Archive for the ‘Not Food’ Category

A Home For The Village People

YouTube is great.
So is Pinterest.
All these ideas…..SO MANY….

As I pulled out the boxes of Department 56 village pieces, I wondered if it was possible to construct a landscape for this hodgepodge collection accumulated over the years.  I entered into a Google search:


And….BOOM!  The magic of the internet threw me into a kaleidoscope of possibilities.  They really are endless.

3 weeks and too many spent bucks later, I have a home for my Village People and their town, now lovingly called Moose Junction.  You’ll understand when you see the final picture below.

This is how it started, after all the boxes of styrofoam and glues were harvested from internet and local walk-in stores.  I cut the styrofoam using a hot wire cutter, and used foam glue and styrofoam pins to secure the pieces.  This is how I “planned” my city, and made an electrical engineering plan.


Looks pretty good just like that, doesn’t it?  I moved around the buildings until I got the look I wanted.  Placing a few village people on the scene also helped me get my head around what I was going for.  My entire landscape is made up of three sections.  Hopefully this will help with storage.  The back section is 12″ x 36″ x 2″ smooth foam.  I learned this important thing right off the bat.  There are different kinds of styrofoam.  Who knew!?  Turns out, the best foam to work with when creating junk like this is the smooth foam.  I got my stash from Hobby Lobby and Woodland Scenics.  The first foam I ordered from Hobby Lobby online was the large open cell foam.  Thank goodness I could return it to the store and not have to wait on returning it via UPS.  The front half of the village is made up of two pretty much equally split sections of 12″ x 36″ x 1″ smooth foam.

Next I had to add newspaper puffs to my structures.  This gives the plaster cast something to adhere to.  This is the back section, which will make up the higher “mountains”.


Full sheets of newspaper “pillowed” works best.

The next step was to add plaster casting.  I used the cement sheets from Woodland Scenics.  Some I purchased online from Hobby Lobby, and some I bought in person at Hobby Lobby.  They had a better price on the concrete sheets.  I found this step to be the most messy and enjoyable phase of construction.  The structure is starting to take shape!


Isn’t that neat?!  Here are the other two sections for the front, lower elevation:



I let these sections dry for about 3 days.  Everything I watched and read said that the castings should be dry in 30 minutes or so, but even though I used two layers of sheets, as advised, the model was very damp feeling for a long time.  It may have been that I didn’t let the sheets drip enough when removing them from the water basin to apply to the foam and newspaper structures.

Then I added some rocks.  These little guys are cool.  I used a rock mold by Woodland Scenics and some of their mixture.  The rocks set up in about 20 minutes.  I used the same concrete sheets to adhere the rocks to various places on my mountain ledges.  Then I stained the rocks using earth pigments from Woodland Scenics (yellow, gray & black).


Next was the prepping of the under turf.  I couldn’t get my hands on a Woodland Scenics product called Under Earth, which is a pigment they sell, so I made my own pigment by diluting an acrylic antiquing medium.  It worked pretty well.  Basically you just want to apply color to the plaster so that it looks like earth underneath the grasses and sands and snows to be added.  I applied with a sponge brush.


After all was browned and glorious, I began adding my turf.  This is a pretty large landscape, and the fun and newness of using shakers filled with various colored “grasses” wore off quickly.  What got me was the gluey parts.  I did not buy enough Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement, which is sprayed under the turf and on top of every layers, to hold the ground in place.  It was frustrating to have to run to the store or try to figure out an alternative adhesive.  I was able to use Modge Podge quite successfully in-between trips to Hobby Lobby, but my tiredness of this task made for messy application.  Before I build another landscape, I’ll research and find some alternatives to have on hand.

So I added darker turf first, dotted with lighter and “burned” turf, then sprinkled on snow.


Finally, after all turfed out and everything glued in place, THE FUN finally settled in.  My husband said I hit “Summit Fever”, as I worked until I had the entire village set up and plugged in.

Here’s the final result:






Here’s a picture of it all glowy and happy in the dark:


And finally, here’s how it looks from afar.  See why we call it Moose Junction?


Red to White, Lord.

The richness of unjust rampage
viewed from a platform
constructed of self-righteous stones
appears crimson.

Take heart!
Within the muddled spectrum
Light abides
and ever changes the hue from certain death
to life.

Red to White.

Hearts are changed in this way.

Hate becomes love.

And the view changes.

I am struggling, Lord, to find any compassion in my heart for people who are unknown to me.  I feel they have opened fire upon what is mine.  What is Yours.  Stealing.  Maiming. Plundering and killing.  Lord, I feel every strike made at their hands elevates them to a platform from which they feel invincible.  And I find myself wrapped up in wanting the worst outcome for them.  Lord, I know I am not created for this mischief.  I know You did not design me to hold grudges.  I know You are unhappy when I judge.  Please help me.  Please help our community.  Please remind us, Lord, of Your supernatural ability to heal across all of our differences and allow tenderness to not be crusted over with the scars of evil events.  Help me, Father, as I desire to think, behave, and reach out in a way that is glorifying of You.  Father God, help me rise above this miry pit of pain and ugly feelings.  Lift us all up so that we may continue in this spiritual fight, knowing that Victory is already claimed – that YOU have overcome this world.  Give us strength.  Give me the ability to see through glasses that are tinted by Your light, and not my desires for justice.  You and You alone, Father, are able to take stuff like this and suit it up to bring a testimony that is Kingdom Building.  Ever remind me of Saul, Lord, and the testimony you gave him.  Let me remember this every time I want to write off the hands that pull the triggers, Lord.  Thank you for what You have promised and for Your truth.  Thank You for the hope we have in Jesus.  Crimson dotted with light, Lord!  Turn this place into your blinding spectrum of life!!

In Jesus’s name,


No automatic alt text available.

…At Peace


free from anxiety or distress / a state of friendliness / unruffled / undisturbed / harmonious / serene

Recall a time when you felt the most at peace, and invite Jesus to reflect with you. What do you remember? How did you feel then, as compared to how you feel now, re-visiting that time?



isolated / separated from others / exclusive of anyone and anything else / incomparable / unique

Recall a time when you felt the most alone, and invite Jesus to reflect with you. What do you remember? How did you feel then, as compared to how you feel now, re-visiting that time?

“When I felt most…”

During this season of Thanksgiving, join me for a time of reflection – “where we’ve been”.  As we explore our most personal memories, my prayer for you, and for me, is that The Lord will apply His balm, His humor (Yes!  I absolutely believe laughter is a good, good gift from Him.), and His view of all the times that come to mind as we ponder the most vivid emotions we have emblazoned in our hearts.  May God also reveal His presence with you during these reflections, and may you find thanksgiving in them.  What a celebration we will have together…We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!

The first challenge will be posted tomorrow!



Love You, Mom

Recently, I found something that belonged to my mama. It was something I thought had been lost even before her death 20 months ago.  It was something very special to her, and because of that – especially because of that – it’s special to me.

This lead me to my Mama’s Box Of Stuff so I could place the item  where it belonged. When I opened the box to put the found item in, I noticed something I hadn’t seen before. It was a bright yellow Dollar General bag.  How did I miss this little bag about a year and a half ago when I was sorting mama’s things, ever so carefully and in great detail, searching for and extracting memories from each picture, doodled on scrap of paper, address book and to-do list I could find?  I opened the small bag to find a signed, un-delivered birthday card…..from mama to me.  From my mama, to me!

I guess I don’t have to tell you there was a dramatic pause. Time.Stood.Still as I read every word in the card and felt the separation between the here and there caressed ever so tenderly.

LOVE doesn’t die. LOVE lasts. LOVE transcends. LOVE lives. On. and On. and On.

Mama didn’t know when she bought and signed that card when exactly it would be delivered to me…but God’s timing is always perfect, and better than anything we could ever orchestrate.  As I celebrate birthday 48, I am most thankful for the gift of eternal life…Hope in Jesus Christ….and know that a Heavenly celebration is yet to come!


And thank you, Lord, for the gift of my mama’s love.

My Relationship With The Trashcan

Sometimes I hear God loud and clear.
It’s not that He’s sometimes speaking to me, but more that I’m sometimes listening.
And when I’m not listening very well to something He is adamantly saying, He sometimes has to show me.  And most of the times, when He sometimes has to show me something, I don’t see it.  Not the first time.  Probably not the second.  Maybe I will see it the third time, but I can’t say for certain that’s always a truthful statement.

Today, God showed me the trashcan.  It took THREE times before I saw it plain as day, and realized that I have an awfully quick handed relationship with that thing.

FIRST GLIMPSE (I totally missed this one):

I thought it was a container of butter.
It wasn’t.
I was scraping it out into the trashcan before I realized it was orange frosting.
My mother-in-law’s frosting, to boot!
Horrible, horrible mistake.
It looked like re-solidifed soft butter.
Butter that had been firm, then melted, and then re-firmed.
You know what they say about looks…that they can be deceiving?
They were.  And I didn’t think twice about it.
I thought it was something it wasn’t.

SECOND GLIMPSE (missed this one, too):

I thought it was trash.
An empty package.
It wasn’t.
I had thrown it away, tied up the garbage bag and hauled it outside to our curbside trashcan before I realized it was a brand spanking new package of chewing gum.
A pack my husband would later be hunting for.
It had been sitting atop the counter in the kitchen with other trash items:
and empty can, broken pencil and torn in half junk mail.
You know what they say about the company you keep?
This pack of gum was hanging out with the wrong crowd.
That’s what happened to it.
I thought it was something it wasn’t.

GLIMPSE THREE (this one I got!  I finally got it!)

I thought it was a forgotten soft drink.
There was a ring of condensation beneath it.
It wasn’t.
I said to my son, “Daddy forgot to take his drink to work”,
and I popped off the lid and dumped it in the sink.
It ‘plopped out”, the last quarter of my son’s milk shake.
You know what they say about judging a book by it’s cover?
I did that. And that’s what happened to the milk shake.
I thought it was something it wasn’t.

“Lord, I’m so quick to discard things, discounting them as things they are not.  Oh, Heavenly Father, do I do this with more important things, too?  Like people – my relationships with them?  Situations?  It’s so easy to ‘keep tidy’ by throwing things aside, or by getting rid of them all together.  Lord, I need Your help to distinguish between the things of value and the things that are to be cast aside.  Please help me to see Your hand-sewn opportunities beneath the exterior coverings of people and situations that are of value to You.  I don’t want to go through this life missing those opportunities.  And Father, I need Your help also in knowing when to let things go.  Help me to listen and see better, Lord.  Thank you for Your patience with me, and unwavering love, despite how messy I am.   I love you!  In Your Son’s name, Amen.”



I Thank My God For You

“I thank my God every time I remember you.” Phillipians 1:3

Today marks one year since my mama stepped into Eternity. Time is a funny thing. It’s a constraint inside this world, but outside of these boundaries, it’s nothing really. Though mama has been absent from our lives physically, her memory is so alive with us – so present! – that she is a part of our every day. Still. And I am thankful!

Leading up to today, I’ve been trying to feel all the things that this world tells us we should feel when we lose someone so dear to us. I’ve considered sadness, a suppressed joy, even…I’ve considered what might be outwardly perceived as a respectful, mournful state…and I’ve even considered that silence might be an appropriate display for this time.  But what the world tells me I should feel today, and what I should have been feeling all year, does not match up with the promises of My Savior – and oh, how I can’t deny that its by nothing less than God’s grace and mercy – His complete and faithful promises – that I am not feeling exactly the way the world teaches us to feel. Instead, leading up to today, the Lord has showered me with some amazing memories that are like a cool-whipped topping on the peace He has graciously given me. Memories of YOU!

You have gifted me, kind strangers, my friends and my family, with a love brought to flesh directly from The One who set this world in motion. I DO thank my God for every time I remember you!

YOU, short red-haired lady who always greeted my mama with that beautiful smile, as you escorted her behind the scene at Dr. Pavy’s office. YOU, soft-spoken manager at the hotel where mama and I stayed in Charleston, waiting to see the doctors at MUSC. YOU, young working mother at the bank who took time to hold onto my mama’s hand in the parking lot, where you so graciously handled her business while she stayed in the comfort of our car. YOU, four gentlemen, who gave my mama the ride of her life in the heart-reach ambulance (she really did love your humor, that wasn’t just the pain medication talking!). YOU, all of you, with McLeod Hospice, treating my mama with such dignity and calm – and loving on our whole family. So many, many kind strangers that Jesus shined through. I remember you, and I am thankful.

And my friends. You know who you are. You brought my mama an ever-flowing supply of donuts from Krispy Kreme. You went with mama for her first pedicure. You saved my mama from a spider, and she really did believe you were a superhero for that! You tracked me down at MUSC to share a Starbucks and tears. You showered my mama with the most beautiful flowers. You sent mama the sweetest letter, telling her of the goodness of life through trials and the abundant love of Jesus (she kept that letter inside her pillowcase, did you know that?) You baked us a yummy chocolate chip cake…fed our souls with so much delicious foods and company.  You stayed by mama’s bedside with me, through her very last breath. You called. You emailed. You sent cards. You prayed. You came and sang hymns to her. You held mama’s right hand, while I held her left, and encouraged her to go into the arms of Jesus. You, ALL OF YOU,  loved with the hands and feet AND heart of Jesus.  I remember you, and I am thankful.

And to my family. I love you. My mama loved you – every single one of you – ferociously. From shelling butterbeans with her just a couple of weeks before she left this earth…to the fingernail polishes you delivered bedside…The flounder you special delivered to our house so mama could enjoy her favorite…the calls, the visits…the hugs and squeezes…the tears and the laughter…The Lord gifted my mama’s life – my life – when He made us family.  I remember you, and I am thankful.

And to my husband and sons – words cannot describe what we have journeyed through together.  Nana  loved her boys, ALL OF YOU, so much.  What a blessing to have her in our lives as we did.  As we do.  I draw on so much strength from who you are in Him.  I remember you, and I am thankful.

Today my mama’s been celebrating in heaven for a year our time – but for an eternity in eternity!  That brings me endless joy – almost giddy, even – to know where my mama is and in Whose presence she walks, literally, always.  I’m not sad, world, and I’m not depressed or off-centered today, as you would want me to be.  My mama lives today!  More so than any of us here on earth.  She lives, and I WILL see her again.  All because I know that Jesus’s promises are true, today I’m celebrating what is to come.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

-Lamentations 3:22-23


Room 15

My mama had pancreatic cancer. She chose hospice care, instead of trying to battle this particular intruder. I know that there are many (too many) who are and will face this beast called cancer, pa…

Source: Room 15

God’s Plan Was (Un) Expected

Expected: regard (something) as likely to happen
Unexpected:  unforeseen; surprising


Jesus knocked on our door today.  His name was Mr. Johnson.*

He rang the doorbell, actually, 2 or 3 times before he knocked.  It was 8:30am – a Sunday morning!  The dogs were barking.  Our quiet sleep-in was breached.

The youngest had already clambered out of bed and peeked through the curtains to bring me this full report:  “It’s a tax man or business man or something.”

“On a Sunday morning?”, I quietly asked myself, rhetorical, of course.  So then, with much less effort required to clamber, I got out of bed and went to the door.  I held onto the collar of our eldest furry matriarch as I opened the door just a smidgen enough to look this unannounced visitor in the eyes.

What happened next was a blur.  A sudden, wonderful rush of glad tidings.  I okayed it with our guest that he was good with dogs, and invited this stranger-no-more inside.

“Reed, put a shirt on and come out here please”, I called to our recent high school graduate.

Mr. Johnson stepped inside, offering his hand for the sniff-test and subsequent, almost obligatory, pet patting of both of our dogs, before Reed rounded the corner.

“Hello Reed!  I’m with Haddum Corporation.*  Some time ago, you applied to our scholarship program, and I don’t know how it happened, but your name was overlooked at the award ceremony at your school last month.  So I’m here this morning to congratulate you, young man, and award you our highest scholarship.  We are so proud of you for continuing your education and following your dreams.”


Reed had applied to a handful of scholarships this year, but hadn’t received a single one outside of the merit-based state scholarship and a small scholarship at the college where he had applied.  He had received rejection letters (hate calling them that, but they do leave you feeling rejected, none-the-less) from all of the places he applied except for Haddum.

When Reed was invited to attend the awards ceremony at his high school in May, we all were hopeful that he would then receive a scholarship award from Haddum.  Instead, he came home with an unexpected recognition certificate for Theatre Arts – which totally surprised us! – but no Haddum scholarship.  9 other students received one, but not Reed.  It was disheartening.


In this life,
You shake off disappointments.
You rid yourself of that feeling of rejection.
And you move forward.
You don’t condemn Haddum.
You congratulate your fellow students who received the scholarship.
And you trust that God has worked everything out for you.


And when you least expect it, God shows up, sometimes in person, to confirm that He has worked things out and that He is still in control.  He knocks on your door at 8:30am on a Sunday morning, unexpected, to bring you news of good tidings and joy.  He blows your mind.  He loves you.  And He reminds you that all you have to do is Trust Him.

God’s plans are always better than anything we can hope for.

This morning, in our little house, we were given a gift – more than the scholarship.  We were given a tangible reminder of God With Us.  All the time.  Not just when we feel He “shows up in person”.  God has been here the whole time, waiting on His perfect timing, so that He would be Glorified through this generous gifting.

Had Reed received the scholarship from Haddum at the awards ceremony, it would have been expected, sort of, and honestly, it would have been easy to give Reed the glory for obtaining it.  BUT, even when (even though) we work hard to achieve things, God is The One to receive all the Glory, for it is only by His Hands that we are able to do great things.

This morning I am praising Him, and thanking Him…

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!  

Great things He hath done.

*The names of the business and scholarship presenter have been changed.