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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Teen Challenge

Our church service today was so.....beautiful. About 10 members of Teen Challenge were there to share their testimonies, their songs and their lives. I left feeling so grateful that they would take the time to share with us the pieces, once broken and now redeemed, with us.

In particular, there was one guy who held my attention, while they sang and then while he gave his testimony. He is 22 years old and began using drugs when he was 12. He came from a wealthy family in California, and in his words, "had all he could want and not what he needed." After a long, dark, deep road he ended up in PA at Teen Challenge....being transformed from, "an animal to a human and then to a man of God." Just to think what his life has held in these past 22 years is astounding to me. If God's love was so great for him in his filth, how much greater it is in his desire to be made clean and new.

"For I am convinced, (and that was one convinced group of men this morning) that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:38-39

There is FREEDOM in the true HEART KNOWLEDGE of His outstanding love toward us. May each of you reading this experience a new level of His love toward much that it CHANGES you from the inside~out.

"The wise still seek Him."
~unknown author~

Friday, August 29, 2008

7 days and counting....

until my hubby and i hit the beaches of the Florida panhandle! Yes please, THANK YOU!!

Here's the view from our balcony! Oh, heavenly, heavenly sounds!

It's our 6th anniversary and I couldn't be more delighted to be having the chance to "get away from it all" and be with my favorite person on earth! Although we will surely miss our boys!

I am so grateful to those that will be giving their time and energy on behalf of Jake and I to Tyler and Luke. We are blessed with family and friends that truly care for us and will uphold the standards we desire while we are absent. My prayer for the boys is that they would be at peace even while we are away, that they would really have a good time with their caregivers and feel at home in their arms, (as much as possible).
Here's a picture of the kitchen where we'll be staying, I just think it's so creatively decorated. We are looking forward to attending a local seminar while we are down there as well at this place, Christian International Ministries. The motto for the courses we are taking is "releasing the power within to Hit The Mark." Yes! Wonderful! Beautiful!

Let the countdown begin.......

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

busy with life....

Hello all, i'm still here, just living my life with the ones i love. it's been a busy week, nothing "big", just the dailyness of life:

  • screwing my head back on from laughing it off on Friday night. A great show, but honestly not as funny as his past shows...i like his old stuff better.

  • OPEN HOUSE for Chabod Academy of the Arts. I'll be helping with the Drama department this year, as I have the past 4 years. I got to talk about the Drama classes on the radio, "The Kids Cookie Break" on our local Christiain radio station. I answered lots of questions about the Academy. Come back for "Theater Thursday" and a small taste of what we have to offer.

  • doing laundry, tons of laundry that piles up and up and up.

  • Helping lead worship at church on Sunday, God so graciously showed up and blessed His people like crazy! "Unless the Lord had been my help, I would soon have dwelt in the land where there is silence. When I said, My foot is slipping, Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, held me up. In the multitude of my anxious thoughts within me, Your comforts cheer and delight my soul!" Psalm 94:17-19

  • Taking long naps on Sunday afternoon, as in every member of our family napping for 2 hours!

  • Going to the church picnic just down the road and eating delicious food, swinging a bat and trying to actually HIT the ball, chasing Tyler and Luke around and just generally enjoying life.

  • Putting list upon list together so that things can run as smoothly as possible while WE'RE IN FLORIDA FOR A WEEK SOAKING UP THE RAYS OF THE SUN AND THE SON! (we leave next Friday).

  • Thinking about dinner at 4:55 and wondering "what the heck am I going to make" and then whipping something together!

  • Taking time to make a campfire outback on a Monday night to roast smores. Just the four of us and our little chairs, fresh meadow tea in hand.

  • Shopping for the last minute items needed to finish a room we, (my extended family) "adopted" here. It's going to be so lovely....

  • Loving, laughing and teaching my boys. They are growing up so quickly! Tyler just loves to talk and talk and play with his trains. Luke loves to scream and destroy Tyler's trains...yeah, working on that one!

  • staying up entirely too late watching entirely too fit people win entirely too much gold! GO WORLD!!

  • drinking coffee.

  • Reading our latest book club book, "The Oaks" by Maureen Lang.

  • trying to figure out what kind of camera to buy since ours has officially died. any suggestions?

So, that's been my life in a nutshell the past few days. I hope this random, little post finds you enjoying the dailyness of life.

"Tomorrow's life is too late.
Live today

Friday, August 22, 2008

less then 12 hours!

until I get to LAUGH. MY. HEAD. OFF!!! We're going to see Brian Regan tonight at Hershey Theater with a group of friends! If you do not know who he is, you can click here, a past post that features him in action!!

I hope you find some laughter in your weekend as well!


"Something special happens when people laugh together over something genuinely funny, and not hurtful to anyone.
It's like a magic rain that showers down feelings of comfort,
safety and belonging to a group
~Mary Jane Belfie~

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

new days

"To give of your time requires sacrifice.
Take time for a quiet walk or a scenic drive.
Above all else, simply take time for each other.
If blood is the gift of life,
then time is the gift of love."

~Rainey~'s felt like a whole new journey has begun since my brother-in-laws motorcycle accident 11 days ago. if you're only tuning in, you can see the blog that his family put together for him here.

whenever i'm able to get a sitter for the boys, i venture into the hospital, mostly to see my sister and just hug her if that's all i get to do. twice in the past few days Carl had lengthy surgeries on his legs, so the three of us sisters went in to be with Fan, keep her company, eat some good, (non-hospital) food and chat about life. i have been given a renewed vision to love the days i am in. to be deeply, truly grateful for the things i have TODAY. vision for the future is good and necessary, but it's living in the NOW that makes life beautiful, unique, inspiring and real.

"if you have time to open the back door in the morning
while you're drinking your coffee
and look at the sky or hear the chorus the birds offer,
you have time for the marvelous....
most of life is fascinating if looked at closely enough."

~Diane Ackerman~

There is such POWER in gratefulness. I want to "tap" into that and let it run through me, onto others. Today, while waiting for the surgeon to give us a report on Carl, we got to talking about the incredible support that surrounds the Smuckers at this time. It was mentioned that many, many people are left alone to face life's struggles, to cope and transition on their own. It is what we do today, with the people in our life, that reflects into our future. Even in his pain, Carl asked Fan, "was I nice enough to the people around me today?" I was so convicted by that, because I can surely say, that with a healthy body and a sound mind, I am not so "nice" to all those people around me. I see Carl and Fan recognizing that they are NOT alone, that there is literally an army of people around them, holding up their arms.
"Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay."
~The book of Ruth~
Fan was speaking today about the Psalms and about how often we run to those chapters in times of struggle. David cries out in PRAISE and then the next chapter, he LAMENTS. It is in this fine and beautiful balance that Faith lives. God is still Sovereign and Good whether we worship Him through our joy or tears. He is moved by our worship toward Him and if we only have tears to offer, He's okay with that. He is leading us on a path of redemption....bringing us toward Him through things that may seem circumstantial...."I bare you on eagle's wings, and brought you unto myself." Exodus 19:4. Yes, we had church today in that waiting room that's for sure!
"And so what seems an hindrance, has become a way,
what seems an obstacle has become a door,
what seems a misfit has become a cornerstone.
Jesus changes our hurting from a random series of incidents and accidents
into a constant opportunity for a change of heart."
~Henry Nouwen~

Although this picture does not belong to me, it represents what I'm trying to say: relationships are what matter most in this life. Let's take time and do all that is in OUR POWER to cultivate the fields around us so that in the years to come, the harvest will be plentiful, the fruit will be sweet and the labor worthwhile. I'm seeing the sooner I grasp that this life isn't about me, the sooner I truly start LIVING....truly living.

To a life lived well.

Friday, August 15, 2008

It's been 6 years

...since we started the yearly tradition of the "Uncle Jake & Aunt Janelle" sleepover!! We were married six years ago and thought it would be neat to have all my nieces and nephews over to our house.....well, the tradition has stood strong and grown in number I might add!!

Here's Tyler joining in the fun, I believe he was right around Luke's age...16 months or so.

so, tonight is the campout and it's sure to be a fun time! Traditions are so lasting and special, they take time and energy, but it's worth it all!
Hope you have a great weekend, we sure will.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Theater Thursday

"You hold my every moment, You calm my raging seas
You walk with me through fire, And heal all my disease.

I trust in You
I trust in You

I believe You're my Healer, I believe You are all I need
I believe You're my Portion, I believe You're more than enough for me
Jesus You're all I need.

My Healer, You're my Healer
Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
You hold my world in Your hands."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Memories of us at the Bare Cabin

See that cabin up in the woods? That's where we spent our weekend! It was amazing. We went with some good friends: Josh & Nellie, Clark, Kara & Madelyn and Sheldon & Jena, Bailey, Samuel and Khai. When you're getting your "to do list" together, or rather, "to pack list" you sometimes wonder, "is this worth all the work??" BUT, indeed it is! We had one of the best weekends we've had this summer!!
We arrived to a beautiful Lake just waiting to played in!!
We settled in, watched the children play and enjoyed each other's company. The cabin was laid out so well, we all had separate rooms so the kids slept well in their own little space. The next day adventure was on the list! We drank hot coffee on the deck swing, read, took naps, Jake and Tyler went fishing, the ladies went for a long walk/run, the kids swam and played in the sand, some of the guys went golfing for a few hours, Josh played his guitar, Sheldon took his kids out on the paddle boat, Jake sat on the dock and fished for hours, Lukie explored, Jena and I jumped off the dock like little kids....basically we just did whatever we wanted to do all day's the view from my morning cup of coffee..... Later that night we had a delicious dinner off the grill and spent time around the campfire. The weather was so perfect, warm enough to swim during the day and chilly enough to wear a cozy sweatshirt around the fire at night. Tyler enjoying his delicious smore!
Sweet, sweet times.

Jena with Bailey and Khai! The kids all got along so well.
Chillin' before naptime with Curious Geroge.
There was a little beach area there as well that all the kids really loved.

Especially my water Baby....Luke loves to lay flat and put his face in the water...
cracks me up! He really comes to life when he's outdoors.
Tyler wanted to jump off the dock, "like Mommy did"...we had so much fun together.
He would run fast and jumped high and long into my arms!
One afternoon, Sam and Tyler played for a long time together in the water. On our way home Sunday afternoon we stopped for ice cream at this
adorable little place along the way....
Thank you friends for a fabulous weekend together.
You are easy to be around and a joy to be with.

Looking forward to more memory making....

"Remember this ~
very little is needed
to make a happy life."
~Marcus Aurelius~

Thursday, August 7, 2008

New blog

Hello friends and family, just wanted to let you know about a new blog for my brother-in-law Carl, married to my oldest sister Fan. He was in a serious motorcylce accident this morning, but was not killed. He has a long road to recovery, but only physically....mentally he is stable, thanks be to God! Please keep them in your prayers as they begin this journey TOGETHER!

Ironically, they were heading on a family vacation tomorrow morning, so their schedules are totally free the next 6 days!

We just got home from the hospital. He was still heavily sedated, but when Jake said, "we're here to see you Carl," he replied, "not much to see!!" Looks like his humor hasn't been bruised in the least!!!!

We love you Carl & Fan, Doug & Mandi, Carson, Tessa and Christy!!!

"Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are.
Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart.
Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.
Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so."
~Mary Jean Iron~

Theater Thursday

I'm going to be sending you to another link today for Theater Thursday, for some reason I'm not able to post the video directly on my blog.....ENJOY!!


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

a yummy snack for one

i've been on a brie cheese kick lately and here's my newest favorite snack for one: ritz crackers with homemade raspberry jelly topped with thin slices of brie, goes great with a glass of nissley wine, a quiet house and the food network....yes please, thank you!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dream Cottage

This precious little cottage is just down the road from us, and it's for sale! I just think it's so dreamy and wanted to share it with you. I can imagine some beautiful moments in this home, ones that have come and ones yet to be made. "Home" what a sweet word. No where in the world can compare to place you call "home" and that may be in a house or it may be with a certain person. I've heard it said that "home is any four walls that enclose the right person."
Here is a prayer for your home today:
Grant them peace, most precious gift of all
Keep the worried world far away and small
When they return, may quiet fill their souls,
Dearest Lord, keep them safe within it's walls.

May the stone be cool beneath their feet.
The canyon breezes circle soft and sweet
When darkness falls, the stars and opal moon
Find them wrapped in each other, ever warm.

May it be a refuge for their love,
A harbor for their deepest prayer.
May they come to flourish in the grove,
Grow ever nearer to You there.

Many a burdened friend in their company rises,
A heavy heart is soon released to fly.
May their table be blessed with laughter and with grace
And by the comfort of kinship be surprised.

May the cold wind blow far from their front door
May the winter rains never bring them harm
May their hearthfires burn throughout the night
Grant them peace until morning's perfect light.

"Better joy in a cottage than sorrow in a palace."

Friday, August 1, 2008

Une Soiree Blanche

...oh the night I wished had never ended....the night which started as a dream became an enchanted evening. The guests arrived beautifully dressed in white. I walked Jake out to the grove and he was so pleasantly surprised. Leraunt made a light appetizer, whole grain bread with his own homemade basil pesto, topped with cherry tomatoes and fresh parmesan cheese.

I presented a toast to his honor, in which I read from one of our favorite movies, "The Count of Monte Cristo, "Life is a storm my young friend, you will bask in the sunlight one moment be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into the storm as you shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst for I will do mine. Then the Fates will know you as we know you as Albert Mondego, the man." My friend Gentry, my nephew Mitchell and my niece Christy were the most attentive, kind servers. I am indebted to them. They were so professional and efficient and handled themselves so gracefully. Thanks guys!!! Leraunt and my Mom worked so hard in the hot kitchen preparing our food. We were ALL so blessed by their kind efforts. Our first course was called "Amuse du Chef" which means to "amuse the mouth" and indeed it did just that. It was one bite on a large spoon, Leraunt's homemade raspberry sauce with melted brie on top. A taste of heaven. I licked the spoon several times and welcomed our guests to do the same! The second course, can you figure it out in French? Our menus were in French so that was a special part to the night, trying to figure out what it said. La Salade- Une salade d'été mélangée aux feuilles d'épinards, servies avec l'artichaut, aux noix rôties, aux graines de sésame et uncontact de citron- Next Leraunt served us "Amuse Bouche", a palate cleanser. It was a beautiful arrangement of ginger, mint, orange juice and ice. So refreshing.
We relaxed in the outdoor lounge sipping Nissley wine until the main course, "Plat Principal" was ready. Plat Principal- Le saumon servi avec une purée de pommes de terre à l'ail, entouré par légumes aux juliennes et l'asperge, parfumé avec anise et avec une sauce faite maison à hollandaise. Oh, the amazing tastes in our mouth! Out of this world. By far the most delicious Salmon I've ever tasted. The evening seemed to linger. We had such great conversation, lots of laughter and time on our side. And lastly Leraunt and the "team" brought out dessert, the most fabulous poached pear with melted chocolate atop. Le Dessert- Une poire pochée, marinée en vanille et cannelle, avec du chocolat et les baies fraîches à la sauce flambée de cerise. Leraunt flambed all sorts of fresh fruit before our eyes and poured it over the pear. I have no words, seriously, it was THAT good.
We ended the evening with fresh cups of hot coffee, fuzzy blankets, lover in hand and "Gigi" on the big screen outside. I have to thank EVERYONE who gave their time, energy and kindness so freely: My Mom, Chef Leraunt Van Loon, my brother Tom for helping me set up, Shrish for keeping the boys, Gentry for helping with everything all night long, Christy for helping serve, Freiman and Lonnie for all the help with proper etiquette in regards to the French language & culture and Jess for capturing the evening so beautifully. Terri for the perfect hydrangeas. Photography by JessicaSue Photography. And such a thoughtful gift from Curt & Jeane, a beautiful grapevine and a wine making kit soon to arrive at our doorstep! Jake received such lovely cards and gifts from all his friends.

Leraunt is available for dinner parties both large and small and is very affordable. If you too would be interested in hiring him, please contact me, it is an amazing experience!

"It is not the length of life,
but depth of life."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson~