Friday, March 28, 2008


Do you remember how much fun it was to create a perfect mud pie. You wanted "clean" dirt that was not full of pebbles and sticks. If they were there you could not turn out a perfect one because they would fall apart. I remember playing house with our dolls outside and using a tuna can to make these perfect mud creations. We would often pick a dandelion or wild violets to decorate the mud creation.

I see value in child's create a mud pie for the tea party with the dolls or other things we created with acorns and flowers and leaves in the fall. Not to mention the snow forts in the winter months. Mom never yelled at me for getting my hands dirty or my play clothes. We lived in a farm and that was all in a days work.

What it taught me was it was a good thing to be creative. We had no TV and so play was so much a part of our lives. I remember taking the old Sears Catalog and making paper dolls with a class mate and grandma giving us bits of lace and tiny buttons to dress our creations up with or allow us to glue fabric on index cards and cut out that for clothes. She would smile because she knew we were learning colors and skills that would be valuable to us.

But let me submit was more than that. We were children and most children are very creative. I believe we were allowed to be this creative because it was important to have a hobby. This is a word that I fear is is in danger of disappearing from our vocabulary. A hobby really helps a child explore "their" own personal interests and abilities. A child that has been allowed to develop hands on skills and are seldom bored. If a child is not allowed to be creative in play they will depend on TV and video games. A hobby is a gift we give our children.

I was taught needle work and I believe it is good for boys to learn some also. Somebody has to sew buttons back on their shirts and why should they not know how to do it. A boy needs to use a sewing machine to fix a seam and to help his wife know how to set tensions. They mad decide to go from simple sewing to lacing leather products and he well may move on to knowing how to tie his own flies for fly fishing. He may love to make costumes and get into the arts. It is important we allow them to be creative young so they know what they like to do.

I watched my mom and grandma and all around me sew clothes and I wanted to try and I got a chance to make a doll dress or blanket. I remember grandma teaching me to crochet and put a yarn fringe around 2 wash clothes for a pillow. Actually grandma had a niece named Ruth and she had a friend named Beaty and that woman was creative and taught us many fun crafts. During all this time I was storing up instructions to do embroidery, quilting and my passion
crazy quilting. When counted cross stitch came out I knew I could pick it up and I did because they taught me to be confident in new challenges that may lead to a new hobby. As a young woman I had a craft store and could teach about anything I sold. I was sure and knew I could pass on the hobby to new folks as my family passed on to me.

Look at your kids today or your grand kids or neighbors kids and decide they have the right to develop being creative. Get down with them and play and if you don't feel inspired play with a child and you will. Make a dandelion chain or a necklace with gum wrappers and see if you don't remember doing that as a child. Make instruments and play music. Get them in the kitchen and make some wonderful play dough and than sit down with them and create. Get that doll house you always wanted to put together and make it a family project and see if someone does not develop into a interior designer or furniture maker. Often childhood is where these things take hold and all we have to do is nurture it and praise them and play with them.

I leave you with these thoughts and I did not pen them an unknown author did and I have it in my journal....

"A creative hobby can produce
A contented child who is comfortable working independently.
A productive child who has things he wants to do.
A self-confident child who knows she can do something and do it well.
A child who carries on the tradition of heirlooms made by creative hands."

The extra benefit is you will have a child who enjoys staying at home and is content.

I have plenty of sites I can share with you all about starting your kids on a creative journey if you want them......just leave a comment and tomorrow I will post them.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


This young lady is indeed one of my “life heroes”. Sue came into my life as a teen girl.. I met her when I was a leader along with a few others in the youth group at our Mennonite Church called People’s Chapel in South Florida.

I knew she was a special girl as soon as I met her. She was living in very primitive conditions but had such energy and vitality. It was clear that she also was a very intelligent young lady. Her father’s family was from Russian and Mennonite. His intelligence also is remarkable.

Sue is one of 6 kids and the oldest. I remember her as a normal teen, a second mom to her siblings and a mind that was always learning. She made friends so easily. Her senior year was also he first year of college courses and that fall she went to Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

One thing I could always count on was she was coming back to see me at Mother’s Day even if she had to hitch hike. It was a treasure to me as a young mother. She spent time with us as a family at Lake Placid over the summer. I looked forward to her bringing folks along from college or they would stop to see me as they traveled to the keys to Scuba dive. As time went on this young lady came to be a daughter, a sister and best friend all rolled into one. I could depend on her and she also became a second mother and sister to Nicole. How Nicole loved when she would come for a visit and invite her to go home to Sarasota with her for several days or a week.

When we moved to North Florida for a bit over a year she moved in with us so she could take some courses at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She still wanted to be a doctor. We had many good times there and she was fun to learn with. We did cross stitch, made baskets, which she taught me to do, and was a passion of mine for a long time. Of course we lived at a place we could pull grape vines down all day long and form then to be the skeleton for a basket or weave the whole basket from the vines. Sue was also a seamstress and sewed her own clothes. I think by this time she had been to Europe 2 times. She really could write a book on traveling on a shoe string, carrying little with her and simply seeing the world.

I went to Salem, Oregon after my divorce with the 3 kids to Youth With a Mission I met John and we married…. you got it she showed up there to spend Christmas with us and just to be family. I think she went to snow ski also. I need to mention here that Sue had quite a cleaning business with her mom and sometimes a sister. She was well on the way to paying off her college debt. I so admired her ethics. My dad was selling real estate in Sarasota and sold her a sweet small home. When Serena was born she kept kids and did a great job with it. That way she could be in her home and with her daughter. She did a GREAT job raising her daughter. Her faith in God has also been a great inspiration to me.
They would come see us when they could.
Sue has developed in a woman of faith….one of great compassion to all she meets. She is now working with EMS and loves working with people like this. I know if I were in an emergency I would love to have her attending me. I can see her driving an ambulance and being able to see what is needed with a patient when she gets to the scene.

I have not mentioned all she has had to overcome for that is hers to share as she sees fit but allow me to say that most that had to face what she has had to from a small girl would have given up or used it all to be a victim…. not Sue. She has used it all to be a complete woman. Her daughter is now in college and her house paid off. Many of us couples cannot be as frugal as she is and yet be able to travel so many places and give her daughter a look at the world. They traveled to visit her siblings in Australia or wherever they lived. They took friends and went to see friends in their travels.

I want to take this time to celebrate my sister and friend. So often we do not take the time to celebrate the people in our lives that have helped us to become the person we are today. The folks we hang out with mold us and I am so glad I have had this young lady as a inspiration to me…really a rock at time. During my divorce she stepped right in and helped Nicole through the horrible things she faced. I had someone I could trust and unload my pain.

God gave me a special gift when He brought Sue into my life.
Sue, I love you!
By the way, this picture was taken at Nicole's wedding and can't you see why I love her so?

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Time sure does fly. I kept wanting to write in the blog but the change of Furniture made me know I had to do some Spring Cleaning. That sure felt good. It does look great around here. At the office they gave John these 2 paintings and we switched things around so we could enjoy them. I love art and both of these paintings have such depth to them. The one sure makes me feel I am in Venice…. would that not be fun to be going down that canal? One sure can dream.

I feel like I had an good sinus infection too and that has be stay rather quiet but today I felt some better. We went to see my husband’s aunt and uncle and got to see a few of his cousins and that made this holiday special to us. We have no family coming this tear. John asked for Biscuits (homemade) with bacon and egg for breakfast or brunch. He is on call. For the late afternoon he wanted Seafood Newberg on Puffed Pastry shells and a nice salad. We will watch our former church in Florida on line as the service happens. We both love doing that. It is Northland. Here is the site:

I was remembering Easter when I was a child. I remember one sunrise service on our front yard. We lived on a hill and across the street was simply a beautiful view of rolling farmlands and of course the sun rose over that. It was a cold day but so meaningful to a young lady. I felt the miracle of Jesus rising and being alive for the first time in my life.
Tears rolled down my face as I knew that I knew He died for my sins. What a price to pay!

We did not really believe in Easter dresses and all of that. There was always a school Spring/Easter Chorus Program and for that my mother would make me a new dress. The one I remember was a lot of work to her. We were required to wear capes and she took the time to scallop the cape in the front. It was a beautiful pink fabric with shiny threads in it. I felt so special. This was the dress I wore again for Easter.

Really as Mennonites we only celebrated Jesus during the Easter Season. I remember getting a chocolate cross and maybe a crocheted cross bookmark and a book. We went to grandmas or the Aunties for dinner. I remember ham, green beans, spring peas, fresh asparagus, parsley potatoes, potato salad or macaroni salad, red beet eggs, deviled eggs, pickles that had been canned, spiced apple rings; celery stuffed with peanut butter…what a feast! Than we would end the meal with daffodil cake, Rhubarb pie, another pie or cake and homemade ice cream and strawberry topping. At grandma’s we would have her homemade opera fudge candy and peanut butter eggs or coconut eggs.

I remember gathering around the organ at grandmas or the piano at the Aunties and singing Easter Hymns together. It was pure worship to me on. I sure would love to do that one time again.

I hope and pray you all will have a wonderful Easter and would really celebrate the risen Lord!

Saturday, March 15, 2008


What a week....

It started with all the blessings of the funiture and even since those pictures were taken John brought in new pictures and moved others. As I sit here I marvel at the way God works.

Yesterday started with pure delight as I got ready for a visit from our dear friends from LaGrange. They had helped us so much after we lost all our stuff due to the mold mess. They made sure we had food and helped in so many ways. Her support was a life saver to me many a day when I was deeply depressed. What we ended up with was far more than we could use and they needed a make over and they chose to take our white living room funiture and than we added a lot yesterday. It is exciting when people rejoice with you and this couple sure was over joyed to see our blessings!

As soon as John got home they took us out to celebrate. They wanted to eat Thai and so we went to a place called Virginia Highlands. We had lettuce wraps, Thai Shrimp rolls, and Shanghai Dumplings and they were excellent! Than I had Thai Coconut Chicken Soup and it was so good on a rainy day!We than took them to see a wonderful International bakery called Alons. They decided to buy special desserts and come home to eat them in our new dinning room. Look at these goodies!

We had the first one their, 2 chocolate eclairs, one fruit tart, 1 Baba au Rum, 1Lemon Raspberry Mousse.We divided them in fourths so we all could taste them....what a treat! I would love to be able to make them all.They loaded up with thier treasures and headed home.About an hour later the weather got awful! The winds picked up, hail covered out balcony and the plants were thrown into our windows. We knew a tornado was somewhere down in Atlanta. I am sure you all know that downtown Atlanta was hit hard. It is simply awful but thank God no deaths.
Last night as I lay in bed I thought again about how what God has given us in things are easily taken away by forces of nature. My heart just hurts so much when I know so many people are going to have to face so much. It is a compassion that I have really developed more since the mold. I think we learn so much through the refining times. It is in the darkest hours that we face ourselves and we are forced to either change for the good or become bitter. I know one thing is true...Bitterness kills. It kills our spirit and so ofen hurts the folks we love the most. I remember Grandma telling me that when you are bitter it is the upkeep that costs so much. That sure is true.

Than today was a day of horrible weather all over Georgia....first my Nicole was in harms way and she and Zoe went to her in-laws where Dough was. They lost power and had hail storms and winds. There home did survive and I am thankful for that. Than several hours later we watched a huge Tornado head towards Atlanta again. I did panic. I so hate storms and knowing what happened down town had me scared. The weather man said it was 3 times larger that last night.
I looked at that mass of dark clouds and braced for the worse......But we were spared and it lifted and went South of us. I know 2 were killed in the state today and that is very sad and so many have had their houses and barns and business just taken from them. Remember Georgia tonight in your prayers. So many places that the city counts on are damaged and so many jobs will be in limbo until it is rebuilt. The mayor call a state of emergency and so has our Governor.

Tonight I feel such peace and calm. The storms are over. I thought about the story in the Bible when the seas were raging and Jesus said Peace be still. Somehow that is how I feel. I glanced over at my husband reading and the dog sleeping beside him and I smiled. How good it is to be in a comfortable place with beauty and love around me. I am so very thankful for this time in our lives. It may not always be this way but for now I will enjoy what God has given us. I am looking forward to many evenings like this one. Peace and quiet, except for the music blessed I am.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for all the blessing God has given us this week. These things are what nobody else wanted in the staff here. They are designer pieces that were in the office/club house and business center. The funny thing is many I would have picked out myself. I loved going down to the office just to enjoy the beauty of that room. The TV area is the only one we will work on. It is not what we want but it sure will do. I appreciate how hard my DH works and I know his hard work made some of this happen.
God is good!

Friday, March 7, 2008


No sofa? No chair? What is up?

Look what God did again? For you that have been with us through the loss of all our things from the mold and toxins you remember how hard it was to be without these things. Than God began to give us far more than we could ever have dreamed about. I was happy with what was here but He had other plans. Yesterday we were able to give that white sofa and chair to our friends. They came and got it and the end tables and lamps. In turn they took the washer and dryer mom left for Ryan to him. He was so happy. Than my DH tried to bring these sofas up the elevator and they would not fit. He was frustrated. His boss said today they would make it up and they did after taking apart some of the elevator. They are so comfortable! Talk about quality....I am just speechless at how God gives back to us.
They are redoing the club house and did not want these nor some more blessings that come up this week-end. This is one of the perks of John's job and he was just given these. The coffee table that goes with these is just wonderful! I will take pictures when John is finished with the decorating. He loves doing that and I love to allow him to.
Some of you may be in bad times, may have lost your belongings like we did, may be discouraged but I am here to tell you that in God's timing they will come back to you 10 fold.
I remember wanting to be normal for just one day. (who knows what normal is?) We were living like sardines with my parents, sick and without a job, home or insurance. I was at a all time low. When I decided to allow God to work at his pace and when we decided to drop out of a class action suit I began to see God at work in the restoration of our bodies, minds and with what we needed to live. Things are just things but some are precious to us and I believe that is just fine. But we must remember they are not "ours" but all we own is really Gods. He expects us to take care of what He gives us and to be willing to share the best we have, not what we do not care for or is worn out. We have developed the attitude through this all that if we see a need and we can fill that need than we will do it. Mom and dad left some wonderful things back here and we used some but the beds and some other items went to a contractor that is working here because he had real needs and all they have seems to go to a very sick daughter. It was a blessing to see his joy when my husband told him they were his. And than this blessing was given to us!
Never give up...we have a God who delights in our joy. We were without for almost 2 years but each thing that came our way I thanked the Father for and also told Him if He wanted me to share these things I was willing to do so. There have been a few times I gave when I wanted to keep but I felt at peace doing it. i just wanted to encourage any of you that are struggling. Hang on and when you think you will fall into darkness He tell us to be grateful for what we have and have faith is what it is all about!

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Nature has always been a part of my life. As a child I remember singing songs like

“All Things Bright and Beautiful’,

“He Owns The Cattle On the Thousand Hills”

“Fairest Lord Jesus”

“For The Beauty Of The Earth”

“ How Great Thou Art”

These are just a few and I remember these because these are hymns as a student that we had to illustrate for a Bible class. Sometimes we were given magazines to help us illustrate. Our penmanship was important to in the booklets we made. It was a form of what some call copy work.

As a child we traveled a lot and we stayed in National and State Parks and campgrounds and listened to the Rangers share. Each year we went as a family to what was called the ”Audubon Screen Tours” at a college in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Since we Mennonites did not have TV’s or go to the movies this was a very special advent each month for me. I loved going to all the wildlife habitats.

My goal was to be able to paint. I could see nature, feel nature, take pictures of nature but artistic with drawing and painting I was not. Wildlife artists were so amazing to me and still are. When my kids were quite small a friend talked me into going an hour and half away to take an oil painting class with an up and coming Wildlife artist. His name was Robert Butler. We took 8 weeks I think and oil paint was hard for me. It is so easy to make mud from the colors. But this man is so patient. We were required to do a morning sky picture, stormy sky and sunset canvas. The neat part was what I learned in simply looking at nature. The shades of green, the browns and blues and how important they are to get on canvas. I will say this….I see them in my mind but painting is not for me. I would rather paint with my threads!
Robert and I became friends and he had a gallery in my craft shop several years later. He would paint and I would watch and with each minute he taught me something new. He had three sons that came with him at times and they were artists also. Robert has a large family and they all are artistic. He and John have become friends also and this now world-renowned artist is a joy to both of us.

Nature is God’s gift to you and me. If you watch ants work you see how they are always busy. God tells us about that in Proverbs 6:6. They each have work to do and get it done.

The eagles are mentioned in the Bible 38 times I once read.
"But those who trust in the LORD will receive new strength. They will fly as high as eagles. They will run and not get tired. They will walk and not grow weak."
Isaiah 40:31 or Deuteronomy 32:11
like an eagle that stirs up its nest
and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
and carries them aloft.

God speaks to me through nature…storms, the ocean, critters and birds…all I have to do is be still and watch and apply it to life. I treasure times in nature! Now that I live in the city I miss what I once took for granted. I firmly believe that as Christians we are to care for the world God created for us. It is up to you and I to do our part and teach our children to care for nature around us.

Back to the painting…Robert coached me through all three. This one I gave to mom and dad. It is far from perfect but it was a real learning experience for me. I have never tried to paint again but I sure do recommend everyone to try it. Robert is now known as the “Historian with a Paintbrush” and is also a Florida Highwayman and if you want to see how my fiend paints…. Look here:
His story.
watch him and hear him…..

My husband and I are proud to call him friend.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


This is their dinning room. They took the table and chairs and mom sure enjoys the built in china closet!
They have a spacious living room. I hope they can get a new couch and love seat soon.
Dad will enjoy the desk a lot. He had been missing one. They plan to paint the shelves.

The home is nice and light with a big screened in porch. There is a patio table out there and chairs and nice lamps. The birds and squirrels are quite busy in the trees and they can watch them. We had such fun watching a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers. Here is a wonderful picture of one and make sure you play the sound.

John picked Zoe up and got close enough that she saw them. When he told her they eats bugs she just loved it. About half an hour later she told me those red headed birds eat bugs. Than she thought and said " Nana, if I were a bird I would eat bugs too. Than they would taste good but I am not a bird and they are not good for me." For a 3 year old she is one smart little girl!

Mom and Dad are settled in pretty good. Mom is still cleaning a lot but they have met some old friends and met some new ones. She sounds upbeat when I talk to her. Dad is slowing gaining some strength. The move took a lot out of him but he is taking his scooter out and that makes me happy. He will be 88 on the 10th of this month.