Monthly Archives: September 2012

Going EMO

It’s that time of year,
when we start going EMO.

I don’t mean the depressed, black look with hair hanging in my eyes.

I mean

EVERY
MOMENT
OUTSIDE.

I blogged about this a year ago today,
and the weather has been reminding me of my yearly resolution.

After all, the rains are coming soon, and then will will spend

EVERY
MOMENT
INSIDE.

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We’ve been doing school outside. 

(Hey, speaking of school, I started a new homeschool blog called Prairie Momma.
Would love to have you check it out.)

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We’re playing outside, enjoying the last hours warm enough to splash around.

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We’re still cooking outside at the Redneck Grill,
although we had an epic failure with the first Jiffy Pop popcorn.

But, if laughter is the best medicine,
that experience should stave off the first colds of the season.

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We watch movies outside.  Of course, a fire always helps keep off the evening chill.

Like 49’ers after gold,
every drop of fall sunshine
is soaked up
because we know
it will soon be gone.

For a few days,
knowing I would soon be inside for months,
I skipped cooking and cleaning,
and opted for reading on the deck
in the sunshine.

The skies will be gray
and our windowpanes will be streaked
with the constant dribbles
of the winter rains.

Our flip-flops will be tossed
to the back of the closet
and our rainboots will take prominence.

But for now,
the battle cry of the day is
EMO!

I’m gunna spend

EVERY
MOMENT
OUTSIDE.

Gotta’ run.

Those Friday rays are calling…

The Man Who Waved Away My Loneliness

I thought I was alone with my thoughts in the early morning North Dakota fog. 

I’d left my brother’s farmhouse early in the morning
to make it to Montana before sunset. 

The 40 mile stretch south of my parents’  home is dotted with white crosses,
symbols of lives lost on the treacherous stretch of highway. 
I didn’t want to be driving that road too late in the evening.
I was eager to be on my way, but dreading the journey of the day.

My nine year old daughter dozed in the back seat,
quickly recovering from waking too early, as children do.

I was sorry to leave my birth state, but not sorry enough to move back. 
My husband and I had been Pacific Coast residents for eight years and
had adjusted to the big city life. But not enough to stay there forever.

We feel caught between the two worlds.

The loneliness of driving down that highway
in the middle of a prairie
in the middle of a lonely county road
in the early morning hours
was no different
than the loneliness of living
in the middle of a busy city
in the middle of busy roads
with people who never sleep.

I was painfully alone with thoughts of past, present and future.

Heart achingly alone in infinite emptiness.

 

The open prairie was my loneliness, my loneliness was the open prairie.

In a second, I spotted a figure in the fog.

The Road Walker

Because I drive my camera on my lap, I  captured this moment.

Confidant I caught the perfect shot,
I put down my camera and  missed the real photo op
.

 
But, the scene is imprinted on my heart and soul.

Like any good North Dakotan who passes someone on the road,
he lifted his right arm
and waved
without turning his head.

He never saw me 
or  the tears on my cheeks.

He didn’t see the fresh resolve 
from  the simple revelation.

It only took
one person
in one second
with one action
to remind me ~

the cure for  loneliness
in the middle of a prairie
in the middle of a lonely county road
in the early morning hours 
is  no different
than the cure for loneliness
in the middle of a busy city
in the middle of busy roads
with people who never sleep.

Bowing to a Will not our Own

A while back,  I was talking to the Innocent Man on the phone.  He is now able to call the house and it doesn’t cost $30 a call.  Yea, prison is expensive. I always thought that’s what our taxes were for, but I was wrong.

We were chatting and as always, he was concerned about me.

He’s concerned about my health, my kids, my homeschooling, my writing life.  Every cog in my life is oiled with the faithfulness of his prayers.

Then, we got around to his life.  Adjusting to prison.  Adjusting to guards.  Adjusting to having to have people on the outside provide his needs, because the prison provides almost nothing. He needed warm clothes because the fall weather made his cell chilly. He has to buy his own personal supplies.  He has to pay for his own laundry at $.50 a load.  Since he has no income, as prisoners don’t, it’s challenging.  If he does get a job, he might make $.10 to $.30 an hour.

We talked about all the other struggles of adjusting to life on “the inside.”  Above all, we talked about having to accept all these things as in the Lord’s sovereign design.  We have talked much about God’s sovereignty since January 20, 2012, the day the Lord allowed this Innocent Man to be sentenced to eight years in prison. The day I can barely re-visit in my heart and mind, the pain is so great.

He spoke through his tears and a voice cracking with emotion.  “But, Mindy, God is SO GOOD!  Every day He is so good!” 

I agreed and told him each day I have to “bow to a Will that is not my own.”  I have to bow in worship and accept this plan because this is NOT my plan.

I can’t just worship and I can’t just accept. 

Daily, I have to do both, or my faith will fail.

How about you?

 

Is there something in your life you are struggling to accept?  Share your pain, we’ll share prayers.

Making Something Outta’ Nothing

Today I am thrilled to have a guest blogger,
who’s not only my my sister-in-law, she’s one of my closest friends.
I’ve  spent hours at her country kitchen dining room table,
drinking in coffee and pouring out my heart.
She knows all my secrets and keeps them. 
There isn’t anything I haven’t told her or can’t tell her. 
She inspires, encourages and loves me.
She has a talent of taking everything in her life,
from her home to her trials,
and making it beautiful.

When we were “junking” this summer,
my mom’s word for going to thrift shops,
we found this weird item.

We laughed and I dared her to buy it,
confidant she would create something amazing.

This is what I’ve been waiting for.
Introducing Susan from McVille, North Dakota

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It all started when my sister-in-law posted a picture of a Christmas tree stuffed into an old step ladder.

No, wait, it all started when my family moved back to the house on the farm I grew up in and my sister-in-law and her family would come to visit.

Oops, I have to go back even further. It all started when we were newly married women starting our families and living on budgets that squeaked so much the mice covered their ears.

Nope, that’s not right either.….I have to go all the way back to the beginning, and that was the day my husband’s brother, Scott, knocked on our door and introduced us to the lovely young woman he was going to marry – the beautiful blonde woman you know as MommaMindy.

I have the pleasure of being related to someone who I would have chosen for a friend a hundred times over. We are similar in ways that those who grew up in the same house can’t even boast. Over the past 26 years, we have laughed, cried, and prayed each other through everything from learning to be good wives to our very good husbands, to having babies (lots of babies!) and trying to raise them to be children of God, to homeschooling, to moving multiple times, to becoming mothers-in-law and grandmothers — it has all been shared during our “prayerallel” lives.

One of the topics we love to discuss while drinking multiple cups of coffee at the kitchen table is decorating. Even back in the days when we lived in apartments with horrible green shag carpeting, we would share ways to make a house into a home. Of course, those squeaky budgets always got in the way, so we had to learn to be frugal while trying to achieve the look and feel that we desired.

Mindy was always better at this than I. No matter where she lived, she would go to rummage sales and thrift stores and find things that she loved. I marveled at how she would collect beloved items and arrange them so cleverly in her home. And I don’t mean the big items; I’m talking about the little accessories – mostly vintage and red – sprinkled around her home that gave a glimpse into her soul immediately upon entry.

I, on the other hand, don’t possess Mindy’s vision. I limped through the years knowing I needed to make my home pretty and inviting, but struggling with my mix-matched, hand-me-down furniture and accessories. Every time Mindy would visit, she would have wonderful ideas that I would implement and subsequently love, but I just couldn’t take the idea and keep running with it.

And then it happened — Mindy posted the photo that changed my life.

 

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I’m sure you know the kind of moment – the one when angels start to sing.
(Cue big organ chord – AAAAAHHHHHHHHHH)

I double-clicked on that glorious photo which took me to a blog by Donna at Funky Junk Interiors and life as I knew it would never be the same.
I was plunged into the world of junky décor. As I clicked on photo after photo,
I was introduced to using repurposed items in new and imaginative ways — items I already possessed, or could make, or could find.

 

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Items that were rusty and previously discarded around our farmstead suddenly had the potential to become works of art.
Items that I saved for years just because I thought they were neat or had belonged to my ancestors. And did I mention the burlap?

clip_image004 Here some burlap, there some burlap, everywhere some burlap! clip_image004[1]

Finally, a look that I could wrap my brain around – a look that made me happy and could just possibly give a glimpse into my soul.

Which bring me to the point of my first attempt at blogging……….

Earlier this summer when Mindy came for a visit, we decided to have a “girlie” afternoon in a neighboring small town.

 

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We enjoyed a cup of coffee at the little coffee/antique store and then made our way down the street to the thrift shop.
It was here that I discovered the secret to Mindy’s treasures – she goes through every little basket in the craft area.
You know – those baskets and boxes that no one else ever takes the time to go through.
As she was looking for buried treasure, my eyes caught sight of a strange looking item waaaaaay on the top shelf.
It was this weird wire contraption.

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(Please ignore the date stamp – I forgot to reset the camera)

Neither of us could figure out what it was, but my junky radar kicked in and we both decided
it just needed to come home with me even though I had no idea what I could use it for.
It was marked at $.50, but when I got to the till to pay for it with the rest of my items,
the cashier took one look at it and threw it in for free!
(When I was discussing it with another friend later,
she confirmed my suspicions that it had been a wire wreath form in a previous life.)

My new junky acquisition sat around for a couple weeks waiting for my brain cells to fire up.
One day, I was in the kitchen looking at the antique light fixture which had become a terrible eyesore.

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You see, we had decided to fill the fixture with fluorescent light bulbs many years ago
because it is the main light in our eat-in kitchen and is turned on for most of the day.
Unfortunately, the old globes don’t fit over the wider bases of the ugly fluorescent bulbs.
I really didn’t want to change out the chandelier because it was original to the house and has a lovely patina on the metal.
I was again thinking of how to solve the problem when it occurred to me ……

The circumference of the wire form might be the same size as the chandelier!

I ran to get the form, held it up over the top of the bulbs, and realized it was perfect!
I measured, cut, and hemmed the burlap (which I had on hand for just such an occasion).
I figured I could hook the
wire half-circles right through the weave of the burlap to attach.

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I sewed covers for the pliable wire that would hook into the already existing chain to suspend the shade over the bulbs.

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And Ta-Da !

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I had created a custom-made junky chandelier shade for about $1.50!

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So, now when anyone admires my new shade, I simply tell them, “It all started with my sister-in-law.”

When Faith Fails

We’ve all had moments of spiritual weakness,
when o
ur current circumstances are beyond our strength and acceptance.

We don’t see new mercies each day, only new pain.

In my 1-12 grades in public education, we had to meet physical requirements in  Physical Education class to receive a Presidential Patch.

The standards were high, even for a tomboy like me.

We had to do sit-ups, jump rope, 50 yard dash, 880yard pant-a-thon, stretch against a yardstick and a few other things I can barely remember.  The worst was the dreaded flexed arm hang.

I usually could make the criteria for each of the other items, but the flexed arm hang was a killer. It was always the last event on the list, too, so I knew the coveted blue patch with the embroidered gold Eagle would be mine, and only mine, if I could keep my chin above that bar for over a minute.  Maybe it was three minutes.  All I know is that for several years this event kept me from winning.

In high school, I was competing against the other smallest-girl-in-high school, Barb.  We both did a bajillion sit-ups.  We both ran like the wind.  We reached, hopped and jumped through all the hoops the President set. I never could figure out why he cared how many sit-ups I could do, but after seeing his picture in the news, I was pretty sure I could do more than he could.

Then, the final event, the flexed arm hang. I can still see her face while she hung on and on and on and on.  She was athletic, flexible, fast, cute, and apparently, strong enough to beat the school record for the flexed arm hang. 

The stakes were high.

My turn at the bar came and I hung and hung and shook and hung and hoped I didn’t smash my chin against the bar.  Several times I had to pull myself back up as my chin neared the metal enemy.

It wasn’t pretty, seeing me almost cry while clenching a bar high above the gym floor (high to me, I wasn’t even 5 foot tall yet), writhing in agony and knowing those who weren’t cheering me on were mocking me.   At this point, I thought the president was ridiculous.  I KNEW he couldn’t do this.

The gym teacher held a stop watch in her hand, her thumb on the top button, waiting to mark my failure. She called out the time occasionally enough, which made me clench and stretch and shake even more.

Finally, I dropped.  I couldn’t win.

I qualified for the President’s approval, but I couldn’t beat Barb.  II didn’t have enough strength.

Everyone agrees that when an athlete fails, they need more practice.

Why don’t we think the same in Christianity?

Why do we blame the Lord when our faith is weak? 

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The Lord calls it as it is.

But, he just doesn’t leave us hanging, writhing and clenching our teeth in pain as He points out our weakness.

He offers us His strength. 

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He doesn’t just offer His strength, He exchanges it for our weakness.

The failing is on our part, for not taking what’s offered.

Are you barely keeping your chin above the bar of adversity?

Look up, friend, look up.

The weakness of faith is from us, not from the Object of our faith, the Lord Jesus.

If you’re fainting, and your faith is small, let Him perfect your weakness into His strength.

 

I Look Like a Barbie Doll

In a mother’s life there’s a sad, sad turning point,
when you stop being the joy and delight of your child’s life,
and they’re embarrassed
around you
regarding you
over you
near you…

Pick any preposition and add yourself,
to describe the dimensions of their embarrassment.

We were going to run a quick errand.

OK, I’m not telling the whole truth.
It’s never “a” errand, as in one,
and it’s never quick.

Anyhoo, we were on our way out the door when the winds of affection
changed directions in the climate of my 9 year old, Rebekah.

“Are you going out like that?” she asked.

Ignorant of my most recent faux pas, I asked, “Like what?”

“Maw-aw-aw-awm,” she informed,
(the longer it takes to say mom, the bigger your offense)
“you have a stick in your hair!”

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When we were busy doing school in the backyard,
soaking up the last of the summer sunshine,
I was getting too warm.

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So like the Prairie Momma I am,
that’s my name on my other blog,
I twisted up my hair and stuck a stick in it.

There wasn’t a pen or a chopstick nearby,
so I just made do.
I always impress myself when I can
improvise in primitive conditions.

To pacify her, I pulled the stick out and continued on my merry way.
Apparently, I forgot to comb my hair.
(And that wasn’t embarrassing?)
After all, I was on an errand mission.

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When we got home, my hair was STILL wrapped up in a bun.

My newly grown curly hair and my wiry gray hair
have changed my hair into Barbie hair,
but not new Barbie hair.

Old, icky, abused-too-much, left-in-the-toy box-too long hair,
like my Quick Curl Barbie.

Except she was born that way.

The marketing propaganda that build up expectations that couldn’t be fulfilled.

The commercial promised hours of fun with this gorgeous blonde Barbie.
Instead, her hair didn’t hold a curl and she had constant bed-head.
Matted, twisted, frizzled, I-can’t-do-anything-with-it bed head.
By the time our Christmas tree was taken down,
I had a Barbie with a brand-new body and destroyed hair.

Since Mattel had changed the neck joint structure,
I couldn’t put an older Barbie head with good hair
on the newer doll.

I was stuck with the hair.

Now I’m stuck with my hair,
but this generation says bed head is cool.

According this blog,
by someone younger and trendier than me,
I was only a stick away from being cool.
She fixes her hair the same way,
but finishes it off with hair elastic,
sparkly tie or a strand of her own hair.

So, why should my daughter be embarrassed
in my presence
around my presence
regarding my presence
over my presence
near my presence
since I look like a Barbie doll with very cool bed head!?!

 

North Dakota Sunrise

If there’s anything  I miss about North Dakota,
it’s sunrises and the sunsets.

I don’t miss the snow, frost, and the biting wind.

I don’t miss the muddy roads, soggy hems,  and the damp, cold wind.

I don’t miss the humidity, mosquitoes and the hot, dusty wind.

I don’t miss the late freezes, early snow and the leave-rattling wind.

In case ya’ didn’t notice,
I just described the four seasons of North Dakota.

Don’t get me wrong,
I was born and raised in North Dakota,
and have a fierce loyalty to the prairie state.

I just didn’t want to live there forever.

But every time I go back,
I wonder for a little while, why I wanted to leave in the first place.

Because there are some things I will never stop missing.

 

North Dakota Sunrise

 

I miss the glorious colors of our Creator that burst over the horizon with the hope and promise of a new day.

I miss the brightness of this golden orb that followed
me throughout my entire day, even on the coldest winter day. 

I miss the the sun on my face.

I miss knowing exactly when the day began by watching the sun greet it.

I miss knowing that as glorious as each sunrise was,
there would always the distinct possibility that tomorrow’s
could be brighter and more colorful.

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To a Son-loving woman, the sun holds spiritual awe, glimmers of heaven that leak through the canopy over the earth
give me courage and strength for the day.

 

Because one day, when I finally leave the sorrows of earth for heaven,
it won’t be the sun lighting my world, it will be the Son.
I think He created it to remind us of He is the Light of the World.

 

And that’s what I miss the most about North Dakota.

Grandparenting Isn’t Grandpa Renting

Spell check tries to correct me every time I type the word grandparenting,
and offers two choice phrases instead.
I think Spell Check never had grandkids.

It isn’t “grand parenting”, although it is grand.
Grandparents are not the parents.
It’s as simple as that.

They’re the backup team, the support team, the relief squad,
but they aren’t the starting players.

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Grandparenting isn’t “grandpa renting” either, Spell Check,
just in case you’re wondering.

Get your facts straight.

When Grandparents watch their kids,
no money exchanges hands.

Lotsa’ hugs, kisses and silly whispered secrets are exchanged, 
but no silver needs to cross our palms to convince us
to spend time with those adorable little rascals.

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Here’s the little darling that made me a Gwamma. 
Brookie and I are still bestest fwends.

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Brookelyn Grace

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Brayden Aaron

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Maddelyn Faith

Notice the roli photo logo?  Hey, can you say that three times weally, weally fast? I can’t.

Anyway, my son-in-law, Aaron is the amazing photographer
and father of these adorable children.

Back to grandparenting.
I assumed I would be an awesome Gwamma. 
After all, I raised six kids of my own.

I love playing, giggling, snacking, teasing, laughing, whispering and eating candy.

I love sleeping in tents and forts.

I love imagining the living floor is the ocean.

I love jumping on my bed and running barefoot outside.

I love going to the beach, the library and every toy aisle.

What more could there be to grandparenting than that?

Just like parenting, grandparenting isn’t just about the fun stuff.
I discovered I had a lot to learn about my new role.

Lucky for me,  a friend of mine wrote a Bible study on grandparenting,
just for me.

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This book will help you laugh, love, and learn as you enjoy your GRAND role!

Lydia is known for her love of prayer and people,
giving wise insight and fun ideas for supporting grandkids.

It would be the perfect gift for Grandparents Day,
September 9th.

Yea, I know I didn’t let ya’ know soon enough to order,
but ya’ still should. 

It will be the perfect way to celebrate the grandparents in your life.

It’s a hands-on guidebook for new and experienced grandparents.
Works well for individual study, with your spouse, or in a church or community group.

Since you might be bummed that the book won’t come in time,
you can download this encouraging grandparent prayer guide for free.

Grand Candy Gram -- full card

And, here’s something you can do in time to celebrate this Sunday!

This was featured on Pinterest.

Her recipes and craft ideas are often featured in Clubhouse and Clubhouse Junior,
magazines published by Focus on the Family.

 

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Lydia isn’t just spiritually encouraging,
she does fun things with her five grandkids,
like freezing shirts solid, then seeing which grandkid can get theirs on quickest.

I have to admit, her grandkids are as cute as mine, aren’t they?

Lydia is one of the featured authors for a blog called
Mentoring Moments.  Her post on having a teddy bear picnic is adorable!

If you want more information about the layout of the Bible study
and the impact it’s made on lives, read this book review by Ada.

 

Grandparent Qualifications1

If you qualify for this opening,
you wanna’ buy Lydia’s Bible study guide.

The blessings will flow to future generations.

First Day of School Traditions

Some traditions need to be nixed.

Getting into my Jeep and finding an empty gas tank
whenever I share my vehicle,
is not a good tradition.

Having to refill all the toilet paper holders in the house
(click on link to read about my amazing skillz)
because I am the only one capable,
is not a good tradition.

Knowing that the moment I put away the mop,
someone will spill on the floor,
is not a good tradition.

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Flowers and chocolate for the first day of school?
That’s a good tradition.

Traffic was harsh and the hubbster was a little late coming home.
When I heard my daughters’ exclamations when he walked through the door,
I knew he hadn’t forgotten.

Know what I did?

I hid.

I crouched down beside our bed and tried not to giggle.
Ya’ know, I never was a good Hide and Go Seek player.
I’d find an awesome spot, then be so happy, I would giggle
and snort myself into capture.

This time I didn’t giggle.
Hubby came in and put something on the bed,
called for me and walked away.

I grabbed one of the chocolate love offerings,
and ducked beside the bed again.
It was quickly devoured, because I deserve it,
being the mother of six kids and starting my
19th year of homeschooling.

When he came back in, he still couldn’t find me.

To calm his fears, because I’m pretty sure he was ready to file
a missing person’s report, I rolled up my candy wrapper,
and flicked it at his ear.

When he finally found me, I felt a little silly.
Isn’t nearly 50 years old a little too old to be hiding?
Apparently not.

 

He thought I was cute.
I think he’s cute, too.

And that, my dear bloggy friends, is how we keep the marriage alive.
Buy me chocolates and flowers, and nobody gets hurt,
except by flying candy wrappers.

 

That About Wraps It Up!

For 26 years of marriage I’ve sent presents to my family through the mail.
As long as I remember to do this ahead of time,
the US Postal System has never let me down.
They haven’t lost a package, delivered it to the wrong address or run it over.

The only snaffoo we had was the year my darling little sister,

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y’all may remember the grits eater from this post,
sent her package to Grandma and Grandpa at the Lake,
their family’s pet name for our parents, but forgot to put their names.
Even with the correct address, the mailperson wouldn’t leave the package,
because HEY!
the whole 25 mile long lake was inhabited by people with wrinkles and gray hair.

Anyhoo, back to mailing presents through the Post Office.
They arrive, but they don’t arrive looking nice.
Bows are usually smashed, curling ribbon looks like a kinked garden hose.
Color has worn off the boxes at the edges, and sometimes the gifts are peeking through the holes.

You might also remember I am the self proclaimed
QUEEN of the PEEKLESS PACKAGES?
Scroll back in time to learn about my present wrapping skills.

So this wedding gift, the one with

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the coffee can and the matches tin

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and the drawstring bags, needed to be mailed.

I didn’t want them to arrive all crunched and smunched and ripped.

The OCD part of me wanted the packages to match the wedding.
Ihad silver wrapping paper,
which is close enough to gray to make me happy,

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inexpensive paper doilies,

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scrapbook paper from Michael’s,

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Mod Podge, which I thought was Modge Podge until a week ago,

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my Cuttlebug and

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my floral and alphabet die cuts.

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Floral die cuts,

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doilies, hearts and alphabets, were easily Mod-Podged in place.
At least the fronts of the packages arrived in fairly good shape!

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I can tell you what’s in the packages now, because they already opened them.
Couldn’t lose the element of surprise, now could I?
We gave them what they needed to go camping for their honeymoon.
The sleeping bags were in bags, of course, large, plastic gift bags.

I had a lot of fun crafting, sewing, planning, decorating and shopping for this gift.
Our family wanted something really special for our son and his bride.
We wanted the gift to express the love in our hearts.

But, the gift wasn’t theirs until they opened it.

They had to receive it.

If they had refused the package from the Fed-Ex driver, sorry, Post Office,
their office was closer to my house, the gift would never have been theirs.
We offered, they had to receive.

Remind you of another special GIFT?

We’ve been offered the free gift of salvation.

The purchase price wasn’t money, but the blood of Jesus.

It wasn’t wrapped with doilies and frills, but with a scourge.

Salvation is offered full and free, from a heart filled with love.

Have you received His lovely Gift?