Knock the “T” out of “Can’t”…

Did you ever wonder how many times a day kids are told…

“You can’t.”

Did you ever stop for a minute and wonder
if maybe they COULD?

Kids live in such a structured, sterile environment these days. For fear of them getting hurt, we’ve taken away real scissors and given them dull, rounded fake ones. Pocket knives, which every boy over seven used to have, are now considered lethal weapons. We’ve wrapped our kids in bubble wrap, sat them on the couch in front of a television, and handed them a Twinkie. Or maybe an organic cookie.

Don’t get me wrong… I am a HUGE advocate of child safety. My girls will tell you that anytime we let them try something new, we had a safety discussion first. Before they touched anything that had a potential of danger, they knew the rules. My point is this… With adult supervision and a helping hand…

Kids can do stuff.

Real stuff.

They can…

…Learn to use power tools…

…Learn about science…

… Learn about the past…

…Learn about fashion…

(Okay, that one was just for fun!)

…Learn to hit their target…

… And even play with fire.

Annie, our little pie-making friend, wanted to bake a pie. As we get into the story, we’ll see how the adults around her encouraged her to do as much as she could on her own. And when it was finished, she had an incredible feeling of accomplishment. She didn’t just pretend to bake a pie… or watch her Nana bake a pie… She really did it.

In our years of homeschooling, 4-H, and historical reenacting, we’ve seen kids do so many things that we never thought a kid could do… Build homemade rockets, bake homemade bread, sew beautiful dresses, give speeches in front of huge crowds, raise livestock, teach at museum programs, fix engines, cook dinner, play instruments, shoot black powder guns, build outdoor bake ovens, cook over open fires, train horses, tend gardens, and soooo much more. I continue to be amazed at the things kids can do.

What “real” things are the kids around you doing?

How are you helping and encouraging them?

Help them knock the “T” out of “Can’t!”

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

Making Stuff…

Given enough tape, string, K’Nex pieces, and Barbies, I think my girls could have built the Empire State Building in their bedroom if I didn’t wander through with a vacuum and a feather duster every once in a while and throw a proverbial wet blanket on their construction projects. (I’m not exactly sure how the Barbies fit in, but they were a necessary component of their creative process.) My kids were constantly making something. I figured it was because they saw lots of people in their family making things, so they thought it was just what you were supposed to do. However, I think it goes deeper than that. I think children have a built-in desire to make stuff.

Where did that desire come from?

I have a theory.

No, actually a BELIEF.

So God created man in His own image;
in the image of God He created him;
male and female He created them.
Genesis 1:27

So, since we were created in the very image of the God that created the Universe… the glimmering sun, moon, and stars… the beautiful flowers, trees, and plants… animals, sea creatures, and birds of every sort… wouldn’t it be very likely that we might have within us the desire to create? We each may have our own unique talent, but there IS a creative gift somewhere inside each of us. It might be drawing or music or building or decorating, or even baking a pumpkin pie from scratch like Annie wants to do. But it’s there, that spark. Look for it in yourself. Nurture and encourage it in your kids and grandkids. Don’t snuff it out. Let them… help them… encourage them to… Make stuff.

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

Rise and Shine…

“Wakey-Wakey, Rise and Shine!”

Just last night, through the magic of Google, I discovered that phrase was used by the British Army to rouse soldiers out of their racks in the morning so they could shine their boots. (Only in England, could drill instructors get away with yelling “Wakey-Wakey!”) Wouldn’t that have been useful with teenagers? Especially ones that pulled the covers over their heads when they hear Mom singing Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Time to Rise?”

A birdie with a yellow bill,
Hopped upon my window sill,
Cocked his shining eye and said:
“Ain’t you ‘shamed, you sleepy-head!”

Sorry Jordan and Kate, but you know that
morning wake-up ritual runs in the family!

But I do hope you pass it on to your kids!

Tell them it’s from the Nana’s.


Since today was Labor Day… and also since my phone alarm went off at 6 a.m. instead of the 6:30 I had set it for… I had to laugh when I was woken up bright and early by that confused alarm, because I went to bed last night thinking about “Rising and Shining.” Besides military use, the history of “Rise and Shine” goes back a bit further. All the way to the Old Testament…

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the
glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
~Isaiah 60:1~

And what to do when we get up? What is the purpose of all those Monday mornings? Just to earn money? Conquer the “To Do” list? Is there a deeper purpose for our work? Today’s Our Daily Bread really nailed it. Whatever we do… whatever our work… whatever is set before us… can be done to bring honor to God. From brain surgery to baby snuggling… from building bridges to corralling dust bunnies… work is a gift from God. He knew we would need something to do here in His Creation, so He gave Adam the job of tending His garden. Our attitude about our work depends on our perspective…

…our own personal “Why We Work.”

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow~

Do Great Things…

We all want to do great things.

To have some great accomplishment, some “I did it”
worthy of being engraved on our tombstone.

But maybe somewhere along the line, the price tags got switched,
and what is now considered “great” is really not so great,
and what is considered mundane is really pretty awesome.

I ran into this blog post this morning.

I often complain blog about my “To Do List.”

About how long it is, and how in the world
I got myself into all the things I get myself into,
and how to get it all done  on time and
before somebody calls to see if it’s done yet.

But then… maybe I didn’t get myself into those things,
but instead was placed there for a reason
by Someone who had something to teach me.

It may have been to teach me that the last “To Do List,”
the one before that was filled with really mundane things
like snotty noses and dust bunnies and piles of dirty dishes
were actually the real Great Things.


I guess whatever our hand is finding to do,
is exactly what we should be doing at this very moment.

And it is a Gift.

The Gift of “Now.”

Monday, Monday…


Most people hate ’em.

I actually like Mondays quite a bit. They’re like a brand new start… a clean sheet of drawing paper… a new new notebook and freshly sharpened pencil. I usually have a bazillion things to do Monday mornings, and today was no different. It’s almost lunchtime, and my morning has consisted of sending off a note to a friend, sorting and washing laundry, vacuuming a poor neglected floor, and shuffling piles of stuff. But it’s all good, and really nice to see  some tangible results.

I was able to tidy up my computer desktop a bit as well, by listing a couple of new things in our Etsy Shop… a couple of silhouetted inspired by my favorite place, which just happens to be Colonial Williamsburg. My parents started taking me there since I was about 8 years-old, Hubby and I honeymooned there, we took oodles of family trips there, and even celebrated our 25th anniversary there! I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve walked up and down Duke of Gloucester Street.

I’ve toured the houses and museums there. Shopped in colonial shops. Watched plays, gone to concerts, and interacted with historical interpretors. We even got to dance once in the Capitol! But my favorite place to go is behind the fences.

Behind the fences are the gardens. And about midway down “Duke” is the garden market, a working garden where you can wander and touch and smell flowers, herbs, and heirloom plants. A gardener is on duty that can tell you all about 18th century gardening methods, and how to care for the plants they sell. Sometimes he’ll even put your kids to work watering or weeding. We bought our Pomegranate Tree there. And one year, both our Moms got Strawberry Trees for Mother’s Day. Every single time I go to Williamsburg, about half my photos end up being taken in that small, colonial garden. I just plain love it .

The Etsy silhouettes were inspired by that garden… and also by Mondays, which sounds like a rather odd combination. But, on Mondays, I sort of feel like this Jenny Wren, taking a good, hard look at the house and thinking about what needs to be done to put it in order.

And then I need to get to work moving things around.


Another Illustration Friday e-mail hit home this morning.

This week’s topic is “Lost.”

And I know that for illustrative purposes, I should be thinking “Little Red Riding Hood out in the big scary woods” or “finding myself and my purpose in life.” But I’ve been seeing lots of pictures of children in need lately. Some need food and clothing. Some need to be rescued. Some need a chance to be born. Some need parents that love them. And some just need a hug and a kind word.

Most need to know they were created on Purpose.

That they are a Promise and a Possibility.

That they don’t have to be Lost anymore.

Red and Yellow, Black and White
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world. 

A Word Fitly Spoken…

A few weeks ago, a blogger that I had never met before asked if she could use one of my papercuttings as an image in an upcoming post on “How we use our words.” And I said, “Sure!” because that’s a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Donna Farley of The Rafter’s Scriptorium just let me know that the post is up. It is part of a synchroblog (That’s a new word for me!) where a group of bloggers are posting on the same topic. There are some very thoughtful posts linked there, and reading them this morning got the wheels turning in my head. Which can be dangerous.


In today’s time, words are plentiful, but most of them are not “fitly spoken.” There is a plethora of sarcasm out there. Snarliness and snarkiness are commonplace. Cursing abounds, as do euphemisms for curse words. I often wonder, “Do they KNOW what that word is short for?!” Dirty jokes are e-mailed back and forth and posted on Facebook. Humor is “in your face” and often crude. And even in our close relationships, we kid and tease each other with cutting remarks. Where are we going with all this?

The only place I know to go is to THE Word.

There’s plenty of Wisdom to be found in the Bible on the subject of our words. What I find there is that controlling our tongues doesn’t just mean waiting until the kids are playing in the other room before you tell that joke. Or saying something good about someone to their face and then tearing them apart when they walk away. Or using a euphemism when you mean the real thing. No, our words go deeper. All the way to the heart.

Let the words of my mouth,
and the meditations of my heart,

be acceptable in Thy sight,
O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.
~Psalm 19:14~

Rest assured… if this verse is highlighted in my Bible, it’s for a good reason. Because I need to flip by that page every once in a while and see it there all colored in bright red. I’ve had my share of snappy moments, believe me. I’ve gotten on the soapbox of sarcasm more times than I’d like to admit. But He’s still working on me… and thankfully, that Still Small Voice tugs at my heartstring when I go over the line.

Many years ago, I read Proverbs 25: 11 for the first time…

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

…And it made absolutely no sense at all to me. Not even grammatically. It was like the road sign “Bridges ice before highways.” As a kid, I could NOT figure out what that meant, but now as a grown-up, I can’t figure out what was so confusing about it. Of course bridges ice before highways. Same with the “apples of gold” verse. Now it makes perfect sense. It’s highlighted in red too.

God’s Word gives us some excellent advice concerning how we speak, and if I could encourage anyone to do anything, it would be to encourage others with your words. In this day of bullying and sarcasm and just plain meanness, an encouraging word from us can build others up instead of tearing them down like the rest of the world is doing. As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, grandmother, friend, and neighbor… and as a Christian… it really helps me to remember to keep this as a goal…

She opens her mouth with wisdom
and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

Proverbs 31: 26

That’s also highlighted in red. As you can tell, I need LOTS of reminders!

The Qualities of a Leader

I recently heard a story about a great man…

During the War for Independence, a man on horseback and dressed in civilian clothing came upon a group of tired soldiers who were trying to repair a fortification and were struggling to lift a heavy log. Their commanding officer, who was also on horseback, barked orders at the exhausted men. As the “civilian” came closer, he asked the officer why he wasn’t down helping the men. He replied “Sir, I am a Corporal. I give orders.” Seeing they needed an extra hand, the “civilian” got down off his horse and assisted the weary men. When the job was finished, the man gently told the Corporal, “The next time you have a job like this and not enough men to do it, go to your Commander-in-Chief and I will come and help you again.”

The “civilian” was General Washington.

In today’s “pick everything apart” version of history, I’m a little reluctant to include anecdotal stories about historical figures on my blog. However, with just a tiny bit of Googling to verify its validity, I found that this story about our first president was included in a speech at the groundbreaking ceremony for the National Library for the Study of George Washington, so I felt pretty confident about including it here.

Long before I heard this story, I had a great deal of respect for George Washington. Despite jokes over where he slept, he was a faithful, loving, and devoted husband. Despite claims by current historians that he was a deist, Washington was a man of devout Faith in Almighty God. Historians now say that his praying at Valley Forge may have also been a legend, even though it was recorded by Rev. Nathaniel Snowden, an ordained minister and graduate of Princeton, as it was told to him by the Quaker Pennsylvania senator  Isaac Potts. And then, of course, there’s the cherry tree story… We all know that was “fabricated” by that rascal Parson Weems (also an ordained Protestant Episcopal minister) in his biography of Washington published in 1800. Weems claimed that he was told the story by a elderly female relative of Washington, who had spent time with him as a child. It’s interesting to note that sometime between 1770 and 1790, years before Weems “made up” that story, a vase was made in Staffordshire, Germany that depicts a young boy, a hatchet, and a cherry tree, and with the initials “G.W.” to honor the hero of the American Revolution. (There’s a picture of that vase on page 97 of George Washington’s Sacred Fire.)

If you have a free hour, take some time and listen
to this lecture by
Dr. Peter Lillback…
“God and General Washington”

It’s really good.

One thing I know for sure, is that George Washington, our first President, embodied what Christ considered to be the most important quality of greatness… to serve others.

Happy President’s Day!

I’ll Love You ‘Til…

“I’ll love you ’til the last one dies.”

That’s what Hubby had written on the tag hanging from the
pretty red roses I discovered last night on the dining room table.

I have to admit that I read it twice.

Considering my track record with keeping roses alive,
I had to really work at not laughing out loud.

After all… he was trying to be romantic.

(And I was thinking…
“You’d better keep ’em coming.”)


This morning, I told him again how pretty they were,
and noted that a few of them were tipped with
a beautiful dark red, and he agreed.

And then I touched one of the dark red ones.

It was made of wood.

And he repeated…

“I’ll love you ’til the last one dies.”


Sure am glad I didn’t make a big deal out of the fact that our romance would be over in less than a week! It took me a few years to realize that true love is not “a fancy, or a feeling,” but that it is “an ever fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken.” The “never shaken” part took a bit longer… It showed up somewhere in the midst of colicky babies, electric bills, long hours at work, and clogged plumbing, and wasn’t based on “romance.” But… roses and chocolate sure do add a bit of a boost, and I will NEVER turn them down!

Love is patient, Love is kind.
Love is not jealous.
Love does not boast and is not prideful.
Love is not rude or self-seeking.
Love is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs.
Love doesn’t delight in evil, but rejoices with truth.
Love always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres.
Love never fails.
~from I Corinthians 13~

(A very early Valentine I got this year
from my little cousin Briar Rose!)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Do Fun Stuff with Old Friends.

Well, last week we ran away as just the two of us.
This past weekend, we ran away with Friends.

Old Friends. The Best kind.

We’ve been buddies with Randy & Beth since our girls
were toddlers… back to the time when you  had to wait
for film to be developed… long before anyone heard of a blog.

About twenty years. Two decades.


Both our families had a Favorite Place to Be.
But we hadn’t Been there together…

Our first glimpse was exciting…

We had to refrain ourselves from shouting “WhooHoo!”
and running wildly down the street. So instead we dined
at Chowning’s and stopped at Charleton’s Coffee House
and tested out their Chocolate.

Yum. We bought some to take home.

We took long walks…

…down paths that our forefathers may have taken…

We saw Grand Palaces…

and abodes for those of the Middling Sort.

The guys talked about everything…

and we even came up with a possible
cure for America’s current political problems…

No. Really. We wouldn’t do THAT.


But we definitely laughed a LOT.

Empty Nesters! The Freys and the Bakers heartily recommend
a weekend away with old and dear friends. You will have fun,
make new memories, and feel young again.

And you will really get a kick out of it
when your kids text to check on you!


Old friends, after all of these years,
Old friends, through the laughter and tears,
Old friends, What a priceless treasure!
~Bill & Gloria Gaither~