Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Last month, my mother-in-law gave me a big Costco sized bag of individually wrapped assorted Dove chocolates. With 8th grade science studies going on in "Rosie's" room and "Pippin" getting a piano lesson, I decided to open the bag and treat myself.
As I unwrapped the caramel sensation and began to pop it into my mouth to savor, I noticed a message on the inside of the wrapper.

Keep the promises you make to yourself.

Where did that come from? I fought the urge to look over my shoulder, thinking I was the focal point of a prank. Interesting. Quick deduction brought me to the conclusion that it was put there by the confectioner company. What an interesting statement to put on the inside of a chocolate. It must be a random thing they do as a selling technique.
With the sweet caramel taste a memory in my mouth, I opted to open a 63% extra dark square. It had a statement too.

Hearts that feel deeply, live richly.

There must be these little promise statements on the inside of each piece of candy. I love the statements and have to wonder how God uses things in the most unexpected places to speak to me.
On the other hand, I have to laugh. I figure the candy company used this as a marketing ploy to encourage consumers to savor the moment and enrich their lives.

Knowing me though, I will have to fight the urge to not open them by the handful just so I can know what each wrapper says.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Love In The Cobwebs...

I was digging through an old box last night. It's a square foot locker type of box that was given to me when I was a young teen. Throughout high school, I had placed all sorts of trinkets, mementoes, love letters, and pictures into it. I don't know what drew me to move things around in the closet and fish it out. Maybe it was that I had the time to do it. My husband was out of town for work and the three kids were in the living room watching tv. Maybe the news of my upcoming 20 year high school reunion, that I refuse to attend, made me a bit melancholy.
As I was looking through it all last night, some of it made me the squished and dry corsage from my first prom. Some of it made me an envelope of drawings from a old psychotic-stalker boyfriend (no really he was quite scary and threatening). Then some of it puzzled me as to the significance. You know, those things that we think we will always remember and then don't because we mature and life goes on.

Amongst all the memories and dusty cobwebs, I found this card (pictured above). I don't recall when or where I became the owner of it. The small copyright in the bottom left corner has a date of 1982. According to that date, that would place me at 11 years of age. Other circumstances and memories though, tell me that it came into my possession later in life. On the backside of this card is a small stamped price of 49 cents. In the middle of the card, I recognize my high school handwriting. It was a small and delicate script that I had an admitted personal pride over. (I certainly don't take the time to write in such a way these days.)

I had written in light pencil, maybe so it would not be readily noticeable to whomever came into my room, a list of 5 names from my high school life.

  1. an old boyfriend. Actually, the first that I thought I was forever in love with. We dated for 2 whole years. It seemed like an eternity to my young ideals. I ended it when he said he had met a new girl and after knowing her for 7 days, he couldn't decide who he loved more...her or me. I told him I would be glad to solve his dilemma and never spoke to him again.
  2. names two and three were a couple of friends that I idolized. As high school sweethearts they were convinced that as soon as school and civil law would allow them, they would be married and their love would feed and clothe their family and hold them together through any trial the world threw their way. As a group we all worshiped how perfect their relationship seemed to be. We even all met out in on the back cross-country track one day and performed a mock wedding ceremony for them just to see the stars shine in their eyes.
  3. a cousin that lived close by. For some reason there was always a love/hate rivalry between us. Things were always really good or really bad and it killed me. We were family after all.
  4. the last name was my mom. As some stories can go, I was a teen that created lots of waves in the home while I was trying to figure out who in the world I was going to be on a day to day and hour by hour basis. Even still, my earlier up bringing had taught me to always be aware of how others were feeling. So, despite my desire to want to be a horrid selfish girl....I still saw the cyclone that I caused.

As an adult, those are the things that I remember now. What possessed me back then to create that list? Why were those the names that stuck out instead of others? I can't answer those questions because I am not that scared and unsure 15 year old girl any longer.

Since last night, this card has caught my attention several times. I like what it has to say. The characteristics of love keep striking a chord in me and it makes me smile.

  • It reminds me of relationships that I have had the pleasure of having in the past and those that I do have now.
  • It makes me think of what the future holds unbeknownst to me.
  • As I read between the lines, I recognize the strength and faith that it takes to be a parent.
  • The words themselves do not speak the name of God, but it's verse completely embodies the wonderful FATHER that I know and speak to every day.

I guess sometimes it is good to look back over the past.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


I had the pleasant surprise a couple of days ago of finding out that our oldest son was on his way into town for a few days. Oh bless him, my hubby knew but forgot to tell me. That is okay. It is always nice to have the strapping 24 year old around to liven things up.

As my brain has been kicked into overdrive wanting to do all of those motherly things that just can’t be stopped… the bathroom clean enough?….do I have all of his favorite foods in the house?… many “special talks” can we fit in while he is here?….and then some, other things have been swirling around in my thoughts as well. One of those thoughts being the tragic news of Heath Ledger dying recently.

Why am I thinking about it so much? I never knew the man. I am only familiar with a few of his movies. I didn’t think that all of them were incredible works of scripting art but I did enjoy what I saw. Patriot is still on my list of must sees. Though I find the high school drama of 10 Things I Hate About You boring and annoying, I am always a silly sap for a male character that pursues the emotionally hurting female to make her world a happy place, thus finding true love and problems of life all wrapped up in a mere hour and forty-five minutes. I found Four Feathers and A Night’s Tale both to be fantastic for inspiring character in rising up above self and society expectations. (See, there I go again with my impersonation of Siskel and Ebert) I have seen only one interview with Mr. Ledger and from it, formed the impression that he was a sad man trying to fill his emptiness with accomplishments. That is very different of course from the diverse hero roles that he portrayed.

The notice of his death was a quick small clip for a couple of hours on my internet home page. Then it was gone. Since then, I have seen nothing else. I know a few people on the radio stations are talking about it and I have seen a few more people blog about it, but the subject has been pretty quiet in comparison to my expectations of what happens to “Hollywood tragedy”.

Why am I thinking on it so much? Maybe it is the lack of news that has my heart tugging. It has gotten me thinking on the word Legacy. What does it mean? One of the definitions I found for legacy is: “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.” Where is the long list of his legacy that everyone should be talking about? How was his life and what is he passing on to his young daughter? Was his life as empty as that interview looked? If so…why? Was he never shown a belief system beyond Hollywood?

Belief system….yes, I do mean religion….more importantly I mean relationship. I am not talking about the “go to Sundays services and then yell at the crazy drivers on the way home” kind of religion. I am talking about a relationship with God, a real relationship that defines a person beyond themselves and fills every empty hole in ways that we never could on our own. I am talking about a relationship with a living and breathing real God that hears when we talk, cry, and smile. A God that loves us in spite of whatever we have done and will do in the future.

Do I really believe all of that? Yes I do and with all of my heart. Why? For one, too much biblical history has been proven by archeologists to ignore. For another, I can’t just write off that voice of guidance in my head, heart, and soul that goes against worldly logic; that comfort that surrounds me and solves issues that could otherwise never be handled; a presence that guides and accepts me even with all of my ick. These things are all too strong and real to be written off as a vacant and weak need to believe in something.

The time that we have here on earth is so short. Sadly, Mr. Ledger proved that. We see it over and over again in tragedies young and old. Though the time that we do have here is all we can conceptually wrap our brains around, there is a far greater time that is even more difficult for us to understand and yet it deserves our attention and thought. That time is eternity. We can deny it, but it won’t deny us.

As I go about my daily things, my heart has been crying out and now I know why and what it is crying for. It is for lost decisions. Did Mr. Ledger ever address the issue of eternity before he took his last breath? Did he run in the other direction like so many do, saying that other things can fill that void? I think about others in my life that have been seeking comfort as well and died before giving in to the only true and real comfort that can be found. That is why my heart breaks.

Father God, I am certainly not perfect in any way. I stumble around and focus on self all too easily and take my eyes off of You. But God, I ask that you help me to see and take action with the people and times that need you. Why do we fight against you so much? Why is a free gift so hard to accept? I thank you God that you are always next to me and to anyone else who asks You to be. Every day afresh I am reminded of how amazing You are.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Quotable Ben Franklin...

Yes even on my day off, I think about school.

We have been studying the founding of this country for the past couple of months and just finished up a study on Ben Franklin. You know, as a kid, I thought history was so very boring. I would memorize whatever I had to just to make it thru the test and then promptly hit that metal delete button as soon as I turned the paperwork in. Now a days though, I can't get enough of history. I still don't remember it all very well, but I find it amazingly interesting.
I wonder why that is?......
Maybe since I am geared to be a romantic, I find the integrity and honor of yester-year to be so much more inspiring than the current society days I live in. I am sure there is more drawing me than that. But it is the first thing that comes to my mind.

I have been looking over the livable quotes of Benjamin Franklin lately and I find them to be a great array of rules to live by. Some are humorous and goofy while others could really make a differnce in today's society if they were paid attention to. You can find his list at this site.
Though they all make me smile, here are a few that I find of personal benefit:

  • Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.
  • Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.
  • Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.
  • Silence is not always a sign of wisdom but babbling is ever a folly.

This is my current favorite...

If you would not be forgotten when you are dead and rotten,
either write things worthy of reading or do things worth the writing.
Thank you Mr. Franklin.


Today is a holiday, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day to be exact.

With being a home schooler, and also in the past with running a small school, I have had the fun task of choosing what days we take off and what days we stay open for education. This is a day that I have always labeled as a school day, not to be disrespectful in any way mind you. I simply choose to press forward with school.

The students have always grumbled to me, "The public school kids get to sleep in today. It's just not fair."

My reply has always been the same so they can quote me verbatim now. "If the good Dr. has the ability to look down from heaven at this very moment, he is blessed and honored that you have chosen his special day as one of higher education instead of slothfulness."

Ah, then how much was their surprise last night when I declared that today would be a free day. See, we had a notice posted on our door last night that the water utilities will be turned on and off all day long for maintenance inspecting. I decided that it would be too difficult to run classes without proper restroom and kitchen facilities.

So, in a new way for us today, Dr. Martin Luther King, we honor you.

Friday, January 18, 2008

You Make My Day Award...

What a wonderful thing to wake up to this morning! Dear Kitem complimented me with this blogger award. I never thought I would be blessed like that for simply saying what I think and feel. On her blog she wrote, "Jules, pour sa joie vivre." Translated as best as I could, it says, "Jules, for her joyful/delightful living." That truly blesses me.

The award rules say: "Give the award to 10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland. Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on. Beware you may get the award several times."

I must confess, though I do spend an enormous amount of time on the computer, I don't think I can fulfill the "10 people" rule. Here are the blogs (in random order) of friends in my personal world and my cyber world that I have come to cherish and enjoy stopping by to see their creative flow of things. From me, they too get this "You Make My Day Award".

Gene - His blog is titled Turning The Pages of Life. Gene is an interesting fireman guy that loves the outdoors and everything hunting. I've never met him personally but his sense of humor and flare for saying what he feels usually leaves me in fun agreement.

Jeff - His blog is titled A Word in Edgewise. I met Jeff via blogland thru a mutual friend and have come to find him a charming and witty guy. He uses his blog as an outlet for pictures, opinions, story writing, and personal experiences. He seems to always be ready with an encouraging comment and that I really appreciate. He is also Gene's brother so it is interesting to see the same under current flowing in their sites.

Becky - This blog is titled My Blue Castle. Becky is the daughter of a dear friend of mine. I have only met her once, but I was emmediately taken by her sweet smile and genuine character. You can't leave comments on her blog, but if you give her site a visit, you will be blessed with her sincere attitude on life as she sees it.

Being Five - This is a really cute site that makes me chuckle everytime I visit. I came across it one day because it had been given the "Blogger of the Day Award". If I am understanding right, it is a blog done by a kid (I don't know how old her is) with voice recognition software. It is always sweet with a bend in child-like humor.

Kitem - Her blog is titled A Garden in France. I stumbled onto her site while wanting to improve on my limited french skills and have found her to be a wonderful blessing. She teaches me so many things of life in France and Malaysia. Her style is rich in history, experience, and heart as she shares in her daily life.

Kevin - This self titled site, Kweckisms, is developed by my long time high school friend. He is the one who encouraged me and dared me (though he probably didn't view it that way) to start blogging. Kevin has a comical thought process that leaves me with a smile on my face. Sometimes his stories are 'colorful' but they are honest. His Dave Barry/Calvin and Hobbes/here is my life in the 21st century way of writing is a fun experience.

Mima - I came across Mima's Doings a short time ago and have found her to be an inspiring gem. Mima is a girl my age, living in England, who finds joy in daily living, family, the beauty around her, and photography as she writes and shares in her daily trials of having Multiple Sclerosis.

Trek4Fun - This is my best friend. Over the years we have been labeled as "obvious sisters" by onlookers and aquaintances. We both say that we count ourselves as priviledged to be so much like each other. And yet still we are so different. You will find her blog site to be a great place of all things outdoor sports in the great NW. (Doesn't sound like me at all huh?) She writes about her huge love for being outside and finding beauty and exhileration in biking, snowshoeing, kayaking, traveling, and especially her wonderful daughter.

Kitem, thank you for the blessing this morning.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Read It, Seen It, Heard It....

Perspectives are so interesting. Two people can read, watch, and/or hear the exact same anything and walk away with a different view of what happened. Our lives and experiences weave who we are. Because of that, whatever our view is of any given situation, it is slanted to our own personal "selfish" gain. No really. It is true. It is the way we were made in a fallen world. I am not saying it to point fingers of shame. It is just what it is and it is the way we all work.

I was talking with someone the other day about a situation and as we talked...their perspective came out. It was a perspective that I had never thought of before and had to wonder how one could ever come to such a conclusion. Their perspective vs. my perspective. So close and yet so far apart.

Is there any way to escape it? know....those slanted but personal perspectives.

For me, it is only when I totally and completely give up those experiences, those slanted view points.....hand them over to God......give up all the distortions, misconceptions, and ugliness that I even have a chance at looking at things without those "rose colored glasses".

Am I pointing this out because I get it right?
Not a majority of the time...not even half the time.....I could safely say somewhere around a fraction of the time do I hit the mark. It is a daily chore to remember to give things over to God....and a daily joy to know that He is always there to listen and give aid. Somewhere amidst my fumbling and surrendering; I find HIS perspective.
His perspective is so much better than anything I could even imagine or compare to. His perspective makes everything else wash away.

Monday, January 14, 2008

For 12 Years Now....

When our girls were still little babies, I felt the strong assurance that God wanted us to home educate them thru at least their primary years. If you happen to read this, it tends to be a topic of debate so you will either relate and accept our situation, or you will think we are nuts. Either way is okay. All I ask is that you keep in mind that God calls us all to do different things. Whether personal convictions pertain to drinking, movie watching, dancing, .....(this list could go on forever) ..... that is exactly what they are....personal convictions.

Being around others who home school, I have come across all types of attitudes and reasonings. They range from the family who does it because the public school system has failed their particular situation to the extreme conservative who fears that their child rubbing elbows with others who don't know God personally will only cause them to rebel and assure their souls a secure place in the fire pits of hell.

Where do I stand on it all? I sit on the fence post. I think that if a person feels led to home school, more power to them. If a family wants to put their children in public school, they can be very successful and a wonderful experience. If a family wants to go the private schooling way, that works well too. All of it to say that what we each do with our children is ours to do and can be a great experience as long as the family stays involved with one another.

The past 12 years have been very rewarding for us. We wouldn't trade them for anything. Now is a new time and season though and God is calling us to change. For the past several months, I have been feeling a stirring to enroll our youngest, "Rosie", into the local high school next fall. I entertained good days and bad days as I searched to make sure it was a correct decision. I sipped coffee with too many of my personal and nagging doubts of self.

-Does this mean I am giving up?
-Shame on me for wanting to stop when we only have 4 years left.
-Will she feel slighted that I did her sister all the way thru but I am sending her out earlier?
-What if I never heard right in the first place and all of these years has been for my own selfish gain.
-The faces of the above mentioned extremists ran thru my head like that old horrid Amityville Horror movie.

I know, I know.....really I am all good now. It is my first reaction in most things to cast doubt upon myself. I wallow in it for a bit and then I get a grip and seek out the truth.

So here I am looking upon a new year as a REALLY new year. The next 6 months will stay the same as usual except for the fact that this last semester of school I will spend getting "Rosie" ready for the adventure of all things high school.

"Pippin" will continue her last year with me part time in the fall. She will also be attending the local high school for some part time electives since she will have her CAL program completed. "Harper" will be with me part time next fall as well as finishing her CAL studies.

I had a sweet girl from our youth group come up to me the other night and ask questions about the CAL program. Her ultimate goal was this question, "Miss Julie, do you have room for me in your house of studies? Could you school me too like you do the other girls?"
As much as it pulled at my heart, I told her no and that God had other doors of opportunity for her to explore.

They say that 8 is the year of new beginnings. I am really feeling that. I am looking at the possibility of having every other day to myself. No mom hat or teacher hat for 7 hours out of the day. I have NEVER been in this situation before. It is a few months away of course but I am giddy and nervous all at the same time. What will I do with my time? I am sure I will lay around for a bit...just because I can. But I know that will get old. I like to do things. I have already promised not to do something extreme like run out and get a job. I must get over this being tired all the time thing and do some things for myself.

I was once asked what I would do when I am finished schooling the girls. I stated that I know there will be a time of adjustment for me, a time when I mourn and miss the "days of old". It is reality. But I look forward to the opportunity to mourn miss and adjust. It is my right.

It will be a time for finding me. I know I am underneath all of those hats somewhere. Occasionally that me peeks out.
My goodness I will have time to focus on getting healthy. I have grumbled for so long about the 60 pounds I want to lose and not having the energy or time to try.
There are sports that I have always wanted to try and never had time for. Crafts that sit in the corner begging for attention.
Wow, time for me. I laugh and say it is a novel idea.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Just One More Picture...

Here is a better picture.
We went and played with the little fuzzball this evening.
She has definately found a soft spot in my mom's heart already.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Meet Lani.....

My parents came knocking on our door last night with this cute little bundle.
After 20 years of pinning away, my mom finally indulged her desire for a "fuzzy child".
Say Awe!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Just Things I'm Thinking About....

My step-sister (that still sounds so odd for me to say after all these years) has been exchanging emails with me the past few days. I don't want to read between the lines too much, but I really get the feeling that they have known things were wrong for us for a long time and just didn't know what to do about it. Over and over again she talks about how grateful she is that we came for the funeral and also how much my emails are blessing her. She is encouraging me to really seek out a relationship with my father.

I did call my father a couple of days ago. We had a great visit....he talked. We touched on just about everything I guess; political, military, history, current, and we grazed by heart issues. He is lonely now that things are becoming a reality for him with his wife being gone. He is back to work to keep himself occupied. He says that once he saves up some leave time, he wants to come see us the end of summer or early fall.
Would he really? He hasn't come our way since I was 13 and my parents divorced.
Already I find myself vacilating between making a list of everything I want accomplished around the house (like I need to show him I am an accomplished adult or something) and then swinging the other way to protect myself from the idea that it might be just talk.

Lord, be my filter and balance my thoughts. I need not worry or waste time on tomorrow for you have it all planned already.


I awoke to the radio voice saying this...

New scientific studies have now shown that the same gene that causes red hair also causes that person to have a higher than average threshold for pain.

Haa haa! It makes perfect sense to me as I envision myself with a superhero emblem on my chest and a cape flowing in the wind.

Okay, in reality-ville, I figure God did that for a very good reason. See, us red-heads also have sensitivities that most others don't have.
For example, I am a phlebotomist's nightmare. My veins are very deep and when accosted by a needle, they not only roll but they also constrict and pull away.
Medication usually has an adverse affect on me. If it is supposed to make me sleepy, 10 to 1 I will be wired.
I also have to really suck it up to go to the dentist. My dentist once told me that he wrote in my chart that I am a "tense patient" to work with because I white knuckle my hands together across my stomach and close my eyes while focusing on my breathing. I just laughed and told him that no matter how many shots he gives me, I still have excruciating phantom pains that never get found. So really, he is lucky I don't just stand up in the chair and deck him.
These days, he says I am a really good patient. study.

Monday, January 7, 2008

This And That...

My head was on my pillow, all ready to settle in for the night. I had been fighting off a cold and refused to admit that it might be winning it's temporary lodging status. I looked forward to the 1/4 dose of a sleeping pill I swallowed to take effect. That dose usually proved to be just the right amount, not enough to make me zombee status but enough to take the edge off my muscles and thoughts.

Heavy coughing was proving more victorious. So I lay there thinking, and as thoughts do, mine were all over the place. I thought of writing and time travel, wonderful french gardens and how cool it would be to find a bag of money, unspoken resolutions and the blessings of moving on. I even had my new french music cd running through my head. Since they don't have the lyrics written out, I absently wondered if I was singing the words correctly by ear. Wouldn't it be funny if instead of singing, "I would like some green sun in my winter garden." I was really saying something absurd like, "My cow wears red boots in the night air."?

Eventually my thoughts fell back to blessings and how they turn up in places where they are least expected, like running into an old friend on the corner. Like this for example...

Yesterday, we finally checked our snail-mailbox and I found a thank you card and gift card to my favorite bookstore from our dentist and his secretary. When we were last in for our check ups a few weeks ago, they were learning a new (to them) program on their computer and it was causing much headache. I happened to know the basics of it and offered my help. I didn't think I was doing anything majorly important, merely a friend helping a friend. And frankly, it was the same morning I had found out about my step-mom dying, so it was a nice mental distraction for me to leave my thought circle of emergency flight plans and re-arranging Christmas tradtitions.

I don't know....I didn't expect anything and it shocked me.
Maybe that is what makes it so special.
It was a nice thing to fall asleep to.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Cannon Beach for New Years....

I am sitting here wiping the sleepy from my eyes and thinking about our fun time with friends over the New Year celebration. Cannon Beach is such a beautiful place. I love the quiet and small feel of the town. Every time I go, I feel like I have stepped back in time ... a time where wrist watches don't matter and everyone knows your first name.

We gathered on this sandy shoreline for 5 days with 4 other families. We took turns sharing the cook responsibilities, played pool and board games together, and went for many a walk on the beach. As the coast tends to do in the winter, we had a variety of weather to choose from. There was beautiful warm sun to rain and hail storms. They say in Oregon, "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it will change." It is definitely true.

Amazingly enough, our daughters started the plans for this gathering of friends. All of our girls put together make a group of 6 that we affectionately call "The Gaggle". (Yes, a gaggle is a flock of geese. Note: they are a noisy group that chatters on and changes direction in unison. They also protect and defend one another in faithfulness to the very end. Hence their given name.) Ranging in ages 14 thru 16, the girls all had so much fun conquering the town. They love doing anything and everything together as spontaneity is their preferred vessel. Their goal and drive for this past week was to video tape victims, I mean, willing passers-by on the streets and see who could sing or say the ABCs backwards. Amazingly, they found several up to the jolly task and even found a few more willing to do stupendous physical defying feats like patting their heads and rubbing their tummies at the same time.

Below are pictures of the local wildlife. There is an elk herd that roams freely around town. They are most definitely wild, but as long as a person doesn't do something dumb, like try to pet them, they don't mind people getting close for the occasional picture. The happy little bunnies at Ecola Park were a thrill for me. These little guys will come up and eat carrots right out of your hand. Unfortunately I didn't know that before leaving the house.

I am so grateful for the time spent ringing in the New Year with cherished friends.
Now I am just trying to figure out how to fit a ping pong table in my house for practice before next year!