Make-Believe illuminations

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“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”  I Peter 3:3,4

Who Am I?  Daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, grandmother, friend, child of God.  Sometimes I hardly know how to sign my name on a birthday card because I wear so many different hats.

I love this picture taken of three of my children and a friend playing dress up.. Little girls love to dress up and little brothers sometimes enjoy it too.  At least until later when they are teenagers and see the pictures.

Little girls love to dress up like a princess or a fairy.  The imagination is a wonderful thing given to us by God.  Ballet costumes are so pretty and dancing all dressed up in one is the dream of many a little girl.  I remember the very first time I danced with my father at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago with a live orchestra playing after dinner music.  I felt very grand and so grown up even though I was only in grade school.  How very special one feels when a daddy or grandfather dances with us for the very first time.

Even grown up girls love to dress up and look like someone different from who we really are most of the time.  I think every girl deserves to go out on a special date all dressed up and feeling special now and then.  I told a girl friend of mine that we should dress up in our best dresses and big hats and go out for a special Kentucky Derby luncheon this spring.  I am getting tired of wearing blue jeans and sweatshirts even though I love to be comfortable.  I see nothing wrong with dressing up as long as we remember that God is looking at our heart and as a child of God I want my appearance to be pleasing to Him.

What about you?  Have you dressed up for something special lately?  I would love to hear from you.

Hearts Filled With Joy

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“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me. ‘”

Last night we were so blessed as we listened to “Amazing Grace” played on bag pipes as the sun went down by a man standing out in the ocean on the sandbar.  Adults as well as children all along the beach stopped what they were doing and stood still, listening until the last note was played and the sun dipped into the water and disappeared.  Then everyone began clapping many with tears in their eyes.  It was the perfect ending to a beautiful Easter Sunday.

“AMAZING GRACE”

“Amazing Grace.”  This hymn has touched people’s lives for close to 250 years, yet it is as fresh and meaningful today as the day it was first written.  We hear it everywhere…in church services, radio, movies and television.  It always evokes the deepest personal emotions.

 But, who wrote it?  And, under what circumstances?  It is truly astonishing that it was written by John Newton, a self-confessed sinner with no equal in debauchery and blasphemy.

 John’s life was cruelly changed with the loss of his loving and religious mother at age six.  His father, a famous sea captain, ignored him then left him with a substitute mother who hated him.  She put him away in a boarding school where he was mistreated and abused.

 Captain Newton took John to sea as a common sailor when John was only eleven years old.  He was forced to live with the sailors in the hold of the ship who taught him every vice known to man.  John reveled in it and quickly lost the religious qualities his mother had tried so hard to instill in him.

 His life took another turn when he was introduced into the family life of the Cattletts, dear friends of his late mother.  There he met Polly, who was destined to become the love of his life.  She was only fourteen and John had not secured any position worthy of asking for a young girl’s hand in marriage.  He was rebuffed by Polly and her parents.

 On a return trip to visit Polly, he was pressed into the British Navy and was forced to fight in naval battles.

 John’s conduct worsened.  In his journal he wrote, “I was the chief of all sinners and if I had my way, I would have taken the whole human race to hell with me!”  He deserted the ship only to be caught and returned.  He was punished severely by the whip and keelhauling.  Eventually the Captain tired of his conduct and traded him off to a slave ship on its way to Africa.  There he was enslaved by slave traders who treated him the same as their African slaves.  He remained a slave for two years until he was rescued by a friend of his father.

 On the return trip to England, which took 4 months, the ship was caught in a terrible storm and the ship was in grave danger of sinking.  John, on deck, was swept toward the sea and realizing that his life was at an end, cried out to God, “Lord save me!!”  Miraculously a huge wave knocked him back into the ship and he was saved.  The ship limped back into Ireland with John a completely changed man.

 He married Polly and became a minister.  He was asked to speak to Parliament by Prime Minister Wilberforce against slavery.  It was his influence that resulted in England outlawing slavery over a hundred years before it was outlawed in the United States.  He wrote over 300 hymns and was one of the first ministers in England to make hymn singing a part of regular worship.  His most famous was…”Amazing Grace.”

 At one of his last sermons in his old age he stated…

 “They tell me I’m getting old and perhaps I am.  But the one true thing that I know is that I’m a great sinner and God is a great Savior.”

        Amazing Grace

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me….
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

T’was Grace that taught…
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear…
the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares…

we have already come.
T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far…
and Grace will lead us home.

The Lord has promised good to me…
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be…
as long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
a life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years…
bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise…
than when we first begun.

And our hearts were filled with joy!

Glorious illuminations part II

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“Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”            John 11:40

You may not think caterpillars are beautiful.  Many have stripes or spots that help protect them from birds and other predators by breaking up their body’s outline.  This coloration also blends well with the plants upon which the caterpillar eats.    They crawl slowly in a wave-like motion using three pairs of true legs, and as many as five pairs of “pro-legs” which function the same as the true legs.  The true legs later develop into the legs of the adult butterfly, while the pro-legs are lost during metamorphosis.  The caterpillar’s feet are capable of wrapping around and grasping the branches and stems of the plants they like to eat.

Obviously, God’s purpose was not to make the caterpillar attractive but to protect it from danger.  But how beautiful is God’s purpose when we see his entire plan.  He chose to use a miracle to transform an ugly earth bound caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly that can fly.  What a great illustration of what happens to us when we die.  Death is not the end, but a beautiful new beginning.  We are much like the caterpillar with no beauty of our own until God transforms us by His grace giving us new life and beauty when we place our trust in Jesus who died for our sins so that we might have eternal life.

Fun stuff for Kids

Caterpillar Craft (for a younger child)

You will need

  • 5 fuzzy balls,(one color or a rainbow of colors)
  • one large fuzzy ball
  • Strip of poster board, 1,2 inch by 5 inches
  • a set of googly eyes
  • glue stick or hot glue gun(for adult use)

Fold poster board strip like an accordion and glue on small fuzzy ball with large one for the head.  Let glue set.  Glue on googly eyes.

Cocoon For Your Caterpillar

Use an ordinary bathroom toilet paper holder and wrap it with green or brown peel and stick foam.  Fold the end of it together to form the top of the cocoon and add a thin strip of cut foam to wrap your cocoon around a branch.

Butterfly Craft

You will need a large white paper coffee filter, washable markers, a wood clothes pin, pipe cleaner, spray bottle, Elmer’s white glue, googly eyes.

  • Spread newspaper or a plastic table cloth over work space.
  • Color coffee filter with markers using several different colors.
  • Fill spray bottle with water and lightly mist coffee filter so colors run together.  Let dry.
  • Put a little glue on inside of the clothespin and carefully insert coffee filter.
  • Cut a pipe cleaner in half and wrap it around the neck curling it up behind the head to form antennas.
  • Glue on googly eyes.

Easter Egg Coloring Fun

The Coming of Sunshine

Sunshine was born on Easter Sunday and it was love at first sight.  She was the sweetest puppy and never caused a bit of trouble.  It was almost like she was a gift from God because she came into my life at a time when I was feeling very blue.  Some dogs are wonderful therapy and Sunshine reflected her name and always brought me happiness.

Beauty Tip

As you appreciate the beauty of a garden of flowers, take deep life giving breaths of the flower perfumed air and gaze at the amazing beauty of a flower until it sinks deep within your spirit and soul and you reflect that beauty and the love God has poured into his wondrous creation.  You may not see the beauty when you look in the mirror, but you will be reflecting it to others in a smile or kind deed that lights up your countenance with God’s love.


 

The Easter Lily

The beautiful white flowers of the Easter Lily symbolize purity, hope, love and life which is the spiritual significance of Easter.  Lilies were found growing in the garden of Gethsemane after the Crucifixion.  They were said to have sprung up when drops of Christ’s sweat fell to the ground in his final hours of sorrow and distress.  At Easter time churches bank their altars with masses of Easter lilies to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the hope of everlasting life.

Health Tip

Eternal life is not just life everlasting up in heaven, it is youth giving, revitalizing, joy producing, purpose filled life here on earth.

The Garden of Gethsemane

Just before Jesus was arrested he and His disciples went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”  He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.  “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them.  “Stay here and keep watch.”

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.  “Abba. Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you.  Take this cup from me.  Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping.  “Simon,” he said to Peter, “Could you not keep watch for one hour?  Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”                          Mark 14:32-38

What a wonderful Savior we have in Jesus!  

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”   John 3:16

Glorious illuminations part I

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“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  II Corinthians 4:6

I love to go shell hunting with my grandchildren.  The tiny little Coquina butterfly shells that come in so many beautiful colors are among our favorites to collect and admire.  But finding sand dollars are the best of all because they tell the story of Christ.  They are imprinted with a flower-like design on the top of the dollar that resembles the Easter Lily and on the back of the shell is a Poinsettia- the Christmas flower.

The five holes represent the five wounds borne by Christ when He hung on the cross.  The five pointed star in the center represents the star of Bethlehem that guided the Wise Men.

When the sand dollar shell is broken open five tiny white doves are found- the Doves of Peace which represent the hope of eternal life that Christ, God’s beloved and only Son gives to each of us who believe.

Fun Stuff For Kids and Grandparents

One week around Thanksgiving I found so many sand dollars on the beach that I decided to turn them into Christmas ornaments by mixing two parts Elmer’s glue and one part water together and carefully brushing about three coats on each side of the sand dollar, letting it dry between each coat.  Then I tied a pretty red Christmas ribbon on each and included the story of Christ that the sand dollar represents.  A friend of mine later told me that her daughter after seeing the sand dollar ornament on her tree decided to give sand dollars away to all the guests at her wedding.  Isn’t it amazing what God can do if we will just listen to him and find out his plan for our life and follow it.

Our beach neighbor loves to make a shell garden each year for his grand kids.  Our grandchildren like to see and admire the many wonderful varieties of shells that Bob finds on the beach and displays in his garden.

More Fun Stuff For Kids or Adults

I decided to make a shell covered treasure box with some of the shells I have collected on the beach.  I bought peel and stick, glitter foam that comes in 10 assorted colors and only costs about $5.00 at Walmart.  I cut out pieces from one of the sheets to cover a tiny treasure box that I bought from a beach gift shop for only $2.99.

Next I glued an assortment of small shells to the lid with Elmer’s glue.  The glue took quite a while to dry but it did stick the small shells to the top of the box.  A hot glue gun might have been faster, but I wanted to see if I could use this craft later with the grand kids.

The box was already lined with a black velvet material, but if it hadn’t been I would have cut more glitter foam in a contrasting color to line it with.  It is always fun to find a useful way to use our collections.  Enjoy!

Beach Friends

This morning I met up with two of my sweet beach friends as I was out walking.  Louise was in a terrible auto accident months ago and now is overjoyed to be able to be back walking the beach again.  Her friend Dino came to the hospital and stayed with her night and day the first couple of days after the accident.  That kind of friendship is very special.  It reminds me of the verse in Proverbs 17:17:  “A friend loves at all times…”

Jesus asks us to leave all and follow Him.  But what those who refuse never find out is that by leaving those things we think will give happiness, we discover the delights that God offers and which bring lasting joy.  As we walk out of the darkness and gloom into the light of His presence, he places a new song in our heart.  That song is a song of joy that only the love of Christ can give.

No matter how tired and exhausted we feel when facing great difficulties, by coming to the LORD and crying out to Him, we discover that our strength is renewed like the eagle who is lifted by the wind currents.  And there in His Presence , as we place our trust in Him the joy of the LORD becomes our strength.

When my mother died, after suffering with Alzheimer’s disease for 3 years followed by a stroke that took away her ability to walk and talk, my spirit was weary and downcast and I felt very sad.  But as always my wonderful Savior gave me words of comfort in my devotions and bible reading.   The following morning I read:

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  Isaiah 40:31

I began to visualize my mother happily walking the beach with her beloved Savior singing hymns of praise the way she always did.  She looked just like Helen Hayes with her lovely white hair and she was always out on the beach before dawn so she could watch the sunrise.  She had a soft, sweet voice and people called her the singing beach lady. I am confident that if God can create such beauty in our world here on earth with gardens of flowers and birds, sunsets and beaches, mountains and forests;  then heaven must be all that and even more glorious.

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD.”  Psalm 89:15

Each evening after dinner we all go out to the beach to watch the sunset.  Often the beach is very wide and it is possible to walk along the sandbar and discover many sand dollars and other treasures.  Children develop a real sense of appreciation for beauty at the beach.  Shepherd, our two year old grandson, will sit spellbound beside us in the sand watching the big red ball of the sun go down and dip into the ocean.  God in His wisdom has planned so many beautiful things for us to enjoy!  How important it is for us to keep our spirit alive and see His creation with the eyes of our heart as we teach our children and grandchildren to know Him and develop a close relationship with Him.

Searching For Springtime

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See!  The winter is past;  the rains are over and gone.  Flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.           Song of Songs 2:11, 12

Have you heard it yet?  How I love the cooing of the doves in springtime.  They seem to be whispering peace, peace.  Quiet your racing heart and experience God’s wonderful peace.  The little Carolina wren that nests all winter long in a hanging basket of dead flowers outside my kitchen window, gets up before dawn and merrily starts singing, ‘It’s here, it’s here!’  And I rejoice in knowing it’s true.  Springtime has come once again.  Tornadoes have all given way to sunshine, birdsong and flowers.  I feel like singing too.  God is faithful and has renewed what appeared to be dead.  The grass and the woods are sprinkled with lovely flowers and I am filled with hope.

And then came the spring snow storm on March 5 2012.

The snow is gone, the temperature is in the high 60’s and Ladd has his tennis ball.  God is faithful and good.  The time for singing has come!  How Great Is Our God! Chairein!  That is Greek for, Joy to you!

St. Patrick’s Day illumination

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“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

When Patrick was taken prisoner at age 16 by a group of raiders who were attacking his family estate in Britain, he probably was angry with God blaming him for what had happened.  He was taken to Ireland and remained a prisoner for 6 years serving his captors as a lonely shepherd with only sheep for companionship.  But like David, he had a lot of time to talk to God and probably voiced not only his complaints but also his fears and dreams.  He finally escaped by walking 200 miles to the Irish coast and returned to Britain.  Once in Britain he began religious training and became a priest.  His dream was to return to Ireland and convert the pagans to Christianity.

He used the lovely shamrock leaf to explain the Trinity; God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit three in one.  He became the Patron St. of Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17 which is the anniversary of his death.

Fun Craft For Kids: 

Shamrock Pins

  • Using Sculpey green clay (can be found in most craft stores) on a piece of Cut-rite wax paper, let each child flatten out 1/4 of a small package.
  • Flatten to fit a metal shamrock cookie cutter shape.
  • Cut out the shamrock shape pressing down firmly with cutter so as to cut out completely.
  • Pick up shamrock shape which is still on wax paper and carefully bend back wax paper around it to peel off extra clay.
  • Gently peel away wax paper from shamrock and lay on a fresh piece of wax paper on a cookie tray.
  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees and bake shamrock on wax paper for about two hours till firm.
  • Let cool completely on tray
  • Using a hot glue gun, glue a jewelry pin (which can be found at most craft stores) to the back of the shamrock.

When I was growing up anyone who did not have on something green on St. Patrick’s Day got pinched.  I didn’t have any green outfits and I remember how grateful I was that my sister Judy had crocheted me a green shamrock pin to wear so I wouldn’t be pinched.

Rainbow illuminations

I’m still searching for rainbows and I imagine Ireland has lots of them.  It is known as the Emerald Isle because of the abundance of rain and beautiful green grass.  Kentucky also has abundant rain and it is known as the Blue Grass State.  I guess the grass sometimes looks blue in the misty atmosphere after a rain.  This is a picture of some of our puppies who are a bit muddy after playing in the rain.

Fun Stuff For Kids

The Fresh Market

It is still too cold for the farmer’s market to open so we decided to take a visit to a beautiful Fresh Market store.  The fruit and vegetables were placed in rainbow assortments and it all looked so yummy it was hard to resist.  It was a great learning experience for Shepherd.  He wanted to know about everything and seemed determined to load up the grocery cart with all he could get his hands on.

When I returned home I made a fruit tray using some of the pineapple, cantaloupe, Honey Dew melon, strawberries, raspberries, Kiwi, grapes and blueberries.  I believe it had all the colors of the rainbow which I learned long ago to remember with the letters  ROY G BIV (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet.

Recipe:  Favorite Fruit Dip

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp.almond extract

Stir all together and serve with fruit.

Mind illuminations

It is a myth that St. Patrick got rid of all the snakes in Ireland.  It is more likely that he rid Ireland of a lot of the evil attitudes which some might attribute to Satan who was disguised as a snake in the garden of Eden.  A young teenager had all his life plans altered and what seemed like a terrible tragedy, God turned for the good not only for the boy but for an entire country.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!  

AN IRISH BLESSING FOR YOU.                                                                        MAY THE Irish hills caress you, may her lakes and rivers bless you, may the luck of the Irish enfold you and may the blessings of SAINT PATRICK behold you.

illuminations on love and laughter

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“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.  Then it was said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.'”  Psalms 126:2

Golden Illumination

Did you know that our dogs sense our emotional moods?  I have seen this time and time again.  If I am sad or not feeling well my dog will come over to me and lay his head on my knee, looking up at me with the saddest most understanding eyes you could ever imagine.  But if I am laughing and happy my dog gets a twinkle in his eye and even laughs with me (not out loud, thank goodness.)  My husband thinks that God made a slight mistake when he made women so that’s why he made dogs who don’t talk.  Well we all know that God doesn’t make mistakes.  I do believe that dogs talk with their eyes and of course wagging tails.  If you think that dogs don’t laugh with us, just take a good look at this picture!  This is Christy laughing with Bailey who was the only puppy in Happy and Sidney’s first litter.  Naturally she was very spoiled!  I remember one of her favorite things to do was climb up in my favorite chair the moment I left the room.  She would be sitting there like a queen when I returned.

Fun Stuff For Kids

Monkey Puppets

  • Open the end of an individual box of cereal and remove the cereal.
  • Cut the box in half leaving one long side uncut.  Bend the box back to make finger holds for your puppet head.
  • Cut a strip of brown paper sack about 1 1/2″ wide and 10″ long.  Staple the strip around the bottom three sides of box for the monkey’s chin.
  • Glue a pink or orange 5″ by 3″ piece of paper on the inside of the monkey’s mouth.
  • Add a red tongue.
  • Cut a peanut shaped head  out of a brown paper sack about 2 1/2″ wide for top part of head and 3 1/2″ wide for cheeks and 4 1/2″ long.
  • Add 2 black eyes with glue (I used small black pom poms and a tiny pom for the monkey’s nose) but buttons would also work.
  • Cut a heart shape out of the brown paper sack about 2″wide 2″ long.  Cut the heart in half and you will have two ears to glue on your monkey’s head.
  • Add some brown crinkle cut strings of hair with glue.
  • Glue the monkey’s head to the box.
  • Using the long side of the brown sack cut two long legs and two arms and fold accordion style.  Staple to sides of box.
  • Holding box with your thumb and three fingers you can make your monkey talk and dance.  Have fun!

Sometimes on cousin’s night it sounds like a gang of monkeys escaped from the zoo and entered the house.  This week we will be making Monkey Bread for our dessert which is a favorite with everybody.  It is easy and fun to pull apart and best when just baked and eaten while still warm and sticky delicious!

Monkey Bread Recipe (Found on Pillsbury Flaky Layer Biscuits can)

Preparation time 25 minutes.  Start to Finish: 1 hour 30 minutes

  •  3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 cans (7.5 oz. each) Pillsbury refrigerated biscuits
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  1. Grease or spray 12-cup Bundt cake pan
  2. Mix granulated sugar and cinnamon in 1-gallon bag.  Cut each biscuit into quarters.  Shake quarters in bag to coat;  place in pan.  Mix melted butter and brown sugar; pour over biscuits pieces.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 49 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool 5 minutes.  Turn upside down.  Serve warm.  12 servings

Love and Laughter illuminations

Monkey bread reminds me of the rhyme my kids loved when they were little.       Five little monkeys jumping on the bed; one fell off and bumped his head;  Momma called the doctor and the doctor said, “No more monkeys jumping on the bed!”   It goes all the way down to one little monkey and the kids loved saying it over and over.  One of the best memories I have of Mommaw, my children’s much loved grandmother on their father’s side was coming into my son’s bedroom one Saturday evening to find her jumping on his water bed with all four of our children with the music blasting on his stereo playing “Saturday Night” sung by the Bay City Rollers.  Those were fun times!  Now the trampoline takes the place of the water bed and kids seem to love bouncing and tumbling on it. Sorry the pictures are out of focus but the kids were jumping like monkeys none stop!

Friendship International

Smiles Are Contagious

If you are looking for joy, you’ll find plenty of it at Friendship International. I felt honored to be one of the teachers and the year that I taught the art of paper mache clown making was filled with laughter and fun.  If you have never been a part of this organization, you really should come to one of the meetings.  It is something you won’t soon forget.

Our theme at the clown clinic was “smiles are contagious.”