Friday, February 25, 2011

A Well Seasoned Bible

(Part II)

Do you know what I love? I love it when I happen upon the inside pages of some one's Bible, and they are well worn and marked up heavily.  It almost feels as if I've caught a glimpse of a personal journal. It's a beautiful sight.  The only way to make a Bible look like that is by spending hundreds of hours studying it. 

Like a good baseball glove, it takes a whole lot of use to break in a Bible.

I always have a slight hesitation about marking up my own Bible because it's so permanent.  Often times I find myself writing notes in pencil because of my insecurity.  After all, what if a verse speaks to me now, but not so much, next year?  And aren't ALL of God's words important? And didn't we learn to never write in our textbooks in elementary school?  What if the highlighter is the wrong color?  What if in a year I decide to highlight all of the promises of God in pink, but I've already used that color the previous year for a verse about salvation? Will it throw my whole system off, and will I have to start again?  I know that I'm probably the only one that over-analyzes Bible marking,  but all of that is changing now.  I have a whole new mindset on the matter.

When I get old, I want my kids to be able to thumb through the pages of my favorite Bible, and find a goldmine of hand written notes, highlighted passages, and encouraging scriptures.  I want them to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I LOVED reading it.  I want them to know which verses I clung to in times of distress, and which verses really challenged me.  I want it's highlighted passages to intertwine with the events of my life. I want it to give a small glimpse of my journey, and the comfort and encouragement I found in the scriptures during each season of my life.

I want my daughters to see that I treasured the words of Proverbs 31, and Titus 2.  I want my son to find wisdom in the book of Proverbs, and encouragement in the Psalms. I want them to read the notes on the back pages of my Bible about topics that were important to me.  I want them to see that I hung on every word.  Perhaps it will have stains or small tattered pages from reading it at the breakfast table.  Perhaps it will have old magazine clippings or inspirational poems tucked into it's pages.  Maybe it will still have the handmade bookmarks my children give to me from time to time. 

Like anything else that gets better with age, time will only tell what the finished product will look like.  Frankly, the only thing that matters to me is that my children know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my Bible was my most prized possession.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Feeling Guilty for Owning Multiple Bibles

(Part I of a two part series.)

I own several Bibles.  It makes me feel guilty sometimes. Many people in this world don't have even one, but I own at least 7 of them.  And like my children, they are all unique and special to me.

1. I have one that I consider to be "Old Faithful".  It's been with me for many years, and flips easily to any scripture passage I'm looking for.  I've written some profound things in the margins, and the first half of the book of Revelation is completely marked up with important stuff.  If someone asks me a question about Revelation, and I'm without "Old Faithful", I feel totally unprepared... like showing up to work cattle in high heels. I've just started to transfer these notes into other Bibles to avoid this crisis from now on!

2. Another favorite is my "Pink Bible".  This Bible is sassy, stylish, and light weight.  It matches everything in my spring and summer wardrobe.  I love taking it with me when I'm headed to any function where we might read a passage or two...but won't be "digging in".  Plus, my good friend has the same Bible, and it's fun to be twins. 

3. My Kay Arthur Study Bible is great for digging into God's word.  Her studies involve making so many different colored markings and highlights that it's nice to have a Bible that I'm not afraid to really mark up heavily.  I get a little bit nervous about writing something permanently in my Bibles, but with this one, I feel free to really take lots of notes.

4. My Bible from when I was a kid.  It has my Grandma's "old-school" vinyl Bible cover with the praying hands on it. It's duct taped on the inside, and it has a hideous amount of random highlighting in it.  Some of the passages that really "spoke" to me when I was 11 make me scratch my head now. I frequently say, "What was I thinking when I highlighted that?" and then I laugh from deep within my gut. I have old note cards filled with words of affirmation from my youth group, and there are lots of smiley faces and flowers written everywhere. I like to keep it around to remind me of how much I've grown from those days.

5. My pocket sized New Testament is perfect to keep in my purse for those unexpected opportunities when a Bible would be handy.  You just never know when you'll need it! Enough said about this.  Moving on.

6. I have a new Study Bible.  It is gargantuan.  I refer to it as my "Big Guns" Bible.  It weighs like 2 tons, and it's black....the universal color of all "serious" Bibles.  Because of it's sheer volume, I usually keep it at home for my daily devotional reading, and I never write in it.  Anything that I might want to say about a passage is already there in the commentary, and it's expressed by "experts"  ten times better than I would have said it.  Its new pages are still stuck together, and it takes me twice as long to flip to new passages, but it's footnotes and commentary are priceless to have in certain situations.

 For example: My Pastor temporarily took over our Sunday School Class, and he tends to ask a major theological question every five minutes.  When he does this, the whole class stares deeply at whatever page they're open to, as if by sheer will-power the answers will pop off of the page.  Or perhaps they are trying to avoid eye contact with him so they don't get called on to answer any questions.  Either way, the classroom gets eerily silent.  I don't like uncomfortable silences.  They bug me.  They make me want to blurt out inappropriate jokes to break the ice.  To avoid saying something dumb, I must have the answers.  In order to have the answers, I must lug my "Big Guns" Bible to church every Sunday....because the answers are in the commentary. In situations like this, you must cheat, if necessary. It's the only way to stay afloat when my pastor is teaching.  There are three problems with this.

1. Carrying it around all Sunday morning makes my arm numb, and gives me a back ache.
2.  It doesn't match anything in my wardrobe.
3.  Often times, people ask me if it's a Bible or a weapon for causing blunt- force trauma.
It's not easy to take my "Big Guns" Bible to church, but having all the answers is "priceless".

7. Last but not least, I must discuss my Mexican Bible.  I use it when the Spirit is moving in Spanish.  Just kidding! My son gave this Bible to us for Christmas when he was in Kindergarten.  He bought it with his  "AWANA Bucks" at the church "Christmas store", and didn't realize that it was written entirely in Spanish.  I'm convinced that some day, someone is going to walk into our lives that desperately needs a Bible, but only reads Spanish.  We're saving it for that day.  It may be tomorrow, or twenty years from now, but some day we're gonna need it.  I just know it!

Bottom line: I treasure every one of my Bibles. Each one is a tool that I use for different circumstances.  Like a golfer trying to play eighteen holes with just his putter, I couldn't imagine having only one Bible in my arsenal.  Sometimes when all you need is a chip shot, a pocket Bible will suffice. But when you're going for distance, you've just got to pull out your "Big Bertha" driver.

( I know I've joked an awful lot in this blog about my plethora of Bibles, but in all seriousness... I feel deeply blessed to have the freedom to own even one Bible, and I pray that I never take that privilege for granted, because it could be gone in a moment.)

More thoughts on Bibles tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

7 Things

1. Today's headlines: Threatening Hens with the Soup Pot Makes Them Produce More Eggs!! In the past two weeks we've gone from getting one egg a day to over a dozen  every morning.  I now have fresh eggs coming out of my ears. I think that two things are playing out here:

a. The days are getting longer.  Spring is around the corner, and the hens' reproductive cycle starts back up again once the day length begins to increase.  Although we keep an artificial light in the coop to give the ladies 15 hours of light each day, nothing is as magical as pure sunshine.

b. The hens are getting older and are just finishing molting.  Why they choose to be naked in January, I don't know... I'm certainly not a poultry expert. 

Regardless of the reason...We're back in the egg business!

2. Last week, I was bragging to my facebook friends about my laundry skills. I believe my direct quote was, "I'm like the Chuck Norris of laundry....totally kicking butt." Then I proceeded to tell them how many loads I'd completed, and how many shirts I ironed.

The very next morning my washing machine died. I couldn't decide if God was punishing me for pridefully bragging, or if my washing machine just couldn't handle my grueling demands. My friends were 50/50 on the reasoning behind the machine's demise, but I'm here to tell you that there's been a healing of my washing machine. AMEN!
My husband replaced the lid switch (the thingy that tells the machine that the lid is down) and now my washing machine is back in HUMBLE service. Thank you, Jesus.

3.  The snow has melted enough in my backyard to reveal a very promising sign of spring:

My bulbs are starting to peak through the soil!

4. I just finished doing my taxes. HALLELUJAH!

5. Here's an update on how my drawing class is going.  I think I'm improving.  Yes, I'm at the level of a fifth grade student, but we all have to start somewhere don't we?

(That's me sitting next to my lover in the truck above.  I just love sitting next to him...even in my drawings. )

6. I made the collage above with Photoshop.  I hope you appreciate it because I neglected my housework for a full hour to figure out how to make it...and it's not even that good.  But now that I know how to sort of make one...LOOK OUT! I'm going to make so many collages, you're not going to know what to do with me!!!

7. I watched "The Cutting Edge" last night.  I love that movie.  It's a goldmine for quotes that we use everyday in our family.

Here's one of my favorite parts:

"I've been doing a little figure skating."
"What did he say?"
"Finger painting?"

Whenever someone in our house mishears something, we just say, "Finger painting?"

If you've never seen this gem from 1992, you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about.  Sorry.

This completes this weeks list of 7 things.  I feel complete now, anyway.  Do you?


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Truth Spoken by a Real Mountain Woman

I know that folks love to complain about the weather, especially this time of year when winter has a firm grip on the world around us.  But I've come to really love this season.  When winter hits, with all of it's bitter limitations, God has a way of  using it to slow our family down for a much needed rest.

Last week started as a hectic jumble of activity for us.  My husband was working out of town, and the kids and I shuffled back and forth between  4-H meetings, baseball practice, ballet, church, and our usual extra-curricular activities.  One by one, we each battled a flu bug to make things even more complicated.

Just as I began to wonder how we were going to get "it" all done, a winter storm came our way, and cleared all of the unnecessary things out of our weekend schedule.  It was a welcome relief.  We loaded up the family and went to take care of the cows on Saturday morning, and then we watched the storm roll in from the comfort of my in-law's house.

There's nothing quite so lovely as watching a storm build in the mountains.  Here is a picture looking north, over the high plains.  The sun is still shining on the cured grass in the distance, making it look a brilliant hue of gold.  But in the foreground, the clouds are building overhead, and things are getting dark very quickly.

In the picture below, I'm standing in the exact same spot, but now I'm looking South at the base of the mountains where the storm is approaching.

It's starting to look more ominous.

You can barely see the big beautiful mountains in the background.

We spent the afternoon watching an old black and white movie, and talking with family as the rain drizzled outside the window.

Later that evening, we went to our beloved "Booga Reds" for some dinner.  That restaurant has some delicious green chili that will make you sweat.  It will also clear your sinuses, which is just what the doctor ordered after my week with the flu bug.

Between the good conversation, the spicy green-chili burrito, and the delicious ice they put in their drinks, I think I downed at least 3 big glasses of iced- tea over the course of the evening.  I'm a social iced-tea drinker.  When the conversation's good, I tell the waitress to keep pouring.  Plus the little ice nuggets are the size of  tiny B-B's and they're amazing to crunch on.  Do you know what I mean about good ice?

 Anyway, I digress.

After dinner it was getting dark, and we started heading home.  Soon after we left town, the rain turned to snow, and the snow turned into a blinding, sideways blizzard.  There were 55 miles of blinding, sideways blizzard, to be exact.

55 miles with no civilization in between. (Read: No bathrooms to stop at.)

55 miles with a bladder full of approximately 96 ounces of iced- tea and little ice B-B's floating around in it.

55 miles of 4 wheel drive, and creeping ahead at a snail's pace.

55 miles of the death-grip on the seat belt as I prayed we wouldn't slide off the highway.

21.6 miles of doing what I refer to as the "Pee- pee dance" before whispering, "Pull over at the nearest tree."

I know this is not proper to say, and it's going to make some people blush, but....

You know you're a real mountain woman when you can tinkle behind a tree in a blinding, sideways blizzard in the dead of winter....

or  maybe you've given birth to 3 children and you have no bladder left...or maybe you just drank 96 ounces of iced tea with delicious B-B pellet ice...or maybe you have an iced tea addiction...

or maybe the answer is "all of the above".

(Raising my hand.)

Thanks to my husband, who graciously pulled off the road, I then had...

 33.4 miles of being able to sit more comfortably.

(This blog just went right off into a ditch, didn't it?)

Anyway, the Lord brought us home safely, and because it was such a warm storm, the snow is melting off quickly.

Here's a shot of the lake near our house, as it looked this morning on my way to church.

It's really a beautiful sight.... even in winter.

Your truthful friend who occasionally shares too much information,


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Negotiation Skills

As a mom, I wear many different hats or super-hero capes, if you will, and I have many highly specialized skills that I pull out of my bag of tricks from time to time.

One of my most valued, and underrated skills is that of  "Clutter Disposal Negotiator", or C.D.N. for short.  I'm top- notch at this job.  

Yesterday evening, the moon and stars aligned, the mood was right, and it was time for a semi-annual "clean sweep" of the girls' room.  Thinning out my daughters' possessions is one of my least favorite jobs to do, and if done incorrectly, it results in tears, frustration, and intense negotiations. It's a touchy subject.  After all... one girl's treasure is another girl's trash. And of course, we're dealing with girls...who attach emotions and feelings to inanimate objects. It can get really tricky. Drawers and closets were starting to bulge at the seams, and it just had to be done. I put on my C.D.N. cape, and took a deep breath.

It was go time.

I have a highly specialized method for getting my girls to part with their crap excess stuff.  It is a method that you will not find in "Parenting" magazines, or child rearing books.  No.  It's a top secret and very complex operation that involves many different angles and phases.

First, I grab two large trash bags and head into the room.  I call the girls in and ask them to take a seat on the toy box. 

Then I begin Phase I: The Dr. Phil Approach

"Girls, how does it make you feel to be in this cluttered room right now?"

then I use the follow-up question:

"Is it sometimes overwhelming to try to clean this up every day?"

When they answer that it's "sooooo hard to keep it clean", I whip out the dreaded and highly feared trash bags. 

"NO Mom, not the trash bags!!!"

Then I say something profound, inspirational, and very far above their heads, like the following:

"Girls, sometimes we get weighed down by the junk of this world, and we waste all of our time trying to take care of our stuff, when in reality, if we'd just choose to let it go, it will feel like a large weight has been lifted off our chests, and it will free us to serve God in a mighty way!! Do you want to be free from the junk, girls??"

Then they give me blank stares, and crickets start chirping in the background.

I dig deep, and rephrase my pep-talk.

"What I'm trying to say is... do you want to spend hours a day cleaning this junk, or do you want throw away some of it so that your room is more manageable?"

I hand them each a bag and start Phase II: Used Car Salesman Negotiations

"If you get rid of two My Little Ponies, I'll let you keep the Barbie Horse."

They make their counter offer.

"How about one My Little Pony, and one Polly Pocket doll, and we keep the Barbie horse, and John Deere Barbie."

I make my final offer.

"You can keep the John Deere Barbie if you can get a brush through her hair."


Next Comes Phase III: Lavish Praise

"Thank you for being willing to part with some of your old things.  I know it's hard, but you will be so glad when your room is nice and clean."
(They will throw a few more things in the bag for a little extra praise.)

On to Phase IV: Guilt Trip

"Girls, there are children all over the world that don't have any toys whatsoever.  Perhaps you could each donate a few to someone less fortunate."

Phase V: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

"You girls don't need to keep EVERY picture you've colored in Sunday School for the last 6 months.  You will have a new picture next week.  Let's recycle them. And while we're at it, lets donate any magazines that are more than 3 months old to the local library."

Phase VI: Terror Technique

Scare them.

"If you don't clean out from under your bed, bugs will want to live in your room.  Do you want bugs in your room, crawling around at night?"

Phase VII: Throw Crap Away While They're Not Looking.

This one is self explanatory.

Phase VIII: Pit them Against Each Other

A little bit of healthy sibling competition never hurt anyone.  Here's a suggested line:

"Wow, your sister has twice the amount of stuff in her bag than you have in yours. Do you think you can beat her??"

Phase IX:  Bag Disposal

This one requires swift action on the part of the mom.
When the bag is full, IMMEDIATELY take it to the trash can outside so that the girls won't  experience cleaner's remorse or get sentimental and dig the stuff back out.

Phase X: Celebrate

Throw a Tea Party in the room to celebrate the hard work, and compliment the girls on how pretty their room looks.
(This is my favorite part!)

After all is said and done, I remove my "Clutter Disposal Negotiator" cape, and go back to being just plain old mom again.

In reality, my girls don't have a ton of toys.  They simply share a very small room with a tiny closet.  Most of their "clutter" problems stem from wanting to keep every paper craft, coloring page, and worksheet that they've collected over the months.  They never cease to surprise me with what is "sacred" to them, and what is off limits for removal.  They didn't think twice about tossing a doll high chair, but cried over a Walmart receipt, and paper plate with yarn glued to it.  Like I said before: One girl's treasure is another girl's trash.

Wordless Wednesday: New Visitors to our Lake

Handmade Treasures

I absolutely LOVE to receive handmade gifts.  They are extra special to me because I know that the maker spent their valuable time to create them.

On Valentine's day my 2nd grader made me a really special pot holder.  It was her very first project in her sewing class, and it means the world to me!  She is learning how to use the sewing machine, cut fabric, pin fabric pieces, and hand sew.  She worked on this pot holder for quite a while, and was so excited to give it to me, that she could hardly contain herself.

(I don't think I could ever use it because I want to keep it forever!)

Speaking of handmade treasures, I got a package in the mail a few weeks ago!

It was from my Canada. Whenever I get a package from my Aunt Cindy in Canada, I know it's gonna be LOADED with good stuff! I couldn't wait to rip it open and see what was inside!

Aunt Cindy has skillz (with a z). She makes me the most beautiful dish cloths, and they are so durable! The texture gives them just the right amount of scrubbing power, while still remaining soft.  Doing dishes for a family of five gives them a real beating, but they hold up well.

She also made us these:


We have one for each girl in the house, and they're great for my little kitchen helpers!

I just love getting boxes from Aunt Cindy!

Monday, February 14, 2011

That's Amore'

Here's my Valentine. He's cute.  I decided to marry him so I could keep him forever, and kiss him any time I want to.

Then he gave me three more Valentines.  They're cute too.  I think I'll keep them forever so I can kiss the freckles on their cute little noses whenever I feel like it.

My Lover gave me these children to birth from my loins so that I would have an endless supply of construction paper Valentine Cards, hugs and kisses.

I found these next pictures in my archives, and I might sit and have a good cry.  My babies are growing up too fast.


I need a tissue.

My girl likes to give kisses to her Daddy.

She's a kisser.  She loves her little sister too.

Here's my Boone Dog.  He loves the kids.  He likes to kiss them...with his slobbery, wet tongue.

My boy does NOT like kisses from his dog.

There's a whole lot of love in the family that we started building over a decade ago.

"Wherever your heart is, that is where you'll find your treasure."

I'm going to spend time this Valentine's Day snuggled up to all of my little treasures!

Happy Valentine's Day to all of my dear readers!


Saturday, February 12, 2011


Yesterday, I made the drive down to the big city where I met up with one of my dear old friends for a special lunch date. I was so excited because it has been at least ten years since we've seen each other.  We were a part of a tight knit group of friends that went to church together through our teen years.  We went to summer camps and  retreats together, and  even traveled across the country in a church bus without air-conditioning one summer to go on a ministry trip together.

Here we are on our Senior Ski Trip to Purgatory, just outside of Durango, Colorado:

Just a couple of Snow Bunnies!

During college, we all went in separate directions, but have since reconnected.

My favorite part of lunch yesterday was the fact that after all of these years apart, we could pick right up where we left off. In one sense, it felt like no time had passed at all, and in another, it was like we had a decade of life, and marriage, and kids to catch up on.

I think that in many ways we're both still the same, only better.  We've matured, and grown, and have a new perspective on life.  We've always shared our love for God, but now we have marriage and motherhood, and a host of other things that bind us. 

We laughed as we shared the twists and turns of life that brought us to the point we're at today.  Now we're separated by lots of miles, but I'm thankful for the technology that keeps us connected.

It was such a special afternoon.

I just love reconnecting with old friends.  It's one of life's sweetest joys.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fulfilling "The Great Commision" and Bringing Back Souvenirs

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..."Matthew 28:19

Last weekend, we got to spend some good quality time with my brother and his wife. We were all so excited to see them because they just got back from a missions trip to El Salvador, and that means one thing: SOUVENIRS for everyone!!!

My brother devotes big chunks of his time to do missions work all over the world.  He has sacrificed many worldly possessions and creature comforts to complete what he feels like the Lord has called him to do, and he's more joyful and fulfilled every day because of it.  He's seen more places, and shared the love of Christ with more people over the last few years, than most people get to see and do in a lifetime!

My brother left a lucrative career building multi-million dollar custom homes to build orphanages, churches, homes, and ministry buildings for needy people and Christian organizations all over the world.  He leads and organizes teams of volunteers to complete building projects, and minister to the needs of the local people.

He's the adventurous one in the family.  I don't even own a passport, and his is filled with stamps from all over the globe. I love to see his pictures and hear the stories of the way that God's spirit is working and moving all over the world.  Even though  I rarely travel, I feel like I get to be a part of his experiences in some small way.  Before he leaves, my kids and I get out the map, and find out where he's headed.  Then our whole family begins to pray for him every day, and for the ministry work that lies ahead.

When he returns, we ALWAYS look forward to the gifts he brings back for us.  Some of his presents are gorgeous, some are hideous, and some are down right ugly.  Most of the time, we have to ask him what in the world the gift is because we have no clue! But each and every treasure he brings back is definitely....unique.

I'm going to share a few pictures from each of my brother's recent trips, and some of the souvenirs he's brought back from his travels.

Below, are pictures of my brother in Rwanda.
Grinding Coffee beans.

Carrying food.

Spending time with kids in the village.

Here are some of the gifts he brought back.
Some beautiful wood carvings, and paintings.  The one below was done on a feather.

My brother recently went to Tanzania too.  Below are some pics of his travels.

Scary ladders!

Ministering to some local people.

Each picture carries a story and memory with it.

Here are just a few gifts he brought back for us from that area:

How do you like the cow's tail fly swatter?

I think he has a thing for gorillas.

My brother also goes to El Salvador several times a year to do work for an orphanage he supports.  The kids that live in the orphanage think he's the best ever!! I agree.

Here he is with his team...which now includes his wife!!

Here he is goofing off with the local law enforcement. Ha Ha!

Here are a few of the real gems he brought back for us....

Bet you don't know what this is!  When he presented it to me, I couldn't stop laughing because it's so...."unique" looking.

Do you give up yet?

It's a bowl that keeps tortillas warm on the table.  I know. I was clueless too.  I can't wait to use it.  It could be a real icebreaker at our next dinner party.

 This looks like an ordinary coffee mug for my husband, until you look inside...

Say hello to my little friend.

Here are a few treasures he's brought to my folks over the years from El Salvador.

Do you see "Guerrilla Gorilla"? I'm sure my mom loves the fact that my dad displays it in their nicely decorated house.

My brother also goes to Fiji with his wife.  They are involved in a ministry there that rescues women from horrific and unspeakable things that are too graphic to mention in this blog with young readers.  Fiji needs your prayers, everyone!

They are going back to do more work very soon.  Here my brother is leading a team to build a new counseling center for the ministry.

Here's one of my most treasured gifts from Fiji.  It is a necklace made by the hands of women trying to gain a new start, and a better life.  The beads are made from rolled up magazine pictures, and mud.  Every time I wear this necklace, I get to share about the ministry, and the work that is being done in Fiji.  I love it!

Below are a few of the other treasures he's brought home from Fiji:

Do you see that black thing? It's some sort of Fijian brain fork!?!? I have no idea what it's for, I just nod my head when he brings this stuff back.

My brother also goes to Mexico several times a year to build homes for less fortunate people.  The recipients of the homes all have jobs, and many of them work at fancy resorts by day, and then return to shacks made of cardboard and tin at night. They are often overwhelmed when they get the keys to their first "real house".

Putting up the walls.  The house takes only two days to build from start to finish...with no power tools.

Showing off his "mad carpentry skillz."

Playing with the kids.

Here are some of the souvenirs he brings from Mexico:

The hat is hideously gargantuan.  That's all I'm gonna say about it.

That's just a very small sampling of the many souvenirs he's brought back for our family, and a small snapshot of his extensive traveling on the mission field.

I just love my brother!

I love his obedience to serve God, wherever it takes him, and I love his heart for people all over the world.

Most of all, I love that he share's his experiences with those of us who can't travel the globe with him.

We get to petition heaven's gates on behalf of him every time he's gone, and we are never disappointed with how the Lord moves mountains on his behalf.