Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Year End Dove Chocolate Advice

I’m going to end my year with a Dove Chocolate blog again…..better than a psychiatrist or Dr Phil – here we go with advise for the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009!

~ Smile! It’s contagious.
~ Send your best friend flowers. (OK BFF's - I'll pick you some dandelions in the summer!)
~ Support + Optimism = Survival (S.O.S.)
~ Everyone deserves a lifetime!
~ Always remember you are beautiful.

Have a great New Years Eve and better 2009! I plan to!
Blessing from Val


We all have had those moments of blushing – when the blood flows to our face from an experience that makes us feel embarrassed. I think I’ve had my fair share of them actually – most recently Sunday at our family gathering.

We had church, then a gathering at 1 pm – the ongoing festivities of seeing family and gorging on good food. Sophie typically falls asleep on the short drive home from church, so we let her sleep up until the last minute as we loaded our food up in the van, changed clothes, let out the dog, Steve was doing his last minute page printing of the legal sized family addresses that he procrastinates on yearly so I didn’t want to wake Soph up until I knew he was done – then it was the mad rush of changing her from her church dress and diaper…..pulling off tights, etc.

Phew – we made it about 10 minutes late but got there. I set Sophia up in a high chair after the family prayer….got my plate of “shared” food for Soph and me – had her happily eating, went to shift her position in the antique high chair…..thought, “What is wet?” “Didn’t her diaper hold?” “Wow – this is really wet, did something spill?” Only to discover I’d pulled on her tights and pants WITHOUT a diaper! Poor gal – so Steve ran home for clothes, I wrapped her in a blanket and some of the family we only see yearly watched us in wonder!

This wasn’t as bad as the time Anthony was a toddler at the dentist, when I picked him up to leave and poo balls fell out of his shorts – that was fun picking them up and seeing the look of horror of the hygienist's face who was unmarried and hadn’t experienced the things kids can do or say!

Then there was the time I had a gas attack right during a prayer when leading a group and my natural instinct was to pause, it ripped, I continued praying when all I wanted to do was crack up and die of embarrassment all at the same time! Then no one said anything which made it more awkward so I couldn’t even laugh until I got to my car alone - I let the laughter roll - better that then to cry....I don't think I've ever seen those folks again!

Anthony recently remembered a time when he was 2 that he fell face first into a mud puddle when playing in dirt at a baseball game of Steve’s and someone brought him to me crying and the friends around me said “Hug him!”

The kids used to watch Sponge Bob a bunch and one episode has Sponge Bob being coached to over come his low self esteem from bad breath by yelling from the top of his pineapple house “I’m ugly and I’m proud.” A while later on a venture to Walmart – Anthony (who was about 4) yells out in a crowded area “I’m ugly and I’m proud” – all those old ladies looked at me like I taught him that and how could I teach such a cute child to say that! Actually – that cracked me up too, once I quit blushing. I've many more stories - I'll spare you for now.

I wonder – did Mary ever feel embarrassed by her children? Did they feel that way in the Bible? Did Jesus do things that Mary and Joseph couldn’t understand and did they feel embarrassed with their peers? I’m sure as parents of Jesus, they had experiences their friends didn’t – how then did they relate with others? Did Mary blush at Jesus’s antics as a child? Did he kill an animal and bring it to life as practise? Did he know his powers? What things did he do as a child, that aren’t written about? Why did God make us so that we can blush? Hmmm

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

'08 be gone...

OK – haven’t blogged in a number of days. Had one all ready on my oldest son – that will have to wait for another day. Christmas Eve is tomorrow, then Christmas Day…..I lost the “spirit” and rev I had going into this most favorite season of mine. Mom-in-law had a mastectomy on Dec 16th and found out she’ll undergo Chemo….I just have this feeling that God is testing me a bunch this year of ’08 – started with my tumor and hysterectomy, my good friend lost her only brother in a freak swimming accident in Costa Rica, another friend is losing her grandpa as I type, yet another friend mourns her son gone from a drunk driver, then Jim – my oldest bro has a brain tumor stage 4 and he is only 48……I’m feeling like Job here and I know there is hope and miracles and light at the end but I’m not seeing it right now. There is so much suffering in the world – how do I begin? I'm only one person in sea of hurt. I’m a known optimist – so this is harder to write. Bad stuff has happened in ’08. I have this feeling things will be better in ’09 but I’m not guaranteed anything like that am I?

Good stuff happened too – we are in the adoption process of Soph and should finalize in early ’09, we have family, church family, health, a good home, jobs, love and soo much more. But I lost it – I lost my momentum of Christmas Spirit and I don’t know if it will come back in time. I read God has a purpose in sending trials our way.

I’m reading Job when I should be rejoicing in the birth of God’s own son – instead I read
Job 5:6-11
For hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground. Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward. But if it were I, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. He bestows rain on the earth; he sent water upon the countryside.

Thanks Job – actually Eliphaz the Temanite to Job. So God won’t answer all my questions about life’s suffering; he does control that too because he controls Satan, who can go no farther than the Lord allows….so Lord, I surrender to you the future as my worry will get me nowhere. Give me acceptance of the trials of life and give me no more than I can handle. Send your angels to guard me and keep watch over my loved ones & me too - that I may serve you on this earth. Amen.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas, my child...

"Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas." Dale Evans Rogers

Christmas Waves A Magic Wand...

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." Norman Vincent Peale

Christmas In The Heart

"It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air." W.T. Ellis

Oh Holy Night....the stars are brightly shining

I love that song..

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stop - I don't want to go to school!

This cracked me up this morning as we headed off on our day. The neighbor kids built an “obstacle fort” of ice/snow with orange pylons (hilarious!) to slow down their parents’ departure and probably make them late for school! In my mind – Christmas break can’t come soon enough and the children anticipate it so much.

Sometimes I feel like God is doing the same thing – putting up those obstacle road blocks in my life to remind me to slow down…or, is it the reminders I get from my loving hubby…hmm? I’ll have to ponder that more. In slowing down – I notice the beauty around me more – like the newly fallen snow that hampered travel lately – but brought huge smiles to my sons and wonder to Soph and joy to my Canadian soul.

Did Joseph think Mary’s pregnancy was a “road block” in their marriage? Probably – he had to have doubts – yet he did as God asked and married her. I think at road block times when I’m searching “why?” I need to be more like Joseph and follow God’s lead. I’ll admit I can be a control freak. There I said it. Oh – you aren’t surprised?

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”- Matthew 1:20-21

Friday, December 12, 2008


This is my Christmas wreath on our front door. Have you ever wondered what the meaning of hanging a wreath is? While I could guess, I decided to do some short research. Here is what I learned:

~Wreaths are a symbol for the never-ending love of Jesus Christ. (I like that)
~The evergreens used symbolize the strength of life as evergreens remain green all year long. (I like that too)
~Things like pine, yew or holly symbolize immortality – I’d prefer to think of it as salvation for eternal life. Cedar symbolizes healing or strength.

So – now I know a little more and will realize this tradition has a good biblical meaning that I will share with my children as well.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Merry Christmas!

OK - I just can't wait - so I wanted to share my North Pole Elfin children with you and wish you all a very Merry Chrsitmas!

(it is wonderful to have a graphic artist husband)

Monday, December 8, 2008

And the stockings....

And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care....

Hub Bub

Hub bub – bub hub……hub bub.

Yup – the holidays are a hub bub of action. While I guard myself not to get “consumed” with the gift buying, decorating, programs, etc etc – I find if I can “organize” things EARLY (yes I shop in July!), then it eases some of the craziness so when friends are RUNNING all over doing this, getting this – I like to SLOOOOWWW ITTTT right down and enjoy the season. This year was a tougher start but this week I’ll hopefully achieve the “slow down” part more.

Last night my one buddy and I attended an annual Dillards special customer event – we love going. The employees walk around with a trays of Godiva chocolates you can munch off of, have a brass quartet in the women’s dept, food buffet in mens, pianist in linens, samples in kitchenware, free gift wrapping, employees all wear formals….very fun event and a good time to be with a friend…..can’t remember how many years we’ve been doing this! We’ve even been dropped from the store list but we call in and get put back on yearly!

We got the tree up this past weekend too and the “little one” explores it but does well. When we drive and look at lights we’ve taught the boys to go “oooohhh aaahhh” when we see a nice light display…Soph is doing it now too – soo cute!

One tradition we do (pending no one is throwing up or having chicken pox!) is we invite some close friends over for food and fellowship. Children included we’ll be 21 this Saturday and I so look forward to doing this and enjoying friends in this way. (I’ll post pics if I remember to pick up the camera in the crazy fun that evening brings)

Here is a picture of the Sunday crew and one that Tobias took. The little one doesn’t sit still much! Sunday was the “all choirs” program and the boys sang – very festive way to get into the season. Music is a big part of getting into the spirit as my Opa was very musical and we’d sing the old German songs – sometimes when we sing a song in church it reminds me of the ones we’d sing in German and I find myself singing the German words in my head. It is easy to start new traditions too – as children have helped us create new ones and they count on doing them again and again. Traditions, whatever they are, define our holidays very often – so long as we don’t forget the real true reason for the season – Jesus’ birth

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I drove past this mail box today and had to take a picture. At first you go “what?” But to me it makes perfect sense – this person is “protecting” their mail box from the many clumsy farmers who whack it off regularly with a combine header or whatever implement they are sashaying down the country road with – and this person took action.
Don’t you wish we could run about with a large “protection” circle around us – shielding us form the world’s harms – whatever they be? Well, we DO have a shield – that shield is in God our father who watches over us and protects us. Now I’ll see this mail box daily on my drive and it is a great reminder for me.
Psalm 5:11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Trip

The Trip – Part 1

The packing. I’m awful at packing. You’d think after many years of trips to Canada yearly to visit family I’d be a pro – but no. I can make great lists of things to bring so I don’t forget things. My husband in the early years used to get fairly frustrated with me and the large piles of things I’d take back in our “small” vehicle. So – he became the packing pro. I’d set the piles in the living room then go sit and read or clean or do something so as not to hear his grunts of frustration as he made magic fitting everything into the vehicle. We wouldn’t have a lot of room sometimes and often couldn’t’ recline a seat or two. Having three children now – one in diapers no less, hasn’t minimized my piles to take along. This is a photo of maybe half of it. Magic maker got it all in the van and we don’t even have a topper for the roof rack! We are back on the active list for fostering and I quietly asked on the way…so we’d be pretty crowed with one more kiddo. No joke – but I know magic man would get it all in – he always does. OK – I had to leave the stroller behind! Figured – below weather wouldn’t need it anyway and I can use a cart at the mall!

The Trip – Part 2

Snacks. A good and generous friend brought me chocolate. She made me cry – as we hugged goodbye. She knows the chocolate if my fave and she also knows the importance of this trip that wasn’t planned for this year – but became important with the late summer diagnosis of brain cancer for my bro Jim….. the need to touch base with loved ones. So we hit the road with a Dew and M&M’s. Who needs anything else?

The Trip – Part 3

Van travel pics. God is keeping us safe as we travel. Thank you Lord! Naps, reading, some homework for Anthony, DS (of course!), magazines and napping – traveling two days to Canada is like a small spa retreat…oh except when Soph has had enough of her car seat and is screaming at the top of her lungs and throwing her toys and books on the door side I can’t reach!

The Trip – Part 4

Border crossing. Passports in hand and Soph’s Judge approval travel papers get us into the country without problems. Typical questions: What are you bringing that you are leaving and the value? Any citrus fruits like apples or oranges? Any tobacco, alcohol or firearms? Any personal weapons? (Mace - it is illegal to carry in Canada). Where are you going and the purpose of your trip? How long are you staying? Have a nice stay.

The Trip – Part 5

The arrival. Anxious excited grandparents/parents greet us. They always back out their vehicle so we can unload in the comfort of their garage. See how the kids have grown? Hugs and kisses of welcome. Feels so good to know we’ve made it safe and sound. Feels so good to not be sitting on our butts! FYI: In Canada butt isn’t a bad word like in the US where I have to teach my kids “bottom” so as not to offend the sitter and the school folks…. cultural adjustment I resent besides not using a “u” in colour and favourite…I know, when in Rome make like the Romans! I’ve lost my focus….oh yah, we made it. Dang it is cold here. We had more snow on the ground in South Dakota than here - the boys are disappointed but maybe it will snow this week….then I’ll have my fix so I can return to KS and prepare for Christmas knowing my soul was restored with a snow fall from my homeland…..I’ll pray for about 2 feet. God are you listening?

The Trip – Part 6

The week. Flies by…. swoosh. Memories full, highs, low. Laughter, hugs, tears, pain in seeing what cancer can do, sorrow in a future so unknown, joy in watching winter birds at the feeder, joy in time together. Joy in today. Joy in mittens and snow pants. Joy in a warm fireplace on a cold day. Joy in Mom’s good cooking and a pot of tea – always tastes better in Mom’s kitchen. Sorrow in parting. Steve won’t let me start to drive when we leave because he knows if I don’t cry in the hugs good bye – I’ll bawl before we make the quarter mile down the road to the stop sign. I’m usually composed by the time we hit the border, but this time I cried for the hurt in life that I can't fix, I cried for the distance between us and the time that will pass until we can hug again. I remember our first trips as newlyweds – I don’t think Steve knew what to do for his weepy bride – now he just knows it is apart of the process.

The Trip – Part 7

The road home – Kansas bound. Going home is harder the traveling up. The eagerness to get there and time to chill in the vehicle is a joy. But on the way home – we suddenly want to click our heels and say “there is no place like home” and be there. So…. it is harder. Day 2 is a killer and the kids are at each other and we could strangle them too – so it just isn’t as fun. All of it comes rushing at us – what lies ahead and what we left behind. Makes for a testy drive in the last few hours. Pick up the mail that was held and what a joy to see our home! Again, Thank you Lord for watching over us and keeping us safe. Reminds me of the benedictions said at the end of church. “Now may the Lord keep you and watch over you may his face shine upon you. May the Lord Bless you and be with you now and forever? Amen” And I sigh....

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