Monday, February 25, 2013

Breath of Spring on a Cold Winter Day

     A local landscaper presented a Lawn and Garden Show at it's store near us.  If you live in the Hudson Valley area of New York, I encourage you to go.  It is located at Adams Fairacre Farms.  There are garden displays in their Poughkeepsie and Newburgh stores.  It was heaven to wander through the gorgeous fragrant flowers on a grey winter day.  
      Tulips of every color.
      A gorgeous pink bloom.
      A cherub overlooking a small pond near a splashing waterfall.
     A frog princess hidden among the flowers.
      A lovely koi pond in their plant nursery.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Luna, Billy Graham, & Albert Einstein


     Our family recently acquired a small black kitten who is rapidly growing into a cat.  We named her Luna, because when she was small she had white fuzz over her deep black fur.  It reminded me of the reflection of the moon on the lake where we go camping.
     Luna quickly adapted to life in our busy household.  She plays with the boys, pouncing out at them from various hiding places.  She enjoys being draped over Patty’s shoulders to survey the room.  Luna races through the house with our dog hot on her heels.  Pat, who is not a fan of cats, has been won over by her.  He even picked up a feathery toy for her to play with.
     Luna plays with everyone in the house, but she comes to me to sleep.  When I sit down in our big chair, Luna can often be found curled up on me or near me.  I think she loves my warmth.  I enjoy this little purring radiator on the cold winter nights.  Now, if you could put aside our cat for just a moment.
     Billy Graham once shared a story about Albert Einstein.  At that time, Graham had recently been quite ill.  Here is the story.
     As you know Albert Einstein was one of the most brilliant men of recent times.  In 2000, he was voted the Man of the Century by Time Magazine.  With his unkempt hairdo and German accent, Einstein was instantly recognizable by everyone he met.
     One day Einstein was traveling from Princeton by train.  The conductor came through the train car collecting tickets.  When he reached Einstein, Einstein was frantically patting his pockets and going through his papers looking for his ticket.  The conductor recognized his famous passenger.  Kindly he assured Mr. Einstein that he was sure that he had purchased a ticket and that it was not necessary for him to find it.  Albert Einstein however, continued to dig around, searching even more diligently for the absent ticket.  The ticket was not in his luggage, pockets, or in his pile of papers.
     The conductor again reassured Albert Einstein that everyone on the train knew who he was and that he shouldn’t worry.  Long after the conductor was gone, Albert Einstein was still looking on his hands and knees for his train ticket.  Einstein told his fellow passengers, “I know who I am, but I don’t remember where I am going.”
     Doctor Graham went on to share that he, Graham, was wearing a brand new suit.  One that he had purchased to wear for the event at which he was speaking.  He told the audience that he liked the suit so much that he had decided he would be buried in it when his time came.  He continued, “Don’t just remember me for my new suit.  I want you to remember I not only know who I am, I know where I am going!”
     Now I know what you are thinking....What does our cat, Luna, Billy Graham, and Albert Einstein have in common?
     We are all on a path in life.  Sometimes our path takes us through warm pleasant places.  We  know who we are and how to get where we are going.  Our ticket is in hand.  We are securely nestled in a warm lap. We delight in the day we’ve been given.  Other times the winter winds begin to blow.  The ticket is hidden and our future is uncertain.  It is then that we rely on the warmth that others share with us through their testimony, their prayers, and their lives.  We remember the scripture that we have hidden in our heart, the messages that we’ve heard on a Sunday morning, and that God is God, no matter what.
Keep me safe, O God,
  for in you I take refuge.
I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
  apart from you I have no good thing.”
Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
  You have made my lot secure.
 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
  surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me.
I have set the Lord always before me.
  Because he is at my right hand,
  I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices’
  my body will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the grave
  nor will you let you Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the path of life;
  you will fill me with joy in your presence,
  with eternal pleasures at your right hand.  ~Psalm 16:1-11
     Do you know who you are?
     Do you know whose you are?
     Do you know where you are going?
     Are you willing to share your warmth?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hudson Valley Raceway

      We went to the Hudson Valley Raceway for a fun morning.  The kids raced slot cars on two different tracks.  We rented the cars and the controllers.
Anthony in the lead with the green.  Patty in second place with the orange.  Connor's blue car is being put back in the slot at the turn.
     We had never played with slot cars on this scale before, so we started on the 75 foot long oval track.   The cars really do go incredibly fast.  They jumped out of the slot if the driver didn't hit the turn just right.  
      The kids smiled the whole time!  Connor kept up a running commentary as though he were a Nascar announcer.
      Anthony watching his car come.....
     ...and go!  
      After fifteen minutes on the oval track they were ready to try their skills on the big Keystone King!  It has a long straightaway and loads of curves that go under and over each other.  The Keystone King is 155 feet of track.
     This will give you an idea of how large the track is.  The kids loved this one.  Lots of excitement and fun.  We had a roaring good time.  We'll definitely go to the raceway again.
The opinions expressed above are my own.  Hudson Valley Raceway does not even know who I am.  We had a blast!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Puss In Boot

      "All that I need are the boots."  From the movie Puss In Boots
     Here is our cat, Luna, curled up in one of my favorite boots.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Four Year Cancer Survival

To keep me from being conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  ~ 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
    Paul shares that he was given a thorn in his flesh.  We don’t know what Paul’s thorn actually was, but we do know that he wanted to be rid of it desperately.  Perhaps the thorn was not identified specifically so that each of us could relate to his battle.
          Paul wrestled with God about his undisclosed thorn.  He prayed three times for it to be removed.  Finally, God answered, but it was probably not exactly what Paul wanted to hear.  God said, “No.”  Well actually what He said was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  God did not remove the thorn.  He gave Paul grace to live with the thorn.
     All of us have thorns in our lives.  A thorn is an area where we feel most vulnerable or defeated.  Our thorns could be depression, an irritating neighbor, difficulty at work, a bully at school, or a cancer diagnosis.
     As Christians we sometimes think that if we pray hard enough, if we are obedient enough, if we trust enough, or are somehow good enough that we will be spared the painful thorns in life.  The Bible doesn’t say that.  Nobody gets a pass from difficulty in life.
    It has been four years since I received a phone call in my classroom.  Four years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Four years since my life was forever changed.  Now, I am a cancer survivor.  Cancer free.  I know that I am not the only one that has been touched by the terrible thorn of cancer, but I believe that survival is to be celebrated.  To read more about my journey through breast cancer read my series I Wear Pink.
    I remember standing in church four years ago singing the song Indescribable and thinking surely the God who placed the stars in the sky and calls them by name could have told the lightening bolt of cancer not to hit me.  Not that I wanted it to hit anyone else, but God had allowed it to touch my life.  He could have prevented it.  He could have removed it before it was even found.  He could have.  But He didn't.   Was there pain?  Yes.  Did I wrestle with God?  Yes.  Did He make it better?  Eventually.  I learned that I could trust Him to be with me in the fire of my battles.  You see, the things that were true about God before cancer were the same things that were true when I had cancer.

  • · We are more than conquerors through him that loved us and gave himself for us.
  • · Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world.
  • · I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

     The One who has led me all of my life, walked with me through the fire of cancer, and from each day since.  He is indescribable and amazing.  
     So as we feel the thorny ache in our side, consider the One who suffered more than just a piercing of His side for us.  Remember that His power is made perfect in weakness.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Family Style Exploding Box

Lid of the box
     Here is an exploding box that I made for friends who moved clear across the country.  We sure do miss them.  Our friends had adopted a baby boy, the same age as our Connor.  A few years later, to their great surprise, they discovered they were going to have twin boys.  A year after that, another surprise.  Twins again!  This time, a boy and a girl.  Their youngest set started kindergarten this year.
Side View
     I had taken some pictures of their beautiful children just before they moved.  There are pictures on both sides of each of the panels.  I love that the box just explodes with their children.
Opened to reveal three layers.
     The SVG file I used for the exploding box can be found here.  I used a Zing, but if you do not have a machine that will cut for you, an excellent tutorial can be found here.
Pictures are on the front and back of each panel.
     Now I want to make another!

Updated:  This post was featured by Bonnie at PinJunkie!  Thank you so much!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Exploding Box Baby Gift

       We go to Red Robin to celebrate family birthdays.  Naturally, we have a favorite waitress.  I have pictures of this beautiful young lady clapping and singing loudly to the embarrassed birthday honoree for several years.  Recently, she had an adorable baby girl.  I was able to meet the baby and snap a few pictures of her.  I wanted to present them in a special way.
     This is my first attempt at an exploding box.  The lid is embellished with a few flowers and a bird.
Top of box.
     When the lid comes off, the sides fold down and the pictures of her precious baby are revealed.  Look at all her hair!
Opened box

     I propped the lid on the fourth panel where the birth information is listed.  Four sweet pictures are on display.  One peeks out of a pocket.
     The file for exploding boxes can be found here.   Later in the week, I'll post a three layer exploding box.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Light That Shines

     Jill Bzreznski-Conley was diagnosed with breast cancer one day before her 32nd birthday, a mere six months after she married the man of her dreams.  After two short years of remission, her cancer has spread to her bones and is stage four, terminal.  How my heart breaks for this beautiful young woman and her husband.
     Jill was invited to Paris by photographer Jill Bryce to tell her story and to encourage women to go for early detection screenings.  Jill Bryce says of this amazing video, "This is not a story about cancer.  This is a story about love, and it's a story for all."
      Jill twirled in pale pink tulle in front of the Eiffel Tower at dawn, she laughed in the Louvre, paid tribute to her husband on the Bridge of Love, and bravely shared her scars.
     Go here to watch the touching documentary.  Go here to see the photographs.
beauty light heart
One of Sue Bryce's beautiful captures from Jill's Paris photo shoot.
     I shared my journey through breast cancer in my 31 Day Series: I Wear Pink.  
     We have a Savior who comes to us with nail scared hands to be with us with whatever scars we bear, with whatever wounds we carry, and whatever doubts we harbor.  We are engraved on His hands and by His stripes we are healed.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Fixed and Steadfast Heart

     What is your heart fixed on?
This photo was taken when we were camping over Columbus Day Weekend.
 A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion. Surely he shall not be moved forever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance. He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD. His heart is established,  ~ Psalm 112:5-8a
     When I was trying to determine where God was leading me in my choice of my word for the year I felt impressed by this verse in Psalms.  I wanted my heart to be fixed on God.  I didn’t want my word for the year to be “fixed” though, for purely selfish reasons. For the past few years I have gotten a charm for a necklace with my word on it.   Would I really want to wear a necklace that read “Fixed?”  I eventually choose “Believe” which incorporates the idea of fixed into it.
 He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is firmly fixed, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is established and steady (Amplified Bible)  Psalm112:7-8a
The word translated as fixed is the Hebrew word “Kuwn.”   Kuwn has two meanings:  
1. To be firm and fastened, stable and established.
2. To be securely determined and directed aright.  
       A believer’s heart is to be firm and fastened, stable and established.  Psalm 1 provides us with a picture of a believer whose heart is fixed on God.

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he mediates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
     A believer’s heart is to be securely determined and directed aright, rooted and grounded.  A tree has roots that reach down deep to tap into life giving water, just as the branches stretch upward into the sky toward the sun.  Let our hearts be fixed, trusting in Him, like a tree planted by the rivers of water.  Let our hearts bring forth fruit and let our leaf not wither.  Let our hearts be fixed and fastened, stable and established, rooted and grounded, and securely determined and directed aright, reaching up and trusting in our Lord and Savior.

     Is your heart fixed today?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sticky Note Holder

     How cute is this?  I knew it was extra adorable when my daughter came over and sighed, "Awwwww."  
      This is a sticky note holder I made for my desk at school. It would make a great gift for a teacher or office worker and can be customized for the recipient.   Super easy and quick.
      I made the sticky note holder with a plastic frame from the dollar store.  I used double sided scrap book paper from my stash and a few embellishments I picked up at Hobby Lobby.
      It's pretty obvious how to put the holder together.  I cut the scrap paper to fit, using the paper that had been in the frame as a template.  The frog embellishment is dimensional, so it went right on the front of the frame itself.  The sticky notes were stuck on the front, as well.  The paper can be changed seasonally.
     It is currently on my desk at school and the students love it.  It adds a touch of whimsey and fun to my day.
     I was inspired by this post at Paper Wings.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sons and Daughter

     Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who resides on the clouds - His name is the Lord - rejoice before Him.  A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows is God in His holy dwelling.  He sets the lonely in families. ~ Psalm 68:4
     Parenthood is an amazing adventure.  It is a road riddled with twists and turns and unexpected bumps.  It’s also a journey filled with wonder, grace, and joy.
     Pat and I never intended to have six children.  When we were first married, and talked about how many children we would have, I wanted four.  Pat wanted two.  In the end, we did both.  Our first three sons arrived the conventional way.  Our next three children arrived through the miracle of adoption.
     My older boys were in their early teens when Pat and I became foster parents.  One beautiful June evening, we were asked to open our home to a three year old girl and a seven month old boy, both of whom had the chicken pox.  A few hours later, Patty arrived clutching a much loved doll.  She had big brown eyes and a fearful, but beautiful smile.  Anthony came into my arms and snuggled into my heart.  A few years later,  a judge made official the adoption that took place in our hearts that night.  We had four sons and one daughter.
     Shortly after Patty and Anthony’s adoption, we learned that their birth mother was expecting another child.  We agreed to accept this child also.  My boys wondered who would have to share their room.  Patty and I wondered if this baby would be another boy or if Patty would have to share her princess status.  My husband wondered if we were nuts.  When we received the phone call that a baby boy had arrived; I laughed and said, “We needed another one of those.”  We picked Connor up from the hospital when he was just three days old.
     Adoptive parents never really know for sure exactly what we are getting into, but birth parents don’t either.  There are days in the lives of every parent when you want to tear your hair out and cry, “This is not what I signed up for!”  I have been picking up lego’s for 29 years.  I have finally graduated out of car seats.  I have slept in hospital beds with my arms wrapped around a sick child.  I’ve worried when they’ve come home late.  I’ve attended hundreds of parent teacher conferences and countless holiday performances.  I’ve lent my son an earring.  I’ve overseen enough homework assignments to fill a library.  I’ve had pool water spit in my face and baby spit-up on my shoulders.  I’ve been blessed with tadpoles and dandelions crushed in a chubby fist.  At one point we had one son in the Navy, two sons in college, and our baby in day care.  I can bore you to tears tell you about my kids accomplishments.  I am fiercely protective of them and want only the best for them.
    We do not know a lot about our children’s birth mother, but this one thing I know,  she loved her children.  She loved her children enough to give them life.  We are so grateful she did.
     Our children, all of them, have enriched our lives far beyond what anyone could have told us.
     ...because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children then we are heirs, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.  ~Romans 8:14-17

Updated:  This post was featured by Judith at Wholehearted-Home!
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