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Monday, September 27, 2010

Multitude Monday - Way Overdue!

Good Monday Morning to you! 

I hope you enjoyed a refreshing, relaxing, and perhaps productive weekend.  Our family was blessed with some much-needed family time together along with rest and some productivity too.

I have been remiss in counting my blessings as of late and here it is another Monday already... 

holy experience

The Lord continues to nudge at my heart however, reminding me of how blessed I am, no matter if I feel that way or not sometimes.  I must remember His promises to me...they are the only promises that are true and believable.  He will never turn His back on me.  He will never leave me or give me the cold shoulder.  He won't ever ignore me.  Unfortunately, it's usually the other way around...forgive me Lord!

To the end of remembering my blessings...

74.  Hiking with my husband and girls at Clifton Gorge over the weekend
75.  The sound of crunching leaves under my feet
76.  Whispering winds through the trees - love, love that sound
77.  My Lord is faithful - He loves me unconditionally and without premise
78.  No matter what I do, the Lord will not turn His face from me - I am His!
79.  I don't have to perform a certain way, look a certain way, or talk a certain way to get His attention - He loves me just as I am, but also loves me so much that He won't leave me as I am spiritually.  Wow!
80.  I am never alone, the Lord is always with me
81.  I'm ever so thankful for my Dad and Mom - they speak words of encouragement and love to me - balm to my heart
82.  Love the sound of rain (it's raining right now!)
83.  For my friend Sharon P. at church, who took the time to write out Scripture references for me and is praying with me
84.  I am so thankful for true friends - the ones who stick close even when I can be difficult and unlovable - they're few, but ever so precious to me
85.  For the Lord's protection - not only physical protection, but emotional and spiritual protection too
86.  My girls are a constant blessing to me!
87.  My Jeff - he is my friend, my love, my husband, and true confidant
88.  I am loving the fact that I can wear my fleece pullovers again!
89.  Thankful for income, especially during this economy
90.  The person who sits in the White House is NOT in control - my Lord and Saviour IS - that's a blessing!

All my best to you today!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Waldorf Salad Recipe

This is a delicious version of Waldorf Salad that just kind of came together in the kitchen one day last week.  I had some apples that needed to be used and from there I just began looking around for different ingredients to turn a traditional Waldorf salad recipe into something just a bit different.  It tasted great, with a few surprising ingredients added.  Hope you enjoy it too!

 I am one of those people who (almost) always follows a recipe, but this time I was simply putting together ingredients as I went, so please forgive the vague amounts...just use as much or as little of each ingredient that suits your taste.

Perhaps your amounts will be based on what you have on hand too.  There have been many times that I will find a recipe I want to try, but just don't have everything on hand, so I make substitutions.  It doesn't always work, but with a cold salad recipe, it's probably not going to make that big of a difference.

  • apples - I used 5-6 small to medium apples, peeled and sliced
  • celery - 1 to 2 ribs, diced
  • green grapes - 12-15, sliced in half
  • sliced almonds - to taste
  • dried cranberries - about 1/4 cup or to taste
  • mixture of mayonnaise and Cool Whip - just enough to wet down the ingredients (I used a bit more mayonnaise than Cool Whip)
Simply toss together the first 5 ingredients in a bowl.  Then mix the mayonnaise and Cool Whip together in a smaller bowl so they are well blended before adding them to the salad ingredients.  I like to add the Cool Whip because I find that just mayonnaise seems to make the salad taste "heavy".  The Cool Whip adds a bit of sweetness too without being overpowering.

The dried cranberries added a wonderful surprise of sweet taste and the almonds added some additional flavor and crunch in addition to the celery.  You could easily use other dried fruits in place of the cranberries.

Red grapes could be used in place of green grapes too - the red would add some more color.

Finally, add everything together and mix well, until all the salad ingredients are covered evenly.

Serve on a few green lettuce leaves along with some cheese and crackers or soup and you have a delicious lunch. 

My best to you today,

Monday, September 20, 2010

Protect Your Marriage

My niece Emily and her husband Josh on their wedding day

I wrote this article a few years ago and thought I'd post it share my heart.  Not to judge...or to say that my marriage is perfect, because no marriage is perfect, including mine.

It's just that the enemy is out there and he is constantly looking for ways to destroy us and marriages are one of the first relationships he attacks...there is such a ripple affect when a marriage is damaged or wrecked completely.

Be of sober  spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  I Peter 5:8

Your spouse is the one to whom you have pledged to love, honor, and cherish for all the days of your life.  Do we treat our spouse today with the same love and respect we did in the early years of the marriage?

I don't know about you...but life can get very busy for me.  I feel sometimes like I am neglecting my precious husband because there are days that I am completely spent by the time he gets home.  Between homeschooling, working from home, taking care of my family and home, and all the other responsibilities I have taken on (and I've pared down too!), it's like I feel I can "let down" when Jeff walks through the door.  And by the time dinner is over and the children are in bed, many times he and just need time to wind down so we can get to sleep on time to start the process all over again.

So, when do we spend time together?  There are evenings we spend chatting about our day, but weekends are really important times for us too.

However, it's often during the time spouses spend apart that the most damage can be done to a marriage.  It's vital that we guard our hearts and minds against the enemy not only when we are with our spouse, but also when we are away from him/her.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.  Proverbs 4:23

These are just a few thoughts on how we have tried to guard our marriage and to keep each other front and center in our hearts and minds.  The Lord has blessed our marriage and prayerfully, He will continue to do so.  Jeff and I never say "never" because once we do that...we are even more susceptible to pride and a fall. 
Flirting is not an acceptable practice for anyone who is married.  If you're going to flirt with someone, let it be your own spouse!  There is great danger to a marriage relationship when a spouse, husband or wife, begins to flirt “harmlessly” with another person.  It’s not harmless.  It’s hurtful.  Even if your wife or husband isn’t witnessing the flirting, it is still damaging the marriage relationship because by flirting, you are slowly giving pieces of your heart away to someone other than your spouse.  Affair-proof your marriage by giving only your husband or wife all the praise, compliments and sweet thoughts you have to offer.

Guard your heart.  Your husband or wife should be the first person with whom you share your hearts desires, hurts, or secrets.  A woman should never share her heart with another man and a man should not confide in a woman other than his wife.  Protect your marriage relationship by giving your spouse exclusive insight into who you are as a person.  Proverbs 31:11-12 says, “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.  She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.”  Do your spouse good and guard your heart only to be shared completely with them.  The verse talks about the wife and how she is good to her husband, but it should work both ways in a marriage relationship. 

Set boundaries.  My husband and I both agree that we need to be careful of how other people perceive situations.  So, we have determined this:  if I am home and my husband is not, no man can enter our home without him present.  It works the opposite way too.  If he is home and I am not, no woman can enter our home if I’m not present.  Why give the neighbors something to talk about?  We are to flee even the perception of evil if possible.  I Thessalonians 5:22 tells us, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”  We would do well to make sure our actions wouldn’t allow even a shred of doubt to enter our spouses’ mind.  (Exceptions to this might be close family members, but that is something you and your spouse should determine together.)

Be honest with one another.  Is there someone of the opposite sex within your circle of friends to whom you might be attracted?  We are all human and even when we are in a solid and loving marriage relationship, we are all going to be tempted at one time or another.  If this happens, be honest with your spouse.  It may be that you’ll have to cease having a friendship with that person, if either of you feel it is a possible threat to your marriage.  Your spouse should be a priority in your life and your heart.  Don’t allow anyone outside of that to pose even a possible threat to your marriage relationship.  This may be very difficult, especially if you are faced with talking to that person and explaining why the friendship has to end, but isn't your spouse worth more than a friendship with another person?

Stay away from movies and books that might cause you to stumble.  Even "Christian" romance novels can leave a woman feeling lonely and wanting!  Keep these influences far from you so that you're not walking around wondering why your husband doesn't do this and that or say this and that or buy you this and that.  I confess, I love a chick flick just as much as the next person!  But, try to keep your marriage in perspective, realizing that your husband is unique and precious for who he is and that you fell in love with him for many reasons.  

Make a list - reasons you love your husband - and post it somewhere you can see it often.  Include on that list his character qualities you love, his strengths, and perhaps even his weaknesses.  We can love those about our spouse too!  Perhaps place it inside your Bible or inside a cabinet that only you see. 

Go on dates together.  Make sure you and your spouse go on dates regularly.  A husband and wife can live in the same house and “see” each other often, but never really connect in heart, mind, and body.  Be sure to get away now and then to renew your marriage relationship in every sense!  Bed and breakfasts are a great place to visit and just spend time together talking, relaxing, napping, shopping, or whatever your heart desires.  Just make sure to pack things like candles, matches, romantic music, a CD player, a fancy negligee, and some rose petals too.

Every marriage relationship goes through a valley now and then.  It is during those times that a husband or wife is more vulnerable to compliments or attention from someone of the opposite sex.  Be careful!  Realize that you’re vulnerable and flee the situation as soon as possible.

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13

 I'm linking up here!

My best to you today!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fall is Fleeting

We were on our way from one place to another in our busy day yesterday when I spotted a single tree in a row of many that was turning bright orange.  It was stunning!  As we were quickly approaching it, I pointed it out to my girls - my youngest looked up right away and "ooh-ed" and "aah-ed" over it.  My oldest daughter was reading a good book and didn't look up until we were well past it (it was a blink!).  She was sad she missed it, but I assured her there would be other beautiful fall leaves and trees to see in the coming weeks.
I feel like fall is like that every year - kind of like I don't look up in time and it's already past.  Fall is my favorite time of the year and it seems to fly by so very quickly.  In the Midwest, the hot sticky summers and the dreary cold winters seem to drag on forever...but the wonderfully cool, crisp, and sunny fall weather is here and gone in the blink of an eye.

Of course, I just had to go through some fall photos after seeing that beautiful tree decked out in bright orange leaves!  So, here are a few I thought I'd share with you. 

Our youngest daughter scooping out her pumpkin a few fall seasons ago.

 We visit our favorite B&B in Amish Country whenever we can in the fall season.  It's called Sojourner's Lodge.  This was taken from behind the lodge where we stayed.

One of our favorite parks in our area is called Charleston Falls.  This is the hiking path that takes you to the falls and several other beautiful areas of the park.

Aren't the leaves beautiful?  Our Lord is an Amazing Artist!

One of my favorite fall photos.

My youngest daughter and I went hiking together a few years back.  Just love this one of her finding her way across the creek on the rocks. the fall leaves floating in the creek...

This was taken at Carriage Hill, another one of our favorite parks.  It's amazing to me that trees can grow that way and still stand!

This was also taken at Sojourner's Lodge in Amish Country.  You can't see it in this photo, but there is a swing right in front of the pond where we sat and enjoyed the sounds of the Amish buggies and horses passing by...and oh, yes...the quiet. 

As some might say in the South, and even perhaps here in the Midwest, "Happy Fall Y'all!"

Just a quick aside - I am not trying to promote Sojourner's Lodge for any other reason other than we love it there. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

It Only Took Seven Years...Julie's Quilt

Imagine if you will, a sweet four-year-old beauty with curly hair and sweet face...a pile of fabric scraps in every color and pattern...sun shining through the windows...and a sweet voice asking, "how does that look Mommy?"...this is my precious memory of my oldest daughter designing her very first quilt.  I searched and searched for photos I thought I had taken of that day, but I am convinced after a few hours of looking that the "photos" I took were in my mind and heart.

I remember that day like it was yesterday.  I can hear her voice and see her face as she played with the fabric scraps and put them "just so" on the carpet.  She chose to do a four-patch quilt, so she put together four small squares to see how she liked them.  She worked and worked with it.  It was so wonderful to watch her to see which fabrics she would place side-by-side. 

We didn't buy any new fabrics, but rather used the scraps we had on hand at the time.  Some of the fabrics had been used to make Julie other things like doll blankets, so there was some sentimental value to it as well. 

Once I sewed together the four patch blocks, then she and I spent another afternoon sitting on the floor together while she put them in the "right" order.  I know you may be surprised, but she did this entirely on her own.  Yes, she asked a few questions and I made a few suggestions about colors right next to each other, etc. but made sure she knew that the position of the squares was ultimately up to her. 

I think she did a beautiful job, yes? 

Fast forward at least two years...the top of the quilt was sewn, but the border still needed to be added.  Julie chose that beautiful floral pattern and one strip of white muslin.  It took me another several months to find the time to add the borders.  (Heatherbee was 1 year old when Julie designed her quilt and by this time was nearly three I think). 

Once the borders were added, I had to have it quilted, but at the time, I just couldn't justify the cost.  So, Julie's quilt top was carefully folded up and placed in a bin with other unfinished projects.  (Does anyone else have those??)  I confess it sat there for at least another few years until I was able to get it to my local quilt shop, Sulphur Grove.  By the time Julie's 10th birthday came around, which was last year, I was able to give it to her...but it didn't have the binding added yet!

On her birthday, when she saw her quilt, she drew in her breath and then giggled with delight!  It was the best!  She wrapped herself up in it right then and there even though it was 95 degrees in the shade.  I loved seeing her eyes light up when she saw that quilt and knew that it was the one she and I had worked on together.  Her stitches...and wonderful memories.  (yes, I cried when she opened her quilt!)

I wanted the entire quilt to be "by Julie", so she then had the fun task of choosing a fabric for the binding.  She opted for this spunky black background fabric with white polka dots. 

Isn't it just perfect?  I think it really makes the whole quilt 'pop'. 

I said seven years, right?  Well, by Julie's 11th birthday, the binding was completed and the quilt made it's way onto her bed.  Finally!  From start to finish, it was seven years in the making (give or take a few months).  I am so glad she can now enjoy it and snuggle under it knowing it was something she and Mommy did together.  As a mom, I am hoping she will want to take it with her someday, but if not, I'll cherish having it here at home too.

I have three more quilts in process now.  One quilt is Heather's - she designed hers using scraps from my sewing bin too!  She liked the nine-patch and added denim in between hers, but now can't seem to decide on a backing fabric.  She's not my decisive one, but when she does finally decide, it was be the backing she has "always wanted". 

The other two quilts will be created from scraps of fabric from my girl's clothing.  I've been working on those two for the last five years, adding fabric squares to my stash whenever they grow out of something.  More on those later...probably much later I'm afraid.  (smile)

Have you worked on a project with your daughter that you've truly enjoyed?  I'd love to hear about it!

All my best to you today!  I hope you and yours are blessed on the Lord's Day today!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Random Thoughts

Good Morning!

I must say I am very excited - I have 50 followers!  I want to thank everyone who has decided to follow this blog.  I am touched and thankful!  (BIG smile here)

 Just had some random thoughts today...

Have you or someone in the family ever lost something important?  We had that happen last night and the four of us were basically tearing the house apart looking for a single item.  The good news is that we did find it! 

It's funny though how looking for one thing leads to cleaning, vacuuming, organizing, and a renewed sense of getting things in order.  Just last night I vacuumed under both couches (don't do that often enough I discovered), re-organized my office drawers, and have several other projects on a list to be done soon.  I tossed two bags of stuff into the trash, found things I had thought I'd lost, and gleaned several pairs of shoes and clothes to give away.  I'm on a mission!   It feels great to get things in order, doesn't it? 

I am deleting my Facebook account this evening or tomorrow.  It's been a difficult decision because I am a social person by nature, but it has become a true distraction to me.  It's not that I don't want to keep up with friends and family, but I find myself straying to Facebook when I need to be accomplishing so many other things!  E-mail and snail mail will have to suffice for keeping in touch.  I trust that I'll keep in touch with those who are closest to me whether I have a Facebook account or not. 

I will still have Twitter updates available in relation to the blog and may put up a Facebook page for the blog at some point, but for now I'm trying to focus more on home and writing.

I hope this finds you and yours well today!  

All my best to you,