Old Journal Entries

October 19, 2012

Ha! I just found this journal entry written almost a year ago, when my little one had just started preschool. I think I’m getting the message!
“Being a writer?
I sit here in the cafe and I wonder, “Could my life really be like this? And I answer, “It is!” I have an amazing cup of coffee. I’m eating a blueberry muffin puffed way too high for good health. I’m surrounded by a spontaneous arrangement of music, sounds of chatter and laugher all around. What could be better? I’m so thankful for this year that will allow me a couple of free hours per day to pursue this possibility of a passion. I’m afraid I won’t be any good at it. I’m afraid the dream is going to be better than the actuality. I’m afraid I won’t keep trying through the hard, empty, silent moments. But, I believe that God’s destiny is greater than any of my dreams. And, I trust that if I will obey Him by moving in this direction then He will be faithful to direct my paths. I can end up in just the right spots along the way that He desires for me to be. And, I will grow and develop and mature and continue in this adventure of giving Him all of me. So, I say “Thank you, Lord for this opportunity. I’m yours. Speak through me. Develop my style. Give me content. Fill me up so I can pour it all out through these words. Make me a writer, please, Lord?”
I need to read stuff like that for motivation to really go for it!
Do you keep a journal? I encourage you to look back at what dreams have been brewing inside you for too long! It might be time to move forward.

I Am A Writer

October 18, 2012


Photo taken by Cristi Schroeder at Warrens Cranberry Festival – a place of inspiration!

Dreams can be scary. That’s one reason they can take so long to come alive.
About eight years ago, I read and journaled through “The Dream Giver.”  Working through that book, three passions of mine came into focus as one dream. My lifelong love of reading, my desire to write and my desire to help adolescents combined into a focused dream to author fiction books geared at young girls. I imagined writing books filled with good morals and lessons and big purposes- all mixed inside the storyline. But, in the face of everyday responsibilities, my pursuit got sidelined. (Also, I honestly don’t think that the timing was right.)
It’s true, though, that those ambitions to be a writer have remained. I have often said, “Well, I always wanted to be a writer.” That’s way easier than saying, “I am a writer” which would lead to the question… “Oh? What have you written?” Which would then lead to a lot of self doubt and other’s judgments about my “minor works”.
Here’s that short list of writing accomplishments:
  • a children’s book in 11th grade that received high praises (from my HS teacher)
  • a bunch of A+ essays in college relating to psychological topics (graded and discarded)
  • a retreat curriculum for youth group teens based on the movie, “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” (a “whopping” 15 girls, participating)
  • most of the content for a quarterly church newsletter that ran for a few years (I joke that their were 5 faithful readers)
  • (not enough) posts on this blog
My biggest credit, I realize now, is that fact that I’ve been journaling since I was a child. It’s always helped me to get my thoughts and feelings onto paper. But, could all that really help me as a writer? Well, the authors at a recent writer’s workshop taught that anything that gets us writing in sentence form, pouring ideas onto the page-including journaling- will benefit our writing. As I soaked up every word at the workshop, my dream of writing seemed completely possible. And, I sense the conviction, confirmation and excitement that NOW is the time to pursue it!
No, I don’t plan to “take a year off to write my novel” or travel to France for inspiration. I’m just going to start with large amounts of the little things. Like finally blogging 3+ times a week. Writing at least 10 minutes a day with pen and paper in hand. Submitting some articles to local papers and eventually magazines. I hope to incorporate some of my Altered Story projects by writing tutorials for craft projects and seeking publication. Then, as my thoughts get fleshed out and my writing skills develop, maybe I will write that first book for young readers. Maybe, someday, I will write a bunch of books.
So, I’ve just decided to do it! I will finally, actually call myself a writer. I will face my fears and go for this dream!
Calling myself a published author? Well, hopefully that’s yet to come.
I’m curious… do you have dreams of being a writer? What would you write? Maybe we can join together in the pursuit of this dream… however scary it may be!

I Am A Reader

October 17, 2012

Since my youngest years of elementary education, I loved to read.  I checked out books from our school library over and over again. I felt that the world within the pages was a world I could make my home. A comfortable place where I felt safe. I could laugh. I could relate. I read about people that seemed a lot like me… or who I wished I could be.
I happily discovered the misadventures of Romona Quimby and was hooked! This little girl found herself in lighthearted, funny situations. I soon discovered that the author, Beverly Cleary, had many more books I could enjoy. I loved escaping to Klickitat Street and feeling a sense of community and friendship and family.
As I grew older, I discovered Judy Blume. She wrote about silly grade school episodes that actually dealt with real feelings and frustrations (“Superfudge”, “Otherwise known as Sheila the Great”) I read every one! As I got closer to the teen years, I read “Iggie’s House” and “Are you there God, It’s me, Margaret?” I learned things from Judy Blume that I could never actually speak with others about, in real life. As I read, I felt a part of something. Something secretive, even. Nobody else knew what I was reading. It was mine. And it was beautiful.
As the years went on, “Sweet Valley High” intrigued me more than I’d care to admit, now. Learning about dating and boys and popular kids… well, at least I could read about all that!
When high school hit, I guess I stopped reading fiction and focused on text books that would help me pass tests. College continued with more of the same… and the addition of Bible reading and devotionals as I was feeding my new faith. Christian nonfiction filled my young adult years. Home Decorating Magazines were the bulk of my reading content as a newly married woman. Parent Magazines and books about the stages of human growth were food for thought as I became a new mom. That continued for many years. Country Living, Mary Engelbreits Home Companion… these magazines provided all the light reading I could fit into my busy days. It wasn’t till 2008, when I first heard about human trafficking, that my reading preferences changed from topics relating to the inside of my home to those going on around the world. Gary Haugen and Nicholas Kristof became my new author “idols”.
In recent days, memories have brought me back to those early days of reading. Hoping to recapture what I experienced back then, I’m starting to read some young adult fiction. Dreams are brewing inside me. I’ve always been a reader. But, I’m beginning to believe it’s for a greater purpose than enjoyment or education. It’s about more than me finding myself within the pages of another writer’s work.
I am a reader. But, I am discovering that I am so much more. I’ll let YOU read about that… tomorrow!
What about you? Who are your favorite authors? And, what do you enjoy reading?

How to Make a Woman

October 11, 2012

When I saw a sign in the bookstore window advertising a writer’s workshop, I was immediately excited! I’ve never been to something like that. But, I truly desire to become a better writer. So, I signed up for the adventure that will take place tomorrow! I can’t wait!
In preparation for the workshop, one of the authors asked that we complete an at-home assignment. We were asked to write a recipe, of sorts. She gave us ideas of recipes to record, like “how to fall in love” or “how to gain fifteen pounds.” We were to write down the ingredients and steps of preparation with no commentary. That’s it.
I’m a pastor’s wife and I’m more long winded than my husband. So, here’s my best attempt at the assignment. Who knows if I got it “right”; it sure was a challenge! Most importantly, it was fun to write!
Let me know what you think? What recipe might you be inspired to share?

How to Make a Woman

  • Heart of Love
  • Hormones
  • Plans
  • Purposes
  • Hopes
  • Dreams
  • Faith
  • Childhood Experiences
  • Ashes of Adolescence
  • Ideologies of Youth
  • Personality
  • Wisdom
  • Talent
  • Tears
  • Laughter

Begin by placing an emotional heart of love in a clay bowl of any shape or size. Add hormones. Mix together plans, purposes, hopes and dreams. Drop in a seed of faith. Let these ingredients sit for a while.
Fold in childhood experiences, the ashes of adolescence and the ideology of young adulthood. Add more hormones. Mix in personality, growing wisdom and talent. Add more faith as needed. Strain this mixture through the colander of trials and triumphs. Discard the remaining unnecessary emotional baggage of the past. Repeat this step as needed. You should begin to see character form. Add more hormones.
Heat with the fires of hardship just until boiling point. Cool with much needed prayer and good conversation. This process will create a nice balance of sensitivity and endurance. Sprinkle with the organic tears and laughter of every day experiences. Top generously with hormones.
Serves: much more than expected or appreciated.
Note: Each creation will vary in appearance. Expect cracks to develop in the bowl throughout this process. The important thing is that you allow the inside contents to shine.
*Not always a crowd pleaser… but ALWAYS beautiful to the creator!

Red Wagon Fairy Garden

September 10, 2012

Red Wagon Fairy Garden

I have a new fancy for fairy gardens.
I don’t know if it’s the fact that it’s more about the accessorizing than the actual gardening or the fact that tiny little things are just SO cute, but I can’t get enough! When I noticed my neighbor, through my window, putting this scruffy red wagon out on the curb, I dropped everything and ran out, barefoot, to snatch it up. I didn’t know what I would do with it exactly, but I knew I would use it in my garden. Soon after that, I decided to create a mobile fairy garden! What fun!

Repurposed Wagon sitting pretty in front of the picket fence

So, I looked all over Pinterest for neato ideas, and then came up with some of my very own. I researched which little plants I should try to find at my local garden shop, and I journeyed into unchartered territory. (You’ve heard of having a green thumb? Well, I used to have a brown thumb. But, I forgot to water it and it fell off). I still couldn’t help feeling some hope for success when I saw such beautiful tiny white daisy flowers on Irish moss and little succulents that looked like puffy little forest bushes. I just couldn’t screw up such sweet little miracles, could I?

There’s enough room here for the extended fairy family, too!

I once spied on an apron-wearing fairy plucking out weeds. Her head was down, so she didn’t see me!

I also ransacked my craft room and went through all my little goodies to decide what might work well for my new creative endeavor. I decided to put my antique tin collection to use. I found red and white toadstools that would match the wagon, along with some cute strawberry bells that I purchased on Etsy. I used some black and white polka-dotted tape (repurposed from my SMASH book) to make wee little water-proof flags for the “backyard”. They match the domino welcome mat. At the front door, there’s a sign reading “snail mail” posted on a matchstick poking out of a little snail shell.  I also used some felt flowers that I had pieced together with some lovely buttons. They grow right next to the veggie garden… simply colorful yarn “edibles” growing strong next to toothpick stakes.

I do like the little mirror lake that the fairies come to swim in. It’s glistens with brilliant dew after a chilly night’s sleep. Pretty at sunset, too!

The lake stones are smooth on the fairies’ feet.

A vintage stir stick makes a great wind whistler!

In the side “field”, I put a wind chime, of sorts. What could catch a Mid-Western breeze better than a little vintage harmonica hidden in the sedum?! Clever, I thought!

Can’t you just imagine the fairies playing games by the backyard flags and strawberry bells?

Not-so-clever was adding little birthday candle holders as pathway lights to the lake. I didn’t account for the hot summer days we would have. (Goodbye, melty lights.) Another live-and-learn idea was the little fluffy smoke coming out of the chimney- the final outcome of which I wasn’t thrilled with. Imagine wet cotton after a rain storm. I also wished it wasn’t such a brown landscape.  I’ll definitely invest in some nice green moss to cover the entire area, next year. Maybe it’s just me, but the dirty landscape kind of reminds me of a dusty southern farm, where chickens run fast-away from the barking hound dogs. I’m almost sure most of the fairies who used this garden wore calico dresses and cowboy boots.

I must sheepishly admit that yessss, by the end of the summer, some of my green fairy yards looked more like dry miniature driftwood collections. I haven’t quite mastered gardening, you could say. Even fairy gardening. I’m hoping my plants will resurrect after a quiet winter hiding in the basement. If not, now I know just where to go to find some living dwarf plants to begin, again! I still can’t help but have some fairy gardening hope, even with my lack of bloomin’ skills!

It’s a small start (hehehehe), but it’s only my first year. Next spring, I plan to cut little arched doors into my little tin boxes. Houses complete with tin roofs, and maybe a window or two. I will surely allow space for a little wooden swing under a dwarf boxwood “tree.”  I have a few other dreams for my next fairy garden that I can’t wait to put wings to. (Stop me!)

Do you have any tips or ideas for this newbie fairy gardener? What’s in your fairy garden?


First Day of Kindergarten

September 4, 2012

Since before college, I had my life planned out.
I would graduate with a bachelor’s in psychology, get married to a handsome pastor, have two babies and stay at home raising them -just until the youngest went to kindergarten. THEN, I’d either go back to school for my master’s degree or begin a meaningful career. I love helping people… so counseling has always been a dream. But, I’d love to be a writer, and I thought maybe I could pursue that. Or, I would pursue a different kind of education and build on my art skills. No matter! I had lots of time to figure things out!

Life’s Check List
Marry handsome pastor – check!
Birth two beautiful kids – check!
Stay home to raise the wee ones – check!
Send off baby to first day of Kindergarten – check! (as of this morning)
Direction for what to do now – uhhhhhh?….

I don’t really have anything figured out.
My little boy is having the adventure of his life at his first full day of kindergarten. Gone from Mom. All new friends. Lots to take in and learn. I encouraged him to be brave. To have anticipation for the good in it all. To go in with a positive attitude and then just see what God can do! He has no idea what this day or this school year will bring. But, he’s pressing on and into all of it.
I’m all for God-adventures. I want the full life! I believe adventures can only be true adventures if they are a little scary, a little exciting and (at least) a little fun! I’m sure that’s what my kindergartener is experiencing on his first-day adventure.
Me? I’m at home with a lot of mixed emotions. I have a bunch of questions. I miss my boys but I’m excited for what’s to come. I have an adventure of my own to begin. Schooling & a full time career aren’t even on my radar. I’m a bit scared about life’s details, but I know I can trust God for every one.
To start, I think I’ll just take a little time to enjoy a quiet house. To rest. To seek after God’s heart and His real direction for me. To do some of the things I’ve had on the back-burner for a while. I think I’ll just give myself a teeny bit more time. I’m thankful for today and all the possibilities.
What about you? What does the start of this new school year mean for you?

Food Fill-Up

July 21, 2012

One cozy evening on the couch, my sons and I were watching an emotional episode of “The Secret Millionaire.” A secretly successful businessman volunteered with a food pantry. The line of those in need was too long for everyone to receive what they came for. The show ended with a HUGE, unexpected donation, enabling the organization to be more effective and continue feeding the hungry. The rich man also promised to continue giving of his time in this meaningful way. My boys and I discussed how we would love to volunteer if an opportunity like that ever became available. Within DAYS, we heard of a similar, first-time event to feed those in need in our own neighborhood.

First -Ever Food Fill Up at Evergreen Church in Stevens Point, WI

Evergreen Community Initiatives had been selected by Feeding America to distribute more than 10,000 pounds of food to Portage County residents, thanks to another man’s generous donation and Evergreen’s willingness to make it happen. As the registrations poured in, the amount was increased to 15,000 pounds. On Thursday, July 19, in Stevens Point, WI, over 17,000 pounds of food was given away to those in need!

Even as a pastor’s wife in a church family that I truly love – Highland Church – I jumped at this opportunity to join Evergreen Church to make an impact in our community for Christ!  I believe God loves to see His people, family members of different churches, acting as the united Body of Christ in the common purpose of shining the real gospel. Shouldn’t neighbors come together for great things?!

When my sons and I arrived at 9:30 am, there were already around 50-60 volunteers from Evergreen Church, Feeding America, college students from across the state along with local volunteers like ourselves. People were bagging items, directing traffic and organizing everyone for the job to be done. It was all performed with such efficiency that I overheard various Feeding America organizers share that this was one of the most organized events they’ve ever participated in. And, this was a first-time endeavor!

My sons worked together to bag up groceries for the Food Fill-Up

The event opened early, just before 10 am, and went until 7 pm. Guests could drive right up to the building to register -with absolutely no limitations based on income. Volunteers would then put an entire bag of dry goods into the recipients’ trunks, followed by a bag of meat, fresh bread, and fruit. People didn’t even have to get out of their cars! What was so touching was seeing people benefit from the optional “drive thru-prayer” before exiting the parking lot. My kids and I witnessed both recipients and prayer partners crying while they brought their needs to the Lord. What an amazing teaching moment for our children to learn how God’s people can help to meet both the spiritual AND physical needs of others! When we left at 1 pm, the leaders believed that over 1,200 people had already been fed and only 1/2 of the registered families had yet claimed their food. Food would be distributed for the rest of the day.

Here waits one of the prayer partners. Behind the truck is the long line of cars backed up for 2 blocks on the street, waiting to pull in the parking lot for food.

When the kids and I were driving home, I told them that the organizers were thinking about doing this, more, in the future. I asked if they’d want to help out again and both of them yelled out, “YEAH!”  We weren’t able to give a huge financial donation like the secret millionaire, but we felt like a million bucks after we gave of our time and energy to meet the needs of others. What a great experience for everyone!

We got a puppy!

July 13, 2012

This is Hazel and she’s a 9 week old rat terrier/bichon mix. We adopted her, yesterday, from a friend-of-a-friend. We adore her already!

Here’s Hazel in her custom suitcase bed.

To make her feel at home, I got to work on this suitcase bed. I was inspired by a post from Kelly Hicks Design that I discovered on Pinterest. After searching online for similar inspiration, I went shopping!

Supplies: A vintage suitcase, craft store doll heads and fabric for the pillows

It was easy to find the supplies. I went to my local Dime N Dollar thrift store and found this $3 suitcase.  I had a previous goal to make curtains out of this fabric, but it was sitting in my storage for years, because (confession) I am afraid of sewing. Thankfully, my awesome friend, Patti, completed this (much more important) project for me. She blessed me with 2 extra pillowcases! Then, Michael’s offered these round doll heads with a flat edge and silver craft paint that worked out perfectly for short, little bed feet.

Wooden craft doll heads painted silver make great little bed feet.

To personalize the space, I asked our sons to draw pictures of Hazel that we could post in her special spot. It was a great little project for them, still in their pj’s on their first morning with their new puppy. I’m hoping to hang pictures of her mom and dad, too.
The boys thought she seemed cold, so we found this afghan that my grandma made for me when I was a baby. I thought we might as well put it to good use for our little lady. It’s a great reminder of my Gram. Ironically, she has a bichon (just like Hazel’s mama).

Our boys drew pictures of Hazel to post in her suitcase bed.

Here she is sleeping with her toys. Isn’t she just the cutest little puppy? She really likes her private little space and has ventured to lay down in it, herself. I think she appreciates having such a stylish little spot.

I think she likes her bed, don’t you?

So, as a new pet owner, I’m curious! What kind of pet beds do you think are the cutest for your cutest little pet?


Summer Nights

June 27, 2012

Spencer Lake at Sunset

Summer, for me, means:

  • Fun
  • Rest
  • Reading
  • Riding Bikes
  • Playing at Parks
  • Time with Loved Ones
  • Games
  • Trips
  • More Time with my Boys
    And, of course….
  • Time at the Lake

I Love Mommy

June 16, 2012

I Love Mommy

We’ve all had a mother. But, not everyone has had a MOMMY. If you have, then you are blessed!
I just found out that a very special person is (surprisingly!) expecting a baby! She is feeling a gamut of emotions. I know she will be a wonderful mommy! I also have other special friends who pray to be so blessed. Their hearts are all ready for the children they haven’t even conceived. They also feel emotional!  Then, there are those of us in the midst of mommy-hood! Do these emotions ever cease?!  Nope. Our hearts are no longer our own; they belong to our kids. That’s what it’s like, when it comes to motherhood.
And, it’s not just the emotions that are affected by these wee ones. I just learned that the DNA from each little baby stays, forever, inside the mama. (This, from my science-loving husband). Each baby will always be a part of that mother. Not to mention those outward changes we wish weren’t so apparent! Physically, mommies are different.
Spiritually, our world expands. We no longer pray mainly for ourselves or our man. We can’t help focusing our energies on praying for our baby. We understand the Father’s heart in a new way.
I have a Mommy, who’s loved me unconditionally my whole life. I’m so thankful for the ways she nourished me and taken care of me. To this day, she thinks I’m the greatest girl in the entire world. And, she tells me all the time. I’m blessed!
As I raise my two favorite boys in the whole world, I notice the ways I am like my mama. I even find myself acting like her. And, when I catch my image in the mirror, sometimes, I am shocked at the similarities between the two of us. We have SAME inside each of us. Mommies are a part of their babies.
I get so thankful when I think of what it means for me to be able to be a mommy. I’m so imperfect, but I truly want to be a great mommy! It’s an adventure doing my best. What could be more amazing?
I love mommies. Don’t you?