Friday, November 19, 2010

Roll, Baby, Roll!

As if I didn't have enough on my plate...(that must be the understatement of the year)I'm jumping in.

I was just going to sit back and watch the clues unfold. But I've gotten sucked in!

I'm doing this.
I love Bonnie Hunter's quilts. They are everything that appeals to me, colorful, scrappy, frugal with lots of great details. I love her motto about "ugly" fabrics, "If it's still ugly, you just didn't cut it small enough!"

Once the first clue came out I knew I had to play along. I love green and pink together. It is all over my house in different shades and combinations. My poor husband has to sleep in a froo-froo bedroom. Which he does willingly to keep my happy. (The first time I saw him, he was wearing a pink Izod button down shirt.) [swoon!]

Yet, I digress. So, I'll post my progress here. I'll put up a picture as soon as step one is completed. Ok, I'm excited now!

Eating is overrated, isn't it? "It's Campbell's soup for dinner, kids!!"

Modified to add my photo! Most of my 172 units are completed. I just have about 40 more to go, but I can't focus any longer. Heading to bed....

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thimbleberries 2009 3's Company

I'm so far behind!

I just finished the last month of this beautiful BOM. I was making three sets of them however so it took me a while with each step. I'm making the light colorway for me and an "army" colorway for my husband and a "marine" colorway for a dear friend of the family.

This weekend I have sequestered myself in my sewing room and worked on UFO's. It has felt very good to get lots of little nagging things done.

Here's my Thimbleberries so far...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wonky Log Cabin Finish

Hi everyone, I thought I would share my latest finish. I've completed the
second in a 3-part series of quilts for my three boys. They all share a
room that is decorated in red, white, blue, Americana prints with a healthy
dose of bears, trains and boats thrown in.

I made their curtains and some crib accessories when they were younger and
I've saved every scrap. (Thank you, Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville!) My first quilt was for my youngest, this one is for the middle boy and there is one more in the works
for my 8 yr old son, the oldest of the littles. Robbie, my middle boy, loves
Thomas the Tank Engine so his quilt is mostly blues with sunny Sodor Railway
yellows thrown in.

Robbie looked at it and found the letter "J" in the middle. (His middle initial.) I may have to add some alphabet blocks to the back.

I love making wonky log cabins and using up every crumb in these quilts.
This one is just a flimsy right now. I have about 20 extra blocks that will
go on the back side along with a Lionel Train panel that someone gave me.
(nothing wasted!)

Hopefully, I'll sandwich it tomorrow then I'll free motion quilt it after
the kids are done with their school lessons for the day.

Thanks for looking! I've enjoyed getting back to my sewing room finally!!

You can see the first one here.

Click over to Jo's Country Junction to see everyone else's lovely crumby quilts!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Still plugging along

We're here!

We're buried under the pile of science projects, math books and addition flash cards. My "turn in" box threatens to overflow. One mother has a hard time keeping up with 5 subjects from four children.

I'm sure enjoying my time at home with them. We have corrected, or at least attempting to keep on top of the corrections, in Robby's handwriting. He's 2nd grade and has been making lots of his letters backwards; s, d, g, p, and 7, 3, 2, and 5. I think I have at least figured out the why. He's a very precise and exacting child. He likes things straight and true.

He even thinks that his food stays sorted out in his tummy. So when he writes, his paper is NOT turned at a slant and he crooks his arm around the top of the letter and writes top down, instead of angling his hand with his paper and writing left to right in a natural arc. I usually sit right with him when he writes and re-tilt his paper so he stays correct. He is making far fewer errors with his letters. He told me today after I corrected a word he was writing that he likes the vowels in the words so he writes them last.

Ace, (who is 8) finishes before everyone else and is 4 lessons ahead in his spelling. But he presses down very hard, has horrible handwriting and he's a "lefty." I have a hard time trying to figure out how to fix this issue. Bear says to have him write on toilet paper so he has to have a light touch. (I found that only slightly weird, but pretty amusing!) Dear Husband has interesting ideas sometimes. We may try tissue paper at the very least. Ace's hand hurts after he writes and he tires quickly.

Right now we are having issues at home with integrity. It seems they have realized there is only one of me and I can't be in all places at once. Papers turned in with nonsense answers, reading books when studies should be completed first. It is a bit overwhelming to say the least.

However, on a positive note, they are working together nicely. They are not fighting and bickering as much, and I can see numerous areas where homeschooling has definitely benefited them. I'm very glad we made this decision. I'm even learning things I didn't before.

Tomorrow we start a unit on rainbows and color. We will have a fun day of cut and paste, maybe mixing some corn syrup "paints" for sugar cookies. They have worked hard all week and Friday is close upon us.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sink or Swim

I've begun.

I've jumped in with both feet first into the swirling mass of books, pencils and kids.

I'm desperately trying to keep my nose above water.

Teaching 4 children with 4 different grades isn't turning out as easy as I had hoped. The girls usually finish their assignments and have to wait for me to assign the next item. I'm constantly interrupted while teaching new concepts to the boys either by Boo trying my patience, or one of the girls wondering what they can do next.

I know there must be an easier way. I've had friends who have home schooled 10 children at a time, each one in a different grade level. I'm not Super Woman. I've got to get more organized so that I'm not constantly feeling like I'm just at the surface of the water ready to go under at any moment.

On a positive note, I'm loving having my children around me and being able to tell them and teach them things during each moment throughout the day. Those moments when I catch them doing something sweet for a sibling. When they help someone else without being asked. When they are curious about a concept we read about. It is gratifying to see their curious minds at work.

It is amazing to see that Chels is actually smarter than me. That's scary. We have to go through her math book together so that I can understand the concepts and teach them to her. She's bright, smart and amazing.

I'm so glad that we decided to do this. I just need to find a way to make it run smoothly.

Friday, August 20, 2010

"Love" photos...


I'm homeschooling.

If I were born in a different time, I'd love to be Lucille Ball, June Cleaver, Ethel Merman or Vivien Leigh. I'm a country girl living in the city. But, oh, to be as cool as her.

These are absolutley gorgeous! Take a peek. You might need a tissue.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Getting organized!

I'm getting sort of excited. I have an inner need to organize and label things. I bought another shelf from WallyWorld and Ace and I put it together. Miss Busy and I moved the scrap booking cupboard over and scooted things to make the new bookshelf fit.

I pulled out my Dymo and made everyone a space on the new shelf. If I'm organized, I think I am more likely to maintain a schedule and we won't fritter away our school year. I'd love to just "play" all year and pretend that the kids are learning life skills, but for me, we need to maintain just as much of a schedule as if we were going to school.

I have decided we will have school in the diningroom, so that if there are still dirty dishes on the kitchen counter there will be nothing preventing school from starting. Then once things are going a bit then I can get back to the dishes while the kids are working.

I'm counting on Chels and Miss Busy to help me with the younger boys, reading, and assisting them with directions, etc. This should work, right? They help me in that way already, so that should be the natural carryover. I hope this will work. I'll update as we progress.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Time for a change around here....

I'm taking a big step.

I'm venturing into unknown and for me, uncharted territory. I'm joining the ranks of homeschooling moms. Crazy, I know.

Twenty years ago, when my husband decide to join the military I wasn't really exited about those changes in my life. But I've gotten use to the idea. And we do this life pretty well. We have adjusted and we have grown.

Then 15 years ago, when my husband started talking about going to seminary, I was scared. I didn't think I could live up to the demands of a pastor's wife. I didn't think my, then only one child could behave the way a pastor's child should. But we've made it through that hurdle too.

Then when my husband started talking about becoming a Chaplain. I REALLY didn't like that idea. I had known a chaplain's wife who (to me, on the outside) seemed too perfect. She had perky hair, she taught Bible studies, she had perfect children. That wasn't me. I couldn't possibly manage all that. But then I've met other Chaplain's wives who have assured me that the military needs all kinds, and that I would do ok.

And now this. Through much prayer and discussion, we have decided that homeschooling is right for our family. I've said for about 12 years that I wouldn't homeschool. You see, I taught our eldest son at home and I didn't do a very good job. He was difficult. He wouldn't listen to me. I understand now that it wasn't me. The outcome of my first attempts doesn't mean that I doomed to repeat the success or failure this time.

I've since come to realize that Philippians 4:13 is for me. "I can do all things THROUGH Christ who give me strength." It isn't my doing at all. He works through me to make me the person that I am.

That's why this newest change in my life doesn't scare me so much. I know that if God wants me to do this thing, homeschooling, then He will provide the strength I need to get through it.

So, dear reader, all 3 of you, keep praying. I'm going to need all the strength I can get.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Another UFO Finish

Just finished another UFO. This one really was the oldest one I had. I thought that the pinwheel quilt was older, but after reviewing dates, I discovered that this one was started in 1991, this was my second quilt. The first was a needle turn applique, (what was I thinking?) quilt in a queen size to fit on my bed.

My tumbler quilt was laid out on my mother's family room floor while my husband was in basic training back in 1991. I lived with my parents while he was away. I cut out the shapes with a template and scissors and sewed one row at a time and laid it back down on the floor. There are so much faster methods now!

I wanted a gradient style quilt that sort of faded from pinks, to blues and then greens. I don't know if I had enough pieces to really accomplish this, but in my early unskilled years as a quilter, I don't think I did too badly.

I decided to quit a little paisley in each dark tumbler and stitched 1/4 away from the seam on the light colored squares. If I had it to do all over, I think I would just do an all over fan pattern, I think it's called a Baptist fan. That's a favorite of Bonnie Hunter's, and I'm a fan of hers.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Quilt for Eden

My newest grand niece was born last month. I've been working on this little baby quilt for a while and it was done the day she arrived, but her Mommy and Daddy didn't know what to call her.

Once they decided her name, I was on to another project, and had a hard time getting it out again to make the label. But now it's done, label embroidered, and stitched on.

I hope she likes it. It's made completely from vintage sheets and one dust ruffle, (the chocolate brown stripe.) I quilted it in a "waterfall" design, from top to bottom.

And no, this one wasn't in my UFO list. Some things just take precedence.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Frugal Quilter's Dream

One of the benefits to volunteering at the food bank here in my little home town is the thrift store right next door. I usually only get to run in with a donation while my kids wait in the car, or quickly scan the kitchen section for canning jars, but on Thursdays when I have a break in my food bank work, and while I have a babysitter at home, I enjoy a leisurely browse through the fabric and bedding bins, looking for scraps of 100% cotton fabrics or vintage sheets. I also scan the men's and women's button up shirt racks for treasures.

I used to say that if a scrap of fabric ever made it into my house, it wouldn't emerge unless it had been made into something useful, a quilt, apron, potholder, rag rug, etc. Now the same goes for men's shirts. I may even start scanning my husband's closets for pretty patterns.
I'm in the process of making two more scrappy log cabin quilts for my other two boys who share a bedroom. Their quilts will be red, blues, creams, yellows and some bear/nautical prints. Today I found this gorgeous Old Navy men's shirt with red white and blue stripes with ships' flags. I was so excited. The good thing about this shirt is it's a 2XL, so that means almost 2 yards of fabric for my quilting obsession.

I bought 4 men's shirts, one was 2XL, two of them were large size, long sleeved and the other was a large, short sleeve. Once I cut them up, I'll get about 5 yards of fabric, for a whopping, $2.40. If I had shopped at my local quilting shop, (which I admit to doing way too often...) I would have paid about $50 for the same amount of fabric.

Then later, my babysitter brought me a trash bag full of fabric, while most of it was fleece, knits and polyesters, I did find some scraps of solid 100% cotton percales. One can never have too many solids. I've washed them all, hung them on my drying rack and later I'll be cutting the up the shirts to add to my scrap bins.

Bonnie Hunter is my quilt hero, and you can find out why I'm so obsessed with men's shirts over at her website,

Enjoy the eye candy!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Military Spouse

In honor of today being Military Spouse appreciation day, I'm writing to tell you how I came to be a military spouse.

Nearly 20 years ago, my husband, myself and our son were living in a little duplex near Camel's Back Park in Boise. Jut down the street from the trendy, hip neighborhood of Hyde Park. We hobnobbed with bicycle touring, and kayaking college students. I worked at a family owned sporting goods store running their embroidery machine in the sweatshop basement. I created beautiful cheer leading outfits, band uniforms and Letterman jackets.

Bear was a college student finishing up his teaching degree and had gotten frustrated with the liberalness of the department and had left the university.

After much prayer and research, we decided that it would be a good life with many benefits to join the armed forces in some manner. His first choice was the Air Force, be Bear is slightly colorblind and didn't make their cut off criteria.

He was a music major in college, so he tried out for the 35th Army band. He was accepted and soon left for Basic Training at Fort Sill, OK. I stayed in our apartment for a while but soon discovered that juggling a toddler in day care, living expenses and trying to get back and forth to work with less than reliable transportation wasn't all it was cut out to be.

I quit my sweatshop job and moved all our things into a storage unit and moved in with my Mother-in-Law, and step-father-in-law. After a few months, I got a job waitressing in a small Ma and Pa restaurant in the little town of Payette, Idaho.

After Bear was finished with basic training, we decided that going full time Army was probably a better situation for us than just reserve days on the weekends. While Bear was in AIT, training to be a legal specialist and then later a Chaplain Assistant, we decided that Gadget-boy and I would get along better with my family during that extended training situation. My father came to Idaho and helped move all our things to Utah.

I got a job at a greenhouse-nursery selling, watering and caring for plants. I loved working there, loved tending the little seedlings and watching them grow into flourishing flowers. Memorial Day weekend, my husband had a four-day pass and came home to visit us, and my employer would not give me anytime off to go away with him. He said if you go, then you don't come back. That was fine with me and we left. We spent a wonderful weekend in West Yellowstone at my parent's time share condo.

Bear returned to AIT and we returned to my parent's home. In August, Bear had new orders to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and we prepared to move out things once a gain. The 22nd of August we flew to Kansas, slept on the floor at the home of Bear's NCOIC. The next day we found an apartment and bought a car.

We made many friends at Fort Leavenworth, many of which I still count as my very best friends today. That post shaped the military wife that I am today. Fort Leavenworth is mainly an officer/TRADOC )training and doctrine) post. There were two officer courses there back in the 90's. CGSC and CAS3. CGSC was a longer assignment and many of the officer's wives came along for the 10-11 month stay. I attended PWOC with the other military wives and absorbed their grace and compassion. Many images of lovely ladies floods my mind as I write this, Sandra, Wendy, Ann, Daphnee, Melinda, Denise, (love you still) and Donna, ( I will miss you always.)

The job of a military spouse is not an easy one. The ladies who followed their officer husbands to CGSC came along thinking that it would be a respite from other activities and would find time to spend with their husbands. It was not always so. Many times they were the ones taking their children to camp, softball games while their spouse was at home studying, writing papers to further their career.

As I have grown as a military spouse, I'm inclined to say that it is the hardest job in the world. Though, that would probably be on overstatement, it's certainly one of the most difficult. I have stood by a young wife, supporting her as she spoke one final goodbye to her sweetheart as his casket was lowered into the ground. I have had other wives support me through labor pains when my husband could not be there.

Military wives are passionate. We learn to make friends fast, and for the most part, they are true friends. Life is too short to be fickle, conniving, and vicious back-stabbers; contrary to Hollywood's portrayal. We've helped unpack boxes with the new neighbor, and we've gladly accepted the leftovers from our old friends when they PCS to another duty station.

As my life as a military spouse has progressed, sometimes regular Army, sometimes reserve, sometimes as a civilian family longing to be back in full time, I will forever be blessed by the friendships created and nourished with other military spouses along the way.

I can't send each of you a bouquet of flowers, but I can share some of the beauty from my backyard. God bless you military spouses. You are definitely appreciated!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

My oldest UFO finished!

A dear friend of the family asked me to handquilt a quilt for her too many years ago to count. I can't remember who did the piecing, some relative of hers. I've had it on my GraceFrame hand quilting frame for a long time.

I have had 5 more children since then, moved five times and carefully packed it along each time.

I was determined to start finishing things while Bear is gone on this deployment. This was the UFO that gave me the most grief and added stress to my life. The guilt associated with having this quilt for so long stifled my creativity and nagged at the back of my procrastinating brain.

It's done!! I pulled it off the frame a few weeks ago and finished hand sewing the binding on yesterday. I washed and dried it, and took a picture for my archives. I will attach a label before I send it off to my friend, if she still counts me as one.

Even though a twin size quilt only weighs a few pounds, I feel like a TON has been lifted off my shoulders!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Today, my Chels got her tonsils taken out. She did a great job and I am so proud of her. They schedule the surgeries youngest first, taking the babies first and then the patients get increasingly older.

She was a little bit scared at first, but she had her iPod shuffle and "zoned" out while we were waiting for her turn.

The surgery center where she had the proceedure done was very efficient, I spoke with both the doctor and the anethesiologist during our 20 minute wait. The were quick, efficient, but also very patient in anwering any questions I had about the proceedure and recovery time. I was fairly impressed.

They took her back and I waited in the waiting room for about 30 minutes. The Doc came back and told me she had done just fine and was groggily resting in the recovery room.

While I was sitting in the waiting room, I had an enigmatic experience. I had been working on this project. Carefully sewing the little seams back together with tiny running stitches, and appliqueing a few pieces that were too fragile for the running stitches. There was a lady sitting next to me, the grandmother of the girl who was taken back just after Chels. She sat and played a Nintendo DS game as I stitched on my quilt. I felt so juxtaposed, so twisted in time.

I was amused that no one stopped to look at my work, no one inquired what I was doing. The nurse in recovery asked me if I was sewing a blanket. A blanket?! Sheesh, that's like calling a 1967 Mustang just a car!

What has happend to our world? Has our maternal ancestors faile to pass the torch of our craft? Where are the mothers and nurterors of tomorrow if the grandmothers are playing video games instead of following Titus

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Quilt Rescue

Some people have an affinity for animal rescue. That's wonderful for them. There are many poor pets that need a loving home and someone to be their advocate. I appreciate the work and the services they provide.

I, however, have a heart for unloved, abused quilts. At every yard sale I visit I keep a keen eye out for poor unloved fragments of fabric. Every once in a while I find a treasure worthy of rescue.

Today was that sort of a day. I stopped just down the road, not thinking I would find anything, browsed a few tables, walked around a corner and saw this beauty. It was marked $22, which was a steal of a deal for the vintage fabric and hand sewing involved. I quickly and discreetly scanned the bills in my purse and was about to walk away, but the "yard sale manager" said she would consider all offers. I quickly said that I only had $13, would that be OK. She hemmed and hawed, then caved! YES!!

This vintage Double Wedding Ring was poor, unloved and abused. It was once a lovely item. Perhaps it was a wedding gift for a newly returned soldier and his bride. Maybe his mother made it while praying for his safe return.

Then again, maybe his sweetheart made it as she hoped for the best--that he would one day come home and return her love with a proposal.

I can always dream.

Back to the facts: it is 1930's vintage fabrics, it was hand pieced. At one time it had been quilted with lovely little stitches in a yellow cotton thread. It looks as if it had only been quilted to a flannel sheet. It has since been cut away from that flannel except around the fine yellow stitches.

I'd really like to restore it to its original beauty and luster. I really have no idea where to start, except to resew the edges and get the arcs back together. Then maybe to sandwich it and quilt around the yellow stitches.

Any other ideas?

Binding on the Wonky Cabins

I finished sewing the binding on last night while I watched "Blind Side." I thought this would be an appropriate movie since I was doing the "Bind Side" of the quilt, haha!

Great movie. Great actors. But no one to watch it with. I hate watching good movies without my Bear....but I digress.

Back to Beary Wonky Cabins by the Lake.

In keeping with the scrappy look of the quilt, I did a scrappy binding too and pulled all my reds and blues out of the binding drawer and pieced them all together.

I love hand sewing a binding on a bed size quilt. I'll do a machine stitched one on wall hangings and table toppers, but I prefer the old fashioned way on a full-size quilt for some reason. A quilting friend of mine said that I was backwards in my opinion on this, that I should do it faster on a bigger quilt, and take my time on a quilt that didn't take so long to finish. I don't know. I guess I'm just weird like that.

I'll be sending a picture of the finished top to Bonnie Hunter to post on her website. She shares pictures of your quilts if you have made one of her patterns. I originally found her crumb tutorial and I knew I had to make one of these, since my boys have bunk beds, I need to make another one; maybe even two, since I have three boys in that room; although Boo is still in a toddler bed.

I've also been playing with these blocks for Christy. They are pretty addicting too. I'm ready to sew the "X" together today. I'm so excited for her to see them. You can read about the quilt she is making for her hubby here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Beary Wonky Cabins by the Lake

I've had this top unquilted for a while now. It's a crumb chaos block which you can find tutorials for here and here.
Beware, if you try these, they are addicting. You just whip along mindlessly sewing, and streaming out the backside of your machine come these lovely wonky things. I love wonky these days, ever since I did my wonky houses for Jennifer.

So, yesterday, I really wanted to stipple. Just to meander around the quilt and not really think about what I was doing. So, I sandwiched this top with batting and backing, and went to town, or rather went to the Lake.

(I really did label the quilt with my name, but I don't post that sort of stuff on the web.)
My boys have bunk beds, so this will be for one bunk and the other bunk may get its covering soon, I'm such a fan of wonky blocks, I have to do more.

I still have to bind it, but couldn't wait to show you. So, what have you finished lately?

Monday, March 22, 2010

They're here!!

My new Elna Quilting Queen and my Elna 8200 Experience Embroidery machines are here!! I'm unpacking them now. Later I'll be sewing, and after that, more sewing, and after the sewing, I think I'll be...yep, sewing. I may come out from under in a few days!!

Don't expect to see me until the newness wears off, maybe in say about 10 years!!

(I will post pictures in a little while as soon as they are all unpacked and pretty.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Entering a Honey Bun Giveaway!

Alright, it's not what you think! A honey bun is a sweet rolled up bundle of fabric strips! They are 1 & 1/2 inches wide and come in the most luscious colors!
I'm entering the giveaway here. I'm also in an online quilting bee with this talented crafter! Seriously, she is a crafting maniac! Christy makes the coolest things out of "stuff" the sort of stuff that other people would throw away! She's my kind of frugal gal that way!

So, hop on over, follow her instructions and you can have a chance at a honey bun too!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Under construction...

Hi dear readers. I think there may be two of you...
I'm working on a new layout and a post to go with it.
I'll be under construction for a bit, so please bear with me.
It'll be good, I promise.
See you soon...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tax return and debt relief

According to the IRS, our income tax return will be deposited tomorrow. I am so thankful! With it, we are retiring some debt, paying off a personal loan and catching up on a few things that have been pushed to the back burner during Bear's most recent stretch of unemployment.

First and foremost, we are paying off my truck. We currently owe more than it is worth, but we have determined that we will not be buying another vehicle for quite a long time, so we are making this one our primary concern.

My suburban was repossessed last summer and we were literally crippled without it. When there are 7 in your immediate family, you can't really go anywhere in a two passenger pickup. Paying off the truck is first so that it will never get taken away from us again.

While I do not fault the bank or the repo company, as they were just doing their job, it is certainly frustrating, and a bit scary to walk outside and wonder where is your vehicle.

Second on our list, is to pay back a personal loan from a friend that Bear worked with a few years ago. His generous offer helped us to stay in our house and not have that taken away from us. It has been a year of God's perfect timing. I have described this past year as if I were standing on the edge of a great chasm, with darkness all around and not knowing where to take the next step. God's grace held us perfectly still at times and directed our steps when it was time to move. This year, while one of the most difficult we have ever been through, has also strengthened my faith in a way that never would have happened if the road had been easy.

Thirdly, I'm going to do a little truck maintenance, tires, and alignment, and possibly a tuneup. I have to take care of the Big Blue Beast.

After all the "must do's" on my list, I'm thinking of getting this. Then I'm saving up for one of these for Bear when he returns.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Random day...

Does grocery shopping just make you exhausted? By the time I get to the checkout, I'd like to tip the bagger extra to have her come home with me and unpack it all.

Then off to Costco to see what good deals I could find there. I found one! This fabulous little camp stove and propane burner unit. It has a griddle or flip it over to have a grill, for pancakes or steak! And on the other side, a burner so that I can do all my pressure cooking outside and not ruin my ceramic stove top.

I can't wait til it warms up so I can use it outside, for outdoor cooking.

I thrifted some lovely vintage sheets the other day. We have a great thrift store in our little town. They sell pillowcases for 35 cents each. Each pillowcase yields two fat quarters and lots of strips for my fabric stash bins.

Not much work on my UFO's lately. I just did a rush job for a customer, two purple dance costumes for an I'd love to go see them, I love Irish dance.

Now I'm relaxing to my piano. I just run the remote, my Weber does all the work. Every time I sit down to play I have an accompanist who sits and plunks along beside me. I can't tell if the sour notes are from him or me. Both, probably.

Off to bed, and maybe catch up on my through the Bible in a year. Sort of fell off the bandwagon on that one.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mowing the yard, Self Worth, and Calf-skin Gloves…

Today was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, no clouds in the sky finally and warm enough to get outside and do some much needed yard work.

There were leaves left over in the front flowerbed and needed to come out so they wouldn’t smother the emerging plants underneath. The grass in the front had matted leaves too. I pulled out the rake and scraped and scraped until it was all loose and free. Then I went into the garage to dig the mower out from under the piles of Nerf bats, balls, and Tonka trucks that had piled on its top during the winter months. While I was in the garage I grabbed the first pair of gloves I could reach. Blue knit jersey ones with rubber on the palms. They would provide enough coverage for my hands while I mowed.

I checked the gas, added some oil and primed it six times. Pulled the rip cord and to my utter amazement, it started right up!! My front yard isn’t very big, it only takes about six passes with the mower and a quick turn around the flowerbed and it’s done. So then I breezed through the side yard and even did the street section in front of my house and my neighbor’s.

I opened the large side gates and let the sun shine onto the front yard where it gets shaded when the sun is low in the winter months. I could almost hear it breathing in the sunshine and soaking up the nutrients! My yard is looking good, I thought.

But then I turned to the right and saw how overgrown my beautiful rosa rugosa has become. Working on it during the summer months is dangerous. It is completely covered in tiny sharp spines that will ruin your hands. I grabbed my clippers and started whacking out the dead stuff and the suckers that have spouted outside its designated area. Snip, ouch, whack, clip, ouch, ouch! Those knit jersey gloves weren’t enough for the job. They were fine while I was mowing but when it came right down to the tough stuff, I wasn’t prepared.

I went back inside the garage and dug out the good gloves. I have a fabulous pair of calf-skin gloves that even the toughest rosa rugosa won’t get to. That’s what I needed. My hands thanked me, and I got back to my task. Soon the “rough rose” was tamed again and not so rough looking.

Recently, I’ve had some “rough roses” in my life; stuff at work, issues at home, things that make a girl feel like she’s not doing a good job. Situations when a mom feels like anyone could do this job better than her.

I realized while I was cutting my roses that I was having a spiritual “glove problem.” I wasn’t protected from the worldly spines that can pierce my soul. My self-worth does not come from outside factors but from who I am in Christ; who does He say that I am.

When the world says I’m worthless, Christ says I am a new creature. When friends mock my behavior, Christ says I am a reflection of Him. When those I have offended call me names or threaten to tarnish my reputation, He says, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

I realized today that I don’t have the protection I need from the world just as my hands didn’t have protection from the thorns. I haven’t put on the whole armor of God lately. From Ephesians chapter 6: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. (Emphasis mine.)

It’s the shield I have been missing lately. Those flaming darts were getting through my armor and hurting me. They burn, they affect my spiritual outlook on life and I don’t like it.

Taking up the shield of faith has always been hard for me. My faith is weak. I have doubts, and fears. I waver and vacillate one way and the other. I’m easily swayed by voices whispering sweet things in my ear. I know that voice. I’ve heard it all my life and it’s the voice of the enemy.

How do I block out the enemy’s voices? And he has many. I hear his voice in the snacks from the cupboard. I hear his voice inside my head telling me I’m not good enough, I’ll never be thinner, and that I just can’t cope with the circumstances around me. I even hear it voiced over other people’s voices. He sometimes uses those closest to me.

When I’m trying to block out noises at home I turn on my iPod and stick my ear-buds in my ears and crank up the praise songs. I close the door to the sound and get in a quiet place.

I once had a teacher in high school that demonstrated that if you stick your fist into a bucket of water it will displace the liquid. But if you pull your fist out, the water rushes back into the cavity left by your hand. If you want to keep the water level the same you have to replace your hand with a similar sized substance.

I have to do the same thing when I want to block out the devil’s voice. I have to replace his voice with scripture. I turn up the Christian music; I read the Bible and meditate on God’s word. I tune out the devil and listen to my Master’s voice instead.

He is my calf-skinned leather gloves to the rosa rugosas of the world.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


On one of my quilting groups, when people receive a package in the mail they call it a squishy. It's squishy because it's full of soft pretty fabrics, or quilt blocks, or fun sewing gifts.

I got one in the mail today! Ooh, I LOVE squishies!!

I'm participating in a vintage sheet swap over here. Jennifer did a great job of hosting it. She said she had 545 fat quarters and 38 participants. WOW, what a job!!

Thank you so much Jennifer for hosting this! It was so much fun. I can't wait to go through and fold and fondle each one!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Finishing a UFO

I've updated my sidebar with all my UFO's. I'm determined to get a big chunk of these completed this year. I can really fritter away my time and after recently quitting my part time job, I've got to get organized if I'm going to really accomplish things. So, although they aren't in any particular order right now, (I may rearrange them by priority,) I'm chipping away at that list.

First of all, let me introduce the Zeller Pinwheel. I've had this quilt too long. It's been on this frame for years. I told a friend of mine I would quilt it for her, it was pieced by a relative of hers and basted already. Then we moved, several times, she moved twice, and we've recently been back in touch. Now I'm determined to finish it this year.

I've moved my quilting frame downstairs where I will see it daily and can spend time sitting and quilting on it. That is the only way I'll get it done. Just do it!

I've counted the rows and columns, it is 9x11, that's 99 of these little pinwheels. So if I shoot for, at the very least, one pinwheel block a day, I'll have it done in a little over three months. I have a big section completed, but I'm not counting those, I'm just using them as a cushion.

So there it is. Officially on a schedule. I will have this done by the end of May. Then I'll finish the binding, and get it out in the mail to my friend.
How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.

Bee Block is finished

I'm participating in an on-line quilting bee. You can see the posts here.

Jennifer asked for cute little wonky house blocks. I made two. The first one was sort of a practice, it turned out ok. Not my favorite. The second one is better, I hope she likes them both. I'm sending both, but no pictures until she gets the package.

Ooo, I love surprizes!!

I'm off to do some more quilt blocks. Well, and laundry, always laundry.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Back to being a SAHM

For the past ten months, I juggled. Juggled dinners, homework, laundry and working part time at the local quilt shop in town.

I am so done with working. I enjoyed it. I made some good friends. I learned a lot. Now let's get back to doing what I was meant to do.



Helping with homework.

Changing diapers.

Mowing the lawn.

Quilting, just for me.

And I'm loving every minute of it!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Standing Stones...

Tomorrow, (or today, depending on when you read this) the 18th of February is a milestone in our family.

One year ago, on that day, my brother accidentally shot himself and died. It was tragic, shocking, heartbreaking for his wife and children, and his extended family, his brothers, sisters and mother.

Milestones are hard, they are reminders of the pain and loss that we thought had gone away. They are what they are and we have to deal.

Every time something significant in the Old Testament happened, the protagonist would create a milestone, or a standing stone of the event.

When Jacob dreamt about the ladder with the angels descending and ascending up on it, when he awoke, he set it up as a standing stone or a milestone. “'Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it'....then Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it." Genesis 28:17-18. defines a milestone this way: "a stone functioning as a milepost; a significant event or stage in the life, progress, and development of a person, nation, etc."

The death of a family member may not seem like it would promote progress or development, but I believe it has.

Through his death I now realize just how important relationships are. I'm not afraid to tell people that I love them. Not just family members, but friends. Some people look at me like I'm nuts, but I feel these emotions deeply and I'm not afraid to say it.

Because Clarence is gone, I'm ever mindful of the role that my husband Bear plays in my children's lives. They need both parents. All the time. Not just on the weekends, or when you aren't burdened down with duties and projects at work. I have felt the hurt when my nephew has had to step into the role of his father and walk his sisters down the aisle to be married. I've watched as he has taken over as the patriarch of the family. My nephew is an amazing man and certainly qualified for the job, but I believe he was handed the baton too soon.

Because I feel the loss of my brother in my own life, I am aware of my children's feelings toward their brothers and sisters. I try to instill in them how important it is to really love each other; for one day, we will have partings among us too. I want them to always know how much they are loved.

It is because of the example of my dear brother that I write this blog. He was my encouragement. He was my source of strength when I thought that my writings weren't good enough. It didn't matter to him. He thought what I had to say mattered and so he gave me the boost I needed to submit an article for publication.

So, tomorrow I will set a standing stone in remembrance of a family member. February 18th will be the standing stone. The milepost. That date on the calendar will say to me, "We have come this far. We have hurt, we have cried, been enraged, but we have grown. We will move on from the hurt and pain. We will overcome."

My dear brother, I was angry, I was in shock, I was hurt, I mourned your loss. But because of this milestone, I will remember, and I will be stronger for knowing you.

(You can read the eulogy I gave at his funeral here.)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bad Days...

We all have them. We usually hate them. They come at us mercilessly with no retreat. One thing on top of another, after another.

Like my bad day, which was really more like four bad days rolled into one long Mount Everest like journey.

Toilets overflow. Sink drains get backed up--in need of Drain-O and spills out of the trap. Then the floor of the cupboard is warped and wet. There's a hole in the bathroom door. Breakfast messes all over, burned finger with the curling iron, (my grey hair is showing,) trying to get out the door to go to church, no socks or shoes, where's the diaper bag, Finally in the truck, buckled up, where's the crock pot for church dinner, back to the driveway, return to the car, spills the coffee, stained white turtleneck, back in the driveway, takes a Tylenol, finally on the way, only 30 minutes late.

Just getting past the morning was a challenge, but now we are listening to praise music in the car. I'm feeling better, ready to face the day and be pleasant. The kids go to Sunday School and I go to the back of the truck to retrieve the crock pot full of sweet and sour meatballs. I find it upside down in the cargo area.

I have a nice travel crock pot, with a tight fitting lid and a zippered carrying case. Amazingly it contained the whole sticky mess and kept it all inside. I knew, however, that I would have cleanup when I got to the kitchen. God gave me the grace to keep a smile on my face regardless of the dripping oozing mess concealed inside the zippered container.

After 30 minutes of scrubbing, washing and rinsing, my crock was plugged in, and the meatballs were heating again nicely, only missing a cup or two of the sauce. I missed Sunday School and decided that worship service was where I needed to be.

Boy, did I ever...

God knows our needs. I say that a lot, because lately that's what He keeps assuring me. From one end of the bulletin to the other, I read of God's provision, his love, and His assurance that I am not alone.

A friend of mine posted a link to message by R.C. Sproul, entitled The Dark Night of the Soul. R.C. says this about depression:

"This phenomenon describes a malady that the greatest of Christians have suffered from time to time. It was the malady that provoked David to soak his pillow with tears. It was the malady that earned for Jeremiah the sobriquet, “The Weeping Prophet.” It was the malady that so afflicted Martin Luther that his melancholy threatened to destroy him. This is no ordinary fit of depression, but it is a depression that is linked to a crisis of faith, a crisis that comes when one senses the absence of God or gives rise to a feeling of abandonment by Him."

I've been in this dark place. I have said those very words. Months ago I wrote in my personal journal, (only part of it will I quote here, much is too dark for me to even reread.) After unemployment stretched on and on, the army not accepting Bear's active duty packet, the mortgage company threatening to foreclose, and my suburban being repossessed, I described my crisis of faith in this way.

"Everyone says to me, 'You must believe in God's Word...' 'You have to trust that He says He will never leave you or forsake you...' 'He is with you always, you just have to look to Him and believe...' 'It will all work out, you'll see, and you'll look back and understand why you went through what you went through.' (and this is a good one,) 'He'll never give you more than you can handle.' So, what if I can't even believe that this IS the word of God, what if God isn't even there. What if He just created us and leaves us to our own devises and this is just what we get for being selfish, wicked human beings. I cannot believe anymore!! He has drug me into too deep of a pit and I can't get out. This is more than I can handle!"

That's where I was several months ago. I was in a Dark Night of the Soul, and that is exactly what my depression was rooted in, my belief that God did not exist, or if he did then he didn't care about me and had abandoned me.

But God...

He pulled us out of that pit. He set our feet on solid ground and made the path straight before us.

But God...

He has not left us, He is using people, circumstances, hymns, and scripture to anoint my wounded heart. He is bandaging my broken spirit with His word--to let me know that I am not alone, that even the psalmist David soaked his pillow with tears.

The words of Charles Wesley spoke to me today during the hymn of the day. I don't know why that particular hymn was chosen, it didn't seem to fit with the topic of the transfiguration of Christ, but it was just what I needed to hear; verse three of "Christ Whose Glory Fills the Skies"

"Visit then this soul of mine,
Pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
Fill me, Radiancy divine,
Scatter all my unbelief;
More and more Thyself display,
Shining to the perfect day."

R.C. speaks again of this crisis of faith, he says. "Spiritual depression is real and can be acute... Our faith is not a constant action. It is mobile. It vacillates. We move from faith to faith, and in between we may have periods of doubt when we cry, 'Lord, I believe, help Thou my unbelief.' "

I am at this point in my recovery. I can now acknowledge that He is here and I'm trying to believe, but I still doubt at times.

Bad days happen, toilets overflow, crock pots spill their contents and ooze sticky messes, coffee cups dribble on white shirts and people get cranky.

But God...

He is there to comfort us through those bad days with words such as these, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Cor. 4:7–10).

Our joy comes from the Lord, not of ourselves. We cannot produce joy without first being filled with the joy of the Lord.

During my Dark Night, I was going through motions but I wasn't IN the word of God. I carried my Bible, but it wasn't open much of the time. I hid behind a facade of the cheerful Christian and didn't allow those around me to see my hurt, and I didn't listen to much of the comforting words that were said to me.

I knew in my head that Jesus had gone through much more than what I was called to bear, but that didn't make it any easier, after all He is God! But R.C. put that in perspective for me as well. That doesn't mean that Jesus was a Pollyanna, always being "glad" in the face of trials. He knew grief too;

"Our Lord Himself was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Though grief may reach to the roots of our souls, it must not result in bitterness. Grief is a legitimate emotion, at times even a virtue, but there must be no place in the soul for bitterness. In like manner, we see that it is a good thing to go to the house of mourning, but even in mourning, that low feeling must not give way to hatred."

The sermon title today was "The View From Up Here." I mentioned before that pastor was talking about the transfiguration. The sermon title means so much more to me. The view from up here is so much better than the pit that I was in. The bitterness and hatred are fading away and being replaced by His love and provision for me. The depression and darkness of my soul are giving way to His light, as bright as the noonday sun, as I return to the presence of God and bask in His glory.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Gonna be real here folks.

I decided a long time ago that this blog was mostly for me. I'm not out to impress anyone with sewing skills, canning abilities or Biblical knowledge. This is my journal, I've just invited you all along for the ride. So, this is what my journal entry is for today.

Today sucks. Big time. It started out rotten and just got worse.

I volunteer at the food bank; and this morning was our volunteer breakfast. I was told it started at 7:30, didn't start until 8 or maybe even 8:30. No set time, why even bother, no one else seems to have a schedule or a life.

So, I arrive and no one else was there. Ok, there was this one guy, but he's mostly a creep and I don't get a long with him. I talked, dug through my small talk repertoire and got more irritated as the morning went on.

So finally everyone else arrived, we ate, and I scooted out before the "I appreciate you, but this is my program and I'll tell you how wonderful I am." speech.

By the time I got home, the house was a wreck, Chels had run off, Miss Busy had broken a hole in the door and the phone was ringing long distance from Iraq.

The kids ran out the door and hopped on the bus before I really knew what had happened.

I then got the vacuuming done because there was food all over the floor, and headed out the door with Boo in the stroller to do my 3-mile walk. We did 1/4 mile before it started raining on us. I stuck it out and did 1.25 miles and we came home. Cold, wet and more cranky.

The babysitter came and took Boo upstairs for his nap, she doesn't sit with him until he falls asleep, so he gets up and gets into mischief. (Ok, I probably shouldn't sit until he is good and asleep, but I like having a bit of control over the situation.)

It turns out that sometime while she was here, he got into a game board that my uncle made and scattered pieces all over my bedroom an his bedroom. The other day I shampooed acrylic paints out of the girls' carpet because of his mischief.

Work was sucky, we were arranging fabric, and it's hard on my hands to move the bolts of fabric all over, they are heavy and I have carpel tunnel syndrome. It irritated me to have to rearrange stuff like that. Espeially when after the day crew leaves, the girl I work with at night has quit and sits in front of the computer if there are no customers. I hate just sitting. I don't want to BS with someone all night long. When I'm not doing anything it seems like this job is a waste of my time when I could be home taking care of my children.

So after work, when I came home I got the report, Ace had a nose bleed, Miss Busy had a scratched eye, no chores had been done, yet they were all sitting in front of the TV.

Then after dinner, which wasn't too fabulous either, the school counselor called me and said that Chels had come to school crying and was all upset about the morning's activities.

I never should have gone to that stupid appreciation breakfast, I can feel sufficiently appreciated if I just stay home and help my children.

I'd really like to just start this day all over again. Crawl back under the covers and sleep until noon. I'm feeling like having a good cry, but that would be unproductive. I'd really like to just go to bed, but that would be unproductive. There is laundry that needs done, sewing that needs finished, projects of my own that I would like to work on just for the pleasure of doing them, but I'm feeling pressure from all the "must do's".

Stop the world, I wanna get off.

Phone calls...

are the most wonderful things aren't they? Especially when they are from your sweetheart half a world away.

It is so nice to be able to share and communicate just like he was at his office 20 minutes away instead of thousands of miles.

God has blessed us with this communication. It hasn't always been this way. In past deployments there was often no communication for days, even weeks. I am so thankful that we can talk almost daily.

It allows me the opportunity to better pray for him when I know the daily struggles he faces.

Daily communication should be a part of our spiritual life too. I've been neglecting my spiritual life lately for some reason. Maybe it's that I think I don't have enough time, or I feel I've gotten too far away from God and can't bridge the gap. But yet, I know that I'm not the one who has to cross the chasm, He has done that already.

Just like our earthly relationships, we need to cultivate and grow deeper in our spiritual relationship too. We wouldn't want to keep talking about the weather with our friends here at home, and we shouldn't always be in the "greeting" mode with God. He wants more from us than our Facebook Status updates, He wants more than an hourly "tweet" telling Him our plans. (He laughs at them anyway.)

He wants deep meaningful conversation. He wants the best for us and daily status updates really aren't the best we can give him.

I think we have become a society that craves all the instant gratification we can get. Microwave popcorn takes too long, frozen dinners make us wait. We are so impatient at red lights, we take airplanes instead of driving and complain about the check-in lines.

I admit I did it today, I was waiting in the 20 items or less line at the grocery store, waiting to purchase my 24 pack of toilet paper. The lady in front of me was having a pleasant conversation with the checker, but I was nearly stewing in my own juices, being impatient about the time it took her to load the lady's groceries. As I walked out the door after paying for my one item, I was mumbling under my breath about how long that took and now I'm going to be late, crab, crab, crab.

What if I spend my "phone call" to God that way? Is my prayer life hurried, impatient, and cranky? Do I just give him my laundry list of requests? Dump on Him my grievances for the day; then expect Him to turn me into a joyful Christian?

You get what you put into a relationship. You reap what you sow, and what you give you will get back in return. When I talk to my sweetheart on the phone, I know that I may not have much time and my next phone call is never guaranteed. I try to leave the conversation with loving attitudes and encouragement. Yet, my conversation with God often times is too quick, cranky and discouraging.

When will you really make time for your Creator? When will you make time to have that meaningful conversation with the One who gave you breath? He is longing to hear from you in a deep and meaningful way, and He doesn't check your Facebook.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Vintage Sheet Swap

Oooh, what fun! Jen at Rosey Little Things is hosting a vintage sheet swap. I joined late, but she still let me play! I've got my vintage sheet fat quarters cut, folded, rolled, tied and ready to go in the mail. I'm so excited to see what goodies I get back. I love swaps! It is such a nice way to share and get a different variety of stuff rather than the same old stuff you always pick up.

Besides, vintage sheets are FRUGAL!! And I'm all about that!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I have a friend...

Isn't that a nice way to start a post?

Everyone should have a friend.
I would have to say that she is my oldest friend. That is not to say that she is the oldest friend that I have, but she is the one whom I have known the longest. We probably met in our church's nursery. She is 9 months and one day older than me. We went through grade school, Jr high together and then I moved over into the next school district. Not too far, but far enough that we didn't hang out like we used to.

I graduated high school, she graduated high school and then life got underway and I haven't seen her in years.

She comforted me during my father's illness and death. She has shared with me joys and sadness through the years.

It is so nice to be able to just pick up where we left off last. I never hear, "I called you last, it's your turn!" or "I'm not writing another letter until she returns one to me!"

She's been there for me through the years, and she's come to my rescue again.
Without any prompting, other than me stating my goals, she has given me great encouragement and concrete direction so that if I follow her advice I will be assured of meeting those goals.

Now that's a friend.

Here is an excerpt from her last note to me.
"I made a goal to work out 6 days a week and not miss a day. And I am over 300 days and counting. The end of March will be my one year mark. Here is what I did. I made the goal that I would work out for at least 25 minutes a day -- and it counted as long as I hadn't gone to bed yet.

It didn't have to be intense. I just had to do it. And so I began. Sometimes it was in the evening. Sometimes it was in the morning. Sometimes I was literally in my pajamas and barefoot. On the elliptical. For 25 minutes. But I did it. And I developed the habit of exercising.

Because I am going to have to do it for the rest. of. my. life."

Oh, my gosh!! Fat girl inside me is screaming! I don't wanna do this for the rest of my life! Isn't there an easier way? Isn't there a pill? A shot? A surgery, a suction, a something?

This is where my "self" takes over and what I know to be true in my heart is wrestled to floor and subdued with a slice of cheesecake.

I really do know that it takes hard work. I really do know that Fat girl didn't move in overnight. She came in one spple fritter, and one Biggie size french fry at a time.

And oh, she didn't come alone. She brought with her some of her friends too. She brought Sloth, Apathy, Busyness, and Blatant disregard for a healthy lifestyle.

But with the help of God, good friends and determination, Fat girl is packing her bags. She's outta here. It's going to take baby steps, and lots of them. Then I'll jack up that Reebok step and take bigger steps. Then we'll tackle long fast walks, and maybe a YMCA class.
I will make it. Skinny girl will take over and be more prominent in my life. I'm afraid that I'll always have a shadow of Fat girl behind me. (In more ways than one, haha!) But I'll make it, with lots of encouragement from old friends.

So, I better get used to it. I better stop being whiny and wimpy. I'd like to stay around long enough to enjoy some more of this good friendship. Love you, Bec.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The war continues...

Here's the score:

1. The battle is between Fat girl and Skinny girl. Fat girl is whiny, she doesn't want to get out of bed. Right now she has more influence over the physical body than Skinny girl. It's hard to overcome her influence when the bed is warm and the room is dark.

2. Gin Miller could kill me. She is a hard taskmaster to Fat girl. She's not as tough as Jillian and she's definitely more compassionate. But to keep up with her, Fat girl will have to move out. "Kill her, Ms. Miller!" Then skinny girl and I can keep up.

3. Hip Hop Reebok is not fun when you can hardly keep your balance enough to stay on the step. Good thing I'm not doing this at a gym where I might actually be seen! (gasp) The loud guffaws would certainly stifle my resolve.

4. The shopping list is all wrong. Starbucks apple fritters are not part of this workout, but Fat girl keeps forgetting that. Skinny girl needs to exercises her resolve and assertion and not let Fat girl bully her. (But you know, Fat girl is big, and bossy, and cranky when she doesn't get her apple fritters.)

5. The real reason this battle is hard right now. I haven't invited the Fitness Master to be in on it with me. He is the one who keeps my spiritual life in shape. He is the one to whom I should look to get rid of Fat girl. He can do it. He can help me tackle her to the ground and make her pack her bags.

Philippians 4:13, for Pete's sake! "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

"Jesus, can we do something about Fat girl? Skinny girl can't breathe!"

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Symbiosis and dividends...

This deployment is different than all the others.

Well, for one, this time Bear is the Chaplain, and not the Chaplain assistant. This time he doesn't carry a weapon, which given the success rate of his firing range experience, that's not a bad thing. This time he is in a different role, and this time, so am I.

I have mentioned before, I think, how I never wanted to be a Chaplain's wife, but through the examples of Godly women in my life and the Holy Spirit working on my heart over the past 16 years, He has changed me. But at the same time, God knows our needs, our strengths and our weaknesses.

I have a friend, Laura, who has stepped into the role of Chaplain's wife so beautifully it constantly amazes me. She is loving, and a truly compassionate partner to her Chaplain/husband through some very difficult circumstances, and God has built a ministry to the spouses of her husband's soldiers through Laura. She has been a comfort to hurting wives and families in her husband's unit and is lovely example of Grace, and "Jesus, with skin on."

When I grow up, I want to be like her. I'm so not there yet.

As Bear and I began walking this path nearly three years ago, I felt certain that I would not be able to be his "civilian partner" and minister to his soldier's families because of the ages of our children and the season of life I am in right now. God knows that and has given me baby steps, and a picture, (in miniature) of duties to come.

With this deployment, Bear is assigned to a Chaplain Detachment, so he doesn't really have a large unit of soldiers with whom he will be working. His "team" consists of him and his Chaplain's Assistant.

The relationship between a Chaplain and his assistant is unique, consisting of an officer, the Chaplain; and an enlisted soldier, the Chaplain assistant. Ordinarily, (in my experience) officers and enlisted soldiers are like oil and water. When thrown in a jar together and shaken, they will mingle and work together quite nicely, but when the shaking stops, they each retreat to their own levels. This is not the case in the symbiotic relationship between Chaplain and assistant.

The Chaplain relies on the enlisted soldier for protection in a combat zone, because the Chaplain does not carry a weapon; for support in his duties as a Chaplain, and sometimes the assistant becomes a gateway to the other enlisted soldiers in the unit. The enlisted soldier in turn, relies on the Chaplain for guidance, leadership and hopefully encouragement in his own career development, promotions, etc.

It can and should be a relationship built on trust and respect. In some ways it is not unlike a marriage--created in the halls of the pentagon, if you will, and sometimes, (more often than not) blessed of God.

Through the 17 years that Bear was a Chaplain's assistant, he has known some wonderful Chaplains. They have been mentors to him, spiritual guidance counselors, pastors and friends. He has also known some immature Chaplains, who were difficult, selfish, and lazy. These are not the norm, however and his good experiences far outweigh the bad.

I have prayed for Bear's unknown assistant since he embarked on this journey to become a Chaplain. I didn't know who it would be. It could have been a female. It might have been a non-believer with no regard for the things of God. I prayed that as a Chaplain, Bear could be a positive influence in the life of that soldier, just as Bear's Chaplains have been in his life.

God listens.

He has given Bear an amazing assistant who knows and loves the Lord. He has a great love of scripture and studying God's word. Plus, he's a crack shot at the firing range. For which I am most thankful.

God has blessed this relationship though, in a way I did not expect. He has given me a new friend. Someone I can hopefully mentor and teach. Someone I can come alongside and share what I have learned about Army family life. We have only just begun this relationship and it has already proved to be equally as symbiotic.

As you may know from my sidebar and my comments area, I don't use real names on my blog, so we'll just call her Kate. Kate and I have emailed a few times and gotten to know one another. I've come to know just how much she loves her soldier and her God. She will make a good Army wife, and I hope that we will be around to share the blessed event with them one day. But for now, Kate and Jay are in a long-distance relationship. (Darn deployments.)

She is new to this whole "army-family-deployment-separation-what's going on with my soldier" thing. So I've been trying to find ways to encourage her. To help her understand the army system and answer any questions she may have. A day or two ago, I passed along a compliment I "overheard" about her soldier, just to give her a boost for the day, and she ended up returning the investment I made in her, by passing along some encouragement to me which she also "overheard."

That's the way God does things. We are blessed to be a blessing. We pass it on to someone else and it, in turn, gets passed around and we all end up getting a blessing. I love this verse in Luke, chapter 6, verse 38; "give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

That's what Kate has done for me. She has been one more confirmation that Bear is on the right path. It has been such a difficult, winding, often dark and scary road to get here. We always tried to remember the words of one of those Godly Chaplains in our past, "Stay the course. It may not be easy, but stay the course!" It is good to finally be on the other side of that wilderness road; to emerge from the darkness on the other side and see light, not only Light, but a Way stretching out in front of us with many wonderful symbiotic experiences--and Godly dividends.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Flying out...

I thought it would be easier to say goodbye this time. I had already held him in my arms one last time and kissed him goodbye.

He's been TDY since Jan 2nd, so I really thought that this would be just an extension of that absence.

Not so. We spoke on the phone today. He told me he was flying out to the sandbox in the next hour or so. We told each other "I love you!" and my voice cracked. I cried. I hope he didn't hear it in my voice. He thinks I'm strong. He knows I am capable of changing a tire or climbing up on the roof to check the shingles. He's seen me balance the calendars of 5 kids and be nursemaid, chef, and taxi driver.

It's just that my best friend is no longer here. He's not in this state, he's not even in our country. That makes me sad. It made me cry to think that he was going so far away.

I don't want him to think I can't do this. I can. I can if I remember Philippians 4:13 for Pete's sake!

Because I am strong. "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." As long as "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

I think I'm going to be reading the book of Philippians a lot this year.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Goals update

Well, after only a week, I have been up early 5 out of 7 days to do some sort of workout. I haven't completely fallen off the bandwagon and I'm feeling sore in places that I never knew could get sore.

I have taken back one pair of shoes and I'm searching for another. I need a good supportive shoe in which I can do my aerobics workout. Even though I do it on the floor at home, I can't do it shoeless. So the last few days I've been doing Pilate's and targeted muscle toning. It feels good, but I'm not getting the caloric burn that I'd like to accomplish.

I can't seem to stop putting calories in, however, and that is frustrating me. I'm trying to stay focused on the goal, and take baby steps. I have pretty much eliminated all the junk food in the house, but it is the quantity that I have a problem with now.

There will always be an ongoing battle between fat-girl and skinny-girl inside me. I know I can do this, I've lost weight and felt good about it before, it's just the dailiness and monotony of getting into a new habit.

It's so easy to have two pieces of toast instead of one. The toaster has two slots so why not just do another one. It's so easy to eat a whole package of trail mix, when I read on the package that there are two servings inside. I have to break out of these habits and replace with good ones.

And therein lies the problem.


I'm making some motivational signs to post on the pantry doors and the fridge. That helped before.

Will update again soon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


So, apparently this is to be the characteristic that I am to work on this year.

Jealousy. It has struck me again. I was telling a friend yesterday how I was feeling jealous because another friend's husband came home on R&R and I don't get to see Bear.

Well, I just found out that spouses and girlfriends of Bear's contemporaries are flying to see them off. We can't go and now the ugly green monster has hit me again. Argh!!

Why do I do this? I said goodbye already. Why does it bother me so when people get to do things that I can't? I must not let this get me down. This is not an attribute that God is proud of in me. I have a family to run and a household to take care of. Stop it! Stop it, right now, I say.

In case you are reading this, Bear. I love you so much and wish that I could be there with you. I'll work on my heart and you stay steadfast. We'll be together in God's time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I realize it is a little late for New Year's resolutions, but I wasn't in the right frame of mind then. I'm coming out of the fog now and I'm going to try and accomplish the following things this year.
1. Lose at least 30 pounds.
If I can consistently lose about 2 pounds a week, I should be able to accomplish this goal in 15 weeks, or about 4 months. I've done it before and it takes consistent portion control and calorie counting. I haven't done very good with that lately.

2. Work out at least 4 times a week. That should be Step-aerobics, or a good hard walk, either around the block or on our 3-mile walking path.

3. Read through the entire Bible in a year. If I read at least 3 chapters a day and 5 chapters on Sunday, that will get me through in one year. I have some catch up to do as I haven't been reading for 2 weeks. But it will be easy to catch up.

There are some other resolutions I'd like to work on, like finishing some UFO Quilting projects, budgeting more efficiently so we can pay off bills. I'll visit these topics later.

Today so far--did my Bible reading and my step-aerobics workout.

Friday, January 15, 2010


I'm seeing jealousy rearing its ugly head. I don't like it and I'm trying to figure out how to get rid of it.

On Bear's last deployment he had a different assignment, he was the Chaplain's assistant and this time he's the Chaplain. He's doing a much different job, one that doesn't really have a start or a stop time. This job involves presence--just being there for the guys, hanging out where they hang out, conversing, getting to know them, their families and their concerns. I know this and yet, I'm sort of feeling like he doesn't want to hang out with me. You see, we are both on facebook but he never seems to be on to chat with me. I know he's doing what he needs to, and I know in my head that this is his calling, yet in my heart I can't help feeling like he doesn't want to spend more time with me.

Oh, I know the way he is--once he has his assignment he is very determined to do the best job that he can. He is very compartmentalized and puts things on the home front out of his mind so that he can focus on the task at hand.

He is a good soldier, and a good chaplain, and he is loved by his soldiers and can relate to them because he was been in their boots for 17 years. I don't mean to dis my husband on this forum, this is more about me and my jealousy than about Bear. It needs to stop. I need to get over it and seek solace from the One who will never leave me.

"It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) I'm not fearful, but I am dismayed. He has commanded it, and so now I must do it.

Please pray with me in this.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Ok, it's about time! Time for me to update. Goodness, I had no idea I had been away that long. I do have [two] faithful readers so I'm doing them a disservice by not writing.

Bear has a job as a Chaplain in the reserves. Because this is a public forum, I won't be posting dates and places because of OPSEC, but I will say this. He will be traveling in the next few weeks and we'll be getting overseas pay soon.

God has faithfully and carefully led us to this point. I know this because it almost didn't happen, one person in authority said no, another person in authority said "yes we want you" and the second one of them got the paperwork done first and now Bear is in.

We are so thankful to be finally back in where he can minister to the good soldiers of the armed forces. He has a wonderful Christian Chaplain's Assistant and they get long well. I have chatted with Bear's assistant and he assures me he will take good care of our Chaplain. For that I am thankful.

We were able to spend a wonderful holiday season with Daddy here at home and just after New Years he left again to do training in southern US and is getting to know the soldiers with whom he will work.

On the homefront we are slowly getting caught up on bills, maintenance items and digging ourselves out of our financial pit we were in. God is faithful and has brought us through the wilderness just as He did the Israelites with our sandals intact and our clothes unworn.

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