a step forward. Finally the momentum reached our section and we all took our first tentative jogs only to have it stop about one hundred yards later. An audible sigh was heard while having to stop and wait for the crowd to funnel to a narrower running path.

Off we go again, to wind our way through the historical village and then make our way to the tunnel underpassing the interstate. Again, more slowing, stopping, walking. Somehow at the entrance of the tunnel there was plenty of room to run and also to yell. You must yell through the tunnel. It’s deafening. It’s endorphin releasing. It’s part of the race and you must do it. Really, you feel inhibited screaming in a tunnel, you in the whitey-tighties on the outside of your running tights?

From there, it’s a nice run to enjoy the scenery which is farmland and take in more costumes. You can make a game out of counting the number of gloves, hats, shirts, and kilts found discarded by overheated runners. * GASP!* Yes, Tori and I found a couple of kilts and well, we really can’t say anymore. We tried to keep our imaginations reigned in and focus our attention on the next creek crossing.

Most farms have a creek or two running through them. Creek, crick, or however you want to pronounce it, this farm is no different and you must cross it six or seven times to make your off-road race experience complete. How you get in and out is up to you. How much mud you leave behind or have on your behind is sort of up to you and your creek crossing skills (and your running buddies, and the level of the creek, and the current weather…). It makes the race absolutely fun. It could make it absolutely miserable if it were raining/snowing/freezing/windy/deep but in this year’s case it was none of those things so I’m sticking with my first statement.

And that’s pretty much the race. Run a little, walk a little, cross creeks a little, repeat. Finally, you see your cheering section.

Bill is in the green shirt.

Joe is in the white shirt at the very beginning. Keep watching for costume ideas.

The race is over and the re-fuel, recovery process begins. Water, chocolate milk, apple cider, donuts, brownies, beef stew- it’s all good (and warm)!Post Race Smiles



In case you didn’t pick up on it, the Living History Farms Race is fun!

All videos and pictures by Audrey. Commentary by Bill, Jacqui, Joe and kids.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stuffed Full

Day 7- Blessings Bags

I had sort of seen this idea before, but didn’t know exactly what it was. I think having some bags, bottled water and gift cards available in your vehicle is a wonderful idea but I didn’t do those exactly. The kids and I did our own kind of blessings bags- we filled shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

This year I asked the kids if they wanted to do them or not. One little boy ran to his room to find something of his to put in as his answer. That decided it.

Last year, I did the shopping myself but was told I was a lame shopper, so this year all. three. came. If you were in the Ames Wal-Mart on Sunday afternoon, heh. Yes, I let the kids play with a few toys. Yes, there were a few wrestling moves made. Yes, a little boy crashed right into a center of the aisle Stove Top Stuffing display because he insisted on having a turn pushing the car. But also… yes, the kids did do a better job shopping than me. They picked out just the right things… They need a plastic shoe box so they can use it longer than a cardboard one. They need a full-size tube of toothpaste because this has to last all year. They need stickers. They need a motorcycle toy. They need pretty hairbands.

When we got home, we dumped out everything and began packing stuffing the boxes to the brim! One of the highlights for them is seeing how much candy they can jam into every nook and crevice. It went from “Aw, do we have to share our Halloween candy?” to setting a candy cramming record! My girl grabbed the Sharpie markers and took to decorating her box with her own love messages. In the end, those boxes were heavy and full and my heart was fuller.

Love LidSpecial Inside

As I tucked them into bed, I took their box into them. I told them I saw them loving others as they love themselves. And I reminded them that God loves us that same way. He loves Himself. He loves his son, Jesus. So when it says in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave His one and only Son”. He was loving us in the manner He loved himself. In Jesus, just like in their boxes, God packed and stuffed every good thing, every delight, goodie and treasure.


This is the national collection week for Operation Christmas Child. If your church doesn’t do this, don’t let that stop you. Drop one off at our church, Cornerstone Church of Ames (no one will mind one bit). Go online to or just click the words Operation Christmas Child and it will take you to everything you need to know- labels, packing instructions, etc. I’d encourage you to watch the videos also. They are beautiful stories and very tangible evidences that the kids receiving (and giving) shoeboxes feel the love of Jesus.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankful Cookies

Catching up with my Happy Day Projects.

Day 6- Thank someone in service.

We will be doing this one a little later in the week. I’ll make a batch of our favorite cut out cookies, we’ll decorate them and take them to the kids’ classes on Wednesday night to thank their teachers for being such awesome servants to our family.

Cut-Out Cookies

Friday, November 11, 2011

Turn Around and Refresh

So I just did something I’ve never done before.

Day 5- Refresh someone

I’ve been doing all five days now of The Happy Day Project as you’ve been reading. All of them have been to either people I know or to complete strangers that I’ll never know or the chances are so slim that I would meet them and the dots be connected. I have had experiences where they are either face to face or stranger anonymity.

Today I met a stranger.

Today I offered water some construction workers. I had to pull over, park my car, muster my courage (I prayed a little prayer that they wouldn’t repay good with evil and bury me in the hole they were working in.) and get out to offer face to face bottled water.

Some took a bottle, others declined. One guy was heating a pipe with a big flame and refused. I didn’t try to convince him. I walked away, smiling and laughing because that’s a pretty crazy thing to do and we all recognized it.

I got out of my car=I got out of my comfort zone

If your idea of comfort zone means a car and a latte, I’m with ya. I was actually on my way to get a latte for a friend to refresh them when I drove past these guys. I recognized that I was to refresh them instead and I turned around and headed home to get some water for them. And now here we are.

Maybe you need to refresh someone and maybe you need to pray to have eyes to see who it is and maybe you should get some bottled water in the car so you don’t have to turn around.

I’d love to hear if any of you have done any of The Happy Day Projects. Leave a comment or email me.

p.s.- I didn’t use that cute printable on them. I’ll save those for another day. Smile

Sharing Katie

Day 4- Book for a friend.

I gave Kisses from Katie to a friend. She was very excited to receive it.


I thought this might be a page turner and what I found was even though I was compelled to keep reading, I also slowed way down and chewed and digested the words. I started taking notes. I marveled at how many of the things she said were an echo of my own life. I’m not saying that because I live this all great Godly life and Katie and I are practically like twins! I’m saying that the things God has revealed to me as of late, the truths I have been impacted by are the same truths Katie writes about.

“For years I had fantasized about doing something incredible for God and others; what I have learned is that I can do nothing incredible, but as I follow God into impossible situations, He can work miracles in and through me.” p. 2

“The children would run to me with gifts of stones or dirt and I saw myself, filthy and broken, offering my life to the God of the universe and begging Him to make it into something beautiful. I sit here in a broken world, small and dirty at His feet, and He who sits so high chooses to commune with me, to love me anyway.” p. 7

I have felt that last quote resonate in my own life over and over, especially in the last three months as a new set of exchange kids are here. They come with broken, messed up lives and people pour out their very hearts into helping them. Some receive it slowly, some lap it up, some choose to reject it- too many weeds, thorns, or simply the hard pack soil it falls on refuses the seed. And I see families pained in a hard way- not necessarily bad. And I fall to my knees for them. God chose in the middle of one prayer to say to me for all of them “I know and I love anyway”. He said that over and over until I clung to it. Here our eyes are opened, if we let them be, and we see our own sin and wretchedness. We let God peel back another layer of scabbing and it hurts and yet He knows and He lets us feel and He heals if we trust.

“And God spoke so plainly to me. He did not apologize for my heartache; even better, he shared it. He knew.” p. 203

“He called me to this and because He gave His life for me. This means that it has been granted to me, it is my privilege, not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for Him. Phil. 1:29 That suffering is not alone, but is with Him, and oh, what a privilege it is just to be able to to be in His presence, to share that with my sweet Savior. This is what it means when I say I do it for Jesus. he loved me first: I love him back. And sometimes it hurts. But even then it is pure joy to even be considered worthy to share in His suffering. That is the promise: not that He is sorry that it hurts, but that He sees; that He knows; that He is here with us.” p. 205

And then we grasp a portion of His love and we fall and cry and thank Him and we give more of our lives in return.

Katie is 22. 22!! That’s what keeps getting me. She’s has time trialed wisdom of much older person, not of a 22 year old.

Katie, I’m sure, does not want to be idolized. She wants you to turn and give your worship to God. Maybe you don’t need her book- there are lots out there that say similar things, I’m sure. I’ve just read this one and am sharing it with you.

You can borrow my book if you send me an email or you can purchase it through 147 Million Orphans, who will give 50% of the money to Amazima Ministries.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy Gifts

In case you were wondering, I did get that last clocked changed. It wasn’t quite as perilous as I described. Smile I also did get a couple of notes written- with that cute printable card, how could I not?

Day 3- gift card to the homeless.

For this one, I did plan ahead; I bought a gift card yesterday when I was in town. I don’t go to town every day. I’m not sure how they are going to define “gift card to the homeless” but, honestly, does it matter if you are doing something? Look around you, I’m sure there is some place that wouldn’t mind a gift card to help out with whatever they are doing- a homeless shelter, food pantry, Birthright, etc.

This act is to love a stranger- someone you may never meet, may never get a thanks from, may never know how it impacted them. It really rubs against our ego. We want accolades for good doings. GAH!! That’s pride, people! I, for one, need to have my pride trampled upon so I can see!

Here’s how Christ sees it: Matthew 25:31-46, Luke 6:27-36.

The other option they list to give to is the Compassion Catalog. I’d like to highlight a different, yet equally awesome organization to give through. It is Christian Veterinary Missions. My sister-in-law, Denise, works with them, so this program is near and dear to our hearts. Click on over to their gift guide page to see what you can purchase or help purchase. I find some of the options a little humorous to me- camel, anyone?- but to those receiving the animal, it is a joyful blessing. Last year, Aunt Denise gave goats in her nieces and nephews behalf. They thought it was cool!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Note and An Article

Among my list of things I hope to get done today, like change the last clock- you know, the one above the sink that you must climb onto the actual counter, straddling the dishes piled beneath- is to take part in The Happy Day Project.

Day 2- a handwritten note.

Let’s face it. Even in this day of emails, texts, Facebook comments and messages, we still eagerly rifle through the mail, hoping for a letter with our name on it (that doesn’t require sending any money or putting our children’s inheritance at risk with “low” percentage rates). I know I do. I don’t hold my breath anymore while looking but I still do.

I’m sure you know at least one person who could use a happy note. Come to think of it, my list is growing by the second!

The person I plan to write to has just adopted and she could use all the encouragement she can get to remind her that she is not alone.

All around me there are families adopting, families fostering, families hosting and my heart unites with these families as they set their course to do a very hard thing. Thanks to a link from some friends in the adoption process, I’ve found a very good blog post about how to help these families, especially after the airport . Written by adoptive mom, Jen Hatmaker, it is filled with humor, wit and wisdom. The article is How to Be the Village and you need to go read it. RIGHT NOW!!

Are you back from reading? Good, I’m glad. Now, how many notes are you gonna write today?

p.s. I really love Jen’s blog. She is very real. She’s got the truth and the humor to go with the life God has given her. I wouldn’t stop at just one post of her’s- keep reading. You’ll be glad you did.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sugar Cookies

I’m making this a double duty post. The Joy’s Hope blog is sharing The Happy Day Project and I’m going to do my best to spread some happy into someone’s day. If you want to know more, click on the button and it will take you to all the information. Then, get on it! People need happy!!

Day 1- Treat to a neighbor. Got it! Actually, I already have some cookies baked up and frozen for a neighbor, but haven’t had the chance to give them. Today’s the day! Very cute printable, too!

Here’s a cookie recipe my friend, Angie, said I needed to share. She had stopped by one evening, right after I had made these and tried them spread with this pumpkin cream cheese filling. She then told me she never makes sugar cookies or snickerdoodle cookies because she doesn’t have a good recipe. I said I would give her mine. It’s really my Grandma’s. I almost always make them into snickerdoodles by rolling the balls into cinnamon and sugar, but you can drop them on the sheet and flatten with a sugar coated glass bottom or roll them out and cut into shapes and frost. In any case, you and Angie never have to be without a sugar cookie recipe again. And neither does your neighbor if you choose to share!

Sugar Cookies

  • 1 c. shortening
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt

Cream together the shortening, sugar, eggs, water and vanilla. Add in the flour, baking powder and salt.

At this point, I refrigerate the dough before scooping it into balls and rolling into a cinnamon sugar mixture for snickerdoodles.

Or, without refrigerating, you can roll medium thin and cut out. Or drop onto sheet and press with a sugar coated glass.

Bake 350o for 10-12 minutes until set. Don’t let them brown.

Cookies 2

Zwingle Harescramble

While most sane people were taking advantage of the time change and grabbing an extra hour of sleep, we were up at 4:45 5:45 4:45. Whatever. We were up. We are not sane. Especially when it comes to this motorcycle thing- which has taken over our life! It infiltrates my son’s daydreams, his school artwork, his journaling, his conversations, his YouTube viewings, his closet. My garage! At Saturday’s lunch, Ben and Bill had a conversation about bikes. And I understood every word of it!!!

Let’s skip ahead to the race, shall we? At this point, I’m thinking I might need therapy for this mania that has occurred. Or something. Fast forward a 3 hour drive, hot breakfast sandwiches, monkey muffins and a mug of coffee and we pull into another farmyard. A sigh emanates from Luke. He just knew it would be another farm race. Really though, every race except one has been a farm race. That is to say, you drive through some farmer’s yard to the fields in the back. Today we past barns full of dairy cows. As we drove through, I wondered about the farmer’s wife. What was she doing at that moment? Did she know we were all coming? Did her husband tell her? Was she panicking and cleaning all the bathrooms in case there weren’t any portables? Did she pack up and go to her mother’s? Did she ever have any inkling that this would be her life on that day she said yes to the cute 4-H boy and became Mrs. Farmer? I certainly never dreamed that I would be living in suburban Iowa, toting a trailer full of bikes hither thither with my family. I thought I would be married to a farmer. *GASP!* I could have been Mrs. Farmer and this could have been my farm people were driving through!!! (What?! Didn’t you read? I missed an hour of sleep!)

Thanks for the little therapy session.

Now, what are we talking about? Races.

Yes, races! Ben was debating over whether to race his 50 and try to snag some more points or to try out his 65 for one race because next year he’ll have to race the 65 class. He went to the motorcycle park with Bill Saturday morning to warm-up on his 50. He had picked to stay in the 50 class. But as luck would have it, the clutch blew and he now had to race the 65 if he was going to race at all. (At this point in my knowledge, I don’t know how a clutch can blow. I imagine it to be similar to when the brake line on a bike goes out. But sometimes my imagination gets away from me…) First 65 Race

It was a colder morning with a good wind so while Ben was going to be warm enough while he was racing, he was a little chilly while waiting. Warming Up

The course had some good terrain- through a section of timber, under trees, slippery turns in the field, but after a lap or two, Ben got the hang of it and my heart stopped thumping so loudly. He loves riding his 65, but it is still a bigger bike and Ben has room to grow on it, so sometimes it can be more than he can handle. He was fine and if you ask him any differently, he’ll probably growl at you. He knows he can do it and if you’re going to pull that I’m-a-mom-and-I–like-to-be-concerned stuff, well, forget it!


He finished 10th of 12. And he got a trophy that’s an arm (the little rider on top of the trophy) taller than his largest trophy so far. 65 Trophy

Bill’s race was going to be a fun one. Part of the course was set up in an Endurocross manner, with log crossings, tire obstacles and such. We were all really looking forward to that part. Bill’s start wasn’t that great (he thinks the clutch is going.) and he was feeling out of it, so it became a race to just ride and have fun.


For just pulling back and having fun, he still did well. 4th place!

Last Race Trophies

And that, my friends, is the end of racing season. Somehow we went from deciding to try a few more races this year to racing every one. We went from Ben’s little 50cc TTR to a 50cc Senior KTM to a 65cc KTM. We went from not being to cross a log to tires and creek crossings. We went from not being able to ride a two-wheeler and tying your own shoes to two-wheels with a motor and tying. I know words like stoppies, roost, gnarly, and names like Ryan Dungey and David Knight. Even our neighbors know when it is racing weekend and text us to wish us good luck! (Thanks, Lisa, it still brings a smile to my face.)

See you in February, race fans!  

Headin' to the Trailer


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On Paper

Audrey's NoteBen's Picture

Luke's drawing

This is Dad and Ben standing by the stove. Dad has food in his tummy. We have an orange door.