Category Archives: Uncategorized

Whatcha’ Got in Your Pocket?

I’ve always loved pockets.  As a little girl, pockets were useful for hiding my money from brothers hungry for candy.  As a teenager, I always had a wide-tooth comb tucked into the back pocket of my jeans for a quick fix to my Farrah-do.  As a mom, pockets are a collect-all for random items picked up that needed to be put away.  It isn’t unusual to find a Lego man head, a safety-pin, or a Barbie shoe tucked into my jeans or cardigan pockets.

When I found pocket charts at Wal-Mart years ago, I knew I’d found my perfect teaching tool.  I immediately thought of a lot of cool learning activiities I could tuck into those clear plastic pockets.  When I found a pattern to make a collapsible stand out of PVC pipe  for my pocket chart, I knew life couldn’t get any better.

For Rebekah’s Kindergarten year, a hanging pocket chart was an easy way to teach months of the year, days of the week, number and letter sequence, spelling and math facts.  Free printables for Homeschool Creations by Jolanthe. I’m thinking about using her ABC Verse Flashcards for Sunday School next year!

I keep one of the standing charts in my Sunday School room for Bible memorization work. The other is in the attic, ready to travel.

During our Vacation Bible School at an apartment complex two summers ago, Krupa worked with the kids during Bible memory time.  The standing chart was easily assembled for each day, then disassembled and the pieces tucked into a drawstring bag I’d sewn.

The verses were printed  onto cardstock, then cut into words and phrases.  Of course, we had the kids learn the verse that led to my salvation!

On a whim, we cut cut the side pipes and added another crosspiece, so we could hang our music from the top piece. There isn’t always access to a Power Point projector or even it’s ancient predecessor, the overhead projector, so old fashioned poster-board  comes in handy.

This could easily be turned into a puppet theater by putting the crosspiece across the middle and adding a curtain to the top.  Wouldn’t that be fun?  How would you embellish this pocket chart and stand?  How would you use it?

Even though I look at this and think…..

“I should really hem that pocket chart.”

“I wonder if I could spray paint the frame, or at least get rid of the blue lettering?”

….I know it has served it’s basic purpose well.  We’ve used it to help kids memorize the life-changing Word of God.

Have a Tie-Riffic Father’s Day!

It’s not too late to pull together something to honor those amazing Dads in your life.

Last week I was blog-hopping and found Amanda’s Parties To GO!   She is so creative and generous in her ideas and her freebies, I had to become a follower.  Actually, I think I’d like to adopt her.   Finding her blog was like finding the Super Power I needed to become that caped Super Mom that actually made cool parties happen.  Ya’ gotta’ go meet her!

SO CUTE!

Anyhoo, I immediately printed them and while I watched a movie with my hubby, I’m one of those people who can’t sit still to watch a movie, I cut them out and laminated them, and cut them out again.  It kept me busy and now I have special decorations for years ahead.  Since boxes of holiday decorations have filled my attic, I like the idea of simple things that can be put in a file folder until the next year.

My picture isn’t as sleek and professional as hers, but aren’t my daughters loverly?  Plus, they’re making dinner while I blog.  Gotta’ love that.  No, that’s not a grandbaby in the bottom left hand corner.  That’s a vintage baby doll who sits on my counter in a vintage chair.

I bought my son-in-law, Aaron,  Mountain Dew and my 4 year old granddaughter decorated the cans. To make the collars, I cut a inch inch strip lengthwise from cardstock.  When crafting with kids, I give them free reign.  I show them a few skills, but don’t correct their creations.  I adore all the blue tape Brookie used!  Didn’t she do a wonderful job?

She has an amazing Daddy and I loved the opportunity to help her celebrate the gift of a great Daddy.  She reminded me Gwammpa is special, too.  Aw, fer cute!

Diet Coke labels were removed and the bottle was dressed in more formal attire for the weekend festivities. Daughter Rebekah, 9 years old,  used less tape and decided the tie looked more realistic tucked under the collar.

Want to read about the history of Father’s Day and find more free printables?  Check out Family Fun.

It’s not too late to celebrate a TIE-riffic Father’s Day  this weekend! (Amanda’s printables include ties to celebrate Dad, Step-Dad and Grand-Dad!) Download Here!

Just to remind you what parenting is all about…

Happy Father’s Day!

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

When I was a kid the poem

“Rain, rain go away,
Come again another day”
didn’t mean much to me.

Neither did
“It’s raining, it’s pouring,
the Old Man is snoring.
He went to bed, and bumped his head,
and didn’t get up in the morning.”

I lived in Helena, MT, and they only averaged
11 inches of moisture each year in Helena, MT,
including the oral precipitation from  cowboys and cowgirls.
I always heard it  was drier than a popcorn fart,
although I was never sure what that meant.

Since moving to Seattle,
these poems grate through my mind endlessly.
Ya’ know how a song gets stuck in your head?

Yea, that’s my brain on rain.

Ya’ know that saying,
“Stick it where the sun don’t shine?”
I just figgered it out.
You’re supposed to stick it in Seattle.

We celebrated our last day of school today,
but my teenage son said,
“Mom, it just doesn’t FEEL like summer vacation
when it won’t stop raining.”

True.
No school should = no rain.

A few years ago, we came up with a plan to fight the depression of
living in a place where the sun don’t shine for 226 days each year.

The females came up with this plan,
so you know it involves
SHOPPING.

Travel back in time to an earlier blog called

“When the Lord Gives You Rain
Buy Rainboots.”

It will cheer you up, I promise.

If it doesn’t, you can always go shopping.

The Message in God’s Bottle

 I’m sentimental and love filling jars with my special treasures.   Vintage jars display things like pink and white pebbles from my favorite Lake Helena beach,  shells from Florida,  Gramma Geneva’s vintage buttons, Scrabble tiles, marbles, and dice.

Two of my favorite treasures are water from the Dead Sea in Israel and sand from a beach in  Normandy.

 I learned the Lord keeps treasures in bottles, too.

Psalm 56:8
You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;

I cry often.

Some people process things in their mind, I process them in my tear ducts.

If it hasn’t been cried over, it probably hasn’t been prayed over.

I’m not a cute crier, my face turns red and puffy, my eyes get smaller and my lips quiver.  Then, I feel awkward and guilty because  I make people uncomfortable, and they look away.   My husband calls me the Weeping Prophet.  A charismatic brother told me I have the gift of tears.

He is never turned away by my tears, He stores them as His precious treasures.

A few years ago, I was surprised to discover the Lord’s view when I did a Bible study on tears.

PAUL CRIED:

In Acts 20:19, he tells the elders in Ephesus he’s, “Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations…”

Paul accepted his trials and tears,  but fixed his eyes on Jesus. He didn’t cry over his beatings,  imprisonments, and daily danger. He wept over souls.

Acts 20:31, “Watch and remember, in three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”

 

JOB CRIED:
 Job 16:20, “My friends scorn me: but my eyes pour out tears to God.”

DAVID CRIED:
Psalm 6:6, “I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim; I water my couch with my tears.”

OUR TEARS WILL END:
Revelation 21:4, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying…”

THE MESSAGE IN GOD’S BOTTLE:

You are so precious to me, each salty drop is a saved treasure, a special memory of the comfort I give until I can wipe away that final tear.

It’s such a beautiful thought, it makes me cry.

I don’t mind filling up more bottles of tears, I have plans for them.   The more  I fill up, the  more I have to pour out on the feet of Jesus as a drink offering.

Come Unto Me!

Written October 27, 2006

Matthew 11:28 – 30
Come unto me, all  that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;
for I am meek and lowly in heart:

and you shall find rest unto your souls.
 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

TRANSLATION:

Come! Come now!(Imperative) to me, all you collective individuals who are weary and have grown exhausted.

You are loaded with  burdens, grief and unnecesary spiritual rites.

I will to cause or allow you to stop all work and motion to recover and collect strength.

I will  give you rest and  refreshment,  so you can be quiet, calm and wait in patient expectation.

As the mother of a too-soon walking, crawling and climbing infant, part of my wondrous job was to kiss and hug the little one when she fell and got an owie. To see her eyes and heart drawn to me at the slightest little pain or discomfort brought such joy and contentment to my heart.

I was so loved and needed!

Like all mothers, sometimes the boo-boo was so slight, I couldn’t even see the damage, so kissed a large circumference around the area pointed out in babbling toddlerese to insure the heart was mended.

Like all mothers, I have used hundreds of unnecessary Band-Aids, knowing the attention was an exercise in  building trust so they would bring to me the real pains in their future life.

As a too-mature 4 year old, sometimes when little Rebekah is hurt, she’s also angry  she’s hurt. Instead of rushing into my arms to let me kiss her owies away, she stands obstinate, refusing the comforting arms, the loving kisses and the means of restoring happiness.

 She will even get angry at the chair or at the person who left out the object that she tripped on. At that time, I either make it a matter of obedience and kindly command her to come, or I physically pick her up and make her come so I can soothe her physical pain, and point out the wrong reaction to it.

My job isn’t just to comfort, but to instruct in how to properly react to troubles. I remind her that’s what mommies are for, to go to when you need help. I have lovingly and laughingly told her this is my job, to kiss owies, and she needs to come to me.

Are we any different than children? When we are suffering are we rushing into the arms of our Father, or are we standing, arms crossed, aloof and irritated?

Instead of going for the comfort and strength we need, our hearts are irritated we’re in a position where we need comfort and strength.

The Lord knows our hearts better than we know the hearts of our children. This is why He had to use the imperative command to “Come, come now!” He sees our hearts, troubled and afar, and He has to lovingly command us to come into His welcoming arms. He commands us to come so that He can relief the burdens and give us rest.

That’s His job.

Do you hear Him calling, with love and longing?

Come!  Come unto Me!

What keeps you from throwing yourself into His arms when you are troubled?

Shining Light or Burned-Out Bulb?

Above my awkward split-level foyer hangs a garish chandelier.
(Prounounced FOI-YAY just to put on airs.)

It’s not my favorite feature of the home,
yet one I’ve never justified changing.

I’ve looked at others, but balk at the price and the look.
If I’m gunna’ spend money on something that doesn’t
NEED to be replaced, I have to love it.

After reading a gajillion blogs where women transform
anything left on the curb or in a garbage can with spray paint
and then are featured in home magazines, I’ve considered that option.

But, I’d have to find the ladder.
I’d have to find the tools.
I’d have to find someone to take it down
and  rehang it after I drip spray paint all over it.

The word FIND isn’t my favorite word.
If you’ve read my blog even a few times,
you know I always have a hard time FINDING
things I need, like tape, my hairbrush and scissors.

So it maintains residence,
hanging above all who enter my home
like an electronic  co-joined octopus.

When the chandelier above the dining room table needs new bulbs,
we take them from here.
Burned out ones are rarely replaced
because I don’t want too much light
to draw too much attention
to the ugly monster above.

Even in this neglected form,
it still does its job.
It still lights the path.
It still keeps us from falling.
It guides us through the dark.
It is still a source of LIGHT.

Proverbs 4:18
But the path of the just is like the shining sun,
That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.

I love the Lord’s view on us.  He looks downward from Heaven and sees our lives as that shining light in the midst of the darkness. He describes His followers as though we are brilliant search lamps, or lighthouses with far-reaching beams of life-saving light.

Most days I feel more like a burned out lightbulb than a shining light. My spirits may be down, I may be frustrated that I have fallen in an area that I should have conquered in my youth. In other words, I yelled at my kids – AGAIN. But, remember there is a difference between a believer’s  POSITION and their PRACTICE.

In POSITION, believers are washed in the blood, forgiven, and accepted in the beloved.  We are that shining light, clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

In PRACTICE, believers are likely to fall, forget their source of power and become dim in their faith. But that light is never removed, we just need to keep changing the lightbulb with repentance.

The light of Jesus shines more and more as we grow in faith, in knowledge of the Lord through His Word.  We keep the wicks trimmed and the lamps clean, and the brilliant light is able to light the path, keep us from falling, guide us through the dark.  We always have a source of LIGHT and we always are a LIGHT to the world.

Matthew 5:16
Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven.

Do you feel more like a
Shining Light or a
Burned-Out Lightbulb?

City-Slicking Redneck Breakfast

Remember when I wrote about the
City-Slicking Redneck Vacation
I gave the tantilizing promise of showing ya’
a Redneck Breakfast?

Pull out your tastebuds, here’s the recipe.

backyard campfire

Wake up when you wanna’
and start a delicious fire in your firepit.

We’ve lost the ability, or actually the desire,
to start a fire with one match.
We use wax fire starters now.
I know, totally cheating, right?
That’s the City-Slicker in us.
It’s now more important to be able to merge
between a Lexus and a Hummer going 60 mph during rush hour.

(City-Slicking Traffic Tip – the more expensive car you pull in front of,
the more likely they are to tap their breaks and let you in.
They don’t wanna’ hurt their precious cars, ya’ know.)

coffee and campfireAdd a few more logs and a cuppa’ coffee.

For good measure, add a few more logs and
one mystery-reading daughter.

cooking on a coffee can

Remember that coffee can from yesterday?
It can easily be transformed into a Buddy Burner.
Cut an opening neatly  into the bottom,
like I did,
to slide the fuel inside.

Fuel is a tuna can filled with tightly
rolled up corregated cardboard, then filled with melted wax.

If you add too much, like I did, it is hard to get the flame started
and you end up chipping a lot of wax off.

bacon on a buddy burnerAdd a man’s favorite ingredient – BACON!
It gives a man a reason to hang around and cook the rest
of the breakfast, especially when you forgot to use a
bottle opener to slice open triangular air holes on the top of the can,
like I did.

OOPS!

That’s why the bacon cooked so slowly.

When the bacon is finally crispy and there’s bacon
grease on the burner, you’re ready for the eggs.

Gently dab a few little bacon grease behind your ears
if you want some extra attention from the Hubbster that day.
He’ll be so enticed, he might stop sneaking out to his car
to sniff his New Car air freshener.

Buddy Burner Breakfast

Crack the first one open, and when it slides into the gravel,

Buddy Burner Breakfastquickly crack open another egg and hope your wife doesn’t notice.

At this point we considered taking out the
one-burner propane stove to facilitate efficiencies.

How’s that for City-Slicking lingo?

Buddy Burner Breakfast

When the third and fourth jumped off the ledge,
just because their friends did,
ya’ gotta’ come up with a new plan.

At this point, Hubby was on his game.
He WOULD conquer the Buddy Burner.

Buddy Burner BreakfastAh, hah!
Triumph!

When rain threatens progress and children are still hungry,
throw up the canopy and keep cooking.

Buddy Burner BreakfastSip more coffee,
then cook this over and over, until all little tummies are full.

Marvel that the day isn’t even half over,
sip more coffee,
then dream and drool about the ribs  yer’ gunna’ cook
on the firepit for dinner.

If your coffee has to be made from freshly ground
fair-trade coffee beans,

you MUST be a City-Slicker.

If you’ve cooked breakfast on a coffee can,
and eaten it with gusto,

you MUST be a Redneck!

If you’ve done both,
on the same weekend,

you MUST be a City-Slicking Redneck!

 

Making your home sing Mondays

 

 

City-Slickin’ Redneck Vacation

My husband and I grew up in the upper Midwest,
married and stayed, mostly living in the country.

We hunted, camped, fished, gardened and daily performed other self-sufficient practices.

We wore tennis shoes, jeans and t-shirts almost every day,
except Sunday.
This uniform was even office wear.
If you wore buttons and shoelaces that weren’t white
you were considered dressed up.

Ya’ know, we had that  total
Redneck and Lovin’ It Thang
going on.

*

The Lord has a sense of humor and moved us to
a large city  in the Pacific Northwest eight years ago.

*

So, I don’t mind wearing high heels to the grocery store,
and my hubby now owns dress slacks AND matching socks,
he rocks the socks, I tell ya’,
but there’s still a little bit of Redneck left in us.

That’s why I’ve coined the term
City-Slickin’ Redneck.
We are styling both these worlds with our looks and our lives.

Eight years later, we  still aren’t in the habit of reserving a
camping site 9 months ahead of time
at one of those well-groomed, fakey camping places.
Who in the world plans their life that way?
Other than all the bajillion people that live out here, that is.

This Memorial Day, we dun did us some
City-Slickin’ Redneck Camping.

*


For the City-Slicking part,  we procured some fine cuts of beef
and some organic ‘shrooms for our main cuisine.
(For you Rednecks that haven’t slicked to the city,
that word cuisine just means food.)

*

Anybody nicknamed “Bubba” is automatically a
Redneck,
so this grandson ate a tube steak.
A Redneck one at that, because I don’t think it
was free-range, organic, nitrate/nitrite free.

*

The theme of our weekend wasn’t that we had an
astounding plan that thrilled and amazed everyone.

The plan was just to
be together.

We had a long year of suffering, grief and loss.
There was a huge need to celebrate the simple things,
like family, green grass, new books, endless cups of coffe,
and love so deep words aren’t always needed.

The simple plan met simple needs and wants.

We all like to eat.
We all like to relax.
We all like to stare at a fire
and giggle about past family experiences.

Think our campsite looks a little suspicious?

You’re so smart.
That’s the Redneck part of our celebration.
Yea, this IS our backyard.

Urban Camping,
another phrase I invented, is amazing.

I didn’t have to make a reservation,
pay a fee,
fill the cooler,
air out the sleeping bags,
test the air mattresses,
etcetera,
etcetera,
etcetera.
(Random trivia, name that movie!)

I simply started a fire in the early afternoon,
grabbed a book,
and began relaxing.
Gradually, the rest of the family was drawn to the scene,
especially when the food arrived.

When the fire was doused,
we all crawled into our OWN comfy beds.
Ya’ know, the kind that don’t have to be rolled up in the morning?

We woke up when we wanted to,
not when the bad camping neighbors cut through
our campsite on the way to the bathroom.

We didn’t have to fight I-90 traffic back into suburbia,
wishing more people had stayed home for the weekend.

And the next morning we….

….your gunna’ hafta’ wait to hear what

 the City-Slickin’ Rednecks

made for breakfast…

I’ll give ya’ a hint…..

ya’ need tu drink a lot of coffee…

and keep the can.

Never, Ever Forget

The traveling Viet Nam War Memorial came to the
Pacific Northwest a few summers ago.

We  had arrived home from Montana that afternoon,
but  knew we needed to summon up the energy
to give our kids a lesson in life, war, loss and pain.

We casually touched weapons that had been hauled
through dark, bug-infested, enemy-hiding jungles.

Weapons that had to kill before the handler was killed.

We grieved for all that suffered during the Viet Nam War.

As these men were talking,
my heart rejoiced that they were alive and well.

I get angry beyond reason
when I read about the treatment of the vets
when they finally returned home.

The war never really ended for them.

I wanted to throw my arms around the vets
and apologize for my country,
but I didn’t.
Instead,  I shyly smiled and prayed for them as I passed by,
unable to express what was truly bursting in my heart and mind.

At times I felt I shouldn’t intrude in others’ grief.

These were their sons and daughters, their friends, their spouses.

 Though the engraved names didn’t belong to anybody we knew,
I still cried,
because I felt the pain all around me.

I  wanted to throw myself down and sob out my heart,
but I didn’t.
I blinked back the tears, took pictures
and tried to share with my children the passion I felt over this monument.

These soldiers will never bring bouquets to spouses, mothers, or sweethearts.
Instead of life and love, the bouquets left for them smell of sorrow and death.

They are brought because pain makes people want to DO something.

Instead of caressing loved ones’ faces,
fingers only trace their names
etched into black, cold, lifeless marble.

Yet, everyone is thankful,
wonderfully thankful,
grief-strickenly thankful,
that at least there is something of the loved ones to touch.

Even if it is just a name

…etched into

……….cold

…………….black

………………lifeless

…………………….marble.

The shadows  on the marble are reminders
of the men and women that should have been standing there.

They estimate 58,000 lives were lost during this War.

For each life lost, dozens back home suffered
wounded hearts, empty lives and endless pain.

As with every war,
the lost of these young lives
left holes in generations.

Kids grew up without daddies,
fiances were never married,
mothers and fathers never became grandparents.

I was a kid during this war.

My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Hayes,
pulled the roller shades down, turned off the lights,
and made us watch a documentary on the war.
I can still hear the clickety-click of the machine as she wound the film
through the reels and began playing the black and white movie.
Quickly bored, I was acting up and complaining so loudly,
she stopped the big-reeled machine and chewed me out
in front of all my classmates,
not even bothering to march me to the coat room.

She thought I should be paying attention
because, she passionately explained,
these were AMERICAN young men, people’s neighbors, people’s sons.

I remember my initial embarrassment for being singled out,
then the shame of my indifference.

 I share my passion and my compassion with my children,
hoping they’ll be influenced, as I was,
to  open their hearts and minds to the  suffering around them.

 

(Award Winning Photo By John Moore/Getty Images)

When I saw the picture of Mary McHugh
weeping on the grave of her fiance in Arlington National Cemetary,
I wept over my computer.

We’ll have holes in this generation, too.

But, maybe, we as a nation, will welcome home the vets
the way we should have in the 70’s.

The traveling, grim, marble memorial
should and can be the reminder we need
to keep history from repeating itself.

Welcome Home, Vets.

Best Parenting Advice

Years ago I asked Ann, mother of nine children,
for her best parenting advice.
Hoping for a soliloquy, because I needed lotsa’ spiritual ammunition,
I was even prepared to take notes.
Never one to mince words,
she looked me in the eye and said,
“Pray about EVERYTHING!”
That was it.
She didn’t expound other than giving me the
 example of potty-training, then re-emphasized,
“Whatever stage you are going through, PRAY!”
Moving to Washington  in 2004 with six kids ages 2 to 18
gave us much to pray about.
The biggest heart need was for friends.
We all needed them.
It was especially challenging because I gave birth
 to the first five kids in about 9 years, then had a 7 year gap,
then had Rebekah.
If another family had teenagers, they didn’t have toddlers.
The families that had toddlers, didn’t have teenagers.
We constantly, daily, prayed for friends for our children
and for ourselves.
We longed for friendship and fellowship.
Then I joined a home school co-op that was four blocks from my house.
Amazing, huh?
Another answered prayer for a woman who doesn’t like to drive in traffic.
It was even more amazing to meet two other families who had teenagers,
a 7-10 year gap,
and a little girl.
Girls who were kinda’ growing up as an only child
because her siblings were so much older.
Last year we had a Keepers At Home group with our girls.
Think Girl Scouts with spiritual purpose.
We enjoyed mother-daughter bonding as we
handsewed flower headbands.
(How-to blogged in this post.)
The girls celebrated their handiwork and their friendships.
The moms rejoiced in fellowship and answered prayer.
Our older children have moved onto college,
and some out of our homes,
but we will share the years ahead.
We still marvel at the Lord’s gracious Hand in allowing
divine appointments to cross our paths
so we could travel the journey together.
He is a prayer-answering God.
Whatever stage you are at with your hubby, your kids,
your ministry, your health, your circumstances,
the advice hasn’t changed since it was given to me over two decades ago ~

“Pray about EVERYTHING!”