Friday, April 30, 2010

Salt Maps

We have enjoyed our learning of history.  The Gabanator is studying Genesis through Rome this year.  One of the activities was to make a salt map of either our world, or one you create.  We discussed different geographic terms and labels like oceans, desserts, mountain ranges, tributaries, etc.  Then we made a blueprint for his project.  The recipe for a salt map is very simple:

1 c. wheat flour (non-self rising)
2 c. salt
1 c. water
Poster paints
Mix salt and flour. Add the water a little at a time, stir thoroughly. Divide mixture in bowls to add the colors needed. Spread immediately as you would frosting on a cake. Must be used at once, it will dry solid in 2 or 3 days.

If we had to do it over I would use a smaller poster board, this is really big!  In addition, you can add food coloring right to the mix, we did that for the ocean.  Other pieces you will want to paint sepeaately.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cutting the Apron Strings

Once upon a time, I remember debating the pros and cons of education with another young mother.  My philosophy was that our little sponges needed to apply everything you could avail them and pour it abundantly into their little noggins. I will still hold to that mantra.  I really can't help myself being an education major. 
We have been praying about the next step for our oldest son concerning school in the fall.  He is ready for a bigger setting and eager to explore some of his gifts set: music and theatre.  He is very creative and talented, not to mention smart (Otis-Lennon Ability exam testifies to this).  He has had a mix of private school and homeschooling over the years and we have been seeking what will be the best fit for him as a sophomore.  As God would have it, a brand spanking new high school abides at the end of our street.  It has state of the art equipment in the music and drama...go figure!  We met today with the guidance counselor and discussed this possible transition.  Everyone seemed genuinely positive and engaging.  Our prayer has been that my husband and I and our son would be in total agreement after our meeting with the school, and if there were any flags God would make it abundantly clear that this was not the right path. 
One of my questions was how a homeschooler transitions socially and culturally into the public sphere.  GET INVOLVED!!!!  Become involved with activities that hone your interests and get you connected with other students.  Well that is a no-brainer considering all the music and theatre opportunities there.  Leaving the building today, hubby was exuberant about our visit and the tall teen was intrigued and nodding his head...sweet!  Me, I saw no flags, and I generally felt an open door there.  I will confess how profusely I was sweating sitting in the office (brings back old memories :)  This is MY kid we are talking about here!!  I have poured my heart and soul into him.  I want what is best for him, and the list for what that does NOT include is rather lengthy!  Cutting the apron strings means too attached to one's mother. It has a literal origin as well: in the days before playpens and other devices, a mother would attach her child to her by her apron strings. The child could play nearby safely.  Down the street isn't that far away, now is it?
God has repeatedly layed on my heart, 'Prepare him for the journey.'  I have talked, interviewed, prayed and asked others to pray about this long awaited day.  It would be great to have a fairy tale ending, but only God knows how his journey will turn out.  For now, we are moving forward with excitement and anticipation and fervently praying all the way.  We pray this will be a Kingdom calling for him to stretch and to be salt and light to all around him.  It definitely is a mission field!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Snackin Favorite

I can't eat anything containing moo, which is very sad for me.  I am not a vegan, my body just has an obnoixous reaction to any dairy.  I miss dips the most, and yogurt.  I found this spinach and artichoke hummus and spread it on a garlic cracker and my little heart was very happy in that moment!  These Kashi crackers are just like the Trisket kind without MSG!  KUDOS!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mama's Black Bean Chili

How many recipes for chili have you made?  Oodles and oodles of them?  Have you ever entered a chili contest?  Well if you do, or you are just looking for something to make for dinner tonight, this is my all time favorite recipe for chili (make it as spicy as you want!).

1 1/2 lb ground turkey or chicken
2 cans black beans
sm. can of fire-roasted tomatos
sm. can of tomato sauce
3 cups diced zucchini
1 cup chopped onions
1 T chili powder
1t  crushed garlic

Saute meat and onions, add garlic when meat is almost cooked.  Add all other ingredients.
You can transfer everything to your crock-pot or make a triple batch and let it cook on the stove for 1 hour or so.

My clan likes macaroni noodles with their chili.  My dad likes rice with his.  I like blue tortilla chips with mine.
Serve with salad and corn bread and yum it up!

The Buff One

Hubby was rootin through his closet looking for his Hawaiian shirt.  When we met for the very first time, he was wearing this shirt, over 17 years ago!  "Why do you want the shirt?", curiosity waning.  "At work it is 'wear your Hawiian Shirt Day', and a Gilligan's Island contest, oh, and I need to bring in something to share for lunch."  Sigh.  So I reach into the deepest, darkest crevices of his closet and present the shirt.  It's all the way in the back, he never wears it, why would he??  As he is putting on the shirt he reminds me (again) of the little college girls who refer to him as "the buff one".  His Olympic-cut frame does lend itself to this flattering statement, that I will grant.
After buttoning up the shirt and the top buttons spanning across his broad chest he says, "AHH, I shouldn't have gone to the gym this morning!"  He cracks me up!  So not only is he buff, but he is way-out-there super smart, so he won the title of  Professor from Gilligan's Island.  Not a bad day, huh?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Love Letters

In case you need a little reminder, read this love letter written to you from the One who knows you best...

Have a joy-filled day!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dry Bones

Ezekiel led an unusual life.  He was a prophet of God and was asked to do some really hard things.  One day he was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with human bones (GROSS!).  God led him around among the old, dry bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground. God said to Ez, "Speak to these bones and say, 'Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord!  This is what the Sovereign Lord says:  Look!  I am going to breathe into you and make you live again!...I will put breath into you, and you will come to life." 
Sara Groves sings a song about another Old Testament prophet Jeremiah.
From the 20th chapter of Jeremiah it says, "His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones: I was weary of holding it back, and I could not."
What's with these old guys and bones?  Do you feel all dried up, undernourished in your soul, lacking power and life?  Then listen to the word of the Lord, that is the key!  God's word breathes life into our lives making us free and alive.  I want God to breath on me!  (I wonder what His breath smells like, something fragrant no doubt!)  James 1:25 says, "if you keep looking steadily into God's perfect law-the law that sets you free-and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it."      SIGN ME UP!
Passivity keeps you from reaching for the good book.  Ambition and desire hold you back from the truth God wants to reveal to you.  We need to get serious and detonate that fire that burns us up that is not in alignment with God's truth and promises.  Everything else is distracting and noisy in order to keep us from living in our God-given gift set.  Have you ever read  the book by C.S. Lewis titled Screwtape Letters?  We had an opportunity to see the play last winter at the Shakespearean Theatre in D.C.  A senior demon appoints his minion, Wormwood, to distract and discourage his chosen human on earth.  He makes every attempt to keep the person focused on worldly things or worse-self.  Look over here at this sparkly thing-a-ma-bob not at the child calling your name.  This method of living is sure to dry up your bones!  We run on empty and wonder how we find ourselves completely undone.

God's word is lifegiving.  He can revitalize and rejuvenate you.  The key is to make the time to read the Word and apply it to your life.  So what can you rearrange to make that happen?  What needs to go in your schedule that is sucking the life out of you?  How would you like things to be in your life, take the necessary steps to reach that goal!
Let me know how I can pray for you in these areas.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I love this collection of baby treasures displayed so elegantly.  The silver necklace and bracelet were mine, the picture frame was my mom's, and the dress and bonnet were my daughters.  This shadowbox is hers.  At the moment it hangs in my living room for us all to enjoy, but one day, she will have it in her home.  My mom gave this as a gift to her granddaughter.  Along with her hope chest, she will have a collection of sweet memories to tuck away.  Time passes so quickly.  They are only little for a moment.  I pray you will capture the time you have been given with the ones you love best. 

Psalms 90:12 NIV

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.


Thursday, April 15, 2010


So I started the day with a plan.  It was a good plan.  Today my eating choices were all mapped out!  Oatmeal for breakfast, protein shake for lunch, chili w/veges for din din.  Sounds good, right?!  But then something happened after lunch as it always does.  I begin taking inventory of my pantry.  You know the routine, open the door and look for that certain something that says ah-ha!  Nothing speaks to you then you close the door.  Repeat 15 minutes later.  Meanwhile the fruit bowl is glaring at me as it over ripens!  O the tragedy of it all!
But then, but then, I opened the cabinet door again and HOT DIGGITY, there was a box of chocolates pushed to the back.  Now these aren't just any chocolates; these are from Havre de Grace.  These are made with love.  These are made with sweeter sugar!  These, alas, are made with smoother, darker chocolate.  Not all chocolates are created equal!!!  Say this outloud with me, "Chocolate is our friend!"
Do you know of Harve de Grace's sweet secret?   Hmmm, you're probably not interested.  You probably don't even care what chocolate passes between your lips.  Poor things!  For those few of you out there in cyber world I will share (not the chocolate) where your next destination stop is to be.
I made the picture XXX Large for you.  Notice there are some missing!  If you have not had the opportunity to visit Bomboy's candy shop, you have not yet thououghly lived.  Good news, it is not too late!
In addition, soon, very soon, the homemade ice cream shop directly across the street will be opening for summer.  SIGH.....  The candy shop takes you back to another time and place.  A place that is safe and young, and calories never, ever help you make a decision.
If I were truly a good friend, I'd share.  However, these were given to hubby and me so technically I already am sharing.  These are creamy peanut butter (his) and chocolate covered raisins (yours truly).
It's a happy, blissful day!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I love old houses-the kind with character and nooks; window seats, alcoves and chunky moldings...sigh!  Clients will ask how to choose colors or ideas for a room.  If you have an 'inspiration piece'; that is the perfect place to start.  I found this vintage spice rack and knew this would jump start the flavor of my kitchen.  The walls became red, the curtains picked up the vintage flare and the layering began.  Sometimes an inspirational piece will be an Aubusson rug or an antique vase or a piece of heirloom furniture.  If you don't have a piece to start with, then think about what colors make you feel peaceful and happy.  Think about what style says; "yep that's me!"  Magazines are great for finding your style.  Our homes are an oasis from the outside.  I have no doubt that Proverbs woman number 31 had a lovely home that was warm and welcoming. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It is well with my soul

My very favorite hymn is It Is Well With My Soul.  Do you know the story behind the song?

This hymn was written after several traumatic events in Horatio Spafford’s life. The first was the death of his only son in 1871, shortly followed by the great Chicago Fire which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer). Then in 1873, he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the S.S. Ville du Havre, but sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business concerning zoning problems following the Great Chicago Fire. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sailing ship, the Loch Earn, and all four of Spafford's daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone." Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.

It Is Well With My Soul
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But Lord, 'tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

I love the part highlighted in pink.  My old self, every part, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more!
I do not live under condemnation.  I am no longer who I once was.  The Holy Spirit has taken up residence in me and I am free of the sin that so easliy ensnares.  Praise God!
So when the waves are crashing all around, you can still say, it is well with my soul.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Letter

My parents gave my siblings and I a treasured hierloom this past Christmas.  My Grandmother would faithfully write her 3 boys, who were in the war, daily.  She would tell each of them what the others were doing, the goings on around home, and baseball score clippings cut-out from the newspaper.  My dad saved each precious letter he received from home.  I have been the benefactor of one of these letters.  My way-creative mom (she has more creativity in her pinky finger than I have in my whole body!) put together these hierlooms for each of us kids.  She framed a photcopy of the envelope and on the back of the picture frame she tucked the original letter from my Grandmother. 

These are the contents of my envelope.  Let me share with you a bit of this sweet letter...
Nelson Darling,
     We received your letter of the 26th today.  So glad you had a chance to go to Jacksonville.  You are some stuff staying at a hotel.  Bet you think you are a sport huh?  Just be sure you go with good company and don't go any place to get in any trouble.  We got a letter from Jackie today.  He said he is busier than when the war was on.  Said he was worried about you and Beanie said the same.  Try and write to them both.  Charles and grandma came out on the 10 o'clock bus this morning.  They are staying all night.  Dad got the car all back together today, finished about 1 p.m. he was all smiles...

She signs it:   Always your loving Mom, hugs and kisses  xoxoxoxo

Takes you back, hand written letters aged with time.  Thankfully some things don't change like a mother's love, and her constant concern for her children.  How precious!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Quiet Time

Say Good Morning to the Lord!  Thank Him for a new day.  Before you jump into reading for your quiet time, acknowledge the One to whom you pray...

Lord I hold your Word in high regard because it is perfect, sure, pure, and clean (Psalm 19).  Father I delight in your Word.  I have a spiritual hunger to know you more.  Father I am willing to put forth a mighty effort to draw close to you.  Help me to deal with distractions that keep me from spending time with you.  Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit who teaches me all the things you want me to know.  Lord thank you that when I walk away from spending time with you I am more radiant and joyful. 
I want to experience Christ as a versus' truth comes alive to me.  Use scripture to revive me, give me wisdom and discernment that I can apply what I glean to my family, my friends, and myself.  Fortify me to memorize scripture.  Open my eyes spiritually.  Shape my attitudes and spiritual perception.  Develop within me a spiritually receptive outlook.  Heighten my intellect so that I can understand the doctrines of the bible.  Holy Spirit illuminate the Word and guide me to apply the truths I learn.  Lord give me a genuine eagerness to study your Word daily.  Keep me teachable and obedient and diligent in studying your Word.
I praise you God for victory over deceitful , enslaving sins.  Thank you for Your promises and inner cleansings.  Thank you for your warnings of pitfalls to avoid.  Pierce my heart, show me my sin.  Help me to reckon with that which pulls me away from you.  May I live for an audience of one this day.
Stamp eternity on my eyes.  May I bless someone today pointing them to You.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


What's cooking?  Chicken tonight-one pot!  This is a family favorite around these parts.  Be flexible with what you have on hand, add a little of this or that according to your families taste.  If you are of the vegetarian persuasion then substitute the meat for tofu.

1 medium onion or leek
2 garlic cloves
1 celery stick
2 carrots
2-3 T Olive oil
1 lb. of ground meat
can of beans (whatever is in the pantry)
12 cups chicken or vege stoc
lg can tomato sauce or diced
box of small shaped noodles

Throw all veges into food processor and blitz. 

In large pot heat and add oil.  Add vege mix and sautee for 5 min. 

While that is sauteing gather the rest of your ingredients

Add meat or tofu.  Cook till brown breaking into tiny pieces. 
Add drained beans, stock, and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, add pasta and cook for about 15 min.  The liquid will get absorbed by the noodles making it more stew-like than soupish, thus=stewp!  Add S & P for taste.

Cornbread and a salad rounds out the meal.  You can add parmesan cheese for those cow lovers out there!  Oh, and the wine, that's for me ;)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Dash

Attending my friend's mother's funeral I was asked to read this poem...

I read of a man who stood to speak, at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on this tombstone from the end.
He noted that first came his date of birth and spoke the following with tears. But he said what mattered most of all, was the dash in between those years.
For the dash represents, all the time he spent alive on earth.
And how only those who loved him know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own; the cars, the house, the cash, what matters most is how we live and love and how we spend our dash… So think about this long and hard. Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left, that can still be rearranged. If we could just slow down enough, to consider what is true and real.
And always try to understand, the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger, and show appreciation more,
and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect, and more often wear a smile…
Remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash would you be proud of the things they say and how your spent your dash?

By Linda Ellis

Makes you think and prioritize doesn't it?  A tiny little line, but so so significant!
Have a dashing day!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Pockets of Peace

We spent a glorious day romping through the Catoctin Mountains at Cunningham Falls.  It is a 78 foot waterfall, the biggest in Maryland.  After a month of stress and crisis, we have had 2 memorable pockets of peace that have resonated within us.  One was having dinner at a friends; whose backyard is something to behold.  They have a beautiful pond and gardens and little nooks to sit and rest upon.  The second was this outing we took with our dear friends.  You know when you keep pushing and trudging your way through hardship after hardship, the moment you come into contact with a peaceful surrounding it trumps everything.

Sissy and Daddy raced to the top of the rocky cliff.  Daddy was oh so close, but Sissy won!!

Here is a part of the waterfall.  You can climb to the very top.  We saw some people in flip flops climbing-Yikes!

Alas, here is our very own strong man moving through the debris! :)  A day with friends in God's beautiful gift of creation, it warms my soul...

Psalms 85:10 NIV

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.


Enchanted with Musicals

We had the opportunity to see 2 inspiring musicals this weekend.  The Rock and the Rabbi is a story of the powerful friendship between a fisherman and a teacher.  The story begins when Jesus chooses the 12 disciples and journeys all the way to the cross with them. This narrative will ignite your retelling of the gospels in a powerful way.  There is so much energy and emotion in this group of musicians.  The Rock & The Rabbi isn't your ordinary gospel musical. The production is first class all the way. It has interesting dialogue, catchy tunes and a diversity of talent to bring it to life. Simon, renamed Peter by Jesus, conversationally retells his view of Jesus' ministry and miracles. It is a story of friendship and betrayal, forgiveness and reconciliation that touches the heart. The musical has been on tour since 1999 and they have performed all over the country.  This is a great CD to purchase and listen to on your next long trip in the car. 

Part II  is called The Witnesses. It tells the story of Peter and Paul (formally Saul) and the birth of the Church.  The story and songs are breathtaking.  You will be humming them long after you hear the voice of Neal Coomer and Josiah Martin sing. 
My daughter said, "I wish they would tell the whole bible like that!"

Friday, April 2, 2010

Enchanted with Faith

You will never learn faith in comfortable surroundings.  You will never need faith other than your time here; heaven doesn't require faith.  Practicing faith comes from hardships, uncertainties, trails, the unknown, and our dreams.  Our faith cannot rest on our wisdom or man's wisdom, but on God's power (1Cor2:5).  Oh how I yearn for God's power to fill me everyday.  What about when my faith is weak?  There's good news; Romans 1:12 says that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith.  So when I am down and exhausted I can lean on other's and have their faith splash onto me.  Faith is our shield. Faith extinguishes the flaming arrows of the enemy. So if you are having a hard time holding up your shield, I will help you hold it.
Isn't it hard that faith is something we can't see.  Faith is living in the documented history and testimonies of my life and the world at large to believe in the security of how God has been faithful throughout all generations.  This is how we can 'see' our faith, by looking into the past.
We need to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith; test yourselves the bible says.  2 Cor 13:5 asks, "Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you?"  There is that power surge again.  By faith, we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.  Faith and hope go hand in hand-they are best friends.  A mustard seed; that is the size of faith God says you need to move a mountain!   Got any mountains to move?  Matthew 17:20 states that, "Nothing will be impossible for you if you have faith the size of a mustard seed."  
Life is messy.  Life is hard.  I am no stranger to hardship.  The weary month of March held a tragic, brutal murder of my sister-in-law, a dear friends mom falling asleep at the wheel-her funeral is next week, and a family member needing admittance into rehab.  If I did not have my faith to lean into God I would be curled up under a blanket somewhere indefinitely! 
Tap into the power that waits to fill you and equip you to endure your present road.