Friday, December 30, 2016

Seeking to Simplify

   Whenever a new year starts to roll around I tend to start reflecting on life and thinking about how things are going. What areas appear to be doing well and where can I improve? There does always seem to be a lot of room for growth but at the same time I feel blessed and thankful to see improvement in some areas too.

  This last year was busy. Sometimes it was overwhelmingly busy. We made it but I don't want to repeat those feelings of being overwhelmed. Our schedule can get busy to be sure and I am working to watch that carefully but I feel like a lot of the feelings of being overwhelmed came from the amount of stuff and clutter. Not just physical clutter but also things like a full e-mail inbox, endless picture files on our computer (that cause it to work slower) and so forth.

   So this coming year I really want to focus on getting rid of excess. We have been super abundantly blessed and I am SO thankful for our God who provides our every need but I don't think being thankful means I need to keep everything that He has given me. I think perhaps at times we are given things so that we can pass them on to somebody else. Maybe we can sell them and use the money in a way that would glorify Him.
This has been a slow week around here as all of my music students were on vacation and so I started to work on going through things and reducing the amount of stuff we own. It has been so fun to make some good headway in this project. I still have a lot I want to do however and so I will continue to work on it.

  Do you have excess stuff in your life too? Would you like to join me in cleaning out our houses? I am planning on setting some goals (starting Monday) for bringing less stuff in and taking stuff our of our home. It would be fun to know there are others doing the same thing and encouraging one another.

  So, Lord willing I will get another post with my (and yours too, if you like) challenge on Monday morning and then we can get to work!

   Meanwhile I will be doing some more cleaning and organizing (and we are making me a new built in desk - I can't wait to show you!!) and then we have a party to celebrate our new year.

  Happy New Year to all of you!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Our Town in Miniature { a fun family project}

I hope you and your family had a blessed Christmas time. We did. God is so good to bless us and provide for us each and every day. We had a fairly quiet holiday time at home with the family. My parents and a friend came over for Christmas Dinner but otherwise it was a time of celebrating with just our immediate family. I don't like that small of a crowd for Thanksgiving but I don't mind it at Christmas time. (My other local siblings were out of town visiting in-laws.)

  One of the things I enjoy about Christmas time is spending extra time creating things. We did a fair amount of that this year and really had some fun working on some group projects.

  One of the big family projects of this year was creating a Christmas window scene for Ken's office window at his Insurance Agency. The Jaycees club had announced a contest for the downtown businesses and Ken thought it would be fun to participate. We thought that would be pretty cool if a bunch of businesses would decorate their windows as it would make walking downtown a lot of fun. So we started brainstorming about how it would be fun to decorate it. We decided that it would be quite fun to make a miniature of our town (parts of it anyway) set in an earlier era. We especially wanted statues of Paul and Babe as that is iconic of our town.

  So we began....
Making Paul and Babe was a little intimidating. I wasn't quite sure how to do it. I have found with projects though that if you just get started and try usually you can figure things out as you go along and it will work out. So I printed off and picture and got some wire to use and got started.
I made some rough looking wire frames.
Then came the paper mache. I have hardly ever done paper mache but I think it is rather fun now. I can see more paper mache projects in my future. It is such a cheap craft using old paper, flour, water and then some kind of form. The form above was my original look for Babe but then members of my family gave me some good constructive criticism and I was able to add more paper and improve his look quite a bit.
They are coming along....
Meanwhile buildings were also being constructed. My big project was the old Carnegie Library and Mara made 2 houses, Jonathan constructed a neighborhood store/house (Which I found were extremely common in the 1940s - Our town had around 20 of them that year and our town is not that large), and Megan made a house.
After the paper mache was dry it was time for painting.
Late one night I also constructed a car. My family wasn't to impressed (the boys were really hoping I would find appropriate cars of the right size and era to buy- but we didn't) but I was pretty delighted with my attempt to turn a butter box into a car. I also was able to use some dried-up/gooey black paint to form around milk lids to make tires. The tire guard things are from toilet paper rolls. I find turning trash into something else very satisfying.
I mounted Paul on a piece of wood so he could stand up. They were placed in a snowy field by the "lake".
Here is our Carnegie Library decorated for Christmas.
Megan and I cut out bunches of snowflakes to hang with lights above. They look a lot better when the lights are on but I guess I didn't get a picture that way.
The side of Jonathan's house/store.
One of Mara's houses.
Megan decided that she wanted to have her little girl (we also hand made around 20 wire and yarn people for our scene) looking out the chimney, of the house she made, checking if it would work for Santa to go down. Ken and I weren't so sure about that look but humored her. The mother holding a baby is outside watching her.
The grocery store from the front with a lady with packages coming out of it.
We made some carolers to go sing at one of the houses.
We also made a bunch of paper mache snowmen that were scattered here and there. Mara made some "Christmas lights" from little beads which you can see in the "tree".
We had some people sledding on our hill. We created hills in various places by putting boxes under our tablecloths and batting.
This little boy is making a snowman while the gentlemen is looking at Paul and Babe.
The carolers at another house that Mara made.

The finished product.

 Also... Because you know I am frugal I just wanted to share that we only used things we already had for this display. Much of what we used was repurposed and so that made the project even more fun for me.

Here is some more information shared by our local TV station:

We worked on another big project this season as well - a gift for Ken - that hopefully I can tell you about soon. Did you do any fun creating lately? I would love to hear about it. Also if you have written about it online please leave a link!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Last Minute Projects

    Do any of the rest of you procrastinate? Please say you do so I won't feel alone.😊We are still busily working on projects at our place. It is a fun time but a busy one.

Here is just a peek at some of the things we are working on. Just in case any of my family should happen by we will have to just leave it at a peak for the time being.
 I will try to come back and explain these two pictures, at least, later.
 What projects are you still working on at your place? Or what project has been done and wrapped for the last week? 😉

Sunday, December 18, 2016


Ken and I are celebrating our 18th anniversary today so I think it is fitting that I have the topic of love on my mind. But apart from that as we were driving away from church today Aaron started talking about the sermon (I didn't hear it because I was teaching kids) and mentioned that he thought 1 Corinthians 13 was probably his favorite chapter in the Bible. I thought it would be good for me to read over it again today in reminder of the sort of wife, mother, friend, etc that I want to be. I thought maybe you might like a reminder too.

1 Corinthians
13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Image may contain: 2 people, indoor

Ken and I were able to have a quick getaway on Friday and Saturday. It was a fun time hanging out together and enjoying some couple conversation time. I feel very blessed to have enjoyed 18 years of marriage to this man! God is good.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Enjoying Christmas Time

I do believe it is Christmas time. We have been enjoying many things that come along with that.
  • Singing and listening to Christmas Carols - we shared them along with verses at the nursing home last week.
  • Snowy days.
  • Decorating the house.
  • The smell of pine! 

  • Walks in the woods to collect evergreen branches.

  •  Pictures, letters and cards from loved ones coming in.

  •  Secret projects that we are having fun working on to give to others.

  •  Pine garlands on our stairs.

  •  Stockings hung - even for Kitchi. :-)

  •  Working with my kids to make our home look festive.

  •  Old fashioned Christmas traditions like popcorn strings made by Megan.

  •  Candles - we think they are rather beautiful.

  •  My sweet girl who is loving going around in the dark house with her candle. (We are being very careful!)

  •  Lefse making with friends.

  •  Getting to use the lefse stick which looks rather like a sword. What fun!

  • Getting to go on a date with Ken to hear a high-school accapella choir sing carols. It was a treat.
We are so very blessed that God sent His Son to earth for us. It is fun to have this time to celebrate. I hope your Christmas time is a blessing to you!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Daily Bible Reading Challenge

Just some quick thoughts on life... Is there ever enough time to do all that you would like to do in a day? I don't find it so. There seems to always be another project that I would love to work on, another person I would love to visit with, another area that I would love to clean, another blog post I would like to write, another song I would like to play, another book I would like to read to my kids, another walk I would like to take with my husband and so forth. I love my life and all the ways God has blessed me, but it is busy. :-) I have heard people say to just do what you really love and forget about the rest. Well, even when I do that I still struggle to do all of that. And it isn't that I am slow, I tend more towards getting things done pretty efficiently. It is just that there are so many things that are fun to do!

Be that as it may be I am just going through life one step at a time and doing what I can do and trying to enjoy it fully and not worry about what isn't getting done. One thing I am working on (and I hope it might help to free up some time) is getting rid of excess in our lives (an unending saga of my life).

  One thing that is important every day no matter how busy life gets is spending time with my Lord - both in prayer and in reading His word. Here are some treasures that I have found in His word lately:

What has caused me to worship God more? 
"For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming or our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "The is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased"- and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain." 2 Peter 1:16-18

When we talk about Jesus we are talking about majesty! Sometimes it is easy to just think about Him as he was going about in the flesh but that wasn't nearly all of who Jesus is - and even when He he was walking on earth as a man He was still filled with majesty. He is completely awesome! The book of Revelation is a good one to read if you need to be reminded of that.

What Scripture touched me?
"The Lord said; "Jeremiah, I am your Creator, and before you were born, I chose you to speak for me to the nations."

I replied, "I 'm not a good speaker, Lord, and I'm to young."
"Don't say you're to young, " the Lord answered. "If I tell you to go and speak to someone, then go! And when I tell you what to say, don't leave out a word! I promise to be with you and keep you safe, so don't be afraid." Jeremiah 1:4-8 (Contemporary English Version)

Can't you just relate to Jeremiah? So often we feel like questioning what God has called us to do. To find excuses that it just won't work for us. We need this same admonition that He got - we need to move forward without fear!

What prompts me to action?
"But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue but in deed and truth." 1 John 3:17 & 18

My prayer is that I won't just tell people that I am praying for them or say "I hope things work out for you, etc." but would rather do something to help them the best I can as well.

What interesting fact did I read?
"But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." 2 Peter 1:20 & 21

The Bible is true and came from God. I believe this wholeheartedly - which then means that I should obey it and live by it. I am trying to do that with God's help. What about you?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

To Joey, With Love {Movie Review}

DVD Artwork

Have you heard of the Country and Bluegrass singers, Joey and Rory? A while back Ken had called me in to see a music video of them that he was impressed with. I thought they did a good job too but then forgot about them again. Then earlier this year some friends were over and we were talking about music (that conversation easily gets started at our house when they see the line up of instruments hanging on our wall) and they mentioned Joey and Rory and also the fact that she had just died. That evening after they left I started checking them out on Youtube and really enjoyed what I heard. I also learned more about their life and Joey's struggle with cancer.

   I have listened to their music quite often since that evening and have also read Rory's blog from time to time. So, since I have come to be very interested in their story (which is truly a beautiful one- in the messy way that life can have) I was delighted when I was contacted to see if I would like to review the movie - "To Joey, with Love". Here you can see the trailer to that movie:

The movie was definitely a tearjerker. You see a wonderful love that Joey and Rory have for each other and their infant daughter Indiana and then you go with them through Joey's struggle with cancer which eventually kills her. But through it all you see their trust in our Almighty God and the way He has worked in their lives. It is a beautiful story.

  The movie is done using a bunch of home videos that Rory and Joey took. So it isn't like your typical movie with the perfect pictures and the perfect dialogue. But still it is very well done and I think you will enjoy it.

   We watched this for the most part as a family (with Ken and Jonathan coming and going at times). There were a couple things that made my guys turn away for a bit - there were quite a few pregnancy and delivery tummy shots but nothing to extreme. There was also quite a few nursing shots that weren't to well covered (I am fully in favor of mamas nursing in public but we do encourage having shirts that cover the breasts well and that wasn't necessarily done in this movie).

  This movie is just an encouragement to all of us that God is in control, He is writing our story - let's trust Him in it - no matter what happens!

Here is one of my favorite songs of theirs:

You can find "To Joey, With Love" on Amazon.

Stay tuned as I may have a copy to give away after a bit. :-)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Daily Bible Reading Challenge

Are you reading God's word every day? It can get busy during Holidays - I know- but we still need to hear from God.

Here are some of the treasures I have found in God's word lately:

What caused me to worship God more?
"Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves it to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:11

God truly does deserve all the glory and praise. He is the source of all wisdom, strength and life. We can do nothing without Him.

What Scripture touched me?
"Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed, And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;" 1 Peter 3:13-15

Knowing that we have Jesus Christ beside us each step of the way is such a wonderful comfort!

What prompts me to action?
"Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1:5-8

That is quite a list of things to work on. 😉 That is what I love about the Bible though - some inspiration on how to live better - a more fulfilled life. I don't want to be useless or unfruitful - I want to glorify God in what I do.

What interesting fact did I find?
"Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 2 Peter 3:11 & 12

This world is not going to remain forever. In fact it will be completely destroyed. That is part of God's plan. We just need to make sure that we are ready! Are you?

What treasures did YOU find in God's word lately?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Feeling so Thankful!

Megan and Aaron helped me with rolls. A favorite traditional job at our place.
 We were blessed with a wonderful Thanksgiving time.  I hope you were as well. Ken was able to take the last 3 days off which was so fun. His work keeps him very busy so it is common for him to need to work on the weekend as well as the week days - the joys of running your own business! 😊 So having him home so long was a treat.

   I think it is so important to give thanks to our Heavenly Father each and every day and throughout the day but it is neat to have a special day dedicated to that as well. He is SO good to us!

Here are a few random pictures from our Holiday (and missing any pictures of our lovely company - my parents, my brother and sister-in-law and 2 friends- I seem to get busy with company and forget about my camera.).
 Ken used his time at home to finish setting up his big screen, projector and sound system. This was in the works since we planned our home as I don't like having a TV in the living room (As a family we watch very little TV) but Ken wanted to be about to watch a game now and then in the living room rather than down in the basement so we came up with this compromise- Jonathan's idea. I didn't realize the screen would be quite so BIG! But the screen neatly rolls up and out of sight so it works just fine. They enjoyed watching the Vikings play on Thanksgiving. Notice Jonathan with the pillow in front of his head. I hadn't noticed that until I looked at the picture. Lately he has been trying to avoid photographs.
 Megan hanging up things we are thankful for on some branches.
 Mara had fun making pies. I did help some too and my mom and sister-in-law also brought pies. We had way more pies that needed but that is fun.
 The varieties that we had are pumpkin, peanut butter, blueberry cream, apple, plum, mince, lemon and pecan (the last two aren't pictured - my sister-in-law brought them later).
 Sorry for the sideways picture. I used some chalkboard tags that we had made for name tags at our places.
I like a pretty table. I had fun using my odds and ends of blue plates this year.
Today I delivered flowers for a wedding. I loved the pretty fall colors.

How was your Thanksgiving?


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