Snow Day Love

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My sister-in-law sent me this today and I thought it was such an incredibly cool picture, I needed to share it with you!  A perfectly shaped leaf heart laying gently in the snow!  We have been hit here in Michigan this week with a big snowstorm that left us with two very much appreciated snow days home from work and school.

There is just something about the feeling of anticipation of a snowstorm coming and the possibility of a snow day!  I am a teacher and the workplace atmosphere on Wednesday was nothing short of kids on Christmas Eve as we all discussed the possibility of a snow day!  People checking their messages, waiting for the call-would they call it the day before or wait until the morning?  Peeking out the window watching the snow blow by and seeing the cars creeping by on the road-a sense of excitement mixed with anxiety over the worsening weather conditions.  Parents picking up their kids early from school to get home before the storm worsened. Sneaking a peek at the weather channel on our lunch breaks.  If we knew the night before that school was cancelled -we could turn off our alarms and blissfully sleep in to our heart’s content!  I could hear the whoops and screaming from my desk before I even saw the message!  School was canceled!

We just needed to brave the trip home, as we dreamed of jumping into our pjs and staying in them the whole next day, curled up on the sofa with tea and hot chocolate, catching up on TV shows, reading and watching movies (as a type A person who can’t sit still that long, I have to admit I got all of my laundry done and cleaned the house-not exactly a dreamy snow day but I felt great about getting caught up-since we actually got two snow days!)

So when my sister-in-law sent this picture to me I thought it was a perfect symbol of what a snow day means to those of us in the north!  A small, perfect reward for enduring the long, cold days of winter, a mini-vacation, a chance to be cozy and snuggle with our loved ones!  Snow day love!

I hear there might be another storm brewing for next week!  Is it to early (or greedy) to start dreaming of another snow day?

~Blessings,

Jen

A Picnic for Who??

Hi everyone!

We are having a very snowy day here in Michigan! This is the most snow I think we’ve had all year! What I noticed first thing this morning was how many birds were flocking around my feeders. They’ve had it pretty easy so far, but I think their food was covered up this morning. I love watching the birds, and it was so pretty out, I got the idea to make my own suet feeders! Of course, I headed over to Pinterest for some recipes and ideas. I found there are LOTS of recipes, so I kind of took the basics and made my own!

Picnic BasketThis was an old picnic basket I found at Good Will. I thought the cups were colorful and would stand out in the snow.

 

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I gathered all of my ingredients. Some called for shortening and some for coconut oil, so I decided to use some of both!

 

Bowl of ingredientsSo here mixed together is 2 cups of bird seed, 1 cup of raisins, and 1 cup of plain peanuts. Just grab a bowl, use your fingers and mix it well.

 

Heating shortening

Put a pan on the burner on low. Add 1 cup of shortening, 1 cup of coconut oil and 1 cup of crunchy peanut butter. You just want to melt this, not cook.

When its all melted, stir well into seed mixture. I suggest using a ladle to put it in the cups. Now I forgot to take a picture of this, but I put sticks in so that the birds would have something to perch on. I put them in the freezer for about an hour and they were hardened up. I found some cute ribbon to use to hang them on the tree. I put a drop of hot glue under the handle so the ribbon wouldn’t slide around. And voila! I present the finished product!

Finished bird feeder

I hope you enjoyed this snow day project!

Julie

 

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