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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sneak Peek of Paisley's Picnic

  My Paisley-girl and I went on a picnic last's a little sneak peek! (PHOTO CREDIT: ANGELA STOLTZFUS).

Her 2nd birthday is on Saturday.So, I'll post the rest with her annual "birthday post!"
I love this time of year, when the lilacs are blooming. That smell will forever remind me of the week prior to her birth, gathering bouquets to place around the house....awaiting her arrival.
We are so grateful for her LIFE....all two years of it!! We are NEVER promised tomorrow, so thankful for TODAY!!!!

"Forever is composed of nows."
 ~Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Luke's 4th Birthday!

Celebrating birthdays is one of my favorite things about my full-time job!!  In another life I would have been a party planner for the rich and famous!  :)  I'm quite grateful for this "life" though and happily plan parties for my 3 little stars! 

Some of Luke's favorite "snackies" arranged like a buffet! 

 Saw this in a pottery barn magazine and recreated it.
Rolled newspaper to form a cone and filled it with peanuts.
Had some old tickets that I stuck in there to finish it off.
Made a banner from construction paper cut into triangles and strung together.
super easy. super cheap. super cute. used the leftover paper to make polka dots.
 Found some Toy Story stickers and placed them on either side of a toothpick.
You could easily do this with any stickers you may have or any theme.
 Who wouldn't want to scoop out some peanut m & m's with an ice cream dipper?

 I think balloons make the GREATEST IMPACT for little eyes,
(yet are inexpensive, easy and abundant for parents to use).
And get CrEaTiVe with them....fill their room while they're still asleep,
place them in a little blue swimming pool, put them up in the lights!

 *note to self* keep lemonade nozzle far away from curious little fingers.

 His favorite gift, a "real Buzz Lightyear".  "JUST WHAT ME WANTED" he exclaimed with such delight!!! 
 Favors. Buckets from the dollar bin at Target.  Filled them with some of Luke's favorite candy, some pencils and some gummy snacks.

 Counting his money with his Daddy.  He loves "dowers", (dollars).
$4 from Grammie, $4 from Grandpa and Grandma, $4 from Aunt Von, $5 from Aunt Shrish, $4 from Mitch!!

 His cousins and friends! xoxo.
The coolest gift from Aunt Fan.

 Thankfully this year he didn't hide under the kitchen table as we sang Happy Birthday.
Instead he licked the icing with his fingers.  He's not quite sure what to do with the attention and I think it's precious. He was so proud and felt so special even though he didn't know what to do with himself.

Speaking of precious, I had to end with this picture of my brother Leon and Paisley. She doesn't "warm up" to many guys, but Uncle Leon got her attention. 
What a wonderful way to celebrate being FOUR!!
We will not ask for more.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I think we as humans tragically equate blessings with God's favor and bad things/things not going well with His absence. Favor has nothing to do with God's nearness in my opinion. He is near to those that have nothing and are going nowhere.  I believe in favor, however I also believe that as a general rule, life is not about favor, it's about leaning hard into Him Who gives and takes away. Just some random thoughts at the tips of my fingers. 

Biblically there are some strong words about favor. One of which is most surprising to me, found in Job.  You'll remember him; lost everything he owned, his three daughters and seven sons died in a tornado while attending a birthday party, he experienced personal physical suffering, (some of which involved painful sores from head to toe that he would scrape off with a piece of broken glass). So much scraping that it left him disfigured beyond recognition. Yet this man wrote, "I am weary of my life" and then just a few sentences later he says, "You have GRANTED ME life and FAVOR, and Your providence has preserved my spirit."  (Job 10:1,12)  

What? Are you kidding me? I don't know much, but I do know that I don't want the kind of "favor" Job was getting from on high at this point in his life!  If we're honest, which I'm being right now, the kind of "favor" I'm talkin' about is found in Psalm 5.  "You, Lord, will bless the righteous; as with a shield You will surround him with GOODWILL AND PLEASURE AND FAVOR." Yes please, where do I sign up?? 

But here's the thing, is it MY WORKS that bring on HIS FAVOR?  At one time in my life I'm pretty sure I would have answered that with a nice little nod from my nice little Pharisee neck.  But I'm not into that anymore because I think it turns us/me, (Christians) into works-driven, spiritually-stressed, ceaselessly-striving individuals. I cannot ATTAIN GOD'S FAVOR BY ANYTHING I DO.
And what a relief~WHAT A FREEDOM to walk in that. 
To live in that.
To be okay with that.
To not carry that. 
Things the Lord is working out in me. Less Striving, more trusting .
 Less of me doing what I THINK IS GOOD IN GOD'S SIGHT and just allowing His love to lavish me and fill me.  HIS LOVE IS FAVOR ENOUGH!!

 "In Him we have redemption,
through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,

in accordance with the RICHES and GENEROSITY OF HIS GRACIOUS FAVOR." 
(Ephesians 1:7) 

Of course, there are principals to follow and His commands are for our GOOD.  But perhaps it's more of a sin issue then a favor issue. Sin separates. Sin is not favorable. I had some light shed on my heart the other week while at a meeting.  You know the verse, "the wages of sin is death" and we always say, "God is out to get your sin" and "repent God is near to judge you" yada,yada. But it's SIN THAT KILLS, not God that kills. The wages of SIN is death, not the wages of God is death.  We get in the way of our selves, by BEING OURSELVES.  Doing stuff OUR way.  Building the structure of our life with OUR inferior materials, 100% man-made. 

"Yet He gives His UNDESERVED FAVOR to the low in rank, the humble, and the afflicted."  Proverbs 3:34 If it wasn't culturally unacceptable/laughable I would name our child that; Undeserved Favor Stoltzfus!!  Just so I would have to call it out 43 times each day, "Hey, Undeserved Favor come here." 

 I am blessed and highly favored BECAUSE I'M HIS. not because of what i do. A wise woman once told me "through the maze of life, God is the One writing the bigger story and God is more interested in the PROCESS than in the results."  Watching MS, (multiple sclerosis) take over the life of my sweet friend Anna does not seem favorable in the least.  And yet, the process of this has resulted in a beauty I never knew existed.  Faith in living color. 

As I scurry around her living room every other week; cleaning, straightening up, vacuuming, she sits in her blue chair watching Rachel Ray.  Her love of cooking is alive and walking all over her home, though she be bound to a wheelchair all her waking moments, unable to even move her hands.  Her husband graciously takes the recipes she sees and loves, and under her watchful eye, faithfully brings them to the small round dinner table in the corner of their kitchen.  She speaks in broken sentences that I strain to understand, her very voice being scraped away, "people say I need to have more faith to be healed, but I say I have faith even when I'm not healed and THAT is true faith."  Yes, Anna. You are the one with faith unshakable and full of GLORY.  You are the FAVORED one and one day, YOU WILL BE LIFTED UP. 

"O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Celebrating my Shrish

For my sisters birthday, (we call each other Shrish) this year I gave her the "gift of high tea." She listed a few of her dear friends and I invited our two other sisters and our Mom. There were some really neat invitation kits at Target the other week so of course I bought four boxes.  Like I've said before, I'm a sucker for stationary, in all it's forms!  Invitations were sent and tea day arrived.
The table was set the night before, (after all the kids were in bed), so as to avoid curious fingers! One of my favorite things is to set a lovely table. Keeping in mind the person being honored. Their personality and likes.  And yet using what I have, not going out and purchasing new dishes or decor.
The centerpieces came to mind as I was perusing the local greenhouse. I knew I wanted something unique yet inexpensive.  I had these old bread pans, (used at an early tea this year).  The larger flower, (ranunculus) was purchased and set into the pan, still in its pot.  The grass was also purchased at that greenhouse. (Perhaps I shouldn't talk about pot and grass in the same paragraph). Nevertheless, it came together nicely.

The little nametag nests are from Pottery Barn. The red chargers were an after Christmas steal from wal-mart for .50 each. I really like the scalloped edge, not something you see very often on chargers.

Friends gather 'round.

One of these times I will take pictures of the food that is served.I didn't get very many this time in the midst of serving, eating and talking.
This one was captured after I had taken several bites!
Banana Pineapple Torte with cream cheese frosting and zested chocolate.

Yet to be named "Chocolate Balls", I daresay they need a more proper name.
Suggestions welcome in comment box.

Beautiful Ladies~from the outside~in.
"The best things in life
are always handpicked~
like friends."
~unknown author~