Monday, December 31, 2012


He wasn't only my uncle.  He was my godfather.

I have realized only recently that he turned (just)sixteen, three days after I was born.

I remember when he brought me penny candy.  I remember wax lips in the tiny brown bag.

He  was always sweet to me.

My kindergarten teacher had been his kindergarten teacher.  Mrs. Swartz.

As I got a little bit older, my school teachers were his former college classmates.

He would nicely scold me to wear a barrette to keep the hair out of my he could see my face.

He found a sweet girl to marry, and I was invited to be their flower girl.

I loved his bride to pieces just like I loved him, and they were so sweet to take me places, and treat me like a princess -- long before princesses were such a big deal.

His bride would do things like make homemade cherry Cokes with maraschino cherry juice for us.  She would roll back the braided rug so we could dance to "American Pie" by Don McLean.  She created furniture for my Barbies out of Kleenex boxes.  And, on hot summer nights, we would pile into their car, and take dinner to him at The Peace Bridge -- where he worked.

They got a dog, when I had wished for them to have a baby.

But then they did have a baby, and another, and another, and another.  And still -- they always made me feel special.  They let me help take care of the babies.

Somewhere in all of this, he(they) learned to love the Lord.  We all did through the years, and in our own time -- or, I should say, GOD'S time.  How grateful I was on the day of his Memorial Service to be reminded that we have (regardless of the journey) ended up "on the same page."  He was louder along the journey than I was, or may ever be.  But, what I learned... at his service... is to be a little louder in my life.  Because, guess what?  People ARE watching.  People ARE paying attention.  And regardless of whether they would say good or bad things when I'm gone... I want them to know that I loved God -- loudly, without apology, and yes, sometimes causing them to squirm in their seats.  (That's called being convicted by the Holy Spirit!)

So God, today... I pray that somehow, you would let my uncle know how thankful I am for his unwavering example of BOLDNESS to me.  You will recognize him Lord.  He's the new kid on the block, out there dancing on the streets of gold... with TWO healthy legs.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Easy Christmas Gift Tags (do it now)

After Christmas...
What do you do with all of the Christmas cards you received?  Do you lovingly tuck them all away?  I know I don't have room to keep years and years worth of Christmas cards in our small home.

Do you pitch them all in the trash?  What?  Wait!  There is a way to re-purpose them!  This is a real money-saver too!  I haven't bought Christmas gift-tags since... Well, actually, I don't know if I ever have.  Certainly not in years.

Some time after Christmas, I sit down with all of the Christmas cards our family received.  I separate all of the photo cards, and set them aside to include on a few scrapbook pages.  As for the others: I carefully tear off the front, and discard the back -- as there isn't usually anything pretty there to be used for a gift-tag.  Trace circles on the front of the cards -- as many as will fit.  I use my scrapbooking circle template -- but you could use any shape you want, or even just cut strips across the width of the card.  Just make sure you have room to write your "to" and "from" and perhaps a little "Merry Christmas!"  If you're strategic in your placement, you will be able to get a few gift-tags from each card.

If the card is more sentiment than artwork -- well, use that too!

Sometimes, I use my "tag" template as well... although nothing says Christmas gift-tag to me like a circle... just the way my mom used to have my sister and I make them -- by tracing around the top of a drinking glass!

Now, all you need to do is punch a hole, and string some ribbon through to add to your packages or gift-bags.

TaaDaa!  Easy peasy!

Obvious?  Perhaps.

Money-saving?  For sure!

Green?  Oh yeah, baby!

Now, tuck them away in a place where you will find them next year.  Admittedly, this is sometimes the most important step!  I usually keep mine with my wrapping supplies - but I've also been known to toss them in our big ornament tote at the last minute.

Christmas Gift-Tags.  They're a "good thing."

Check out the sweet little giveaway going on over at

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Where I'm From

"Tell me some of our family traditions," came the text.  Our girl was working on a secret project -- one prompted by her English teacher, and scorned by her other classmates.  But one that our girl took to.  After reading the poem "Where I'm From" by George Ella Lyon, the class was given a template in order to compose their own poem with similar ideas.

This is what our girl wrote, and presented to us on Christmas Day:

I am from the rocker,
from Colgate toothpaste and Giant Eagle peanut butter.
I am from the mint green house,
to the creamy white house.
I am from the black raspberry bush,
the hydrangea (pretty, pink, vibrant.)
I'm from the sparkling grape juice on new years and the stubbornness.
From Sally and Kevin.
I'm from hard workers and loving ones.
From "we love you and we will always love you."
I'm from The Chapel -- where I've grown up.
I'm from Akron, Ohio and German descent,
From coffee cake and pretzels.
From the breaking of my ankle by playing foursquare,
the breaking of my brother's wrist by capture the flag.
In our living room are pictures.
Pictures from years past and years present.
I am from these moments -- 
Snapped before I budded and after --
Leaf-fall from the family tree.

As you can imagine, my thanks was through sobs.  Sobs of thankfulness that our girl knows exactly who she is, and where she's come from.  She holds miles of good memories, as well as ones that perhaps aren't so good -- but nevertheless, have formed her.

She is a work in progress -- with many more memories to come.

Ephesians 2:10
"For we are God's workmanship..."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What Do You MEAN, it's over?

So... how was your Christmas?

Ours was great, great, great.  Lots of time spent with family -- just the way we like it, and lots of our favorite foods, which -- ummmm, hello?  Is just how we like it.

Christmas Eve was with my husband's family.  Our family of four set off as only three, as our son was working until 7PM.  He got a job with mall security just a week before Christmas.  Can you say late hours and no sleep?  Poor, tired guy -- but happy guy.  That first paycheck is coming soon!  We enjoyed a really nice evening (yes, our son eventually joined us).  On the way home -- for the first time, I asked everyone's opinion about what time we should wake up on Christmas morning.  You know, we have two teens, so I thought they might be happier to sleep in a little.  Our daughter said 7AM, and everyone else thought 8, so.... We all went to bed, and I conveniently forgot to set the alarm (knowing that nobody else would set their's) -- and SUCCESS!  We actually slept until 9, and the three of us had to WAKE the girl who wanted to get up at 7!  How about THAT?

We always enjoy our Christmas morning around the tree and in our jammies.  We are not fancy with faces or hair ready for the day.  It's just us.  Few pictures are generally taken -- especially now that our kids are older and care more about what pictures they end up in.  After gifts are open, we generally go to our separate corners.  The kids watch new movies, or play new games.  My hubby goes back to bed for a while, and I start peeling the potatoes for Christmas dinner.  That's my job every year.  That, and Peppermint Patty Brownies.  They are a must-have in our family, and a treat that we ONLY indulge in at Christmas.

Later, we headed over the river and through the woods to Grandma and Grandpa's house.  There are eleven of us, and we go around the room opening gifts one at a time from youngest to oldest.  We all see every thing that gets opened, and I love that.  We've done it this way for years now, and the kids have always been very patient.  Well -- you know, as patient as kids can be on Christmas Day!  After that, it's dinner, and then back for a round of stocking stuffers!  By then, our favorite security guard was fading fast, so home we went -- counting our blessings all the way.

Today (too soon), it's back to reality.  Hubby and I were up by 9 and checking the weather report which promised snow by 10.  No lie.  The snow was watching the clock today.  It's been snowing in some form or another ever since.  Hubby drove the security guard to work, and a 20 minute drive took 40.

Homemade chicken soup is simmering on the stove, and I confess to a secret wish that our son would call to say they're closing the mall early.  It's been too long since he's been at the dinner table with us.  I miss that more than a little.  We are prouder than proud of our security guard, and praying for the lessons that are to be learned along this leg of his journey.  Also... thankful, that God holds him tenderly in the hollow of His Hands, and loves him even more than his mom and dad!  (Fathom THAT love, I dare ya!)

I'm thankful for this week in between Christmas and the New Year to contemplate all of our blessings, as well as our wishful thinking for the new year.  We are so blessed.  Events of this particular season, both nationally and personally, have caused us to be even more aware of that fact.

I hope that you're tucked in at home and all cozied up with a favorite blanket today.  Whatever you're doing, enjoy these last few days of 2012!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Note Card Party 12.19

It's time to link up for Vee's next Note Card party -- my Holiday Edition!  In October, everyone was thinking "fall," and I didn't even go there.  I was just looking for photos that I liked from my blog.  This month, I'm ready with a holiday theme.  Yay me.

All shots are linked to their original posts.  Just click on the photo if you want to go there.

A simple Advent

Candy Canes ~ a favorite holiday treat

Christmas bulbs aglow

Homemade ornaments using vintage hymnal pages

You can see previous Note Card posts here:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012!

I'm off to finish up on my Christmas baking, wrapping, and some last minute shopping -- so I'm signing off here until after Christmas (with the possible exception of Vee's notecard party, should she have it -- since I already had something partially prepared).

I hope, in the days ahead, that you will all be able to spend time with those you hold most dear.  Events of this season have reminded me that life is such a gift.  Hold tight to those you love.  Tell them you love them.  If you haven't expressed this before, don't wait.  Now is the time.  There is never a better time than during the Christmas season.

After all, Christmas is all about LOVE, isn't it?  The love of God, who sent his Son... our savior!

  Blessings and peace to you and yours this Christmas Season!

"I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."
LUKE 2:10-11

Ring the bells, ring the bells.  Let the whole world know.
Christ was born in Bethlehem -- many years ago.

Born to die that man might live, came to earth new life to give.
Born of Mary, born so low -- many years ago.

God the Father gave His Son, gave his own beloved One
To this wicked, sinful earth to bring mankind His love, new birth.

Ring the bells, ring the bells.  Let the whole world know.
Christ the Savior lives today as He did so long ago.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Trust God! (He is STILL in control!)

I'm so sad today.  My heart is heavy.  This week has been a week of so much loss.  A dear friend's father, an uncle, and now we hear of the tragic loss at Newtown, Connecticut.

What a comfort it is to know that none of this has surprised God.  HE is still in control.  I believe that with all my heart -- no matter what.  And...he will continue to work all things together for good.  That thought is so completely and utterly beyond my understanding, but that doesn't mean he can't do it.

Evil and sadness surround us every day.  I remain committed to looking for the good... and TRUSTING GOD.

There have been so many things shared on the internet as a tribute to Newtown, Connecticut.  One of my favorites was spotted on a friend's Facebook page -- a quote from Mr. Rogers -- of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood:

"When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping."  To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers -- so many caring people in this world."

I challenge you... rather than dwelling on the evil, commit yourself to looking for the good... Be the good.  And also... TRUST GOD.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

To Shop or To Craft. THAT is the Question.

It's possible that I have had so much fun crafting and decorating this year, that I may or may not have remembered to actually do Christmas SHOPPING.  But I'm not panicked or anything... because yesterday, I went out to buy a pair of dress pants for me, and I came home with no less than four Christmas presents.  Oh, and no dress pants for me, by the way.  So, I figure, I'll catch up with the Christmas shopping eventually.  It might even be BEFORE Christmas.  WooHoo!  Wouldn't that be nice?

Well, in the meanwhile... I thought I'd show you another little goody I came up with.

I have an old embroidery hoop of my grandma's.  It used to be in active service when I did counted cross-stitch. But, not so much since my kids have been out of diapers.  Yep.  That's a long time.  I saw it sitting on a shelf the other day, and wondered what I could do with it.

Immediately, I thought of my old hymnal, and wondered if I could combine the two old items -- but the hymnal pages were a little too small to fit in the hoop.  Plus, they would've ripped so easily.  THIS ORNAMENT actually ended up being my inspiration.  I might make these Christmas tree ornaments some day, but for now, I cut trees out (using a cookie cutter) for another purpose.

I stretched red wrapping paper over my hoop, and tightened the top hoop up.  I tucked the edges behind the hoop, so they don't show at all.  <I thought I might cut the raw edge with decorative scissors, but I like the edge hidden.  It gives a more finished look.>

I cut some trees cut out of hymnal pages, outlined them with Elmer's glue, and sprinkled on some Buffalo snow flakes.  I glued two trees to my framed wrapping paper, tied a little red and white twine bow on, and taa-daa.  Easy-peasy.  Oh, I know it's nothing fancy, or difficult.  But, guess what?  It didn't cost me a cent.  And... it looks pretty hanging above my stove.

I couldn't resist stringing up some extra Christmas tree cut-outs with more baker's twine, sprinkling on a few Buffalo snow flakes, and hanging them at the patio door.  Simple.

There's no real snow at our house yet -- and that's okay with me.  I can wait... I wouldn't want anything to slow down my shopping schedule!!!  *wink*

Linking with Mockingbird Hill Cottage, and with:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesdays Unwrapped 12.11

Once again, I am participating in "tuesdays unwrapped" - where Emily (of Chatting at the Sky) charges us to write about "anything that causes (us) to pause and celebrate the moment.  Not what will be or what is to come, but what is real and true this day: the messy, the lovely, and the unexpected... discovering the gifts in the midst of the ordinary."  I'm hoping that this challenge will keep me focused on the Reason for the season - Jesus Christ, and keep everything else in proper perspective.

Today, I woke up reminded of the tearful phone call of yesterday.  My dear friend's father passed away.  I replayed the tearful twenty-second phone call from my friend in my head.  We sobbed together.  Because, sometimes that's all you can do.  It's real, and it's raw, and it does what words cannot do.  Our comfort?  Knowing her father is with the Lord.  What a gift!

Even so, it hurts to think that the world will keep on turning, and my friend will have to wake up today, and go on as if... well, you know.  If only I could stop the turning for one day, and just let her "catch up" a little in her mind. But, the world goes on.  It goes on for her...

...and for me.

Two kids were delivered without incident to school.  With all of the illnesses that we have had lately, this is a big deal, and I am thankful.  I am reminded of the post I shared LAST WEEK at this time, and am thankful.  Each day without incident is a gift.

As I walk back in the door at home, a text from my son.  (Unexpected.  Didn't I just drop him off?)  He has an issue that (in his mind) is urgent -- but really?  I tell him "wait."  This is not even ON the scale of importance this week.  I text back about how we will handle it later today.

My hubby was at home a little longer this morning as he waited to leave for a routine doctor visit. He was eventually on his way, and shortly thereafter, I received a phone call.  "Guess who DOESN'T have a doctor's appointment today?"  he asked.  Not only was it not today, but, it's all the way in FEBRUARY.  Well that was unexpected.  We laughed  -- because, we don't even begin to know how this happened.

Life is messy sometimes.  We make hopeful plans for the future.  We put importance on the wrong things. We do things way-wrong.  But, the gift is that... we do get to go on today.  The world will continue to spin.

Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow is a mystery.
Today is a GIFT.
That's why it's called it the present.

Jeremiah 29:11(NIV)  "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord," plans to prosper you and not to harm you,  plans to give you hope and a future."

Click HERE to read more "tuesdays unwrapped" posts.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Everyone Has a Story

I'm feeling so blessed after a wonderful day with family yesterday, yet... I am melancholy.

The older I get, the more I realize how people struggle with this time of year.  This season, in particular, has been difficult as my uncle is in failing health, and a dear friend's parents (both of them also dear to me) are in failing health, as well.  It's so hard to know how to pray in these circumstances.  Healing, yes.  But, when that seems unattainable... I just want my loved ones to be free of sickness and pain.  The inevitable conclusion being that sweet family members and friends have to go on.  It's unimaginable to think of being in their position.  Also, it's incomprehensible to me that God doesn't ease the suffering in MY time.  If you're honest, you know exactly what I mean.  I mean no irreverence to God.  It's just that my comprehension is not limitless because I can't see all of what lies ahead.

These sweet servants lie in their sick-beds, and continue to serve as they wait on God to call them HOME.  Their lives, cut short or lived long, continue to minister to others in ways that we (with our earthly eyes) cannot always see or understand.  But, God can -- of course.  And so his timing is perfect.  In our family, we have already seen evidence of this.

So today, I wait on God.  Praying for his timing, and for peace for those who are caring for, and will carry on.

God is teaching me to be gentle with those who do not feel JOY in this season, remembering that everyone has a story.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Wave the Banner High! sister, JILL, has agreed to do a Christmas-craft guest post!

I'm so excited!  Jill was sharing photos of some of her Christmas decorating yesterday on Facebook, and I just LOVED this "Noel" banner that she made -- so I asked her to stop by and share how she made it.


Hello DFMS readers!  It's me... the <infamous and younger> sister, Jill!  I love my sister dearly and am so honored that she asked me to write a guest post.

Welcome to my home!  It's getting all decked out for Christmas.  Truth be told, I'm usually still tweaking up until Christmas Eve, when we have a whole houseful of guests.

For the most part, I'm a pretty traditional girl when it comes to holiday decorating.  And, there are some things that never change -- like our 10 foot tree which is covered every year with all of the ornaments we have accumulated over the years.  Gifts from friends and loved ones, school pictures on paper plate wreaths, little hand-stitched chickens made by our grandmother, fragile bulbs that belonged to our great-grandfather... they're all there.

But this year, my new challenge was this shelf in my kitchen.  For years, it held a couple sponge-wear bowls and and old wooden sign.  It was starting to feel kind of old and tired.  One day this summer, I found these colorful plates and little bowls at Target, and I was in love.  A couple days ago, I started dreaming of what I could do to make this shelf look a little bit more festive.  As I was looking at it during dinner one night, decorating ideas dancing in my head ( my husband LOVES it when I do that), it finally hit me.

My childhood Christmas stocking was this turquoise one with a cute snowman on it.  When I was growing up, I always thought it was a little odd, that MY stocking was bright turquoise and everyone else in our family had a traditional Christmas-red stocking.  Even as a child of the 60's I thought it was strange, but I love it now.  So, I dug it out of the boxes in the basement, and hung it from the shelf.

But... I still felt like something was missing.  I decided what I really needed hanging next to that stocking was a cute banner.  You know -- like all those banners that are all-the-rage on sites like Pinterest.  I knew this meant I would need to get my craft on.  [I used to be crafty -- back before I had children, I was a craft QUEEN!  These days... notsomuch.]  I went to one of my favorite stores, Hobby Lobby.  I wandered around and stood in the aisles gazing at things until I found a whole bunch of supplies that I thought might work.  (It turns out that Hobby Lobby has quite a selection of banner-making products these days.  How convenient!)

This is what I ended up using: scrapbook paper, chipboard pennant triangles, and chipboard letters.  I also used some things I already had (Yeah!)... mini clothespins from a previously thought-out but un-made project, and red and white baker's twine (thank you Target Dollar Spot!).  I also needed a ruler, pencil, and an Elmer's glue stick.

I started by using the chipboard triangles as a pattern.  I laid them on the blue-ish paper and then, using the ruler and "eyeballing it," I made a slightly larger triangle.  Then I cut a slightly smaller triangle using the red-patterned paper.  After cutting my larger/smaller triangles, I trimmed the tops until they were the exact size I wanted.  That's the great thing about using triangles.  They are easy to cut down in size.  (I'm sure there is some goemetric principle there...?)

Next, I started gluing the three pieces together.  The chipboard triangles were sandwiched between the larger and smaller paper triangles (peeking out a little) to provide a little stability.  After my triangles were all glued together, I glued on the chipboard letters spelling out "NOEL."

Lastly, I cut a piece of the baker's twine to length and tied slip knots at the ends, using the clothespins to clip the banner pieces to the twine.

Voila!  This is what I ended up with.  Cute, huh?

I finished off my shelf by putting these gigantuous pine cones in the bowls to look like trees.  My husband bought these for me a few weeks ago when he was in a home improvement store while on a business trip.  True story.  He said he got them for me because he knew I would love them... and he was right!

This banner project wound up being super easy.  It took about an hour with a couple of interruptions.

I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial.  MERRY CHRISTMAS!


Thanks for sharing, Jill!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Whiter Than Snow

The title of an old hymn was the inspiration for this sweet little jarred snow scene.  I pinned THIS IDEA, and quickly went hunting for my old hymnal.  Imagine my surprise when I found the hymn I was looking for.  I was worried the page had already been torn out for another project, but no -- there it was.  Yay!

The version of the hymn that I found was only half a page long, so I looked for a small canning jar for my project.  Again, success.

Next, I needed a snowman.  I was determined not to spend a cent for this project, so I searched through our ornaments, and found a snowy little guy that used to hold a photo up in the air for all to see.  He has officially been reassigned!  I used a little sticky-tack to secure him to the bottom of the jar.

I added Buffalo snowflakes that I had on hand, and taa-daa!

Oh my.  I really love this.  It's simple, but sparkly!

If you're curious about the words of the hymn, it goes like this:

Whiter Than Snow
Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole.  I want Thee forever to live in my soul.
Break down every idol, cast out every foe.
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow

Whiter than snow, yes whiter than snow.
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Lord Jesus, look down from Thy throne in the skies, and help me to make a complete sacrifice.
I give up myself, and whatever I know.
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow


Lord Jesus, for this I most humbly entreat. I wait, blessed Lord, at Thy crucified feet.
By faith for my cleansing, I see Thy blood flow,
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.


Lord Jesus, Thou seest I patiently wait.  Come now, and within me a new heart create.
To those who have sought Thee, Thou never said'st "no."
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Whiter than snow, yes whiter than snow.
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Jingle All the Way!

JINGLE BELLS are popular this year, have you noticed?
I've been seeing them in every size and color in the stores.
I bought a couple bagfuls to sprinkle in here and there.  

Don't tell my sweet-toothed son,
but there's even one in the candy jar.
I can't wait until he turns that jar over for the first time.
No more sneaking candy!

What new little tidbit have you found to sprinkle in
and among your Christmas decorations this year?

As my friend Sasha @ Lemonade Makin' Mama would say:
"What's more fun than a bowl filled with jingle bells?"

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