Tuesday, July 31, 2007


cha·os (kā'ŏs') n.

1. A condition or place of great disorder or confusion.
2. A disorderly mass; a jumble.

We don't have the chance to see these guys all that often but amazingly this doesn't stop them from finding their groove! It was all laughter and squeals at Cousin Bug's birthday party last weekend; this sweet little boy just turned two. My favorite moment? When Cousin Sweetie (above, second from left) had to have a talk with the eldest cousin Meeley (above, center) when things started to get a little out of hand. It was adorable!! Cousin Sweetie is very articulate and appears much older and wiser than three; Meeley took her very seriously when she told him he shouldn't do what he was doing. His normal tendency would have been to skip past the youngling.

The cousins had a blast in the backyard "water park" while the adults did their best to avoid getting soaked. It was the perfect summer day.

Monday, July 30, 2007


Meeley and Drew met at the beginning of the school year and became fast friends. Before meeting Drew, Meeley did his best to describe the new friend to me: "He looks just like me, but with dark hair and brown eyes." Identical twins they were not, but in personality and demeanor they were very much the same! They had tons in common, including a younger brother. After spending gobs of time together this summer, Meeley was disappointed to see Drew leave for 3-weeks to visit family and friends in Michigan. Over the course of the last week, he repeatedly asked: "Hasn't it been three weeks yet? How long has it been? Do you think he's home yet? Are you sure they'll call?" Thankfully, his family called last night. Unfortunately, it wasn't the news I was hoping for:

Drew and his family are moving to Michigan.

We arranged a playdate for Tuesday and then I set out to break the news to my boys. It was heartwrenching! Ren cried while Meeley just sat and listened. He bravely said a couple of things about "being pen-pals" and "sending emails" before slipping off to his room. Moments later, I heard him crying and went in to give him a big hug.

That's what I continue to do - give big hugs. I told him about my best friend and shared what it was like for me when she moved to Michigan (for real). And, what helps me when things change is knowing that there is One who never changes.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

a quick shot...

from the fair at Central Park during Leprechaun Days.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

She's here!!!!!

Okay, I'm a blubbering fool this morning. TARA FINALLY HAS HER BABY!! I had to post this for all of my scrapbooking customers and friends who have been eagerly awaiting her arrival.

Her name (which has been a secret this entire time) is: Angel Lynn.

Congratulations Tara and Bill!!!!

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything. (James 1:4)

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birthday mosaic

1. starting the day with a good jump, 2. Ren & puppy, 3. he has several girlfriends, 4. my favorite, 5. Ren Yuck Face, 6. peek, 7. little goofball, 8. Go Twins, 9. favorite perspective, 10. 2 wheelin' it, 11. renzilla, 12. this is the life., 13. calvin & hobbes, 14. IMGP4123, 15. b-day muffin, 16. Stinky Face

Ren turns 7 today! Can you believe it? My hubby often jokes about putting a rock Ren's head while he is sleeping to stop him from growing. At bedtime last night, we told Ren we were going to use one of the large rocks we picked up from the family farm. His response, in very low Ren-like monotone: "Then I'll just be a really short 7-year old."

Journaling Ideas: Write a letter to your child on their birthday. What has changed in the last year? How have they grown? What friends do they have? What are your child's interests, habits, likes and dislikes? What makes you proud?

Friday, July 27, 2007

a little friendly fire...

between cousins! Meeley declared war on M and a huge battle ensued.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

happy day :-)

My uncle Greg just celebrated his retirement in a BIG way. The day included live music, face painting, balloon sculptures, buggy rides through the country, great food, and decorations that rivaled a wedding! No, Greg did not hate his job, he was simply celebrating the fact that he had made it. He had persevered. He was a survivor.

You see, two years ago Greg was battling a very rare form of lung cancer. We had a very different kind of party for him then - a fundraiser. Two years ago his prognosis was uncertain, the future cloudy.

Unbelievably, it did not hit me until we were there: this was more than just a retirement party. It was a celebration of Greg's life and the promise of tomorrow.

You will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. (Isaiah 58:9)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Do you like cheesecake? If so, look what I just found! I love unique places. Do you have a hidden gem to share - a favorite bakery, restaurant, or coffee shop? If so, please post it here!

Here's one of my favorites. They have the BEST burgers around. Have a great day - T

a rare moment.

It's not often Meeley has a full can of soda; we either buy the shorty cans or he and his brother have to share. This was an uncommon moment and Meeley asked me to take a picture. He didn't just want to drink the soda, he wanted to savor the moment!

Instead of simply rolling through your day today, stop and savor those rare moments.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

and the winner is...

Molly Lujan said...
I love the sitting out on a farm on a warm summer night and listening to all the sounds, attending softball games every night of the week and cheering my baby sister on, going swimming with Joey, going to the State Fair with Steve and Joey, and my July Scrapbook Retreat!!! :)-Molly Lujan
July 22, 2007 7:46 PM

I'll connect with you via email to work out a time to deliver the gift. Congratulations and thanks for playing!

Monday, July 23, 2007

half-empty or half-full?

Jesus said: "This is eternal life that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3). The heart of this eternal life and the heart of Experiencing God is for you to know God and to know Jesus Christ whom He has sent. Jesus did not mean that eternal life is "knowing about God." We come to know God as we experience Him in and around our lives.

This is the heart of faithbooking: experiencing God and recording those moments. Amazing things happen as we begin to notice Him at work in our daily lives. No matter where you are with your faith, I highly recommend reading Experiencing God by Henry T. Blackaby & Claude V. King. It is one of those books I read again and again and one that thrills me each time I do!

Not everyone is comfortable sharing these kinds of stories in their albums - some have no desire to even do so; my goal is to simply help you go deeper. In my six years as a consultant, journaling has been the number one struggle and complaint of my customers! Here are a few pointers:
  • Begin by looking at your photos a little differently - more of the heart and less of the eye. Share the experience using all of your senses; be sure to include emotions.
  • What does the photo remind you of? Why?
  • What went on "behind the scenes" that day? How does it compare to the photo moment you captured?
  • Keep a journal and practice writing each day.
The Lord adds a great deal of depth, meaning, and purpose to my life. I strive to bring that into my albums. What brings you meaning? What motivates you or gives you a sense of purpose? Do you see the glass as half-empty or half-full? What do you want for your life? What do you want your albums to reflect? These are all great questions to think about as you begin your faithbooking journey.

Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

i love surprises.

I've pulled together a couple of goodies for one of you! This drawing is for anyone and everyone visiting this blog. Just post a comment to this entry to be included in the drawing Monday night (July 23). The question: What are five of your summer favorites?

I'll share mine first to get you started: I love long days, sunshine, floating in the pool, sitting on the front porch, and hanging out around a fire.

Your turn...

Thursday, July 19, 2007


There was a time it would have been almost impossible to find me in a photograph. How about you? Sometimes it's just easier that way. We hide behind the camera, snapping away at everything and everyone but ourselves.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of helping many families organize their photos into meaningful albums. Most of the time the stories are happy and polished. Sometimes though, families come to me with broken stories. Stories of grief and loss. I was particularly touched by one story of loss - perhaps it's because she was a wife and mother living a life very similar to my own. As I sifted through thousands of photographs, I was struck by the fact that this wife and mother was not only taking pictures, she was in them. Many of them. Can you imagine how precious those photographs would now be to her husband and young children?

As difficult as this may be, allow someone else to take your picture. Use a tripod to capture special moments when noone else is around. Try taking a self-portrait. Experiment. Explore.

Journaling Ideas: Photos are one dimensional and therefore only tell part of the story. Journaling lends insight into your personality, dreams, and desires. How would you describe yourself? What are your interests? How have they changed over the years? What are you passionate about? What bugs you? What do you want people to remember about you? What values, dreams, or goals are important to you?

under the influence...

of Calvin & Hobbes: a Godzilla imitation (he's never watched Godzilla). Holding a piece of Tokyo (or, as he kept calling it, "TOY CO"). My little Renzilla.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My favorite teacher.

Three years ago this month, we moved from the boonie outskirts to deep-into-the-boonies. Meeley had been attending a very small parochial school for two years of preschool and a year of kindergarten. I was uneasy about the switch to a large public school and wondered how he would weather the change. After all, he was leaving longtime friends and a familiar setting behind.

I prayed and asked God to bless Meeley at his new school - that He would surround him with good teachers and new friends.

Imagine my shock at the Open House when we stopped to meet Meeley's new art teacher. Lo and behold, it was MRS. G - my most favorite teacher EVER! Yes, my teacher. Twenty-three years ago, at a small parochial school in my hometown many miles away, Mrs. G was my 8th Grade art teacher!!!

Mrs. G was someone I looked up to - she would graciously share her time and always had an encouraging word. It was because of Mrs. G that I spent several hours working on a pencil drawing and it was also Mrs. G who entered it into a contest. (I won $50!)

What an extraordinary feeling to know that Meeley and Ren would be blessed by the same wonderful teacher. Coincidence? No way! That was a God Moment.

Monday, July 16, 2007

patiently anticipate.

What have you been waiting for? A new job? A child? Perhaps a financial breakthrough? Maybe it's a loved one and you have been waiting for them to get their act together. There are a number of things you could be waiting for:
  • an apology

  • a husband

  • test results

  • a phone call

  • the grief to pass

  • a vacation

  • your turn in line

  • a cure

  • an answer

  • a miracle
So, how are you when it comes to waiting? The dictionary defines waiting as "to stay, serve, or attend to; to patiently anticipate." [emphasis added].

I used to have a lot of trouble in this area. When I wanted something to happen, I expected it to happen RIGHT NOW. I would creatively manage my circumstances, skillfully maneuvering what I could so I would not have to wait. Waiting made me feel irritable, impatient, and stressed.

I later realized that waiting wasn't the problem, it was me! God put me in a "waiting room" of sorts for three years. I tried to push things along - working the situation from several different angles. Nothing worked; I was stuck and forced to WAIT IT OUT!I leaned in on God to help me during that time and found great wisdom, comfort, and encouragement in scripture. The following verses really struck a cord within me:

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1

I wait for you, O Lord; you will answer, O Lord my God. Psalm 38:15

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you, Lord. Isaiah 26:3

We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:2-4

Instead of running away from my situation, I sought His direction and purpose within it; amazingly, every one of these verses became truth in my life.

Journaling Ideas: Think back to that time (or to a current "waiting room" of your own) and try to find God's fingerprints on your situation. Are you trying (or did you try) to run away from the situation? How can you (or did you) make the most of the situation? Are you waiting (or, did you wait) with patient anticipation? What kind of character growth resulted from the wait? Create a scrapbook page about a time of waiting in your own life. Look for verses that speak to you and include them on your page.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Just another summer day...

at Grandma's pool!

Teddy Grahams and Bunny Grahams making conversation.

One very wiped out boy!

It was a quiet and very relaxing day - just what I needed! The most memorable part had to be my hubby's ongoing Valley Girl imitation.

Fer sure.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Time Machine, The Babysitter, and Bed!!

These are just a few of the made-up games we play at our house. Time Machine (featured here) isn't for the faint of heart. Some adventures have included: encounters with dinosaurs, stopping presidential assassinations (no kidding, they warned Abe Lincoln NOT to go to the theater), and alien scuffles. Ren has spent hours outfitting the Time Machine (though he has since upgraded to a more advanced model). He has created all sorts of buttons inside, my favorite being the panic button - just in case the adventure gets out of hand. It's a giant round circle marked, "HOME!" My hubby is his favorite traveling companion, though both Meeley and I have had our share of nerve-tingling adventures as well. The Babysitter is a game where I pretend to be a British nanny (sound familiar?) - when the boys get wild, she uses her cutting edge techniques to tame them. Toilet Paper Time Out is one of her favorites - she wraps the boys like a birthday gift and is quite shocked when they escape. Bed is the hubby's creation. This one has been around the longest - in fact, I think it's the first made up game we ever played. It began when Meeley was an energetic toddler who wanted nonstop action. When the hubby grew tired he'd say, "Okay, let's play Bed." Then, he would give Meeley a word to spell, like CAT. Meeley would spell it successfully and then give my hubby a word. They would go back and forth a couple of times. Then the hubby would ask Meeley to spell something like INSATIABLE. As expected, Meeley would fumble and the hubby would say, "Ohhhh, sorry, now you have to be the bed!" He would grab Meeley and use his little body as a pillow to get the rest he ultimately desired.

The Lord will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Job 8:21

Journaling Ideas: Take a moment to think back to your youth. What silly games did your family play? How did your family laugh together? Were there any television shows that struck your funny bone? How about now? What makes you laugh? Do you make time for play? Create a scrapbook page about the silly games and stories unique to your family.

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It just can't be!

My coffee maker has died. I'm sure of it this time.

We go way back. My friend Sunny purchased this beauty as a wedding shower gift 12 years ago! Until that point, I was burning through at least two makers a year.

It's a sad day.

The classic signs have been there: sputtering, coughing, blinking, and buzzing. There was even a day when my hubby yelled upstairs to me, "I think it's going to explode!" That happened four brewing cycles ago. This little Energizer Bunny was unable to complete its last cycle - the death knell for my coffee makers.

It was a good coffee maker. I will miss it.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

the path before you.



These photos were from a well-timed, recent camping trip. I had been feeling a little dry, missing the deep richness that comes from knowing God. I was caught up in my life instead of riding on top of it.

It was so nice leaving the television, telephone, and yes - even the computer, behind. The weather was beautiful: breezy, sunny, and mosquito-free. Not once did I hear "I'm boooored." We stayed up late, took naps, played games, read books, and enjoyed time with each other.

I found myself noticing and appreciating the little things again.

The Lord makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

Psalm 23:2-3

Journaling Ideas: Have you ever experienced a dry spell in your life? Perhaps you felt a little lost. What led up to it? How long were you there? How did you find your way out? What did you learn about yourself during that time? Journaling about difficult experiences can provide a new perspective on an old situation.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Don't try this at home.

This is a friend of mine. He has a thing for golf balls.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

a little *BLING*BLING*

M has pierced ears! I got the full scoop at our 4th of July celebration:

  • Her mom and Nanna took her to Libby Lu at the Mall of America.

  • She had them both pierced at once!

  • The staff announced her new "pierced ear status" and everyone clapped.

She described in great detail how to care for them and shared her plans for the future (no dangle earrings, of course). It was an important day for my niece and I enjoyed hearing every detail. As I listened, I thought about how beautiful she looked and how quickly she is growing up. Will she share stories with me then? I sure hope so.

Journaling Ideas: Have you ever taken the time to really listen to a child? If so, what kind of story did they share? What nuggets of wisdom did they offer? How did they react to your undivided attention? Take time to listen to child today and create a scrapbook page about your conversation.

From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise, O Lord.

Psalm 8:2

Monday, July 9, 2007

We could all use a Superhero.

The latest obsession: Calvin & Hobbes. Ren pretends to be Calvin. Blankie, of course, plays the part of Hobbes. Meeley and Ren have been arguing about what is real and what is not. (Ren says that Hobbes is a tiger. Meeley, the wise older brother, insists Hobbes is a stuffed animal.) Diplomatically, I suggested we ask the author. Ren said he would rather wait until he was 18 years old to know the truth! Choosing fantasy over reality; haven't we all done that at one time or another? Sweet innocence, creativity, and silliness. Here is Ren as Stupendous Man, Calvin's superhero alter ego. Notice the detail in the distinctive facial features and flowing cape. Gotta love it!

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Sunday, July 8, 2007

Are you looking?

Everyone wants to be happy; we spent a lot of time and money chasing this elusive ideal. What happens then when the money runs out, the toys break, our health fails, or a loved one dies? Despair sets in. Joy on the other hand runs deeper - it's the quiet, confident assurance of God's love and work in our lives. Happiness depends on happenings, joy depends on Christ. We can miss so much when we are not looking - our children grow up and marriages grow apart, we become numb and blind to the *little things* that make life special. We can live a life without ever knowing God, without experiencing joy.

Journaling Ideas: Take a moment to think about your life. What seems to dominate your thoughts and time? What have you been missing as a result? What would you like to see change? Create a scrapbook page about one moment you deeply appreciate today.

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Saturday, July 7, 2007

soooo happy to be here.

Day 1: My first official post. I have to admit it's a little intimidating, the emptiness reminds me of a blank scrapbook page! We saw old friends today at a graduation party. Driving to Sharon's house was like stepping back in time fifteen years - the same route with many familiar landmarks still standing. We parked, walked down the street, up to her house, and through the back gate - everything was the same. It wasn't until seeing her fully grown son (the graduate, who is pictured here) that reality came crashing down! As much as I hate to admit it, I am getting OLD. Thank goodness I don't feel like it. Yet.

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