Friday, January 30, 2009

Life Can Turn on a Dime

I am thankful this week that we are not planning two funerals.
My in-laws' car hit a patch of ice coming down a West Virginia mountain. My mother-in-law said a lot of thoughts went through her mind in those brief moments before she shut her eyes and prepared to die.

"I had been reading "The Shack" at the hotel and in the car, and at first I remember thinking 'God, I don't want to leave' but then an incredible peace came over me and I thought "ok, I can leave..."

After their car hit a rock (instead of flying over the side of the mountain since there are no guardrails), they got their wits about them and drove to a gas station. Before leaving, the mechanic told them "God be with you!" Another woman came up and said "you're not leaving this place until I lay my hands on you and pray for you!"

I have been so blessed with the family I married into. And I am so blessed to be a daughter of the King who watches over His children, protects us when there is danger, gives us peace when we call on Him, surrounds us with loving believers when we need support, and walks us Home when our time on earth is over.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Yes, I'm airing our dirty laundry today. Here is the usual state of things in our laundry room.
If I just shut my eyes and think about these, I feel better...
But these sunflowers are being held in HAP (Home Accessory Prison) in the basement. Too much stuff...

But wait...let me think what accessories I can free and use to re-do my laundry room...

Here's some...out with the Tide box! Out with the Bounce box! Hide the Oxy Clean in a bunny jar!

I loved this star when I bought it, but she's never been at home here. Poor thing. Maybe she'll like the laundry room.

Same for the basket...shopper's regret. Old sheet music I framed. Again, a wanderer...singing the blues. But she's whistling dixie up here!

Alright--one more look at the BEFORE...

And the AFTER

Ahhhh. I think I like it.

Laundry. Just Do It.*(In a happy place).

*I saw this sign on a blogger's ( laundry room wall.
Laundry. Just do it.
Ain't it the truth?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Imperfectly Perfect

About 10 years ago, we blew the roof off our house and instead of a Cape Cod, we made a traditional 2-story home. My main goal was to get all of our bedrooms on the second floor (instead of baby down and us up) because, you know, I wanted to protect our baby (and those to come) from babynappers. True story.

In the process, we lost our gigantic bedroom (a small price to pay to ward off the babynappers). I'm okay with our new bedroom, but decorating-wise, it's been a pain. Especially the wall where the bed sits. One window ruins the whole idea of a headboard, and pictures just look weird.

I did buy an old barn door to try hanging over the bed, but on the way home from the antique store, my husband had to put the door in the trunk because he was clearly allergic to whatever animal used to go in and out of that door. Since I really like my husband, I decided to air out the door and put it in the living room instead.

I painted our room around this time last year (Tobacco Road, thank you Nester -- hop on her Nesting Place button over there and visit her). But the remained my nemesis.

Enter, our hero...the Dropcloth.

The other day. I was reading a blog by an incredibly talented decorator and shop owner ( and she mentioned she uses drop-cloths for everything. Hmmmm. Hmmmmmm. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

The wheels started turning. Canvas or linen was kind of the look I was thinking of for a possible solution to my bed-wall-window problem.

So yesterday I went to Lowe's (Big Lots was out) and bought 2 big dropclothes ($11 each).

My husband hung the curtain rod for me (a Levelor, 108" rod for $12), and then, remembering Nester's wise words..."it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful," I grabbed my straight pins and began playing with my dropcloths. I pinned. I ripped (!). I foofed. I fiddled. Never even thought about getting my sewing machine out from hiding.

I think it turned out pretty well. This morning my husband and I were going to have coffee before church on our "new deck" just off the bedroom (duh, right behind those curtains), but it was snowing. Bummer.

Dropcloths, straightpins, a curtain rod and a few hours = imperfectly perfect. And the icing on the cake? We get to pretend there's all sorts of interesting things on the other side of those curtains (instead of our neighbor's driveway).

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Pie Maker

My Apple Pie Heading Into the Oven...

“Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.”
-Jane Austen

My Dad makes the best Apple Pie around.

Until yesterday.

This is the best Apple Pie I've ever eaten. I'm not kidding when I say we licked our plates.
I don't know who Grandma Ople is, but I think I love her.

Apple Pie by Grandma Ople

1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
8 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and sliced (I had the hugundous apples so I only used 5)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer. (I ate this dreamy, creamy concoction from a spoon!)
Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work of crust (I just cut strips with my pizza cutter). Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.
Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.
(Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Half Pint's Winter Wisdom

We remember not the summer
For it was long ago
We remember not the summer
In this whirling blinding snow
I will leave this frozen region
I will travel farther south
If you say a word against it
I will punch you in the mouth.
-Laura Ingalls Wilder

I love the beauty of the snow. I love winter when I don't have to leave the house. I am tired of wearing my winter hat to bed because it's cold under the window. The End.

Monday, January 19, 2009


She stands to speak and I wonder what parts of her horrific story she will choose to tell us this morning. I read her book several years ago and remember it well. The audience of several hundred sits very quietly on this winter day. Leaning in. Listening. And when she shares something slightly humorous, the audience laughs too loud. I suppose we are releasing the tension and stress that has settled in our hearts upon hearing about such a nightmare. But strangely, there is hope and life in her words. Odd, indeed, when one speaks of living through a genocide.

As she walks us through the valley, I feel that she continually points out road markers for us along the way. These signs are what makes us yearn to follow her down this dark road. On the top of every single marker is one name: Jesus. And in slightly smaller letters we read other words. Trust. Obey. Love. Forgive. Believe. Hope. Pray. As difficult as it is to listen, her sign posts point to God and help us try to absorb what true evil looks like. We walk beside her this morning because we want to know how love conquers evil. Her words offer no magic formula...they simply point her morning traveling companions to a living Savior. We rise and applaud. And I am reminded again, through this sister in Christ, that God walks with me, too. Those signs mark all the paths in my walks, too! I am blessed this morning as I get to walk a bit with Immaculee. I am so glad she was left to tell.

How blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel; they wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks, discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain! God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and at the last turn -- Zion! God in full view! Psalm 84:5-7

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Book Love

A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy.
~Edward P. Morgan

So I found out the other day that I can import a book "widget" from which showcases some of my favorite reads. See it over there on the right? So exciting! So cool!

The books that one reads can speak volumes about one's personality, values, and belief systems. I feel an instant friendship, for instance, with someone who favors a book that I love. When I once quoted a line from Anne of Greene Gables and an acquaintance grinned and said "I love Anne Shirley, too!" I knew we would be fast friends. "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one!'" (C.S. Lewis).

And so I excitedly began compiling my list of favorite books to share with you.

But as I began compiling my fancy-schmancy widget, I started feeling insecure...for people who don't know me in real life, what might they presume about me based on my selections? Should I stack my list with Christian books only? Should I pick only books that lack controversy or foul language? Which side of myself do I want this book widget to represent? Or do I even want to put a cool little widget on my blog at all?!

But then I thought about how I came to read some of those books on my list. I agreed to read Harry Potter because my 50-something neighbor agreed to read a book about Jesus if I would read a book about wizards. Fair enough--I prayed, and then opened the book. I recommended The Shack (mind-blowing) to our teenage daughter. She agreed to read it if I would read a love story called Twilight about vampires (of all things). Fair enough (and she was right--it wasn't a dark and evil tale--actually a more wholesome book than many books her teachers have assigned). The Time Traveler's Wife? I chose that one on my own, and have had many wonderful discussions with people of all faiths and no faith, about the whole idea of "time".

God seems to work a lot in my life through books. I have credibility at the party when I can say I've read a NY Times bestseller in one breath and recommend a book about Jesus in another. And I have credibility arguing falsehoods and blasphemy an author has spewed out when I have read the book myself (some of those are definitely not favorites and won't make the widget list). And more importantly, God seems to grow and stretch (and protect) my own faith in Him as I gather such a weird repetoire of genres and authors.

For me, keeping the Book as my life's foundation is the key to expanding my library and expanding my mind.

So enjoy my new widget over there with a sampling of my favorites.

And if you've got a favorite book to recommend, I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”
-John Ruskin

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Come In, said Mrs. Beaver...

Thinking about "house envy" (see previous post) has reminded me of this funny conversation that transpired last May during a party we threw for work colleagues. This particular guest always asks me to give her a house tour (one of my favorite things to do) and earnestly "oohs and ahhs" throughout our home (be still my beating heart). My aunt may call our residence a "doll house", but this description makes me belly-laugh everytime I think about it.

Scene I: Narnia Analogy

Guest: Have you ever read “The Chronicles of Narnia”?

Me: Yes, I have!

Guest: Well, you know the part about Mr. and Mrs. Beaver’s house?

Me: Yes, I remember.

Guest: Well, that’s what your house reminds me of -- Mr. and Mrs. Beaver’s House!

Me: Ohhhhh. Uh. Um. I am going to take that as a compliment. I think.

Guest: Oh yes! The Beaver’s home was so cozy and warm. Just like yours. Only yours is bigger than Mr. and Mrs. Beaver’s.

I'm so glad I'm easily amused and not easily offended, especially since my nickname as a youngster was "Bucky Beaver" due to the unfortunate positioning of my two front teeth.

“Mr. Beaver finds the Pevensie children walking on a snow covered trail. They leave the trail and follow the talking beaver to his house. The house is made of sticks above a dam on the river.” The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dealing with House Envy

photo: Country Living

I have always loved our "dollhouse" (as my aunt calls it), and my talented husband has done everything from finishing our basement (lovely!) to building us a screened-in back porch (beautiful!) but there are some things I'd love to add to our home if we could...

a cathedral ceiling (even in a powder room!)
a broom closet and pantry
pot lights all over (I need Chico from "Divine Design")
a great room off the kitchen
a kitchen island (I'll even take a penisula)

But a funny thing happened on the way to envy alley. I have been driving right by! Without even thinking, I have been giving my "honey-do" list to God. That way, if we indeed live in actual brick-and-mortar mansions in heaven, He'll know just how to prepare my dwelling (I know, I know, He already knows, but work with me here).

This morning I found myself drooling over a neighbor's kitchen and great room and without hesitating I mentally wrote some notes on my honey-do list for God. Ohhh, see all those pot lights? Hmmmmm, look at the natural light play off of those high ceilings!

I don't know what heaven will be like, but I'm guessing my way of dealing with house envy tickles God. And I'm guessing that when he see "House Idea #722" He probably leans over in heaven to my mom or the Apostle Paul or my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Botchie and laughs a big, hearty God-laugh and says "oh, she really has no idea does she?"

Heaven will be all I want because I will be face-to-face with God.

But for now, it sure is fun dreaming and planning with the best builder around.
PS--our daughter believes my first big question to God won't be some deep, theological question but will be a simple "Hey there, God...what's my address?"

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Back to Work

Today I go back to work at the university. Before every semester begins, I regret agreeing to teach another course (I only teach twice a week while the kids are at school). The butterflies begin their bi-annual flight in my stomach a few days before the semester starts because I was born a people-pleaser; facing 25 new college students each semester doesn't really jive with a people-pleasing personality.

But, the good news...I am not nearly the people-pleaser I used to be (thank you, God)! And once the semester gets rolling? I'm absolutely crazy about my students and wouldn't trade my job for anything.

Last night I dreamed I had 100 students. Our classroom was a big, empty cathedral. I couldn't hear anyone. I had forgotten my notes. Former students showed up to say hello. There was a fire drill.

Yep, it's the beginning of a new semester. And based on my nightmare and the butterflies, I know it will --once again--be wonderful.

If you're never uncomfortable in life, you're not growing.
-author unknown

Monday, January 5, 2009


I am a cleaning, decorating, purging fool today. It feels so good! And as I was listening to music (a crazy mix of jazz, praise, country, pop, broadway, classical and pop), I realized I didn't really need to make that New Year's Resolution List (see post below) after all. Check out these words from Watermark's beautiful song: "Knees to the Earth"...

"...beautiful Jesus, how may I bless your heart?"

SIMPLE. I love that.

And since I know it would bless Jesus to feed my family tonight, I better finish my organizing/cleaning/decorating bliss and think about what to cook for dinner (which is not blissful for me...good, easy chicken recipes appreciated!)

John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Resolution #1

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4
I'm joining over 2000 other women over at the LPM blog,, to memorize 2 scripture passages a month.
I thought this was a mighty fine first passage to memorize.
Happy New Year!
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