Chocolate or Dirt?

Picture courtesy of

I home school my two mini-mortals.  We had a lesson on the states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas.  I pointed out to my oldest mini-mortal that water could be all three, but some matter can only exist in one or two states.  Chocolate, for instance, can only exist as a solid or liquid, not as a gas.  We proceeded to have a wonderful, hands-on lesson on the different states of chocolate matter.  (Don't you wish I was YOUR science teacher?)  We had a grand time melting the blocks of chocolate and dipping oranges, nuts, or whatever struck our fancy in the lovely, yummy, brown liquid.  We shredded part of a 2 lb. block of Ghirardelli chocolate into shavings to make it easier to melt, but a few of the shavings landed on the counter instead of the bowl.  We finished the lesson, but I hadn't finished cleaning up all the chocolate shards from the counter before I got sidetracked.

My 2 indoor house plants looked pathetic, so I took them to the kitchen to water them (Plants aren't my forte, but at least these two have a fighting chance since I see them on a regular basis).  A few pieces of potting soil (aka dirt) landed on the counter top during the watering.  As I came back to clean up the counter from both dirt and chocolate,  "[I] got an idea. An awful idea.  [I] got a wonderful, awful idea!" (Can you name the cartoon this came from?)  As I stared at the mingled chocolate shavings and dirt, I laughed inside at the thought of my Marvelous Matthew coming home soon, thinking that ALL the brown stuff on the counter was chocolate, and him trying to help "clean up" by scooping up a few bits into his mouth.  He'd end up getting a few pieces of dirt flavored chocolate in his mouth.  Bwahahahaha!  Then, I promptly cleaned it all up so that wouldn't happen because even I'm not that mean to deceive him like that!  :)

 Proverbs 11:18 says, "The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward."  Deceit is one of Satan's favorite tools.  He makes things look fun and sweet  when in reality they are dirt, things that will make you spiritually sick.  The Lord wants us to lift each other and bring ourselves to Him because He loves all of us.  He asks us to bring true sweetness that will give eternal joy everyone, not something that looks good but leave a bitter taste in our mouths.  His love brings happiness to all.

Poison Ivy...UGG!!

We went camping up in North Carolina with some friends.  As you may know from previous posts, we go camping a couple times a year.  This was the first time we ventured up to NC.  We had a great time seeing friends and sleeping outdoors!  There were two small hiccups with our campsite though.  I chose sites about as far away from the bathroom as possible (oops).  Between our friends and us, we had 6 mini-mortals ages 7 and under.  (In fact, if we had camped prior to my eldest mini-mortal's birthday earlier this month, we would have had ages 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2, but instead we had two 7 years old since we went post-birthday.)  So the long haul to the bathroom got a bit cumbersome.  The second hiccup was that the back side of our site was covered in a lovely green vine with three leaves, aka poison ivy.

Now, you must understand, poison ivy and I don't get along!  It may look innocent enough, but I've had it do all kinds of nasty things to me.  The worst trick it EVER played on me was crawling up on me a few days before I got married and breaking me out all over my legs!  I tried every home remedy known to man, but to no avail.  That was a most unpleasant experience.  I've also gotten it so bad I had to go to the doctor.  She prescribed a medication that knocked me out cold for 24 hours.  I took it at 5:00 p.m. and had to call in sick to work the next day because I simply couldn't keep my eyes open.  I finally woke up about 5:00 p.m.  after the drug worked its way out of my system.  It made a lasting impression, obviously, and I've steered very clear of poison ivy ever since!

Wanting to avoid this rashy (is that a word?) fate for the mini-mortals, I gathered them all, pointed out the poison ivy, and informed them that it would break them out in an itchy rash.  I showed them what it looks like and taught them, "Leaves of three, let it be!"  Pride overwhelmed me as I heard them chanting under their breath, "Leaves of three, let it be.  Leaves of three, let it be!"  I thought I'd actually taught them something that might stick.  However, that delusion shattered quickly as we went for a walk along a path. The path was lined with poison ivy in a few places.  As I said, it looks perfectly innocent.  Nothing but a lovely green vine, right?  The mini-mortals started wandering off the path, sometimes into patches of the poison ivy.  We'd round them back up and get them back on track.  The path was getting a bit long and at one point it opened into a meadow after we had been tromping in the forest a while.  My 7 year old mini-mortal saw the grass and plopped right down.  What she hadn't seen was the patch of poison ivy right beside her!  I promptly got her up and hoped she didn't break out.  Amazingly enough, we all escaped unscathed from the rotten little vine and no one had any rashes.

I've noticed in this path of life that there is a lot of figurative poison ivy along the way, things that look lovely and enticing, but that ultimately lead to unhappiness.  We all end up at least brushing up against it at some points during our lives,  breaking into a rash of unpleasantness.  We are lucky, though, the Lord has given us the ultimate medicine, the atonement.  Through His atonement, we are able to repent and stay on the path rash free.  He doesn't want us to suffer, He wants us to be happy.  Isaiah 52:5 states, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."  He can heal us of all our afflictions if we will but turn to Him.

Popcorn, YUMMY!

I own an air popper.  Since I was child, I’ve always enjoyed watching the kernels being bounced and heated until they finally explode into great, white, glorious popcorn.  Pop, pop, pop…Bouncing around in the hot chamber until finally overflowing into the bowl that’s happily waiting to catch it.  Popcorn is SO good and yummy!

When we go through trials and challenges in this life, we can begin to feel like the kernel left at the bottom of the popper’s chamber, like nothing but steel and heat surround us. We feel bounced around by the trials buffeting against us. It’s uncomfortable, difficult, and getting hotter.  Then, we suddenly feel a change in ourselves.  We feel like we’ve learned what we needed to from the trial so we should be released from our trial, yet we are still there in that popcorn chamber feeling the heat.  Just as it takes a while for the popcorn to be released from the chamber, it takes time for the Lord to complete His work in our hearts and lives.  In Hebrews 12:6, he tells us “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”  He’s like the bowl, happily waiting for us.  He knows what we are going through, but He also knows the changes going on in our hearts through these trials.  These changes must take place in us so He can receive us.  He knows just how good we can be!

Suzuki! That's Dumb!

My 6 year-old mini mortal is learning to read.  She's working on blending sounds correctly to come up with the right word.   We were driving behind a Suzuki Jimny the other day.  (I had to look up to see what type of vehicle it was so I didn't call it a Suzuki Jeep, because I was pretty sure that no such vehicle exists.  Yes, I am a woman and don't have a clue what the proper name is of just about any vehicle.)  My mini mortal tried to sound out "Suzuki".  She sounded the S-U "s-uh".  I told her that was correct.  Then, she got to the Z-U.  She said, "z-uh".  I corrected her and told her that this particular U said, "oo".  She said, "OO, but that doesn't make any sense!  I know how to spell zoo, and that's not it!  You spell zoo Z-O-O, not Z-U.  That's just dumb!"  I couldn't help but agree with her!  The English language is insane!

Do you know how many exceptions there are in the English language?  Please let me know if you have the exact number!  I've never noticed how crazy our language is until trying to teach it to my daughter.  There's I before E except after C.  The plural of ox is oxen, yet most other plurals simply end with an S or ES.  Should I use its, its', or it's?  There, they're, or their?  If all the letters are sounded out, shouldn't noise and noisy actually be pronounced identically?  Why in the world should any E be silent?  Our language is full of exceptions, accidentals, irregularities and constant change.

Luckily, I know of one thing that will never change.  Hebrew 13:6 says, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."  He doesn't have exceptions, accidentals or irregularities.  His word remains steady as a rock.  His principles and moral values are unwavering.  My responsibility is to become as He is, steadfast and firm in my faith and testimony.  In this ever changing world, I am grateful that I know of one thing that will not change, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In My Daughter's Eyes

Please note that you can actually see my reflection in my daughter's eye.
It's amazing to me how much I already see traces of "me" manifesting themselves in my mini mortals.  The Chenille Sisters did a song called, "Help!  I'm Turning Into My Parents!"  (You can see a group perform it here, just skip to 1:30).  It's a hilarious song because it's so very true!  We see our parents reflected back in ourselves.

I took the above picture of my reflection in my daughter's eye almost 2 years ago for a photography project.  My mom simply LOVED it when she saw it.  Shortly after I took it, mom asked if maybe she and I could do one with her reflection in my eye.  Then, combine both pictures into one so that we would have a couple generations together.  I really liked her idea, but didn't do it immediately because we both had other things to do.  Life continued getting in the way.  We never made the time to create that picture.  Now I no longer have the opportunity to make that beautiful idea she had a reality because she's no longer on this earth.  It breaks my heart every time I think that she's gone. However, I was reflecting on this picture and the sentiment that we truly leave traces of ourselves in our children.

Shortly after she passed, I was visiting my home church (my parents have attended there for about 40 years).  I made some comments in Sunday School, and talked to a few people.  One of the ladies came up to me after church was over and said, "I've been watching you today and never realized how much you act like your mom."  I learned who I was and what I should be at the hands of a great mentor, my mother. 

In Proverbs 22:6 we read, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."  My mother trained me well to have a testimony of Jesus Christ.  She showed me by example what a Christ-like life truly is.  She loved many and taught much.  She was a wonderful person to model how my life should be.  I am grateful to have been so blessed to call that extraordinary woman my mother.

Riding Tandem

Sorry I missed last week. We had a grand family reunion in Branson, MO.  You can see some of our family fun here, if you'd like.

I really enjoy riding bikes with my mini mortals, but we hadn't gone for a while.  Why, you may ask?  My 6 year-old mini mortal rides at a fairly fast pace, and my 4 year-old mini mortal couldn't keep up.  I can't keep up with her and hang back with him simultaneously.  We don't have extremely safe roads to ride on, either.  I knew I could trust my 6 year-old mini mortal on them, but not the 4 year-old.   I really, REALLY wanted a Trail-a-Bike, but I really, really, REALLY didn't want to spend that much money on a Trail-a-Bike.  I waffled back and forth, but ultimately decided there was no way I could justify spending that much money on something that we'd only use for a few years and could sell at just a fraction of the cost on Craigslist when we were done with it.  I was sad, but knew I made the best decision.  Then, I went to Blessingdales, a local thrift store, to pick up some ugly ties for a project we were doing.  As I pulled up, I noticed they had a Trail-a-Bike out front.  I didn't get too excited because I figured it would still be pretty expensive.  I jumped out of the car and checked out the price tag.  It was a whopping $10!!!!!!  I grabbed it up and virtually ran into the store with it.  (Embarrassingly, the door frame got a bit dinged in my excitement).  I handed the clerk the tag and finished up our shopping.  I got it home and proceeded to get it hooked up to my bike.  I took my 4 year-old mini mortal for a ride first.  It was like lugging a 45 lb. sack of potatoes on the back of my bike.  I kept asking him if he was pedaling.  He "assured" me he was, but I'm pretty sure his little legs stayed firmly in one spot the whole ride.  I thought I was going to die by the time I got back home, and our ride wasn't that long.  After his ride, I took my 6 year-old mini mortal out for a ride.  WHOA, what a difference.  She pedaled like crazy!  We zoomed through the neighborhood and had a wonderful, smooth ride together.  We made it around the block in record time.  Although I was able to make it around the block with both mini mortals, it was much easier when someone helped.

The Lord can do all things.  He can "get the bike around the block" so to speak without us, just as I was able to complete the ride with both mini mortals.  Just as I knew what my mini mortals were doing on our ride, in Rev. 2:19 we read, "I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works..."  He knows what in our hearts and asks us to help Him (and become more like Him) by acting as His hands on earth through serving others.  It makes His work go more smoothly.   We show true charity when we serve.   The definition of charity is the pure love of Christ.  Love is an action verb.  Love pushes us to serve those around us.  I hope that in my life I can remember to serve as the Lord did.  He loved and served all His days on earth.  A poem by St. Teresa of Avila entitled Christ Has No Body begins, "Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours..." We have the opportunity to truly be His hands on earth by serving and loving others.

Sweet Sayings: Take Big Bites

My very willing helper got to devour this right after we were done with the picture.  She thoroughly enjoyed her "payment" for helping!

Chocolate Filled, Silk Tie Dyed Eggs

Please understand, artsy/craftsy is not generally a word people think of then they think of me.  However, I saw this post  over at Our Best Bites and this post  from Not Martha and thought I would simply die if I didn't try to combine the two and come up with my own little thing!  I home school my 6 year-old Mini-Mortal, and this became an almost 1 week art project!  She was with me every step of the way.

First take a plain egg.  Using a Dremel tool cut off the bottom of the egg.  (Do this outside because you can rest assured that you and your entire kitchen will be covered in egg if you don't.  Trust me, I know this from experience!)  Remove the bottom, and dump the egg into a bowl.  Cook the eggs immediately into a fabulous dish, or leave it alone to rot and get very smelly over the next few days.  (I would certainly suggest doing the egg dish rather than letting them go rotten, just my humble opinion).  

Next, you pick out 100% Silk, and 100% Ugly ties, the uglier the better.  (You can also chuckle as you get weird looks at the thrift store when you discuss with your children how wonderfully ugly a tie is!)

It's even more fun when you let your children express their opinions on the ties, just FYI.
Cut the ties down the middle, remove the inner lining, and cut the silk into pieces large enough to wrap around your eggs.  Secure them with a twist tie.

Enjoy making designs out of your eggs.  I know we did!

Then, wrap them again in a lightweight white fabric.  (I used a pillowcase.  By cutting it into 3 inch strips, sewing up the sides of each strip and sewing across it in 3 inch segments to make little pockets.)  Secure each pocket with another twist tie.  Put them in a pot with enough water to cover them and add 1/4 C. vinegar.  Boil the heck out of those suckers for 20-25 min.  I had to weight them down with cake pans so they wouldn't float to the top.

 Pull the eggs out of the water with tongs and set carefully into a colander.  Then wait for them to cool.

While you're waiting, you can enjoy the drawings that your kids make regarding their experience so far.  Those things in the middle of the table are the eggs all wrapped up, in case you couldn't tell.
After cooled, unwrap the eggs, set them on a cooling rack with something under it to catch the dripping water, and oooo and ahhh at how pretty they turned out so far!  Leave them alone overnight to dry completely to make sure the dye stays on during the next step.

The next morning clean the inside out really well with warm water and let them dry again.  Then, melt chocolate in a glass measuring cup with just a little bit of veggie oil or butter  to make sure it flows well.  Coat the inside of your eggs with chocolate by pouring it in the egg, swirling it around, then dumping it back into your measuring cup.

Set it on the cooling rack again to let all the excess chocolate drip out.  (It's going to  form a small lip of chocolate.  That's ok, you'll need it later). 
Melt more chocolate with a bit of butter mixed in.  Get out a baking sheet, and layer with parchment paper.  Make the sheet of parchment paper about twice as long as your baking sheet.  Pour the chocolate on the parchment, fold the parchment over the top of the baking sheet and smooth out the chocolate to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness.  Pop in the freezer for about 5 minutes.  When you pull it out, use a cookie cutter to make chocolate disks.  After you've made your chocolate disks, fill your eggs with candy.
Now, use a hot knife (I kept it in a pot of boiling water to keep it hot) to melt the chocolate lip around the outside of the egg, and place the chocolate disk on top of the egg to meld the egg and disk together.  Now, dye some coconut green by putting it in a bag with a few drops of green food coloring and "Shake It Up, baby now. Shake it up baby.  Twist and shout, twist and shout" until the food coloring is evenly distributed.  Take your hot knife and run it over the side of the chocolate disk that is closest to the egg and plop the green coconut on top.  Smash down the coconut to make sure it stays in place.

 Now the eggs are beautiful, and you can be proud and happy from your little creations!

What did those eggs have to go through to become so beautiful and sweet?  Well, let's see...they were cut, wrapped, shoved, boiled, squeezed, drenched, heated and scrubbed.  Was it an easy, quick process?  No.  It took time to transform them from something that could turn rotten to something beautiful, filled with sweetness!  The trials in our lives can act like that for us as well if we turn to the Lord.

Hebrews 12:10-11 discusses trials, "[He chasens us] for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.  Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."  So, basically, we're given trials not so the Lord can see us suffer just for kicks, but so that we can find the peace that righteousness can bring even during trials.  It's truly difficult to believe sometimes.  

This past week, I had an extremely difficult time believing it myself.  This past year has been pretty difficult, and it all came boiling out of me this past weekend.  My mom and another friend passed away.  A friend of mine, who I respected and trusted, landed in jail for some unspeakable crimes.  I've seen 2 friends go through messy divorces, and had a friend who's younger than me develop a brain tumor.  I felt like life as I knew it had been cut out from underneath me.  I was wrapped in anger and rage for all the pain I felt and seen the past few months.  I envisioned God shoving me around and squeezing all happiness out of me.  I questioned whether God loved me or anyone else. I've never before doubted His love, but I felt quite sure he couldn't care one bit about me after going through such a rotten year.  Tears squeezed from my eyes from the pressure of the pain I felt.

As my tears subsided, I finally hit my knees in prayer for the first time in a while.  As I prayed I still felt anger, but felt slow changes.  I began to feel sweetness filling in where rotten bitterness had resided.  It wasn't instantaneous.  It took time for me to work through.  In fact, I'm still working through it, but I'm beginning to gain some understanding.  It's been extremely difficult.  I know as I continue to work through the pain and frustration, the Lord will continue filling me with beautiful, sweet peace that only He can bring.

Chocolate Craving

Last night, my sister invited my family, and a small army of friends over to her home for a lovely fondue party.  (She makes up in entertaining where I've severely slacked over the last few years, but I digress).  In case you couldn't tell from the picture, my son likes, adores, craves, drinks by the gallon, is fond of, LOVES chocolate.  If I would allow him, he would eat chocolate all day, every day.  So, this fondue party was right up his alley.  He parked his little self directly in front of the fondue fountain and made himself at home.  He speared marshmallows, strawberries, pineapples with his toothpick and dunked them one by one into the fondue fountain.  He was thoroughly enjoying himself, and making quite a mess.  At one point, he grabbed a HUGE strawberry (which is another favorite food that he will eat by the truckload).  He took that enormous strawberry and made sure it got as much chocolate on it as possible.  Then, he proceeded to shove almost the whole thing in his mouth.  It was so big that part of it stuck outside his mouth, dripping chocolate all down his chin, shirt, and the floor.  Needless to say, the 10 people who were in the kitchen were getting quite the chuckle out of just how much he enjoyed the chocolate strawberry.  I finally gave up on his shirt (it was white, big mistake on my part) and just took it off.  I put it close to my purse, which was in the other room, and started chatting with a few friends who were in that room leaving my son to his very capable devices.  A few minutes later, my shirtless, sweet, chocolate-covered little boy came to me.  In a sad voice, he said,  "Mommy, I don't want those people to laugh at me."  I reassured him that they weren't laughing at him, but were just enjoying how much he was loving the chocolate.  I walked back into the kitchen with him and noticed that everyone tried their best to keep a straight face.  He was comforted,  went back to the fountain and ate until his belly was full of joy. 

In Jeremiah 15:16 we read, "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart..."  His words bring joy when we are feasting on them!  I've compared my eating (studying) of the scriptures to how my son was getting his chocolate fix.  Do I devour it, loving every minute, and find extreme joy in it?  Or do I nibble, eating only what's necessary to survive or do I decline it all together thinking I'll make time for it later (going the anorexic route)?  Honestly, I jump between the categories, sometimes devouring, sometimes nibbling, and sometimes thinking, "Hmm, when was the last time I read His words?" As Christians, we may find that we are made fun of or laughed at if we read His words, as my son perceived he was being laughed at while devouring his chocolate treasures.  It's hard, but if we seek out our Father as my son sought me, He will comfort us.  He will always bring us to the sweet things because He loves us.  He knows what will bring us the ultimate joy and His word will bring us to it.

Sweet Sayings: Swirls

I've discovered this YUMMY, and easy recipe.  I call it Tiger Stripes.  It's modified from this recipe.

1 lb. Milk Chocolate
1/2 C. Chunky Peanut Butter
1/2 C. White Chocolate
1 T. Butter

Melt milk chocolate in microwave. (Begin with 1 min. at half power, then add 30 seconds at half power as needed). After chocolate is melted, add in the peanut butter until it's melted.
For ease of cleaning, layer a cookie sheet with parchment paper and pour the chocolate/peanut butter mixture in the pan. Swirl the chocolate around to make a thin layer.
Melt the white chocolate using the same method as the milk chocolate. Add the butter until melted. Drizzle the white chocolate over the milk chocolate. DO NOT MIX. Drag a butter knife through the two chocolates in various directions to form the swirls. Put in freezer for 5 minutes. Pull out and break into pieces or use cookie cutters to create shapes.

I dare you not to smile while you're eating this!

He Noticed Me!!

My daughter has a crush on a teenager who goes to church with us.  She has "loved" him basically since the first day she met him 4 years ago .  He's a great kid and takes it in stride.   He walks her to her Sunday School class each week, and she tells me he is her best friend!  In fact, one time, she told me, "Mommy, I want to marry him.  [Sigh] But I just don't think that will happen."  (Considering that he's 10 years older than her, I suspect she's correct, but my heart still broke a bit for her that day.)  One time, his family went on vacation for a few weeks.  My daughter missed him like crazy while he was gone and probably started thinking he may have abandoned her.  She pondered as we drove to church after 2 weeks of limbo if he would still be out of town.  I told her I wasn't sure.  As we walked into church she saw him.  She quickly turned to me, tugged on my sleeve, and pointed out that he was there.  (Oh joy, oh rapture!)  He was doing something else, so we made our way in and sat down.  My daughter (who was 4 at the time) sat with a coy look on her face blinking in his general direction.  After a few minutes, he noticed us sitting there and gave a smile and wave to us.  My daughter took a quick intake of breath and waved back.  Then, she turned to me, smiling from ear to ear, and excitedly said, "Mom, he noticed me!"

I've had many times in my life that the Lord has decided to leave for a few weeks and leave me on my own.  I've felt small, and insignificant, maybe even abandoned.  Without fail during those times, I'm allowed to see with clarity through the dreary fog to the fact that He cares more about me than I can ever know.  I read in Romans 8:16 "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God".  Would I ever abandon my children when they are hurting?  No.  If we are God's children, would he ever abandon us?  No!  It's in these moments of clarity, when the truth comes shining through.  I can feel God's love for me and say excitedly, "He notices me!"

Camping (AKA Remake of "A River Runs Through It")

This warmer weather we have had the last few days brings my mind around to camping.  We started a camping tradition about three years ago to go camping with some friends in the spring. Another friend of ours gave us a 15-20 year old tent.  Yes, it was a bit old, but it appeared fairly sturdy. We weren’t sure if we would continue our camping traditions, so we didn’t want to buy a new tent.  This story is about the second time we used this tent.  We noticed the previous time we went camping that some of the seam tape was coming off.  We kept meaning to repair it, but never got around to it.  We also meant to buy some of the waterproofing spray to protect the tent, but didn’t do that either. Besides, the weatherman promised us beautiful weather the whole weekend, so we didn’t have any worries!
The weatherman was 95% correct.  We had gorgeous weather 95% of that weekend.  The second night we were there we noticed lightening on the other side of the lake.  We talked to the camp host who said we might get the tail end of a large storm, not much rain, but probably a lot of wind.  He suggested we bring in most of gear, which we did.  However, since we weren’t anticipating much rain, we decided not to put our tarp over the tent (we didn’t have a rainfly).
After pulling everything in, we all bedded down for a nice evening, or so we thought.  I awoke at 1:30 a.m. to rain splashing on my face, puddles all over the floor, soaked kids, and a very frustrated husband.  (At one point, part of that seam tape I mentioned earlier fell off and stuck to his backside, making it look like he had a tail!  That would have been hysterical had it been any other moment but right then!) My then 2-year-old son ended up in a slightly less damp spot on our bed because rain was pouring in on his. My then 5-year-old clam shelled herself up in her sleeping bag trying to keep the water off her.  Eventually the rain subsided and we were able to go back to sleep, but needless to say, we figured out that night that it was time to weatherproof our tent.
Like our tent, we need to do some weatherproofing of our own lives to protect us against the storms that Satan will throw at us. In this particular instance, I say Satan is none other than…the weatherman.  Oh, the weather’s good, you don’t need your tarp, maybe it will rain, but only a little bit.  He works in partial truths, 95% of what he tells you will be true, but that 5% that isn’t true will trip you up.  One of the lies he’s spreading now that’s very popular is that what we do only effects me, no one else.  However, like my children who got drenched because we didn’t weatherproof our tent, others are very much effected by our actions, most especially our family members. Don’t follow the “weatherman”.  He’s a pied piper playing sweet songs that would ultimately destroy our eternal lives of happiness.  He doesn’t want us to be happy.  He wants each of us to be drenched and soaked in misery, just like him.
Weatherproof your lives against the fiery darts of the adversary by not listening to Satan, keep out anything wet and unholy, use the Holy Spirit as your tarp, spray the scriptures on your heart and mind, and have plenty of stick-to-it-ivness to endure to the end so that we may say as Paul said “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

PS - Just in case you were wondering, we bought another tent shortly after this incident!

Sweet Sayings: Dance, Love, Sing, Live

Seeing that tomorrow is what Marvelous Matthew refers to as a made up holiday, and the rest of the world refers to as Valentine's Day, I felt like this was an appropriate Sweet Saying for the week.

Confessions of a Killer (Enduring / Testimony)

Hasbro Clue Game:  1998 version

Was it Miss Scarlet in the Library with the Revolver?  No!  It was Miss Lynnae in Savannah with Neglect.

Each Spring I am filled with a masterful delusion that leads to my serial killings.   I walk down aisles upon aisles of colorful flowers, fragrant herbs, and beautiful young trees.  My head fills with visions of grandeur.  This will be the year I will do it!  I will be a master gardener with luscious fruits, delicious herbs, and a bountiful garden.  My plenty will be abundant, and my garden will be one of greatness.

I carefully select my victims, as they scream for mercy, "Not me!  Pick that one!  Please!  What have I done to deserve this wretched fate?" I chuckle mercilessly as I place them in my (shopping cart or buggy, you decide).  I coo to them, "Didn't you hear me?  This will be the year!"  To this they pathetically reply, "Yes, the year I will die by your hand."  I take my victims home and survey my yard.  My yard is unchanged, it doesn't have good light, soil, or a place where my victims will not be tromped on by dogs and kids.  I think to myself, "Ah, this random spot here might work.  Yes, I haven't tried a victim here yet!  Quick, randomly dig and plop my destined victim in the ground."

I water my victim, talk to my victim, but never name my victim.  That would be much too heartless!  For the next few glorious springtime weeks, I attend to my victims, proud of myself, sure that this will be the year that I will reform.  Then, the brutal Savannah heat begins, bugs overwhelm me and the springtime showers dry up.  The attention I showered on my victim wanes, and nature takes over.  The lack of water, love, and immense, brutal heat dry up my victims to a crunchy, brown mass.  I feel a sense of remorse as I realize I have struck yet again.  Another victim, dead by my lack of attention, a crumbly heap that would never serve as my amazing masterpiece.  I totaled up the number of victims killed by me over the last 6 years.  The total is no less than 36 and probably much higher as I'm positive there are victims I can no longer remember!  What could have changed this sad outcome?  What could make my victims success stories instead of just another number in my line of killings?

I have a friend who diligently plants a garden each year.  She prepares her soil, and waters her plants (yes, I must refer to hers as plants, not victims) daily.  If she goes on vacation, she even arranges to have someone come and water her plants or pick the fruits and veggies while she's gone.  (What a novel idea!)  Her plants bloom, grow and produce beautifully.  She even has some to give away she gets such a nice crop!  She endures the heat, bugs and drought and receives bounteously in return.

James 5:11 states, "Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."  After my friend endures, she can happily look at her bounty and even share with others.  I don't endure, which leads to sad, shriveled up victims.   I've discovered that my life and testimony of the Lord are much the same way.  My testimony, like the plants, can grow and flourish if I provide it with the essential nutrients it needs such as reading scriptures, attending church, praying, and serving others.  If I don't give these essentials to my testimony, it may shrivel in the brutal heat of this world.  I hope to continue giving my testimony the nutrients it needs so it doesn't become just another nameless victim of carelessness!

Sweet Sayings

Just a follow-up to my last experiment.  This will probably be the last one with the candy sticks, but I'll probably do more with different candies.  Did I mention I love candy?

My Buddy and Me (Trust In the Lord)

My Buddy, Cooper

I have a confession.  You know how moms aren't supposed to pick favorites?  Well, I have a most definite favorite!  Before I can delve deeper into my confession, you need to know a few things.  I got my first dog, Cooper, shortly after Marvelous Matthew and I started dating.  Over the next two years, my dog family grew by one with Cheyenne.  Next, I acquired Marvelous Matthew as a husband.  Two weeks after we were married, I received an e-mail from a friend who worked with a dog rescue saying that they were looking for a foster home for a dog that would be put to sleep within 24 hrs if they couldn't find a place for her.  I called Marvelous Matthew and absolutely assured him we would only be temporary fosters for that dog.  Well, 8 years later, she's still part of the family and that's how Shadow joined us.  (Yes, Marvelous Mathew has never let me fully live that one down).  Finally,  two children have rounded out my family.   All three of my dogs are fairly big, each weighing in around 85 lbs., and I didn't listen to all the naysayers who told me while I was pregnant about how my dingos were going to eat my babies!     My kids have a good amount of respect for the dogs (even though they adore giving them "crowns", "jewelery", and any amount of bling they can get their hands on to adorn the dogs).  Overall, it's been a really good experience having dogs and kids.

Ok, I hear you, "blah, blah, blah, come on!  Tell me what your confession is!  What dirt can I dig up on you!"  Well, here it goes.  Cooper is my absolutely favorite dog.  I hang my head in shame a bit each time I admit it because, as I said before, moms aren't supposed to have favorites.  However, it's the truth.  It isn't that I don't love my other two dogs, but Cooper basically worships the ground I walk on!  How many of you have a guy who, no matter what you do, perfectly adores and worships you?  For 12 years he has endured countless moves, and many life changes.  No matter what life curves I've thrown at him, he still looks at me with absolute, unabashed love!  He follows me around the house, and always has to know where I am!  He is almost always within arms reach for me!  He just rolls his eyes at me when I pull his jowls out to make him look like a King Cobra (he has a lot of loose skin, so he is not harmed in any way during his cross-species training exercises).  He has what I refer to as "First Dog Syndrome".  The sky is the limit with the tricks he knows!  He knows how to dance in a circle for his treat, and play dead when I "shoot" him with my finger and say, "Bang!"  My other two dogs know how to sit and that's the extent of their tricks.  The funny thing is, if you ask just about any adult who is acquainted with all three of my dogs, almost without fail they will each tell you that Coop is their favorite dog too!  He's simply a great dog.

He hasn't always been so great.  Cooper came into my care when he was about 5 months old.  I do not know his history prior to that time, but I do know it couldn't have been good.  I had been scouting around for a dog, and one of my roommates came home one day.  She brought with her the news that one of her co-workers had a 45 lbs puppy show up under his deck and wanted to know if there was anyone who wanted the dog.  I met Cooper the next day.  The only good thing that could be said about him at that time was that he wasn't horribly underweight, but he was terrified of EVERYTHING.  He was scared to go outside, and scared to come back inside.  He would tremble all over if you came close to him, and howl if you left the room.  To look at him, all you could really see was a train wreck of a dog!  He was so messed up.

No matter how messed up he was at the time, I could feel that there was more to him than just his psychotic-ness!  I worked with him, loved him, and made him feel safe.   Cooper started trusting me more and more.  I've never done anything to break that trust.   He's truly been a good buddy for all these years.  He's come so far from where he was, a broken down puppy with no hope, to everyone's favorite dog.

I've found in life that there are many times I feel pretty broken down myself.  Life can get perfectly terrifying sometimes, and I don't know which way to turn.  However, I've also found that as I trust in the Lord, He never does anything to break that trust.  He works with me, loves me, and leads me to safety.  In Isaiah 26 were told, "Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength."  As I put my trust in Him, He helps me to become all that I can be.   He knows how much more there is to me that just my "psychotic-ness."  He knows that He can change me from feeling broken, to someone who has great strength, if I will let Him.  He know precisely how far I can go! 

Sweet Sayings

Just a new little experiment I'm trying.  I liked the way it turned out and thought you might too!

Why Did I Shave My Legs For This? (Gaining Wisdom)

I pretty much followed what my parents told me to do as a teenager.  In fact, there’s only one time I remember blatantly going against what my parents told me to do.  (Yes, I’m sure there were other times, but this is the only one I remember).  Around the age of 12, I asked mom if I could begin shaving my legs.  She told me no because I had blonde hair, no one could see it, and there was no reason to begin any sooner than necessary since I would be shaving the rest of my life.  In my vast amount of 12 year-old wisdom, I just KNEW she was wrong, and that everyone was looking at my legs and laughing at how hairy they were.  The next day, I snuck a razor into the shower with me and shaved!  Ooo, can you just feel the freedom!  I had done it!  I was SO proud of my shaved legs, but I knew I had to keep it a secret from mom. 

About 2 days later, my older sister was sitting on the couch.  I flopped down and plopped my shorts laden legs on her lap.  She looked at my legs, and said loudly , “Lynnae!  Did you shave your legs?!”(Quiet was never a forte for anyone in my family).  My heart stopped.  Mom was in the kitchen, and could see me.  I was pretty sure she was going to kill me dead, right there on the spot!  Very quietly, I said, “Yes.”  Leah responded with, “You need to do it better next time!  You missed a bunch of spots.”  Mom just looked at me and shrugged.  She didn’t plan an immediate, untimely death for my infraction, and I was allowed to live yet another day.

Now, fast forward 20 years…today, I understand the wisdom of my mother.  I’ve been shaving for a long time and realize it’s not as fun as I originally thought it would be.  Yes, I do it, but I think back to what my mom told me…put it off as long as possible, you’ll be doing it for a long time.  That was wisdom beyond my comprehension at the rip old age of 12. 

The Lord has wisdom beyond any of our comprehension.  He created the world and has a plan.  I have the ability to choose to follow Him or go off on my own.  He doesn’t force His hand.  He doesn’t extract revenge against me when I decide to follow my own plan, not His.  He has told us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9).  I have found throughout my life, though, that as I willingly follow the Lord, He will bless me with understanding and comprehension.  The understanding may not come immediately, but it always comes.

PS - In an effort to actually continue my blog while keeping my personal journal, I've decided to move my posting days to Wednesday.  I hope you continue to enjoy!

You Are My Friend, and I Love You (Healing)

As a teenager, my parents would gather us for scripture study.  Without fail, when I wasn’t in the mood to be there, my dad would ask us what our favorite scriptures were.  I, being the youngest, was generally the last one to be asked.  Many times I gave the answer, “Jesus wept.”  When asked why, my response was, “Because it is the shortest scripture!”  I’m sure my parents wanted to jerk a knot in my head, but it hurried along the discussion so I could go on to other things.

I lost my mother this a few months ago, very unexpectedly.  I felt consumed with grief.  It felt like my world had been shattered, torn apart, and destroyed.  I wept a lot.  However, my mind kept coming back to the scripture “Jesus wept”. 

What is weeping?  It isn’t just a single tear rolling down your face.  “Weeping” brings to my mind images of someone sobbing.  Why was Jesus sobbing?  He’d just found out that his friend, Lazarus, died.  He mourned the loss of his friend.  He too felt consumed with grief.

Now, if there is anyone who should understand life, death, and salvation, it is Jesus.   He understands much more than I do, yet, He sobbed when faced with the death of a loved one.  My mind began wrapping around the fact that He truly understood the grief I felt in losing my mom.  He came to suffer for each of us so he could understand our sorrows and pains so that one day we could return and live with him again.  Why did He do this?  Why did He suffer when he could have said no? 

Forgive me for a moment as I go off on what appears to be a tangent.

A few days ago, we went to lunch with my husband at a Mexican restaurant.  Our middle-aged waiter was very nice to us.  About ¾ of the way through dinner, my 3-year-old son popped up from the table, ran to the waiter, gave him a hug, looked at him with huge, innocent eyes and said, “You are my new friend and I love you!!”  I had two distinct reactions to this.  Part of me thought, “Aww, how cute!”  The other part of me thought, “Hmm, I need to teach him more about stranger danger!”  Our waiter looked a bit surprised, but smiled. After the meal, my husband took the kids to pay as I tidied up the table a bit.  Our waiter came up to me and said, “I will NEVER forget what your son told me today.  ‘You are my new friend and I love you’.  You have no idea how much that means to me!  Please come back soon.”  We hugged and off I went.

“You are my friend” and “I love you”…two of the most powerful phrases in the world.  Think about it for a minute.  Are there any other positive phrases that you can think of that carry more weight than those two?  I can’t. 

I pondered earlier why Jesus would come to earth and suffer for us.  It comes down to those two phrases, “You are my friend and I love you.”  He loves us and wants us to return to him.  He did everything in His power to ensure our return.  He said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 15:13-14)  He laid down His life for us, his friends, because He loves us!

Mother of the Year (Patience/Kindness)

Seeing as we just rang in the New Year, I feel like sharing a “Mother of the Year” moment I had when my son was a baby.  We had a night-time routine in our family.  While I changed the baby’s diaper, my daughter (5) was supposed to clean her room.  After I was done with his diaper, I helped her with any cleaning she didn't finish.  One evening, I was changing my son's diaper, and my daughter knew I was changing his diaper.  She should have known it was time to clean her room.  I finished up and went into her room.  It looked like a bomb exploded in there!  Toys littered the floor, clothes were in total disarray, it was a mess!  At that moment, I did what any great “Mother of the Year” would do…I lost my head and yelled at her. “WHY DOES YOUR ROOM LOOK LIKE THIS?! WHY DIDN’T YOU CLEAN IT.  YOU KNEW I WAS CHANGING THE BABY’S DIAPER, YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN CLEANING YOUR ROOM.  I’M GIVING YOU 5 MINUTES TO CLEAN IT AND IF YOU DON’T YOU’LL BE IN BIG TROUBLE!”  Then, I proceeded to stomp off to the living room. 

As I entered the living room, I started to feel “Mother of the Year” glowing on my forehead like a neon sign.  Ug, what had I just done!  As I calmed down, my thoughts turned to how our Heavenly Father treats us, His children (Psalms 82:6 KJV).  Many times we know what we should be doing, but we choose not to do the tasks he asks us.  What does He do to us when we don’t do as He asks?  Does He start yelling? “I’VE TOLD YOU HOW MANY TIMES TO READ YOUR SCRIPTURES?  WHAT’S SO HARD ABOUT PRAYING?  WHY ARE YOU JUST SITTING THERE?  YOU SHOULD BE SERVING YOUR FELLOW MEN!!  DO IT NOW OR YOU’LL BE IN BIG TROUBLE!”   Generally, no.  (Those times He does get angry and start "yelling", we better all watch out!!) He generally treats us with love, and respect.  He asks us kindly to follow Him as our Shepherd. 

As all these thoughts were swirling through my head, I returned to my daughter’s room.She looked at me with her big blue eyes, swimming with a few tears, and told me she was sorry.  I gave her a hug and apologized for my outburst.  She worked on cleaning while I was in the other room and her room looked much better.  She had done her part, and now I was able to help her finish the cleaning just like every other night.

I realized that just as I could now help her, our Heavenly Father is able to help us more as we do our part and do the things He asks.  We are promised as we pray our prayers will be answered in ways that are for our best good.  We are promised, as we pay our tithing the windows of heaven will be opened (Malachi 3:10).  Our Heavenly Father promised that as we follow him we will be blessed, and He will never break that promise.