Friday, August 28, 2009

Evergreen State Fair!

What an adorable bunny! I love the way the top of his/her ears tip over. Momma rabbit's ears are straight...

New Zealand Red (breed) ~ the whole litter.
If I ever get another rabbit, I'd really consider this breed.

Enjoying kettle corn and a Purple Cow (Blaine) ~ while sitting on the bleachers at Beef judging...

I love sheep! I think it was love at first sight with Serene and I...

Can I take her home with me?

No, I didn't just reach over her pen and pet her... I know better. Her owner came up and chatted with us and I asked. She said yes.

She's so sweet. She really liked us. I really wanted to take her home...

The real reason Serene liked us was our kettle corn bag.
The rustle of the bag reminded her of the 'bread bag' sound at her home. Her owners get day old bread from Island Bakery and feed their sheep bread.

My 4-H barn! The place where I spent days and days during fair time... I really miss the kids, the people and being at fair every day!

The Purple Cow ~ the only place to get a blackberry ice cream float!

Jenny and I ~ a 4-H friend. How I miss her!
Garden superintendent and woman extraodinaire...

Jenaya showing Horton and wondering if the judge will ever stop talking and announce the winner...

Grand Champion ~ woohoo! Way to go!

My favorite Grange display!

I loved this 'educational display'...

Blaine really likes the open class canned entries...

Quilts and sewing exhibits... the Clydesdale Horse show

Spokane Interstate Fair photo button ~ probably 1980; possibly 1981

Evergreen State Fair giant photo button ~ August 28, 2009
A great way to end our day at the fair and the perfect souvenir!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Garden growth!

Huckleberries and a few blueberries

The broccoli queen continues to produce ~ this is the third head (and a baby fourth is on the plant too)

Caroline raspberries!

Baby brussel sprouts ~ I hope they have enough time to mature

Green beans

An insider's view ~ rhubarb!

My strawberry patch has gone wild...
Planning to transplant the runners when the vegetables finish producing for the season.

Chester thornless blackberry ~ it's got berries on the plant!

Black pearl blackberry ~ no fruit, but the plant is growing well.


Monster cherry tomato patch

Sugar pumpkin!

...another sugar pumpkin

Crookneck squash

A view of my garden...

I love daisies!

Rosemary ~ my favorite herb!

I love rubbing my hands on this plant; almost daily...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Opened my eyes and heart...

Tears streaming down my face...

Not a message I wanted to hear, but one I NEEDED to hear. I used to feel this way. My fire, my passion, my prayer life beaten down by the world and....................

What a powerful message! I wasn't going to watch it. I have a busy to do list and I'm already behind today. Discovered the most important thing I did today was to listen to this message...

I'm standing in awe of all that has happened over the past couple of weeks and giving thanks to God. He prepared my heart and my mind to be open to what He desired me to hear from Him. I'm so humbled that He would go to such great lengths to seek after me with a hope that I would respond to my first love and His call on my life. Feeling "alive" for the first time in a long time!

How I praise His wonderful and glorious name!

*The youtube video is too wide for my blog column. Here is the direct link:

Still wrestling...

I continue to wrestle with "staying or going", but Blaine says we need to work on our 'to do' list and then God will show us what to do. At bedtime, last night, I grabbed my Streams in the Desert devotional and looked up the August 23rd entry:

"By faith Abraham...obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." (Hebrews 11:8)

This is faith without sight. Seeing is not faith but reasoning. When crossing the Atlantic by ship, I once observed this very principle of faith. I saw no path marked out on the seas, nor could I even see the shore. Yet each day, we marked our progress on a chart as if we had been following a giant chalk line across the water. And when we came within sight of land on the other side of the Atlantic, we knew exactly where we were, as if we had been able to see it from three thousand miles away.

How had our course been so precisely plotted? Every day, our captain had taken his instruments, looked to the sky, and determined his course by the sun. He was sailing using heavenly lights, not earthly ones.

Genuine faith also looks up and sails, by using God's great Son. It never travels by seeing the shoreline, earthly lighthouses, or paths along the way. And the steps of faith often lead to total uncertainty or even darkness and disaster, but the Lord will open the way and often makes the darkest of midnight hours as bright as the dawning of the day.

Let us move forth today, not knowing or seeing, but trusting. from Days of Heaven upon Earth

Too many of us want to see our way through a new endeavor before we will even start. Imagine if we could see our way from beginning to end. How would we ever develop our Christian gifts? Faith, hope and love cannot be picked from trees, like ripe apples. Remember, after the words, "In the beginning" (Gen 1:1) comes the word "God." It is our first step of faith that turns the key in the lock of His powerhouse. It is true that God helps those who help themselves, but He also helps those who are helpless. So no matter your circumstances, you can depend on Him every time.

Waiting on God brings us to the end of our journey much faster than our feet.

Many an opportunity is lost while we deliberate after He has said, "Move!"

Saturday, August 22, 2009


It seems that when our family is heading in the direction God is leading us, we have 'challenges' that test us in numerous ways... Perhaps you don't believe in the spiritual world or maybe you think "they certainly think they're important, don't they?" or maybe you just believe it's all coincidence. We believe everyone is equally important, but for us, it's a pattern that happens every time. We'd love it if it didn't happen. First, we make a decision to be obedient to what God is asking us to do. Then, the 'challenges' follow ~ you'd think we'd learn and really be in a mode of praying for protection, but somehow we still haven't learned to be ready for it. It's crazy, but it's our reality. Usually, it's our cars first and significant financial bills to go with them.

And yes, Blaine's car suddenly malfunctioned Tuesday night. He went to pick up Nicholas from work in Fremont while I was painting in the bathroom. When they went to leave, his car wouldn't start. He figured the starter or alternator went out. So, while he called a tow truck I headed up to Fremont. He had parked in the underground parking garage which was going to make things trickier. We went downstairs and I decided to try and start the car. As I tried, I listened to the sounds the car was making ~ definitely a problem with the battery sound (at least in my humble opinion). Thankfully, it was late and the one level garage was nearly empty. Blaine and I pushed the car toward to entrance/exit while Nicholas steered. I suggested trying to jump the battery and got my car. When Blaine began attaching the cables, his battery sparked - so we left it alone. I had the bright idea that we could push the Grand Prix out of the garage (there is a bit of an incline out) if we just got enough momentum. With the two of us, we got the car going well - but nearly died when the weight of the car stopped its motion and rolled backward. We easily got out of the way, but decided to wait for more help... With the help of the tow truck driver and a co-worker of Nicholas', the 4 of us pushed the car out of the garage and off we went toward home. Blaine and I waited at the car's destination and about 10 minutes later we saw the driver approaching. Nothing prepared us for what we would see next: The tow truck driver didn't see a median in the middle of the road and dragged our car down the length of it - sparks flying and the sound of scraping metal filled the air... ugh.

The next day, the car repair shop let Blaine know that the battery was bad and replaced it. And, the median incident only caused scratches and dings to the underbelly - no actual damage. Blaine and I just looked at each other and shook our heads. Guess we made the right choice, huh? Here we go! Okay, Lord, our life is Yours ~ please be with us.

But this time, we were really caught off guard...

This morning, as I'm reading the responses to my blog post from last night I hear a horrible crash and yell to ask Blaine if he's okay. His reply sounds bewildered and I ran into the other room downstairs not believing what I was seeing. The wall cabinet unit had pulled out of the wall and crashed straight down onto the workspace counter. Stunned, Blaine held up the cabinets while I quickly unloaded some of the heaviest stuff so we could try to lower it to the ground. The right cabinet is a complete loss as the base of the cabinet cracked and the back of the cabinet is cracked too. Both desk lamps are a loss. Thankfully, there were no computers on the counter at the time. A container of blank CDs broke the fall of the cabinets and actually helped protect against further damage on the counter. It's a total mess. Guess we'll be cleaning up that today instead of working on the front yard...

We are so thankful that God protected Blaine and he wasn't hurt when the cabinets fell. Not one single anchor screw is bent, the cabinets did not fall forward - but came straight out of the wall and straight down onto the counter. Very strange indeed.

Funny thing is ~ these challenges just confirm to us that we're headed in the right direction! No, we're not expecting or looking for these things to happen. Actually, each time we are surprised as if we've never gone through it before. We then say, "not again" and prepare ourselves for what's to come... And pray ALOT more!

Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world!

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33b

Every blessing You pour out, I'll turn back to praise
And when the darkness closes in Lord, still I will say ~
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
Blessed be Your name.
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
Blessed be Your glorious name!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Shall I always wander?

Growing up in the U.S. Air Force, my Dad was transferred often and we would pack up and travel to another place. I determined that my adult life would not be the same. And yet, I have moved more times as an adult than I did as a child ~ just not great distances or from state-to-state.

Years ago, we attended a teaching series at our church. The topic was Abraham. Our pastor came up to us one evening and told us that the speaker was telling us our story. This was our life.

"Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father's house,
To the land which I will show you;"
Genesis 12:1

I'm not comparing our lives to Abraham's life. We are just ordinary children of God trying to learn from our Father, follow His direction for our lives and learning to love others as He loves us. But, we knew in our hearts that this was true ~ wandering ~ it is our story. Our lives are guided by God and He moves us here and there and shows us where to go. We will spend our lives following His light to the next place... It's just the reality of who we are!

Somewhere along this journey we lost our way and decided we needed a 'place to call home', to go after our dreams, to settle down and root ourselves into a community. I've had a dream since I was a young girl ~ I want to farm and live out in the country. And, I've spent a lifetime trying to get there. We wanted a tax deduction and to bless ourselves financially and not continue lining a landlord's pocket that didn't even care about us. We deserved to paint and decorate our home to suit our own personal taste and feel like we'd 'arrived' because we now owned a home. We would be somebody. Other people would think more highly of us, because we finally had a home of our own (well, technically the bank owns it - but you know what I mean).

God blessed our 'desires' and we bought our first home in Marysville. With the amazing assistance of a friend, he helped us finish space/remodel, taught Blaine some basic construction skills, taught us both how to tile a floor and built us a great, new deck for very little money. When the commute from Marysville to SeaTac airport become too much for Blaine, we sold our house to a wonderful family and found our current home. It was a stretch to buy it, but great location and huge lot. This house has demanded much financial investment, our time and needs so much work! It is close to everything and we can access all the major highways easily. Perfect, huh?

Blaine and I have felt a growing stress that has really pulled us apart. Everyone is doing their own thing and we spend little time together as a family. Yes, the children are getting older ~ but something just hasn't felt right. We have no money to go on a vacation. Rarely is there money to go out and enjoy ourselves ~ Mariner game, a play, go out for dinner, etc. If we spend money in one area, it has to come from another. Ugh. Life just hasn't been enjoyable.

A couple weeks ago, I was walking around Green Lake and was telling God how frustrated I was and that I just couldn't take it anymore. He asked if He could have the house? What? I've just begun building my urban farm, we have little to no equity in the house, we're just getting to know more of the neighbors, getting a little involved in the community, we've invested alot of money into this house for repairs and improvements (and can't recover that money)... Well, yes ~ but can I have the house? Will you let 'your dreams' go again? If it's what You want - You can have the house. I came home and told Blaine. I discovered that he had been feeling the same way. If you want to have the house, Lord ~ it's Yours.

So, we've switched gears. We have a real peace about letting go. After discussion and prayer, we realized that we don't want to have debt. We also have Benjamin's school loans that come due in January 2011 and we've told him we'll help with repaying them. We realized that who God had made us to be, we'd somehow gotten off that path and we know we need to get back on it. We need to be available to Him. To stay or be ready to move on at any given time. We really want to get our lives back in line with His plan for our lives. And yes, it means we need to surrender ALL to Him. See my entry here for what I had shared earlier...

Now, it's time to focus on painting rooms to prepare them to be market ready. We've prepared a TO DO list of projects that need completing in order to sell the house. Still doing some gardening, but not planning to move ahead with enlarging the garden area. Planning to clean up the front yard, add sod and some plants to increase the curb appeal. When I am resolved about an issue, it's fairly easy for me to move forward and fully be in 'that mode'.

Except this time! I've never struggled as much as I have regarding selling this house and moving ahead with God's plan. I know the "PROS" ~ free of our mortgage, able to pay off credit card debt, able to move into a rental house that God chooses for us and into a neighborhood He desires for us to be in, able to help Benjamin with the repayment of his school loan, the possiblity that I might be able to return to school and pursue a degree, being closer to our church ~ and there is much more. However, the "CONS" are weighing more heavily on me than ever before ~ leaving Emily that lives next door and not speaking into her life as she grows up in the neighborhood, not being able to continue my dialogue with neighbors and share my 'organic' lifestyle with them, not having my own space to turn into an urban farm, not seeing the neighbors I see on a daily basis when I walk Coco (or at least several times per week), leaving a neighborhood that we care about, feeling like I won't accomplish the things here that I've shared with neighbors I want to do, having others think I say one thing and then turn around and do another, moving away from cousins that I've just been reconnecting with after so many years...

Blaine and I came to a conclusion the other night ~ we will put our lives in God's hands (again) and let Him show us what His desire is for our lives. If we are to let go and move on, we believe He will provide us with a buyer (that He has chosen for this house and neighborhood). If we are to stay, we trust that He will provide for our financial needs and enable us to have some rest in this house and some vacation time. No matter what He decides, we will praise His name and give thanks to Him in every situation. He is good.

Blessed be His Name!

So, this is where we are today. We have much happening in our lives and we're not sure where we're headed next ~ but one thing we know without a doubt: We're definitely not lost!

House projects

Here's my painting projects that I've been working on this past week. There is still 'detail' work to be done, but thought I'd share my progress thus far.

2 prayer quilts finished!

Our church has a Prayers and Squares ministry group. Click here for more information about this wonderful ministry: Prayers and Squares. When someone is in need, they can request a prayer quilt. Their need is made known to our church congregation and people go to the display quilt, say a prayer and tie-a-tie on the quilt representing their prayer. The quilt is then presented to the recipient as a permanent symbol of our collective prayers... It's a humble privilege to create quilts for this precious ministry.

I finally finished 2 quilts that I've been working on. Ties have been inserted into each quilt and they are ready when needed. I've turned them in and can now prepare for my next project. Our monthly work Saturdays begin again in September...

Garden fun!

The next door neighbor's little girl, Emily, is growing a pumpkin patch! This pumpkin decided it wanted a better view, climbed up the chain link fence and has now secured itself quite well!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Much to learn...

Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgement on disputable matters. One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that He might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written:

"As surely as I live, says the Lord,
every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God."
(Isaiah 45:23)

So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better to not eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Romans 14

A study focus from my Bible ~ Romans 14:5

Conformity doesn't equal unity

Legalism can be a deadly trap for Christians. It is the practice of applying God's Word harshly in order to control behavior, or of taking Bible passages relating to a particular culture or circumstance and making them rules for all time. It's natural to want others to be just like us, but the uniformity that comes from obeying legalistic rules is not unity. Jesus' love and the forgiveness He provides through the cross is the basis for our unity.

We can have our own convictions, but we can't insist that others agree with us on everything. If we do, we will become like th Pharisees of Jesus' day, so concerned with their interpretation of the law that they were blind to the Messiah (Matthew 23:23-24).

Real unity is a work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. It comes as a result of building our lives together on the essentials of our faith (1 Corinthians 15:1-5) and allowing the freedom for diversity and even for disagreement on some nonessential issues.

And study notes for Romans 15:7

Why are we so different?

"Why do you have to be so emotional?" asked Carey. "It's just who I am, "Jackie shot back. "Why can't you just stop and look at things rationally for once?" Jackie's eyes grew moist at her friend's sharp response.

Carey is a "thinker". She doesn't understand why Jackie gets so upset, and Jackie is hurt because Carey isn't empathizing with her feelings. Neither understood that both perspectives are equally valid and important. Personality differences are part of the uniqueness God gave each of us in creation. He accepts and appreciates each of us, and in Romans 15:7, we are commanded to accept and appreciate one another.

Growing in understanding and acceptance of our differences is one of the most important aspects of Christian friendship and discipleship. God doesn't want us to feel threatened by differences; He wants us to learn from them. It's natural to think that our own way is best, but there's always something to learn from how others see things.

This was my New Testament reading from yesterday. It was like a "lightning bolt" to my understanding. I saw many of my own shortcomings. I gained new understanding that I didn't have prior to reading this...

I realized that I am guilty of much in this passage. sigh. Will I ever learn and be a proper example of Christ's love for others and a blessing to others? And yet, I'm thankful that God opens my heart and mind to continue to learn from His Truth. As I continue to meditate on His Word, I pray I am continually transformed into His likeness ~ loving others!