..we should not call anything trouble which brings to pass good..

DSC_0325“I am anxious, and it soothes me to express myself here. It is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.” —Mina Murray in her journal

Sunday morning.  I had considered going to my parent’s house for the day as it was only an hour and a half drive from where we were in Pennsylvania.  But I was suffering with a cold and we decided to stay where we were.  Grace showed us a nice coffee shop and the three of us had breakfast together there.

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We spent the rest of the morning at a bookstore and Grace bought a journalling Bible with a beautiful cover and nice wide margins for her thoughts.

She was craving macaroni and cheese for lunch and we went to Ruby Tuesdays.

By this time, Joanna’s family was back from church and she was able to meet us with her daughter.

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I love her.

Joanna took Sarah along home with her.  Grace and I went to the hotel to get her things so she could do homework at Aunt Joanna’s house.  And then we spent the rest of the afternoon until bedtime with them.  It was as cozy as could be with all the family and me and my two girls all together in the cozy kitchen, dining room, and living room.  We had delicious Dominoes pizza for dinner.

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We love to exchange our big journals and look through them as we visit.  Joanna’s journal is big and heavy and full of quotes, pictures, found papers, and art.  Coco stayed by us and was inspired enough to get up and find things to glue into her first journal.

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((red shoe))

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Inspiration, Idea, Execution (the top corner of her journal shows a picture of how she came up with the art on the wall—her own photography))

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(green page)

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(brown)

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(old recipe)

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(photo by Jo)

“Some may say [journal keeping] is a great deal of trouble. But we should not call anything trouble which brings to pass good. I consider that portion of my life which has been spent in keeping journals and writing history to have been very profitably spent. If there was no other motive in view [except] to have the privilege of reading over our journals and for our children to read, it would pay for the time spent in writing it.” —Wilford Woodruff

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“Never forget that writing is as close as we get to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things — childhood, certainties, cities, doubts, dreams, instants, phrases, parents, loves — that go on slipping, like sand, through our fingers.” —Salman Rushdie

doxology

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It’s Saturday afternoon.  Joanna and I go back to her house and find her son Eti in the kitchen busy with dinner preparations.  Beebs the baby is playing with the trains I gave him.  Jeff is working on the computer and the girls are playing.  Her husband Steve has taken good care of everyone all day long while we were at church.

There is just enough light left outdoors for some photos.  We want to take pictures of the girls in their matching clothes.

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The children are happy all around us and us two mamas are laughing….we try and try for just the right picture.  And then we hand our cameras to them and let them try.

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I think about 20 years ago when I first met Joanna at Bible college.  I marvel at the longevity of our friendship and all the things that have happened since then; marriages, births, adoption, moves, and all the other events of living both big and small.

The biggest blessing of all to me is the soul and depths of two women sharing with each other what they are learning deep down in their hearts.  Truthfully enjoying motherhood, deeply loving our husbands, joy-aches, sorrow-aches, emergency prayers, understanding, wisdom read, copied, scribbled on slips of paper, sent through the mail, saved, savored, felt, journaled.

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We add the moments of this very afternoon to our collection of friendship memories with the knowledge that life is short, and full of holy experiences.  Our hungry eyes search for them all, each one worth praising God for; the innocence of childhood, the smells of good food in the kitchen, a loving man, adoring happy daughters, steadfast sons, a friendly dog, crunchy leaves underfoot, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness.

******

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above all ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

grace (graduation)

It was about a week ago now that I met a homeschooling family at one of my son’s baseball games.  The mom and I had a nice visit together as we watched the boys play and at one point Grace came walking by with her friend.  I stopped her and introduced her to my new acquaintance.  “Oh, I used to be homeschooled,” Grace offered excitedly, “I loved it.  I never wanted to go to public school but mom made me.”

Part of me cringed to hear these honest words.  However, after last night, watching Grace with her class and teachers, seeing her bright smile, how mature she was, how capable, her light shining bright, it all became clear to me.

She bloomed where she was planted.

She took a difficult change in her life and made the best of it.

She had ups and downs, more downs, a few more ups, on and on for the six years she was in school, rather like a roller coaster.

She had fun, tears, anxiety, sleepless nights, songs, dance, silence, wide eyed wonder, false friendship, true friendship, romance, responsibility, headaches, dizziness, academics, good grades, good books, teachers who were kindred spirits, teachers who were her second mothers, and through it all…….she had her faith in an unchanging dependable Father God keeping her steady.

She did it.  Rich and I could not be prouder of our daughter.

*******

A month or so ago I was feeling a little desperate about Grace leaving home so soon and mentioned, half teasing, that she might like to take a year off from college and just stay at home with us (me).  After all, she did start school when she was four and was younger than a few of the juniors this year.  “We would have so much fun, Grace!”  to which she replied (and I quote because I wrote it down):

“I know we would but. . . .we have all summer.  And I need to move on with my life.”

I just had to laugh with respect, happy to have a child this steady and focused on her goals.  I know how much she adores her siblings and depends on her parents.  The relationships within the family circle couldn’t be better, which is to say, perhaps this is the very reason why she is confident in moving on; her needs are met so she is not needy or clingy.  Plus it’s just her personality in general.  She’s forward-moving.

She’ll be attending Christian college in the fall about 5 hours from home (not too far), easy enough to get her home for the holidays.  I know she will have the time of her life there.

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For our small town, the class of 2017 was rather large and cars parked all over the the place outside in the parking lots AND out of the parking lots.  I drove up over the curb with my big mama vehicle and parked in the lawn!  Saving seats was a hostile experience!  But we all got squeezed in and you can see my view from the middle of the room. . . . . .thank the Lord once we sat down I found that I could see Grace if I leaned over to the right and then forward in my seat.

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There she is!

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Recognized with the other scholarship and honers students.

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waiting in line for her diploma

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two hours after walking in……the class left the gym to loud & happy music.

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(dear girl; Emily–our neighbor and also Ethan’s girlfriend’s sister…kids rode the bus together for years)

and now for the fun photos:

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With gratitude to the teacher who understands that some families NEED more tickets, Grace’s siblings were able to attend this year’s graduation ceremony.  (all 9)  Her two big brothers visited the old HS stomping grounds and saw some of their teachers and friends.  (I say “old” but Ethan just graduated a year ago, and Jacob the year before that).

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After getting through the crowd and out of the gym, we found our girl.

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Oldest girl with youngest girl; oldest boy with youngest boy.

 

 

friends

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adoring little sister

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One of “our other kids” Zak, also graduated.  He is a close friend of the family.

My husband coached him in wrestling.

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brother Dave

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W E N D Y ! ! ! !

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I had left my purse unguarded in the hall so Jacob collected it for me.  Brittany is another dear friend of the family and graduated with Grace.

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Caleb and Seth got through the night thanks to the kindle and…..cheese.  🙂

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Ethan with his girl.

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My daughter, my friend.

Love you, Grace…

How hard the battle goes, the day, how long;
Faint not, fight on! Tomorrow comes the song. ~Maltbie Babcock

 

 

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grace (class night)

The washer and dryer are going, and outside skies are clearing up after being washed clean from a night of rainfall.

A mason jar of wild flowers, freshly picked, sits on the kitchen island.

A collection of baseballs over there on the end table from a now-ended season of little league.

Parker the dog is sleeping, with his head resting against my leg.

I scrubbed something disgusting off the porch this morning.

Sarah’s stuffed owl on the coffee table.

A stack of stuff emptied from someone’s backpack.

shorts, a tank top, freshly washed hair, and comfy birkenstocks on my feet

*****

Today is the last day of school.

Last days are a tad heart-wrenching, aren’t they?

(I swear they each grew a foot this year.)

Thankfully, “last days”……. are followed by “first days”.

*****

Grace’s HS graduation is tonight.

Rich and I were away for five days, we returned last night just in time to go to the school for a fun “Class Night” put on by the Seniors, for the Seniors.  Grace looked so pretty marching into the auditorium with the rest of the students.  All the moms and dads looked and looked until their eyes rested on their own dear child. . . . . . . .suddenly on the threshold of completing all those years of school.  We couldn’t help but take the time to remember the years leading up to this day, as they grew from little babies all the way up to the 17 and 18 year olds that they are now.  Lots of love was in the room.

After a 30 minute slideshow, the kids put on one last talent show up there on the stage.

I sat between Jacob and Ethan and it was fun, but today, right now, as I watch these videos of the two songs Grace sang with her friends, I’m a big puddle of mama-tears.

 

Grace wore a long white dress with roses on it.

 

friend

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N A T U R E   W A L K; God gave us 60 degree weather and we wore our boots.  We smelled pine needles, picked up birch bark, peered down into deep springtime puddles and streams.  The best part?  Sitting for a while on the same big boulder in the middle of a rushing stream.

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J O U R N A L S; hers is HUGE and full of the best magazine clips, quotes, photos, art, and words.

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A B A N D O N E D   H O U S E   A D V E N T U R E; there is an old house nearby that is empty of people but full of stuff of every kind.  The teenagers came with us and we explored to our hearts content.

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A N T H R O P O L O G I E; one of our mutual favorite stores… and we had the best time looking at everything and getting inspiration from the walls, bedding, clothes, books, stationary, etc.

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B A R N E S and N O B L E; in which we chose a huge stack of books and magazines, & talked, while looking through everything.  We drank a chai latte.

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We found a picture of us as children in a magazine! (dreams)

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P A N E R A   B R E A D; for an early dinner.

And so many other things seen and heart-noticed but unphotographed.

We’ve been friends for over 20 years beginning when we first met at Bible college in upstate New York.  Like with all my soul mates, I remember the exact moment I first saw her.  After college we each got married and started our families while keeping in touch using lovely handwritten snail mail letters (nice and fat) because there were no computers or email back then.  When we did get our first computers we emailed almost daily.  Now and then we would enjoy a nice chat on the phone.

We had visits when we could.  She drove to my mom’s house once when our Grace and Jeff were babies (they are 17 now).  Rich and I stopped at her family’s place on the way to amish country a few times.

EVERY visit was ALWAYS photographed.  Pictures have been a huge part of keeping in touch.  I have a whole album of photos she has sent me through the years.

Now we use FB messenger to text and send (miraculous!) *instant* photos of what we are doing that day…the kids, books we read, food, selfies.  Yes indeedy, it’s such fun.

The snail mail has slowed down but we still spoil each other with a letter now and then, oh and boxes of gifts at christmas and birthdays, too.

She drove to my house on Friday afternoon for a long awaited visit (three years!),  I had already been to the doctors that day and was put on antibiotics for strep but that did not put a damper on our visit which lasted until Sunday morning.

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

Joanna has soul depth and wisdom.  She has strength with an endearing touch of vulnerability.  She is a forever friend.

She’s also at the doctor’s today, getting checked for strep throat.

weekending

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“This is my commandment,
that you love one another as I have loved you.”  Jesus’ words in John 15:12

We had a house FULL from Friday night to Saturday morning.  We had our own seven, plus seven extra teenagers.  They were staying the night in order to be at the church bright and early.

This is camp week for our teens and Rich is also there as a team leader.

I’m spending the week here at home with Caleb, Seth, and Sarah.  My oldest son, Jacob, is also home because he is now too old for camp.  He’s driving up on Friday to see everyone, though, and keeping himself busy with work, music, friends, and helping his mama at home.

This morning I am taking the kids to the one dollar movie and then to get the boys’ their football cleats because tonight Football practice starts for Caleb and Seth….and I am so glad because they need activity at this point.  No more lazy-daisy summer evenings for them!

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On Saturday morning I drove the campers to the church to get on the bus and then Seth and I went to the bakeshop nearby.  The gardens on the property were stunning!  I wish my front beds looked like this!  Dreams for next year…….

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full and luscious flowers beds.

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Seth chose a cupcake and we took home a blueberry pie.

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For whatever reason, I am determined to keep moving and stay extra busy & active this week while Rich and the kids are away…perhaps to keep those “I’m missing you” feelings at bay?  And to get so tired I have no trouble sleeping in the big bed all alone?  So on Saturday I took the kids on two walks.  It was pretty warm outside so we kept them on the shorter side, but we still saw some pretty sights, the kids climbed big rocks, and the boys found sticks to sword fight with.

Aren’t pond lilies pretty?

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That photo which Caleb took that made me realize just how tall and how big my youngest is getting!

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When I was a little girl, a happy time for me was going for adventure walks “up to the big rocks” in Grandma and Grandpa’s woods.  We would all go, Grandma, the aunts, mom, and the cousins.  We had the best time exploring the rocks and daring ourselves to jump over the crack between two tall rocks.

The rocks we discovered on Saturday reminded me of those days.  My own children loved the experience just as much as we did years ago.

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Soft, dappled sunlight over moss and leaves.

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Caleb helped keep Seth from getting lost because our boy Seth runs ahead and OFF the trail just from the joy of being free…….

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Sarah Joy took this photo of me….it’s the best, out of focus!

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She always has to be holding my hand.  It makes her feel stronger and safer.

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This is Seth making a “tough guy” face when I asked to take his picture.  He is nothing but muscle and bone….he’s the one who gets cold first when they go swimming…has boundless energy and his Dad calls him “Scrapper”.   Our very own state wrestling champ!

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Yesterday I spent the day with my brother and his wife.  We went out shopping, had drinks from Sonic, bought chocolates, ate donuts, and generally ate more sugar than usual.  Back at home, we played a game, drank coffee, ate pie (!), sandwiches, and watched a movie with the kids.

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Before they left we took a couple of photos outside in the sun.

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The kids were flopped on the couch, tired out, while I walked down to our stream to see the Cardinal flowers.

They are a yearly event for me (perhaps I’ll start throwing a party) because they are such a GORGEOUS wild flower, as red as can be.

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They liked the wetness of the earth by the stream and at this time of year the stream is  low and it is easy to get down the bank and stand on the rocks to take photos.

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The wild day lilies are almost done.

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Queen Anne’s lace and goldenrod is everywhere.  I like to stop and study them because they are almost always entertaining bugs, which if you stop to see them, can be very interesting indeed.

**Queen Anne’s lace remind me of Great Grandma’s crocheted doilies.

Each season, each month of the growing months has its own flower-time.  Starting with the tiny spring flowers up until the sturdy flowers of fall.  I love to welcome them each year and watch them come and go and come again……  year after year.

God’s creation is always exciting, but also solidly dependable, too.

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Swallowtail off in the distance, tiptoeing all over this tall, wild  “Joe-Pye weed“.

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My house, my gardens, my rock wall, my ferns = I love it here.  We’ve been at this place for ten years now and my heart is home.  I thank God constantly for our life here.

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I don’t care if Anne (of Green Gables) thought zinnias were stiff and horrible….I LOVE THEM!

“Look at that wave of poppies breaking against the garden well, Miss Cornelia.  Susan and I are very proud of our poppies this year, though we hadn’t a single thing to do with them. Walter spilt a packet of seed there by accident in the spring and this is the result.  Every year we have some delightful surprise like that.”
     “I’m partial to poppies,” said Miss Cornelia, “though they don’t last long.”
     “They have only a day to live,’ admitted Anne, “but how imperially, how gorgeous they live it!  Isn’t that better than being a stiff horrible zinnia that lasts practically for ever?  We have no zinnias at Ingleside.  They’re the only flowers we are not friends with.  Susan won’t even speak to them.”  ~Anne of Ingleside, chapter 15

I love them because they last practically forever.  So there, dear Anne.  (I’ll always love you)

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Back in the house, I admire my own dear sturdy boy, snuggling with a very loved and spoiled Gentleman Gray kitty.

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So thankful for these children o’ mine.  Can you imagine if we stopped at four?

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**Queen Anne’s lace reminds me of Great Grandma’s crocheted doilies.

YOU ARE LOVED, dear friends.
A very happy August 1st to you!

we ate a snake

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2005 was an eventful year for our family because that was the year I gave birth to offspring number five; a beautiful little son whom we named Caleb James.  Oh how we loved having babies and those sweet days of holding a newborn in our arms.

Caleb been so excited about his birthday (for months) and we were very pleased//relieved that we were able to celebrate it the way he wished; with some of his favorite friends.  They had a nerf gun fight, went for a walk, played football, went swimming, and played video games.

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Caleb has the best mother in the world, if I do say so myself, because I made him a homemade snake cake today even though I was exhausted, worried and grumpy (de-stressing from Sarah’s surgery).

Or, even more likely, this is God’s perfect timing because He knew that nothing would cheer me up more than making a snake cake for one of the best boys I know.  It turned out so well I just had to smile………smile at a cute snake.

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It’s body was made out of a sour cream chocolate cake, baked it in a bundt pan.  After it cooled, I cut it in half and turned one half to the edge of the other half to make an “S”.

Then I gave it a skin of homemade butter cream frosting, dyed green.

The yellow spots are m-n-ms and skittles, which was a nice surprise for the kids as they never knew which one they would eat next.

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The eyes were made with one marshmallow, cut in half and striped with a toothpick dipped in black food coloring (the book said to buy a tube of black frosting but this worked).

Mr. Snake’s tongue was made with a fruit-by-the-foot, trimmed at the end to be forked.

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We had to call the boys up out of the pond in order to have the cake, which is why Caleb has a towel around his waist.  (summertime birthdays are the best.)

As an ode to the good ol’ days, I scattered some of Caleb’s beloved Thomas the tank Engine trains down the table as decoration. All the boys had fun picking them up with their forks attaching to the trains’ magnetic ends.

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I served out the cake and Rich served out the ice cream.

Happy Birthday, Caleb!

*****

PS, Sarah is continuing to do very well, although I had some cause for worry this morning.  After I talked to the doctor, had a good cry, and baked a cake I felt better.  (She was never worried in the least).  She’s happy.