Tabletop Truths ~ Placemat Review {and giveaway}

I had the fun opportunity to review this adorable Spiritual Armor placemat and am talking about it today over at Build A Menu. The company that makes this placemat and others, Tabletop Truths, is run by two moms with hearts for children and the Lord.

Our hope and prayer is that as you use these mats to adorn your tabletops they will also adorn your family's hearts with the truths of Jesus Christ!  - Lisa and Sara

Isn't that awesome?

Go read more about them at Build A Menu and enter for a chance to win a Thanksgiving placemat or a Nativity placemat!


Do You Want to Be a Better Mother?

Our daughter is beginning to think about her future, about what her life will be like as an adult. She has been talking a lot about being a mother. As women around us have babies, and she is allowed the wiggly excitement of caring for them, she is wondering what it will be like to have her own.
It was long past her bedtime when I sat on the bed. Her sweet young voice fretted in the dark. Can you teach me Mama? I know I can’t be perfect, but can you train me to be a good mother? I stroked her long brown hair and silently prayed for God’s wisdom for this tender girl.
Together we cook, we clean, we talk developmental psychology and parenting philosophy. But in the end there is only one essential for preparing to be a mother, and for improving as a mother if you already are one.

My new blogging friend Heather has generously opened her home on the web to me today, so I can share this one essential with her readers (and you!)

To read How to Become a Better Mother wing your way to Fit Homeschool Mom....


Dear Me... {a letter to my 14 year old self}

Dear Patti,

Because this is what you worry about most, let me start here: You're normal. You're normal because like everyone else you're wildly unique. You can stop worrying that you're not enough.

You're 14 years old and the world sure seems big and filled with feeling. Right now you and your family are living in New Zealand while your dad takes a sabbatical leave from his university in the U.S. You don't know it, but all that self-educating you're doing, spending a whole semester doing your schoolwork in hotels and apartments and RV's... that's called homeschooling. It's going to be a big part of your life some day.

There are things you think you want. You'll be surprised by how they come.

There are things you think you don't want. You'll be surprised by how much joy they bring.

Let go a little. You're going to be growing into yourself for a long time.

The braces come off soon. Glasses you're stuck with forever, but good news: when you turn 16 you'll get to wear contact lenses! You're always going to be a little awkward. It will make you more compassionate. Eventually you'll realize that you just feel prettier and more yourself in skirts. You're also going to go on an unexpected journey with God that will lead you to start wearing a head covering. This will give you loads of opportunity to practice not worrying what people think about you.

I know that right now your focus is on your education. You think you need to do amazingly well in high school so you can get into a prestigious university. I know it's hard to think past that.

But there will be a moment in Woolworth's in the Ala Moana shopping center, January 1984, when you'll be staring at a big bin of flip-flops, and it will strike you... you'll turn to Dad and say, "But if I'm a doctor, how am I going to be home to raise a family?" That moment is when a new thought will creep in. When you'll start to realize that you can't have everything you want or be anyone you want, even though the posters at your old elementary school shouted "Kids Are People Too!"

And the one thing you've always wanted, before you wanted to be a vet or a computer programmer or a pediatrician or a teacher or an author - or even a wife - was to be a mom.

So when you think that all through, how you'll go to high school for 4 years, then college for 4 years, then med school for 4 years, then internship and residency, and how you'll be looking at your 30's for starting a family and still not being home all day, you'll realize... that's not worth it for me. I can't be the doctor I want to be and be the mom I want to be.

That will be the beginning of your choice. It is a good choice.

It's okay to go to college. You'll do that. And it's okay that you won't find your calling there.

This God thing you're going through right now, the one that seems to be growing... in a few years kids at school will make fun of you for it, and a few years after that you'll ditch the whole thing and run around searching searching everywhere for something. It will take time, years, and you will be very very stupid, but eventually you'll fall into the arms of Grace when you finally crack a bible and start to really read.

You know how it feels like God is real right now? You're right.

Your fascination with gender roles will persist, you'll even write a ridiculously-titled anthropology honors thesis at your university. You could probably edit that title a bit.

But all that pondering will lead you to places you don't expect, and you'll go from thinking women have to do it all, to understanding that there is a difference between value and role, and that living out a traditional female role does not equal being of less value.  You'll go from thinking that God must really be female, to wanting to know Truth as it is, not as how you think seems cool.

Those career dreams? You won't be a vet, but you'll live on your own little farm. You won't be a computer programmer, but in a decade the world will be overswept by this thing called the Internet, and you'll teach yourself HTML and PHP because you'll want to have your own website. You won't be a pediatrician, but you'll doctor many a childish scrape and tend many fevered head. Your knowledge base of natural remedies will grow by leaps and bounds. You won't teach in an elementary school, but you will educate each of your children at home.

Your dreams will come true, just not in the way you expect. 

You'll fall in love with a tie-wearing pizza cook with a guitar in his hand, and he'll be The One. You'll marry under the trees and wing off on adventures inside and out.

And your dream of being an author... well sweetie, you and I are still working that one out. That is the one it seems we were meant to do in a deeper and wider way and even though I'm 29 years older than you, I'm still scared to rip it all back.  You and I need to be brave.

You may be a lousy thesis-title editor, but you are a pretty vicious self-editor, and you will continue to battle that. You'll battle it in your writing, and you'll battle it in your relationships. The problem you have with people-pleasing is deeply rooted. God has noticed this and He is going to give you plenty of chance to work on it (see above).

But little girl, be encouraged... you've already figured out the basics...

People are more important than things.

There's a lot of hurt in the world and you, yes you, really can make a difference.

The sense you have that there is something big and wild and wonderful flowing beneath and throughout it all... yes... and it's God.

And Patti, you feel like you are living in a story because you are. It's the most important story you'll write. Share the pen with God and play your role with joy.

 Joining writers around the globe today penning letters to our teenaged selves.
Thank you Emily for the inspiration.


Hamburg says: Good Night!
photo credit

I can't get my mind wrapped around it.



Undeserved kindness

A gift unearned.


Hard as I try, the claws of must-prove dig deep into my soul... I have to prove my worth, prove my value to the world... to Him... to myself.

So when I read this week about standing firm in grace I stop hard. I am to choose to stay there? Stay in this gift?

Then I read that not only do I receive this grace, but I receive it in fullest measure... pressed down shaken together pouring out?

Oh I know about being pressed, yes, pressed but not crushed.

But pressed down grace? Fullest measure grace?


I can't do anything about this one.  I can't actually get grace.

I just have to receive it, let it pour down and in and over me.

This charis grace, all wrapped up with chara joy.  And I learn that quite literally chairo, rejoice, means "to delight in grace."


In my search for joy, this new truth:
"Joy" means to delight in His abundantly full grace.

Amazed and  overwhelmed by grace,
Five Minute Friday

What Love Looks Like

Sign earlier this year in front of a local church in the fire zone

The sky is the same.

The way the light slants, the brittle dry trees, even a strong hot wind last week. All the same.

Funny what your body remembers.

My eyes scan the horizon, my nose sniffs for smoke. I wonder about tall narrow cloud formations.

When a helicopter flew low over the house yesterday I was on my feet and at the window watching for a water bucket swinging beneath.

One year ago the fire started. The fire that took 1700 homes. You can't really call today the anniversary of the fire because it lasted for a month. But it started one year ago.

Here's the raw truth: there's a part of me that wants to write a lament. For the past year I have loved on countless people in our little community who experienced utter devastation. I'm not really emergency room material... I get so involved emotionally with people. I internalize, make it my own. There has been much suffering here.

Yes, there is a lament that threatens.


I will not sing that here.

Because stronger and sweeter than the low moan of loss and suffering is the pure melody of love that has wrapped like a soft bandage around the past 366 days.

Deeper and truer is the response of the faithful who lost it all but knew that they had not lost what was most important... Jesus.

So today I honor that. I remember the love and the hope. The new life that was promised, and that has been made good on.

Love? It walks. It has hands. It feeds and shelters and brings gifts.

This is what love looks like....

Loving hands ready to feed

Hand made biscuits... it was the loaves and fishes that first morning

Standing room only for breakfast

Our bed for four nights, in our friend's living room

Sweet and newly born... a precious distraction filled with promise

A shared table covered with laptops and phones... our source of up-to-the-minute info on those we love

People just put things out on their front lawns

Flying and flying and flying with buckets of water

Love = flying straight into a fire


My friend with a hand-crocheted blanket sent from New Mexico

Building shelves for the Book Barn in a donated building

Making lunch for Book Barn volunteers

One family drove 2 hours in 2 SUVs filled with books for the Book Barn

Donated books from all over the country. Complete strangers mailed countless boxes to us.

School supplies donated to the Book Barn (and this was just in the first few days)

The Book Barn for homeschooling families who lost their homes

The sign outside Timberline Fellowship today - Sept 4, 2012

Because what we do, we children of the King, is find the joy in our loss. We look with hopeful eyes and see the blessing of hands that love.

We are never without Him. Even though tested by fire.

The woman in charge of choosing which message to put on the Timberline sign lost her home in the fire.  She shared her testimony at Do Not Depart in May.  It's a must-read.

This Sunday her story was the front page article in the Austin, TX newspaper.  Jesus on the front page, friends.

Saturday Snapshot ~ Applesauce Assembly Line

We have a bonanza of organic mountain apples.

Twenty-two pounds.

Time to make applesauce!

Crockpot recipe next week, but for now, a Saturday snapshot.

Note the good peeling form (oh how we have worked on keeping blood out of the applesauce!)

I just love his expression.

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