When all your plans go out the window…

A line from a favorite movie: “I don’t want to not make plans with you, I want to make plans with you.”

Plans, maybe a better word is ideas or intentions. Let’s face it, too much is out of your control anyway. Everything from the weather to the government to well frankly, other people. But who am I kidding, I’m a plan maker by nature. I think the bigger lesson I am learning is to realize I had better not place all my hopes on those plans.

I read on a blog post recently points about parenting myths, this one stuck with me: parenting isn’t a balancing act, it’s a dance. Well, hallelujah!!! Because I have not figured out how to balance it all yet which explains why the house needs dusting and the floors need washing and, oh, don’t get me started. If you really want the list, ask my family. I’m sure they can tell you all I’m not doing or need to get to. Seems like I can plan on getting to those things, but something else gets in the way.  So they seem more like nice ideas.

I’m happy to admit that I’m glad when I let a Disney Day get in the way of cleaning house or doing laundry. I’ll even admit to choosing quilting over housework, well, over a lot of things. I try to choose people over housework or the typical must-do’s. I figure the dirt will come back, but time with people can’t be redeemed.

I thought our school year would go differently, but it didn’t. It happened, just not the way I planned.
I thought I could raise perfect kids, but their human and sinful just like their momma.
I planned on saying I do and being blissfully happy all the days of my life, but he married me instead of a saint.
I planned on changing or making a committed effort in areas of my life and others would notice, but they don’t.
I thought we were headed for financial independence, but alas, the economy had its say.

I spent too much of my young adult years running ahead of God, and then expected Him to bless my plans. I think I just keep dancing behind Him instead.

Sharing a few of my recent projects with you all

Just thought to share a few of the recent things that have come out from under the sewing machine. There’s more to share and hopefully I’ll find the pictures to post.

This is a quilt I made for my dear friend, Teresa, who is about to be blessed with the arrival of a son.

I love when I finish quilt, but I love it even more when it gets to its owner.

A closer view of the front

The back side of the quilt

A closer view of the back to see the quilting.

I am enjoying a book, Kim Schaefer's Calendar Quilts: 12 Months of Fun, Fusible Projects. While I won't get to all the months this year, I'm selecting some of my favorites. Here is the quilt for the month of February.


If money was no object.

So today our pastor brought up the question of  “If you didn’t have to worry about money, what would you do?” I can remember thinking about this question as a young adult and let’s be honest, even as a grown adult our mind goes there still. I’ve had silly whims and dreams that still make my list like: a daily massage, someone to change my sheets on the bed everyday (I love clean sheets!), and lots of beautiful dishes. And yes, I’d travel the world, but what I’d do on these travels now wouldn’t just consist of sunbathing on a beach with a fruity drink with an umbrella in it. I tried to really think of just one thing I would pour myself into, but I think my oldest daughter said it best, “if money was really no object, what wouldn’t you do.”

I started thinking about what I am passionate about, homeschooling. So if money was no object, I would help families starting on their journey to home education. I’d travel the country encouraging moms and dads towards the choice of bringing their children home.

Then with children on my mind, and if money was no object, I’d buy houses to turn them into pregnancy crisis homes so girls would know there is an option instead of abortion. I’d add rooms on to my house to take in foster babies. I’d travel to Russia and spend time holding and reading to the children in the orphanages.  I’d go to India and feed the children on the streets.

I thought about my passion for books and my favorite books, the Lamplighter Rare Collector’s books, and if money was no option, I’d donate the entire collection to schools, libraries, and churches.

I thought about the homeless, and if money was no object, I’d outfit motorhomes so that they could shower, get a fresh change of clothes, and feed them.

The possibilities are just endless! I realize that there are plenty of little things I can do right now that really don’t cost me anything. Maybe I need to spend a little time thinking about what is standing in my way. So what would you do if money is no object? Regardless of a bank account to pay for all these dreams, I think I’ll keep dreaming and imagining, because my God has unlimited resources.

It is finished, but to be started again.

Something I ought to have done years ago has finally happened. I’m sorry I’ve not done it sooner, but nonetheless, just two months shy of my 42nd birthday I accomplished what I set out to do on October 31st of last year. It isn’t easy to finish something you start, just ask my scrapbooking supplies, or the trunk full of material, or the books sitting on my nightstand.

I had just gotten my new phone last year around this time. I was new to the whole idea of “apps”. I downloaded the Bible app on my phone, and sitting in church I was looking at the features of this app. I noticed the reading plans. Seeing as how my phone is something with me everyday, I hoped to finally succeed in reading through the Bible in one year. This isn’t a “good job, Jennifer” moment, as it is something I feel I should have done long ago (personal judgment of myself alone). Not because to be a good Christian you must read through your Bible every year or it earns you extra points. It means neither. It just seems to me that if you love someone, really love them, you’d be very interested in everything they have to say to you. I wanted the whole picture from beginning to end, and I certainly feel as though I’ve learned so much more than I realized I would.

In truth, over the course of my life, I’m fairly sure I’ve read about 85% of the Bible up until this time through school, Bible studies, personal readings, and teaching times. Yet, this was different. I choose to read according to the chronological plan. I was struck time and time again by one theme. Yes, I saw the creativity of God, the miracles, the judgment, the sacrifice, and of course, the love. However, over and over again, I was awed by the holiness of God.

It is a holiness we cannot fathom, that sent Christ to us. Just the slightest portion of imperfection or sin can’t be in the presence of such profound holiness, that it warranted a perfect sacrifice. It is this same holiness that I will spend eternity in awe of, which will cause song and praise to be continually on my lips crying out the holiness of God. I can’t even begin to wrap my feeble mind around what it will be like one day to be in His presence forever and ever and ever!

As I came to the end of my reading year, I wondered over many things. Those that say they do not know God or don’t believe, have they read this love letter from beginning to end? If your heart and eyes are open, it will point you to the truth of who God is and what He wants to offer you, Jesus. I’d compare it to reading a novel but leaving out some of the chapters, and while you might know how the story ends, you are going to miss some of the why’s and how’s. Same goes for a movie or play that you continually walk in and out of and still form an opinion on without having seen each minute. Call me a simpleton, it just seems so obvious to me, if you want the whole truth, you need the whole story.

I’m not special because of completing this personal goal, thousands of believers do it every year. Maybe I’m like the annoying ex-smoker who has quit and now believes everyone should, too, and should do it right now!!! (please note the humor here) Think of it this way, I’ve discovered this invaluable new gadget that I think everyone shouldn’t be without, like an iphone. Truth is, it is invaluable, it’s the word of God, given to each one of us. I hope you are getting your daily fix in of God’s message.

I loved the whole story, even the parts I didn’t always understand. I’m not a theologian. I’m not worried about that, because while I finished, I’ll begin it again. I’ll still wonder why the Israelites couldn’t see what appears so obvious to me. I’ll marvel at the great men and women of faith. I’ll be humbled, I pray, by all that took place on Calvary for me. I’m looking forward to different insights and new moments of being awed and overwhelmed by God’s love, grace and mercy for me. I don’t deserve one bit of it, I deserve my just punishment, and yet, that’s not what I have coming to me. Amazing! I hope to add more notes and comments to the margins of my Bible. And finally, I pray by the power of the Holy Spirit, that none of it remains just information or emotion, but molds me into the likeness of Christ.

FREE Book Friday- The Big Book of History

FREE Book Friday- The Big Book of History.

I have long been a fan of Masters Books. I’ve collected just about each title they offer. For homeschooling families, I find them invaluable to our library.

True story

So my dear friend Amanda and I were finally getting a bit of time together tonight after what has seem months.  As I left, I said goodbye to my men and off I went. I wasn’t very far down the street when Bert called me and asked me to come back. He said since I was going to be across the street from the Costco, could I just go ahead and get the tires put on my car. He had been trying to get around to it for weeks but our extremely busy schedule hadn’t allowed for it. It only made sense this time for me to do it. I was a bit surprised he was having me go do it alone, but I was fine with it if he was.

Let me explain that last sentence: my dear husband takes care of all things automotive for me and I like it like that. Most of the time, he even goes and does the gas for me. I like the male/female roles and fortunately for me, he likes taking care of his family. Can I do these things for myself? Yes, but I’d rather not.  When I was much younger and thought I had to prove something or anything, I’d not accept the help or offers, but age mellows you…it’s a beautiful thing.

So after perusing Barnes and Nobles, we went back to get my car. The young, and I do mean in age, man pulls my car out. I’m asking if everything is all good, and comment that I was surprised that my husband had sent me to do this and I hope I wasn’t missing anything. This young and naive young man starts to say how “I should know how to do these things” and “independent women” and “men and women are the same/equal”.  Oh poor thing, didn’t know he was talking to two highly opinionated and willing to share their thoughts women in the San Gabriel Valley. But no worries, I set him straight. I said, “oh no, this is a man’s job.” As he looked at me as though I was completely crazy, I continued…”can you give birth, breast feed, have your period once a month, and go through menopause?” Then I looked to see a lady across the parking lot nearly peeing her pants as she listened to me. He attempted a rebuttal, but ten minutes (a.k.a. Amanda) piped in with, “dude, we are stay at home homeschooling moms.” I think he almost exploded on the spot.We started to get into the pros/cons of the topic, but we climbed in the car with our bellies begging for dinner to be on our way.

I finished with, “young man, I’m sorry, but I’m 41 years old, and I can have an answer for anything you can throw at me. And he said the only correct thing he could say, ” you don’t look 41.”

It just seems to happen that way.

The list of things that can fall under this category is unending, or so it seems. Like children growing up in a blink of an eye. Summer going by faster than any other time of year. Time off never lasts long enough. Are you getting the idea?

This is one summer that I wish would last a bit longer. Yes, it has almost everything to do with my dear daughter going away for school. Yet there’s more to it than that alone. It also means that I only have two more school years with darling daughter #2 and four more years with my son. I’m quickly working myself out of a job that at one time seemed like would go on forever. Right before my eyes, are amazing human beings growing up and becoming young adults.

I enjoy the conference season I work for Lamplighter and seeing old friends and making new ones. The working three weekends in a row makes for a busy July, but I love it! I enjoy the travel and time with my girls as they attend with me. Walking through the doors after being gone is the wonderful reminder that there is nothing like coming home.

The time with friends during the summer months are some of the most carefree and precious. Funny stories and jokes, silly phrases we carry with us for the rest of the year are all part of the memories. After a night like tonight, when we were doing something as simple as watching a movie outside under the stars and singing along, I offer up a prayer of thanks. It’s a prayer of gratitude that God would surround me with so many people to share life with. I am once again reminded that I am indeed blessed. That, however, just didn’t happen that way…gifts are given purposely and with intent. I will not take them for granted. I adore each blessing.

What happened when we milled extra wheat today…

So Amanda and I are baking our bread today for the week. We began by milling our own wheat berries. We ended up with some extra flour and decided to make cookies with it. I couldn’t quite find a recipe I liked so, I made one up. Is it ok if I say they are fabulous! I thought I’d share it with you all…

Auntie Jenna’s Apple Oatmeal Cookie

This cookie is intended to be use with all organic ingredients.

2 1/3  c. whole wheat flour (freshly milled preferred)
2 ½ c. oats
½ c. shredded coconut
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ c. butter
¼ c. olive oil
2 eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla
1 c. evaporated cane sugar
½ c honey
1 medium sized apple finely chopped
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
½ cup finely chopped nut: pecans/ almonds/ walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all the dry ingredients into a bowl and set aside. Into your electric mixer cream butter, sugar, honey and oil. Add eggs and vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients. Add nuts at this time if adding to recipe. Add in apple and lemon juice.
Ideally chill dough for ½ hour. Using a cookie scoop place 12 on a sheet, cookie will spread. Bake 8-10 minutes. Easily makes 3 dz.

Hope you give them a try and love them, too.

Eating wrong or right?

I’m hungry! Well not really hungry, I just have cravings for some things that aren’t exactly “good” for me…

That’s how this post started when I sat down to write it a month ago with intentions about finishing it many times since then. To say it has been a busy month, well just ask the kids.

But I am thinking it was better for me to write it now instead of then because of a whole month’s worth of perspective to draw on. So let me back the story up a bit…

While at my girls’ weekend at my mom’s, I had severe neck spasm.  Severe meaning I was unable to lift myself up out of bed or a chair.  Grateful for my dear friend who happens to travel with a pharmacy in her bag, I endured.  Once home and a conversation with my hubby had me doing what I knew I need to do a long time ago. If you don’t know it , my husband is a vegetarian almost completely vegan. It really goes deeper in that he is very conscientious of the benefit and  how the food is grown (genetically modified foods). He really is a wealth of information on nutrition.  So when he suggested I consider doing a detox, I knew he was the verbal voice I had been trying to quiet in my head for several months.

I’d done a detox diet before and knew how good it made me feel. I had followed the guidelines of the Daniel Fast.  So once again, I cut it all out: whites, yeast, sugar, dairy and meat. Many people look at the list of “don’t” s and wonder what is left to eat. And I’ll admit, in the beginning, I tend to think the same thing. And that thinking of “woe is me” last for about a week and I find it gets easier.

I’ve kept it up for over a month and I do feel pretty darn good. I’ve “cheated” here and there.  I am trying to change my way of thinking, and since I’ve been accuse of being hard-headed, this won’t be easy. I have lots of reasons for changing the way I eat, arthritis at an early age for one. Secondly, both of my parents have had cancer. Praise God both are cancer free now. The cancer is on both sides of my family as well. I’m surviving without the meat and I’m doing alright with the dairy part, but can I tell you how much I miss the sugar. I think it’s my drug. I love to bake and eat what I bake. I miss it and so do my kids.

I think my push is to go all organic. My plan is to go to baking all my own bread including grinding the wheat. I’ve learned that even the whole wheat flour sitting on the store shelves have lost all their nutrients. I love to eat, but the time has come to eat to live. I want to do all this though without making it an idol. So quickly and as easily we can turn our health into an idol. It can consume our thoughts and plans. God has given us so many wonderful things to eat and enjoy.  And the same time, when you know better about what and how your food is grown or manufactured, you need to not ignore the facts. Unless of course, ignorance is bliss. For me, I need to take the time to set up my boundaries and then live within them (enter the hard part).

The obvious benefit of all this “eating right” is losing a few pounds and the jeans fit better. My skin looks better, too.  My arthritis has not bothered me either. Yes, it does cost more to eat organically, however, in the end it just might be cheaper. You tend to eat at home more and in the long haul, less visits to the doctor’s office. If you are at all interested in knowing what you are eating or how it is grown, start with an easy find and watch Food, Inc. You can find it off of Netflix if you have a subscription. From there you can move on to King Corn.

Our church as actually just entered the 21 day Daniel Fast leading up to Easter.  So at least for a while, I have plenty of friends eating the same way so we can enjoy lunches and dinners together.  The fast start of jumping into this strict way of eating is difficult, in truth, removing one thing at a time would be much easier and would lead to a lifestyle change.  Which is exactly how my husband did it. I don’t plan on giving up meat completely, but I do plan on eating much less.  I’ve not made up my mind on dairy, although I suspect it is the trigger to my arthritis pain. I’m hoping my changes will lead to a healthier lifestyle for me and for my children.


It’s where it belongs

I’m like a little kid. As soon as I finish a quilt, I have to give it to its new owner. So last night, I got in the car to go a whole mile down the street to our friends, the DeGenaros. Last year, these dear friends said goodbye to their son, Christopher. Chris’ life was a miracle from the start. He was never expected to live past his first days of life, and yet God gave them 12 years together. The lives he touched are countless.

After a fight with leukemia, God saw fit to bring him home to Him.  If you knew Chris even a little, you knew his passion for books ( a boy after my own heart). His favorites were his Dr. Seuss’ books and especially Cat in the Hat.  Stan and Marisa have started a foundation in his honor called Chris’ Korner.

So when I was in Carpinteria for the day and visiting our favorite little quilt store there, I found Cat in the Hat material. I knew it needed a home with the DeGenaros. Here is what it yielded:

And here it is being presented to Marisa:

And it was put straight to work:

I love you, dear friend. May you feel the love.

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