Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.
Isaiah 43:19

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Party's Over...

We all had a great time and we all ate too much!

front row L-R: Uncle Craig, Julia and Rachel (my nieces - daughters of Lori and Ken)

second row: Cousins: Torrey, Pam, Maggie (daughter of Torrey and Pam), my Mom, Aunt Carolyn (Pam's Mom, my Mom's sister and Uncle Craig's wife), brother-in-law Ken (Julia and Rachel's Dad - Lori's husband)

third row: sister-in-law Roberta, brother Rob (Roberta's husband), Ashley (Rob's daughter) holding Makayla (Pam and Torrey's daughter), Your's Truly (that would be ME), Olivia, and Brillo Man (aka Randy), Randy's eldest daughter, Stephanie, my sister Lori (Ken's wife, Julia and Rachel's Mom)

missing from photo: My youngest brother David, My nephew Michael (Rob's son) and Kelly (Randy's 'former youngest daughter'-before Olivia became the youngest!)

That's us --what a crew! Happy New Year everyone!

Slap Happy Tired....

I'm tired...I'm slap happy...I should be in bed...20 people coming tomorrow...but NO!....thanks to Sara...I had to do THIS!!

Family Gathering...

In exactly twelve hours from from the time I'm typing this blog entry, 20 of my family members will be descending upon our doorstep, ready to spread Christmas cheer as we feast and exchange gifts and celebrate the birth of Christ. (a little late --but that's my family...)

This year it was my turn to host. My sister and my aunt both offered their homes, but I declined; deciding that it would be a good excuse for me to clean my house.

Note: Here is a photo of the coffee table --as it appears right now --in real life. 20 people in a little under 12 hours...I think I should think about cleaning it off. It's piled with stuff - McDonald's boxes (that was dinner tonight), discarded wrapping paper, camera cables, Christmas nauseum...

Here's the real of my stepdaughters arrived earlier this afternoon bearing gifts from herself and her sister who couldn't be with us this weekend because she has to work. (what is UP with that?!) Upon opening gifts from the girls, I received what I think may be my favorite gift this year....a refrigerator magnet.

When my relatives arrive tomorrow and my house isn't spotless (because it NEVER will be EVER in this lifetime....), I will just flash THE MAGNET! Enough said! Party on!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Tighty Whities? the time, Brillo Man takes off his shoes when he comes in the door and walks around in his white socks. There is no place his white socks won't take him --through the mud/laundry room into the garage (where he frequently takes off his muddy boots) to get to the freezer to get the ice cream - or down into the basement to do whatever it is he does while he's in the basement. Needless to say, Brillo Man's white socks tend to be not-so-white at the end of the day.

To remedy this problem, whenever I do laundry, all of Brillo Man's white clothes - including his T-shirts and Tighty Whities go in the washer together with Tide and scoop of Oxiclean added to the load. I always wash them in HOT water and let them soak for 30 minutes to insure that all the garage dirt and mud room mud and basement crud is washed out of the socks, not to mention the olive oil stains on his T-shirts from eating Italian bread dipped in oil with Italian spices added. (but that's another blog...)

Moving right along...Olivia always takes off her shoes AND socks the minute she walks in the door and refuses to wear anything on her feet when she's in the house. She took off her socks and instead of putting them in her "Dora" hamper, she asked me if she should just put them in the washing machine with Daddy's socks. "Sure", I replied, "Thanks for being such a good helper!"

When I opened the washer to transfer all of Brillo Man's bright white freshly washed clothes into the dryer...I pulled out a pair of not white, but PINK tighty whities. Olivia put her socks in the wash --they were red. oops.

Great. Mission Impossible - make the pink clothes white again. The clothes are now back in a 30 minute soak of HOT water, a cup and 1/2 of bleach and two scoops of Oxiclean - sans red socks! With the bleach, mingling with the Oxiclean and detergent... I'm thinking anyone who enters the mud/laundry room may need a gas mask or respirator because of the fumes.

In 45 minutes or so, I should know if my mission was successful --hopefully, Brillo Man's tighty whities won't be tighty pinkies any longer. (Side note: One good thing...on Christmas morning, after opening some new packages of boxer briefs which were colors other than white...Brillo Man commented that he was glad I didn't buy white. So this whole pink thing should be okay with him, right?!) And if my mission doesn't work, I'll tell him it's high time he got in touch with his feminine side!

Monday, December 25, 2006

What was in that box?!

As many of you know, we are in the process of converting one of our garage bays into an art studio for me. Since we've been married, I really haven't had any space to paint or create. In fact, many of my art supplies have 'spilled' into our living room and many are still packed in boxes in the garage - where they've been since we moved into this house. I've been wanting a studio space forever and since Olivia will be starting kindergarten next year, I will have some more time to devote to creating!

Randy surprised me with a big tool chest (on wheels!) which I'll be able to fill (in no time at all) with art supplies. Since it's mobile, I'll be able to roll it around wherever I'm painting or whatever. He also bought me a really nice easel - something I've wanted forever! ...and a mat cutter - so I no longer have to pay someone else to mat my art work. And---a scroll saw, a router and a table saw --for woodworking. The scroll saw (when equipped with diamond tipped blades) will also come in handy for cutting glass for my stained glass projects --something else which I hope to get back into when I have a little more time.

All of that --along with some beautiful jewelry, the new WOW worship CD, an audio book by Max Lucado and a new Bible (parallel NASB and The Message). I'm sure I'm forgetting something he gave me....I told him that he spent way too much! On the other hand, it's nice to be spoiled once in awhile!

I'm excited to get my studio finished and of course, will be posting photos when that project is complete.

Okay --Olivia is beckoning me to go play a game with her....

I hope everyone had a great time celebrating our Lord's birth!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

As we celebrate the birth of our Savior,
my prayer for you all this year is that God would
"grant you according to the riches of His Glory,

to be strengthened with might
by His Spirit in the inner man;
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;
That ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all the saints
what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge,
that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God."
-Ephesians 3:16-19

Merry Christmas with love...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Sweet Sounds of Christmas

Some of you have talked about the sounds of Christmas --the carols sung, the bells ringing, the laughter of excited children....

Here in our home, we have a whole new definition of the sweet sound of Christmas....

Last night, I arrived home from a short shopping trip to the outlet mall (I thought that since I hadn't yet visited a mall this season, that I should do so --just so I could say I did.) When I walked in the door, I heard scrambing and scruffing and Olivia came running over saying, "don't you even think about opening that door Mom!"
Brillo Man looked at me and said, "You're home way too early."
"Oh, wrapping presents?", I replied.
A couple of sheepish grins and a "yep" from both of them...

Soon, I was relegated to the bedroom while they finished their wrapping frenzy. And "frenzy" is an understatement....

From the bedroom, I heard the strangest noise --you know, that annoying, scraping, screeching, stretching sound that a tape dispenser makes when you pack a box for shipping? I heard that sound - again and again and again and again.
"What in the world are they doing? Wrapping an elephant?", I thought as I calmly sorted through a box of my own presents which needed wrapped.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, Olivia came bounding into the bedroom announcing that it was safe for me to return to the land of the living. I followed her into the living room only to discover that they had indeed wrapped an elephant -- or at least a baby elephant! Next to the tree is this HUGE package - encircled by miles and miles of packing tape! Notice the beautiful, holiday dancing light (glare) that comes from the box...

Olivia squealed, "Mommy, I helped with all the wrapping and the one on the very top I did all by myself without any help from anybody!" "Wow!", I laughed at her excitement and added that I would probably need her professional help when I wrapped presents for Daddy. She dashed away and started down the stairs, calling as she descended... "Okay, but first I have to go downstairs with Daddy and have some 'Olivia time'. When you're ready to wrap and I begin to hear that sweet, sweet sound of the tape, I'll be right up to help you!"

After I open it, I'll let you know if it really is a baby elephant they've wrapped!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Illustration Friday: Peace

Today's theme for Illustration Friday is PEACE.

This is a Christmas card design I did several years ago. Jesus left the magnificent splendor of heaven, to come to earth as a Child, to give His life so that those of us who have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior could have a peace beyond any that is comprehensible.

My prayer this Christmas season is that all of you will find the True Peace that only comes in knowing Jesus.

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. -Isaiah 26:3

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Mrs. Claus...Cat Got Your Tongue?!

Last week at our church Christmas party, my friends, Dave and Dawna portrayed Santa and Mrs. Claus. Thinking that since Olivia knows and speaks with Dawna every time they see each other in church, Dawna decided that she better not interact with Olivia while dressed as Mrs. Claus because she didn't want Olivia to recognize her and spoil the fun.

Earlier today while sharing the photo with Grandma Leanne, Olivia said, "I sat on Santa's lap and he talked to me, but Mrs. Claus wouldn't talk to me."

Grandma: "She wouldn't?"

Olivia: "Nope"

Grandma: "I wonder why she wasn't able to talk to you..."

Olivia: "I don't know..."

Olivia said to me a few minutes later...."I'm thinking that Mrs. Claus probably didn't know my language, or else she just had a giant frog in her throat!"

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Shopping

Many of you may disagree, stating that it's tough to get into "the Christmas spirit" without visiting a mall full of hustling, bustling, usually impatient, pushy, grabby, crabby Christmas shoppers, but I find it a veritable nightmare to enter a mall during this time of year.

I for one, am proud to say that I have not set foot in one mall this season. Not one Target, Not one Best Buy nor Kohls nor KMart nor Macy's nor Sears nor JCPenneys. I did make a couple of stops at StuffMart (aka WalMart).

All of my shopping was done via the internet. I didn't have to wait in line. I didn't even pay shipping costs in most cases shopping on sites which offered free shipping for the holidays. The few items that I did purchase in the stores were purchased several months ago and stashed away, hidden in the house from snooping little eyes.

Another Christmas without going to the mall!!! Yeah!! Besides, why would I want to go to the mall when I can sit here and be entertained by Olivia who is presently sitting in the middle of the living room floor pulling one yard (as in three feet) of dental floss through her teeth while singing Jingle Bells?! (What is up with that?!)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Lap Robes

This afternoon, I put the final crocheted stitches into the last lap robe which many of you know I've been crocheting (along with several other women from our church) for the residents of our local nursing home.

I've prayed for each resident who will receive these gifts....that if they don't already have a relationship with Jesus, that they will come to a saving knowledge of Him and His great love!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

No Time to Write

No Time to write right now.

...gotta go paint play scenery....

Here's Olivia this morning --putting on a "show". Raggedy Ann is dancing!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

These Tag Things

I hate these tag things too --but after being tagged by Sara, I realized that I needed something to blog about that wouldn't require too much effort. It's been a long night and day --Olivia is sick and neither of us have had much sleep.

A - Available or single: Definitely not single and definitely not available.
B - Best Friend: Brillo Man
C - Cake or Pie: Pie - Peach or Black Raspberry please
D - Drink of choice: Cherry Pepsi
E - Essential Item you use everyday: Toothbrush
F - Favorite color: I don't have a favorite --I like all of them.
G - Gummy Bears or worms: bears --easier to manage
H - Hometown: New Castle, PA
I - Indulgence: too numerous to mention --homemade bread is one, chips is another --basically anything which contains major carbs.
J - January or February: what kind of a question is that? neither. May or June
K - Kids & Names: 1 - Olivia
L - Life is Incomplete Without? Jesus, Brillo Man and Olivia
M - Marriage Date: June 2, 2001
N - Number of Siblings: 3
O - Oranges or Apples: Oranges
P - Phobias or Fears: Failure and dying too young so as not to see my daughter grow up and have children of her own.
Q - Fave Quote: Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings while the dawn is still dark. - anonymous
R - Reason to Smile: Olivia's laughter
S - Season: Autumn
T - Tag 3 or 4 people: If you're reading, you're tagged.
U - Unknown Fact about Me: I pull out every grey hair that I find on my head to avoid spending the money on hair dye. When I'm bald, I'll know it's time to pay the salon.
V- Vegetable You Don't Like: I like them all.
W - Worst Habit: overeating
X - Xrays: too numerous to list --first was an ankle when I thought I broke it playing kickball (whacked my leg up against the corner of a friend's garage). Next --a broken arm when I fell 20 feet into a ravine while swinging on a vine.....
Y - Your Fave Food: PASTA - specifially Mom's homemade ravioli
Z - Zodiac Sign: Gemini --but I hate astrology --it's a waste of time and energy.

Where has all the snow gone?

Just a few days ago we were throwing snowballs and sledding....

As I type this it's raining. The snow is all melted. And there's mud everywhere!

Bring back the snow!!!

Monday, December 11, 2006

O Tannenbaum

The tree is finally up.

There is not room for one more ornament.

It's cluttered (what else is new?)

I like it that way!

Olivia did most of the decorating, so if there are two snowmen ornaments next to each other - or two red ornaments next to each other - consider it a display of her artistic license!

The detail photo shows an ornament with a picture of Olivia - her 2nd Christmas, a dragonfly and a Canada Goose --two creatures very prominent on our property. If you visit in the Spring or early Summer, you'd understand why we've dubbed our pond, "Goose Poop Lake".
and of course --there's the Armadillo. If anyone doesn't know the armadillo story....I'll include it in a future blog. I thought I had blogged the armadillo story --but I'm unable to find it amongst my posts.

So --Tree is up. One less thing I have to worry about!

Now I just have to get the four 8'x4' panels painted for the scenery for the church Christmas play.....I have less than two weeks to complete that project....ugh!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Breakfast with Santa

This morning Olivia and I went to have breakfast with Santa. Before we left, she insisted upon taking one of the "art projects" we made this week as a gift for Mr. Claus, but changed her mind at the last minute. Deciding, instead, to give Santa her gift on Christmas Eve along with some cookies and a carrot for Rudolph.

Here she is with some of the other kids playing a game. Her "Red Sparkle Shoes" allow her to run "really, really fast!"

And finally, on Santa's lap. When Santa asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she put her hand on her chin and said, "I just need to think about it for a minute." After a few seconds, Santa asked her if she had decided. She said, "No, I just need to keep thinking..."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Artist Within...

One of my favorite artists is Andy Warhol. I don’t know why. Probably because in a high school art class we were required to research an artist, and then portray him or her while giving a report as well as presenting some art work inspired by the artist’s style. I chose Andy. I was tall and thin with short hair and I wore glasses. It would be fairly easy for me to dress up like him.

In my research of Andy Warhol, I discovered that he was probably more eccentric than most. Artists, in general, tend to be on the eccentric side – in one way or another. Andy gave the word ‘eccentric’ a whole new meaning. For instance, he never threw anything away. Never. .” He was said to have “packrattitude”. He stored things in boxes which he referred to as “Time Capsules.”

These time capsules are presently in storage at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA. There are over 600 of them, the sum of which contains between 300,000 and 500,000 items. It’s estimated that in order to open and catalogue every item it would take
four people working full-time for fifty years.

Now –the reason for this post is that I, too, live amongst a bunch of bins and boxes and objects which I’m henceforth going to refer to as “time capsules”. If Brillo Man complains that I have too much stuff (which he often does) I’m just going to tell him to ‘get over it’ because I’m an eccentric artist and these things are my time capsules.

I tend not to throw things away. I’m not a messy housekeeper….I have packrattitude. You never know when I may need something. For instance….in the art that follows, I put to use a small piece of golden brown foil from an “autumn” edition of a Hershey’s Kiss. The foil was colorful. I had to keep it. I might be able to use it. Someday.

And I did! Note the butterfly –it would not have been nearly as eye-catching had I chosen to render it in colored pencil. Rather, I chose to make it the focal point of this work of art with golden brown foil. Pretty impressive, huh?!
Never mind that I presently can’t find the surface of my coffee table because it’s covered in stuff that I need to sort through because I may need it someday and my house is cluttered with overflowing boxes and bins which I have to figure out where I’m going to stash so I can at least make it presentable enough to decorate for Christmas…..I am an artist with packrattitude and I am proud!

This post is dedicated to my friend, Pat
– not because she has packrattitude – but because she loves me in spite of it! (Of course, she’s never actually seen my home….I think she would have a seizure if she did!) The secret is –make sure all your friends live at least 200 miles away so they can’t just “drop in”!

Additional note: As I was typing the last line of this post, Brillo Man called to say that he was bringing home two of his employees so they could work on a project together….which PROVES the theory that Pat shared with me yesterday –that I’d clean if I HAD to!!!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Whiter Than Snow

This morning, I awoke to a beautiful sight. As I sat up in bed and looked out through the french doors, past the balcony/deck to the pond beyond --and the trees covered in a blanket of snow. The world enveloped in a blanket of white.

Immediately, a song came to mind which was written by a dear friend, my former worship leader, . "...Whiter than snow, whiter than snow, Jesus, Your blood makes me whiter than snow..."

It's such a simple analogy; the earth and all the dirt is enveloped in a beautiful blanket of white just as the sin in our lives is covered when we accept the Lord as our Savior. All the dirt and grime and junk - now remains unseen. The Lord no longer sees us with all our imperfections and flaws, rather He sees us as pure and white and wearing a robe of righteousness. All the 'dirt' is covered. Covered in a blanket much like the snow comprised of millions of beautiful icy crystals - each unique in its own way - yet equally lovely.

We are all unique. Yet we are all equally lovely in God's eyes. A dear friend blessed me so much this morning by telling me that she sees me in a completely different light than I see myself. The list she compiled of who she sees when she looks at me goes far beyond what I see in myself. I'd like to think that she is seeing me through the eyes of the Lord.

I am so thankful for God's unending grace and mercy. -Thankful that He has chosen me to be a child of His. -Thankful that He looks beyond all the junk and sees me as a beautiful creation, shining and sparkling for Him. As Christians, we all need to be reminded every now and then that we are a beautiful creation...we need to not focus on the 'junk' but focus on the potential that God sees in each of us.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. --Psalm 51:7

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Illustration Friday - Theme: Might

The fish fought with all his MIGHT...
...but couldn't escape being dinner for the cat!

medium: acrylic on canvas / copyright deborah erskine

Friday, December 01, 2006

Are You a RE-Washer?

I had to chuckle to myself when I read an email from my sister this morning, part of which reads, "Ok, I should go rewash a load of laundry that’s been in the washer for days. I’m sure it stinks."

Sorry, Lori - you've been "outed" as a RE-WASHER! My sister will now have friends (because I have it on very good report that at least one of her friends reads my blog ---and NEVER comments, by the way - that friend is a "LURKER" --but I'll deal with that in another post....) my sister will have people looking at her in horror and disbelief whenever they realize that the clothes she is wearing may have sat in a washer for days and then been RE-WASHED probably in a heavy solution of Oxyclean or some other heavy-duty laundry cleaner to attempt to get that familiar mildew smell out of them.

(Wait, did I say, "familiar"? Nah....I could NEVER be a RE-WASHER!)

By the another friend's previous post I read..."When load is complete, within three to four days (my husband) will approach and cram the items into the dryer."

So, dear sister, don't despair. There are indeed other RE-WASHERS out there living in our world. Perhaps you could start a support group....

Okay --gotta go get that load of laundry out of the washer which I put in there last night --quick! - before it mildews and I have to join the group! I've got too much on my plate now --no time for another group...

Thursday, November 30, 2006


artwork copyright 2006 D. Erskine

We've searched for it like pilgrims through faithless days
We've hoped for it to come like rain and fill our empty souls
We've waited for it like a miracle to turn our world around
But until we look beyond ourselves it will not be found

Peace on this side of heaven
Peace where none is given
In a world that's so demanding
We all need some understanding
Peace when the road's uncertain
Peace when a soul is hurtin'
We ache for it
And we pray for it
But only on our knees will we find peace

We long for it through busy days and sleepless nights
We've wished for it to stem the tide of chaos in our lives
We've dreamed of someday reaching it a lost and distant hope
But until we put our Savior first
we will never ever know

Peace on this side of heaven
Peace where none is given
In a world that's so demanding
We all need some understanding
Peace when the road's uncertain
Peace when a soul is hurtin'
We ache for it
We pray for it
But only on our knees will we find peace

Lord calm the waters on our troubled seas
'cause only by Your power
Will we ever receive

Peace on this side of heaven
Peace where none is given
In a world that's so demanding
We all need some understanding
Peace when the road's uncertain
Peace when a soul is hurtin'
We ache for it
And we pray for it
But only on our knees

We ache for it
And we pray for it
But only on our knees will we find peace

recorded by Kim Boyce from her As I Am CD

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

No Internet Access....

We have no internet access.

"How then?", you ask, "are you able to blog?"

I'm at the library.

I left Olivia at home with Brillo Man and I've escaped to read my favorite blogs.

Our DSL is down for the count --have no idea when we'll have internet access at home. The tech. support people have passed our case along to "someone who knows more than they" and they're supposed to call us back within 48 hours!!!

48 hours!!! Do they even have a CLUE that I can't possibly go without blogging for 48 hours?!!

....I may not get back to the library until Friday morning --without internet until then.... I'll be needing medication to get me through!

In the meantime, I've checked out several books.

My reading recommendations: This morning I checked out The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans. I've already finished it --it's not a very long book - but it's a good book. If you haven't read it ---go borrow it from the library and read it.

I came back to the library this evening to get three more books: Timepiece, The Letter and The Locket all by the same author. The first two I mentioned are the 2nd and 3rd in The Christmas Box trilogy.

Brillo Man thinks that I'm at the library just to get the books. Truth be told --I had to BLOG!!!!

No pictures though ---the library computer has no photo file for me to store a photo and then upload to blogger. What is up with that?!

....Until Friday....happy blogging...I'll be thinking of you all!

P.S. A very dear friend told me earlier that she may be disconnecting her internet access permanently. The very thought caused me to start shaking uncontrollably!


Pat stole my post.

That is all.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Angry Waters

I have been experiencing some serious mood swings in my life lately. Very in 'uncontrollable' serious. Pre-menopausal? MS-related? A result of sleep deprivation? Poor eating habits? I've come up with a list of a dozen reasons why this could be happening to me --none of which change the fact that I'm beginning to think I'm whacko.

I had recently shared with Brillo Man that when these 'swings' come on, they are uncontrollable - like a huge wave of emotion. I sense they're coming, but can do nothing to avoid the pounding and intensity of the waves. This morning, in my devotions, I was directed to this passage of the Bible:

Psalm 93

The Eternal Reign of the LORD

1 The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The LORD is clothed,
He has girded Himself with strength.
Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved.

2 Your throne is established from of old;
You are from everlasting.

3 The floods have lifted up, O LORD,
The floods have lifted up their voice;
The floods lift up their waves.

4 The LORD on high is mightier
Than the noise of many waters,
Than the mighty waves of the sea.

5 Your testimonies are very sure;
Holiness adorns Your house,
O LORD, forever.

Trouble comes our way, according to Psalm 93, in relentless waves that surge and pound against our souls and break upon them with furious force. "The floods have lifted, up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice," (v.3) and they are deafening.

Yet above the tempest we hear the psalmist's refrain, "The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea." (v.4)

Indeed, "the Lord reigns"! He is clothed with majesty and strength. He sits as King, exalted higher than the waves that rise above us, deeper than their immeasurable depths, greater than their strongest surge. The storm is in His all-powerful hands: "The world is established, so that it cannot be moved," for His rule over it was established long ago. (v.1) He rules the raging of the sea; the "wind and the sea obey Him" (Mark 4:37-41). He speaks and they are still.

The storm will not last forever. Yet, while it rages, I can cling to the Lord's promises of love and faithfulness, for His "testimonies are very sure" (Psalm 93:5). Waves of trouble may sweep over me, but I will not be swept away. He "is able to keep me from stumbling" (Jude 24). My Father in heaven is holding my hand.

When overwhelmed with problems,
When weak of tired or ill,
When storms are fierce and raging
Just hear His "peace, be still," -Jarvis

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Rat

I've been asked about the rat.

I don't know where he has gone.

We haven't had any more sightings.

Brillo Man (btw, henceforth, my dear husband shall be referred to as "Brillo Man" - he can thank Sara for that.)

Anyway...Brillo Man crawled around on the floor and looked under the furniture. He has noted that there is one Sugar Daddy still in place - left untouched. We're assuming that the rat has fled the scene --probably ate some of the rat poison and is in rat heaven somewhere.

Happily, I can report that there is no smell --so the rat did not die somewhere in the wall....

Of course, he only comes out at night - after everyone is asleep...

We have chosen to leave the rat trap in place....just in case!

Where's My Sandwich?!

As I'm typing this - it's 1:44 am. I really need to be in bed. It's been a very long day. We got up early to get an early start home. We had to stop at a couple of antique shops along the way. And we had to eat. And then there were the "I have to go to the bathroom NOW" stops. And the "I'm uncomfortable in this car seat and I need to stretch my legs" stops. And of course there was the "we better stop and get gas" stop.

Finally --we arrived home after EIGHT hours on the road. (Normally, it's a four hour trip. What's up with that?!)

When we got home, we had to watch some TV. My dear husband and I are now officially hooked on the TV show: 24. We have two more shows to watch and we will have completed the entire first season. We'll be starting season two tomorrow. (compliments of Hollywood Video) We belong to their MVP club which allows us to rent unlimited movies for a flat fee of $14.99 for the entire month. We started 24 - got hooked and now can do nothing else with our free time besides 'veg' in front of the television! Anyway...I digress...again.

Of course, we had to make popcorn to eat while watching the shows. And then we had to have something sweet to eat to 'counteract' all the salt in the popcorn so we broke out the chocolate chip cookies. I whined that all I really wanted was a turkey sandwich and we have NO leftovers because we spent Thanksgiving in New York at my in-laws. We don't even have an
emergency breast! (What's up with that?!)

Anyway...I'm back. I'm blogging. And I'll spend some time tomorrow 'catching up' on all the blog posts I've missed while I've been off visiting my relatives.

For's time for me to go to bed and dream about leftover turkey sandwiches!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Give Thanks

My friend, Pat recently posted a blog about how thankful she is for her sheets. I started to think about how thankful I am for my sheets and thought I’d share a story....

My dear husband and I have a king size bed. Not just any king size bed –but one of those NASA stamp-of-approval memory foam beds. Ahhhhhh…at the end of a long day, your tired, aching bones just sink right in and the foam molds to your body and you’re cushioned and cradled and we LOVE it! Everyone should have one of these fabulous beds….unless, of course, you’re one who enjoys tossing and turning. It’s not so easy to toss and turn on the NASA stamp-of-approval memory foam mattress –there’s too much ‘sinking in.’ Anyway…I digress.

This mattress is thick. So thick that most standard king size sheets don't fit it. Although I wouldn't trade my bed for anything --I hate buying sheets --we cannot get them for less than $125. ouch. I recently had to buy a new set of sheets. We have only owned one set since purchasing the bed because the sheets are so stinkin’ expensive. It was easier and made more sense to just wash the sheets and put them right back on as often as we needed to change the bed. Consequently –the sheets get a lot of wear. And probably more wear than usual--because my husband is actually a BRILLO PAD in disquise! He has hair not only on his chest --but everywhere (I know, TMI --but if you have read the last installment on my blog autobiography, you will see that I actually prayed for a husband with a hairy chest...and since the Lord is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we can ask or think, He thought it best to bless me with 'The Beast'. (by the way, I'm 'Beauty'. ahem)

ANYWAY....our sheets tend to wear out very quickly on Randy's side of the bed! Eventually a small tear appeared –which quickly became a big tear. I spent one afternoon hand-stitching the four foot long tear...and then two days later, another small tear appeared which quickly turned into a big tear. Never fear! I can fix this! I bought some muslin, dragged out my sewing machine and actually SEWED a huge muslin patch over the tears. I was pretty proud of myself. The muslin was on sale for $2.99 a yard –new sheets were $130. Savings: $127.00!!!

Unfortunately, my great fix didn’t last long. Within a week –there was another small tear which soon turned into a large tear and I resolved myself to the fact that we were going to have to fork out the big bucks for some new sheets.

My husband, the Brillo Pad, is retired from the Army ---so we have the perk of being able to shop online at a PX exchange store –paying no tax and no shipping!!! King Sheets –with deep enough pockets to fit our NASA stamp-of-approval memory foam bed: $130.00. ugh.

After waiting for over two weeks (what is UP with that?!), the sheets arrived. Yeah! The old flat sheet has now been delegated to "the rag bag" and we have a brand new set of sheets! Yeah! So, this Thanksgiving --I am thankful for my sheets…and my Brillo Pad husband!!!!

“…and his whole body was like a hairy garment…” –Genesis 25:25

I hope you all have a blessed holiday! We will be visiting Randy’s family in New York –I’ll be away from the computer for five days. I will miss you all while I’m gone! ….Praying for each of you –that you will know God’s blessings and be thankful!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Autobiography - Part Four

Following is the final installment of my autobiography which was written as a requirement of The Bair Foundation - our foster parent agency. For the previous three parts, scroll down to read previous posts.

Not long afterward, I began to desire a husband. So – I made a list of the qualities that I wanted in a mate. The first three things were absolutely non-negotiable.

1) Someone who loved the Lord with all His heart, mind, soul and strength.
2) Someone with the same beliefs as I.
3) Someone with a servant’s heart.

Then I had a whole page of "it would be nice if..." he were between the ages of 40-45, he were taller than I, he had chest hair!, he liked antiques, canoeing, hiking, etc. I and my Christian counselor literally began to pray over my list!

One September day, I was watching the local Christian TV station. They were having a pledge drive to raise money. The Lord prompted me to call in a pledge. While on the phone, the prayer partner asked me if there was anything about which she could pray for me. I said, "yes, as a matter of fact, there is. I would like a godly husband." So she prayed and she wrote the request on the pledge card. Richard Roberts (of Oral Roberts University) happened to be the guest on the show that day. About 30 minutes after I called, someone handed my pledge card to Richard Roberts. On the air he said, "Deborah is pledging X amount and she has a prayer request...I see the request...I’m not going to read it on the you see it Oleen?" He then handed the pledge card to the CEO of the station –who was present on the show that evening. Oleen read the card. Richard said, "Oleen, I feel impressed to pray right now." And he then began to pray..."Dear Lord, I pray that you will make this request manifest in a way that she will KNOW that the answer only could have come from you. Place this person in her life - may it be a ‘suddenly’ an ‘unexpected’ answer and may she be blessed. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen."

As I sat and listened to Richard Roberts pray for me - on the air - there were tears streaming down my cheeks as I felt the presence of the Lord in my living room. I cried and cried –and thanked the Lord in advance for answering my prayer. And then I sat back and forgot about it. I went about my daily living, believing that God would answer in His time.

Three months later on Christmas day, I was home alone feeling sorry for myself because my family had celebrated Christmas together the week before. All my friends were with their families and I was alone in this house which I had previously shared with my partner. All the memories of all the past Christmases spent together were flooding my mind and I was very discouraged, thinking that I couldn’t possibly ever know the joy of a right relationship with someone. I turned on my computer and soon found myself in a Christian chat room. I hadn’t visited this site before. The ‘room’ had about 15 visitors that afternoon. Everyone was chatting about what they had for dinner and what Christmas gifts they received. I just didn’t feel like taking part in all the merry well-wishing and thought that this was a big waste of my time. Eventually I typed, "Well, since none of you is ready to prophesy that you’re my future husband, I’m outta here. Merry Christmas everyone." And then, just seconds before I clicked the "exit" button, someone typed, "Wait, don’t go." My very first thought was, "Oh, who is this bozo?" The person said, "Can we talk? Can we go in a ‘private’ chat room?" At this point, I KNEW that he was probably NOT the type of person with whom I would enjoy conversing –especially after hearing all the horror stories of men attempting to "pick up" women online for nothing more than a casual online "sexcapade". Nevertheless, I agreed to go into a private chat room and chat.

Without knowing anything about me, other than my name was Deb, I was 40 years old and I lived near Pittsburgh, Pa, this person began to share his testimony with me. As he began unfolding the events of his life and I watched the words spell across my computer screen - just by reading his words, I knew that He loved the Lord with all his heart. Also, I couldn’t believe that not only was he a Christian, but he was a member of the same denomination as I. And not only was he a member of the same denomination, but he said that he was on the staff! Wow! - "A Pastor?", he said he was the Chief Operations Manager with a staff of seven people under him. Their job was to clean and maintain the church and the adjoining Christian school. A big job for a church of over 1000 members. At this point, the Holy Spirit said, "Deb, there’s the servant’s heart that you requested"...It was at that moment that I KNEW I was going to marry this man.

We talked online for over five hours on that Christmas Day....and then talked online again for the next several days before I got cold feet and told him that I didn’t think it was going to work out –he lived in Florida and I lived in Pennsylvania. I knew that I couldn’t live in Florida because of the heat and how it would affect my MS. He honored my request to not pursue the relationship and the emails and online chats stopped. Until a week later when I said to myself, "Are you nuts? God has placed this man in your life and you’re going to let him go?" I contacted him and said that perhaps I was too hasty in my decision and that we should try again.

We spent countless hours on the internet and on the telephone getting to know each other. Over the next few weeks, I was able to check off EVERY item on my "list". Without a doubt – this was the man that God had suddenly and from a very unexpected place –had brought into my life.

Randy flew up to meet me in February. While visiting, I took him to McConnell’s Mill State Park. It was a beautiful, sunny day with a temperature in the mid 60s –very unusual for February! We walked along the path and then stopped by the creek to rest. He pointed out that carved into the boulder behind us was a cross. Just then, a breeze blew some seeds down on his shoulder and I picked one up that was in the shape of a dove. I showed it to him and at that moment he said, "this is the perfect time"....and he got down on one knee, opened a box which contained the most beautiful ring I had ever seen - and asked me to be his wife.

Four months later, after having not even known each other six months, Randy and I were married on June 2, 2001. I wish I could say that the road up to that time was paved with roses, but it wasn’t. My pastor - one of my closest friends at the time, refused to marry us. He said, "But Deb, you’re moving so stinkin’ fast!" It didn’t matter how fast it was. I knew. We knew. God had brought us together and we absolutely knew that we were going to get married –with or without his blessing. He and his family did attend the wedding and in fact, asked the blessing at the reception –but he held to his convictions that we were moving too quickly and wouldn’t perform the ceremony. We had my mother’s blessing and Randy's parents’ blessing and the blessing of all of our family and friends.

Our wedding was the day that I had always dreamed it would be – filled with music. I surprised Randy and sang to him and we had so many vocalists and musicians that one of my friends refers to our wedding as, "The, I mean, the Musical"!

Here are the lyrics to the song I sang to Randy on our Wedding Day:

I asked the Lord for someone
and I always knew that in God's time and in God's way
it would be someone like you.
All my hopes and all my dreams
were suddenly fulfilled.
It's almost unbelievable
our love is in His will.

Only God could love you more
for He gave me this love I have for you.
What a blessing to know He's your Lord
For only God could love you more, than I do.

I'm tempted to be saying
that we met by chance.
But God was there at every turn
In every circumstance.
To share this life God gave me
seems such a fearful task.
But every moment we have shared
is more than I could ask.

Only God could love you more
for He gave me this love I have for you.
What a blessing to know He's your Lord.
For only God could love you more, than I do.

We have been happily married for five years. Olivia was born 23 days after our first wedding anniversary. She was 2 ½ months early and the Lord spared both of our lives. (But the retelling of that miracle would involve another four or five posts - at least!)

Several months ago, the Lord laid it upon my heart that He had something He wanted me to do –foster parenting. I began praying about it, never saying anything to Randy. One evening while watching television, he said to me, "Deb, what would you think if I said that I would like to look into us becoming foster parents?" My jaw dropped. I knew then that we were on the same page and that this was something that was authored by the Lord.

We were asked by the foster agency to share about our spiritual life. I think perhaps you can tell by my story where my heart is concerning spiritual matters. I love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and it is my deepest desire to see others come to know the saving knowledge of Jesus. His love for me and the grace that He has bestowed upon me has been incomprehensible to me. I am undeserving of His love –but He loves me - unconditionally. My desire is to make a difference in the life of a child. If there is a way that I can share the love of Christ –in a practical way –and love a child who perhaps isn’t receiving the love that he or she deserves...if I can be the only "Jesus" that they see....I would be honored to be used of God to be a foster parent.

We have the support of our family, our friends and our church as we pursue this dream. We attend Lifeway Church of the Nazarene –which by the way, had you told me I would one day be involved in a Nazarene church, I may not have believed you –me being a diehard ‘Pentecostal’ A/G girl...but this is where the Lord has led us and we’re so happy serving him in this church. Randy recently taught a Bible study series and I am on the Praise Team –doing what I love to do most - singing and leading worship. I have shared with Randy and with my family and friends that while I am convinced that I am supposed to become a foster parent because this is a ministry where the Lord is leading me, at the same time, there are moments when I’m scared to death. I have to believe that the Lord is going to take all my apprehensions and fears –all the ashes of my past –and exchange them all for beauty - to glorify Him alone. He promises in His Word that He will equip us to accomplish the tasks that He calls us to do. I’m trusting Him to do just that and am looking forward to being used for His glory to help make a difference in children’s lives.

Thanks for "listening" to my story. My prayer is that my story, my testimony, if you will, has been a blessing to you and that you will be even more convinced than you already are, of what an awesome God we serve.
God Bless you!

Monday, November 20, 2006

My Autobiography - Part Three

(This is part three of the autobiography which I was required to write in order to complete the process of becoming a foster parent. To read parts one and two, scroll down to previous posts.)

Needless to say, Colleen exhibited tough love. Very tough love. Over the next few weeks she constantly encouraged Becca and I to make the decision to split up and assured us again and again that she was praying for us. One evening I just kept looking at the open door of our spare bedroom and the Lord kept saying to me, "You have to make the move and go through that bedroom door." Finally, after much deliberation with the Lord, I gave in and told Becca that I needed to move into the other bedroom. It was one of the most difficult moves I made, but I moved. Once settled into the other room –I turned on the radio to the local Christian radio station and these are the lyrics to the song that I heard playing:

In the things familiar we find security
Resisting all the changes that days and years can bring,
When God decides to lead you through an open door
Inviting you to walk in realms you've never walked before.
Beyond the open door is a new and fresh anointing,
Hear the Spirit calling you to go.
Walk on through the door for the Lord will go before you
Into a greater power you've never known before.

Hear the spirit calling to wake the living dead,
To reach the huddled masses who cry out for living bread.
Arise oh mighty army, take up thy shield and sword
For the Father lifts His golden lamp beside the open door.

Beyond the open door is a new and fresh anointing,
Hear the Spirit calling you to go.
Walk on through the door for the Lord will go before you
Into a greater power you've never known.

Beyond the open door is a new and fresh anointing,
Hear the Spirit calling you to go.
Walk on through the door for the Lord will go before you
Into a greater power you've never known . . .

Where He leads me, I will follow
Where He leads me, I will follow
And where He leads me, I will follow
Into a greater power we've never known before,
Beyond the open door.

That move into the spare bedroom was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. After all, I had spent over 17 years with this person. She was everything to me. A few days later, Becca moved in with Colleen and her husband and I was left alone in this house which I believed that God had blessed us with and I couldn’t believe that He was now requiring us to sell it and move apart. I kept insisting that we could continue to live together as friends. There was no way God was going to allow that. Regardless of any presence or absence of physical intimacy, we had a soul tie that needed to be broken. Each of us had placed the other first in our lives - a place which should be reserved only for the Lord.

I began to cry out to God like I never had before. I needed Him like I never had before. I had spoken to some friends and asked them how they viewed the Lord. One said, "I can’t see His face, but I can see the corners of His mouth and He’s smiling at me and He extends His hand and says, ‘let’s dance’." Another friend said that she pictured the Lord seated and she was at His feet, with her head in His lap, His arms embracing her. I had always seen the Lord as this All Powerful Being Who sat on the throne, with His train filling the temple and the cherubim and seraphim continually crying, "Holy Holy Holy is the Lamb Who sits on the Throne..." The God of the Universe. Not that God is not to be revered in that way, but I wanted to know the other aspects of His character. I wanted to learn how to be His bride –to dance with Him, to be able to have Him embrace me. I told the Lord that I wanted to go back to those days as a young person when I would spend hours praying and singing and worshiping Him.

So, I randomly opened my Bible and looked down at Hosea chapter 2. This is what it said, (Deb’s paraphrased version). "Behold, I will allure you into the wilderness (my footnote said that wilderness was a place of privacy) and it is there that you will sing to me as you did in the days of your youth. You will learn to call me "My Husband" and no longer "My Master". And I will betroth you to Me forever. I will remove the names of the Baals from your lips and you will remember them no more."

Wow. I am convinced that Hosea penned those words just for me. I fell to my knees and began to weep. The journey that the Lord took me on for the next six months was incredible. My relationship with Him grew to places that I never thought could be attained. I began to KNOW Him and all the aspects of His character. He taught me how to be His bride. It was one of the most rewarding times of my life. During this time, I met with some friends and had them pray for me. As they were praying - I closed my eyes and could envision a wall which was around me and as they prayed, the wall broke apart and fell at my feet. It was as clear as if it were real –only it was a vision in my mind. The Lord told me that the wall was the homosexual lifestyle and all the other stuff that I had placed between Him and me over the years. And it was crumbling at my feet. The Lord said to me, "I want you to step out of the rubble." I did nothing. The Lord just kept saying, "Step out of the rubble." A few minutes later, one of the two friends who were praying with me said, "Deb, God is telling you to step out of the rubble." I couldn’t believe it! How could she know what I was seeing and what God was telling me? But, I was obedient and stepped out of the rubble. I literally picked up my feet and stepped over the imaginary blocks that I saw in my mind. And from that moment on - experienced a freedom unlike any I had ever known. For the first time in years, I felt clean. I knew that I was totally delivered from homosexuality. It was an awesome experience!

To be continued....

Sunday, November 19, 2006

My Autobiography - Part Two

Part Two of my Autobiography. Scroll Down to read Part One.

Not quite a year after my father went Home to be with Jesus, Becca and I received notification from our landlord that they wanted to remodel our townhouse. We were going to have to move everything into another townhouse, allow them to remodel and then move everything back. Considering that I had multiple sclerosis and wouldn’t be able to do all that packing and moving - it wasn’t an option. We decided to opt out of our lease and we began looking for a home to buy.

The problem was - we had no down payment. We attended a church service around the Christmas holiday and the pastor asked anyone with a financial need to stand. I stood. The pastor prayed that the Lord would meet the financial need, through no prompting of my own and that I would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord had worked on my behalf. I agreed with him in prayer, but then really forgot all about the incident until two months later when my mother called to tell me that my Grandmother wanted to give me $17,000 to buy a house! I almost fell over! My grandmother wasn’t the type to give away even a $20 bill. She was very frugal and managed her finances well. I got off the phone, turned to Becca and said, "I can’t believe that Grandma wants to do this. I didn’t even do anything to prompt it." Becca immediately jumped and down and said, "That’s it! That’s it! Through no prompting of your own –that’s what the pastor prayed in church a few months ago!"

So...we began the long process of buying a house - together. When I was uncertain, the Lord said to me, "Deb, don’t I take care of the sparrows?" I replied, "yes, Lord." Then He said, "and aren’t you more important to me than a sparrow?" I replied, "I guess so, Lord." I then opened my Bible at random and looked down and read in Psalms, "The sparrow has found a house..." Confirmation that we were to go through with everything.

Two weeks later, while driving home from a weekend birthday celebration for my niece, Becca informed me that two days before she had lost her job due to downsizing. We were so upset - knowing that there was no way we could buy a house now with only one income. It was raining that night and we were on the turnpike. A semi-truck kept passing us. We would pass him, he would pass us. This went on at least four times. The entire time we were crying and discussing what we were going to do since we were certain that we would lose the chance to buy the house that we had found. Finally, after the fourth or fifth time that the truck passed us, Becca said, "What is with this truck?!" And then we saw it...emblazoned on the back of the semi in big red and yellow letters were the words, "Hurting? God Cares!" We began to sob! It just so happened that this occurred about two miles from the exit where the new house-to-be was located. We turned off the turnpike –drove to the house –pulled up to the front and prayed together. "Lord, if You want us to have this house, we trust that You will work out all the details - including this recent loss of Becca’s job. We promise to give the house back to You to use however You will."

A month later...all the details were worked out and we closed on the house. The next day, as the movers were moving the last of the boxes into the new home, Becca, my mother, my grandmother, a friend of ours, and myself stood on the lawn, held hands and I prayed. "Lord, we are so thankful for this house and we want You to know that it’s Yours. Place a hedge of protection around it, station Your angels at all the corners. Use this house - we give it back to You - bless it and use it in whatever way You will."

Several weeks went by and I answered a knock on the door. A couple was taking a neighborhood survey and asked what I wanted to see in Cranberry Township. (Which is where our new home was located.) I couldn’t think of anything besides a Taco Bell. I told them that I wanted to see a Taco Bell in Cranberry. They laughed and then asked if we were attending a church in the area. We were. (We had begun to look for a church and been attended several.) They then thanked me and left. Becca emerged from the other room after having listened to our conversation and said, "Why didn’t you tell them that we wanted to see an Assemblies of God church in the area?" (This was our denomination and Cranberry Township did not have an A/G church.) I said to Becca that they were just taking some silly neighborhood survey and it probably wouldn’t matter, but I would call them back. I opened the door, called them back and told them that even though I was sure it wouldn’t make any difference in the world, we really would like to see an Assemblies of God church in the area. They immediately got excited and said that the reason they were there was because they wanted to start an A/G church in Cranberry. We asked them where they were meeting and they said that they didn’t have a place to meet, that they were hoping to start in a home. We told them that they now had their place to meet and three weeks later, CrossWay Church of the Assemblies of God began in our living room with 15 people. (CrossWay has now grown to over 350 people. We also discovered later that there were three couples canvassing the area that day. Earlier, someone had prayed with the couple that knocked on our door that God would lead them to the house where the church would begin. God used us in spite of our struggle with sin.)

I was very active in the new church - singing on the praise team, keeping the church offering records and leading a Bible study. One evening, after Bible study our friend, Colleen, hung around after everyone else had gone. She started talking and asked us if she could share her story. She told how the Lord had delivered her from a life of homosexuality. I just looked at Becca and said, "Should I say something?" Becca said, "You might as well, you’re going to spill your guts anyway whether I give permission or not." I told Colleen of our struggle with homosexuality. At this point, we had been a couple for 17 years –longer than most of our friends had been married. Colleen immediately said that we MUST sell our house and live separately. At this point in our minds –it wasn’t even an option. I insisted that even though we shared a bed - we were rarely intimate. Colleen just looked at me and laughed –and said, "Deb, I’m going to ride your butts until you follow through with selling this house and living separately because until you do –you will never break free from this stronghold the enemy has on your life." be continued....

Saturday, November 18, 2006

My Autobiography - Part One

During the process of being approved to be foster parents, my dear husband and I were required to write an autobiography of our lives sharing significant events and how they've shaped who we are today. We were asked to share the specifics of our spiritual life and also share why we want to become foster parents.

Other blog buddies have shared some details about their lives ---so I thought it was time that I did the same. This is going to take several posts. My prayer is that something I've experienced will in some way touch your heart and inspire you to be all that God wants you to be....

(please note - names have been changed to protect the identity of my friends.)

Where do I start? At the beginning, I guess. I was born in 1960, the oldest of four children. I have two brothers and a sister. My father was an elementary school teacher and my mother, a homemaker.

I spent most of my "growing up" years in New Castle, PA after having moved there from Pittsburgh when I was in first grade. My mother still lives in the home in which I grew up.

Girl Scouting was a big interest in my life. I was a Girl Scout at the earliest possible age (which at that time was 2nd grade) through my Senior year of high school. My mother was my leader and we had a very active Girl Scout troop; going on many camping trips and doing lots of extracurricular activities. Just as soon as I was old enough as a teen, my first paying job was that of a Girl Scout Counselor at Camp Elliot in Volant, PA. I continued to be a camp counselor every summer until I graduated from high school. Scouting played a huge role in helping me become the person I am today. The skills and values learned through Scouting have proven invaluable to me as an adult.

I also fell in love with Art at a very young age. My teachers encouraged me and eventually I went on to major in Fine Arts in college –then as a junior, I changed my major and went into medicine –wanting to become a medical technologist. I had a huge fear of being a "starving artist" and wanted something with a little bit more job stability. Since nothing transfers from Fine Arts to Medical Technology, it was as if I started school all over again and it took me seven years to earn my Bachelor’s degree. (I was a "professional" student!)

After working as a Medical Technologist for 13 years (most of those years at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh), I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and eventually had to quit working. I went back to my first love - art. Now I’m a freelance artist - although my duties as a stay-at-home Mom have kept me from doing much creating lately. Perhaps when Olivia goes to school, I’ll be able to devote more time to my creative self. I am primarily a greeting card illustrator, however, I have also designed rubber stamps and CD covers.

One Christmas, when I was 16 years old, our church youth group "wrapped" up presents for the Lord. In my small, gift-wrapped box I had written, "My Art Ability". It has always been my desire to give back to the Lord what He has given to me –to use my talents for His glory. In fact, one of the most gratifying art projects that I have done is to simply do the lettering for "Damas" and "Caballeros" (Spanish: "Girls" and Boys") painted on the doors of the outside latrines at a Christian school in the Dominican Republic. Using my art –for God’s glory –no matter how small the task.

On the church side, I thought I had it all together. I grew up in a Christian home –sort of. My father, while being the most wonderful person in the world, didn’t attend church with us. He did not, however, prevent the rest of the family from attending. We were members of First Pentecostal Church in New Castle, Pa (which later changed its name to First Assembly of God).

One Sunday morning in Sunday school, at age nine, I asked the Lord to be my Savior. It was then that I began to fall in love with Jesus - growing in my knowledge of Him daily. My mother was the Missionette coordinator and I was very active in Missionettes - a group very similar to Girl Scouts with the added emphasis of instilling spiritual values in the hearts of girls. I was active in our youth group as well. I was on the Executive Youth Committee which was responsible for planning and facilitating a lot of our activities. Singing being one of my passions, I sang in the Youth Chorale and was a member of our church choir. The Lord and anything connected to Him was my life.

I had a wonderful family who loved and supported me, many great friends who were faithful and loyal. The only thing missing in the picture was my father. He was a great Dad, an awesome provider - but He wasn’t a Christian. I prayed for my Dad for years, literally. Wanting him to become a Christian and become involved in our church activities with us. It hurt me greatly to see other families worshiping together on Sundays, all the while knowing that my Dad was home reading the paper or puttering around the house - missing out on the abundant life that God had planned for him. I can remember shutting myself up in my bedroom and praying for him for hours at a time. I would put on some praise music and sing and worship and pray for my Dad and any other thing that may have been on my heart. It got to the point where my Mom would say, "Debbie, you’re spending too much time in your room - why don’t you go out and ride your bike or something." But spending time with the Lord was more important to me.

Like I said, I thought I had it all together. I remember being shocked when I discovered that some of my girlfriends in high school were sleeping with their boyfriends. Because, I was ‘saving myself for marriage’, I thought everyone else would be doing the same. I can recall as clearly as if it were yesterday, listening to friends on a Sunday evening as they shared their testimonies in church. They were thankful that the Lord had delivered them from drugs and alcohol, rescued them from lives of promiscuity, etc. I, on the other hand, sat with tears in my eyes as I listened and then stood and thanked God that He had kept me from all of that.

There’s a verse (I Corinthians 10:12) which says, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."...

One month after giving my testimony, thanking God for keeping me from all the things that I considered to be "horrendous" sins, I went off to college at Edinboro University.. I was in heaven! This was awesome, being out on my own, meeting new friends, expanding my brain! My college roommate, Ann happened to be a close friend from home –we had been friends since age nine. She and I had decided to make a go of it as roommates, even though our high school art teachers and everyone we knew advised us not to be roommates, telling us it would destroy our friendship. (We are still friends to this day, by the way.)

Ann and I were very affectionate with one another, giving hugs freely when we would see each other. Another good friend, Kim, asked me why my roomate and I were so affectionate. I explained that we had known each other ‘forever’ and besides, I was from an Italian family and Italians are very affectionate people. Kim asked me if she could have a hug now and then too. I said sure, why not...and one thing led to another until one day we found ourselves in bed together. Kim was also a Christian and was just as mortified by this development as I was. We got down on our knees, begged for forgiveness and asked the Lord to help us so it would never happen again. It happened again. And it kept happening.

One month after Kim and I got together, My roommate confided in me that she too, was involved in a lesbian relationship. Her partner, was someone I had introduced to my roommate. Being a Christian, I thought she would be a good influence on my roommate who had yet to make a commitment to Christ. Imagine my disappointment when I found out that Ann and Jill were caught up in the same sin that Kim and I were involved with.

After a year of being together, Kim finally had the good sense to end our lesbian relationship. She was under such conviction and couldn’t continue to live the way we were living. We remained friends, but I was devastated. About the same time, my father had suffered a heart attack and my Mom called to tell me that earlier in the day, the doctor had told my Dad that he was going to die –it could be today –it could be tomorrow, it could be next week, it could be next year...but he was going to die. (Guess what?- we all are going to die someday. But I wasn’t looking at it that way at all.) I was, as you may imagine, extremely upset thinking that my Dad had only days to live. I turned to a friend to console me. Lynne helped me get through that tough time by buying me plenty of cheap blueberry wine to numb all the ‘stuff’ that was going on in my head. I actually have a photograph of ten empty bottles of wine. I had consumed every drop of that wine - by myself - in a period of 48 hours. At the end of the 48 hours, I was not only drunk, but hysterical, knowing that my Dad was going to be dead any minute. Kim and Lynne called my Mom and explained what was going on. Mom told me that what I had heard had been a misunderstanding and that the doctor was advising Dad to quit smoking because since he had had a heart attack, the cigarettes would only contribute to the disease process and could end his life prematurely. The doctor wasn’t telling Dad that he was going to die the next day.

I was relieved –and cried myself to sleep –in my friend Lynne’s arms. The next day, we were an official couple. We spent four years together. All of this time, I struggled with my decision to live as a lesbian. I knew that God’s Word taught that it is not a lifestyle that is pleasing to God. Yet the level of emotional intimacy that I felt was something that I wasn’t willing to give up.

Another friend had been praying for me and convinced me to attend a campus Christian Ministry meeting run by the Christian Coalition. I went to this meeting and it was there that I met Becca. Becca and I became great friends. I confided in her regarding my struggle with homosexuality and she became my prayer partner - committing to pray for me. Eventually, I did leave Lynne –but not because I had surrendered myself to the Lord...but rather because I had fallen in love with my prayer partner, Becca.

I believe that my insistence and determination to "save myself for marriage" was so intense and knowing that I couldn’t be tempted in that way, Satan took my emotional friendships with women and turned them into something perverse –and I allowed it. I have always had deep regrets about living life as a lesbian. I know that God had better plans for my life and I chose to walk away from His plan.

Becca and I had been together twelve years when my mother telephoned to ask if I had noticed someone’s blood work come through our laboratory. (At this point, I was a Medical Technologist at UPMC - Presby in Pittsburgh.) Yes, I had seen the blood work - for Pastor Hatchner - the associate pastor of my mom’s church. Pastor Hatchner had been in a car accident while transporting a church member to a doctor’s appointment in Pittsburgh. The car hit some ice and skidded under a tractor trailer. Pastor Hatchner wasn’t expected to live through the night. Mom asked me to pray for him. Okay. I would pray, although I didn’t think that God would hear my prayers because I was so far from Him. That next morning, Pastor Hatchner went home to be with the Lord.

Pastor Hatchner was an extraordinary man. One thing he was "famous" for was handing out quarters. If it was your wedding day, he’d press a quarter into your hand. Your birthday - you got a quarter. If he visited you in the hospital -he always left a quarter on the night stand. His family estimates that he gave away thousands of dollars in quarters over the course of many years. My sister still has the quarter he gave her and her husband on their wedding day. And my mother has the quarter that he gave to my grandmother when she lay sick in the hospital.

At Pastor Hatchner’s funeral the church (which seats well over 600 people) was "standing room only". As each person walked by to pay their last respects, they placed a quarter on the casket. There were hundreds of quarters! I didn’t travel back to New Castle to attend his funeral, but when my mother telephoned to tell me about the tribute of quarters, I started sobbing uncontrollably. This man had touched so many lives. I was moved so deeply –but didn’t know why because I hadn’t really known him personally, in fact, had only seen him on a few occasions because I didn’t attend church very often when I went home to visit. Nevertheless, I couldn’t stop crying.

I hung up the phone, took my Bible off the shelf - literally dusted it off and said to God, "God, why am I so broken apart by hearing this man’s story?" I then opened my Bible at random and looked down at a verse in Jeremiah –"For I have loved you with an everlasting love and it is by my Spirit that I have drawn you." wow. At this point, I completely fell apart. I got down on my knees and told the Lord - "I surrender". I cried out to Him and asked for forgiveness. I asked for His help. I told my partner, Becca, that I was going to attend church at the next service - which happened to be a Wednesday night. I was done with this lesbian lifestyle.

We got involved in Walnut Grove Assembly of God Church in the south hills of Pittsburgh and attended faithfully for several years. Throughout that time, we continued to struggle, even though we both had recommitted our lives to the Lord. We neglected to sleep in separate bedrooms and every once in a great while would find ourselves engaged in inappropriate activity. It’s also important to note that Becca was treated just like a member of my family. She called my Mom, "MomLea" and my Dad, "DaddyBob". She attended every family reunion, holiday, etc. We even went on vacations together with my family. We had never lived openly as lesbians and my family had no idea that we were living a double life.

About this time, my father began to have more serious heart problems. He had two double bypass surgeries before they told us that there was nothing more they could do for him and he would need a heart transplant. After over a year of waiting for a heart, his condition had deteriorated to the point that he needed to be hospitalized permanently. We knew that if he did not get an organ, he wasn’t going to survive more than a couple of weeks. Two weeks into his hospital stay, he called me shortly after Becca and I had returned home after visiting him said that they had found a heart for him. We were elated –but with very mixed emotions too, knowing that another family had lost a loved one in order for my Dad to have a second chance at life.

Dad was wheeled into the operating room and when he was wheeled out, it was amazing how wonderful he looked after surgery! He was pink –his formerly gray appearance due to lack of oxygen was completely turned around and we rejoiced when we saw him in the recovery room. But the most important thing was that Dad not only had a physical heart transplant that day –but a spiritual one as well. After his recovery, he began attending church and became "sold out" for the Lord! Dad had an incredible testimony to share of how the Lord changed his life by giving him a second chance to live. He was forever grateful and served the Lord with all of his heart.

Six years after his transplant, he began to cough. It was discovered that he had developed lung cancer–more than likely from the years of cigarette smoking, complicated by the anti-rejection medication he was taking; causing him to have a compromised immune system. On November 7, 1995, he was once again wheeled into the operating room. This time to remove the lower right lobe of his lung. While in surgery, the surgeon knicked his pulmonary artery and Dad bled to death on the operating table. He was Home. No more suffering. No more pain. My family, of course, was completely devastated and leaned heavily on the Lord to get us through that time.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

101 Uses for a Cardboard Tube - #2

Today's project was a shaker or Maraca!

Needed Supplies:

1 Cardboard Tube
Lentils, Rice or Macaroni
Colorful Tissue Paper
Rubber Bands
One Squealing, Singing Child


Decorate the Cardboard Tube as desired using Crayons and Markers, Glue and Glitter.
Affix several layers of Colorful Tissue Paper to one end of the tube with a Rubber Band. Fill with bean of choice. Affix tissue paper to the other end. Commence Making Beautiful Music!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

In Anticipation of Thanksgiving....

We have been saving the cardboard tubes from the toilet paper and paper towel rolls so that Olivia and I can make some 'art projects'. Yesterday, my Mom gave me a bag full of cardboard tubes which she has been saving for us. We now have TONS of cardboard tubes! This morning, before she would even eat breakfast, Olivia insisted that we make an 'art project' using a cardboard tube. In anticipation of the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday, we made a turkey. I'm thinking that I may be able to convince Olivia to make more turkeys so that we can put one at everyone's plate for dinner on Thanksgiving Day. I thought I'd share with you her masterpiece ---in case any of you have children and need an idea for a Thanksgiving craft....

Sunday, November 12, 2006

He Never Sleeps

When you've prayed every prayer that you know how to pray
Just remember the Lord will hear and the answer is on its way
Our God is able
He is mighty
He is faithful
And He never sleeps He never slumbers
He never tires of hearing our prayer
When we are weak He becomes stronger
So rest in His love and cast all of your cares on Him
Do you feel that the Lord has forgotten your need
Just remember that God is always working in ways you cannot see
Our God is able
He is mighty
He is faithful
And He never sleeps He never slumbers
He never tires of hearing our prayer
When we are weak He becomes stronger
So rest in His love and cast all of your cares on Him
lyrics by-Claire Cloninger and Don Moen

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Conversations with Olivia

Olivia: "Daddy, this is my brother Joe" (as she holds up a stuffed Mickey Mouse)
Daddy: "I think that's Mickey Mouse."
Olivia: "No Daddy, this is Joe. He just looks extraordinarily alot like Mickey..."

Five hours later...
Olivia: "Mommy, come down here and meet my brother Joe."
Mommy: "Olivia, I think you must have Mickey again."
Olivia: "No Mommy, Joe looks particulary a lot like Mickey but he's actually my brother Joe."

Four...going on Forty!!!