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Monday, May 28, 2012

For various reasons, we decided to stay in Mahomet, Il. at the lovely Tin Cup campground and Driving Range (yes, I did say driving range...not that I would ever take advantage of it, but it was lovely to look at) for one more night, before heading to Chicagoland for the wedding of the couple Don and I had been privileged to mentor. They are getting married this afternoon, and we are so excited for them.

Since we were staying an extra day, we decided to explore the quaint little town of Mahomet. First, we indulged in a delicious breakfast at the Red Hen.

Then, upon the recommendation of our Campground Host, we went to the Lake of the Woods park. Oh My!! It was a beautiful park with a botanical garden that went on and on. We walked around just enjoying God's creation and then went back to RTJ (wondering what that is? read earlier posts) to rest.

A little later, everyone decided it was time to eat again. (I always wonder how this happens so quickly. I mean, do they really need food all that often? I can't figure out why, after a HUGE breakfast, 3 hours later they are hungry again. And they get real cranky if they don't get food. Especially the oldest one. Dad I mean.) So Don looked on Urban Spoon (his favorite for recommendations...mine too, especially in a little one horse town) and found an authentic Mexican place called Zarapes. Now I know you're thinking what I was thinking: " Illinois??" But it had multiple positive reviews, so off we went. Well, we were all pleasantly surprised. The food was fantastic, service impeccable and cleaner than most places I've been. Josiah had the Burrito Mano. It was HUGE!! Steak and beans, cheese, sour creme, lettuce and covered with homemade queso.


Thats when I realized he is in his growth spurt and we are in trouble. Our food bill is on its way up. Unless we live in Mahomet, Il. where he could eat this burrito every day and only pay $6.99 for it. Yup. I said $6.99!! If we lived there, and he ate there every day, I think they would have to up their prices. Or we would put them out of business. So I think it would be better for them if we move on.

After eating, we stopped at a little second hand shop in the same shopping center. We found some old children's books for .25 each, including a hardback edition of the complete collection of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne. For a quarter! While checking out I spied several cute doilies and asked if she had any more. She replied, "Do I have any more? I have 2 huge tubs of them from my mother's and grandmother's attic in my office! Would you like to see them?" "Yes, Please."

I spent the next 1/2 hour ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the beautiful hand crocheted and embroidered doilies and laces. When I'd finished, I picked through and decided what I thought I could afford and asked, "how much for these?" Mind you I had enough to fill a large Kohl's bag.

"How about $20.00 for the lot?", said she. I had my wallet out and the $20.00 in her hand before she could change her mind. We stuffed them in the Kohl's bag and I walked out smiling like the Cheshire Cat. I knew I had just been blessed and was so excited. But as we drove home, I was thinking: "I should have just offered her $50.00 for the whole tub. I could have had it all!" And immediately a seed of discontentment was planted in my heart.

When we got back to BTJ, I began to scheme in my mind how I could get back by that shop before she closed and offer her $30.00 for the rest of the lot. I forgot all about the amazing blessing God had just given me, and started coveting the stuff I didn't get. Don and I had to go right back there to get groceries later so maybe I could convince him to take me back. No, I knew that would never work. Yet I had to hope he would understand, and maybe he would want me to have it. But alas, No. Even though I said to him, "I could make such cute things with them. I would give some and make some gifts." I even tried, as we were leaving the grocery store parking lot, "I still think you should take me there and let me get the rest of it." "Oh, you do, do you?" Says he, as he drives past.

My heart sank just a little bit, but then the Holy Spirit smacked me upside the head. I thought, "and you are trying to downsize? YOU?" and I opened my heart just a little bit to let the Holy Spirit speak. And He did. He said, "If you buy all that stuff now, you will close yourself off to what I will bring you in the future. You will not have room for anything else. And this is just the beginning of the trip. What if you find some other amazing things at garage sales or auctions in Ohio? or what if you want to buy a gift for someone else and you have spent all I have for you to spend?" And I immediately asked forgiveness for being so short sighted, so selfish and so greedy. And then I realized that there are way more spiritual implications that I need to learn from this.

If I have my hands so full of activities, even if they are good ones, and the Lord brings something else that is more for me, and I can't do it, I miss out on a huge blessing. And if I am doing serving somewhere that is clearly not where I should be, I am robbing someone else of their blessing since I am filling the need that they should be. And if I spend money that should be going to something else, I am robbing God, myself, and someone else. If he can't trust me with something as small as money, (which is huge to us, but nothing to him), why would he trust me with spiritual gifts. OUCH!

I am learning. I have been 'round this block before. But here is yet another layer of that smelly onion he is skillfully removing. And the more he does, the more I see my deep need of a surgeon to remove the cancer of my selfish desires. And I love him all the more for it.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Illinois: We Are Here!!

So, driving through Atlanta was frustrating, but made me realize that that is how life sometimes is. We inch a few feet forward, not making much progress, and then we do it again. And life is so daily. I get lost in the slowness and the "to do's" but miss the big picture. The progress. It is like I told my daughter once: You are looking through a microscope when you need to be looking through a telescope. 

We have to make sure to look for God in the daily routine of life, or else we will miss the process, and the lessons we need to learn in this stage. Then we will have to learn them in another stage, when we should be further along and mature enough to handle learning something else. I know there are areas that I missed. And thats ok. For if you miss something important, something that you really need to see, God will teach it to you again, in a different situation. 

I liken it to an onion. Kinda like Shrek. (not really like Shrek...just like the reference). God uses his scalpel to peel away our stinky human nature layer by layer. Every time you come face to face with how you handle a situation, you have a choice. It may not feel like a choice, but you have one. And the Holy Spirit is there as your helper. And as you make His choices your choices, you grow. And He gives you deeper challenges. Cutting deeper and causing your dependency on Him to grow and your love for Him to flourish....or not, depending on your choices. But He loves you so much that He is not going to let your screams of pain and your pouting and your whining to deter His plan for you. He may give you a reprieve, and let you go your own way for a while, but you are HIS. And He LOVES you. So He continues his surgery, carving you into the image of His likeness, for all the world to see. And I wouldn't trade that for anything. Even if I could breeze through Atlanta at 55 mph and get to my earthly destination faster. I don't want to miss my heavenly appointment, so I guess I am going to have to let Him take his time with me. I wish it was instantaneous, but if it were, I wouldn't have experiences to share, and joy in the JOURNEY. And I wouldn't need Him so desperately. Which I do. And my guess is, you do too. So as you crawl along, scratching and clawing for every bit of ground you attain, only to discover that you've only gone an inch, be grateful. For he is creating something beautiful in you. A life full of experiences you can share with others along the road. And I am grateful we are all motoring along together.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

After much-a-do, we finally made it on the road. It seems like we leave later in the day every time we leave on a trip. We got all packed and in the MoHo, otherwise known as "the big ole rolling turd or the taj mahaul, depending upon who you talk to, or how it is behaving at the moment. The kids call it the Big Ole Rolling Turd, after the motorhome on the movie "R.V." I call it the Taj Mahaul, since when my niece's husband Brad saw it for the first time said: That thing is nicer than my house! Its like the Taj Mahal. I just changed it a bit since we haul everyone around in it. And everything. And a car. Really. we tow a car behind. And the thing that connects the car to the motor home so it can be towed is called a
"TOAD". I am totally serious. So maybe we should call it "the big ole rolling toad" or the Toad MaHaul. Or Toad Hollow. Can you tell I am tired?? Today, Don named it R.T. For Rolling Turd. But I think I will call it R.T.M. Rolling Taj MaHaul. Or something else. Anyway, we were all ready and started to go when a fuse blew in the car. Now you may wonder what that had to do with anything, but for some reason (unknown to me still) it has to have the entire electrical system working. Might have to do with having brake lights. A minor need in my mind. If they can't see the HUGE brake lights on R.T.M, they ought not be driving anyway. But aside from that, we couldn't leave because we did not have any extra fuses. So Don went to get some at the local gas station. In the mean time, I went to the mall because the kids were begging for the traditional Vacation day food: Chik-fil-a. We usually go there and get it because it it across from the turnpike entrance, but since the fuse blew and we were waiting on Don to get back, I went to the mall.

When I returned, low and behold the kids meal had NO NUGGETS! Just fries. Why oh Why didn't I check it before I left the mall? Now what do I do?? So I called the mall Chick-fil-a. They were very kind and very sorry. So sorry that I think I could have gotten them to give me a whole tray of nuggets. But I didn't want that. I wanted them to get a delivery boy to bring me the stinkin' nuggets. But they didn't offer that. If I wanted to go back over there, I could have whatever I wanted. But I Didn't Want to Go Back. I wanted to leave. I wanted to be on the road already!!

Mind you, I didn't loose my temper. I wasn't ugly to the Chick-fil-a guy. How could I be when he was so great. Took down my address and is sending me some coupons. Yay! But I was very frustrated and fussed about for a few minutes. It didn't even cross my mind to ask God what he was up to. How he was working. What I was supposed to take away from this.

Now, even that wouldn't be so bad. Everyone forgets that once in a while, right. Everyone gets frustrated and looses focus once in a while. But that wasn't the first time this week that it happened. OUCH!! It happened yesterday, too. And while I know God forgives, and I don't think much about it when other people have these moments, I hate it when I act like the spoiled brat that I am, and loose it. Ok, I didn't come close to loosing it, but I have in the past. Like yesterday. Well, not really loose it, but more so than I would like.

But more about that tomorrow. Right now, I am asking forgiveness and seeking my Father's face. And then I am going to fall into bed and rest. I know that he has sleep for me now. And I so need it. Tomorrow is another day, with no mistakes on it, to quote a line from Anne of Green Gables. If you haven't seen the movies with Megan Follows, you should. You really really should. Now. Go to Netflix or Hulu or Voodu or whatever other movie source you like. See it soon. You will thank me for it.

Anyway, tune in tomorrow when I will answer the "why" question once and for all. You won't want to miss it. As for now, Good night and God Bless.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Truly Treasured

I received a very special gift from a very special lady today. I consider myself very blessed to call her my friend. I know she sacrificed to give me this gift. It was something that was a gift to her, and I mentioned to her how much I liked it, and now I have one. It is part of a beautiful collection of products by Dayspring Company, the Redeemed Collection. It is a lovely wallet, with a patchwork pattern on the front, and the words "truly treasured" and Romans 5:8 scripture reference stitched on the back. I love what this collection represents:
 God took the bits and pieces of out broken and discarded lives, redeemed them, and then put them back together into something that is not only useful, but beautiful as well.
Thats the way he works, isn't it? What we think is broken into so many pieces that it could not possibly be useful, God puts back together, making something that is an amazing mosaic of his grace, mercy and love. It never ceases to amaze and surprise me that God would choose to use me. Maybe that is part of why he does it. He loves to be our hero. He loves to keep us in awe of Him. He loves to wow us. And he loves us to praise Him in our amazement.
I feel so honored to know such amazing, loving women. My joy in knowing them and having the privilege of being a part of them is beyond words. I know they feel like they are being blessed, but I am the one who is blessed. I have no words to describe how I feel so loved, so honored and so humbled at their acceptance, graciousness and love. Ladies, I love how you love. I love how God has taken all the broken pieces and made a spectacularly beautiful quilt out of each one of you. It is delightful to see God making something beautiful out of each of you, right before my very eyes. And as he takes the patchwork of your  separate lives, and stitches them together, side by side, he brings warmth and comfort into the lives of so many others. Especially me. And I am so very thankful that he has chosen at this time to put your pieces next to mine. I love you all dearly.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Well, I haven't posted in a few days, for many reasons, the least of which is that I decided not to continue with LOAD this month. (Layout A Day challenge with Lain Eiman: I haven't made a page in a week, and I haven't felt a bit guilty about it. At first it was a little weird. And I do miss it, but I really can't afford the time or energy it was requiring. So instead, I am focusing on what is really important right now, which is my relationship with Christ, and with my husband and family.

It is so easy for me to get distracted. Now I am not saying that it is wrong for me to scrapbook or do other crafts for that matter. I love to record the memories we have created as a family. I love to create wonderful things from my supplies, especially fabric and paper crafts. And I believe my talents and abilities come from a super creative God who allows me to be creative because he is creative. That is not what I am talking about here. There is nothing wrong with that. What was happening was this: LOAD became my single focus. I was thinking about that day's challenge all throughout the other activities of my day. I was distracted, and tried to race through the "less important" activities like: reading to my kids, homeschooling them, fixing meals, laundry (ok, so that one really is less important, however, it is necessary) well, you get the picture. I am embarrassed to say that I really did not want to take very long reading to the kids or doing school because I wanted to do something for me. Something fun. Something meaningful. Whoa.

Yes, sad but true, I am not perfect. I get distracted and selfish. I try to justify it by saying I am doing something important, but what I really mean is that I am doing something self-serving. Something that I can post online and all you wonderful people can look at and tell me how talented, fun, creative, and blessed I am. But the older I get, the more I realize that there is only one person I want kudos from. And that is Jesus. I want to look him in the face someday and have him say, "good job. You did what was real."

Paul says: Although I speak with tongues of men and angels, and I prophesy and give all to the poor, but don't love, I am nothing. That means to me: I can create all kinds of beauty, fill my home with stuff and look good on the outside. But if the people who know me best miss out on Christ in me, what is it worth? And how can they see Christ in me when I am so self focused?

Yes, I am a very loving, giving person. Only because of Christ in me. But I want to abandon my wants, my desires and even my own needs for the sake of Christ. He knows what I need, what will make me shine his love inside and out. He provides Great Love. Not just "good enough love". And I want to be a reflector of that. A radiator of His Great Love.

How do I do that? By setting aside the things that so easily entangle me. Like LOAD. This time, at least. Maybe in October, I will be able to do it, as my situation will have changed. Like I said earlier: Scrapbooking is not bad. Crafting is not bad. It is not wrong, nor should it make anyone feel guilty- even me. But when it becomes an All-consuming distraction for me it is. Sometimes, I need a distraction. It  is necessary. Not from Christ, but so I can see Christ in the midst of difficulties. Sometimes crafting helps me connect WITH Creative Creator. But right now, my all-consuming passion needs to be Him. With no distractions. And I can't do that and do LOAD, too. So I gave it up to pursue a deeper need.

Hello. My name is Leslie, and I am a craft-aholic. It has been exactly 7 days, 4 hours and 32 minutes since I last crafted. I just made the times up. I really don't have time to figure out exactly how long it has been. I've got a more important passion to pursue. Christ in me, Christ in me, Christ in me: the hope of Glory; You are everything....Be my everything. Be my everything. Be my everything.

Monday, May 7, 2012


LOAD7 by damazingmama
LOAD7, a photo by damazingmama on Flickr.

Todays prompt was do a layout in 30 minutes or less. OUCH!! I am not too much of a rule follower, but I did manage to get both pages done in a little under 45 minutes! It was a little crazy and I did take a little too long fiddling with the arrangement of the photos and cropping them but it is done. When I heard the prompt I knew that I wanted to do a grid. Since I am working on an album of a single event, I wanted to stay within a color scheme, and I used purple circles in yesterday's LO, so I decided to stick with it here. I love this paper for a grid, because the lines are not perfectly straight. That keeps your eye fooled a bit and you don't notice the slight differences in the size of the photos. The pink is not as bright as it seems on the photo, and it is a nice contrast to the green and purple. I did not get the journaling done, but plan to tonight. I have a lot to say about this event, and I just need time to think and type it to get it just right. But I am happy to get this much done. And I like it. Not fancy, but done!

Sunday, May 6, 2012


LOAD 6 by damazingmama
LOAD 6, a photo by damazingmama on Flickr.

Well, today's prompt was a killer!! This is a VERY modified version of todays prompt. It was a sketch, which did not look much like this at all. It is also based on another sketch for a challenge from Big Picture Classes for National Scrapbook Day. I melded them together and this is what I got. I did not know this about myself, as I have never tried to use one before, but I HATE using sketches!! I don't mind scrap lifting, but a blank sketch is no good for me. I might get used to it, if I tried or had to, but I am so glad I never bought a bunch of them and then discovered this!! And the photo is actually backwards....the right page goes on the left and the left on the right. At least that is how I originally "planned" (and I use that word very loosely) it. This is part of an album I am doing of an event I had at my house. These are some of the wonderful women that I am privileged to mentor and be friends with. I am so blessed.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


LOAD5 by damazingmama
LOAD5, a photo by damazingmama on Flickr.

Today, Lain (who has created Layout A Day) told us to go to ebay, look up our name and do a layout based on the first thing that comes up. When I went to ebay and looked up Leslie, a DVD for Leslie Sansone called JUST WALK came up. I liked the layout and graphics, and the title. The DVD had a "different walk for each day of the week", so I used some of the verses that mean a lot to me to make a verse for every day. So this is how it came out. I really like it. One of the scrapbook giants, ali edwards, has a class and idea to choose 'one little word' as your theme word this year. Even though I am not doing the class or the challenge, My 'one little word' has been HOPE this year. I have had an emotionally difficult 2011 and so far 2012, but I have realized that whatever the situation, I cannot place my hope in anyone or anything but God. Simply put, I trust Him.
This teapot came from Dayspring. The pot says Hope, and it has 2 teacups, Peace and Joy. The scripture on the side says: The God of all Hope will fill you with Joy and Peace. The greatest gifts I have gotten out of this year are hope, joy and peace. It has been amazing. The difficulties are pressing me to my knees more than ever, and God fills me with his Spirit to overflowing. Thank you, Father. I love you.

Letters: Dollar store (they are wall decals!)
Paper: SEI (very old!)
Rub ons and other assorted items all from my stash.

I am trying to use up my stash some before I buy new. These LOAD challenges help!

Friday, May 4, 2012


LOAD2 by damazingmama
LOAD2, a photo by damazingmama on Flickr.

This is my version of todays prompt. It was "NO PHOTO". I think sometimes we forget that scrap booing started because people wanted to save their memorabilia so they could cherish important memories. So this is what I came up with. Heres what I wrote about it: "My mom was a sewist. She created beautiful things with fabric. But she was not a quilter or a "gourmet seamstress." She did what she had to do to make things work. She was self taught, out of necessity. And after my dad left, she took in sewing so I could have things she otherwise couldn't have afforded. Before she died, she wanted to use up her many scraps to make quilts for my 2 sisters and I. She had many blocks sewn, but not enough to make even one quilt- all random and using just things she had leftover. Last Christmas, I used most of those squares to make tote bags for all of us, and all the granddaughters and great grands. These two were leftovers. And the lace? What is on the left and the flower is leftover from my wedding dress, and the right is just stuff she ripped off of something she had owned once upon a time. The buttons and hooks are from her stash. the mini album tells this story. Oh, And her favorite color was purple, and she loved to use zig-zag stitch. She also loved sparkles and bling on her clothes. I think this is a fitting tribute to her."


LOAD3 by damazingmama
LOAD3, a photo by damazingmama on Flickr.

I forgot to blog this one yesterday, so I am doing it now. I really want to get in the habit of writing and blogging again, so I am going to try to post each layouts as we do them. This prompt was "Use holiday colors". I immediately thought of my notes for the In(RL) events that I had this past weekend at our home because of the red and green poppies at the bottom of the cute journal pages. if I hadn't written all these notes, I would have forgotten something. I am doing an album about the event to document the joy that it was for me to do this for the sweet gals that attended. I am a "list maker" and I use a cute journal that Jayme gave me for all my notes/lists. I think there are about 15 pages of notes there, and then more on my my Pinterest boards. My ideas far exceeded my energy, but I got it all done anyway!! It was sew much fun! Since it was a beach theme, I got everyone a beach bag (at the dollar store!) and a beach towel (walmart) and embroidered their names on them. I put cute ribbon on hats for everyone, and we made velvet bookmarks and decorated flip flops for crafts. These are my lists, and a pic of the finished products. I love that I found this "life is good" in my stash. It matches perfectly, and the event was called, "In Real Life". Perfect!


LOAD4 by damazingmama
LOAD4, a photo by damazingmama on Flickr.

Here is todays LOAD512. Lain gave us the challenge today of using one of the 5 senses, hearing. As soon as I heard the prompt, I knew I had to do something with music. Music has always been important to me. I have a degree in voice, and have always loved to sing and worship God with my voice. This photo is of me, my son Sam, and one of my favorite artists, Jimmy Needham. (Jimmy is in the if you couldn't tell since my son looks so much like me!!) The lyrics behind the photo I hand wrote, and are to one of my fav. songs of his, Breathe. I used chipboard music symbols and inked them with white Brilliance, then used super thick embossing powder, got it nice and thick and then added a little interference red pearl-x and heated it one more time. The vellum has the journaling attached. The journaling is very personal about how music speaks to my spirit and encourages my soul.

I had just gotten this photo back from being developed yesterday, and it just worked perfectly. I already had all the goodies, so it came together pretty quickly and easily.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wow! It's been too long since last I posted. I feel like It has been way longer than it has been, but a lot has happened. I am not going to try to catch you up right now, but just realize that the entire month of February was consumed with a scrapbook challenge called LOAD, which is an acronym for LayOut A Day. The challenge was to do one layout every day, based on the prompt. I thought it would be easy for a veteran scrapbooker like me. I thought it would be simple, to find, and document my story. After all, I am the one who lived it. Boy, was I wrong!! It took way longer to decide what to do, and then to find the photos I wanted to use, and then choose paper, embellishments and then lay it out. But the journaling was the real time consumer! Then March went by and I'm not sure what happened to it or to April. And here we are in May and yet another LOAD!! Why oh why do I do this to myself??? Because I have a story to tell that no one else can, and maybe someone else someday will want to know these things. Well, I wasn't going to do this LOAD. I thought, "I'll just wait for the one in October" but as it got closer, I got more excited, and decided, "What the heck? What have I got to loose?? And if I only get one page done, it is more than I had done when I started."

So here is my first page.    

My description in the Flickr gallery says: I had a mini retreat at my home this weekend, and this is the photo we took during the 15 minutes that it wasn't raining!  We started with a tea party, and if you knew me, you would know that this is such a depiction of who I am. Tea and I just go together! And I love having women in my home for whatever reason. After the tea, we played some games, watched a few videos, had some great discussion, and did some crafts. My event was part of a world wide event honoring the community of women who do so much for so many.I love making people, especially moms feel special and loved, and pampering them with gifts and relaxation. Serving others with my gifts from God is who I am. I hope that He is always seen clearly in my self-portrait. I want my life to be "Jesus with skin on" showing Christ's love to others. I plan to do an album with all the photos we took, documenting all the fun. This will be the first page.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!! I will write what the journaling strip behind the page says tomorrow. Right now, I am headed to bed!