Saturday, January 28, 2012

Jesus' Lap

My mom recently told me a story about a friend who is going through some serious difficulties in life. 

This friend shared how she would put all her troubles in a box and hand them to Jesus. 

I like that idea.  Of mentally handing your problems over to the only one who can actually do something about them.

Hearing the story reminded me of a time in my life when things were horrifying. 

There was a time in my life when I lived in constant fear.

Fear of abuse.  Fear of  possible death.
Fear of the words he would say.  Fear of his actions.

Constant, unending, fear.

The nights were the worst. 

Through the night he would wake up and if I was asleep, he would wake me up. 
One of his ideas was that I was not allowed to sleep unless he was asleep. 

He would force me to go downstairs.  He would stand above me for a half hour or so and scream at me.  Calling me every name in the book. Threatening me vicious threats.  His face would be in my face.  His fist inches from my face.  After a time he would let me go back to sleep for a few hours, only to wake me up again and start over. Thankfully my children are deep sleepers.  They didn't have to live in as much fear.

Most often the worst was through the night, but was starting to happen during the day.  After the drugs would work their way through his system, he would never remember his actions.  And if he couldn't remember his actions, in his mind they never happened.

I learned to hide in different places to sleep.  Out of sight, out of mind, worked best.  A mattress downstairs, in the corner of the living room worked for a time. Eventually, I would hide in the children's rooms in a dark corner.   

My ability to 'go away' in my imagination saved me. 

When he would be screaming and threatening, I would mentally go away.

I would invision Jesus sitting on a large rock. 

And He would say to me "Come".  Like I imagine He did to the little children.

In my mind He had a very large lap.  I would crawl up onto it.  In my mind I was a little girl again.

I would lay my head on His chest and smile softly.

He would pat my back and gently rub my head.  His arms would be wrapped around me so tightly.  As to protect me from any harm.  Nothing could get to me.

I often would wonder why he never hit me.  Why his fist never came closer than a few inches from my face.  Now, I wonder if there was a barrier.  An invisible barrier where he couldn't get through. A barrier set there by Jesus.

In my mind I was curled up in Jesus' big, soft, and protective lap.  I was oblivious to the words and actions around me. 

I wonder if that ultimately saved me.  Not only the immediate protection from the immediate danger, but the long term protection.  I still have a few emotional scars. 

But they are faint in consideration of how deep they should run. 

Are you struggling?  Are there times in your life you need to just run away? Is there pain in your life that is unbearable?

Simply close your eyes.  And crawl up into Jesus' lap.  It's big. It's safe.  And it's the only place to find true peace and rest.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Has God Ever Been Lonely?

I have too much free 'mental' time at work. 

I stand there, working, without much thought.

This gives me time to think.

About things I shouldn't be thinking about.

Dissecting and analyzing thoughts that don't need dissecting or analyzed.

A few weeks ago, a thought came to mind.

Has God ever experienced loneliness?

I wanted to know that He had.  

I wanted to be assured that He knew what I was feeling and was going to pull me out of the black hole.

I knew Jesus experienced loneliness.  There are many places in Scripture where it tells of His loneliness.

I know that Jesus is our intercessor.  He tells God the Father of our struggles and how He understands them. 

I know that God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit are intertwined into the Trinity.  They are one in the same.

But still my mind wrestled with the idea of "Did God himself ever experience loneliness?"

I'm sure that some would say I'm splitting hairs that do not need splitting.

That is where my mind gets me into trouble.

I asked a few people their thoughts.

Some looked at me weird.

Some answered with this:

Jesus being God experienced loneliness while on earth, so therefore God did experience loneliness.

I agree with this.  However, part of me disagrees.

I wanted to know did God, split apart from the Trinity, ever experience loneliness.

(I told you my mind works overtime :o)

After much thinking, much praying, much discussion.  This is what I came up with:

Yes.  God experienced loneliness.  He personally experienced loneliness. 

Dark, painful, agonizing, loneliness.

When you ask?

When Jesus was on the cross.

God was suffering loneliness.

Yes, Jesus too was suffering loneliness.  He was bearing our sins.  The sins of the WHOLE WORLD.  From the time it began, until the time it will end.  You know that heavy feeling you feel when you do something wrong?  Imagine having all the guilt of the whole world, beginning to end, on you? 

But Jesus' loneliness is not what I'm talking about.

God had to turn His back on Jesus.  For the first time in all eternity (for in John it says The Word was always and The Word was Christ) God was separated from His most precious son. 

God had to turn His back on His Son so we could find peace with Him.

God experienced loneliness.

God does understand me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Peanut Butter Love

A Valentine Treat for my Etsy shop, JulseyMarie

I wanted a cookie that would be perfect for a Valentine treat.  One that would be fun to make and be easy to ship.  A cookie that someone could buy for a special someone. Or even themselves. 

I love peanut butter blossoms but was afraid the 'kiss' on the cookie would get knocked off in shipping.  I found these Dove milk chocolate hearts and thought they would be perfect.  Topped with a pink tinted milk chocolate drizzle for effect.  I think this is the perfect treat for a Valentine sweet.

Peanut Butter Love
(Thanks Myra for the name suggestion...I love it!!)

Cream together:
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 eggs


3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Mix until thoroughly combined.

Roll into 1" balls and dip in sugar.
Place on cookie sheet.

Bake at 375* for 7-8 minutes or until just golden brown.

While cookies are baking, unwrap Dove milk chocolate hearts.
(Or substitute with some other type of chocolate candy)

Place unwrapped chocolates in warm cookies.

Melt white chocolate discs slowly in microwave.  Add a drop or two of red food coloring. 
Drizzle over cooled cookies.


Christmas 2011: Etc.

I wanted to make this Christmas special.

With the busy-ness of the holiday weekend, I decided to have our family Christmas Friday the 23rd.  This gave us the time to go slow and enjoy each moment.

I planned to camp out in our living room in front of our woodstove to go along with the sleeping bag theme of the night. 

After the children opened their gifts, they immediately spread out their sleeping bags and put on their new jammies.

I found the roasting sticks and added marshmallows to the ends.

Not sure why they look miserable?? It was supposed to be fun!

Cousin Ann came around 8:30 with her doggie Gracie. 

We exchanged our gifts and then played a new game.

Each year I get the children a new game we can play as a family.

This year it was 'HeadBandz'.  Fun.Silly.Goofy.  Perfect for a late night!

Ann had brought her VCR and we stayed up insanely late watching ChittyChittyBangBang.  

We slept in fairly late and woke up for our special breakfast.

On the menu was:

Crepes with a choice of filling and topped with whipped cream, sausage, fresh orange slices,

Fresh squeezed orange juice,

And of course, coffee with special peppermint creamer.

Ann left around 10 and the kids and I spent the rest of the day just relaxing and enjoying our new gifts.  Christmas was the next day and it was going to be hectic. We were happy to have a day to be with each other, where there was no rush, no work, no school.  Just time to be. And enjoy it. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Haha. Silly Me.

Funny story.

I was messing around on the appearance of my blog today.

I usually just quick write my post, publish and run off to the next thing.

Today I had a few minutes and wanted to add the 'blogs I'm following' gadget.


I realized that next to my name on the left side was my 'profile picture'. 

And it was a hippo.


Somehow, the hippo picture from the first blog ended up as my picture

Seeing that I don't really pay attention to it, I have no idea how long it was there.


I am, in fact, not a hippo.

Although, with the holidays I am starting to slightly resemble one.

Enjoy the new picture.

It looks just a bit like the actual me.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Christmas 2011: Gifts

I was determined to make Christmas 2011 amazing and memorable.

Christmas 2010 was hard.  There was rejection, pain, loneliness, and just plain anger.

I was not going to let someone.anyone ruin this Christmas. 

I was going to make it good for my children.

I had a few fun events planned.  A special cousin was coming over for a sleepover.  Roasting marshmallows in our fireplace and a fun breakfast planned.  This Christmas was going to be the best yet.

Last year I told the children they would only get three gifts.  Three gifts was good enough for Jesus, so it should be good enough for them.

After a year of cleaning out, sorting and getting rid of so much STUFF, I didn't want to buy anything.

I told the kids that they would only get two gifts.  Jesus got three and He is The King.  We aren't royalty, so two should suffice.

Then I remembered I had bought a pair of pajamas in the fall for a Christmas gift.  They ended up with three anyhow.

They really didn't need anything and with all the other family Christmas's we attend they would be getting plenty of gifts.

I wanted to be more practical this year.  I knew that with all the upcoming travel and such, good sleeping bags would be a necessity.  I found awesome deals at L.L.Bean and bought each one in their color code. (Each child has a color for their toothbrush, towels, cups, bowls, etc.). 

I was afraid that they would think the sleeping bags were boring, so I planned the whole evening around them.  They could sleep in their new jammies (my kids LOVE jammies) camped out by the fire.  Our special Cousin Ann was coming for the night to add to the excitement.

Once they opened the big boxes they were squealing in excitement.  Then one of them yelled "It's even in our color codes!" 

Only one of their three gifts was a toy.  At first I felt bad for them, but once I started thinking about what to get each one, I knew that the one 'fun gift' would be really, really good. 

Riley saw a punching bag in an ad.  He asked for it.  I was thrilled at the idea.  What a better gift to give an over-active-agressive nine year old boy.  He could burn off steam in a positive way.  And maybe his mom would use it to beat out her frequent frustrations??

Rhianna loves.loves.loves.her American Girl dolls.  She had been saving up for Kit's scooter.  When I found it on Ebay this summer for a good price, I knew it was her gift.  I could not wait to see her open it.  I was hoping she would squeal with delight.  She didn't fail my expectations.

The smile on her face was priceless...and the squeal of delight was music to my ears.

Reagan is my train man.  His collection of Thomas trains is almost sinful.  I wanted to get him something other than an addition to his set, but he insisted that he wanted more trains.  I relented.  He plays trains all.the.time.  He has enough tracks to start the track in the basement, through the hallway, up the basement steps, through the living room and part way up the other set of stairs.  Like I said. It's ridiculous how many trains he has.  Record breaking, I'm sure.

I got him a Thomas/snowplow set.  He was ecstatic.

My kids were so amazing this year.  They were so appreciative for each gift they were given.  I like the idea of only two gifts...with maybe a small third one.  We kept the meaning of Christmas at the forefront of our holiday weekend.  I think next year I am going to search for paper that symbolizes each one of Christ's gifts.  I have gold colored paper for 'gold' but am not sure how to represent the other two gifts?!  Any ideas?

Next up:  Christmas 2011: Roasting Marshmallows and the Slumber Party

P.S.  I apologize for the horrendous quality of the pictures.  My camera is bi-polar.  Sometimes it takes the best pictures and other times it simply refuses.  Lithium treats bi-polar...maybe it needs a lithium battery???

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pumpkin Toffee Cheesecake

Cheesecakes are one of my favorite desserts to make. 

My two favorites are Pumpkin Toffee and Double Chocolate. 

Here the Pumpkin Toffee:

14-16 shortbread cookies

Place in large plastic bag to crush 

Take 1 3/4 cup crushed cookies and add 1 Tbsp melted butter
Crumble together in a large bowl.

Press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of un-greased 9-inch spring form pan. 

Bake for 6-8 minutes.  Cool on wire wrack for 10 minutes.

For cheesecake:

 3-8 oz. pkg. cream cheese,
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar,
1-15 oz. can pure pumpkin,
2/3 cup evaporated milk,
2 large eggs,
2 Tbsp cornstarch,
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Beat all ingredients until well combined. 

 Pour over cooled crust. Bake at 350* for 60-65 minutes or until
edge is set but center still moves slightly.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with 1 cup crushed toffee candies. 

1 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 Tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Spread sour cream mixture over warm cheesecake.  Bake for another 8 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire wrack.  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. 

Before serving drizzle with caramel topping.

*I was absent minded and  forgot to get a picture of the final product!  I was late running out the door with it for a special occasion and it slipped my mind to get a photo of it!  I guess you will have to make one yourself to see the final product.  You won't regret it!  This cheesecake is amazingly delicious!

Monday, January 16, 2012

D.C.~Day 3

Sunday morning came early.

One thing nice about staying at the church was that you don't have far to go!

But the difficult thing is that you can't leave the house a mess. 

My kids and I slept downstairs in the Sunday School rooms.  We had to not only get dressed, bags repacked and loaded; but the air mattress and hide-a-bed put away. 

Thankfully, the children listened and were great helpers.  We had breakfast and with the help of Mary Lou, had the kitchen cleaned up and ready to go.  We were ready in plenty of time.

The church members started arriving around 9:50.  One of the men work at the Ronald Reagan building.  I gave him a special introduction to Reagan.  It was so cute when Reagan looked up at Phil and said "I was named after Ronald Reagan" and then scampered away.  I think Reagan felt special all weekend because everywhere we turned was 'Reagan'.  Even the airport was named after 'him'!!

There were 7 regular members attending, the visiting minister and his wife, Kurt, Kelly and myself.  It was a change of pace from what we were used to! The children went downstairs to Sunday School.  Rhianna, Reagan, Molly and Bethany went with Henrietta while Riley went with Joe.  It was different for Riley to have a Sunday School teacher all to himself.  I think he really enjoyed it! 

We had a wonderful morning service.  I was uplifted and encouraged.  God really provided for my spiritual needs.  I knew the afternoon would be different.  Our children are used to attending a church with 1000+ attending.  So sitting with less than 20 people would be different.  They would have to be completely silent.  I knew it could be a potential challenge.

Shortly before the service was over I snuck out to help Kelly get ready for the lunch.  We made Veggie and Potato soup the night before and had cookies made.  The tables were set and the trays set out.  We quickly ladled the soup into Styrofoam bowls and set them out.  Everyone was appreciative of the hot soup on a chilly day.

After lunch the ladies cleaned up while the men visited.  Around noon we started the afternoon service.

Reagan walked in alone and went up front and sat next to the song leader, Barry.  I wasn't sure how this would go.  A six year old boy sitting with no toys and his mother out of pinching reach.  Soon after, Dan went in and sat down.  Reagan was now sitting between the song leader and the minister.  He held his song book and sang his heart out.  He received many smiles.  I wasn't sure where this was going.  Reagan can be very good, but this was too much!  I must admit that I was a little proud of him!

When Dan started the service, Reagan pulled out the Bible and Barry showed him where to find the Psalms.  It was so darling to see him sitting there reading along with us.  Every time he would turn around I would give him the thumbs up and mouth "good job...keep it up!!!"  I told Kelly I felt like giving him $5 for being so good!!

About halfway through he quietly turned around and looked at me...then his eyes got really big and he mouthed "I HAVE TO GO POTTY".   I motioned for him to quietly come over to me.  He went out and then spent the rest of the service sitting with Molly and Rhianna.  I thought he did great!!

Riley sat with Kurt and was perfect.  He helped us sing and he read along with the Bible readings.  The afternoon went great and we avoided all potential noisy disasters. 

After church we visited with everyone for a few minutes before they left.  It was nice to get to know more Brothers and Sisters in Christ.  We hope to visit D.C. again soon!

The evening was another wonderful evening.  I wanted to leave right after dinner so I wouldn't get home too late. 

Dan, Mary-Lou and I went on a walk while dinner was in the oven.  Kelly and I were so excited that they were staying for dinner.  Having them there just made the weekend that much better.  While on our walk we visited and I got to know them even better.  They are a very special couple and I look forward to living closer to them once I move.

We ate dinner and Bethany entertained us with all her antics.  We cleaned up the kitchen and sat in the living room to visit some more.  I knew I had to be going; but didn't want to leave.  I didn't want to go home and start my work week all over.

We ended up leaving around 7:45pm.  I had a 6 hour drive ahead of me.  I had a good book on CD to listen to, so I knew I'd be fine.

The kids started getting sleepy around 11, so we pulled off for a quick potty break.  I started getting sleepy around 12:00 and I was just near Pittsburgh.  I had just over an hour.  We pulled in at 1:15am.  I was so thankful to be home.

It was the perfect weekend.  I can't think of one thing I would change. 

Now, I'm back home and trying to convince myself I am ready to go back to the day-to-day routine.  The children had off school today so I took off work. Tonight I am working on a Finance/Accounting Essay (yuck) and tomorrow is back to work.  Ready or not... 

D.C.~Day 2

Saturday morning we woke early, wanting to get a good start into the city. 

We left the house around 9 hoping to get on the 9:30 train.

At the Glenmont Metro Station we purchased our tickets


We read the map at the station trying to figure out the best route for our journey.

We played 'Eye Spy' with the kids trying to pass the time.  We had to get creative in such a colorless place!
Soon a train arrived and we hopped aboard.  The Gasser Girls now were pros at this and helped their cousins.

Riley decided it would be more fun to stand and hang on.  He did great!  Do we see a future city boy here? 

We rode from Glenmont to Metro Central, which is about 11 stops.  We got off at Metro Central and switched trains to the Smithsonian Stop.  That ride was only 2 stops and much quicker.  The kids had a blast on the Metro trains.

We decided we wanted to see two things for certain.  The Lincoln Memorial and The Air and Space Museum.  What we didn't know is that the Lincoln Memorial was at the far end of the Mall.  We started our walk.  It was a gorgeous day; a bit breezy and chilly, but not too bad. 

The boys needed to run, so I let them run a bit ahead of us.  The sky was a clear, deep blue.  It was a beautiful day.  We passed many people out running, riding bikes, flying kites and playing football.   

The children were in awe at the size of the Washington Monument.  In all honesty, so were the adults.  We couldn't get too close to it because it was still blocked off from the earthquake this past summer.

Next stop was the WWII memorial.  There was no water in the fountains in the center, but it was still beautiful.  Riley loves to read about WWII and learn about it, so this was a special memorial for him.  I would love to bring him back someday to see it lit up. 

We found our favorite state!

There was construction at the pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial.  We had to do a bit of detouring but we enjoyed the walk.  By this point a little girlie, Annie, was getting tired of walking.  It is a long walk for short little legs, so Auntie Julie was more than happy to carry her. 

We finally made it to the Lincoln Memorial.  It was fairly crowded.  I'm assuming because of the holiday weekend.  It kinda' made it more special. 

Lincoln is my favorite president.  Partly because he was the best and partly because we share a birthday.  This is the third time I have visited the monument and look forward to bringing my children back someday.   

The Gettysburg Address 

We soon left the monument.  The children were cold, tired and hungry.  On our way back to the Smithsonian Museum of American History, we decided to swing by the Vietnam Memorial.  I wish we would have had the time to look up names of people we knew.  I told them to look at the names as we passed; to realize that each one of those names represented a person who gave their life.  And that there is a family attached to that name who still mourns their loss.

We walked all the way back to the museum to eat lunch in the cafeteria.  I wish I would have remembered to take pictures.  We were quite the crew!

After our lunch, Kurt took the boys through part of the museum while Kelly and I finished up feeding the little girlies.  Soon after we met up and K&K decided they needed to get home to get ready for church the next day.  They took Rhianna along with their girls and left the boys with me to do a bit of 'boy stuff'. 

We spent some time in the History museum.  They weren't as excited as I was.  I could spend a week in there.  At one point, I drug them through the first ladies' dresses display.  Needless to say, they were not impressed.
I only took one picture of them.  While they were not excited about the dresses, they did get excited about a bison.  It was my turn to not be overly excited. 

The boys were excited to go to the Air and Space museum, so we left shortly after the bison display.  We found our map and headed towards the other museum. 

On our way there we stopped so the boys could get a picture with the Capitol in the background.

We spent an hour or so in the Air and Space Museum.  And I forgot to take pictures.  We realized that it would soon be dark and had about a 45 minute ride back to Kurt and Kelly's.

We found the nearest Metro Station and headed back towards Silver Springs.  We were tired from our day! 

Here is a picture of a map and highlighted route from the day:

We made it back to K&K's around 5:45.  Dan and Mary Lou were there from CT to serve as minister the next day for church services.  They are friends of my mom's and they have known us since we were little girls.  We were very excited to find out it was them coming in for the weekend.

They treated us to pizza and we had a very nice evening.  We bathed and showered all 6 kids and got them tucked in for the night.  The 5 of us adults stayed up and caught up.  It was a wonderful evening.

The weekend was exactly what I needed: A break from the everyday routine, A mini-vacation with my children, and some adult conversation time.

D.C.~ Day 1

My sister and her family are visiting Washington D.C. for the month of January as caretakers of our church.

I thought it would be fun to take the kids to D.C. for a long weekend. 

We left Friday amidst the snowstorm that hit the Midwest.  It typically takes a little less than 6 hours to drive to D.C.  It took us 8. 

We had been hoping to leave around 5 am and get there in time for lunch and spend the afternoon at a park.  But we didn't leave until 8:45 am hoping the roads would be clear.  They weren't.

Seeing that we arrived in the D.C. area at a quarter til five, we opted to just meet them at a park. 

They have found that the parks in the area have some amazing things to play on.  From a large rubber dome to run up and down to incredibly long slides. 

Riley and Bethany (Annie Lou) climbing the rubber dome

Reagan hanging on for a ride!

Reagan and Molly crossing a rope bridge

Annie Lou-Hoo Playing on the chain ropes

Riley getting ready to go down the slide.  I went down this one. It hurt.  

 Annie getting ready to go down the slide with Riley catching her. 

Reagan playing on...hmmm....Not sure what this is??

Rhianna on some climbing ropes. 

Little Yah! (Kya).  Look at these lilac-blue eyes!! 

After the park we went back to the church/house for dinner.  The cousins played together while Kurt, Kelly and I chatted.  Soon we put the kiddos to bed and headed that way ourselves.  It was a tiring but fun day.  We went to bed looking forward to visiting the city the next day.