Friday, October 31, 2008

Trust and Obey

This old hymn by John Sammis has been constantly on my mind and heart this week. Please read the words. I know you've sung it a thousand times or more, but read the words.
TRUST and OBEY, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus!!! But to trust and obey! God is really delighting in our family's need to trust and obey Him this week. We've had some serious times of trusting come up this week and Fred and I have an unusual calm that God is in control, which is comforting ... because we're not in control!


When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Roger!

Today is my brother Roger's birthday. Well, actually it was yesterday. Wait. No. It really is today, but for him it was yesterday. What I mean is that today, October 28, it is his birthday, but he celebrated it yesterday when it was October 28 for him. Grrrr. This time zone stuff can really throw you off if you're not careful! Whatever the case, we celebrated Roger's birthday today!

Roger was born in 1970 which makes him ... under 40. Older, but still under 40! He's a young man with a beautiful wife and two adorable little boys. I would love to post a picture of them, but all my pictures are outdated and to be honest, I have no idea where to find them on this computer (but we won't get into that again!). Just trust me, if you don't know them, they are a good looking family, gray hair and all on the birthday boy!

Being the only boy in a family of four sisters, Roger got special treatment all his life. He got to play dress up with us. We got to put sponge rollers in his hair ... when he let us. He learned how to cook and clean with the rest of us. Let me tell you! Roger was trained well! Being a guy, he also had that analytical mind that caused him to quote chemistry and physics and algebraic statements and all that other technical kind of stuff to us all the time. "The girls and Roger" made up a great group of kids for our parents (don't you think, Dad and Mom?)! I don't know what we would have done without Roger in our family. I don't know what our PARENTS would have done without Roger!

Actually, I'll get to the serious stuff in a minute, but I have to share a few Roger stories with you. He was the boy who brought excitement to our home. He is the one who bit our dog on the nose because the dog bit him first. He is the one who somehow managed to tie himself to a tree right before we had to run off to church for the evening. He is the one who hooked up his little portable walkman tape player (remember those?) to his huge speakers in his room. He was the one who asked, "Mommy, what do girls talk about at night?"

He was also the one who sat on my freezing cold feet to keep them warm when our car broke down on I-71 on the way back from Cleveland one sub-zero night. He was the one that surprised me with a visit when I first moved to Phoenix, somehow getting into my apartment and then hiding in the kitchen and scaring me half to death when I got home from work. He was the one that helped me through the tangled web of computers and email when they were all new to me. He was the one that listened to me go on and on about Fred when we were first engaged. He is the one now that calls me from the other side of the world just to say hi (and to practice his Indonesian on someone who doesn't know if he's saying things incorrectly). He's the one who prays for me when I know he could use more prayers for himself! He's the one who thinks of other people and makes arrangements for Christmas presents to be purchased, wrapped and given to everyone in his family even though he's not there. He's the one who can make me cry just because he's the best brother anyone could ever have!

Ok. I need to stop because now I'm missing you a lot, Rog, and I can't type with tears in my eyes. We talked about you a lot today because it was your birthday and even though we couldn't celebrate together, we celebrated here many hours after you celebrated there! May God bless your life with many more years of service to Him. May He bless you as you pour your life of Christ into the lives of others. May He bless you as a husband to your best friend, Amy. May He bless you as the father to your precious sons. We love you!! Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Our Bread Bears

Today I finally attempted to use Aunt Heidi's tutorial on how to make Whole Wheat Honey Bread Bears. The pictures she had on her blog were soooo cute and she made it sound so easy that today when Stephen asked what craft we could make, I quickly said, "Let's make the bread bears!"

Before I continue, let me just say that I'm thankful that Fred had to take the camera to a client's today so I was unable to take pictures of our final product. They were quite deformed and looked nothing like the pictures on the tutorial.

So, there I was, elbow-deep in whole wheat flour and overactive yeast, trying to shoo away six little hands that all wanted to scoop and dump the flour mixture. After the initial combining of ingredients, I realized I was in trouble. My dough didn't look ANYTHING like Aunt Heidi's pictures!! Without even scraping the goop off of my hands, I dialed her number (probably even waking her up ... sorry, Aunt Heidi, but the boys were up early and bored by 8:00) and had to ask for help. After following her advice, I was able to incorporate enough extra water into the dough to start kneading it and getting it to look right.

Poor Timothy was so anxious to have his own bread bear that he kept asking every five minutes if it was done yet and could he have a piece. This was while I was still yanking my shoulder muscles out ... I mean ... while I was still kneading for approximately 12 minutes like the tutorial said to do. We let the dough rise (or do I say "raise"?) in a bowl in the oven, to keep those little fingers from poking and proding it to see if it was done yet, then we finally were able to start shaping our little friends.

The boys, who were whining and crying at this point, saw what I was doing and forgot their woes as they pulled up their stools to "help" yet again. I gave them some blobs of dough and we all worked together to make our own little bread bears. Now, Aunt Heidi's recipe said that one batch of dough should make 15 little bears. Our recipe made 5 little bears, then two plain ladybugs (not as many little arms and legs and ears to deal with) and then one loaf of bread (with no arms, legs or head to deal with!). The boys' favorite part was taking the skewer and poking in a belly button on those bears!

Many, many hours later, according to Timothy, the bears were FINALLY done! He was so proud of his new little friend with a snout that fell off and rolled into the back of the oven that he grabbed the head, pulled it off and stuffed it into his mouth! Stephen gave the best compliment, though, when he said, "Mommy, this is the best bread you ever made! You better use only this recipe from now on!"

Tonight's bedtime story even revolved around our bread bears. When the mommy in the story opened the door to see if her bread bears were ready, they all jumped up and shouted SURPRISE! and had a little party in the oven! Christopher especially loved this story and kept shouting SURPRISE and laughing hysterically at the silliness of it all.

Aunt Heidi, thank you for the delicious recipe and for bailing me out this morning! We love the bread bears and even if I don't attempt them again for several years, I'm sure I'll be using the recipe for plain old loaves of bread that don't rely on as much detail. Mmmmm. The smell of freshly baked bread is still wonderfully strong tonight as I write this. I think I need to go cut a huge slice off of a lone tummy that's left here.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Look what my creative son, Stephen, came up with! A clock pizza! I'm not sure where he ever got the idea, but he's been begging to make a clock pizza so we finally did it. We have number cookie cutters that we used to cut out the pepperoni. That was an ordeal in itself. Little Helper #3 (known to us as Christopher) decided that he was going to eat the pepperoni as quickly as it was cut out. Even after several warnings, he managed to get his sneaky little hand over to where our numbers were all lined up and ready to assemble. Number 3 and Number 5 were his favorites and I don't know how many times we had to cut those out just to replace the missing ones.

We had fun. The pizza was great. I wonder what these boys will want to try to create next.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Happy Birthday to the Boys!

So now that it's a month past Timothy and Christopher's birthdays, I finally have birthday pictures downloaded that I can share! We celebrated the boys' birthdays several times this year, and that's only fair since they have to share their birthday with each other anyway. This way the celebrations started early and were varied enough that they both got enough attention to last them until next year's September 15!
We started out a week earlier with a trip to Ohio and a visit to the Wayne County Fair with Grandpa, Grandma, Aunt Liz, Taylor, Laurel and a friend of Taylor's. What a great day! If you've never been to the Wayne County Fair, you are missing out! We went to Ohio for the specific purpose of going to the Fair this year and we weren't disappointed!

That night we met up with Uncle Joe at the Lodi outlet mall and had another birthday celebration. What a surprise to find a miniature train that took us all around the property, in and out of the shopping area and out into the fields. The boys, especially Christopher, were thrilled! That ridiculous whistle on the train gave the adults major headaches, but the boys didn't seem to notice. They loved it!

We finished our birthday celebrations on their birthday, September 15, at Oma and Opa's house with a cake of a requested theme of TRAINS! I wasn't feeling particularly creative, so I just grabbed some of their tracks and the least beat up looking trains and made a cake. It didn't look too bad and the boys loved it anyway. The funny thing was that I didn't have any cake mixes in the house (and no vehicle to run to the store to get one) so I decided to make a cake. Well, lo and behold, I had no flour in the house either!! Thankfully I had enough whole wheat flour that I could whip up a chocolate cake from a recipe I found online and everyone loved it! Whew!
There you go! Those of you that have been looking for the birthday pictures, here they are. Better late than never, right? Happy Birthday to my sweet, big 4 year old boy Timothy and to my precious little 2 year old Christopher! I love you boys!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Dianne!

Today is my sister Dianne's birthday. Dianne doesn't read my blog, but I'm going to write about her anyway. We've done our share of teasing Dianne growing up. She was (is) the baby. She was (is) cute. She deserved our teasing. But we also loved her! We spoiled her and showed her off to our friends. She was (is) very special to us. I think that now more than ever I am appreciative of Dianne because of the stage of life we are in. Dianne has two cutie pie girls. Lily just turned 5 yesterday and Maci is 2. We love them because they are fun girls! Because Dianne and I are both in the same stage of mommyhood, we can relate to each other very well these days! Our nine year age difference isn't so noticable as it was when we were growing up. I actually ask Dianne for advice now, too!

My prayer for Dianne is that she would continue to be the wonderful mother that she is to Lily and Maci, that she would continue to raise them to love the Lord as she and Gabe do. I also pray that she and Gabe would continue to be used by the Lord to reach out to their friends and minister to their needs in their home and with their friendship. I pray that Dianne would grow even closer to the Lord so that she will be used more and more by Him for His kingdom.

I love you, Dianne, and even though you don't read my blog, you deserve to be honored on here today!

Monday, October 13, 2008

How Do They Learn Such Deceit?!

Christopher climbed into the bottom bunk tonight with the strict instructions to stay in bed or he'd end up in the crib again. He loves his bottom bunk ... but he also loves to climb out and explore the room after the lights have been turned off and the parents have left the room.

I was working in the kitchen and I heard the familiar little pitter patter of feet thumping out of bed and walking across the floor. Fred was still upstairs so I told him to go in and put Christopher back in the crib. He came down and said, "I thought you said he was out of bed. I went in there and he was laying with the blanket pulled up, eyes closed and breathing heavy. I don't think he was out of bed. He's fast asleep, unless he's becoming a good actor."

Not a whole minute later, I heard that same thump and then the pitter patters on the floor. This time I crept up the stairs as quietly as I could and opened the door. Good thing Christopher still wears a diaper because I think I probably made him pee his pants! I found him standing over by Stephen's bed, ready to climb in! That little boy was NOT asleep, but very much awake!

Christopher is now sleeping (for real) in his crib, but I just can't get over how he can pull something like that off at such a young age! How did he learn to do something so deceitful?! This little boy is awfully cute, but he's going to be giving us a run for our money, too!

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good!

This is our Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. Officially it's on Monday, but I've noticed that here in Canada, you can pick and choose which day of the long weekend you want to celebrate. Some people celebrate several times with family members from all sides. I kind of like that.

To be honest, though, even though this is my ninth Canadian Thanksgiving, it still catches me off guard every October. Especially because it's on a MONDAY!!! It's hard enough for me to get used to it being so early (Mentally, I'm not ready for an official Thanksgiving holiday yet!), but to celebrate it on a MONDAY ... and then to have to jump right into the work week the next day?! Oh boy. This is still tough on me. Weatherwise, it really is a much better fit to have it at this time of year when there is truly a harvest, but October ... and Monday?!

Despite the calendar date of a Thanksgiving celebration, I am thankful. We were talking about thanksgiving at the supper table and it was interesting to hear what the boys had to say about it. Stephen is thankful for black olives on our pizza (can you guess what we were eating at the time?). Timothy was thankful for the park. Christopher just kept saying, "Thank you" because he knew that was the word he was to say. We did get more indepth, as much as a 5, 4 and 2 year old can get, and it thrilled me to see that they really did get the idea of being thankful. Fred shared that he is thankful that we have a safe home and that God has always provided us with whatever we have needed. I said that I am thankful that God gave us such a wonderful family. I'm sure we'll be talking about this more specifically over the weekend, but this was a start of our Thanksgiving celebration.

If I had to list all that I was thankful for, this post would be much too long. I have many generic things to be thankful for, but also some very specific ones. I am thankful that God protects our boys from serious injuries with their boyish playing. I am thankful for a close friend who saw a need that I had and met it in a way that I never would have dreamed of. I am thankful that my Watkins business is packed with activity over the next few months. I am thankful that God loves me and forgives me for my silly mistakes as well as my obvious downfalls. I'm thankful for peace and security amid the world's upheaval.

What are a few specific things that you are thankful for on this Thanksgiving weekend?

My Aunt Is the Best!

It pays to comment on blogs. I say this because in many ways, some good conversations can be started when different readers comment on a blog that they have just read. Sometimes there are funny dialogs, sometimes some incredibly serious chains of comments, but it's always interesting to have this conference-type of communication going on through cyber-space.

A long, long time ago, I commented on a blog post from my dear aunt on her blog "Steps on the Journey." To be honest, I had forgotten about it, but she didn't! See, Aunt Heidi was desperate for commenters on her blog, so she decided to run a contest: Commenters (is that a word?) on the past and next week will get either a whole wheat bread bear or a lavender package, including a lavender wand and a packet of dried lavender with recipes for cookies. Due to gas prices and mailing costs- the bread bears are just for those in a 20 mile radius .Hah! Hah!- and again I say HAH! I am so Not doing this! It makes me feel false and sad and pathetic. And tired- might I add - because I just finished writing the next post and it is 3:45 on Sunday morning, July20 th and the thought of sending anything anywhere is exhausting just to contemplate- although I am too tired to contemplate - I'm just going to start making lists and checking them twice. No- that's Santa.Ok- if you comment a lot in the immediate future and I don't have to go to the post office to get it to you- I will make you a bread bear or something. BECAUSE I AM kind of sad and pathetic.

Well, I wasn't thinking of Aunt Heidi being sad or pathetic. I was just disappointed because I hadn't read her blog until five days after she posted and I lost her contest! Besides, I am definitely not within a 20 mile radius, so I knew it was a lost cause to win her contest, although I really wanted that whole wheat bread bear she was offering! So I went ahead and commented my disappointment for not reading about her contest earlier and put it all out of my mind.

Imagine my surprise and delight this week when I went to the mailbox and found a HUGE package from her!!! She didn't send me the bread bear, but instead sent me a beautiful assortment of handmade cards that she had made (I'm assuming) with the rest of the Schley family when they do their monthly Stampin' Up parties! I was so excited that I was squealing like a little girl! That got the boys all excited and even Christopher was oooing and aahhhing over my cards with an "OOOOOhhhh niiiiiicccee!" for each one!

Aunt Heidi, you really made my day! I thought that comment on your post was just for fun, but you meant it! I love the cards and I love you!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Way Too Tired

When you are overtired, you say ridiculous things. Last night was one of those times for me. About 1:30am, I heard Stephen telling me that he had a dream that was too scary and he needed to sleep with me. I KNOW that I told him to go back to his bed because it was only a dream, blah, blah, blah.

The next thing I knew, he had climbed into bed between Fred and me and made himself cozy. Because he never does this, I guess I just figured it must have been a really bad dream. I don't know what I really thought because I wasn't really coherent at all!

Every twenty minutes or so, Stephen would comment to me about something else in our room that was scary to him: the things spinning around (I think that's what he said), the lights on the wall, the mirror, etc. Finally, he made some ridiculous comment that made me say out loud, "Stephen, there are NO scary things in this room! Jesus is in here and there's nothing scary! Now, if you see one more scary thing, then just open the oven door! ....... What?!?! Did I just say to open the oven door?! SEE?! I'm way too tired to be talking to you right now, so be quiet and let me sleep!" We both cracked up, he turned over and finally fell asleep. Whew!

I think I made too many cookies yesterday.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Cookie Kitchen is Back In Business!

Yep. The Christmas cookie season has begun, believe it or not. I know it's not even Thanksgiving here in Canada yet, let alone the States, but we already received our first order in at for a repeat customer from last year. We already have the first few batches of cookies made. We already have little boys begging for cookies "for US! Not THEM!" Even Fred walked down to the kitchen tonight and commented that it smelled like a cookie factory in there.

The Cookie Kitchen is excited about things this year. We have been pouring over all the details of the business because we've had to adjust prices this year. Many of our ingredients have gone up which means that our cookies cost more to make, obviously. We've been gathering information from all our sources trying to find the best deals out there and we've done pretty well so far. Connie is the best business partner because she takes care of all those details. I just wait for her to tell me what to bake and when. I like that!

She sent me a copy of last year's statistics. We made about 3600 cookies last year that were sold. We made a lot more that were snarfed up by little munchkins (and some big munchkins, too), that were either broken or too dark or not dark enough or a little lopsided or simply begged for. Yes, we made lots of cookies, working around daily life as well as a broken finger, a chicken pox scare, a bout of the flu, and various other distractions. This year we're planning on even more orders because of last year's word of mouth AND an open house that we're going to be hosting for Watkins, The Cookie Kitchen, postScripts (This is my friend Julie's business. She makes customized address labels that are beyond classy! I love them!) and Tupperware. We're going to be handing out samples at our open house, hoping to entice a few more customers with our delicacies. This is at the beginning of November, and then at the end of November I have another Watkins event where I was asked to provide cookies for a baked goods table as well. No problem, I said, until I realized that this means a few hundred more cookies that I will need to bake! Ahh. No problem for The Cookie Kitchen! We've got our act together this year ... I hope.

When you start to make your Christmas cookies this year, pray for us. We want this business to be a blessing to others and we don't want to let our own responsibilities toward our families suffer because of this. We believe that God has given us this idea for a reason and we want to honor Him with our handiwork. It's been an interesting way to reach out to my neighborhood here, and because of it, I have met many new people and have even been able to talk to some of them about the Lord! This is what it's all about for us!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Happy Birthday, Liz!

Today is my sister's birthday. Liz is ... well ... she's a year and 15 days older than me. We'll just leave it at that. I feel pretty young still myself, so I would say that Liz is still quite young, too.

Liz is not just young in years, she is young in looks as well! She is quite beautiful, both on the outside, and especially on the inside. One time Liz told me that she had run into some friends of hers that she graduated with and they all looked sooo old to her. She shared with me the reason why she felt they looked old compared to her: Liz's life has not been ravaged by sin like the other women she saw. I'm not saying she's perfect (she's getting there, though!), but her life hasn't been battered by drugs and alcohol and affairs and any other type of immoral lifestyle. She's been dedicated to living a godly life for more than 25 years, and it shows! She shines with the beauty of Christ living in her, and while it is definitely reflected in her inner life, there is no question that it is also reflected in her face.

If you know anything about Gary Smalley's four personality types, Liz would probably score high as a beaver. She is outgoing. She is everyone's friend. She is the life of the party because she can tell great stories and gets everyone laughing. She loves fun and activity. Yet on the other hand, she is very sensitive to others. She knows when someone needs a little attention. She loves spending time with people, and not just people she knows and is comfortable with. Liz is a lot like what I think Jesus wants us to be. She steps out of her comfort zone to reach out to others with a very generous hand and makes them feel as if they are the only ones in the world that matter at that moment. She is amazing!

Liz knows how to make people and events special. When we have parties at her house, she goes all out to decorate, add little touches to spice things up, etc. Several years ago when Taylor and Laurel's cat, Jackie, died, we attended the most beautiful funeral for a cat that you've ever been to (not that most people have ever even been to a cat's funeral, but that's my point!). She planned a little memorial service where we could all share thoughts about Jackie, we had a cat cake, we had tomato soup with cat noodles. It was a very special time because she knew it was important. When Laurel turned four, Liz helped her have a wedding birthday where Laurel was the bride and all of her guests were asked to bring some decorations for the wedding birthday instead of presents. Daddy walked Laurel down the stairs into the living room where the guests were waiting and they had wedding cake for their dessert. Liz just thinks of everything! She's a great mom, I'm sure, because she's a great sister!

My prayer for you this year, Liz, is that you would continue to be used by God in the ways that you have been in the past, and yet so much more. Because of the way God perfectly designed you, you have been able to touch the lives of so many people, and I think He did that on purpose! You show people that God is love, and that He can love them even more than you do! I pray that you will be able to trust Him more this year as He challenges you, and that you will continue to share what you have learned with others. God bless you on your birthday, Liz! I love you!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Disclaimer on Calculated Supper

I thought I'd better emphasize that all the prices and comparisons are in Canadian dollars. I have no clue how much the containers of chicken broth are in the US, but I do know that the Watkins Soup and Gravy Base sells for $8.49 for 8.29 ounces or 50 servings per can! That's only .17 per serving! Something to think about ...

A Calculated Supper

Sunday night's supper was one of the best! It was simple, delicious, and extremely calculated. Anita came over for supper and I served soup from a mix. Watkins Chicken Soup and Watkins Mushroom Soup. The directions on the package are very simple: Add 3 tablespoons (45ml) of Soup Base to 1 quart (1L) boiling water. How much more simple can you get? Well, when you put a curious Watkins Associate together with a detail-oriented pharmacist, even the simplest of instructions can become complicated!

Anita and I wanted to see if the Watkins soup bases really were worth the money, both flavor-wise and financially. You should have seen us! We had measuring cups, spoons, calculators, sharpened pencils, pads of paper, everything that you would need to make a simple pot of instant soup! Anita, using her skills as a pharmacist, was measuring and calculating and changing all the measurements to volume equivelants so that we could figure out exactly how much a can of Watkins Chicken Soup Base was compared to a tetra package of Campbell's (or No Name) brand of liquid chicken broth.

After calculating, checking, rechecking and doing it all again, we came to the conclusion that the contents of one can of Watkins Chicken Soup Base is equal to 15 one liter boxes of chicken broth! If each one liter box is approximately $1.99, and the soup base here in Canada sells for $10.49, you have a savings of $19.36! AND you don't have to store all those boxes of broth! AND you have a significantly lower sodium content (only 430mg per serving)! AND 0 grams of fat! AND no added MSG! AND each container gives you over 57 cups of soup (.18 a cup)!

Well, Anita and I are sold on this soup mix now! I've been using it for all kinds of things: soups, gravies, anything where a recipe calls for chicken broth or bouillon. I knew I liked it before, but after Sunday's experiments, I am definitely sold! This is one of the best soup mixes I've ever had and I don't know that I could go back to buying the other stuff anymore.

If anyone else wants to try some, come on over for a bowl of chicken noodle soup! You'll be sold, too. The soup is on sale this month for $1.00 off as well. Check it out online at, and if you are in the US, make sure you choose the US catalog option because it automatically shows the Canadian version.

(We did the same calculations for the mushroom soup, and although it's not as cost effective as a can of generic mushroom soup, it definitely surpasses the quality of that processed, condensed soup! There are real chunks of dehydrated mushrooms, only 540mg of sodium, and 2g of fat per serving. Sometimes it's worth the money to have the quality. This mushroom soup is now the requested mushroom soup by our family, no question about it!)

Anita, when do you want to come over to try the Beef or the Onion Soups?