everything good comes from above

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. James 1:17

This weekend Rich and I drove Grace and Brittnee back to college. Joanna was out of down and I was not expecting to see her, but on Saturday when Rich and I were eating lunch, all of a sudden there she was in the chair next to me, laughing. I was sincerely dumbfounded that someone (like me) who prided herself on extremely sharp mothering skills such as being able to detect ANY sneaky behavior, for example, could be taken by surprise by not only her husband but also her best friend, who were in league with one another to pull it off. I was impressed by them both.

Rich unreluctantly left us to go do his own thing while Joanna and I went to Starbucks and caught up with each other. I’ll never forget telling her things in tears and seeing her eyes so concerned and loving, even reaching out with her hand to brush a tear left behind on my cheek, like it was the most natural thing in the world, listening and caring with a heart of friendship. This is 23 years of relationship, no worries no anxieties, only sharing and leaning on one another through life.

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives. Colossians 3:16a

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. John 15:22

Then, we got in her van and she barreled us into the countryside to see a field of sunflowers.

We took a photo of a pair of sunflowers to represent the two of us and our day.

I’m smiling as I look at these photos again.

And guess what?

When we left, we got to cut three sunflowers each and it began to rain so we did it quickly.

And then!! to my utter joy, a double rainbow appeared.

All day long, my heart was aching with the love and goodness of God.

Let me never forget, dear Father, open my eyes, remind me, remind me with rainbows, that everything good comes from above.

friendship

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After a week, it was time to take dear Gracie back to college.  We didn’t have the adventures we thought we would have, but she was a comfort and a companion to me when her Dad was away and I was sick for days.  We headed back to Pennsylvania on Saturday afternoon.

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Always with a stop at Starbucks.  It’s a must for a road trip.

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On Sunday morning I got dressed up and went to church.  I had forgotten a Bible so I took the Gideon one out of the hotel room and I will cherish it forever as I had already read it the night before, and that morning as I ate breakfast in my room by myself.

“No good tree bears bad fruit.”  (that’s me!)

“The good person out of the good treasure of her heart produces good.” (that’s me by the grace of God!)

***********

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be the daughter of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”

We hear a lot about the wrath of God, it was a “brought me to my knees” reminder that He is also good to the ungrateful and evil……….HE IS GOOD……

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My dear daughter.  So proud of her.

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Gracie between Mom 2 and Mom 1.  With moms like these she’s in a good place.  Always.

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Joanna and I left church together and went to lunch at a new place.  It was busy, exciting, alive, and bright, AND THEY SERVED ON FIESTAWARE!

We had to wait for a table but that was okay….we just walked back to the car and sat for a while talking like two soul-sisters do.

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My beautiful friend.  I love her so.

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she had chai, I had matcha

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The food was amazing!  Just the best.  And to sit and spend time together alone just the two of us was a gift from God.  I felt so very blessed.  And while we ate, I had a text from my dear mom wanting me to stop there on my way home….I felt even more wanted and loved….and texted Michael who said a quick and cheerful *YES* to helping me get the kids on the bus the next morning so I could stay a night at home*sweet*home with my parents.

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She pointed out the church she went to as a child.

Back at her house, she gave me a kitchen-tour and showed me her amazing new pantry.

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I got to linger over the pages of her Dawn-Journal.  Always inspired.

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And then, we went to a favorite antique store where I found a dear Periwinkle disc pitcher to take home with me!

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We were in the land of “The Office” and loved this quote which was up on the wall for our amusement.

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So thankful for a Jo in my life.

It’s one of the blessings that I will be forever humbled and grateful for.

Friendship.

 

church, salvage, my sweater, more fiestaware, art journals

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Parker the dog woofed and woofed to let us know that our annual visit from the mallard ducks happened this morning.  I opened the door to admire the ducks floating gracefully on the pond.  He was still barking at the waters edge and I understood what he was trying to say so I called down, “I SEE THEM, Parker, THANK YOU!!”   Caleb, coughing at the end of the couch, also understood, “It’s a sign of spring.” The ground is covered in snow and the pond has a thin sheet of ice over half of it but this faithful visit from our old friends cheered our hearts.  It’s currently 31 degrees.  I will be leaving in about an hour to go pick up Caleb’s school work so he can do it this weekend and not get too far behind.  Thankfully, he is feeling much better.

As promised, this is a photo- blog- journal report on SUNDAY the 18th of March.  Grace and I had slept together in a hotel the night before and Joanna picked us up for church at 9:45. At church, we enjoyed singing hymns, listening to Scripture, and hearing a sermon before heading out for lunch at a popular diner.  Joanna treated us to a very filling meal and we sat by a big window, talking and laughing as we ate.

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Grace had a steak.  Joanna and I both had huge de-constructed gyro salads. (SO good)  (could not finish)

With very full tummies we headed out for a few hours of shopping.

olde good things

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Olde Good Things was a huge warehouse full of architectural salvage.  We walked through the door and immediately became inspired by the smells of dust, old wood, paint, rust, and metal, and invigorated by the cold temperatures of the warehouse.  The building was stacked floor to ceiling with everything imaginable coming out of old hotels, buildings, churches, and museums of the past.

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There was even a horse hanging from the ceiling.

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We explored to our hearts content.

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And as typical of her, Grace climbed into every upper level, no matter if the floors were uneven and stairs steep and deadly.  I kept expecting her to fall or have things fall on her.    18 years old and she still awakens the “I must keep my child alive” nervousness in me.  She has always loved climbing, so much so that one of her childhood nicknames (which she hated) was “Grace Goat”.

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Some of Olde Good Things’ salvage jobs have been The Plaza Hotel in NYC, the JFK International airport, and Rialto Theatre, Times Square NYC.  Check their website for all the interesting details.  Joanna has been following them and visiting their warehouse for years.  I was once again impressed by her design sense, she has great instincts and ideas.

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a feast for the eyes

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We were upstairs in a “door section” (the stuff was all very informally organized) I arranged Grace (in my favorite sweater) in front of a white wooden door, I imagine it must have been a back kitchen door as someone resourcefully covered it in blue linoleum.

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This upstairs floor was loose sections of open iron grating, giving us a strange feeling of fear, we were up so high but knew we were safe enough because after all there were thousands of doors, wooden pillars and posts, and so on.  But then to see, instead of “safe” steps, an unsecured little ladder leading up to yet another level and the words BE CAREFUL WATCH OUT. . . . .it was amazing.

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Everything about this place was inspiring to all three of us.

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a treasure trove of old metal

***

NEXT STOP WAS

on and on vintage, antiques, repurposed, handmade marketplace

in Scranton, PA.

This place was wonderful, not just because of the stuff they sold, but because the owners were so warm and cheerful and obviously liked each other, their shop, and their customers.  They were due to close in five minutes but happily stayed open for us. (!)

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Right away Joanna asked if they had fiestaware and the lady led us straight to a few displays.  I wanted the vintage green covered casserole quite badly but sadly there was a big chip on the lid.  It was 25 dollars.  I did find two place-setting bowls in retired colors, Seamist and Chartreuse, still shiny and perfect.

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We wondered why These Happy Golden Years wasn’t in the box.  Laura Ingalls Wilder fans for life!

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The combination of the chair and the quilt stopped Joanna in her tracks.

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Lastly, Joanna took us to two local Indian grocery stores where we had a great time buying some snacks, drinks, and treats to take home with us.

We went back to Joanna’s house feeling full in every way; physically, mentally, and spiritually. . . . .

We had just an hour or so to do the one remaining thing on Joanna’s list of things she wanted to do with me during our visit.  

art journals

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She set to work painting pages in my book while I looked through her art book, and Chloe’s, too.  Grace did her homework across the table.  Steve and the older boys were in the living room and the littles came in and out to see what we were doing.  It was cozy with beautiful music that Joanna turned on for us, filling the air with hymns and praise songs. . . .

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She was on her mom’s shoulder like this for a long time. . . .so dear.

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Joanna’s art supplies purchase recommendations for the next time I go to AC Moore.

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Behind me was the wall she started recently for the little ones. . .tiny art in tiny frames, carefully arranged way down low, eye level for toddlers.  Just right for the small ones in the family.   Mini-art gallery perfection.

Grace and I had to leave at 7:ish so that we could get her things from the hotel and take her back to college before 8.  I took her to the grocery store quickly for some healthy snacks and drinks and some cash so that her Grandma and I could have peace of mind that she had everything she needed.  I took her to school and helped her get her things back into her dorm room, taking away her Christmas tree.  We hugged outside the building in the dark and even after all day of me saying “don’t forget you have to change out of my sweater before I drop you off” she somehow still got away with it.  In leaving my beloved, I forgot my sweater.  We had a good laugh about that the next day.

Thank you again for a great weekend, Joanna!  I was touched by the time and thoughtfulness you put into making plans for us.  It was truly appreciated way down deep.

And God bless you, Grace, as you finish up your first year of college.

 

 

 

 

 

quilts and fiestaware and salt cellars and . . . . . . .

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Good morning!  I can’t wait to tell you all about when I took Grace back to college this weekend.  But first a little update on the day so far.  It’s snowing, for one thing.  I have a boy home with the flu, for another.  On a scale of 1-10 my mommy-burnout meter is at about a 6. . . .so thank goodness there was no snowday today or it would have shot up to a 9 I’m sure.  I plan on a quiet day with Caleb, four cats, and the dog.  Caleb is snuggled up with Parker at the end of the couch, wearing a flu mask.  He looks much better this morning, although his eyes have a sad look to them, which is what prompted the doctor to do the flu test on Tuesday.  He is looking out the window.  He feels sorry for the birds,  digging in the snow for birdseed, which we have run out of.  He assures me that I can leave him at home while I go get more.  “They depend on you,” he reminds me.  And there goes the snow plow, rumbling by.  Sherlock the orange cat is sitting on the windowsill also watching the birds (he doesn’t care what they eat as he would rather eat THEM) and our two black cats (adopted in December) are chasing a marble around the room like little spitfires.  How two cats can make so much noice is beyond me. . . . . .

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Grace and I left the house Saturday morning at 6:15, she was rather annoyed as I had said to her that we would leave at 8.  But I could not sleep anymore so I woke her up and we drove away from home.  It was very cold, quiet and as dark as night.

We arrived at Joanna’s house around 11:45 and we headed out to a few shopping destinations.  The first one we went to was a shop/antique store in a building on someone’s farm property.  The owners sell new items, with unique older pieces mixed in everywhere, so exploring was very exciting.  I bought some new kitchen towels that I really love because after washing and drying them the hems around the edges did NOT curl (which I hate), I bought a vintage salt-cellar, white with a hinged wooden lid, and a few other odd and ends.

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We LOVED the big heavy teapots on top of the wooden stove in the shop.  This place was full of women shopping and we were very impressed that although it was out-of-the-way, it was apparently quite popular and visited by groups of enthusiastic customers.

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It was such fun to include Grace and Chloe, our two beautiful young daughters, with us for the day!

If you would like to visit this quaint and lively shop it is called Feick’s Vintage Finds (click link for more information)

It was almost an hour drive from Joanna’s house but totally worth it!  I would go again in a heartbeat.

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On down the road to another antique shop.  This one was called “Apple Wagon Antique Mall.”

I found an amazing beveled mirror framed in a grass green wooden frame (old) and a fiesta tripod bowl in persimmon (first time seeing one of them!).

Other things seen and noted:

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Mortar and Pestle used to mix paints (old) that Joanna snatched up (she bought two on this day).  Joanna has a great artist’s eye for things and knows just what she loves and what she would do with the items she sees, color, art, etc.

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Grace saw this shelf of goodies first. She called me over and then said, “I won, Aunt Joanna!” because she was proud of herself for finding the first fiestaware of the day.  The tripod bowl is not in the photo because it was already in my hands.  I think what I’ll do is an instagram post of some of the things I bought.  I was very tempted by the dark green small plates (6 dollars each) but I was trying to be a good girl and to be honest I already have a stack of like 15 small plates (but none of them are dark green.  sigh.)  Some of the shapes here are not fiestaware.  They are made by the same company (HLC) but from a different line called Harlequin.  The colors are similar but even the feel of the plates is different.  Harlequin is much lighter in the hand.  Some fiesta collectors end up collecting harlequin as well.

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Vintage Button collections— made me think of my mom— but these were a little out of my price range.  Aren’t they lovely?  We would display them right up on the wall and admire them daily.

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This is just one of the reasons why we love antiquing.  It is a huge source of inspiration.  Don’t you just want to find an old family black and white photo and put it into a bottle now?  I know I do. . . . . .

This whole place was a treat to visit.  The prices were encouraging and negotiable, and there were many unique things to see.  Not to mention the homemade cookies and coffee-free to anyone who needed a pick me up, which was definitely us by that point!

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The beautiful hands of the woman who totaled up our purchases.  They even used a very old cash register that dinged when the drawer opened.   This is one of my favorite photos of the day.

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The girls each bought a red-covered book.  Grace bought Robinson Crusoe and Chloe found a copy of Black Beauty.  2 dollars.

As we drove Joanna kept saying, “LOOK at the beautiful mountains!”

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We drove to the middle of the town of Tunkhannock, PA for the final shop of the day and coffee.  There was also an amazing mural Joanna wanted a photo of, and as it was St Patricks day, the green was very fitting.

“The Old Store” was small and cold yet I found a pristine round fiesta platter for only 4 dollars (in “Rose”)!!!

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She was right about the mountains……..

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What a fun day we had all together with our girlies.  I’m just so deep down thankful.  Chloe is 13 and Grace is 18 but they got along like two peas in a pod.  Like sisters.

A quick walk down the road, Joanna treated us to lovely drinks (I had a hot chai tea latte) in a warm ‘n’ cozy coffee shop and then we took one last photo before heading back to her house for pizza.

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When I sent this photo to my brother he thought of stained glass windows.  (he’s taking a class and making his first one). . . . .

Thank you for a wonderful day, Josephina!

Tomorrow I will share photos from Sunday and what we did on that day together before dropping Grace off at college.

 

 

friends together

Blessed are they who have the gift of making friends, for it is one of God’s best gifts.  It involves many things, but above all, the power of going out of one’s self, and appreciating whatever is noble and loving in another.  ~Thomas Hughes

Joanna graciously brought our daughter Grace home from college on Friday night and was able to stay for a weekend visit.  We had such a lovely time.  My husband took care of the children so I could be completely free all day Saturday and Sunday.  Jo and I began the day chatting in the guest bedroom upstairs (which is David’s room when there is no guest) and listening to the birds through the window, which was slightly difficult what with all our nonstop talking.  We admired a brilliantly red cardinal up in the treetop.

For breakfast, we went to the diner just a couple miles away.  In fact, we spent all of our time in town so that we wouldn’t have to use up time in driving.

******* what does it mean to be a friend? *******
a helping hand to the journey’s end;
a loyal heart and a loving, too,
no task too great for a friend to do!
Anne Campbell

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We had our nails done in the salon the same exact color as a green trunk we both admired as we ducked into several different shops around town…….a festive green for St. Patrick’s day.

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The green trunk was spied in the type of place in which there are piles of things EVERYWHERE……this particular shop downtown specializes in cleaning out estates for re-sale.  It’s almost too full.  Jo and I both love old things and the feeling that there are treasures to be found underneath all that other stuff.  We spent a long time rummaging around the rooms.

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My friend has such a good eye for the perfect items, we didn’t buy much, but what we did was meaningful.  Photos, weights for my coo-coo clock, a few old papers for our scrapbooks.

Most of the fun was in the prowl.

It is good to pause and rest awhile
From life’s demanding pace…
To leave the loud,
Chaotic crowd (our children, ha ha)
And find a quiet place,
To put on the cloak of quietness
With heart and mind at ease,
To sit with a friend
At the long day’s end
And recall fond memories.
And whether we talk or whether we dream,
You’ll find that in the end,
No treasure, though rare,
Could ever compare
With the quiet hours spent with a friend.
Barbara Burrow

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The little quotes and poems in this post are from a book Joanna gave me for Christmas, a 1971 Hallmark gift book titled, Friends Together.

Tomorrow I will blog about the rest of our visit.

Happy Wednesday!

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.

yes

It’s Friday, and I pick up my little travel companion from school early.  She’s so excited that she can’t stop talking.  We are going to see her best friend and her sister.  She’s holding my hand and skipping to the car.  Her joy is contagious.

We stop at Starbucks which is our tradition before every road trip.

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The drive takes us all afternoon.

At one point we go from sun to rain and I see a rainbow in the sky.

I listen to podcasts; she watches Shrek for the 10,000th time.

We stop at TJ Maxx for a curling iron because I forgot mine at home.  We leave with little presents for all five of Joanna’s kids…..and no curling iron.

Eventually we reach our hotel.  It’s getting dark and it’s cold.  But we settle into our room and get back into the car to meet sister Grace and her boyfriend Caleb for dinner at a Greek place just a few minutes away.  We can’t wait to see them.

At the restaurant, we order macaroni and cheese for Sarah, a pork chop dinner for Grace, and gyros for Caleb and me.  The food is delicious and filling and gives us energy.

After we eat, we go next door and visit puppies in a shop.

*****

It’s Saturday and Grace’s 18th birthday.

She has plans for the day with Caleb so I take Sarah to see her best friend and pick up Joanna for a women’s Bible conference.  She’s speaking and I can’t wait to hear her.

We drive to the church early and then sit in the car and talk while I put on make up.

It’s been a year since our last visit but it feels like we were never apart.

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We go into the church and find seats.  The tables are decorated with pretty lanterns and pumpkins and doilies.  There is cold water and coffee or tea to drink and miniature bagels and clementines to snack on.

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While she is away saying hello to some of the other ladies, I take a photo of our Bibles on the table and feel my heart bursting with gratitude for the moment.

The talks with other women are just what we need, the songs we sing help us to praise Him with the center of our being, and we pray together and learn more about Him.

We learn to say “Yes, Lord”;  yes, and amen.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.  2 Corinthians 1:20

I am astounded once again, that He has said Yes to me.

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Joanna and I go into a little classroom after the conference and both of us take photos of an amazing mobile that has caught our attention; it is made out of a tree branch, and used for the church’s preschool ministry.  We both decide we want to make one, too.

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After the conference, we go to the hotel so I can change and then go back to her house to check on the girls.  Grace and Caleb will be joining us for dinner later and we have the whole evening to look forward to.

dishes n’ daisies

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I’m posting these photos today because my Aunt Colleen came home from an amazing cross country roadtrip with a bag all the way from West Virginia for me!  Guess what was inside of it?  A fiesta daisy plate!   She gave it to me when I was at her house this weekend and the first thing I did when I got home was tuck it in my collection; just right.

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Thank you, my friend!

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Wild daisies are just coming in bloom here in Connecticut and it’s hard to say which is my favorite; a handful of daisies or a fiestaware daisy plate.

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It was fun to take a few minutes to play with these colorful dishes in the midst of a busy morning.

“I will go pick daisies
and have a happy heart.”

 

let the stormy breezes blow

The house is quiet.  I awoke at 6am to learn that school was closed.  In our neck of the woods, the winds are whipping tree limbs into power lines and causing power outages and there is icy snow thinly covering the ground.  Yesterday our electricity was out from noon to seven in the evening.  Darkness and quiet can mean so many things.  What we see as “dark” can be darker still, what we hear as “quiet” can be even quieter……….

We lit candles and carried flashlights.

For now, the house is warm again, and maybe not as quiet as I think.  It will surely get louder as the children wake up, good healthy children with lots of energy, curiosity, play, mess, and need for constant work to do.

Someone can clean the kitchen.  Someone can fold clothes.  Someone can sit beside me and let me read to them.  Someone can play a game.  Someone can make us lunch.

If you can slip and slide your way to our place, all are welcome for a party day.  We a friendly dog, three cats, and children from the age 6 all the way up to 20.  Friends.

Things are never quite as scary when you’ve got a best friend.  ~ Bill Watterson 

******

I drove my Hannah friend to the airport yesterday morning.

As my husband texted me, “The parting of good friends is sad but oh so worth it.”

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These are the pajama pants she made Caleb, using another pair belonging to him as a pattern.  Caleb is our football fan and he loves the Patriots.  These pants were a labor of pure love.  (Hannah is a Seahawks fan)

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She made me a pair of nice thick leggings in a wonderful olive green.

*****

a little clip from singing with Hannah on Sunday

the last verse:

Let the stormy breezes blow, their cry cannot alarm me;
I am safely sheltered here, protected by God’s hand;
Here the sun is always shining, here there’s naught can harm me;
I am safe forever in Beulah Land.

fiestaware news

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I heard from my dear friend and fellow fiestaware lover Lea Ann first thing this morning.

She had some happy news.

A new color was announced!

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And she signed off saying, “Have a sunny day!”

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Have you guessed?

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Here is how it compares to the other yellows (although I wish the chart had vintage yellow on it, too):

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Happy Day!

PS, Let me know if you need my address so you can send me some.