Thursday, December 25, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming

I've been surprised over the years how few teenagers have heard (much less sung) the old hymns, especially of Christmas. When I taught in California I included a unit wherein the students would analyze and recite the lyrics of various Christmas hymns. Usually by the end of the unit, the students had a new appreciation for the beauty and theology of the music that is too easily overlooked by a generation not used to quietly pondering the profound.

This year I took a slightly different approach. Since my sophomores needed to study short stories, I decided to make the hymn analysis a parallel assignment. They researched their assigned hymns, learned what they could about the authors and their motivations for writing. They also had to connect the hymn to Scripture. Then, as a twist, they had to use what they learned about the essence of short stories and create a story about the hymns they were assigned. All of the stories were creative and informative, but one student's was so beautifully written that I asked whether I could share it. It really isn't a short story, but it is a lovely reflection for Christmas.

Like a Blooming Rose
Mary Kelling

It was the time prophesied by the ages. A place had been chosen by a careful father. All creation lay silent, for it knew what had come. The stars even sang of its glory. A tearful mother cradled her newborn baby, and a proud step-father watched in awe. All of time had been preparation for this night. This night would change the world forever. Never would a more controversial child be born than this. This child would live, die, and rise for a change. This child would preach to hundreds of thousands. This child would heal the lame, sick, and blind. This child would fill the lungs of a dead man with life. This child would prove the prophets of old and discredit the Pharisees of new. This child would turn water into wine and sweat blood. This child would be sentenced to die, although no fault could be found with him. This child would rise from the dead, and this child would ascend into heaven. This child changed the course of history, but this child came without a sound. All of history had happened simply to pave the road this child would walk on. He was a child that had been anticipated for hundreds of years, since the dawn of time. Like a rose gently breaks the earth, stretches towards the sky, opens itself fully, and dies; so did this child.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Shack

It seems everywhere I turn Wm. Paul Young's new-ish book, The Shack, comes up as a topic of conversation. No one could really tell the story, but everyone talked about how profound it was. I figured I should probably read it, so I checked it out at the library yesterday afternoon. I finished it this morning (all 248 pages plus acknowledgments, credits, and review clips.)

It is an "other-worldly" book; I can't describe it any better than most. While I doubt it will have the same impact as Pilgrim's Progress, as Eugene Peterson says, I do think it's a book worthy of reading--more than once. Young approaches our perception of God in a unique way. I tend to be suspicious of authors who try to make God approachable and "human", but Young manages to walk the line between the Word and the Inconceivable without falling into heresy or silliness. Just as I thought he was headed into a doctrinal misstep, he came around with an answer that brought him back in line with fundamental theology.

I haven't read many fiction books that made me think the way this one does. I plan to read it again--more slowly now that I know the story line. There are nuggets there that I breezed past with the intent of going back to ponder more carefully. Lines like this: Paradigms power perception and perceptions power emotions. (197) And this: Being always transcends appearance--that which only seems to be. (112)

The book is not hard to read, but the concepts it contains will take a long time to fully explore. I'm glad I read it right before Christmas; it gives me a fresh look at Emmanuel, God with us.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Kreative Blogger award

Well, now how much fun it this? I have been chosen by a fellow artist as one of her seven Kreativ Bloggers!

So, now I get to share seven things I love and pass the award along to seven other bloggers. So, here goes nothing:

Seven things I love

1. God! Without Jesus I am nothing.

2. My husband--even when he makes me crazy.

3. My girls--even when THEY drive me crazy!

4. The ocean's roar and the wind in the trees (okay, I cheated and snuck two in there.)

5. MUSIC (see previous post about that)

6. Learning. As a teacher, I find I learn ALL the time. As an artist I find new ways to learn.

7. My studio (aka my sanctuary). When I close the door I enter my own world.

Seven Award winners...this is hard, because the people who inspire me are so far beyond me in talent and vision that I feel a little bit like a movie extra handing out Oscars or Golden Globes. In any case, take a look at these fabulous blogs:

Heidi Arfstrom
Melanie Smith
Sherre Hulbert
Michelle A-Z
Marcia Mattos
Fabrizio Martellucci
Shelly Newkirk

And there you have it: seven incredibly talented bloggers with a variety of styles for you to visit for inspiration. Let them know I sent you there!

Gee, can I say I have an "award-winning" blog now?

Thanks Sharon! (check out her blog, too:

Friday, December 05, 2008

des Morgens ist Freude

During 2008 I took an online workshop through a book by Mary Todd Beam called Celebrate Your Creative Self. While time didn't allow me to participate in every activity, I learned a tremendous amount. This is my "final exam" piece, a mixed media collage using tissue paper, construction paper, photocopied letters, magazine pages, acrylic paint, glazing medium, mica powders, and Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel.

I created this for the JFBC "Glimpses of His Glory" gallery. The theme for this exhibition is "Joy." From the first moment I heard the theme, I knew that I would use Psalm 30:5 as my inspiration verse. An old song by the group Glad went through my head the whole time I created. The piece took me much longer than I anticipated, but I think the end result communicates my message.

Here is the write up that will accompany my artwork in the gallery:

Psalm 30:5b Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.

No one escapes this life without sorrow. In a sinful world, there is no escape from its influence or from its consequences. The believer, however, has the hope of knowing that God is with him through the trials no matter how tragic. God's understands the deepest and cruelest sorrow, and sends the Hold Spirit to be Comforter during those difficult days, however long they may last.

Martin Luther's 1545 translation of Psalm 30:5 concludes: ...des Morgens ist Freude: ...the morning is joy. Just as the darkest night always ends with sunrise, every believer's sorrow always ends with joy. Joy from sorrow? Only because of Christ can boundless joy proceed from the darkess sorrow. Only in Christ is it possible for believers to endure the weeping of the night with the hope that joy will rise with the dawn.

This Christmas season is the ideal time to remember God's promise that HE offers hope, and no matter what the sorrow of the night may be, the morning is joy.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Holy-day Season

I love this time of year. I love the lights, the decorations, the music---everything. Usually I make batches of cards to send out, but this year I just can't seem to settle on a design. So, this year, I'll send one-of-a-kind cards to many of my friends. I did take a short cut for those who prefer pictures to handcrafted cards by creating a photo-card, so everyone will have an idea what we're up to this year.
This particular card features a stamp from The Angel Company, stamped in red and then embossed with clear glittered embossing powder. The background papers are Bazzill, and the brads from my stash. I like this stamp because it is not necessarily Christmas, but it does capture the mood of the season.
I'll share more as the month rolls along.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day 2008

I could not have asked for a better day. The family was together, the food delicious, and the atmosphere joyful. We enjoyed all the things we love: Macy's parade on television, ambrosia, pecan pie, taking a plateful to our friend, Frank (who works two security jobs and always works holidays), and ending the day with The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

These are the days that make for long term memories, and I am grateful for each one of them. God is good!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Attitude of Gratitude Day Ten

Today we began what we hope will become a tradition for our family. We went to Stone Mountain, GA as a family and just had fun. We hiked to the top of the rock and back down, watched a 4-D version of The Polar Express, took a train ride around the rock, saw a gospel presentation by "Aunt Grace," laughed at a comedic retelling of A Christmas Carol, viewed a holiday laser light show, and ended the evening with a Snow Angel's magic and fireworks.

Altogether, it was a wonderful day. Today, then I am grateful for family. My husband and my girls are God's gift to me, and I cherish the days we have together. We are so blessed to be healthy and happy and together this year. I am grateful for these happy times because I truly understand how precious they are. Memories like the ones we made today will be with me forever.

Attitude of Gratitude Day Nine

Tuesday nights are rehearsals with the Cobb Symphony Chorus, so it is only fitting that today I choose to be grateful for MUSIC.

I can't remember a time in my life when music didn't move me. I love to sing it. I love to hear it. I love to be challenged by it and soothed by it. Music communicates at the soul level. Lyrics and melody and chord structure and rhythm and instrumentation all must be in perfect synchronicity for the musician's message to be fully understood. In some pieces, the connections are obvious: Handel's Hallelujah Chorus is unmistakably a song of rejoicing to all of the western world. Country songs are almost notorious for matching tune to lyric in the simplest way. Even some of the rock music of the 1970s and early 80s match so well that both the lyric and the instrumentation stand alone to communicate a message.

Other times that connection is so subtle that is may be missed in the first several hearings. Poulenc's Gloria at first gives new meaning to "make a joyful NOISE," but after rehearsing it for several weeks, I am learning to see the connections between the unusual rhythms and chord structures to the familiar Latin words. Laudamus Te is so joyful that it may appear irreverant at first. Domine Deus has so many awkward transitions, key changes, and chromaticisms that it is uncomfortable to sing. Yet, considering the meaning of the words (You who bears the sin of mankind, be merciful to us. Hear our prayer), the composition makes perfect sense. Sin is supposed to be uncomfortable. The Savior was born to die for our sins. Somehow a lyrical melody just isn't right for that message. This movement mimics the tears and brokenness of the truly repentant before resolving in the next movement: Qui Sedes Ad Dexteram Patris (Jesus enthroned at the right hand of God.) Worship meets mercy. Amen.

One of my favorite sayings is this:
"Bach gave us God's Word.
Mozart gave us God's laughter.
Beethoven gave us God's fire.
God gave us music that we might pray without words."
(source unknown)
Today, and every day, I am grateful for music.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Attitude of Gratitude Day Eight

Today's gratitude theme is an easy one: family dinners! With Carrie off at college and the rest of us running hither and yon most days, sit down family dinners are a treat. We are a pretty goofy family, so there's no predicting where the conversation will go. One thing is certain: there will be laughter.

I am so glad that God has protected our family through all the highs and lows of the last 10 years. We are blessed to be able to come together with laughter.

Attitude of Gratitude Day Seven

It's late, but that's okay, because I was celebrating the holiday season with my girlfriends from the scrapbook store where I worked for the last year or so. The store closed three weeks ago, but we have become friends and wanted to celebrate together.

So, with that in mind, today I am grateful for Girlfriends! I have been blessed with girlfriends in a multitude of places, and each set is unique:

There are my neighborhood girlfriends whom I play tennis with (okay, mostly I cheer them on) and celebrate birthdays with. (And with our group, there is usually at least one birthday to celebrate with lunch each month.)

Then there are my scrapbook/stamping girlfriends. We all share a passion for preserving memories and creating beautiful things for the benefit of others. We laugh an awful lot, too!

There are my online girlfriends. I may never meet some of them in person, but those relationships build and grow and sometimes are a support group when one member goes through trials. Online friends can be an objective sounding board or just a safe place to vent frustrations and share joys. Some of my online girlfriends are prayer warriors, and it is wonderful to know that we can pray for one another across miles, across continents, and across oceans.

Church girlfriends are always special. We may only see them once a week, but at least we know we share a faith and an eternity. These are the girlfriends I work with and serve with and minister with.

And finally there are the "BFFs." In the contemporary vernacular, "best friend forever" is almost flippant and cliche. But once or twice in a lifetime, there are girlfriends who see beyond the surface to the marrow of the bones. These are the girlfriends who are there through thick and thin. Distance doesn't matter. Time doesn't matter. These girlfriends are the special gift from God to keep us grounded and real and authentic. There is a unique bond in this friendship, and I am so grateful that God has given me just that kind of friend. We may be 2600 miles apart and we may be impossibly busy, but we are connected by heartstrings and will truly be "best friends forever."

Isn't it wonderful how God meets all our relational needs--even the ones for birthday lunches and tennis matches? Friendship is a gift...and I am grateful for my girlfriends!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Attitude of Gratitude Day Six

Another day to be grateful. Today I choose to be extra thankful for my dear husband. I am always in awe that God brought us together and has worked in us and through us to make a successful marriage and a secure home for our children.

Tonight Brian and I got to go to a nice restaurant--just the two of us--as a gift from his boss for work well done. It was quite a treat to sit without any agenda except to enjoy each other's company. (Thank you, Althea!) We have been together now for more than 23 years, and we are still both friends and partners. It always comes as a shock when we hear about divorces among our friends who married the same time we did. Each time we hear of another marriage in crisis, we resolve all the more to make sure that our relationship is stable and secure.

I am so blessed to have a husband who loves me beyond any shadow of doubt. God is good and I am grateful.

Attitude of Gratitude Day Five

Today's theme is little blessings. It's easy to remember to be thankful for the big things, and I love watching God's hand move in major ways. What is sometimes hard to remember is to be thankful for the little blessings God scatters in our paths along the way.

For example, my birthday was months ago and a dear friend from forever ago sent me a gift card to a store that I never frequent because it seems an extravagance. Somehow in all the craziness that is my life, I misplaced it. I then forgot about it. Then last week I was doing some purging of my dear husband's office area (do we really need the notes from a business meeting in 2006?) In one of the piles I spied that little pink card. Woohooo! An extra little blessing during a pretty lean time.

So, after school I decided to go and redeem my birthday gift. I just enjoyed meandering around the store and not feeling rushed. Another little blessing: a time to just meander! I found just the thing, on sale, even. I left the store with my little bag feeling calm and relaxed and just happy.

In that same shopping center there is a store that sells the yummiest fragraced lotions and such. I found two coupons in my wallet and allowed myself to indulge in another little luxury--for half price. God is so good. His little unexpected blessings encourage me and lift my spirits.

Today I am grateful for the little things.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Attitude of Gratitude Day Four

Gratitude is a funny thing. The more I remember to be grateful for the little things, the better I respond to situations that might otherwise end poorly. It's a good habit to be in.

So, for today, I choose to be grateful for forgiveness. Small wrongs, big wrongs--they're all the same when it comes to a need to ask forgiveness. How much easier is it to to ask forgiveness than to live with guilt or fractured relationships. Granting forgiveness is equally beneficial. Bitterness is an ugly thing, especially for the Believer.

Of course, the Source of all forgiveness, that we give or need, is Christ. How much more have I been forgiven by God than any wrongs done to me by others? Paul wrote to the Colossians: Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Col. 3:13)

Wow...that's a tall order. Today, then, I am grateful for forgiveness, especially forgiveness made possible by the Resurrection. God is good!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Attitude of Gratitude Day Three

Day three...Today I am thankful for a body that functions. Sure, I have asthma and I deal with pain and muscle spasms on a pretty regular basis, but I can walk and communicate and use my hands to create. I can hear and see and taste and smell and touch.

I use all five senses in everything I do. Vision, of course, is the one I use the most--and usually without considering just how amazing the mechanism is. Music is such a part of my life that my sense of hearing is priceless to me. I love the sounds of my girls laughing together. I miss the sound of the Pacific Ocean waves crashing on the shore. The wind through the trees in my Georgia backyard reminds me of the ocean, and I find it relaxing.

To smell and to taste--I love good food. The smell of bread baking is the sweetest fragrance I know. When Brian cooks (which is most of the time) I know that not only will his creations fill the hole in my belly, but my soul as well. Of course there are other scents that I love: orange blossoms, star jasmine, honey suckle, salty ocean air...the list goes on and on.

And then there is touch. I am a kinesthetic learner; I learn by touching, manipulating, and doing. I love using textures in my art. Fabrics with interesting weaves or embellishments make me feel creative and unique.

God said that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139). I need to remember that more often and give thanks that God put me together just the way I am for His purposes and His ultimate glory. Today, then, I am thankful for my body.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An Attitude of Gratitude day two

Well, today was one of those things where I noticed a ton of things to be grateful for, but I'll just choose one (but the others will show up I am certain!)

Today I am grateful for my students. I never in a MILLION years thought I would be a teacher, but God knew better. I have the most fun in class (most of the time) and I just love watching them grow in confidence and in writing skills. I push them pretty hard, but they always rise to the challenges, and in the end we all learn from each other and have some laughs along the way.

Is it easy? No way. There are plenty of frustrations along the way either in my preparation/communication or in assignments that don't get done by students. However, those pale in comparison to the delight when I see "eureka" in the eyes of a student who had struggled to understand a concept or technique or rationale that I had tried to explain in a hundred ways!

The best part, though, is the relationships outside of the classrom that develop. I have the best time watching my students at non-school activities...and love it when they call my name and wave madly. God knew, even when I said "NEVER" to the idea of teaching, that I would find richness in teaching the next generation.

Never say never---and be grateful always that God's plan is better than anything you can ask or imagine!

Monday, November 17, 2008

An Attitude of Gratitude

With Thanksgiving just 10 days away, I think it's about time to count my blessings. So, hopefully I will make some time everyday until Thanksgiving to be grateful about something specific.

Today I will begin with how much I appreciate the internet. I know it sounds funny, but truly, having the world at my fingertips amazes me. How many people would I never have met if not for my art and craft groups? How many things would I have never learned if it wasn't so easy to look things up to satisfy my curiosity?

The internet brings me world cultures and perspectives that I may never have considered without it. I can chat with people all over the world and I can re-connect with friends from long ago.

The internet allows my extended family to keep in touch even though we live all over the US. We can share the little events of life along with pictures and we can even play games together from a thousand miles away.

So, yes, I am grateful for the internet!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Fall Colors in Studio

Nature is inspiring and art is therapy, so it should be no surprise that my sojourn into the hills found its way into my studio. I had scraps of delicious color left over from another project, so I used that as my primary paper source.

It felt good to create something just because I wanted to. No deadline, no direction...just me, paper, stamps, ink, and adhesive. Ahhhhhhh....

Thursday, November 06, 2008

November Meanderings

The crisp November air called me to the North Georgia mountains last Monday. Now, "mountain" is a stretch of the definition since the highest peak in the state is Brasstown Bald (4,784 feet doesn't qualify as a mountain for anyone native to anywhere west of the Rockies), but the fall colors still manifest in brilliant yellows, oranges, and reds.
Even though the colors were past peak at the top of Brasstown Bald (it's a short, but steep hike to the top), it couldn't have been a more beautiful day. Colors at lower elevations were still vivid, although I couldn't capture the intensity even shooting in RAW format. Some of the yellows were nearly painful to look at because they were so bright.

Spending a day alone enjoying God's creation was just what I needed to refresh my spirit.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Day for Introspection

In the last eight days two of the women I admired most went on to heaven. It is a sobering reminder that the length of my days on this earth are unknown, and that my legacy is not something to develop later on, but is how I live my life right now.

Beverly Webb was one of the mightiest prayer warriors I have ever known. Diagnosed with Stage IV cancer back in January, she fought back with a cheerful spirit and a determination to persevere in prayer and meditation on God's Word. At her funeral, the pastor read from her own private journals where she copied favorite scriptures in multiple versions. She listed every prayer request, along with God's answer to it. I know my name was in there somewhere because she sent me a card when I had my neck surgery in June. She just wanted me to know that she was praying for me. She rarely missed a choir rehearsal or a Sunday morning worship service--even in her last month. She and her husband, Lee, were married 49 years, and their joyful bond was evident to all who met them.

JoAnne Hoffman brought laughter everywhere she went. Quirky, opinionated, and lovable, JoAnne was my rubber-stamping buddy and Muse. She and her husband, Ed, hosted me at their home near San Antonio for the Angel Company winter retreat a couple of years ago...and what fun we had! JoAnne lived every moment of her life to the full. She traveled the world teaching rubber stamping on cruise ships--only JoAnne could land that gig! Her heart was as big as Texas, and her sense of fun was contagious. I loved being around her. I'm glad I called her just two weeks ago to check on her and let her know that I loved her. I miss her already.

So there it is. Two lives, lived in different places. Two women with completely different personalities and passions, but both holding places in my memory. In my imagination I'm certain that Beverly will share her music with JoAnne, and JoAnne will teach Beverly all about rubber stamp art. I can take comfort knowing that I will see them both again--fully healthy, cancer-free, brimming over with joy. They leave me a legacy of remembering to enjoy all of life, every day, and living to be a blessing to others. I hope I can leave that kind of legacy someday.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Double Blessings

Since January of 2007 I have enjoyed one day a week with my "rent-a-baby," Caroline. She is the daugher of friends from Sunday School. Technically they pay me to take care of her one day a week, but I love my time with her, so I can't count it as "work." Caroline has become one of the family. Carrie, Corinne, and Caty Mae are enamoured with her still, and love having her around as a "little sister."

We introduced her to Walton football (and band) last weekend--and what fun we had! She loved the music and the special attention from Corinne and Caty Mae and all their friends.

Six weeks ago, Caroline became a big sister. I missed her when her mama was on maternity leave, so I was delighted to have BOTH girls again last week. Abigail is as precious as her big sister and I'm looking forward to being doubly blessed. Isn't God good?

Monday, October 06, 2008

What a Life!

There's a little insanity this time of year. Football season is in full swing, band competitions and swim meets abound, classes are getting more intense, and life is full.

It's all good.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Because it is September

There is something about September that just silences my Muse. Maybe it's the schedule. It seems like there is so much running around that there isn't time to just BE...

I have enjoyed a little photography in all the hither and yon...and I've made some cards for various swaps and Stamper's Quest...still, I would love to have a guilt-free day with my Muse sometime soon!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

If a tree falls in in the wee hours of the morning when everyone is asleep,does it still make a sound?

After days of rain and wind (thanks to Tropical Depression, Fay) I do know that the answer to the title question is undeniably "YES!"

I woke with a start last night (okay, more like 3 am) when a loud thud shook the house. Lexi, Queen of Barking Greyhounds, went out to investigate (loudly), so Brian got up to check things out. Seeing nothing, he figured it was a microburst of wind and went back to sleep.

By dawn's early light, however, the source of interrupted sleep was clearly evident: a massive tree in our backyard gave up trying to keep its roots in the soggy ground and fell to the ground, taking a half dozen smaller trees and two portions of the fence with it! Now there is a nice clearing up at the top of the hill, and lot of cleaning up to do! Most of the work is just is removing branches and tree from the neighbor yards and fixing the fence. The tree itself will become the earth--and the cycle of life will repeat over time.

That's Dolce in the hole where the tree used to be rooted!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

And so it goes

It is apparent that school has begin with all the schedule craziness that accompanies it! Who knew it would be near the end of August before time allowed a moment to sit and think and reflect?

Stamper's Quest has been well-recieved---beyond my wildest imaginings. Over 18,000 hits in three weeks--there must have been a hunger among rubber stamp artists for something new.

Carrie is off to college and in just a few days has settled into dorm life, classes, and a whole new adventure. It's exciting to see her move forward with her life. We're thankful for unlimited text messaging on our cell phones, but after all the years of uncertainty, it's is a joy to see her spread her wings and prepare to fly.

Of course, Caty Mae and Corinne are fully involved with classes and homework and swimming and band---and church activities, too. My own classes begin next week, so by Labor Day, the schedule for the rest of the year will be completely in place. Bring it on!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Stamper's Quest

It's true!!! Stamper's Quest is up and live and for real!!!!!

When my favorite stamping magazine sold to a general crafters publication, I was first sad and then mad. How dare they!! So many publications were abandoning their stamping customers--moving toward scrapbooking, mixed media, or really eclectic stuff. I love these art forms, but it seems like rubber stampers--especially card makers-- get the short end of the publication stick.

So, I chattaed with a friend who felt the same way I did. We wondered whether an e-zine would come along to fill that artistic void. At about the same time (it's scary how much we think alike), we decided WE could publish an e-zine. She has web and publishing skills, I have editorial skills, and we both had a vision. Within a few weeks we had a plan for an on-line magazine that would seek out the best tools and techniques and ideas and inspirations for every rubber stamper to find his or her unique artistic grail.

We invited 5 of the most talented artists we knew to be our designers (we're good, but we don't know everything!) We decided to create projects on three different levels so that every stamper from beginning to advanced could find something new to learn. We also decided that the first four editions would have color themes to uinify them. We added a blog, original sketches, and product reviews. Hopefully soon we'll have advertisers as well. A full-color PDF looks like a print version of the e-zine's projects.

Today our imaginings are reality and Stamper's Quest is ready for a close up!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New Life

I've been teaching myself PhotoShop Elements 5.0. Today I learned how to do a drop shadow. I also wrote the haiku. (I tried to find something I liked in all my poetry books, but couldn't. However, having written this one, I know I will incorporate the discipline into my lesson plans for next year!)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Life is too short to skip dessert.

Can I get a witness??

Must be summer....
Stamps from The Angel Company. Ink is Kaleidacolor "Calypso." Scoop shape is QuickKutz (I love my Silhouette!!!!!) Cone is cut and scored for texture. The best thing about this ice cream cone: No Calories!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Happy Birthday USA!

I don't care what anyone says. Our National Anthem gives me goosebumps whenever I hear it. I am so grateful to be an American. In spite of all our problems, no matter how bad the economy may be, the United States of America is the best country on the planet. Only here are citizens truly and completely free to worship, free to create, free to speak--even criticize.

Our Star-Spangled Banner captures the essence of who we Americans are: free and brave and hopeful and determined and proud. Long may it wave!

Take Six singing The Star-Spangled Banner:

Monday, June 30, 2008

So, the question of the day is...

...If you were a kind of candy, what kind would you be? This was a challenge from the ScrapGirls website and, although the contest ended mid-June, I couldn't resist making a digital page anyway! I had fun with it. Photoshop Elements 5.0. Overlay, brush, and frame are from Scrap Girls. I made the paper by scanning a box of Hot Tamales (candy directly on the scanner bed)and erasing all the non-candy bits. Pretty fun....

Sunday, June 29, 2008


I love thunderstorms. The wind through the trees rivals the ocean's crashing waves for powerful sounds. The thunder tears through darkened skies as the lightning flashes brilliance for a fraction of a second. The leaves on the trees dance with the rhythm of the rain. The air is clean and and warm. Thunderstorms remind me of God's power and His gentleness all at the same time. Wrath and mercy wrapped in one short span as a symbol that God alone is Sovereign.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Super Swimmer

Who knew there would be an actual athlete in our family? Before moving to Georgia three-plus years ago, swimming was limited to the blow-up pool in our back yard. Here most neighborhoods have neighborhood pools and neighborhood swim teams. Caty Mae took to the water like...well, like a fish. She swims year round, working hard and loving it. It's been fun to watch her improve her technique and her time. She now has better times than the boys on the neighborhood team--the boys in the next age group.
You GO girl!

Thursday, June 19, 2008 the ends of the earth

I have always admired missionaries. Leaving the familiar behind and taking on unknown challenges had to require amazing faith and courage. I contented myself with prayer and financial support and hosting and making meals for missionaries. It was safe--and necessary.

Then God started moving my life around. Having a child with unique needs, moving across the country, watching God unfold His plan so obviously--there was no doubt that I depended on Him for my sustenance day by day. Life at home really wasn't "safe" but required as much faith and courage as the unknown. Tomorrow IS the great unknown.

My perspective began to change, ever so slightly. The church we attend in our new home is VERY mission-minded--more so than most. Mission trips are not limited to once a year with the high school or a few select long term missionaries who come through every three or four years renewing their support. Those faithful servants are STILL the backbone of spreading the Gospel around the world to every culture, but I began seeing different ideas in action.

This same church puts out an annual call for service. (That's one of the things I appreciate about this church--they aren't satisfied with giving the congregants information and hoping something happen: they expect things to happen. And funny thing, their expectations are usually met.) On the form that everyone received was a list of ministries: music, hospitality, teaching, recreation, and a host of other opportunities. Among them was "short-term missions." I checked that box, along with music, drama, and teaching (all things I am passionate about) and handed it to the usher. And promptly forgot all about it. It wasn't like I suddenly had a "burning bush" moment and a desire to go to the jungles of the Amazon. I just checked it.

Months later I was practically ambushed by an acquaintance in the choir as I searched for a table at Wednesday night supper. She was planning a short trip to Romania to lead Christian Womens' conferences and she just knew that I would fill a necessary place on the team. Romania? Me? That was just too random to be an accident, so I told her I would watch and pray. God worked out all the details in timing and funding, so off I went for nearly two weeks. I left a bit of my heart there in Romania, and found myself looking forward to returning.

As I was getting excited about returning to Romania, God was mapping out a different trip. A member of our Sunday School class returned from her trip to the orphanages of Bulgaria and told me that I needed to go on the next trip to Bulgaria as there were some teenage girls who needed love and attention from an adult (but cool) woman who was passionate about teens. I was already thinking about Romania, so I didn't commit to anything. Having learned to watch God in action, I kept my mind, heart, and eyes open. .

Then I got the dates for the Romania trip---the same as Carrie's graduation. Well, that took care of that. Romania was not part of the plan for 2008. And then Bulgaria came to the front again. Watch and pray--and God worked all the details again--and I was on a team headed to Bulgaria.

This trip was VERY different. In Romania I was working with Christian adults. In Bulgaria we were presenting the love of God to young people from ages 8-20. Instead of preparing talks on how to live a fruitful Christian life, I prepared crafts for kids and teens. The language was harder to understand. (Romania uses the Roman alphabet, while Bulgaria uses a Cyrillic.) The needs were different, the focus was different, the stories were very different. Even though the countries border one another (from one hotel we looked across the Danube into Romania) they share very little since the fall of communism. Bulgaria is far behind in every imaginable way.

God always surprises me with His plan. I gave up trying to predict my future a LONG time ago. I have learned to be content with every day. Even though I still desire to return to the women of Romania, God had a purpose for me in Bulgaria. It was another new experience. He is sovereign over all things; I am along for the ride wherever it takes me--even to the ends of the earth.