Archives for January 2016

Man’s Best Friend!

God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:25

This past Sunday, I happened to be sitting near a family who brings a service dog to church for their child.   Looking over,  I couldn’t help but stare at how beautiful this dog was.  The devotion and loyalty he demonstrated to his owner was apparent at a glance.  Just looking at him made me instantly feel calmer.  As I sat there watching him, I felt a great sense of gratitude to God for the gift of pets!

I have had dogs in my life since I was a young child and I can’t imagine life without a furry pal!  I think it runs in the family as Jules and our brother both have had dogs too.  In fact, my brother was known on more than one occasion to bring a stray home on a weekend visiting from college!  This is my faithful pup Louie!  This face and those big, brown soulful eyes have cheered me up on more than one bad day!

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He always seems to know when I need him to just be there for me and he is definitely a great feet warmer on cold winter nights!  Does he act naughty from time to time? You bet, but the good definitely outweighs those times of pure dog stubbornness!  He has seen me through many ups and downs in my life!

As I perused Facebook this weekend, I noticed several comments from fellow teachers who were completing report cards with their dogs curled up beside them offering moral support!  What comfort they give, especially when we are stressed.

Jules follows and is a huge fan of  Captain Luis Montalvan and his dog Tuesday.  Captain Montalvan is a highly decorated U.S. Army Captain who suffered from PTSD.  In his book Until Tuesday, he tells the story of how they found each other and their story of healing. Now they travel the country advocating for veterans and sharing their story.

So if you have a dog, give them a big hug tonight and maybe an extra treat or two and say a little thank you prayer for these amazing animals!

Feel free to share a picture of your furry friend in the comments!

~Blessings,

Jen

New Year, New Ideas?

 

 

Don't give upGreetings,

First I want to say thank you to Jen who has been carrying the load lately. I have been  lucky enough to travel to Georgia twice this month, so I’ve been very busy!

I had planned on this post for the beginning of January…but since I was so busy I’ve decided January was a practice month and I’m going to make February 1 be my new year!!

This year I want to be more organized, more in tune with myself, and bring a little deeper meaning to my life. I want to set goals for the year. Things I want to accomplish. This is an assignment I gave to all of my clients the first part of January, so I decided I had better get to practicing what I preach!

Some of the goals I’ve set is to spend more time in the bible and daily devotions. Get SOME kind of regular exercise into my life. Be more productive with my time. I said the other day it seems I’m either working or tired, and frankly….I’m kind of “tired” of that. So I need to spend some time with that. A couple of years ago I came up with a word that I wanted to focus on for the year. Truthfully, I don’t remember what it was now, but rather than one word for the whole year, I think I will just work on one word a month. I’ve chosen my first word  to be “mindfulness.” I think if I’m more mindful, it may straighten out some of the other stuff.

The other tool I think I need to start using….something my sister has done forever….and I have made fun of forever…is  lists. I found a really good list pad at Barnes and Noble last night so I’m hoping that will help. Of course, again I will be honest with you and admit that I am a gadget person and my house is full of all of these “tools” that I’m always sure will help me laying in all corners of my house! Maybe my first task should be to gather them all up and use them!

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I guess the message I’ve trying to convey here, that we always have to keep trying. You can make a plan, set a goal, and create lists…..but sometimes life interrupts and things don’t get done. What I’m really working hard on, is not letting one incident derail me from the whole project. One interruption doesn’t mean the whole idea needs to be scrapped. This definitely applies to weight loss too. (Another of my goals to accomplish this year!!). I need to stop getting in my own way. Do any of you struggle with these issues? It’s hard, isn’t it. I have faith though if we never give up, eventually we will all meet those challenges and goals.

It isn’t always easy, is it. But perseverance is the word! Hey, maybe that can be next months word!

One final word on this….after everything I have written…I do have one motto….if it comes to choosing fun or choosing house projects…FUN will always win. Even if it puts me behind! Fun feeds my existence! I hope you ALL take time to put fun in your life!

Take care, stay warm, and thanks for listening to my rambling!

Julie

Create!

We are halfway through the week!  I hope it has been a good one so far!

I recently read something in  Guideposts Daily Devotional that really struck a chord with me.  The author of the devotion talked about something J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote, that one aspect of God’s image in us is our ability to create.  To me this was a really interesting and inspiring thought.  Genesis 1:27 talks about us being created in God’s image and to think that our ability to create is part of that image is a very exciting idea!

I have always loved to write, draw, paint and craft.  Maybe it is a mid-life crisis (ha!), but recently I have felt the need to find more time to work on the crafts and projects that bring me peace and joy.  Jules has written before about finding or making time for a hobby and I think it is great advice!  So one of my New Year’s resolutions is to find time each week to do something creatively.  As you might remember reading in a  previous post, Jules is a “stoner” or rock collector.  She has bags and bags and boxes of rocks!

She has convinced me that painting these rocks is a lot of fun and so I’ve been trying it out and she is RIGHT !(shh-don’t tell her I said so!)  It was fun and relaxing. We ordered gel pens from Amazon for painting and they come in lots of fun colors.   Here are some pictures of some of my recent attempts.

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So how about you?  Do you enjoy expressing your creative side?  What hobbies do you enjoy?  If you haven’t tried rock painting, I would highly recommend it.

Have a great week and remember to find some time to do something that brings you peace and joy!

~Blessings,

Jen

 

Living In The Gap

“Living In The Gap”-This is a phrase Jules uses for those times when you are living in that place of uncertainty and unknowns, of silence in answer to prayers. It is a place where there are more questions than answers and  life may seem unfair.  It is while living in this place that I drew closer to God, learned to trust in His promises and plan for my life and began to understand that silence to my prayers doesn’t always mean no, it might mean-not yet.

Seven years ago on January 13th, we brought home this lively, spunky, loving child from across the world and our lives were forever changed.  Had my prayers for a second baby been answered, we would have never known this precious gift and I could not imagine our lives without her!

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You see as I had been praying for another child, our sweet Little One was not even born yet.  God had plans for our life, but we had to wait for His timing.  That period of waiting for an answer was one of the hardest in my life.  Living in that gap of wondering if we would ever have a second child was challenging.  Every day I had to focus on the blessings in my life- a loving husband, a beautiful healthy daughter, family, friends and good health, as I waited and wondered if our little family of three would expand.  I clung to God and had to give up control to Him and learn to trust in His plan for the situation.  He eventually led us to Russia where we found the missing piece to our family, to our hearts.  The wait was worth it a million times over! God’s perfect, perfect timing.

So if you find yourself “Living In the Gap”, hold on, trust in God and His plan for you!

“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.” Jeremiah 29:11

This verse got me through some difficult and challenging days.  I hope it brings you comfort too.

~Blessings,

Jen

Hit or Miss

I hope everyone is having a great start to 2016!  The weather has turned colder here in Michigan but the sun is out which is nice!

I am a bit of a health nut (“nut” being the operative word) and like to use natural products as much as possible both with food, household cleaners and cosmetics.  My family gives me a hard time about some of my “experiments” but I enjoy trying out new ideas.

My latest was trying to make my own hand soap.  In hopes of avoiding the harsh chemicals in many soaps, I tried a recipe for hand soap using liquid Castile soap, essential oils, vegetable glycerin and aloe vera.  I really loved the way the soap turned out and it smelled wonderful. I ordered some pump dispensers on-line (both regular and foaming) and made up a few bottles.  I really like Castile soap because it doesn’t leave a soap film in the sink or shower, which makes for easier clean up.

All was going well and I was feeling pretty proud of myself for trying something new, when one day I went to pump the soap not noticing the dispenser was clogged and it squirted all over my clothes!  I thought it was a fluke until the Mister started complaining about the soap squirting him every time he went to wash his hands! I’m not sure if it was the dispenser or something in the soap recipe that kept making it clog but I will let you know when I find the perfect recipe that doesn’t wash your clothes when you wash your hands!

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I also had a bottle in the shower on a top shelf and accidentally squirted myself in the eye with the soap.  As I was clutching my burning eye, I was questioning my sanity-maybe people don’t typically make their own soap for a reason!

When I mentioned to the Mister the other day that I was going to save us tons of money on our grocery bill by starting to make our own cleaning products, I got a huge eye roll and a reenactment of a soap dispenser dispersing soap all over his shirt!  Hopefully the homemade cleaning products turn out better than the soap!

How about you?  Do you have any great homemade recipes using natural products?  I would love to hear about any that have worked out for you!  Regardless of the fails, I do enjoy trying new recipes and products in the hopes of stumbling on a great one.  I will be sure to share any “hits” I find!

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

~Blessings,

Jen

Reflections – Things I Learned in 2015

 

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Dear faithful readers,

It has been awhile since a posting has been made, but we haven’t gone away, just been busy with life.

I like to learn….I always have. School was fun for me, and college was even more fun as I was older and wiser and more interested. The other part of learning that I sometimes like, and sometimes don’t like, are life lessons. Some days it seems life is teaching us too much! I would like to share with you a few life lessons I learned in 2015.

  1. It really hurts to have a friend die young, and it’s incredibly hard watching his mother suffer. Death is not easy.
  2. Having surgery is not fun. I had two and hope that is it for the rest of my life. Take care of your health.
  3. Having had surgery I realize how many people cared and worried and prayed for me! Be grateful for family and friends.
  4. I am blessed with an incredible family both immediate and extended. I hear others talking about family feuds or yelling that goes on. There is none of that in our family, none. Even out to second and third cousins, we all have fun together. Make peace not war with your family.
  5. I’m blessed to have a family and people I can count on. I’ve met many people over the last year who really have no one and that is just terribly sad. Don’t stop talking to someone over stupid things.
  6. I can create and be easily inspired. Again, I’ve encountered a lot of people who can’t even tell you what they enjoy doing. Find a hobby.
  7. Pets are family, and losing one really hurts. There is no thing as, “it’s just a dog.”
  8. Laughter really is the best medicine. My friends and I from high school try to meet monthly for lunch. What a connection and what a LOT of laughing occurs at our lunches! Stay connected!
  9. Help other people. It really makes you feel good and lightens the load for other people. If you want to feel better, help someone else.
  10. Last, but not least, enjoy life. We only have today. Don’t fret with anxiety over things you not only have no control over, but things that may not ever happen. What a waste of energy. Live life to the fullest. Don’t hide.

I hope this has given you a few things to think about and contemplate. Here we are with another year beginning. My wish for you all, is that it’s the best one yet.

Happy New Year 2016

Julie