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Posts tagged ‘love’

Isaiah 61 1-3

I have a new found section of favorite verses. Thanks to my cousin Emily I’ve spent quite a while exploring Isaiah 61: 1-3. She was the first responder to my offer of creating a free printable Bible verse, quote, line of a song, etc. SO I was quick to get to work. Purples, whites and grays and crown. Seemed easy enough, if there was to many words then only verse three.

So I started reading. I had to make sure my design uplifted the words, drew attention to the key points, made it hit home. I knew it was going to be wordy. There was no way I could get rid of verses 1&2. So I needed to come up with some sort of unifying background. Something I knew would fit my cousins modern aesthetic, with clean lines and a little bit of ‘royal’ flair. She had asked for a crown after all.

That brought me to this:


and now it’s free to you as well. Feel free to save the file and print it off. Keep a little reminder around to strive to be an oak of righteousness!

Happy Monday!


Adventure is Out There: Camping Edition #1

Wow, can’t believe it’s Monday mid-morning and that I’m back home with a soft bed, plumbing, and my kitties. We had a great time. A tiring, but great time.

Friday am we left home bright and early. Way too early. Like 6 am. By 12 we had dropped our car off at the parking lot at the end of our expedition, and driven to the start. We loaded 6 people, one dog and food, tents, and other necessary equipment into the two canoes and hand-built by my father-in-law kayak and headed out. The sun was shining, the river was flowing and we had a long ways to go. 11 miles to be exact before we hit our first campsite.

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Now I’m not going to be all macho and tell you I paddled then entire way, because I didn’t. This was no youth group day trip from New Life Island. And my arms haven’t not been doing too much working out, other than stripping layers and layers of wallpaper. But I probably paddled….85% of the time. All three days. Bryan would not stop. Bless you Bryan.

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I’m still a little in awe that I (along with Bryan) managed to propel ourselves, the canoe and maybe 80 pounds of gear down the river for thirty miles, using arm strength. I can feel a vast improvement in my arms when I flex. haha. But seriously.

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By four we reached our first stop, at a bend in the river. We unloaded our stuff, carried it up the river bank, scouted out firewood and set up. Across the river were some Bald Eagles, down stream just a bit were some beavers. It was hard to believe that after the hours of paddling I’d want to get back into the canoe to paddle around a bit before dinner, but I got in with Bryan (sans my paddle) and we explored the other side of the bank a bit, found some little streams and got hit with an amazing waft of cedar trees. I had no idea they smelled so good before they were milled. The tree in our backyard certainly doesn’t smell like that but the forest of them certainly made an impression. A good one.

After a dinner of hamburgers, but missing mustard, the best condiment was hard work. Hard work along with fire roasted burgers, and tomatoes from the garden and I was full. And tired. We all were.

Bed before 9. Bed being a camping mat and two blankets. It was pretty comfortable on the grass outside our house, but on the dirt floor of a forest, not so much. The noise of the bugs outside our tent quickly put me to sleep, though the comfort level of the bed and the start of a downpour had me tossing and turning through much of the night. Nevertheless I awoke relatively rested to a steady rain. It wasn’t going to the relaxing morning around the fire Bryan had described, and the idea of no fire in the pouring rain seemed pretty miserable. I couldn’t help but think of my warm bed back home, and how there wasn’t an end of the rain in sight (I had kept my cell with me to check the weather, though it was off most of the time), and we were in the middle of nowhere, eleven miles downstream from one car, and nineteen miles up-stream from another. That meant there was nothing to do but go on. And I had resolved myself before the trip that no matter what happened I was going to stay calm, cool, collected and cheerful. So I put on my rain jacket and went out to greet the morning, and the family. Maintaining my refusal to be anything but cheerful made any hint of ‘miserableness’ fade away.

Unfortunately in our exhaustion last night we had forgotten to put the camp chairs under the kitchen ‘roof’ so every one was wet, but Chelsea (girlfriend) and Mark (brother-in-law) got a fire started in spite of the wet wood, and Kent (father-in-law) kept the coffee coming. Darlene (mother-in-law) broke out the french toast and bacon.

After a little while we paddled on. Around 12 the rain broke, the water and trees were sparkling and three hours later we made it to our second campground. Setting up camp, placing chairs just-so in the sun to dry and gathering firewood took hardly anytime before we were relaxing again. I read, Bryan fiddled with the fire, the rest of them paddled around the island. Later we went for a swim before dinner, more reading and hanging out. A strong downpour came through, threatening to flood the camp but the boys dug trenches with their feet around the camp while us girls stayed huddled under the roof in our oh-so-dry chairs. Bed time came and with it, a much more restful night’s sleep.

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Sunday broke with sunshine, a warm fire and coffee. Lots of coffee. The fog on the river was thick and was fun to watch as it blew upstream. Reminded me of mornings here at home, along Long Island Sound. This was the kind of camping morning Bryan had described. One I would enjoy. Before too long we were packed up and ready for our final leg of the trip. The clouds were beautiful.

I felt like a conqueror of the outdoors until we paddled under I-80 and reached hordes of people swimming in the river where we were going to take the canoes out of the water. I still was a conqueror though. It was a trip that was not without it interesting moments. Moments that will become family stories, not dissimilar from my first sailing trip with Bryan. It was a bonding moment for sure.

As glad as I was to get home into my bed, it was a bit sad to have the fan for noise and not the katydids. My arms are glad for the break though. And the solid night’s sleep was amazing. Camping will probably never be my thing, but I’m pretty proud of myself. I went into it, knowing it was way out of my element, got thrown a couple of curve balls (like 11 hours of rain) and still kept smiling. All in all, it was probably the best way the first trip could go. I got over my ‘never been camping’ and ‘camping in the cold rain’ over at the same time, so most trips from here on out should be pretty painless, or at least ‘old hat’.

The pretty views made up for the inconveniences though. Have any camping stories to share?

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prequel to: Adventure is Out There: Camping Edition #1

Today’s post is a random glimpse inside my head as a real adventure looms. No fun house makeover, or food post (I’m due one of those). Feel free to skip.

Well, it’s official. My first camping experience is looming before us. This weekend Bryan and I, his parents, brother and brother’s girlfriend are going to canoe part of the Delaware River. It’s going to be a totally new experience, especially considering my first night sleeping in a tent was last night, and that was in my backyard with every modern convenience 20 feet away.

I think I’m prepared though. I have plenty of bug spray, bathing suits, sunscreen, snacks, a book. I’m scrounging up a sketch book and some colored pencils since I don’t think my cell phone battery will last long enough to take decent pictures… we will see.

It’s very fitting though. The whole ‘Adventure is Out There’ thing. I fell in love with the movie Up, when I was adventuring on my own for a semester in college in Europe, while Bryan was back here working his tail off in his classes. I bawled like a baby on the flight from Heathrow to Cairo when I first saw it. I’m sure many people identify with Mr Ferguson and Ellie, but I’ve kind of claimed them as ‘us’. We each push the other into new adventures. I pushed Bryan (and quite willingly he went) into international travel, and he’s pushing me (actually he isn’t pushing me, but he’d like me to go and I said I’d try it) into camping and being outdoorsy.

We come from two different backgrounds, he and I. Vacation to my family was going somewhere, like a beach to relax, a mountain to ski, or a faraway place to learn/explore the history and culture. Vacation to Bryan’s family was camping, hiking, canoeing to enjoy the great outdoors and occasionally to the beach to skip rocks, go sailing and swimming.

I woke up this morning, after my first night outside and genuinely asked what the appeal was. It was loud out there last night, even with ear plugs. I was a bit freaked out, sleeping outside, though I knew I’d be safe with Bry. And the ground is uncomfortable! Seriously. I wanted to understand the appeal because it’s important to him, and something he enjoys. I think it would give me a better chance of enjoying it myself.

The initial reasons Bryan gave that he liked it: It’s quiet, it’s beautiful, it’s hard work.

I countered with: It’s super loud, much louder than inside the house, it is beautiful, a bed is so much more comfortable and why would you want to work hard on vacation? He laughed, I laughed. Then I said, for real though, knowing reasons that you like it could help me appreciate it better.

Bryan: sure it’s loud, filled with birds and crickets. But there’s no people noise. A bed is comfortable sure, but when you work hard all day paddling (and I’m paddling for you remember?) the bed is comfortable because you are so tired.

Me: No people noise would be nice. And I do like the sounds of the birds. As long as there isn’t anything scary…

Bryan: I’ll protect you…

Me: So basically, it’s just an adventure right?

Bryan: Yes, and you don’t have to go ever again.

Me: So it’s an adventure. Adventure is out there!

End scene.

What Bryan doesn’t know is that I will have to go again. Not that he would make me. Never ever would. But he likes it so much that I will go. Again and again. Kind of like my mom, going skiing with my dad even when wasn’t my mom’s cup of tea. She went. So I too will go.

But more than just going for his sake I’m really hoping that I can come away seeing what it is he sees, and not seeing the things I’m afraid of. I don’t need to become hiker/camper/mountaineer for days and weeks at a time. He knew who I was when he married me. But I like fires, birds, pretty clouds and great views. I can become a weekend camper. As long as there are no snakes.

After all, Adventure is Out There!

Guestbook Tree: Complete

In the last few posts I revealed how behind I was on my checklist. I told you, what probably is so true in your own life, that the checklist never gets smaller and at times it can be overwhelming. I resolved to get the closet tidied up, the kitchen pantry organized and paint, both the house and some paintings for a festival. After I did all that I was going to leave the house projects to the rainy days and enjoy myself.

Well, you ought to be very proud of me because I did just that. I’ve also peeled more wall paper, had revolving weekend house guests (every weekend either has a wedding or house guests from Memorial Day Weekend until the end of July) and managed to work too. It’s crazy. A good crazy. I’m so blessed to have people in my life that want to make the drive to visit us, and I’m so glad to host them.

I put off this post about the guestbook tree because I wanted the wedding to be over so I had some ‘finished’ photographs of the tree, and so the guests at the wedding would have all seen it already.

It all started at a wedding when Maria (the bride) asked if I would paint the tree for their guest book. I was pleased and shocked and very excited, since I’d never done commissions for anyone but family before. I sketched up some samples and she chose the look she wanted and I got to work. Based off their wedding invitation I knew they would like something a little vintage, old-fashioned and charming. The sketch came out surprisingly easy, but the painting became difficult. I got a base coat down easy enough but the letters (my handwriting is atrocious) and the detail in the paint job (I wanted it to look realistic but a bit whimsical, slightly like a classic children’s book illustration) gave me grief, and like all paintings I got nervous and upset with it right at that turning point where to finish it, it often looks worse before it gets better.


The first coat is down on tree. Go ahead and laugh at my hand-drawn letters. I persevered though. I wanted a script lettering for their names, something romantic and swoopy without going to nuts, and for the date I wanted something with a serif, a permanent marker for the date. the flat pink in the date though bothered me so I painted it as if it was raised lettering, infinitely increasing the time involved, but making me much happier with the progress.


From there I spent a long while, and countless episode of the Lizzie Bennett Diaries (YouTube it) polishing the tree, adding details, and tweaking the painting until I was satisfied.  Just in time for a nerve-wracking drop off at church the Sunday before they got married. I really wanted even the bare tree to be a happy looking tree. Before any thumbprint landed on it, I wanted it to still be a tree that was ready to celebrate. Here’s some shots of what it looked like at that point. photo 1 copy

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Thankfully the bride, her parents, and her sisters all said they loved it. Success! Now all I had to do was wait the five days until their wedding (which was so sweet and like every ceremony made me cry happy tears) and then we went to the reception in an old carousel house along the beach in Rhode Island. What a fun event! The bride and groom looked lovely and happy, and we were so pleased to celebrate with our friends, but I was even more pleased because I had been asked to paint their guest book tree, something that hopefully they will have for a long, long time. It was such a great feeling to know I had given them something which exceeded their expectations and melded so nicely with the feel of the wedding.

So I’ll leave you with a few ‘finished’ shots of the tree. I was so proud of it I could have popped. (Or maybe that was from the food, that salad was Ahhh-mazing!

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Seriously I could burst. I don’t think the ‘leaves’ could have turned out better if I’d done them myself. My good friend Abby (sister of the bride, one of the two maids of honor [two sisters]) made a point of telling a ton of people I painted it, which was slightly embarrassing yet still really exciting and I had people coming up to me all night telling my how much they liked it. And it was really fun to paint. So I’m officially telling the world that I’d be glad to paint you a guest book tree, or whatever idea you have for your wedding, housewarming, people who visit you and your new baby at the hospital, you name it. Just let me know if you are interested and we can go from there. If I’d thought about it before Maria asked me to do this I would have painted a caricature of our house and asked the friends that came to leave their mark on our new house. To bad, but I’m sure I’ll do one for myself for a different occasion.

I’m not a (insert party here)!

It’s true. I don’t identify with either party and I’m about to tell you why. I’m only a political person for about one week every four years. A few days before the election and a few days after. Forgive me as this post is being published during that time. There are an infinite number of nit-picky political things I can get all up in arms about, but they all pale in comparison to these two (which really could just be the golden rule, which says the same thing as Luke 6:31, “do unto others as you would have them do to you”)

Love Everyone: regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, political views, personal choices, driving abilities, or any other inane or important thing. Even if I vehemently disagree with everything they believe in I can still love them as a person. Everyone needs love: a smile and hello, a friendship, a prayer.


Care for the needy: orphans, widows, sick, poor, victims of genocide (be it by race, ethnicity, national or unwanted reasons). Caring takes many forms: loving them, sharing food or clothes, giving money or other necessities, teaching someone how to do something themselves so they can be independent, or loving a child through foster care or adoption.

Going into this election I didn’t think either Obama or Romney could say they tried to live their lives this way.  I do try, but fail. I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and in my humanity don’t succeed in being a loving and caring human being everyday, but this is my world view-it covers my political views, my religious views,  how I aim to live my day-to-day life.

In a transition to something a hair more political, if that’s possible. I’m sick of all the money that is spent campaigning. The CT Senate race was unbelievable, over 42 million dollars spent by one candidate who lost!! I’m also sick of the time that is spent campaigning. This uncontrolled amount of money and time spent should be in check. Those who are actually in office should not spend such a long time running for their next term while they still have years left. I don’t have a solution but during my time in England I learned that the campaigns follow a limited timetable, and are under a limited budget. I see this as a possibility for some of this excessive use of time and money. Who out there was not beyond relieved to have the elections over so the phone calls and tv advertisements and all the media blitzing would be over with?

And one last thing. I’m not a huge fan of the electoral college. Having always lived in a state that definitively swung to one side my minority vote was not important. (If you have proof that my minority vote is important in some way please share it, because I’ve looked at both liberal and conservative articles and not found evidence of such). I am interested in the idea of a popular vote and think the electoral college is outdated.

The electoral college was originally founded because people were uninformed and uneducated and they wanted the states voting population to be reflected in the electoral college (ie California would have a bigger say because of a bigger population than North Dakota). Today we are educated. Probably because of all the time and money spent on campaigning we are overly informed of the candidates platforms. The idea that the presidential candidates will only campaign to big cities, get everyone to vote for them (in the cities)  and then will win with a liberal landslide is unfounded. New York for example always goes liberal, but a lot of the western population of the state is republican and their vote is pointless. Same with Texas, a wildly Republican state, their big cities are filled with people whose vote is just as pointless. Neither Obama nor Romney campaigned in my area and I still knew who I was voting for. We as people know that the candidates ‘stand’ for certain things that will either make us vote for them or not. Give me some proof that my vote does count and maybe I would reconsider. My ideas are not set in stone, but I haven’t seen anything that has made me feel otherwise as of yet.

To wrap this all up I challenge you to love your political opponent. The President is in office because he won. Pray for our political leaders because they have a hard road ahead of them. A government and people divided as we are will need to work together to have anything accomplished in the next four years. I wouldn’t want that job, and now that the election is over I can go back to my usual self by trying to love and care. That’s the way we are going to see real change.

Road Trip Survival

I survived Hurricane Sandy. In fact, rather than hunkering down in a safe place, I drove though it. Before you think I’m some crazy daredevil tempting fates let me explain.

In the past few months I moved to Connecticut. While here I clicked well with a girl from the area. A few weekends ago I drove her to the airport to fly to Nashville to interview for a job. It turns out she got it! The only problem was she needed to move down and had to drive her car. Her parents couldn’t help her out since they were going on a business trip so I offered. Unbeknownst to me there was a crazy storm chasing us down.

Friday night the 26th, my husband and I drove down to PA to see my family and celebrate my birthday. We had a great weekend and the plan had been that I would drive back to CT Sunday night with my husband and leave Monday morning to drive south with my friend. Thankfully the storm had us both freaked out. So instead of trying to leave Monday when all of the bridges were closed from eastern CT on through NYC we left PA late Sunday night. All told the drive was 16 hours. By the time my friend got to my parents house it was stormy, windy, rainy and dark. We decided we’d drive as long as we could Sunday night. So I piled into the driver’s seat of the Mini Cooper (yes that’s right. A mini cooper stuffed full of all her stuff with a roof rack that had almost a car’s worth of stuff on top, which I imagine looked quite comical) and off into the night we drove. We drove west and then south driving hundreds of miles through Pennsylvania, then Maryland, West Virgina, and finally Virginia where we stopped barely after midnight. Not only does long drives in a car make me sleepy, but driving in the dark does too. The poor mini was pushed around by the wind like it had a sail on top, thankfully we weighed so much (ok the stuff, not us two girls!) and sat so close to the ground we made it through just fine.

We fell asleep to the sounds of brake retarders on 18-wheelers and the wind howling around the hotel. The next morning we still had a 9 hour drive ahead of us that stretched through the Shenandoah valley where we were snowed on, and continued being snowed on up into the mountains.

Looking back I am so thankful we left when we did! If we would have left Monday I doubt we could have made it out of CT with the road closures, or if we had, I doubt we would have made it through New York. But if we had we certainly would have been stopped by the gusting winds, or the feet of snow that were dumped on our drive just hours behind our crossing. Luckily for us we had gotten a head start on Sandy. Even so, we had our wipers going a mile a minute, and our stops were only for necessities, we couldn’t risk getting caught up deeper in the storm. That huge monstrous storm was in our way the entire drive up and through the mountains until we were about an hour from the city of Nashville. Then suddenly the rain clouds disappeared, and in it’s place was a bright glowing sun, and the honks of rush-hour traffic. We’d made it!

(Forgive me that there are no pictures of driving through the Hurricane. I was a bit preoccupied with staying on the road, and when I was a passenger there wasn’t much to see beyond blinding rain and wind across the countryside!)

However, once there my worries weren’t over. I’d left my husband and a house we just bought in a shoreline town of CT where the sound grew several blocks, beaches were in the streets, power was out for days and people trapped in their homes. I left my family behind in PA where they are still without power and stuck with downed trees and will be for days to come. My parents house on the jersey shore had an entire island flooded and still under a state of emergency and nobody really knows what to expect when they get back to the island.

Of course all the airports were closed and even though I flew out on time from Nashville I hit delays and malfunctioning airline equipment on the way north.  I arrived safely in Providence two hours after I was supposed to be there, but my husband was there waiting and had a bouquet of roses for me. What a sweetheart. We belong in sentimental movies. Even though I’d heard voices of all my loved ones on the phone as first they called me to check on my safety, and then as I called them to check on the status of their situations finally seeing someones face was a relief!

In spite of the devastation and destruction that has hit the East Coast the only thing that really matters is the lives of the people effected, and the rest of it is just stuff. I’m just so thankful my family is ok and all in one piece! It was really hard being far away from everyone and knowing there was nothing I could do but pray. But I’m amazed how the community of people impacted by the storm can band together. My facebook feed is flooded with dear souls offering hot showers, a warm meal, a place to do laundry or even sleep in a warm house to those who are still without. These people warm my heart. I know who they are, and I know they are good loving people. But even so it gives me hope that ‘we’ can be snapped out of our selfish little bubbles to spread the cheer of the upcoming Thanksgiving season to those around us.

Today I am most thankful for the lives of all those spared who are so near and dear to my heart ❤

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