Thursday, September 4, 2014

Full Days that Are More than Just Busy

Sometimes we just fill our days with busyness.
Sometimes God fills our days with stuff of substance.
I prefer to let Him do it that way.

Lately it feels as if that is the case.
I know that it is His doing because I am being stretched!
Totally stretched.

Thankfully the easiest things in my everyday life are the candles.
There are so many orders and many many candles to make but 
they fit in here and there....
lots of here and theres.
Don't get me wrong.  I am about to hit the ground running in 
candle season.   Fundraisers are being planned
and the Etsy orders are picking up on random candles, 
as opposed to favor candles, are coming in daily.
I have signed up to participate in my favorite "Not Your 
Average Craft Show" in Chambersburg again this year.
So it is a very, very huge part of my daily life.

And then there is our ministry to the Karen (Burmese) children.
It has changed to my taking five of them to choir practice on a weekly basis.
And...I get to help them with their music homework too.
You know I don't mind that.
The part that is totally stretching is logistical.
I have to go to three different houses in varying parts of Lancaster City
and find parking...sort of. 
I am quickly learning the ways of maneuvering in a city.  
But not without some serious fear.
Some of you are more comfortable in a city than in 
a small town or the country....
but I'm just not.
This week was my first time.
And it stormed.
Another one of my big fears.
Heavy thunderstorms.
Especially when bearing the responsibility 
for children that are not my own.
But, God is so good.
He allowed me to stress about the storms ALL around
and yet we were not impacted more than some drizzle the entire time.
Even the large doe that intended to cross right into my path on the 
way home turned and ran the other way.
I returned home energized and looking forward to next week's challenge.

His second project for me this year is to teach Homeschool Co-op Music/Choir
again.  As you know it has been a few years since I've done this.
And to make matters "worse" they have a curriculum they would like me 
to teach from.
I don't love curriculum that is prepared.
There are many out there who are not comfortable with coming 
up with their own...but they are not me.
See where this is going?
God has given me ministry to complete, (which I LOVE),  but on His terms.
I must trust Him to help me get through very hard things for me in 
each and every case.

The final big challenge for my time this year?
Leading a small group for Beth Moore's new study on 
I and II Thessalonians.
This means that I HAVE to do the homework.
Not intend to do it ....and scoot by when I just don't volunteer
to enter the discussion.
I must do it.  Every day, lest I fall behind.
One half hour each day.
Time with the Lord.
On days when Facebook calls, candles are waiting 
or who knows what else comes up
I will HAVE to spend time with my Lord and 
His Word.

Gotta love Him.
He cares for us so much.
He's rearranging my life just to get more time together.
And I am good with that.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Morning Musings - They Are Not What You Think

I tried to sleep.
Truly, I did.
But every few minutes there was a 

Just one at a time.

But it wouldn't stop.
Like dripping water....but not as steady.
Just enough to break into my amazing sleep.

I got up....
to let the dogs out.
I had given them leftover beef bbq last evening
and imagined that perhaps this was causing 
distress better dealt with outside.

However, I'm not convinced that was the problem.
For the offending dog....the round one...
simply grabbed her toy and bounced out to the kitchen
as if to say, 
She seemed delighted that I had come to play!
At 4:00  AM?

I didn't have the heart to put them back in their
crate because it is Sunday.
Sunday is crate day.
They are not in there all day but it can get kind of long.
And so I tried to catch a few more snoozes on the love seat.
Just for the record...
It is too short.

Then I moved to the recliner.
Dog on lap.

I give up.
I'm UP!

And so it is now 5:34
and both dogs are passed out in very deep sleep.

Isn't that just the way it goes sometimes?

It's o.k.
They are worth it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Unexpected Gift for My Mother....

My Mom misses my Dad so much.  Most of the time she is pretty quiet about it, but her actions and the occasional thing like this tell the story.  My Dad was named Garry. He passed away in 2005 at the age of 58.   It was his sermon she refers to in this post taken from her Facebook page.
I think you'll appreciate it.....

"Last wk I was listening to a sermon Garry preached in which he talked about his favorite tree - a Purple Plum that had been planted by our patio to give shade. When Garry passed away, the Bible study he had led for 17 yrs said instead of flowers they wanted to plant a tree in his memory. Because I moved to Lancaster Co. that tree got planted at my new home by Bob and Karen Walker, and yes it was a Purple Plum tree. Everyday it is a reminder of Garry and the love the Bible study group had for him. While sitting at Mike and Emily's wedding, I was suddenly overcome with sadness, wishing so much Garry was sitting beside me enjoying the wonderful occasion of our first grandchild getting married!! (Tomorrow would have been our 48th anniversary) I sighed and looked above Mike and Emily and there above them was a Purple Plum tree!! There were several different places they could have set up for the ceremony, but unknown to them, I needed to see that Purple Plum tree right at the exact moment I became aware of it! God has so many ways to comfort and let us know He is there!!"

Photo: Last wk I was listening to a sermon Garry preached in which he talked about his favorite tree - a Purple Plum that had been planted by our patio to give shade. When Garry passed away, the Bible study he had led for 17 yrs said instead of flowers they wanted to plant a tree in his memory. Because I moved to Lancaster Co. that tree got planted at my new home by Bob and Karen Walker, and yes it was a Purple Plum tree. Everyday it is a reminder of Garry and the love the Bible study group had for him. While sitting at Mike and Emily's wedding, I was suddenly overcome with sadness, wishing so much Garry was sitting beside me enjoying the wonderful occasion of our first grandchild getting married!! (Tomorrow would have been our 48th anniversary) I sighed and looked above Mike and Emily and there above them was a Purple Plum tree!! There were several different places they could have set up for the ceremony, but unknown to them, I needed to see that Purple Plum tree right at the exact moment I became aware of it! God has so many ways to comfort and let us know He is there!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Very Brief Visit to Longwood Gardens....

It sounded like a wonderful idea.
Even as we were preparing to clean up from the wedding
on Monday morning we discussed how perfect the weather was
for a visit to Longwood Gardens.
Much the afternoon was well underway we decided that 
we should go.  Even though we would have less than two hours
before the gardens closed.
I was in some significant pain that I thought was just sore muscles.
Turned out later that I actually have/had some virus.
But nonetheless, it is rare that Warren has opportunity to go with 
us and so we headed out.
Our ride over was a bit quiet, I think, since we were all
fighting to stay awake.
Chelsea, in particular, felt the sleepy's settle in as we drove
so that when we got there she was a tiny bit 
sorry we had come.

We headed for the brick walk.
It is so full and tall.
Wow...most things are as tall as we are.
We figured we are probably some of the last 
to get to see these plants because the gardeners will likely 
remove them in the next week or two in order to 
put in the Fall plants.

These dahlias were our height.

We walked paths that provided shade and gentle slopes upward.
None of us had the energy for steep hills.
But this is one of the wonderful things about Longwood Gardens...
there are options.
And many paths to choose from.

Finally we arrived at the Conservatory.
Being so late in the day we were among the few who were visiting
and so I got to snap a photo without people in it.
This is rare especially this time of the year.

It didn't take long for Warren and Chelsea to find the chairs near the black bamboo.
O.k. truth be told, Chelsea was investigating the Conservatory as Warren and I 
sat here before she returned and I headed out.

 I circled back to sneak some shots of my tired peeps.

 Ahhh....the sound of water and the scents of flowers all around.
It is a great place to just be....
But I went out to see what was new and different in the various
areas of the Conservatory.

What I found was this view through the window.
Actually...It is the window itself that always catches my eye.
I love the graceful curves and the sheer size of the many, many 
windows in the conservatory.
Architectural details?
They really make a difference.

I only took a few photos after this.
We wandered over toward the idea gardens but just couldn't 
talk ourselves into heading farther afield and into the open sunshine
and so headed back to the garden exit.

We enjoyed this visit very much in spite of all of my complaining here about 
the exhausted state we were in.
And are so thankful for passes that allow us to be ok 
with coming for an hour here or there.

Michael and Emily both worked in these gardens.
They have spent countless hours planting, weeding, studying
and walking these acres.
It seemed a fitting way to close the book on this wedding week.
And it was.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Wedding of Michael and Emily

Sunday, August 24, 2014 was a very special day in the lives of two families.
Those of Michael and Emily.

We had spent most of Saturday at the Eicher Arts Center getting 
everything ready.  And it looked great!
We returned on Sunday and after some time I went wandering.
These next photos share some of what I found.....

Emily's father, Carl.
Spending some quiet time while the girls were getting their photos
taken...and before the guys arrived.

We are so blessed to already have been friends with Emily's family for many 
years and are so happy to now have this young couple in common.

I left Carl and went to see what was happening with the girls photo session.
I got to be a flower holder so I snapped some pics.
Why not, right?

Our friend, Susan, gave the gift of flower arrangement.
Emily's love of flowers led her to choose
unusual and hard to get flowers.
Some were even ordered from Chile.
But it was well worth it!

After the guys arrived Mom and I lifted our cameras at the same time to get 
a photo of the DJ, Mike and Warren.
This brought a response from Michael that cracked us up and we just told
him to get used to lots of photo snapping on this his wedding day.

Carl made these doors come together for Emily.
She wanted to get married in front of them.
Michael made the table on which sits a bonsai tree that became a part 
of the ceremony.
As both Michael and Emily have worked in horticulture
they found this to be a very special replacement for the unity candle or sand mixing
that are more traditional.
Emily would rather take care of a tree for the years to come than 
dust a jar of sand.  
Made perfect sense to me!
Especially since she is good at these things....
I would probably kill the poor thing and that wouldn't be so good.

Chelsea signs the window.
By the end of the night the glass was filled with well wishes.

The cakes that I made.
The largest was Red Velvet, the medium was Butter flavored
and the smallest Chocolate.  
However, there was a second largest cake in Chocolate.
Belinda (Emily's mother) made the adorable banner flying in the middle sized cake.
Mike got the dirtbike and had fun setting it up as a "faux" cake topper.

Guest favors.  
So cute in the end but a real pain to make....
or so I hear.
I had nothing to do with them.


Does this photo of the guys make anyone else think of a science fiction movie?
Men in Black or Ghostbusters?
I think the guys here represent a combination of those movies....
perhaps that is why this comes to my mind.
But they make me smile.
What a blessing these friends are to Michael.
They gathered around him in prayer before the ceremony.
I know he values each and every one of them.

What they were waiting for....
Here she comes!

After Carl quipped about having to give another daughter away so soon...
his oldest daughter was married earlier this summer....
he handed Emily over to Michael.
A very special moment, indeed.

The Bonsai planting that I mentioned earlier.
So cool!

As so often happens after weddings there was a photo session immediately following
the ceremony.  The professional photographer did her thing and while she did that 
some of us "played" with photos of our own.

Jonathan and Chelsea were posing...and got photo bombed by the 
beautiful sister of the bride....Elizabeth.
We love her!

The footwear for the bride and groom.

As we waited for our turn to be introduced at the reception
Belinda and I had a little fun with our friends inside as we 
peeped in their windows. 
The young couple in glasses were married just about six months might read her mother's blog at Creekside Cottage where you'll
find some different photos from Michael and Emily's wedding.

Here you can see the Grandmothers and other friends from church.
It was such a small venue that only a handful were able to come to 
the wedding....but our other friends were all on our minds
as the evening progressed.
We can't wait to share in another special evening next month.

The first matter of business after we were all introduced to the reception guests
was the first dance by the new Mr. and Mrs. Michael Keeney.
They were so cute!
I think they like each other.
At one point Mikey took a second to look at our table and wiggle his eyebrows
in a sign of happiness.

I got the Just Married banner from Karen on Etsy.
She is a member of the Christian Artist Street Team that I belong to
and I have met her in person.
So it was very special to get to have her make this up for 
the wedding.

 A look at the tables as they were set before the guests arrived.

Michael and Emily received these singing bears at the reception...
they sing "Love and Marriage".  
I got a kick out of it being that particular song
because Warren's parents sang it to us
on a video that was made for our wedding.

 A good view of the room as you can see them eat cake.

 The food was excellent. 
It was catered by a long time friend of ours from homeschool co-op
who just started a catering business with her husband.

Mike and Emily's pastor and his wife are also long time friends from co-op.
We are so thankful for the way they, as a couple, have invested in both
Michael and Emily over the past several months.

I know these photos aren't anything to compare with what Blythe Hoerr has taken 
on this special day...but these were taken from a mom's perspective.
You can't see my tears....but you can know that every detail was absorbed
and appreciated.
Every single thing that Michael and Emily did to make this day their own 
was noted and helps us to understand who they are as a couple that much more.
I think they are going to do just fine.
They are so gifted and make a wonderful team.
Just as Pastor Paul encouraged them to do for the rest of their lives.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Set Up Day

Yesterday I baked the cake parts.  There will be three visible cakes.  A fourth will be on stand by for additional pieces should the first three not go far enough.  I won't give away any details on the cakes other than to say they will be unusual.  I think they will be quite interesting....and very much Emily.  That is a hint.

The only casualty, thus far, to the cake making process was my 25 year old hand mixer.  I believe it was a wedding gift.  It took me NO time to decide that trying to rescue it was not happening.  Warren was so kind as to run to the store for another one.  I couldn't leave my cakes in the oven untended.  He did a great job picking another one.  It really goes.  And he loves that it has a "power boost" button.  Such a man!  Tee-hee.

Today we will head out to the venue to set up.  There is rain in the forecast so I don't know that the outside stuff will get done today....maybe later....but I'll get the cakes built and put in the fridge.  We can set up the inside areas for the reception.  I am getting excited.

Warren will set up sound systems...inside and out.  Swing dance will be a big part of the reception.  You should see Emily dance.  She is amazing.  So light on her feet.  Mikey... is also a great dancer but more freestyle. He doesn't love to swing dance.  Just proves you don't have to have identical interests to fall in love.  I'm going to do something I've never done before.....a mother-son dance.  Um...this should be very, very interesting.  Hope we get to run through it tomorrow....but probably won't.  He'll just have to lead.

My friend Shelley arrived last evening.  We were both so tired that it was more of a yawn fest than a conversation....but I am always very happy to see her.  She is like a sister to me.  We will have a good day today.

Due to the small venue many friends and family aren't able to make it to the wedding so we are planning a second big shin-dig next month.  I'm looking forward to that, as well.  So many people love Michael and Emily and want to share their joy.  It will be on their original wedding date....before it was changed to make logistics so much easier.  I don't think the happy couple minded bumping the date up by a month.  They are ready to get settled into a home together.  We are so very happy for them.

I'll try to remember to take photos today and tomorrow.  Removing the Mom hat and putting on my blogger hat a few times through the day.  :-)    Have a wonderful day!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Boring Life...NOT!

Hello Friends,
Its me again.  We are in crunch mode before the wedding, and yet, it has actually been a lot of fun.  Monday night we took Warren and Jonathan out to get their clothes for the wedding.  Jonathan is a groomsman so it wasn't like we could just find something nice and be happy.  He needed specifics.  And for someone who is 6'7" it was scary at some points to see how hard those things were to find.  But after hours and a few stores we made it to the second Men's Wearhouse mere minutes before they closed for our final purchases.  Whew!  We would have gotten there a lot earlier but it turns out that when the attention is on these guys in the store they actually like shopping....who knew?  It was adorable (sigh).

Last evening Warren and I kind of went on a date.  It was a business that I had a very large candle order that needed to get to Maryland.  It was a rush since the customer had suffered two bad experiences from other vendors and her shower is on Friday.  While preparing her labels for shipping I noticed that she was only an hour from us and since her boxes were super heavy and fragile I contacted her to see if she would rather meet me at a mall that was close to her and take some of the risk of breakage away.  She did! So Warren and I headed south, met her and enjoyed our first ever dinner at The Greene Turtle.  Yum!  We enjoyed it so much.  Then we visited Macy's and found the perfect skirt for me to wear to the wedding...and thus completed my wedding ensemble.  Yay.  Glad to have that done.  Then it struck me that there was a Dick's Sporting Goods in the area and knowing that Warren had a gift card for the store we headed there and purchased a new cooler.  Ours are ancient and one got broken last weekend in the shuffle to take food to Tommy's memorial service.  When all was said and done we have a new Coleman Cooler..on wheels...for $8.99 out of pocket.  YES!  What a blessing!!

Someone asked me recently if I have a lot of candles to make.  I just laughed a bit hysterically.  Yep!  I have a "few".  And to add insult to injury the jars that I use for the baby shower candles are out of stock....everywhere!!

My favorite jar.
The Substitute.

 I currently click nearly daily on two of my favorite suppliers to see if they are back in stock yet, but no.  So, I have substituted a new shaped jar.  It is cute but I have to hand cut every label to fit. That definitely adds to the process.  Imagine my joy yesterday when I went to pick up more of the substitute jars and my friends at Fillmore Container told me they had found 36 unclaimed jars of the original kind.  They could be mine.  Happy day.  I know 36 may not seem like much...but every one counts when I am trying to fulfill existing orders.  I love those Fillmore people.  They really work hard and take good care of me.  For my local friends who love to can this time of year.  This is a great place to get jars.  Great prices and Fillmore has every jar you need for canning.

The Memorial Service for Tommy was so special.  Of course I led up to it with the busyness and concern of planning the food.  Not knowing how many people might be there it was so hard to know how much to purchase.  However, I think we did pretty well.  There were an estimated 300+ people who came.  It is kind of hard to tell because Calvary Church where we held it is so big.  But all of the men agreed that this was the likely count and they are pretty good at these things, usually.  The service opened with a PowerPoint that I put together on the last day.  Not because I am a procrastinator but because we came up with the idea at the last moment....Susanna and I.  Mostly her because she had been thinking about Chris Rice's song...Come to Jesus (Untitled Hymn).  We put the lyrics over a photo of Tommy and the final slide said, "Tommy flew to Jesus on July 31, 2014".  If you can just imagine was powerful.  What a great way to open his Memorial Service.  Joe and Susanna had invited three friends with special needs children to speak during the service.  Two of the three held a child with severe medical conditions as they spoke.  Amazing.  The hearts of these fathers were precious to behold.  The first man who spoke had gone with Joe and Susanna to get Katie.  He is a nurse and was such a blessing to them when Katie refused to eat and they had to get medical care for her there.  Next up was a video made by a lady in Oregon who Susanna knew was good at such things.  We had an interesting evening attempting to get the video here, from there, electronically....but it finally worked.  It was 13 precious minutes that recaptured Tommy's time from the orphanage to his life (and it was LIFE) here.  Seeing the changes in him was so evident in that recap.  I don't think there was a dry eye in the sanctuary.  I had to miss Pastor Mike's sermon as we went to put the final touches on the food tables but I hear that it was fabulous!!  I can't talk about this service without thanking the folks at Calvary Church for their sweet generosity in allowing us to have the service and refreshments there.  They took such good care of us.  Especially Marge and Glen.  Marge is the coordinator of events and Glen is one of the "sound guys".  We had a lot of contact with both and were so touched by their giving spirits.

 Georgia and Ruth put the final touches on the tables.

 On Friday evening a group of ladies..and Warren...met at the church to 
prepare the food.  Cutting, cubing and slicing. 
There was so much to be done and yet this team worked so hard that 
in was done in just over two hours.
I am so thankful!!

Tommy's favorite color was green.
So we included as much green as we could.
My friend, Deanna, did the general decor with toys and balloons.
I did the centerpieces with simple fruit bowls.

 It was a good day.  One that really meant a lot to the Mussers.  I know that Susanna dreaded it in the worst kind of a way but I also know that in the end she was so touched by the love and concern she felt from her friends and family.  Funny but true story.  As we prepared to leave I got in line with the other ladies who had served the food and we took our turns saying goodbye.  As each one approached her, most having not seen her since Tommy had passed away they cried together.  Good, cleansing tears.  However, when Susanna looked up and saw me as it was finally my turn she just burst out laughing. precious friend.  How I love you.  And if I bring you the gift of laughter I am so pleased.  I checked my face and hair and think all was well there.  It was just one of those things...and it brings a smile to my face every time I think about it.  What a precious sister in the Lord.  Please keep her in your prayers.  These next weeks will get "we" go back to our daily lives and she is more and more on her own with her thoughts.  May the truths she has heard come through louder than the lies of the enemy.

I must get moving.  I have candle orders to work on before I begin making the four cakes that are needed for the wedding.  THE WEDDING!  My son is getting MARRIED on Sunday.  Yikes.   We couldn't be more pleased.  We have seen amazing growth and maturity in him over this past nearly a year.  It was October of last year that he broke his collar bone and their friendship was renewed.  A whirlwind....but a good one.

Have a wonderful day.  I'll at least be back with wedding photos...if not before.