10 Things I’ve Learned From My Mother-In-Law

I’ve been thinking lately about all the things I learn from other people. You know, you really do become like the people you hang out with. It reminds me of Proverbs 13:20 “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Well, after being married to my sweetie for 31 years, I’ve had lots of opportunity to learn from my mother-in-law, Joan. I just visited with her yesterday and realized that she has had quite an impact on me. Here are just a few things I’ve learned from her.

1. Keep going no matter how much it hurts. Joan is a cancer survivor. She bravely faced breast cancer soon after I met her. After surgery and radiation, her body has never been the same, but thankfully, alive! She has suffered the consequences of no longer having lymph nodes which means she is constantly threatened by infections. She is now in constant pain since she needs a knee replacement and it is not safe for her to have surgery. And yet, nothing stops her! I often ask if I can do something for her, but she says no. As she explained, “I need to keep making myself do things or I’ll just get weaker and unable to do anything.” It’s so true! And she does keep going through the pain.IMG_2699

2. Give and then give some more. Missions and missionaries are a passion of Joan’s. Through the years, she has given not only her money towards missions, but her time and talents. Missionaries have stayed for prolonged periods of time in her home. And for awhile, Joan was a missionary herself with Wycliffe translators, JAARS. That meant she had to sell her home and move away from family. I’m always amazed at all the missionaries that she knows by name and prays for.

3. Make your home beautiful. Joan has a way of making her home a lovely oasis. I remember shortly after Matt and I moved into our first home, Jo brought a beautiful floral arrangement to us. She arranged it herself and put it in our bare bathroom. She said, “A room should have beauty and not just be utilitarian.” I’ve never forgotten that and often hear her voice as I decorate our home.

4. Take crafting with you.  As a young mother anticipating my in-laws arrival, it was quite intimidating. Our home was a mess with three little boys and I felt overwhelmed. I was usually able to clean up and prepare meals, but I didn’t always have anything else planned for us to do. That was quite alright. I did not need to worry about entertaining Jo while the men did, well…manly things. As the boys napped, she would take out a quilt she was working on and be happy as we chatted. She didn’t even mind if I snoozed a bit. Oh, and she always brings food! Such a wonderful help to a young, cash strapped family.

5. Share the things that are precious to you while you still can. Jo never minces words and I felt some shock as she gave me a gift and said she wanted me to have it now while she was alive. “You never know when you’ll go and I want you to have this now.” I opened the present to find a beautiful piece of Depression Glass. My sweet mother-in-law knew that I was interested in this antique glass and she had some. Why would she keep this treasure when I could enjoy it? What a giving heart!IMG_1845 2

6. Share your home with others. Even now when Jo is in pain, she opens her home. It sounds like they have people over more often then we do! I still have lots to learn in this area of hospitality, but she sure is a good example. Just open your doors and let them in.DSC_9874

7. Encourage others in their talents. Each time I visit with my mother-in-law she fusses over the things I do. Jo always notices my handmade jewelry and wants to examine each piece with great enthusiasm. She makes me feel like I could do anything! And always prominently displays the handcrafted gifts that I have given her. Jo is an example to me to make gifts for others too. I still have a Noah’s Ark baby quilt that she stitched hanging on my wall.

8. Laugh at yourself. Some of the stories Jo tells are ones that make herself the butt of the joke. But she doesn’t care. One of her favorites is the time she and another woman got lost (before gps systems) and asked for directions. They were driving to the Friendship airport but couldn’t find their way. Finally, she stopped a man on the street and said, “Excuse me, we are looking for friendship!” I guess the man looked shocked and she still laughs to think of what he must have thought of her. But then there is the time that she was with her husband at a conference. He was one of the main speakers and the hotel was full of people that he would be addressing. One morning at the escalator to the lobby she kissed him and said, rather loudly, “Last night was fun! Let’s do it again next year. What did you say your name was?” She sure has kept Dad on his toes!IMG_0967

9. Love your man with all you’ve got. She and I have one of the few Broscious men. They are treasures and we know it! Every time I see Jo, she makes a point of telling me how wonderful her man is. And they’ve been together for a long time.3281_1085900560586_5745015_n

10. Most important, praise God though it all! Life has not always been easy for Jo. In fact, she has been through a lot. And yet, whenever I see her, she encourages me in Christ. She loves Jesus with her whole heart and it shows. No matter the pain, she praises God. What an example!

Thank you, Jo – Mom, for all you’ve taught me. Lots of love, Janine

Hooked on Doilies: Blocking

For some reason, once I start making doilies, it’s hard to stop.. It is a relaxing thing to do in the evenings while watching videos. I have a difficult time just sitting there not accomplishing something. I’d rather make something than just watch something! So, I just finished one that I began years ago. I think it is only the second oval one I’ve made. Here is how it looked after I finished crocheting it.DSC_1860 2

I’ve heard that some people never do the last step – blocking. It’s an important step. All it entails is washing it and then pinning it while it dries. I use two cardboard lids from packages of copier paper taped together with a towel on top to pin my doilies. These lids have been used so many times that they are about to fall apart. We may need to buy more copier paper soon. But I used a shoe box for a smaller doily.DSC_1862 2

It’s important to use the right pins too. I almost made a big mistake while pinning the larger oval doily. Blocking requires a lot of pins to do it properly and I ran out. No problem. I went into the craft room/studio and found another set of pins that I use in sewing. Then I remembered why I use the pins I do for blocking. They are stainless steel. I sure didn’t want rust marks on my pretty doily!

Even though the doily was nice before blocking, I was much happier with it afterwards. It lies flat now and shows the details better.DSC_1883

So getting washed, stretched and left to dry works! Sounds a bit like life, doesn’t it. Those stretching times are tough, but usually leave us more beautiful, like lovely doilies. I can’t stop. Had to start another one from the same book, A Dozen Doilies. The oval one was called, Augustina. Now I’m working on a pinwheel one. It’s Anastasia. I hope she won’t mind being stretched to become more beautiful! DSC_1884 3

Joyfully Shout “Spring!”

I realized this morning that I have a First Day of Spring Shirt. Do you? I love the fabric of this shirt and it just joyfully shouts, “SPRING,” to me.  DSC_1797 2

Usually, I don’t see the sunrise. It happens too early for me. But today I did. Look at this gorgeous beginning to Spring. See the buds on the dogwood tree?DSC_1782 3

No flowers are blooming yet in my yard but they are working on it! Here are grape hyacinths coming up.DSC_1786

I am enjoying my spring wreath.DSC_1788 2

And my spring bouquet. It’s on my newly finished doily.DSC_1796 2

Here is another view of it.DSC_1781 2

Two days ago there were bunches of robins in our yard.DSC_1759 3

And today THERE WAS A BLUEBIRD ON THE BLUEBIRD HOUSE!!! Can you tell I’m excited about Spring?

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Flip Flops to Snow Boots: Just Got to Adapt

In a matter of hours, I went from wearing flip flops to snow boots. I know, I know…I won’t get any sympathy from all of you who stayed up north enduring a particularly hard winter. But it got me to thinking about change. It’s one of the few things that you can count upon. I remember a Christian comedian, Mark Lowry, joking about “This too shall pass.” Whatever situation we happen to find ourselves in, we can be sure it will change, whether for the better or for worse. As my dad said, “Everyone is either about to have difficulty, is in a difficult situation, or has just come out on the other side of a hard circumstance.” Life is hard! It’s snow boots after beautiful flip flops!

So, I have a choice. Do I complain or do I find the joy in the moment? It reminded me of trees. Recently, we were at Stump Pass Beach Park in Florida. This park was full of thriving vegetation, but strewn throughout were dead trees. DSC_1184

I tried to find out what happened to these trees. One person said lightening strikes. DSC_1187

But I had a hard time believing that lightening took out so many trees! We did search all around these trees. There was a geocache to find among one of the root systems.DSC_1205

After researching online about the park, I realized that each website mentioned change. Here is what the park brochure says, “The sands of this site are always shifting. Historic maps reveal the altered shapes of the islands over time. The islands’ salt-tolerant vegetation preserves the appearance of the Southwest Florida coast before much of it was changed by development.” DSC_1296 2

So, my theory is that the trees just couldn’t adapt to the change. They must not have been salt tolerant. Even though in a way they are beautiful, I don’t want to be like them. My life now that our sons have grown up seems to be constant change! I used to say I hate change and now I am living it and it seems to involve lots of travel. I remember back in 2003 when we went on a short term missions trip to Brazil, they kept stressing that the main thing to make the trip a good one was to “stay flexible.”

That’s not easy. And I still really struggle with it. Part of me likes to have the sure things in life and to be comfortable. But I’m discovering another part of me… the adventurer! And I can be that slightly more daring lady because I know of one thing in my life that will never change. Jesus. I cling to this wonderful promise “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut 31:6

So, no matter what, I want to be like the beautiful, green trees that flourish. Even in the snow or in the sun. Whether in flip flops or snow boots.  With Jesus, I can say, “Bring it on!” DSC_0974 2

Ps 1: 2-3 “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”  (Read the whole psalm!)

Birding in Florida

I’ve often wondered how a person becomes a birder. Or is it bird enthusiast? Maybe it’s something you inherit. Birding genes. I’m thinking that’s what happened to me. I grew up with pet birds and my mom always fed the birds outside too. We had bird identification books and binoculars right in our breakfast nook.

Well, it’s fun! No matter where we go, Matt and I will often look at each other and say, “I wonder what kind of bird that is?” Recently, we were at the Myakka River State Park and a park volunteer approached us inquiring, “Are you birders?”At first I wasn’t sure how to answer. Did we qualify? Was there a definition somewhere that I should read before I committed to this? “Yes,” I daringly exclaimed.

So, now we are birders. Not very good ones, that’s for sure. We keep trying, but one time we’ll arrive at the birding location with binoculars, but not the camera. Another time the camera and tripod, but not the binoculars. And we keep forgetting our field guide! With all that preface, I’m going to share some of my bird photos anyway. It wouldn’t be a trip to Florida without seeing Great Blue Herons.DSC_4934 2

And watching him as he hunts. It looked like he came up empty. But I did see him swallow.DSC_1165 2

We haven’t see the Little Blue Heron quite as often but here he is.DSC_4990 2

My favorite of the herons is the Louisiana Heron although here in Florida I have only heard him called the Tri-colored Heron. We watched this pretty one for quite awhile. He sat perfectly still then suddenly exploded into action. The reward was a little minnow in it’s beak. Supper!DSC_1149 5

One more heron: the Green Heron.DSC_1127 3

The next birds were quite a surprise. As we walked along in the Celery Fields of Sarasota, we saw flashes of pink. Were there flamingos here? And yet, they didn’t look like flamingos. This was one instance where I wished I had a better lens for bird photography. Of course, the lens you need always seems to be the one you don’t have! These beautiful Roseate Spoonbills were quite a distance from us, but I got this shot.DSC_5021 2

Seems I always catch the Egrets flying.DSC_1112 2

We’ve noticed birds that aren’t water birds too. In fact, Matt usually spots them first. He is so observant! As we walked into church on Sunday, he said, “Is that an eagle on top of that really big flag pole? Or just a statue?” It could have been either. Of course, we didn’t have our binoculars with us. But as we stood there staring at it, another eagle flew up to it and the first left. The new eagle took it’s place with the perfect stance. It was like the changing of the guard! We enjoyed the sight and headed off for church. Afterwards, it was still there! Matt said, “Too bad you don’t have your camera.” But I did! DSC_1077 2

Then he spotted a Red Shouldered Hawk.DSC_1084 2

While at Myakka River State Park, we enjoyed the Bird Walk. A large bird flew over as we approached. We both thought it was a hawk of some kind. It landed in some far away brush and didn’t come out. We could see it’s face though. It was a Marsh Hawk also known as a Harrier.DSC_1044 2

Some birds just amuse me…like Pelicans.DSC_4923 2

And Limpkins. What a name!DSC_1015 2

And these Sandhill Cranes.DSC_5012

Then there is the comical Pied-billed Grebe. it kept diving down into this murky water. Such inquisitive eyes.DSC_1123 2

The Loggerhead Shrike was a new one for us. DSC_1087 2

As well as the Yellow-rumped Warbler. Aptly named, I’d say.Florida 2014

Well, we are keeping a list of new birds for us, so I guess we are birders. But aren’t we all? Who doesn’t love listening to a Mockingbird’s song or chasing beach birds?DSC_0690 2

Or enjoying a beach sunset with little bird friends. Yes, birding in Florida, it’s wonderful, even if you don’t know what you’re doing!DSC_0732 2