Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Although it's been quiet on this blog, a lot has been going on at my house.  One of the most exciting happenings is having visitors.  We've been honored to be visited by two of the missionaries from Danita's Children:  Danita Estrella and Brenda Sapp.  It's awesome to get to spend some quality time with them.  They're both beautiful ladies, both inside and out, and we're enjoying their company.  In addition, as they're staying in our guest house, I'm hoping they're getting some much needed R&R while they're here. 

For those who don't regularly read this blog, these ladies are part of a team who run an orphanage and school in Ouanaminthe, Haiti.  The orphanage houses 77 orphans and the school educates and feeds over 500 children.  Life is harsh in Haiti and the orphanage/school (Hope for Haiti's Children) is a virtual oasis.  These women are on call 24/7 and often deal with actual life and death decisions.  These ladies and saints and my heros.  I'm so glad they've chosen to spend some of their precious free time with us.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Quote for the Day

"Not until we extend the circle of compassion to include all living things shall we ourselves know peace."
~Albert Schweitzer

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wrap Up

I hope my readers had a wonderful Christmas Day.  Now that Christmas is behind me, I'm mentally wrapping up this year and looking towards the next.  Unlike a lot of people, I don't make New Year's Resolutions; I feel that it just sets me up for failure.  Most resolutions are unrealistic and unattainable; we overburden ourselves by expecting immediate transformation of our lives. 

Rather than resolutions, I try to set quarterly goals with step-by-step directions for myself.  Say, if I have ten things I want to do or change, I don't set them as resolutions to start on January 1st.  Instead, I look at the list and pick out about three items that I think are the most important and that I think are realistic to accomplish in three months.  Then I look at my schedule and see how I can work towards the goals on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.  I set deadlines and rewards to keep me motivated.  At the end of the quarter, I look at what I've accomplished and then pick new goals for the next quarter.  Sometimes the past quarter's goals are actually habits I've acquired rather than a goal with an end (i.e., exercise daily versus lose 10 pounds).  So, once the habit is established, I continue on without giving it much more thought.

This week I'll be setting aside some time to think about what goals to set for myself.  I actually look forward to the process, seeing it as a time of renewal and improvement.  It's a very positive way to begin a new year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Birthday to the Prince of Peace

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.
 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as men rejoice
when dividing the plunder.

For as in the day of Midian's defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.

Every warrior's boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

~Isaiah 9:2-9:8

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Farm Happenings

Last weekend while I was out of town, we got the edge of the northeastern blizzard.  About 8 inches of snow fell on the farm, blanketing everything in a lovely covering of white.  Although I hate the cold, the snow does look pretty. 

In addition to the snow news, we have new baby goats!  Two of the nannys were pregnant and gave birth on the same day - yesterday!  Sheena and Judy both gave birth to twin girls - Blondie and Barbie; Ramona and Sharona.  All are healthy and happy.  It's amazing how baby goats (I don't call them kids because that's what I call my human children) get up on their feet so quickly.  And I marvel at how most goat mothers immediately bond with and care for their babies.  I love how the mamas are so trusting of us when it comes to their babies. 

Last Day of Challenge!

I finished the "100 Things Challenge" this morning!  Here's the tally:

82-88 Quality costume jewelry (to be saved for the church rummage sale)
89 Orphan sock
90 Old prescription glasses to be donated to Lions Club
91 Key chain
92-100 Miscellaneous junky costume jewelry I never wear

Done!  That was a very painless and quick way to declutter.  I'm thinking I need to make this a regular quarterly ritual.  While I don't entirely agree with the whole practice of feng shui, I do know that according to scientists, everything has energy.  When I have too much *energy* (i.e, clutter) around, it makes me feel bad.  Going through my possessions and eliminating those that aren't earning their keep is a great exercise in creating more tranquility in my life.

Challenge Continues

Yesterday I got some more purging done. Here's the tally:

41-46 Misc. disposable plastic containers that I've been hanging onto out of guilt but for which I have absolutely no use...
47-50 Coats and jackets from hall closet (either outgrown or unused).  I'll donate these to charity.
51-53 Old wire hangers from hall closet
54-57 flip flops and sandals
58 fabric flower pin
59 leather belt
60 fabric belt
61-64 summer scarves
65-68 winter scarves.  I'll donate these to charity
69 pair of old gloves
70-71 thermal hoods
72 fabric headband
73 straw hat
74 another winter scarf
75-77 winter hats
78-79 more gloves
80 another straw hat (had been part of a costume)
81 pair of shoes that are not at all my style

This challenge reminds me of the "27 fling boogie" on Flylady, but her assignment is to throw away 27 items and then give away 27 more.  Either way, it's a way of decluttering and simplifying life.  Only 19 more items to go!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day One of the Challenge

I started the 100 things challenge today.  I must admit I think I might have cheated a little as I already had a box in my closet that I was starting to put things in;  however, it was still in my closet and now it's gone.  So far:

1-25 Items of clothing that were either 1) the wrong color for me; 2) the wrong style for me; 3) didn't fit well; 4) were duplicates of things I didn't need duplicates of; 5) worn out items.
26-27 Old sunglasses
28-30 Novels I finished that I will never re-read
31-33 Old shoes
34-37 More items of clothing
38 Key chain
39 Cardboard jewelry box
40 Cloth drawstring bag from some purchase that I can't even remember

Well, I'm off to a great start today - almost halfway there!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

100 Things

Last month, I read about the 100 Things Challenge on La Bella Figura.  Although I had planned to participate, I didn't.  Then, I read about the challenge again, this time on The Closet Therapist, and I realized it's not too late to do it.  So this week I'm going to be editing my possessions, eliminating things that are just clutter in my life.  I try to be a minimalist, only keeping what I really love and use, but sometimes things start to accumulate.  I don't know if it's considered cheating or not, but I'm going to relegate most items to my basement for now.  You see, I'm going to organize a rummage sale at my church to raise money for a missionn trip to Haiti.  Although I want the clutter out of my house and out of my life, I'm going to postpone it temporarily.  And I assure you that I'm one of those people who, once an item is in the giveaway/discard pile, I don't go back for anything.  I'll begin this challenge tomorrow and post what goes.

Quote for the Day

We can't take any credit for our talents. It's how we use them that counts.

-Madeleine L'Engle

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Boat Drinks

I gotta go where it's warm. See you in a few days....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life

For those of you familiar with the movie "It's a Wonderful Life," you know the scene where George Bailey finds himself standing outside his home on a dark, wintery night, peering in the window at his family and friends.  At that moment George concludes that everyone would have been better off if he had never been born.  Last night, as I headed out to put the chickens to bed, I had a similar experience.  It was dark and cold and all the rooms downstairs were lit up.  It was an odd feeling, peering into my own life. However, unlike George, it really struck me how blessed I am and what a wonderful life I have.  I hope I have many such moments over my lifetime so I will always appreciate the things that I have and the life I've been given.  And that is my Christmas wish for all my readers - to be grateful for all that life has to offer. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
when there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying [to ourselves] that we are born to eternal life.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Update on French Language Book Drive

This morning I learned that any books donated for the orphanage in Ouanaminthe should be sent through the U.S. office of Danita's Children in order for them to obtain the discounted shipping rate of $1.50 per pound.  Sorry for the confusion.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Idea for Advent Conspiracy Participants

Recently, a facebook friend put up a challenge help stock the school library at Danita's Children in Ouanaminthe, Haiti.  The children in Haiti receive their education in French.  Although they have textbooks, they have very few reference and fiction titles.  Getting French language books is a challenge for them because most donors live in the United States, and only have English language books available.  In addition, they share an island with the Dominican Republic where Spanish is spoken.  Thus, they can purchase supplies in the D.R. but cannot buy French books.  My facebook friend challenged people to go to (her wish list is under Julia Krusac) or to, and purchase some books for children ages 7 and up.  Have them shipped to: 

Danita Estrella #17645
C/O Agape Flights
100 Airport Avenue
Venice, FL 34285 USA

It would also help the orphanage to offset shipping costs by donating $1.50 per pound through either a direct donation on; (and put "Books For Orphans" in the comment box) or by mailing a check directly to Danita's Children, Hope for Haiti Children's Center, Inc.,
P.O. Box 864311, Orlando, FL 32886.

This is a wonderful opportunity to give a gift that is truly needed.  Unlike in the United States, public schools in Haiti are practically nonexistent.  90% of schools are private and have very few resources.  Reading and literacy open worlds to children.  Let's help the children in Haiti have access to another world.

Bear with Me

This week I realized that I won't be doing as much posting as I usually do.  What with Christmas, my children's birthdays (yes, I had two Christmas babies), and my children being homefrom college, I'm not likely to sit down to share my thoughts with those who listen.  In addition, I'm preparing to start graduate school next semester so I'm trying to work out a schedule that allows me plenty of study time.  I still plan to continue with my volunteer work:  at the Humane Society, at the local domestic violence/sexual assault shelter, with my women's group, and, of course, all that I can do long distance to help those at Danita's Children in Haiti.  So, if I seem a bit absent over the next three or so weeks, I'm still around and plan to blog regularly after the first of the year.  In the meantime, my posts will probably be less frequent and sporatic - but I'm still around!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it."

Hebrews 13:2, NIV Bible

Friday, December 4, 2009

A History Lesson

While in college, my first upper-level course was one entitled "The French Revolution."  The course was difficult, with a lot of reading and writing, but I loved it and ultimately changed my major from business administration to history.  As I studied the revolution, I felt that Marie Antoinette and her husband, King Louis XVI, were given a bad rap.  Those of you with a basic understanding of French history know that both went to the guillotine for their "crimes."  Many people also believe Marie Antoinette uttered the famous words, "Let them eat cake."   (There is no proof that she said it.)  In reviewing all the evidence, I found that the king and queen were not necessarily insensitive to the needs of the peasants.  Despite their historical reputaions, they really weren't bad people, just individuals in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Both Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI were raised with a certain standard of living and had certain expectations as far as what it meant to be French.  Their perception of the world was the result of being pampered and of being isolated from the common people.  Their world was one of opulence and they only associated with other royals and nobles.  Thus, they were clueless as to the suffering of the poor.  Marie Antoinette could have easily said, "Let them eat cake," because in her world, if you were out of bread, you just ate something else.  Food shortages (and other issues faced by the peasants) were not part of her vocabulary.

I've gone into this long history lesson because I believe that Americans are no different than these doomed royals.  For the most part, we view the world from a position of comfort and abundance.  Ours is a nation where the number one health problem among the poor is obesity.  We don't know what it's like to go days without food, to have to drink polluted water, to be displaced by wars, or to lack basic medical care.  So, as we interact with the rest of the world (the other 95%), we are wearing rose-colored glasses.  We don't mean to be insensitive, it's just that we have a skewed reference point .

During this advent season, I encourage everyone to take some time to get to know our "neighbors," those with whom we share this planet.  As we have learned from Marie and Louis, we are what we know, so let's set out to learn.  Read a book, watch a documentary, or research on the internet.  Let's try to understand the rest of the world and look upon them with love and compassion.  And avoid going down in history as a nation who thought the rest of the world should just eat cake.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Those of you in the Christian community know that Advent began yesterday.  Advent is the season leading up to Christmas and begins on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas.  During this time, Christians anticipate and prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ.  Some could say it usual begins the first Sunday after Black Friday.  What a contrast - a "holiday" celebrating greed  and getting stuff and a "holy day" celebrating sacrifice and giving.  The people at Advent Conspiracy want those within the Church to see this season with new eyes.  Instead of spending our time and money shopping for and buying things that most people don't want or need, they challenge us to make this season meaningful by giving our time and money to those who really need it.  Go to the website, check it out, and join the conspiracy.