"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

31 October 2014

"A" Faves

I truly can't believe it's the last day of October.  

It's been a beautiful month.....a fantastic autumn....to think we are now in the beginning of the 2nd month of autumn......wow.....pretty soon Thanksgiving here in the States will be upon us!

For now, I am thanking God for the beautiful, warm weather we've had this week...and for most of the month actually!  And I'm finding FIVE FAVES from the last week to share with other bloggers who link up over at Susanne's site.  How about joining us?  What were some blessings you discovered in your life this week?


Claire with Aunt Joy
My younger sister Joy and I
Stockbridge, MA

  •  ANNUAL AUTUMN DAY AWAY! Ever since my oldest daughter went away to college, I've done something each autumn with my youngest girl.  We go with my sister Joy (she is 2 years younger than me, and the oldest of my 3 younger sisters) to a small village in one of the surrounding states or areas.  For the last 3 years, we've gone to Vermont so this time....our 4th Annual Autumn Day Away... we chose to go to this tiny village, about an hour away, in Massachusetts.  What a nice day!  The weather was very mild and the sun was out....there was a chill to the breeze but the sun was so warm....we walked all over the main street and a couple of side streets and did a lot of shopping.  I actually bought 4 Christmas gifts plus something for my dining room table.  The photo with my sister and I is in front of the Red Lion Inn (where Dave and I had our first official date way back in 1989!) where they were displaying 2 pumpkins.  They were over 1000 lbs! We had a delicious lunch at The Main Street Cafe, did some more shopping, and then had lattes and gelato (homemade!!) at this amazing shop. I had the Hazelnut Gelato (OH MY!) and the Almond Joy Latte....a really special treat. It was a lot of fun and we are already planning next autumn's excursion. It's a blessing to be able to do fun things with family.

New table-runner for Autumn
homemade by a local artisan in Stockbridge, MA

  • ANSWER TO PRAYER! Claire turns 16 on Dec 21 and do you know how difficult it is to plan a birthday party so close to Christmas?  Mine is in December, too as are 2 of my nephews, 2 good friends, and a sister!  So it's a busy month!  Claire has always been easy when it comes to parties...she  typically has a couple of friends over for a sleepover or movie night, etc.  She is a lot different from big sis who always needed theme parties, with all the trimmings.  But at least I could do those in the backyard as it was July!  So...we started looking at places to have this party since she wants to invite more than 3 friends and our family room just isn't big enough for a huge party.......I started praying about possibilities.  We wanted our church's youth center but the dates and times weren't available for when we wanted the party.  BUT....(this is a huge benefit to belonging to a mega-church with multiple campuses!!)....this campus was free the night she wants her party and I met with the facilities manager and he said I could book the entire lobby/cafe area!!  Glory to God! Here is a pic of our satellite church in the town just to the north of us:
it will be a blessing to have the Sweet 16 party here!

  • AMAZING WEATHER!  Tuesday was a day off of work for me due to Parent Conferences and my supervising teacher said the special ed aides didn't have to go in!  That was a huge blessing because I was able to fit in several little errands that needed to be done and now I won't have to fit them in on Friday evening or Saturday.  I had lunch with a good friend of mine and then raked leaves......enjoying the very mild temperatures and the lovely color of our maple tree in the backyard. We have a smaller maple whose leaves are just turning, to the right of the one shown in this photo. That little tree in the front right is a pear tree whose leaves are just turning a dark red. Autumn is such a blessed time!

  • ATTENTION ATTAINED  I work as a Special Educator in an integrated kindergarten. 10 of the children are "gen ed" kids who are in school for only the half day program. (they have no known developmental/academic delays...are typical 5/6 year olds).  The other 8 children are "all day" kindergartners, who have specia l needs mainly in the areas of speech/language, attention, motor planning, and one is on the autism spectrum but is mild....like Asperger Syndrome.  Some of them have social/emotional issues as well.  Most of them went to a special needs pre-K so services were already in place (speech therapy, OT, PT).    One boy I worked with last year is repeating kindergarten...he is actually one of my fave 5 year olds......(I know we are not supposed to have faves but.....we all do!).  Well, all last year he had difficulty with self-control.  I have noticed a huge improvement in his attention during large group activities and much better self-control when engaged in free play or more unstructured activities.  He also is screaming or crying a lot less and using his words/language to get his needs/wants known.  This is a huge blessing to me. Even though it might seem like a little thing, it is BIG for this little boy. I'm very proud of him.

  • AIR TRAVEL SAFETY  Dave had to fly out of state very early on Tuesday morning......and come back late Wednesday evening.  This was his first business trip since his heart attack in September.  I'm so thankful that he had a safe flight both ways!
That wraps it up for me.......I hope you enjoy the weekend and do some restful, refreshing things.......

25 October 2014

2014 Book Review #37: Keep Quiet

This book!!  WOW!

I finally had the good fortune to read a book this past week that was very well written and kept me reading way late into the night......after being unsuccessful with 3 other books from the library, I finally found a good one!  In the last month, I tried reading 3 books that were on the "new books" shelf at our town library and they were awful!!  One was a little "demonic" in nature, and the other 2 were just badly written..at least in the beginning and didn't keep my attention. Rather than wasting my time on them, I simply returned them to the library.  I then found 3 other books, this one included....and since I've read this author before, I had a feeling it would be a good one. 


The Buckman family lives in small town in Pennsylvania.  Jake owns his own financial planning business and is quite successful after a time of unemployment.  His wife Pam is a judge and also very successful.  Their only child, Ryan, is a 16 year old star basketball player.  His relationship with his dad is not a great one, but he is very close to his mom. And his basketball coach.
 Jake wants to change that....so one night he is the one to pick up Ryan from the movies and bring him home.  He allows Ryan to drive even though it is past learner permit curfew.  They take the short cut home along a country road that is popular with the track team for their running work-outs.  Little does Jake know that Ryan smoked some "weed" just before leaving the mall. All of a sudden, their special bonding time turns into a nightmare.  Tragedy strikes......a teen girl is struck and killed.  And she is one of the popular track stars at Ryan's school and in Ryan's classes.  Jake is forced to make a split-second decision that will change the rest of their lives.  All of a sudden, they are dealing with guilt, shame and lies.  They have a crushing secret.....and soon are caught in a huge web of more lies and secrets.  It has the power to tear their family apart and will ruin all of them.

And then.....in the next few days...they discover that Kathleen was already dead when their car hit her!!  Who really killed her??  Will they ever find out?  And who is this man who is blackmailing them? is he the killer or does he know the killer?? and who kills HIM??

Read the book to find out the answer and the very surprising ending!!


I really enjoyed this book.  The author is a fave of mine anyways, and I think I have enjoyed every novel I've read by her.  

I like that it is fast-paced and exciting. I love how the emotions of Ryan and Jake leap out at the pages for the reader....you can actually feel their pain, guilt and shame.  I like that Pam turns out to act in some very surprising ways....not the predictable way I imagined the book to be. 

The characters are life-like as is their pain, anger, guilt, shame and victories......because yes, there are a few victories in this book.  It is about the power behind a parent's love for their child...that a parent will do anything to protect a child and his future.

The only thing I didn't really like was the abrupt ending.  It seemed like all of a sudden, the story took this one twist and boom....it was done.  I DID like the epilogue at the very end, and I found it useful to know what life was like for the Buckman family 6 months into the future.

I highly recommend this book!

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 9.

24 October 2014

October Blessings

I'm kind of glad it's Friday!

It's been quite a week.  My dad ended up in the hospital with a sudden illness but glory to God, he will be OK and is going to be on some medication that I have been praying about and hoping a doctor would prescribe for him.  And I had to take a sick day from work on  Tuesday after having a nasty virus Monday night.  Thankfully, it was only a short lived illness and by Tuesday afternoon I was feeling pretty good.  The down time at home gave me some time to just rest.  Which apparently my body needed.  The rest of the week was ok, kind of mundane, but with some blessings thrown in.  I'm going to share five of them and other bloggers share their five faves by linking up at Susanne's.  Feel free to join in with us!


  • NEW OLD STUFF:  When Dave and I were at my dad's a couple weeks ago, he gave me the old cabinet I've always admired.  My mom used it in their front foyer, but I decided to put it in my dining room to store the seasonal tablecloths in the drawer and the underneath part is for miscellaneous items like our opera glasses, a digital camera, extra candles, and some old photo albums. I placed our ivy on top, a Max Lucado blessings book in the middle and the autumn basket of cloth napkins.  BUT...I've since moved the plant and replaced it with a kerosene oil lamp we use in the colder months.  It is a huge blessing to have this piece of my childhood in my own house.  I love new old stuff!!

all set for the Homecoming Parade
Claire is behind the girl on the left holding the banner.

Ready for the Homecoming Dance 2014
  • HOMECOMING!  Claire (10th grade) had Homecoming activities all last weekend. Friday night was the big game against our main rival.....and we won!!  Before the game, the high school clubs and organizations parade with the team and the marching band.  Claire marched with the Christian club "Expansion" (formerly known as "Life").  Claire is secretary of the club this year.  She is also in Russian Club but decided to march with her friend M and the other Expansion members.  She said it was a lot of fun!  She then chose to take the PSAT exam the next morning and had to be at the high school by 7:30...and she did it!  That night, she and 2 other friends got all dressed up to go to the dance.  She used a skirt from an older friend who said she could keep it...and wore the leotard from the Phantom of the Opera Ballet that she performed in last spring.  I was thrilled that she could put together her own outfit.  Our school has a "semi-formal" dress code for Homecoming.  The teens all looked great!  The blessing is that everyone was safe, had a great time and there was no problem with the Christian club marching in the parade!!  I am so thankful for our public school district that recognizes ALL students!

  • SURPRISE BLOOMS!  On Sunday, I noticed that this flower was finally blooming!  It typically blooms in early July and lasts until late September. For some weird reason, it didn't bloom at all this summer! I was so surprised, I grabbed my iPad and snapped this photo.  A little touch of summer in the midst of a rainy week....a real blessing!

  • GOOD BOOK  This past week I finally started a book that I could "get into".  For the last month, I have started 3-4 books that I just could not get into!  They were either "too creepy" or just badly written.  The current book for fun I am reading is listed on my side bar....and it is a page turner!  I've had 2 evenings this past week where I quickly finished housework and could spend time reading.  It's a blessing to have those evenings!
  • SALE!  I was absolutely thrilled when I checked a website my oldest daughter likes, to see the item she had put on her Christmas wish list.  It was on sale!  YEAH!  So thanks to bringing my iPad to work, I was able to quickly order the item and it is in the process of being shipped.  It's a blessing to have found a sale AND the item in stock that she desires.  Notice I am not mentioning what it is, as she sometimes checks out my blog. :)
That wraps up my week..........did you have any blessings in your week?  I know we all do....sometimes we have to look for them.........or sometimes they crop right up in our faces.....feel free to share one of yours in the comment section!


21 October 2014

A Way Through

So, over Columbus Day weekend, my good friend Carla and I did a hike up this mountain.

It was a great hike and I was so happy to share the day and the trail with my friend/sister-in-Christ.

Towards the beginning of the trail, after we signed in at the trail register, there was an older man with a chainsaw.  I asked if he was working for the NYS Environmental Conservation Dept. He said no, he was a camper (we had seen his and his wife's camper on the way in) and likes to "give back" to the Adirdondack Mountains by doing things that are needed on the trails.  

The log pictured above was lying across the trail and he was sawing it...he said that by the time we were done with our climb, we wouldn't have to walk over the log....it would be split in two.  

I appreciate that camper.  There is a lot of "blow-down" in the mountains . (blow-down refers to significant damage due to storms that occur in the mountains/woods...when large trees and branches block the trail) And the NYS workers can't always get to every trail, especially the more remote ones.  Sometimes the various hiking clubs do maintenance work but again, it is rare for every single trail to be completely free of  blow-down.

On the way back down the trail, and upon coming to the log, here is what we saw:

trail up Vanderwhacker Mt
Central Adirondacks

A clear path through the forest!  The Vanderwhacker Mt Wild Forest is beautiful.  And very remote.  There are a lot of forest paths that are full of downed trees and branches. Even the brook we had to cross was tricky as at a couple of points, the bridge was washed away or there was no bridge so we had to rock-hop.  

This log reminded me of when obstacles come on our life journey.  Perhaps there are numerous trials you are facing.....hindering your faith walk, or making you stumble.........and as Christians we are not exempt from the storms of life!

How do we walk through it?  How do we walk through those times of uncertainty and the storms that life brings?

I look back on my life and at age 54 I can see where God's Hand has been....on my walk, my husband's walk, my 2 daughters' walk........

I think of the storm raging in my soul when things just weren't right in a church we were in.....when  I think back to that time, I wish I had handled things a little differently yet I see where God had us.....He allowed us to feel certain things for our own growth.......although it felt like we were stumbling along with all of these roadblocks, He was actually preparing us to be in a better place......and He was showing us His faithfulness in providing to us a healthy, new church.  That is just one example of many, where we walked (as a family) through a rough time...along a rough trail...only to find a clear outcome.

Do you turn to God when you are faced with obstacles??  It is through Christ that we gain our strength...........

our strength to keep going............

to make a way through............

19 October 2014

Speaking Life!

photo courtesy of pinterest
On Thursday evening, the small group I facilitate had our 4th meeting of the school year.  

We are studying The Power of a Praying Parent (the updated edition) and it is quite powerful! (no pun intended!)

Because I had 2 women missing that evening, I summarize on here so they can "catch up" with the discussion/information.  (Of course, I won't be writing about personal anecdotes or specific issues that the moms brought up, due to privacy concerns......but sometimes I have a mom who gives permission to use her story, etc.)  

This week we did the chapter entitled "Learning to Speak Life" and most of the discussion centered around how we as moms can speak life to our teens/college young adults and how to help our teens speak their own words of "life" vs negative thoughts/speech or ungodly speech.

We opened with a time of worship by praying for a specific concern regarding two of the moms and by listening/watching Toby Mac's song "Speak Life".  It was excellent!  Very good lyrics for our discussion. 

 We then played a ball of yarn "Web" game....we had to toss a ball of yarn to another person, speak words of life (encouragement, something positive) to that person, and then pull the string tight.  That person then chose to toss it to another person, until each person said and had spoken to them, words of life.  We saw the web design it made and I reminded the moms that if these were tangled with good words of life, can they imagine how tangled up their heartstrings would be with negative words that impact their child's heart, mind, and soul??  Many of the moms were very touched by the words spoken to them.

Summary of Chapter 16 

By teaching/training and role modeling that God's Word is Truth, and by having a real love for God, along with a spirit-filled heart, it will be easier as  we grow to speak words of life/truth.  All of these things help lead us to words that speak life.  Speaking life is simply stating truth, wrapped in love, and focusing on the positive.

For example:  a teen girl who says she is ugly has a root issue of low self esteem so as moms we want to focus on the fact/truth, that God made her. He doesn't make mistakes.  He created her in His image and she is fearfully and wonderfully made.

photo courtesy of praise 4 website

We can then point out her strengths such as she is strong, muscular, smart, funny, kind, caring, honest, etc.  Whatever your teen's strengths are, choose to speak them.....help her/him to know that God made them for a purpose and a plan and she has giftings and talents.  This carries over to when they speak about negative things that are not just physical traits.  For example, if they fail a test and are "down in the dumps" about it or feel "dumb", point out the areas where they are doing well, academically and think about getting a tutor or providing them with extra help so they really see that you care and take their education seriously.  These are just brief examples of things we discussed.  There are also cases of bullying, negative self-talk, or negative talk of others.  All of these things are not of God.  Help your teen to turn things around by making positive statements and teaching God's Scriptures.

We need to be asking ourselves if what we or our teens are saying line up with TRUTH.  Is the negative thought based on fact or is it their interpretation of things?  Teens still need us to help sort this out......sometimes college-aged kids need this as well. Other questions to consider are:  will this matter in 5 years?
Is thinking/speaking this way helping or hurting my personal goals/my faith/spiritual development.

We discussed how negative emotions are OK!! Our emotions, all of them...both positive and negative, are given to us by God! He is the Creator of all things!

Some negative emotions that teens (or parents!) face are:  guilt, sadness, depression, anger, shame, embarrassment, stress, being upset with no known reason, being upset for someone else or something that was done to them.

We do need to feel all of our emotions for healthy growth.  However, it is our job as parents to help our children sort through and work out those negative emotions.  What we (and they) need to focus on is channeling those negative thoughts into positive thoughts and positive ways of dealing with them.  For instance, when we are angry, the Bible tells us NOT to sin. We can feel something and not sin with/in it.  State the feeling to your  teen ("I see that you are feeling angry...is that true?") and wait for them to respond.  "you can feel angry...it is ok." (too many of us grew up in Christian homes/families/churches where we were told it is NOT ok to be angry, depressed, etc.....that is NOT TRUTH!!).  Jesus felt angry at times...Jesus was sad at times.  God was angry often at His chosen people! Our role as praying moms is to encourage our children to take an active, positive approach to their feelings....have them journal, or work-out, or talk to someone they trust.  Sometimes teens need to talk to a respected and trusted person who is NOT their parent. Make sure you are providing those opportunities. I know for my own oldest daughter, she often turned to one of her youth group leaders......she turned to me and my husband as well, but there were times when she preferred to share with a church leader...this is normal!!  Encourage it!! (make sure you already know the leader well...and trust him/her....it is best that if you have a son, he talks with a male leader if a 1:1 situation, and if a daughter, a female.).

We never know the impact our words will have on our teenagers and young adult children.  We need to remember that all of our words...every.single.one, will someday be judged by God!

Encourage your child to "be real" with you and allow her/him to be open and honest.  Make sure as a parent that you are open and honest with them, too.....and give them real life experiences that you have gone through, depending on their maturity level, etc.  

Pray positive words and Scriptures over your child and WITH your child!  Too often we neglect this area.

Pray often for your teenager to keep his heart pure.......and pray for your child's salvation in Christ, if they haven't already made their own decision to follow Him.

If your teen is the one doing the negative talk about someone else, help lead them to confession and repentance before God.  This is very important!  Help them to think of positive things to say or ways to solve whatever the problem is.

Most of us shared small anecdotes of times we've heard our teens either speaking negative words about themselves or others.  I gave the example of how my own 2 daughters tend to have very high self-esteem...sometimes TOO high.....my youngest especially, is given a lot of praise and positive feedback from her ballet instructors, other parents, teachers, relatives, for her ballet performances.  She knows she is the most advanced student in the troupe because she is told this often by the headmistress of the studio.  However, I have caught her saying things like "I don't need to do that, I already know it" or "I know I"m the best at the academy...." and other prideful things.  This too is just as much of a sin as the negative comments.  I have to remind her that her gifting of dance and grace is from GOD!  And that she needs to be careful of not being/sounding prideful.  We've been teaching her that pride goeth before a fall (destruction) according to the Scriptures and that she needs to be thankful for her gifting and remain humble before the Lord and others. This area has improved, thankfully.

We had one mom give an account of something negative that turned out to have a positive outcome!  I can't go into details here as I didn't get her permission to write about it, but please know that GOD MOVES IN MIRACULOUS WAYS!

Our words are very powerful.......for the good and for the bad.  If we are keeping a guard on our mouths, our children will see that model and will tend to be more careful with their own speech.
Never give up praying for your teenager and college kids.......our prayers and our positive words speak life.

At the end of the discussion, we took each other's prayer requests, writing them down for the week, and then we had the drawing for the free giveaway.  Our winner was Hope M.....she won a dark chocolate caramel candy stick, a coupon for a free cup of coffee at the Grace Fellowship/Latham cafe, and a mini bottle of Bath and Body Works Country Chic lotion all tied with an autumnal ribbon.

I hope to see everyone from group at our next meeting in 2 weeks.......and in the month of December, we will be having another free giveaway that you won't want to miss!

have a blessed day!!

17 October 2014

Mid-October Faves

Look at the title!  It's mid-October already!  How does this happen?

I'm looking ahead at the calender that is rapidly filling up as we approach mid-autumn and the holiday season, yet I'm savoring these last warm days of early autumn and lingering with the many memories I've made in the last 4 months.........am sharing 5 of them here because I'm participating with others who link up at Susanne's and list blessings God has brought into our lives.  I love looking back at the week and finding Five Faves.

photo courtesy of the saratoga dance website
  • DAUGHTER DATE!  On Saturday, Claire (the 15 yr old) and I had a mom-daughter date.  She had a 11:30 a.m. pointe shoe fitting at this place and it only took about an hour for her to find the next pair of pointe shoes.  She's on her 8th pair.  She dances 3 times a week so they wear out quickly.  I think I know why ballerinas are poor!  But...we were fortunate because the pair that fit the best this time were under $100 so we bought them and then did some Christmas shopping for the ballet teachers.  I got that done!  We then walked around downtown and had lunch outdoors at this fave place. I had the apple and cheddar grilled sandwich and she had chicken.  We shared the sweet potato fries and blueberry sauce. It was fun to people watch because Saratoga was quite lively with all sorts of tourists for Columbus Day weekend, a food fest, and leaf-peeping.  We then did a bit more Xmas shopping at a bookstore we like. It was a blessing to have the afternoon together.

  • WORK-OUT DATE:  I normally wouldn't call this a date but...Dave really wanted me to go with him to the new gym we joined.  And the blessing is that membership is free!  It's located in the same building as several of our doctors/eye doctor/pediatrician so, because we have doctors in that medical arts building, we can join the gym for free!!  It's small but it has everything.....and very neat, clean shower/locker areas.  There were only 3 other people there working out late Saturday afternoon so I got on the treadmill and did a little over a mile going uphill to prep for Monday's hike.  Dave got his work out in, and we talked so it was great.  After working out, we came home to cook dinner.....it was a great Saturday together! I'm not normally a gym person...I much prefer doing my biking and walking outside, but it was important to Dave so I did it.  I'll most likely save the gym though for those cold winter days! The blessing, besides the work-out and time together, is that he could cancel his gym membership at the chain place and now we will save $10 a month!

  • DAY WITH DAD:  Sunday was a day to drive out to the central part of NY and visit my dad.  He is getting frail.......he will be 83 in January and really misses my mom.  I don't think he has really grieved all that "well"....if you know what I mean.  He is facing a move from the home he has lived in for the last 30+ years and I know it is a bit difficult for him.  Dave and I took him out for an early dinner and we really enjoyed our day with him.  It's a blessing to be able to visit him every couple of months.  It's hard to see him getting frail.

First mile of trail up Vanderwhacker Mt

the Vanderwhacker Mountain Fire Tower
13 October

View from the fire tower looking north to the High Peaks
Vanderwhacker Mt/ North-Central ADKS

  • HIKING DAY!  Monday was a holiday for all public schools and most agencies in NYS.....due to Columbus Day...so my friend Carla and I hiked one of the mountains I have left on the Fire Tower Challenge.  This one is very remote, very similar to the ones I did in August but less steep.  It was a round trip of about 7 miles.  What a great day I had!  I had NO pain in my foot (I wrapped the arch with rock tape) and NO back pain. AMAZING!  Although it was overcast, and the leaves are a little past peak color up there, it was still a glorious hike and it didn't rain! I now only have FIVE firetower peaks left in the Adirondacks to do, and only 2 more in the Catskills!!  Hopefully by the end of next summer, I will have completed the challenge!
painting by Deborah Fast
  • AN ADIRONDACK PAINTING!  A good friend of mine, Deborah, painted this for me!  She and I have been friends since childhood. Her parents raised her in the same church and schools that I went to and our families did many things together over the years.  I am also good friends with her older sister Diane. They both graduated from our hometown high school a few years ahead of me. We reconnected several years ago and last summer we were able to hike together when Deb visited NY (she now lives in TN with her husband).  This bridge shows the beginning of a trail that I have always wanted to do but it is a 10 mile round trip hike so I  haven't done it yet.  BUT..to the right of the bridge, there is another trail that leads to 3 beautiful waterfalls...we only got to hike to the first one and tried to bushwhack to the other ones but we didn't have any luck. At any rate, Deb took photos and then painted this picture for me from her photo.  She knows it is one of my fave areas of the Adirondacks (the Wilcox Lake Wilderness Region) so I was thrilled and totally surprised when her sister gave this to me the other day.  I had been at my dad's with my husband and Diane met us there to surprise me. I do plan on getting it framed and for now it is on a shelf leaning against the wall in my family room. I'm so thankful for good friends who appreciate hiking and the woods!

That wraps up my faves........there were other little blessings too, like very warm, mild weather all week and steaming mugs of morning coffee, ice cold lemonade for dinner, cold apple cider, cool, fresh sheets on the bed at night, and kindergarten students who worked well this week!

What were some of your blessings this week?  Please feel free to share!

Have a happy, restful weekend!