Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Some Time Away

The Family Fair and Roundup is over. And it was a great success. In spite of the rain that our land NEVER gets, in spite of the cold temperatures that our land NEVER has this time of year, in spite of the LAKE that formed in the arena causing us to move the team roping and rodeo activities to a different location, and in spite of my poor pastor/husband being sick. We slept with our bedroom window open on Saturday night and every 30 minutes or so we would wake up and say something like, "It's still raining." or "It's raining harder now." It was hard to not be discouraged. We kept telling God, "This IS all about you, you know. Do you really want it to rain right now?". We don't pretend to understand the mind of God. He has His reasons. His ways are not our ways. And in the end the day was awesome. It stopped raining before the service began. We had hundreds of people show up to our outdoor service in the arena that never go to church. There were hundreds of people we didn't know. We ministered to them and to their children and we filled their stomachs with good food and their hearts with good preaching. We heard good music all afternoon. Our community loved it, everyone had fun and it will definitely be on our calendar again for next year. And now we are tired. And so we are definitely looking forward to this week. We are going away for a few days.

Every year all the pastors and spouses from our district spend a few days in the mountains together for a time of encouragement, catching-up, and fellowship. We stay here:

in rooms that look like this:

It is an amazing place and I am looking forward to it this year more than most. The best part is that we are actually staying a couple days longer after the conference by ourselves. This hotel caters to its customers and it is a delight to stay there. In fact, we have our women's retreat here every year too. In case you are wondering about how the male pastors do in such a feminine setting, don't worry. Our actual meetings and meals take place in the rustic church campground a couple of miles down the road. They get their fill of stuffed deer heads, dirt trails, and hunting stories! But at the end of the day we retire to the beauty and elegance of our very own plush room. It is heavenly! I am bringing some cross stitch to work on some Christmas projects and a couple of books that are on my Fall Into Reading list. It will be good. I am not cooking. I am not doing dishes. I am not cleaning or bathing dogs. I am not doing laundry. I am sleeping on clean sheets and using clean towels every day that someone else has laundered, folded and put away. I am very happy about this. I plan to return rested, refreshed, and renewed. See you then!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fall Into Reading

Fall is finally here and it is the PERFECT time to start digging into my pile of books keep growing, growing, and growing! After doing The Spring Reading Thing last spring, I knew I would want to jump into this again. I read a lot of good book reviews, read a lot of good books based on those book reviews, and even won a couple of free books. A win-win situation, if you ask me!

It works like this: After you read a book you link to the Mr. Linky over at Katrina's Callapidder Days blog. Then you leave a review of the book you just finished. That's it. Very simple. So. . . .
After sorting through my tall pile of books, I finally managed to reduce them into a more manageable reading list. Here is my list of books for this fall:

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger This was was reccomended a lot during the Spring Reading Thing. I bought a copy and am all set to begin.
Freefall by Kristen Heitzmann This one was on my list last time and I never got to it. I like Kristen Heitzmann, so I'm not sure why I keep dragging my feet with it.
The Last Jihad by Joel Rosenberg This is a political thriller. I'm not sure I will enjoy it but I promised a friend I would read it. We'll see how it goes.
It Happens Every Spring by Palmer Chapman This is the first of a 4 book series. I like series books. The second and third are already out. I don't like waiting for the next book to come so I try to wait and read series after they are almost done.
Return to Me by Robin Hatcher This author is a native from Idaho and all her stories are set in Idaho. Which of course, is near and dear to my heart.
In Search of Eden by Linda Nichols This is another from my last springs list. I will get to it this time. I promise.
Girl on a Swing by Nancy Kennedy This is another one I have heard a lot of good about. I found it on clearance at the bookstore for $3.99.
Selah by Nancie Carmichael I don't know anything about this one but I liked the name. Selah.
Just Give Me Jesus by Anne Graham Lotz This book has been on my shelf for a long time and just recently I have felt a strong tug towards it. Does God have something to say to me? This is usually how it happens.
The Trophy Wive's Club by Kristen Billerbeck This author is very contemporary and she usually gives me good insight into the younger generation. I read her Ashley Stockingdale series with my oldest daughter and we both loved them.
When the Nile Runs Red by Diann Mills This book was reccomended on Robin Lee Hatcher's blog. I like her books and I find that I usually have read all the books she reccomends. This is her latest suggestion.
Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out by Neta Jackson. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this series. I think I heard this is the last one. What am I going to do now?
Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon Another series book I can't wait to read! I just love spending time with Father Tim.

Oh my, now that I look at my list, I'm wondering how manageable it really is! Oh well, I'm going to give it a good try anyway.

I hope you join us - it's going to be a lot of good reading. And the more people that take part make it more fun! My favorite thing is reading a book that is so good you don't want to finish it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Potpourri Friday

"Grace means there is nothing I can do to make God love me more, and nothing I can do to make God love me less. It means that I, even I who deserve the opposite, am invited to take my place at the table of God's family." Philip Yancey

How I am enjoying these beautiful autumn days! Surely the beauty of our earth at this time of the year is a means of God's grace. Last evening my husband and I sat out on our patio and enjoyed the incredible day while drinking coffee together. It was just cool enough that a hot cup of coffee with cream made for a delicious moment. He worked on his spanish lessons (he is teaching himself) and I browsed through my latest CBD catalog to see what new books are coming. It was pure bliss. I don't know how many days we will have like this, but I hope to enjoy every one of them.

Earlier this week I put out my autumn decorations. It is my second favorite time of the year to decorate, my first is the 4th of July. Autumn decorations are so warm and cozy and bring a sense of calmness to my home. These are a few of my favorite decorations.

Note to self: Never, ever, ever allow husband and son-in-law to cook swordfish and shark in the house again. They did this on Wednesday and the house still reeks of bad fish. They enjoyed the swordfish but they couldn't even eat the shark. I don't know if it was bad or that it was normal for shark. We opened every window, lit every candle, turned on every fan and nothing would rid our home of the rank smell. Our clothes smell, our furniture smells, we all smell! Two days later there is still a faint odor mixed with the sweet smell of cinnamon which is the room deodorizer I have been using relentlessly. Trust me, cinnamon-shark-fish scent is not one that is ever going to be a big-seller!

This Sunday our church is hosting our first annual Rodeo Fair Family Roundup Sunday. We are holding our services over at the fairground with lots of old-fashioned family fun. Tons of food, lots of live music, family games, and a huge team-roping event. This will last from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. And this land which never gets rain is being told to expect lots of rain on guess what day? Sunday! So if you have a little extra time to spare during your prayers, please pray for no rain on Sunday! Maybe it could be delayed untl Monday - because we DO need the rain - just not on Sunday please!

I realized the other day that I have not posted a picture of my sweet dog Josey in a while. Please indulge me. We have two other dogs in our family, Buddy and Pebbles, that are loved too. But I have been told that when a person picks a dog that is one thing. But when a dog picks you, then you have the perfect pet. And my sweet dog Josey picked me. And I love her dearly. Here she is all pretty and smiling after her bath yesterday.

I'm going to spend some time this weekend putting the finishing touches on my Fall Into Reading list of books I intend to read. I'll be posting about that on Monday. In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thankful Thursday

Things I'm Thankful For Today:

1. That when I listen and obey God, He works! Not a real profound thought I know, but it never ceases to amaze me!

2. For the season of Autumn! I love the crispness and coolness in the air. I love getting out clothes that haven't been worn in months. I love putting up my fall decorations. I love that I feel like cooking and baking again.

3. My husband and I are going to get away for a few days next week. We are going to the mountains and staying in a very cool hotel. I'll post more about it next week.

4. Last Sunday my two married daughters and I spent the afternoon sewing and visiting and it was so nice to just spend that kind of time with them. My sons-in-law and my husband spent the afternoon sighting in their rifles. They had just as good of a time as we did. I love days like that!

5. My church family who are always supportive and loving and hard-working.

6. Evenings when I don't have a meeting or activity to attend. I can just stay home and catch up on housework and sewing and reading.

If you would like to be a part of Thankful Thursday, visit Iris at Sting My Heart.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Welcome To My Neighborhood

Kathleen at The Open Window had this great idea to share your neighborhood. This sounded like a fun way to see where all my bloggy friends live. Everyone has done such a great job on their posts. A lot of nice folks have gone on full-scale visual trips around the whole half of the state they live. It's been really fun to see where you all live. Today I am going to show you where I have lived for the past 19-plus years.

We live in southern Idaho in an area known as the Treasure Valley. We are a desert area with only about 7" of rain a year. Yep, a year. I think that qualifies us as desert - don't you? We have 4 distinct seasons every year. Winters are not too cold and we really don't get snow in the valley. Just a dusting once in a while. We are comprised of mainly two industries - farming and ranching. Most people do both because you can't put all your eggs in one basket. Sometimes the farming is good and sometimes the ranching is good - but rarely are they both good during the same year. People here work very hard to make a living. Very hard. And they are the most kind and generous people I have ever known in my life. It doesn't matter how much they have, it matters to them how much they give.
Here is a picture of our home:

I know, the lawn needs mowed, and don't start on me about my flower beds - I just haven't had time people!
This is our new patio we just added this year. We have already spent many hours enjoying our neighborhood from here:

Here is the barn and pasture behind our home:

It is still under construction. The right side of the barn has stalls for the horses and a tack room. The left side is eventually going to become an enclosed area for my husband to have a shop where he can do woodworking and make me really neat furniture and stuff for my house. Well, that's my plan anyway. He is also going to make a cupalo for the top of the barn with a weather vane. I can't wait for that part. I love weather vanes.
If you look to one side of our house you will see this empty field.

It is not ours, but we would love for it to be. The people who own it don't do anything with it. We would love to have it, if for nothing else just to prevent a subdivision from going in there someday. This area is rapidly growing and it would be terrible to have a subdivision right next door. But for now it is just an empty field.
If you look to the other side of our house you will find our church:

I love living next door to our church. It is so convenient to run over there when I need something. I love walking to church. I love not having to be ready at the same time as the rest of the family to leave for church. Our building is only about 3 1/2 years old. When we came to this church there were about 45 people and now we run about 300. We have a daycare and a pre-school. Our building program went smoothly and we are already running out of space. There is "talk" of a new building program that would either add on to what we have or add another building - a family life center. Those crosses you see laying on the ground are going to become part of a garden with a waterfall in the future. One thing at a time.

A broader picture of where I live would include pictures like these:

Even though we live in the desert, just a few miles up the road brings you to the mountains where there is lots and lots of snow and some of the best skiing you will find anywhere. Idaho is home to several major ski resorts. When our kids were younger and I had Mondays off my husband and I would drop the kids off at school and spend the day skiing and be home in time to pick up the kids. Often I would do yard work in the evening.

These are the hills surrounding our area. They are rugged and beautiful. I mean the hills - not us!

And we have lots of cowboys and where there are lots of cowboys there are lots of rodeos. I love how patriotic rodeos and cowboys are.

As I said farming is tough around here. Because there isn't much rainfall all the crops must be irrigated, by hand, one row at a time. If you look closely at this picture you can see the cement ditch the water runs through. A siphon tube is set in each row of the field. Did I mention this is done by hand? Each row. Amazing.

We also have lots of orchards around us. Apples, peaches, grapes, and cherries abound. This is a snapshot I took this last spring - we were surprised by snow that day.

And here is where I go to work each day. I work at a universtiy not far from our town. I drive about 35 minutes each way to work. It's a slow and easy drive - no traffic to speak of.

Idaho is a secret that has slowly been revealed. People are moving here by the hundreds. There are 5 new subdivisions within a 5 mile radius of us. Property values are rising. And the housing market isn't nearly as bad here as it is in other parts of the nation.

I hope you have enjoyed my little tour!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Thankful Thursday

This week has been a week of reflection as we have remembered 9/11 and all it involved. I have been extra thankful this week for our soldiers and their families as they give so much so we can have so much. I am especially thankful this week for the soldiers who are in Iraq and Afghanistan today. I pray for their safety and that God will unite them with their families again.

I am also thankful that my sweet dog Josey will be having her second litter of puppies. And they will be ready for Christmas! Raising Yorkies helps us out financially and Christmas puppies are the greatest. Not only do they sell, they make other people very happy.

I am thankful for times of spiritual growth. Sometimes it's hard to be thankful for that because growth sometimes hurts. But in the end it is well worth it. I always am thankful for the "mountain-top spiritual experiences" but I have to remember that part of their purpose is to refresh and restore us for the times when we have to go in to the valley.

Iris at Sting My Heart hosts Thankful Thursday every week. Come and join us!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Day to Remember

9/11. September 11th. Whatever you call it, it always brings vivid images to our minds of a horrific event that changed our lives and how we live them. I remember having the television on as I was getting ready to leave for work and seeing the smoldering smoke. The tv commentator was discussing whether it had been a small plane veering off course when suddenly from nowhere a second plane glided around and unbelievably hit the second tower. I remember sitting on my bed in disbelief trying to comprehend what had happened. I remember the babies and children who lost parents on that day. I remember the strong and brave testimony of women like Lisa Beymer who lost her strong and brave husband that day. I remember how my place of employment set up televisions throughout the halls and left them on for a week. Unheard of. May we never forget. May we never let down our guard. May we pray for peace with a fervency like never before.

Strangely enough, 10 years earlier, 9/11 had already imprinted itself in my mind as a day of a horrific loss that had changed my life and how I live it. On September 11, 1991 my father died in a plane accident. I spoke to him for the very last time on this earth early that morning. The phone was ringing as I was rushing out the door for work and I picked it up. It was dad. I had almost missed it. We spoke a few minutes and I left. On my way to work I was reviewing the conversation in my mind and a very strange thought occurred to me. A thought that said, "that would be the last time you ever talk to your dad". I quickly brushed it off thinking that I sure did have a morbid and active imagination. Now I believe that God was trying to prepare me for the news I would receive later that day. He crashed within an hour of our conversation.

This morning, I read that dear Amy Wilhoite lost her earthly battle and is finally at peace with the God she loved and served so faithfully. She leaves behind a dear husband and little boy who's lives are changed and will never be lived the same. They will go on and they will be okay because they love and serve the same great God that Amy did. But it will never be the same.

All these tragedies serve to remind me that this life is not all there is. It is only a blip on a very large screen that represents eternity. Yes, we should make the most of the days we are given here. But we need to always keep in mind that there is more. So much more. I pray that on this day you will take a moment to review your relationship with God. He has so much more planned for us than just this earthly life. We can have eternity with Him and our loved ones if we will accept His merciful gift. I pray today that if you are not in relationship with Him that this day will not end before you pray and ask Him to come in to your life. Because when He does you will never be the same. And when events like the ones I have talked about today happen, you will have a different perspective on the precious gift of life. And even though we can't understand why such difficult things happen, you will have a hope for the future that gives us reason to carry on.

Monday, September 10, 2007

It's Always the Simple Things

in life that give me such a thrill. Either that or I need to get a life :). At any rate I have just been so excited about my new acquisition. I had a Premier Jewelry Party at my house last week. This was the first time I had even heard of Premier Jewelry and I was really impressed. And one of the Hostess gifts I received was this:

Which at first, I didn't even know what it was. Then I learned that it is called a key finder. Which made me envision a device containing a flashlight. Because the inside of my purse is deep and dark and sometimes scary. Like this:

Keys are hard to find in there. But this handy, dandy little key finder works like this. You clip it to your keyring:

And as soon as you take the keys out of your ignition, you hook it over the side of your purse like this:

And then, whenever you need them and wherever you are, voila, your keys are instantly available.
No more dumping out your purse in the mall parking lot, or reaching in and grabbing your lip gloss, your sunglasses, your Tide Stick, everything but your keys. I'm telling you, it has simplified my life. And Lord knows, I need a simpler life!

Also, I completed these sweet little aprons for our church's preschool. They have a kitchen center and were in need of some aprons. They were very easy and I think they are just darling.

Oh, and one more thing. Boise State lost their first game since December of 2005 to University of Washington. 24-10. And that's all I have to say about that.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Potpourri Friday and a Little Football Too!

Fall is definitely in the air out here in the Northwest. Our temperatures have cooled considerably. I think we were over 100 degrees every day this summer. This last week we had a day in the 70's and the rest in the 80's. And it's amazing how refreshing that feels after such harsh heat! Hopefully all the fires will die out now and our state can stop burning up. It's just too bad that forest management has to be such a hot political subject. It just seems to me that cutting out old and dead trees and cleaning up the brush makes good sense. I'm just saying.

And speaking of fall - it is my most favorite time of the year. I have always found it interesting that a season that symbolizes death and endings of nature brings with it so much newness. I just love how there is a crispness in the air and soups and stews start sounding good again and my Christmas gift list begins to form. I love that we are going to be able to use our new patio fireplace during the evenings. I love that we can make s'mores in it while we relax in our deck chairs. Can you just imagine the deliciousness of a s'more without having to pack a camper and clean it all up again when you get home! I love fall decorations and putting my flower beds to bed for the winter and dreaming through my seed catalogs for next year. The only thing I don't like about fall is that winter follows it. I really don't like winter. But I guess it's a small price to pay for the beauty of autumn.

Fall also brings with it the start of a new Bible Study in our church and this last week we began our Beth Moore study of Daniel. It was powerful. I am so excited to get going with this study. What an anointed speaker she is! I am already challenged and ready to learn.
Our church began all its new Wednesday night fall programs last week and the place was buzzin'! It always blesses my heart to see so many kids and teens involved in church stuff. What an oasis the church is after living in such a hot, dry, un-thirst quenching world.

I was excited to discover that my daughter, Andrea, started a blog. She was shy to let me see it but what a thrill to my heart to read her words. You can find her blog, Living By Grace, here. Go read her first post and tell me I am not one blessed mama! She references to the fact that I once told her she was going to marry a pastor. I was really just joking. I told her that she would marry a pastor and Jess will marry a math teacher (because she HATES math). But truly, I was as surprised as Andrea when Jayson shared God's calling on his heart. But they are both going to be great at it. God knows what He is doing!

Have any of you listened to Big Mama and Boo Mama's podcasts yet? These are two very funny ladies! I downloaded both podcasts on to my iPod and listened to them on my drive home from work. I felt kind of funny for laughing out loud when I'm the only one in the car - I wonder what the passer byer's though? They are fun to listen to and they have the most lovely southern accents. I love a southern accent. Becky, do you have one?

I have made plans to catch the BSU vs. Washington State game Saturday afternoon. I know. I don't know what's wrong with me. I'm really confused about all of this. I don't even know how to tell my husband about my plans because it will really confuse him too. We just don't watch football. Or basketball. Or golf. But BSU hasn't lost a game in I don't know how long. And it's just getting exciting around here folks. And even though I don't know the difference between a down and a quarterback - well I'm excited too. And if Boise State can convince me, a sworn non-sports person, to watch not one but three games in the last several months - well hey - they must be pretty good.

Oh, and remember that speeding ticket I got? Well, I sort of forgot about it. And I sort of didn't get it paid. And yesterday I sort of got a piece of mail that said something about a warrant and an arrest. I'm thinking I'd better get that piece of business taken care of. Right away.

Oh, and if you haven't posted a picture of the place in your home where you love to be creative - hurry up and do so. I love looking at pictures of the places where you love to be! Be sure and let me know when you post it so I can come and visit!

Pavarotti - Nessun Dorma

What a loss to our world. This song especially transcended my mind and heart to places unknown. I like what someone else said:

Ciao, maestro!
Your voice will live on forever...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Share Your Creative Place

This is where I am spending any spare time I can find these days. This room used to be Andrea's but as soon as she got married, within about 24 hours to be precise, it turned into my sewing room. I still have a daybed in there for the times we have company, but it also makes a great "table" to spread my projects out on. My machine is right in front of a window so I have great lighting. My drawers and shelves are all handy and my sewing machine table is Andrea's old desk. My husband cut the legs shorter so my machine is the right height for me to work on. I love this room!

I thought it would be fun if you all posted a picture of the place where you love to be creative. I tried to do a Mr. Linky, but I haven't been able to figure it out yet. So if you post a picture, let me know so I can come and see it.