Inspirational Rock Art-Coming Soon Our Etsy Store

Jules and I have been busy working on a new project and will be opening our Etsy Store soon featuring inspirational art.  We are putting all of those rocks Jules has collected to good use with inspirational sayings and creating rock art.  Here is a sample of one of our encouragement rocks.

Inspirational Rock Art

We have been having a ton of fun with this and can’t wait to share it with you!

Blessings!

Jen

Important Life Lessons Before College

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Hi everyone! For those in Michigan-what is up with these warmer temperatures!  I’m not going to question it, I’m just thankful for each day we don’t have to battle freezing temperatures, ice and snow!  Also, where did January go?  Usually it just drags by, but this year it has flown!  I’m not sure why, but I think it might have to do with the fact that time is racing too quickly as we prepare for our oldest to graduate from high school in June!

So I have had this panicky feeling over the past few months of trying to think of everything I need to teach her before she leaves the nest!  Now we have had 17 years to try to impart wisdom and knowledge to her but I’ve realized over the past couple of months that some things may have been overlooked.  Some of the basics she has been doing for a while-she does her own laundry, makes a mean bowl of mac and cheese and is driving herself to school and work.  However, I find myself randomly quizzing her on things: Do you know how to address and stamp a letter, write a check, make a dentist appointment and so on.  I’ve been teaching her about stranger danger since she was a toddler but I had a feeling of pure fear picturing her walking home from a college class at night!

When I step back and take a breath, I realize she will be okay.  We have taught her some of the most important things: love God, be thankful, love family, have a heart for service, treat others the way you want to be treated, work hard, and find some time for fun.   As she gets ready to transition into adulthood and test her wings out in the big world, I know she will have many more lessons to learn.  But as in everything, I have learned to give it all to God, she is His beloved child and I know He is with her each step of the way.

…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matthew 28:20

So how about you veteran parents out there that have sent your babies off to college?  What should be on my list of things to know before you leave the nest?  I welcome your ideas in the comments!

~Blessings

Jen

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

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

Snapshot Moments

Life has been moving at breakneck speed around our house since the beginning of September, especially for Eldest. In addition to her twenty plus hour a week competitive marching band schedule and a very challenging course load at school, she has been working on early admissions to colleges.   Some days I feel as if I’m barely keeping all of our heads above water with the day-to-day demands of life.

The other night I was feeling like the day would never end. It had been a long day of work, after-school activities, homework, dinner prep and clean up, lunch making and laundry and I just wanted to sit down when Eldest let us know that we would be needed for proofing her college application essays. The Mister and I exchanged glances and knew that there would be no relaxing on the sofa catching up on our favorite TV shows that evening or probably for the next few nights.

Friends have told me how busy senior year is and that it is over in the blink of an eye and I am beginning to understand what they were talking about. The past two months have disappeared like a vapor and I have hardly had a chance to catch my breath between activities. Back to school nights, school conferences, Homecoming, band performances and more have flown by!

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Last Marching Band Performance at a Football Game

So as we all gathered in the living room together, pouring over her college essays, I realized we had spent more time with Eldest this week working with her on these college applications than we had in a long time. I started getting emotional thinking about the fact that a year from now, she would be gone. In the midst of my weariness and feelings of being overwhelmed with life, I found myself feeling so happy and content in that moment. It was just an ordinary weeknight at home together, but I would cherish the memory of this night. Staring at Eldest, her youth and the excitement of so many wonderful opportunities ahead of her in life, yet still always my little girl, my heart was happy, yet melancholy. I said a silent prayer of thanks to God for the gift of this child no longer a child but a young woman.

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All grown up!

I tried to remember the words of my older, wiser sister Jules who said, don’t be sad when they leave because they come back and give you grand babies one day! I see Jules enjoying that stage of life and realize this isn’t the end, only the beginning of a wonderful life of many “snapshot moments”, these tiny snippets of time with our loved ones that we hold on to and cherish all of our days.

I’m happy to say all college applications were completed this weekend, now we can all breathe and relax a little-oh wait, now I need to start birthday shopping and planning for Little One’s December birthday and Christmas! It’ll be okay; we are just collecting more “snapshot moments” for the memory books!

I wish you a great week and some special “snapshot moments”.

~Blessings,

Jen