Monday, November 7, 2011

Saying goodbye...

When someone dies, we have a funeral and they are gone. They may have passed but they have left a world of work here that makes it seem like they're still a part of our daily lives. Not only do we mourn the loss of our loved one but we are forced to deal with all the legal red tape-the insurance policies, death certificates, taxes, will or lack of and property.  Yes, it's a lot but we can make it a lot easier on our loved ones.  Take some time to visit with your spouse/kids/significant others and get some things down on paper!! 

1.  Do you have real estate or minerals?  Decide who gets what!  Property should not be left undivided...when it is the heirs are often ripped apart, relationships are destroyed!  (Minerals are okay to be undivided as they are payments you receive when leased...don't sell them!  You never know when they will pay out!)  If you have several parcels of property decide who gets what and put it in your will! 
2.  Things in you home...yes, it seems morbid to think about dividing up the china in the cabinet, knick-knacks, furniture and pictures but it will happen when you're gone.  Get some tape and start identifying on items exactly who you want to receive what items.  Has little Susie always admired your beloved china cabinet?  Put her name on it so everyone will know it belongs to her when you're gone. 
3.  What about one child helping you more, should they be compensasted more than the others...has Johnny not called or visited in the last 15 years--does he really deserve what Susie does when she has sacrificed her life and health to care for you?  It's your money, you earned it and you get to decide if it goes to family or a charity--no one deserves an inheritance, that is a gift and you get to choose who receives it and who doesn't. 
4.  Funeral...decide what you want.  Do you want an open casket or you want "Shall We Gather at the River" or "Spirit in the Sky" you want to be cremated, vaulted or maybe even a green burial?  Lots of options get it decided and put it on paper!!!
5.  If you have kids still at home, have that difficult talk--who will raise them if you and your spouse die at the same time.  If grandparents live out of state and you haven't desgnated a person, they might wind up a ward of the state until a hearing. 

Get all these things together as we're all going one of these days!  It's a lot easier to discuss these things when you're healthy and expecting to live forever...don't wait until you're terminally ill or deceased.  I know this is a real downer, not really what any of us want to think about but we should.  My grandma died almost a year was left undivided and the kids wound up having to settle it in court...things were finally finished today but like that board with a nail in it the damage is done; relationships fractured never to be the same.

Today we're crazy blessed to be enjoying our lives...tomorrow we may be crazy blessed in life eternal :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Roots & Wings...

"To our children we give two things, one is roots the other is wings."

I know this will come as a HUGE surprise but the other day I was visiting with my Mom and we were talking about Anna.  She was commenting about how she loves hearing about all the things I encourage Anna to do for herself rather than do for her.  Now I don't want to sound like I'm just bragging on my girl (although that is really easy to do) what I really want to do is convey the difference between roots in a five-gallon bucket and roots in good earth.

You might be wondering what is the difference...we all know the advantages of a five-gallon bucket you can use really good soil, take good care of the tree then bring it in during the harsh winds and blustery winters; really protrect it from all the things that could bring it harm.  If the tree is planted in the earth, it is subject to all the elements and you can't really protect it.  Ahhhh, exactly....our kids are with us today but they'll be gone tomorrow.  If we protect them by keeping them out of the wind and snow, their growth will be stunted. 

  • Planted in the earth, they will grow deep roots that can tap into deep waters and nutrients. 
  • Planted in the earth, they will learn to bend but not break in the harsh winds. 
  • Planted in the earth, they will learn that through the bitter winter comes the joy of spring.

Anna has given away saplings the last three years, we have planted them both ways and by far, the saplings that have truly thrived have been the ones planted straight into the earth allowing them to develop strong roots.  Their branches will soon produce fruit that will be capable of taking flight and allowing another tree to begin.  Wow!  That's exactly what I want for my kids to grow strong and be prepared for life beyond the protection of Mom and Dad so someday they can be parents who plant seeds with strong roots, too!

I know it's hard to see our kids going through the muck that life can throw at it but I encourage you to help them get through it without "bringing them inside."  If you don't plant them in the earth, before you know it, the time will come for them to be transplanted without the strong roots needed to see them through. 

Remember, the lyrics from my favorite song...
"I'm crazy blessed and oh so lucky to be the place you go when need a kiss oh don't be afraid for what you have is ME!"  We'll always be here to dust them off, give them a kiss and send them right back out there to soar above the crowd!

Monday, October 10, 2011

You don't have to believe alike...

Recently I was told that I have a problem.  Boy were they wrong...I have a lot of problems!  But they were referring to something specific that they saw as a problem.  Their concern for me was due to my eyes opening over the last five years.  I guess for this blog entry to really make sense, I have to take you all the way back to high school and Mr. Bill Guy's English class. 

We're sitting in class--I remember like it was yesterday; we were supposed to be studying or doing some sort of learning.  But you and I both know that that just means a chance to whisper and pass notes!  My friend taps me on the shoulder and says "I'm gay."  Wow--I'm 16 and don't know what I want for lunch so I'm definitely not thinking about gender orientation...I'm hoping it's not an offer.  So I ponder the statement for a minute then give my response "as long as you remember I like guys we'll always be friends."  That conversation took place back in 1987 in the buckle of the bible belt.  AIDS was new, people were afraid of gays and hatred was strong.  I knew I wasn't gay but I also knew it wasn't right or fair to hate, judge or be afraid of people who were (and still are) my friends.

Today, it's the 'new millinium', don't ask/don't tell has been repealed, some states recognize civil unions yet there is still an undercurrent-a movement who is against this population who is different.  These people quote scripture and claim that the gays will burn in hell for their wicked ways.  Well what about the wicked ways of the accuser?  The finger pointers may not be gay but just by judging others they are doing the very thing God has said we aren't to do.  God is the one true judge...whether your sin is abuse, cheating on your spouse, looking at pornography, speeding, lying, excluding people, profanity...take your pick because there are plenty to go around!

The message in my bible is one of love and understanding.  Did Jesus throw the stone?  No he simply drew in the sand (I think it was the accusers sins, thanks Padre for that illustration) and asked the one who had not sinned to cast the first one picked up a rock that day, in fact according to what I've read they all turned and left.  Jesus didn't put the woman down or tell her all she had done wrong He simply said 'go-sin no more'.  How many of us can genuinely say I have never sinned, I will never sin and can cast that stone?

Mama always said we were supposed to love the sinners not the sin.  She definitely lived that through my sinful college days.  Oh so often she said these words to me: "Dana, I don't like what you're doing but I love you".  It stuck and now as a mom myself, I find myself teaching my girls that it's easy to love but when we like someone or something it is much more serious.  Today I pulled out the handy dictionary to help drive home my point.

like (v.)
1. to be suitable or agreeable to; to feel attraction toward or take pleasure in

love (v.)
1. unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another

So the moral of this blog is you don't have to like the lifestyle that is chosen by others but you really should love them.  Remember God's house is big and has many rooms...He has a place prepared for those who 'do unto the least of them'.  No sin is bigger than another, I believe they're all equal in His eyes. 

We're ALL crazy blessed children of God...we're all sinners...
we may not all believe alike but we can all LOVE alike!! 

What doesn't kill you....

"will just make you stronger..."

I can't even begin to count the number of times I have heard my Mom tell me this; even worse I can't count the number of times I've used it on my kids!  However the other day, I was talking to my Dad about a certain situation that has been a thorn in the side of our family for several years I caught myself using it on him.  Then I really thought about it perhaps the real saying ought to be:

"What doesn't kill you instantly will add up over time and kill you eventually..."

But that doesn't sound nearly as nice.  I'm the first to admit that I have been crazy blessed all my life but being crazy blessed doesn't make me immune to the little things that cause stress and all that stress can add up to ill health.  Now I'm not just talking about the biggies like heart attacks, high blood pressure and strokes...I'm talking about mental health.  The kind that causes you to think about and obsess about things that are out of your hands.  We've all had something in our life that happened wa-a-a-ay back when someone wronged you or made you mad and even today when you think about it your blood boils.  It's just not healthy to let someone or some situation have that kind of control and power over your life.

Today, I'm going to share with you a little morsel I heard over the weekend.  I was driving along, listening to KLRC when the guy on the radio did one of those minute mini-sermons between songs.  After he finished, I had to pull over and grab a pencil as I scribbled on a copy of the NWACC newspaper:

"Joy doesn't equal happiness. Happiness is just an emotion whereas joy is a state of being. Knowing God and having faith. In all things let us have joy"

So maybe...just maybe the phrase my Mama has used on me all these years is right if I will just remember to let my life be filled with joy and not sweat the other stuff!  So today, tomorrow, next week or next year when you start to feel your blood boil over you-know-who and what they did way back when...just take a deep breath and remember you are indeed always crazy blessed and living a life filled with joy is possible no matter what your circumstances!  Stop allowing something that is in the past to rob you of your joy TODAY!

Monday, September 19, 2011 the end is a beginning

Way back in 1997, we lived in Bella Vista for 12 weeks while Ted was an intern for Walmart.  Being a housewife, I knew that I would have to get active with a church in order to meet people so we attended First United Methodist Church in downtown Bentonville.  Wow!  What an amazing church home we found.  Many of the people we met that first summer are still a part of our lives today.  Without them I am sure that the transition to life away from family (our parents live in Oklahoma) would have been much more difficult!!

Flash forward to the fall of 2005, Anna was baking Pumpkin Rolls (her 4-H project-Tastebud Treats).  We were at the fall UMW Bazaar where we met Blake and Jan Lasater; we had heard through the FUMC newsletter that Blake was starting a new church, something called Living Waters.  I had written Blake earlier that week telling him we thought we wanted to be a part but all we had to offer was our family and our time.  He said "come on...we need people...the money will come!"

I can't remember the exact timing but sometime in early 2006 we began meeting in the Chapel on Sunday evenings at FUMC.  Within a few weeks, it was easy to see we had outgrown this small space and our people were hungry...hungry for worship on Sunday mornings in a place of our own.  Next we moved to the VFW building in downtown Bentonville (just behind the Arvest bank on the square).  We had an untuned piano and hearts ready to be filled.  The Sundays were a time of true fellowship, we laughed, ate doughnuts and received the word along with some cool visual aids.  (Yes Blake, I still have the rocks to remind me 'let he who has not sinned cast the first stone', a red heart to show the love we have to share as a congregation, the cross necklace fashioned by your friend, the shells for the baptism of my children.)

Before long, we realized the VFW just wouldn't cut it--we were young with lots of children and those kids needed a place to call their own.  Just in time for Easter 2006, Emerald Plaza became our first real home.  Sunday mornings with Jerry Moore, Tom Rife and Blake standing at the ready greeting us as we pulled into the 'strip mall' area.  Donna Rife, Matt R. and Jerry D. made worship a beautiful experience with the incredible alter designs.  We were small yet somehow the word traveled and we were continuing to grow.

Late 2006 and we needed yet another location with more room...we made another move to Raintree Plaza where we held our first wedding.  Troy and Laurie...beautiful people with amazing children!  So much love and no Sunday is complete without a prayer being lifted for the 'lost and confused'.  We began our time at Raintree with 3 suites of office space and grew to 5 before we left.  While at Raintree, our fearless leader was called to serve our country and was gone for 9 months.  During his absence, Brian Timmons and Lee Myane tended the flock and helped us continue our course.

Time flew, we laughed, we cried, we went through growing pains, shrinking pains and everything in between.  We celebrated weddings, baptisms, funerals and lots of church meals in our Raintree home.  In 2009  we learned that a sister church in Centerton was struggling and we were looking for a more permanent home.  After many meetings the two became one; like any union there were disagreements and things we had to work out but we know that all relationships require both parties to give in sometimes.  Living Waters at Centerton was born and was on a good path, opening a food pantry, serving our community when a life change occured...a fire. 

But we're not finished yet!  There is still work to do, hearts that need healed and lives that need a refreshing drink of Living Waters.  Yesterday for the first time in a long time, Blake share with our congregation another visual aid...this time it was a piece of glass that had been in our baptismal fountain.  A simple piece of glass to provide a tangible reminder to be like Job who even when all was lost he proclaimed:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
   and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
   may the name of the LORD be praised.”  Job 1:21
Living Waters very first VBS in 2006!
Bunco night with the Living Waters ladies May 2007

Blake and Gracie Christmas 2008

Preparing the Centerton Sanctuary February 2009
Donna Rife with another amazing alter creation Easter 2010
We may be scorched but we're still fulfilling the Vision.

 As children of God, we're ALL always crazy blessed...

Friday, September 2, 2011

God Can Change His Plans...???

Five simple words uttered by my sweet angel #1 when we were discussing a recent tragedy.  If she had only ________ maybe she would have lived.  But what about you dying when it is really your time and not a minute before would that one action have made a difference if it was your time?  Would God really change his mind?  What about those we love who are sick?  Will God let them stay a little longer if only we...

I was raised in the Methodist Church, we're raising our children in the Methodist Church but I still don't have the answer.  If God doesn't change His mind then why are we praying?  If He does change His mind, what prayer is the most effective or is it not the prayer but the desire in your heart or perhaps the number of people praying...

...then creeps in the thoughts of those friends who we have gone or are preparing to go...they have hurt, suffered, it fair to pray for them to stay and prolong the agony? 

"Father let THY will be done"...I believe that is the real answer here.  We love our kids, try to raise them right and send them out into the world.  But in the end, it really is HIS will, not ours. 

Some days are a struggle and I don't really have the answers my kids are looking for...I am simply crazy blessed to have you along with me for this journey and maybe you can give me some advice along the way.

Friday, August 19, 2011

When you thought I wasn't looking...

Okay, I've gone and done it again...I read one of "those emails" know the ones, the sappy stories that you know can't be true.  But this one was different...different because it is true!  I'm sure someone took a look at my childhood and saw all the incredible things my Mom and Dad did not knowing us kids were looking.  I'm hoping that when my kids are grown they will have been crazy blessed by the way I've lived my life...not just the things I've "taught" them in school.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you hang my
first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately
wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you feed a
stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind
to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you make my
favorite cake for me, and I learned that the little
things can be the special things in life.

When you thought I wasn't looking I heard you say a
prayer, and I knew that there is a God I could always
talk to, and I learned to trust in Him.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you make a
meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I
learned that we all have to help take care of each other.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you take care
of our house and everyone in it, and I learned we have
to take care of what we are given.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw how you
handled your responsibilities, even when you didn't
feel good, and I learned that I would have to be
responsible when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw tears come
from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things
hurt, but it's all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw that you
cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking I learned most of
life's lessons that I need to know to be a good and
productive person when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking I looked at you and
wanted to say,'Thanks for all the things I saw when
you thought I wasn't looking.'
So as you go about your day today, what messages are you sending that you don't even realize your sending?  Next time you snap, yell, act in anger...take a few moments to make amends.  Get down on their level and apologize.  We expect them to apologize to us when they act up so we should treat them with that same respect.  The things we do when we think are kids aren't watching is the integrity our kids will grow to have...let's all work to 'crazy bless' our kids today and every day!

Special thanks to Melinda S. for making my inbox blessed with this message!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Perfect...just perfect!

Just for today treat every person with the inherent worth, dignity, equity and compassion in the manner you would like to be treated. Accept one another. Give encouragement. Be at peace. Have respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

These were the first words I read today thanks to my friend Ronda.  I wish I could wave my magic wand or wiggle my magic nose and get everyone in the world to heed this advice-however my magic seems to have run out today.  Lord, I'm tired...just plain tired.  Not the kind of tired that can be solved by a good night of sleep but the kind of tired that goes all the way to the bone.  You know the tired, the one that makes you feel like you just want to give it all up.  My tired pales in comparison to the tired others feel...I am oh so crazy blessed to have good friends who are willing to reach out and give the compassion and encouragement to help me recharge.  Not everyone is that lucky!
  • When someone reaches out and asks for help--take their hand and help them.  Your help could make the difference.
  • When someone someone says they just can't do it any more-don't get angry and shun them.  Ask them what is wrong or what you can do to lighten their load.
  • When someone tells you about a decision that was very difficult for them-believe them don't judge them.  Give them support and be nurturing.  There may be things going on you have no idea about and they're not ready to put it in words. 
  • When someone tells you everything is okay but you can see in their eyes they're trying to hold it together don't shrug your shoulders and walk away.  Give them a hug, tell them you're there when they need something. 
When Anna was younger there was a family we knew.  We'll call them the 'Perfect' family.  You see the Perfect family had two perfect children who were perfectly dressed, had perfect hair, perfect clothes, danced better than the other girls, drove the perfect car, lived in the perfect neighborhood.  You get the picture, right?  I had such a hard time not being jealous of Mrs. Perfect and all she had.  (Okay, I was a little jealous...)  Now fast forward ten years because Mrs. Perfect dropped off the radar and I didn't see Mrs. Perfect and her perfect children for ten whole years.  Oh my the years were not kind.  It turned out one of the perfect children had a perfectly horrible disease I had no idea about.  It seems Mrs. Perfect is no longer able to work because she has to care for the perfect child and the perfect car is falling apart.  When I ran into her a few weeks ago, I felt perfectly awful...awful for not taking the time to get to know her better--for not looking for her when she dropped out of things--for not offering to lend a hand or at least a compassionate ear.  I know I couldn't have made a difference for the perfectly awful disease can't even be cured by the doctors but I could have been a better friend--I could have at least prayed for the unknown that caused her to vanish.

So as you go about your perfect day, think about all the people you encounter whether it's on facebook, the grocery store, the gym, cheer practice, work or driving down the road--they all have a life you know nothing about and today may just be the day they really need you to remember...

Just for today treat every person with the inherent worth, dignity, equity and compassion in the manner you would like to be treated. Accept one another. Give encouragement. Be at peace. Have respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

I'm so glad that I'm always crazy blessed, a child of God and that I do have friends I can lean on who will whisper a prayer and tell me they love me even when I don't have the words to share my needs.  I pray that God continues to shower you with crazy blessings...because I know He sure floods my life with them!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells...

Four months and fifteen days to go!!!  Have you started thinking about the right gift for that person who is impossible to shop for?  You know...your Dad, your grandparents...they've got everything, right?  But we all know they love seeing the faces of those they love!  In 1995, I started something that has become somewhat of a tradition in our family-a photo calendar!  Through the years, these have become keepers of some cherished family memories!  Visit these links to see the 2011 and 2010 Cassel Calendars!

I contact my brother and sister, requesting that they send me digital files of pictures they and their children want to appear on the calendar.  Things like birthdays, vacations, school get the idea!  I prefer to use photos that are just family members--the closer up the photo, the better!

Through the years, I have compiled a list of birthdays and anniversaries for...everyone!  My immediate family-mom, dad, kids, siblings, nieces and nephews then spread out further so our calendar now contains special dates for Mom's side and Dad's side!  I put our immediate family in BOLD print on their special days and my Mom's side small with an (H) and Dad's side small with a (C). 

Why am I sharing this in August?  Well, I would like to create a calendar this year for your family!!!  I will have a "base" calendar with background paper, calendar grid with common holidays (Christian, Jewish or both) ready next week.  All you have to do is gather pictures you would like to appear--please contact me for specific information about your pictures--create a list of birthdays and anniversaries, send them to me and I will create a beautiful, personal calendar for your family--complete with a custom cover as seen at the bottom of this post. (Each year, the cover of our calendar is different-the one from 2010 was a silhouette of my dad and the 2011 was a castle with a definition along with a personal note from me.)

Calendar with custom special dates-$50.00
     additional copies with SAME dates-$20.00
     additional copies with DIFFERENT dates-$30.00
All information must be to me no later than November 15th to insure calendar is delivered to you by December 20th.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mama's treasures...

Mama always used to tell me, "You have to stand for something or you'll fall for anything."  Now read that one more time...what do you stand for...more importantly, what do you fall for because you failed to take a stand?

These days, (like for the last 16 years) I'm a Mom, a stay-at-home Mom, a Homeschool Mom.  That means my husband and I have taken full responsibility, yes 100% responsibility for the education our children and for preparing them for the big, scarey world out there.  I've got the document to prove it, each year the state of Arkansas makes me sign a disclaimer saying that we assume ALL responsibility for our children.  So with the English, Math, History, Science and extra-curricular activities what is the most important subject I teach?  I call it the "spine" of education; standing for something but what is something and how do you teach an abstract concept?

I strive to define 'something' but it changes depending on the person and their age.  Let's start with Jessica, sweet Jessica only six adorable years old and my #3 Angel Girl.  So innocent, so caring and giving--I truly believe we could all learn what 'something' is from her.  You see, Jessica does her book studies but has plenty of time for the important things like taking naps, loving her stuffed animals-Miss Kitty and Cocoa even though their fur has began to rub away, eating the food she loves while humming (yes, when Jess really enjoys a food she hums without even realizing it), running and playing outside until she is on the verge of collapse.  So far there's not a lot I can teach her about standing for the elusive something, she does a fine job.  When did we quit embracing ourselves, allowing 'something' to rule instead of the ideals of others?

Let's move on to someone a little more worldly...Melissa, Angel Girl #2 who at nine is wise and sage, so she thinks!  Oh precious angel, the things your little soul thinks are wisdom are influences...sometimes not the right ones.  I work hard to encourage you to think for yourself, make your own decisions about clothing, toys, hair and how you treat people.  Somedays, I still see that sweet, innocent child just waiting to be filled, truly being reliant on something...others the worldly, willful, unsure girl longing to fly on her own struggling as she falls for someone elses something.  For you dear one, I pray that the something we strive for, the confidence, the morals, the way you treat others to be strong and prevail.  Stay sweet, and always remember the words you use, the mannerisims you display can make or break someones day.  Be the something that makes others want to be more like you.

Angel Girl Anna
Those of you who know her can see she is 100% Anna and true to herself every moment of life.  She is strong, confident, well spoken and willing to go that extra mile for those in need.  She has that something and as a Mom, I'm not sure how she got it.  Since she was small, I have sprinkled not with water but with little morsels of wisdom.  Little things that seem so simple and not important when viewed alone but add up to something significant when you stack them all together.  Funny thing is, it is difficult to pinpoint which of those sprinklings could have made the difference in her having something to stand for; I think each and everyone was vital in her becoming the confident Anna who stands for something.  I love the young woman she has become; when I pick her up from class, a 4-H meeting or simply hanging out with friends, she extends her hand anticipating that I will place mine in hers then begins the babble...sharing with me the important things that have happened.  I treasure her in turn sprinkling me :)  I hope one day when I am old, she will visit and continue to hold my hand as she shares her life with me.

So in essence I guess it's the sprinkles that = something!  In the world, God holds the watering can--through Jesus' life, Bible stories and prayer/meditation, He sprinkles us with the bits and pieces that allow us to have something worth standing for.  I hope and pray that as I sprinkle Melissa and Jessica they will develop that something as they grow.  What are you sprinkling on your kids?  Are they growing strong 'spines' to stand for the something you believe in?

I have some friends that are adults and still sway from this persons ideals to that person...but never fear!!!  Even if you're grown it isn't too late!!  Do you find yourself easily swayed, angry at yourself when you realize once again you have hurt somone or done something you wish you hadn't?  Are you striving to find yourself and the something you stand for?  Take some time right now to make a list of things you believe in, things you want for yourself or your family.   Google is full of wonderful quotation links so find some that go with your beliefs then print them out!  Put them on your mirror, your fridge, your rear view mirror and your computer monitor.  Sprinkle yourself!!!  Soon you will begin to see you are able to stand for the something that means the most to you!!

Every day we are given is a gift, how we choose to use it is our gift to others.  Will we be swayed to others desires or will we grow from the sprinkles and embrace every Crazy Blessed moment and stand for something?  I know what I'll about you?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Earthly Treasures...

I know it's the name of my dear friend Michelle's blog but I thought in an appropriate title for today because I want to share an earthly treasure with you garden.  We have dabbled in gardening since we married 19 years ago.  That's plenty of time for lots of trial and error learning!  We've planted in small flower beds outside rentals, experimented with making our own self watering containers from Rubbermaid storage containers (what a failure) and finally invested in raised beds about 5 years ago.

Even with the improved style of raised beds, we have still had struggles.  We purchase Mel Bartholomew's book, Square Foot Gardening.  As inexperienced square footers we thought we could squeeze more into our squares than the expert suggested and the result was less than satisfactory.  We found we were spending money purchasing too many plants and planting crowding them into these squares and not getting the desired results.

This year, I decided to really research and make our garden a true 'earthly treasure'.  I poured over Mel's book and added Carrots Love Tomatoes  by Louise Riotte.  I took some time and created a document in Excel that has each of our garden squares to scale.  I made a list of all the things our family loves to eat fresh from the garden and using Mel's method for number plants and Louise's method for what to plant together I devised a blueprint for every plant!!  I researched for the perfect place to purchase seeds that offered Non-GMO, Non-Hybrid, Non-Treated Heirloom seeds and I found it!!  St. Clare's Heirloom Seeds their reviews at Dave's Garden were amazing, they were helpful and quick to answer questions via email.  My seeds arrived just a few days after I placed my order with a bonus pack of seeds--Yellow Pears (Lycopersicon lycopersicum).  

I feel so 'crazy blessed' to have a husband who loves produce fresh from the garden as much as I do!  Ted loves being in the garden almost as much as I do.  He worked hard to build beautiful raised beds and an entrance to my garden area that makes my heart leap every morning when I walk beneath the melodic wind chime!  All my hard work preparing for this years garden is beginning to pay off as we have harvested the sweetest sugar snap peas, tender zucchini and yellow squash and crisp green beans!  Our cucumbers are full of blossoms and tiny cukes...the okra and corn are both standing tall, the eggplant full of blossoms and the peppers and tomatoes are covered with tiny fruit!!  I look forward to our own backyard earthly treaure making our meals 'crazy blessed' all summer long!!

"I come to the garden alone...while the dew is still on the roses..."

Green Beans


Yellow Squash

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Things I've learned from my kids...

Whoever said 'everything I needed to know I learned in kindergarten' was reallly wrong!  Even though I've been a mom for sixteen glorious years, not a single day goes by without my learning something new!  Today, I'll list my favorite three lessons!
1. Every day can be an adventure.  My sweet Jessica comes in every morning with an "I love you Mommy" coming from her lips followed by a what do we get to do today?  Embrace every day and enjoy every moment whether it is the math lesson, cleaning your room or playing with friends--there is a blessing just waiting to be discovered!
2.  Take some time to just absorb the unconditional love of those you love and who love you.  We're what you could call a cat family--each girl has her own cat.  Ziggey-the slasher belongs to Anna, Bandit-the fluffy cat belongs to Melissa and Pumpkin-the gentle giant belongs to Jessica.  Somehow in the craziness of our life, those cats KNOW who their girls are and they adore them.  Whether reading a book or watching a movie, it is so sweet to see a cat curled up in the arms of the girl who loves them.  When one of the girls is having a bad day and the tears stream down their faces--their cat brushes up to them to try and make their world a little better.  It would be a blessing to be a little more like those cats, full of love and expecting nothing in return.  Makes me hug my girls a little tighter!
 3.  You can learn something even when you don't know you're learning...being a homeschool mom, there are always three pairs of eyes who are watching and three sets of ears listening.  I must admit, there are a few things I have not been proud to hear repeated by the girls but for the most part what I hear makes me oh so proud!  Something happened one day at gym--Melissa took the higher road and was incredible in handling a situation.  When I complimented her, she said well Mom you do the right thing all the time like the other day...and she reminded me of something I had done without being aware that she was watching and learning.  We as parents are blessed with the opportunity to influence who our children become.  It isn't the lectures or time we spend explaing how they should act and's the way we behave in our lives that provides a tangible living example and that my friends is what your children will become.

Take a look today--
  • are you embracing your day?  When your child wants you to come outside to see the dandelions, do you go or are you too busy?
  • are you giving and receiving all the unconditional love you can?  Take a few moments to read a book or just snuggle close and enjoy the love.
  • are you living what you want your kids to learn?  The good moments and the bad are full of opportunity!  Did you blow up and lose your temper?  Take a minute and talk to your child about it--explain why it happened and what you could have done differently.  Admit that as a parent sometimes we make mistakes...just like our kids do--we work through it and learn from it.
Most of all, enjoy every crazy blessed moment you are given!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A carrot, an egg, and a few coffee beans...

My inbox often has a forward in it from my Aunt Mary Lou; some make me laugh, some make me cry.  The other day one came to my inbox that took me a few days to get around to reading.  The title caught my eye I gave it a minute of my day and read.  I hope you'll do the same.  (personal note from me after the story) 

A carrot, an egg, and a few coffee beans...

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.

Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see."  "Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it.. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma the daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its insides became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water."Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? 

Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

(Don't quit now...just a few more lines, read them and think, really think about what they are saying.  Someday you may have a day you need to reflect on these words...)
The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling.
Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.

Through life, I've always encouraged Anna to be the 'salt' among her friends.  you know salt in the bible is used metaphorically to encourage followers to be like salt--adding seasoning, just a touch to enhance the lives of those we touch.  So whether you want to be salt or coffee, be the one who enhances all you touch, allowing them to experience life as a crazy blessed child of the King!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart...

December 31, 2010 started out to be a really bad day for my dear friends, the Sticht family of Summers, Arkansas.  They were visiting family and friends in Phoenix when they received word their home had been destroyed by a tornado and Grammie was seriously injured when her home was also destroyed.  (Nell Porter, loved by many passed away due to injuries sustained on January 4, 2011.)

Not much to be joyful about is there?

Being joyful is a matter of perspective for you see, my friends could have been there that morning and been destroyed just like their home.  Even though their physical bodies were unharmed, their sweet hearts are hurting; in the midst of their pain, what a joy that wonderful people from their community and from our homeschool community have descended upon them like angels--cleaning up the debris, seeking donations, offering shelter, holding sales and most importantly giving hugs, love and lots of support!

An account has been set up for them at Arvest--donations can be made at any banch to the Sticht Family Arvest Cares Account 16608373.  If you have some art supplies, Legos, Star Wars figures, a gift card to a book store or a boys bicycle you would like to donate, please let me know!  (John and Logan had bikes they had only had a few months that were twisted beyond repair.)

...remember we are always crazy blessed and even though sometimes we have to look for it there should always be joy in our hearts!