It's A Birthday

There aren't too many birthdays I mention here on my blog. Usually because I forget to blog about them. For this person, though, I can't actually celebrate with her in person. See, 8 years ago, I decided to sponsor a little girl. At that point in my life a relationship had just ended and with it, I knew, my chances of ever giving birth to a daughter. My life was in a much different place than it is now and while it was true that I would never give birth to a daughter, my chances for that ended long before that relationship. It ended before I was created, actually. If God intended for me to have a daughter by birth, I would have a daughter.

With the realization that I would never have a daughter the "conventional" way and I was very single at the time, I decided to sponsor a little girl. On a Saturday afternoon in March, I sat down at http://www.compassion.com/, clicked on "Sponsor A Child" and started looking at pictures. After a few minutes of that, I typed a few parameters in their "Search for a Child" box and very quickly I was looking at one of the sweetest little faces I had ever seen. Gabrialle was 5 at the time. She had thick, black hair and a beautiful face that reminded me so much of my niece (who is just a week younger). I knew she was the one for me. Her birthday is the day before mine and her face... her face held such promise yet had the same expression so many children waiting for sponsorship have. Lost resignation, for lack of a better term. I could not let that little face go.

I have not had the honor of meeting Gabrialle face to face as yet. She writes to me now and it is fun to watch her handwriting "grow" with her. It's fun to read as she begins to expand just a little bit on what is going on in her life. It is fun to know that half a world a way a few dollars God allows me to give goes such a long way in giving this little girl a reason to smile. And smile she does. Pictures I receive each year show that. They also show a little girl growing into a young woman. She turns 13 today. Happy Birthday, Gabrialle. May it be a wonderful, blessed day full of laughter and may you know you are loved. Loved like a daughter. I don't think I could love you more if I had given birth to you myself. You remind me there is joy in the simplest and smallest of things. You have taught me, from so far away, what it means to be gracious and grateful without being superficial.

May your 13th year be filled with adventure and promise and a deeper knowledge of God's love for you. May you never forget that He knit you in your mother's womb, that He ordained your days before time began and that He loves you more than everyone on earth combined could love you. Continue to grow in His light, shine as His child. And how I pray that God answers my prayers and brings us together, in person, some day soon...

Happy Birthday, Gabrialle.

For more information on sponsoring a child, click here


Sunday Strength

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him;

for He knows how we are formed,
He remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;

the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.

~Psalm 103:13-16


How Do You...

Stop someone from entering into a relationship (business type relationship) with someone else when that second someone is potentially incredibly damaging to the first someone's long term goals...

How do you gently tell someone they should steer away without (1) explaining why and (2) coming across as bossy and judgmental?

Especially when first someone's belief system is different - really different - from your own?


Our Yard Needs Help...and a lot of work

When we moved into this house in June, 2007, neither Aaron nor I had ever had a yard before that had been so beautifully ~ and lovingly ~ planted. For all that we have found inside this house that the previous owners did wrong, you can't say they didn't love their yard. It was easy to get swept up in the beauty of it when we first saw it.

During that first year so many people told us to leave the yard alone for a year (beyond pulling weeds and mowing the grass, that is) to see what we had. So for that first summer we did nothing. Then, that January we found out our drainfield had failed and so our entire focus centered of saving our house. We didn't care too much about the yard. When we went to work (after months of planning, permitting, health department inspections...) on the drainfield, they dug four long trenches into our backyard - basically gutted it. Gardening was far from our minds.
Last year we focused on the backyard, knowing the front yard needed help but not quite sure what and how. Another winter has passed and here we are...April. A front yard that cries out for attention and me with absolutely no clue what to do first. The grass has been overtaken by moss, we have dandelions big enough to be considered islands (all they need is a moat and some water) and just...a mess. I'm not even sure where to begin. I've never been much of a green thumb so I've never taken the time to learn too much about plants and gardening and lawns and such. Here we are, with this disaster and no plan of attack. I have jokingly said we should just dig it all up, plant new grass and call it good. Aaron always gives me this look. Truth is, it was so lovingly planted so many years ago, I cringe at the thought of losing it all.

Today, a beautiful spring day, we were out front pulling weeds (by we I mean Christopher & I) and looking around and just trying to figure out the plan of attack (ok - the looking & planning was just me). Aaron stayed in the garage. With all that needs to be done, I need an army. Or more hands. And to be in better shape. And to be younger. And...

Oh dear.

Christopher is a lot of help in the yard. The dog? Not so much...

Any ideas? Unfortunately, hiring a gardener/landscaper isn't in the cards at the moment. Although it seems to have moved up on the "things we will buy when Aaron gets a job" list.



Doughnuts? Donuts? Depends on who you talk to. If you're at Frost Doughnuts in the Mill Creek Town Center, it's with the gh. And honestly? I think I get why. Without the gh they're just... doughy circles. With the gh and you've suddenly stepped it up a bit. It's like being handed your own personal little piece of heaven cake.

I had read (unfortunately to late) about last weekend's cupcake camp in Seattle via Little Birdie Secrets and she mentioned a bacon cupcake that was, surprisingly, quite yummy. Then she said she needed to try a bacon donut. At Frost. Well...that put me to thinking. I have a husband who is incredibly enamored with meat. A carnivore extraordinaire I call him. Bacon is high on his list of favorite meats. So...I clicked on her Frost link and when I got there, I looked up their locations. Right now? They have one. And it's about 3 miles away - in the Mill Creek Town Center. Imagine my excitement when I could tell my husband about something so awesomely amazingly cool AND could take him where he could try one!

Off we went to Frost. Of course, and this is a major warning: BE PREPARED. Either walk in only after perusing their online menu and deciding what you will buy and gearing up your will of iron or plan on going absolutely ga-ga over what they offer at the counter and walking back out the door with a dozen donuts in flavors and shapes and sizes that make your mouth water. Water I tell you.

I had planned on us buying two bacon doughnuts. One for Aaron, one for Christopher. I wasn't buying anything for me. After all, I gave up sugar two days ago - what good does it do me to cave so quickly, right? However...I was not prepared for the white chocolate raspberry truffle (picture #1 - see the bites I had already taken out of it before I thought to photograph it for my blog?). I caved. Completely. Head over heels. I can't help it - mix white chocolate and raspberries together and - ok - I'll be honest. I CAN help it but I simply don't want to.

And out we walked with a mixed dozen (there is another term for they type of dozen we purchased but I can't remember what it is now). We looked at each other and Aaron just shook his head and said "What just happened?" And I laughed. Because I know what happened. Doughnuts happened - not just circles of fried dough but beauty and imagination and yumminess beyond compare happened.

So began our Sunday... and a discovery we are so grateful to have made and a place we can't wait to get back to again. If you happen to be in the Mill Creek, WA area anytime soon? Head over to Frost. They are more than worth your time!


Sunday Strength

Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

~ 1 Corinthians 9:26-27


Just A Smile...

Last week at this time, I wrote a post that listed most of the things that are going on in my life right now that are proving to be a REAL challenge in the "the joy of the Lord is my strength" department. Right after that list, though, I wrote out several reasons as to why I am still putting one foot in front of the other and thanking God every day for His promises.

This week. What am I thankful for? There isn't any one specific thing outside of being incredibly grateful that this week is a MUCH better week than last week so far and today I took notice of it. Perhaps it was that the rain has let up a bit and the sun was out and it was 64 degrees on my way home but... a stop at the grocery store (that I didn't want to make) and dealing with several people who didn't want to be there either, I started to notice something... something strange and incredibly odd for a grocery store at 5PM (or any other time these days). Every time I smiled at someone, they smiled back.

Whatever happened to the art of smiling and saying hello to people? I don't intentionally make eye contact with people in the grocery store, I'm usually looking at "stuff" but if I do make eye contact or have to say excuse me, or apologize for some incorrect cart driving, I always try to include a smile. It doesn't cost a thing and it usually makes both people feel better...

Unless... well... It just seems a smile from others is so hard to come by these days. People rarely want to smile back and often they don't even want to acknowledge that they have seen me - like I don't exist. Is it too much effort to use those muscles? Sometimes there is this look of fear that passes over someone's face - as if they're wondering what harm I could be plotting against them and if they smile they will have fallen into my trap.

So... while my story isn't as dramatic as Lynn's this week, it's the same general idea. Why aren't we more neighborly with one another? Even when that person isn't our next door or street neighbor? After all...didn't Jesus tell us the neighbor was the Good Samaritan? He didn't know the guy in the ditch...and still....

Since I have made a very short story long, I will get to my point: I am thankful this week for the smile. For the power God gives it, for the light it brings and for the fact that it is a tool I have on hand - always. No matter where I go or what I'm doing, I can always pull out my smile. For that I am incredibly grateful. And I think I'll try to use it more today...and even more tomorrow and the next day... and so on...


My Review of Lantern with Bird Pillar Holder

Originally submitted at Colonial Candle

Charleston Collection by Delight. Reminiscent of the beauty and grace of its namesake, Charleston honors the genteel nature of the South. Subtle, refined elegance meets sleek design that is stylish yet timeless. Classic design with a modern twist for todays gracious homes. This is from the new Del...

I Wish I Had A Dozen More

By MovinForward from Seattle, WA on 4/13/2010


4out of 5

Best Uses: Living Room, Dining Room

Describe Yourself: Budget Shopper

I love using my lantern. I have used it as part of a table setting, I've used it outside during a bbq and I keep it out all the time as part of my general decor. I absolutely love my lanter and really wish I could purchase several more!



My Sunday Afternoon

I am so NOT craftsy... I try but my artistic bent is music, not crafts. Recently I found this sweet little tea set that is "paint your own." Since I'm hosting a party this summer where this will make a wonderful addition to the decorations, I went for it. Yesterday afternoon while we were doing about as much of nothing as we could, I decided to sit down and paint it. I know - cheap brush + cheap paints = not so great paint job but still... I'm not super-thrilled with the way this came out. I think I'll stick to purchasing already-decorated tea sets in the future...what do you think?


Sunday Strength

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

~Romans 5:1-5


Camera Playing

I found some amazing pictures of wedding rings recently. Thoroughly enjoyed the creativity. So...I decided to play a bit with my own. Well, mine and Aaron's. Of course, my camera isn't anywhere near as nice as a professional photographer's but still... it was fun to play. And imagine. And dream. Of coming up with my own creative ideas... of owning a better camera... to finally designing that wedding band I want to go along with my engagement ring...

Of course, except for the creative ideas item on my list, everything is waiting until Aaron finds a new job. What is it about having your income curtailed (severely) that brings out the "I need" or "I want" in me??

But... I rabbit trail... Pictures:


Mantel Party

We're in the middle of a mantel crisis around here. Actually? I'm the one in crisis mode. My husband isn't all that worried about it. See...we replaced our wood stove insert with a bigger & MUCH lovelier wood stove insert (although insert #1 was lovely, too, honey - don't take that the wrong way!) a few months ago. The problem? We need to add a row or two of bricks above the new insert because of that whole "distance to combustibles" problem. So...to avoid our house going up in flames if our mantel became a bit too warm for its own good, my husband just cut the mantel we had in half.

There are all sorts of things a person can discover when they start taking apart those things previous owners had done to their home. This house has been a doooo-oooooo-oooo-zy for those discoveries. The mantel was no different. If you look closely you can see the warp-age in the board. Loverly...

I've done the best I can with what I have right now. No matter what I try to put on the mantel right now, it's too wide. The mantel is simply too skinny but mantel-less? Can't do it. It's worse.

So...this is less me looking for ooh's and ahh's and more me looking for sympathy... and maybe an idea or two. I have so many decisions to make here. First, see below the hearth stone slab thing? We're going to close that in to hide all of the ugliness. Plus, we need to put down some sort of hearth pad. Bigger wood stove means bigger sparks.
Also...I'm thinking I might I paint my bricks BUT... I have to decide on a wall color and get that figured out first. Someday. Maybe. Hopefully before I retire... I'll post "after" pictures, link back to this post and someone might feel like saying "good job" then. Considering the dilemma this thing has me in, I'll probably need the support...

In the meantime...the insert is "the Hampton." That's all I know it as. It's this most amazing chocolate brown - like a melting Hershey's bar. It is the most beautiful behemoth I have ever, ever seen and as I walk out the door every day I marvel that it is mine. My mantel may not be anything spectacular but my insert sure is...
Linking up with Nester today. She's hosting a mantel party. Now...there's a place to see a pretty mantel!

Let's See...

Since October 1st I've:

1. Learned my mother has ovarian cancer. I've watched her go from a peppy, vibrant "young" mom to an older, slower, quieter woman. She's gone through chemo and the cancer is gone but it was tough to watch, tough to see.

2. Seen the difficulties in my family relationships grow more strained. Strained to the point of being snubbed at Thanksgiving and I haven't spent a holiday with family, outside of my husband's, since last Easter.

3. Found out my house needs major electrical repairs AND plumbing fixes. By major electrical repairs I mean there is a good chance we'll have to re-wire our house and the plumbing? Well.. the small pond in the crawl space is not a good thing.

4. Lost a friend - heart failure - at the age of 44, just a few weeks shy of her 45th birthday. A birthday we had plans to celebrate with another friend (who also has an April birthday, all three of us within days of each other).

5. Been dealing with my husband getting laid off from the job he held and has loved for the last seven years.

Above all I know:

1. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. ~ Matthew 28:20b

2. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. ~ Hebrews 4:15

3. No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

4. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. ~ Luke 12:6-7

5. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. ~ 1 Peter 5:6-9

6. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. ~ John 3:16-17

...and on and on the list goes. Without those above six promises and the thousands more in the Bible, I could not put one foot in front of the other. I could not get out of bed. Right now, while the words above don't completely convey the fear, pain, sorrow and stress, I function only because I put my faith in Jesus, because I trust God works all things to the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

I do not know how people do it without Him. I can't. It is to my knees I go and without that option, all would be lost. Of that I am completely certain.

I haven't participated in a LONG time. It's time to start really focusing in on what I have to be thankful for again. So, today I'm linking at Lynn's. Hopefully I take the time every day to focus on my blessings...and take extra time to write about them on Thursdays.


Easter 2010

The centerpiece

The table
The family
The egg hunt outside...

...and then we moved it indoors...