Saturday, February 24, 2007

Pottery Barn... Shmottery Barn

For years I have had my eye on a table and chairs set for the breakfast nook from Pottery Barn, called Aris. Of course, it never goes on sale, and would set me back about $1700 without tax and shipping. A bit steep for a table which I have now come to find out is made of “veneer over fiberboard” - Yikes!

We looked around and couldn’t find a comparable set. So, we set out to find something unfinished and finish it ourselves. We found a great deal on a hardwood table and four chairs (with cushions) on sale for less than $600 at our favorite unfinished furniture store, which was starting a “going out of business” sale the day we came in. We bought ourselves some black paint and varnish and the ever talented Rich produced the beautiful results you see in the photo below. We even had some leftover black and cream toile fabric from when the kitchen Roman blinds were made many years ago, so we recovered the seats to match. Is that cute or what?

This story has a somewhat sad ending, as getting this new table means saying goodbye to our old rickety heirloom table and chairs that were from my grandparents. My grandma gave me the set when she moved to an assisted living residence about 12 years ago. She said she specifically wanted me to have it because as a small child I had always admired it. My grandfather had acquired it from a client years ago – I believe he traded new, unfinished furniture to a man in exchange for this set. I know my grandmother prized it. I estimate it is about 75+ years old, I know my dad ate off of it as a child, and he is in his mid-60’s. Our family gave it a good amount of use, and now it is in great need of T.L.C. It will go into the garage rafters until I can find it a good home. As much as I hate to ask Rich to store it in “his” garage, I’m just too sentimental about it to drop it off at the Goodwill.

Friday, February 23, 2007

My little little sister - Suzanne

I couldn’t let my sister get the last word on our relationship on her blog!

As far as the title, she is my little little sister because she is younger, and also, she is little. I'm only 5'4" and tower over her!

Let me start by saying that no one could have a better sister than me. She is definitely my best friend (besides Rich, of course) and I am eternally grateful that God has bestowed on us both the gift of salvation, making us sisters in Christ. The bond we have as sisters is truly unique. We both marvel at that and feel very undeserving of such blessing.

My sister is very dear to me. We share a very special and close relationship. It is one where each of us always thinks the best of the other. There is no competition between us where one of us tries to be better than the other. We know each other so well and there is hardly anything we don’t tell each other. I think this is because we do think a lot alike and hold similar views on most topics. For one, we totally agree on which See’s candies are the best and which are trash (we have a bad habit of mutilating a mixed box). And we both use only Best Foods mayonnaise. (When you have that in common, everything else falls right into place in the compatibility area!)

We know each other’s weaknesses, strengths, as well as our quirky habits (well, I know her quirky habits). We understand each other very well and love each other unconditionally in spite of each other’s faults. I think it is true to say that we have never gotten into an argument – probably because I could never get mad at her! I take great comfort in knowing that my sister will always love me, help me, support me, care for me, want the best for me, and always forgive me when I do wrong her. She has an inherent way of always knowing the unique way to meet my needs and encourage me. She is always demonstrating her love in her acts of kindness and thoughtfulness towards me. Whenever she helps me, she never acts burdened and serves with great joy. She has served me in countless ways, to the point that many times I have wondered what I would have done without her. We always have a great time together, no matter what we’re doing. We have been through so much together, sharing many of the joys and sorrows of life together. She is a precious gift of God, mercifully bestowed on me.

In closing, I would just like to say that what I greatly admire about my sister most is the fact she is devoted to God, her husband and her family. When given the gift of three sons, she immediately rallied to be the “boy mom.” She lives to serve them, and loves to participate with them in all the boy things they do. Just today she was ordering some more motorcycle gear for herself so she could be a part of the boys’ fun. And while she is such a fun, easy going person, she is a woman of great biblical conviction and lives her life in light of what God’s Word says. And even though she lives in an all boy household, she is very feminine and beautiful. She is the heart of her home and all her boys are the recipients of her great love and care. In summary, she is the woman I admire most in the whole wide world.

I love you Suz!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

An early birthday present....

Drew got an early 16th birthday present!

After reading
Rich's Valentine post, how could I resist?

Happy (dirt) trails to my boys!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Resolved - to go each year!

L to R: Rick Holland, Steve Lawson, John MacArthur, C.J. Mahaney

Where's Waldo? Can you find Rich, Drew and Emma in this photo?

The four of us had the immense privilege of attending the 3rd annual Resolved Conference in Long Beach this past 3-day weekend. The theme of the conference was The Gospel and the messages were delivered by John MacArthur, C.J. Mahaney, Steve Lawson, John Piper and Rick Holland. What a lineup! On top of that, we were led in phenomenal worship times by the Resolved Band (a.k.a. Crossroads band from Grace). It was a wonderful weekend of soaking in truth and expressing thankfulness to God through the worshipful music.

The title of Resolved is based on the 70 Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards, the 3rd president of Princeton University and the man known as one of American’s greatest theologians ever. Edwards’ Resolutions , though written from 1722-1723, continue to deeply affect modern Christians. This is due largely to his commitment and high view of the Word of God. Here is one of the resolutions that I am choosing to meditate on:

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

This, combined with C.J. Mahaney’s teaching on Isaiah 53 and 1 Corinthians 4:6-13 had a profound effect on me. In Isaiah 53, we were reminded of the harsh reality that my sin is what put Jesus on the cross. MY SIN. God gave up His only Son to redeem ME. The way in which C.J. presented the message was life changing even to me who has been in Christ for 23 years! We need to stop and ponder this more often, to understand God’s great love for us. And, then in 1 Corinthians, Paul asks the church in Corinth “What do you have that you did not receive?” From this, C.J. presented us with the overwhelming reminder of God’s grace. He pointed out that we would all be great sinners had it not been for God’s grace on us. C.J. quoted Gordon Fee: "This is an invitation to experience one of those rare, unguarded moments of total honesty, where in the presence of the eternal God one recognizes that everything--absolutely everything--that one 'has' is a gift." Essentially, nothing we have is not a gift from God, which is an expression of God’s amazing grace towards us. What a marvelous thought and heart lifter!

This reality struck me as we were walking on the street during one of the break times. There happened to be some kind of Bob Marley festival/concert at the center next to Resolved. I observed the attendees for that event (just look for the dredlocks), in contrast to the people going to the Resolved conference. Here I was, an attendee of Resolved, sitting under the teaching of God’s word, while the others were worshipping some false religion and movement. It was one of those moments when you wonder why God chose you – and not them – to be the recipients of His undeserved grace and favor. I am no different than them at the very core – an undeserving sinner. Truly humbling. Truly blessed.

I am truly thankful for the opportunity we had to go to Resolved. I am especially thankful that Drew and Emma could experience such excellence in music and preaching. We will be forever changed by what we experienced. We are definitely RESOLVED to go next year!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

To My Valentine

Hey, it's the digital age so why not a blog Valentines Day post with some old-fashioned poetry for Karen:

Hondas are red
Yamahas are blue
If I had a dirt bike
I'd ride it with you!

...or maybe even better...
Milwaukee Sawzalls are red
Makita siding nailers are blue
Just give me a little while longer
And I'll finish the porch for you.

...or mabe just the really old-fashioned way...


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Goodbye, Old Friend

Today was a very sad day for our family. We had to put our 10 year old Lab, Nugget, to sleep. He had been in declining health for a couple of years, suffering as many Labs do from tendonitis and arthritis. Sadly, this week it came to the point where he could no longer walk, and we had to make the hard decision of putting him out of his suffering. We have an excellent and caring veterinarian, Dr. Mohan, and when we took him in this morning, he advised us that it was time.

So, after giving us all a final lick, and receiving his last pats from us, he was put down very quickly and peacefully. He wagged his tail and enjoyed us petting him right up until almost the last minute of his life.

Nugget was our very first pet - we got him as a puppy for the kids when Emma was just three years old. He was unique in that he was a Fox Red Yellow Lab - you don't see too many of them. He had a happy life playing with the kids and with Missy and Olive, our other two Labs. He loved us all, and we will miss him very much. The above photo was taken this morning.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

A Valentine Treat

If you like puffy, cake like chocolate chip cookies, this recipe is for you. Up until this point, I have been the queen of flat, greasy chocolate chip cookies. Emma has a knack for making ones that are just right, and even using her recipe mine turn out flat. Go figure.
However, today I stumbled upon a recipe called "My Big Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies" by Tyler Florence.

I made them, substituting Valentine m&m candies (a little over half a bag) for the chocolate chips. The results were splendid. They are simply beautiful. Too bad there is no such thing as "taste-blog" so you're going to have to do a little work to sink your teeth into these babies.

So, with Valentine's Day coming up next week, why not treat your sweethearts to a batch of these? If you are undecided, I recommend super-sizing the above photo!!!

makes a scant 2 dozen

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
8 oz. chocolate chips (or m&m's)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
In Kitchenaid or in large bowl with electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and eggs. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix on low speed just until a smooth batter forms.
To form the cookies, use a cookie scoop (or two spoons) to drop approximately 1/8th cup of batter onto lined cookie sheet, spacing cookies 3" apart. Press down the top of dough slightly and bake until the cookies are lightly browned, about 12-15 minutes.

Allow the cookies to cool 15 minutes on cookie sheet, then transfer to cooling rack.

A Heavenly Minded Moment

...and they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory... Mark 13:26

Now, the verse before that one indicates that the "sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light" however, that particular image of clouds is not found on Yahoo images! So I must go with an earthly one.

Ever experience a "heavenly minded" moment? I had one yesterday. It was a busy day, yet while in the car listening to Adie Camp, my thoughts were turned toward heaven. Here are the lyrics of two of her songs off the album Don't Wait :

When it's over

It’s finally calming down
I’ve found the motion of life that spins around
Grows dim as I enter in
A trail of tears sing your embrace
The scars of death and life we face
But I know I’ll be with you soon

When it’s over
When it’s over
I’ll finally fall down at your feet
And feel your open arms take hold of me

When it’s over
When it’s over
I’ll finally touch your wounded hands
And see the beauty of what you have planned

Revealing grace’s final call
I can’t comprehend at all
My hope will be completed
Seeing you with eyes unveiled
Knowing without you I’d have failed
I’ll wait - come soon - I’m waiting
My anticipation turns into desperation
When I think of when I will be with you my Jesus

And another one --


Overwhelm me with your love
And never let me go
Drown away the crashing waves
Leave me water for my soul

Overwhelm me with your love
And heal my broken heart
Keep me down upon my knees
Till your love is all I see

I have my hope in the beauty of your majesty
And all that I cannot see
I’m all I am
Because of what you gave up

Life for death
How do I start to say that I’m thankful Jesus

Overwhelm me with your love
Set my mind on things above
Show me what you have in store
For my home beyond this world

Overwhelm me with your love
And burn my heart again
Keep me focussed on your cross
So I know I’m forgiven

I know you hear me every time I whisper to the throne
I’m all I am because of you

Just listing the words don't do the songs justice. You need to hear them. If you have Windows Media you can listen to a little clip of each here: When it's over Overwhelm

If you haven't heard this debut album by Adie, I recommend you listen to it on itunes. She is a wonderful artist, and her words are so God-glorifying. She has a neat rendition of Turn, Turn, Turn on her album as well. Yes, she is Jeremy Camp's wife. We love his music as well and have all his CD's.

I thank God for the ministry music is to us and that it helps us focus on eternal life!

Have a heavenly minded day!

"...fix your hope completely on the grace
to be brought to you
at the revelation of Jesus Christ..."
1 Peter 1:13

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

The Apples of my Eye - My nephews

There are three very special young men in my life. They are my sister’s sons – Austin, Luke, and Vance. They are the sweetest, funniest, craziest, geekiest guys you’ll ever meet. It is one of my greatest joys to spend time with them and watch them grow up. While they are all so different, they each hold a special place in my heart.

Austin, the oldest, constantly reminds me of Brady. Must be first born tendencies mixed with genetics. He is bright, goofy and aloof, creative, can entertain himself endlessly, and loves justice (mostly for everyone else). He is very affectionate and sweet and wouldn’t hurt a fly. To read more about his antics click here. Being quite verbal, there are many funny things he has said in his 9 1/2 years. Two are especially memorable. The first was when he was about 3, and it was his daddy’s birthday. He and Luke were staying with me for a few days while Suzanne and Dave were painting their new home. The boys helped me decorate a cake and thought we’d pay his daddy a short visit. Austin was going through this little “contradiction” stage, which was most disobedient. As we were driving to their house, I was briefing Austin. I told him, “It’s your daddy’s birthday today, and when you see him, say HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADDY!!” to which he quickly and grumpily replied, “No, I say SAD birthday.” That line has remained in our family since then. And along the same lines, one time when he was in the process of potty training, I tried to take him to the bathroom. He started whining that he didn’t have to go. I said to him, “Austin, you are going to try. You do not have to whine.” To which he replied, “Yes, I DO have to whine!!” I guess those were words of wisdom from a 3 year old….sometimes you just have to whine!

Luke, the middle boy, is about to turn 8. He’s all boy and the physical one. He’s quite intense and plays hard. For sheer hobby's sake, he torments his brothers and thinks nothing of bopping them as hard as possible. Yet, strangely, he is also very tenderhearted and takes to heart his sin. He talks like a little mouse (hasn’t quite gotten the manly voice thing yet)! Sometimes he exhibits funny fears. When Suzanne and I were trying to teach him to swim at my house, he was simply terrified of going in the pool. He even sustained punishment for not getting in the pool. Then, once he was forced in, he would be hold onto you, paralyzed with fear, and screaming bloody murder. Then, one day, he somehow snapped out of it and found that he actually liked the pool. Then, of course, we could not get him to get out! (Don’t even ask about his fear of live crabs!) Here’s a funny story about Luke! Recently, a young married couple were invited to dinner at the DeShongs'. Suzanne suggested the boys make cards for their guests. When Luke showed his card to his mom, she told him that it would be nice if he could include a bible verse with his picture. He happily agreed and went to work and returned with the verse “thou shall not commit adultery” as the caption for his artwork! I guess it was the page his bible opened to!Click here for more about lovable Lukie.

And last but not least, the baby, Vance, a/k/a Bubba, the Bubs, or Vancy Pants. He’s almost 6 and a bundle of silliness. He is the biggest actor and can actually put on a fake tantrum that would convince anyone except the family (we’ve seen it a million times). “NO FAIR!” is his favorite fake tantrum line. He’s still super cuddly (when he wants to be) and can still be found sucking his thumb and snuggling up to you. He’s also very smart and onto everything. He knows exactly where all the candy dishes are in my house and checks them all upon arrival to my house. During the time of his visit, he may ask me 10 times for candy (of course, I always say yes). His trademarks of blond curly head and missing front teeth (for more on that story click here)make him extra charming. I am sad that he is growing up so fast.

I thank God continually for these three special boys and that Suzanne and Dave are raising them in a loving Christian home. It is my diligent prayer that they will grow as our Lord Jesus did “in wisdom and stature, and favor with God and men.” Luke 2:52

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Ya know yer a redneck...

...when your patio furniture used to be your living room furniture!

Goodbye old battered sofas!

Saturday, February 3, 2007

A Sunny, Citrusy Day

One of the things that brings me great pleasure is my garden. Today, on a beautiful 75 degree day, I went out to prune my roses. I spied my citrus trees full of fruit, so I grabbed a few grocery sacks and began to pluck away. The photo above is the result. It must be 20 pounds. What a lovely reward fruit is from your own garden. There is something so refreshing about eating a freshly picked orange or tangerine, or squirting a lemon into a nice glass of ice water. Rich is our juicer and will turn this pile of fruit into liquid health – nothing better.

This is the time of year that I must invest a little extra work in the garden. The roses (all 20 of them) need pruning and feeding, and the fruit trees all need food as well. The roses are so ugly when pruned - it is almost unbelievable that in the spring I will have vases full of spectacular bouquets in white, cream and many shades of pink and orange. I hope to plant some red velvety roses around the front porch when it’s done. Mister Lincoln's are my favorite. They smell like intense lemon and are intoxicating!

We planted all our fruit trees about 4-5 years ago and they are really starting to produce! We have an apricot, two plums, yellow peach, white nectarine, apple, mandarin tangerine, three different types of lemon, and three orange trees (1 for eating, 2 for juicing). During the summer there are a couple weeks when I can much of my stone fruits into jam. I invite my dear friend Lori Britten over and we make apricot-plum, apricot, plum, and peach jams. In addition to that, I always run over to the local strawberry farm in early spring and get berries for our favorite strawberry jam. It is so fun and rewarding to put up jams and I greatly enjoy giving them away as gifts.

I always buy my plants at Sheridan Gardens. You may pay a little more, but they know what they’re talking about. They have a very helpful website too.

Country Living…Shadow Hills!