Thursday, August 31, 2017

Living a Consecrated Life

Visiting Teaching Message August 2017

I was exceptionally touched by the Visiting Teaching Lesson this month.  As I read through the message I couldn't help but think of our Sharing Time Theme in Primary; "I Choose to Fill My Life with Things That Invite the Spirit".  It's always amazing to me how material constructed for children 3-11 years in age, can have such an impact in our lives if we are truly digesting its' meaning. For this reason I have come to the conclusion, that there is no such thing as a "little lesson" when it comes to our Savior's Gospel.

We live in amazing times, and I am so thankful for the many privileges and comforts a modern life gives.  I love shopping online - from groceries to boy scout shirts.  It's awesome creating playlists with fun 60s and Sunday Classics.  I've only to click on a blue and white 'F' and I'm connected with friends past and present, along with the most up-to-date news.  What probably is most enjoyable -- Netflix. There's nothing like a good British Murder Mystery to help one relax and empty the mind from a days busy cares.  It's also quite nostalgic  -- English Gardens, thatched roofs and a myriad of accents take me back to marvelous moments I was so blessed to experience in the 4+ years living in the U.K.  I have to confess, I'm a Netflix Binger at times.  Yes, it's so easy to let that next episode take control -- and I can't help it, I love puzzles and clues and the thrill of guessing the right suspect (Professor Plum in the library)...okay, so it doesn't happen as often as I'd like.

To help teach our Primary children that they should 'read, listen to and look at things that are pleasing to Heavenly Father' I took a lovely silver gift box and filled it with dirt.  From the outside it looked so pleasing, and nearly every hand went up when I asked who would like to open it.  What a disappointment to find it filled with potting soil.  I asked our class what they thought was better to put inside their body; an apple, or some of this dirt...?  Naturally they said the apple, but I played around saying, "But this box is so pretty, surely it would be okay...?"

I then spoke of the one gift I would never want to live without -- the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  We went on to discuss that just as an apple can nourish our bodies -- inappropriate books,  music and media can weaken our spirits.  However, we live in such a time that the innocent act of turning on the radio, can bombard us with sounds that are destructive to our souls.  With so many media platforms it is startling how often we find inappropriate programs packaged in pretty little PG boxes.  If we're not careful, we can find ourselves being enticed into bad choices, eating dirt so to speak, and  binging on things that will eventually lead us to a world of inconvenience and discomfort -- and distancing ourselves from the power and influence of the Holy Ghost.

This took me back to a time in my early 20s when I was learning how to Rock Climb.  I was in Joshua Tree, California on a hot afternoon finding myself repelling down an overhanging cliff.  My climbing partner starred down as I carefully eased a little rope out.  Suddenly the rope was stuck, and as I looked at the carabiners connected to my harnesss, I discovered my 'untucked' t-shirt had somehow threaded it's way through the path, blocking the movement of rope.  I tried using my teeth to pull my shirt out, because if I let go of the rope for just a second (as I was taught in repelling) it would slip though and I would fall and die (and one wouldn't want to take the chance even if it appeared stuck).

As my partner shouted down and learned of the problem, his face turned stern and as hard as the rough rocks we were climbing.  I was in trouble.  I was hanging in mid air and though he tried to pull me up, he just couldn't.  I began to panic.  I mean, really panic.  Instantly my thoughts were, "Oh no. I'm going to die, I'm going to die, I'm going to die."  Almost as instantly as those alarming thoughts had entered, a peaceful wind blew straight into my heart and whispered, "Not today.  You're not going to die today.  Just breathe and calm down.  Everything will be okay."  Within moments two men appeared from the back of the jutted rock -- and within 10 minutes I was pulled up safely.

I shall always remember that near catastrophe.  It was a time in my life when I was not making the best choices -- yet in that flash, Heavenly Father reminded me that he was always there, He was aware of my life and cared very much for me.

As I began to make time for sincere prayer and scripture study, I was able to feel the companionship of the Holy Ghost often.  I was strengthened with wisdom and insight throughout my day.  Yes, I was also tested, but I learned to keep myself 'tucked in' and prepared for each day's adventure.  Climbing can be an exhilarating exercise.  Reaching the top of a very large piece of granite can give us views only seen by few.  Yet, sometimes the hardest climb can be in the occasion that we kneel down and truly rededicate our lives to Christ.  I found that point in time difficult, but then I remembered these words;  "Just breathe and calm down.  Everything will be okay."

Our Savior loves us through every phase of our life.  He is always there, and with His companionship it is my testimony that the best adventures are found.

~ Chimene

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Babies, Bees and Baptism

I am still feeling the quiet, peaceful effects of such a lovely Saturday morning with many good friends and neighbors.  I mentioned a quote that day:  "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" Its an adage I need to adhere to far more often.  I had planned over the last 2 years to have family members attending Toby's baptism, but the more I planned, the further it was pushed out.  As it ended up, I feel everything fell into place as though it was always meant to be just the way it happened.

The only real annoyance is with myself -- I was so caught up in the wonderful moment of seeing neighbors, friends from Alpharetta and our Baseball Team(s) and Toby's school; all taking time out to be with us, that I completely forgot about taking pictures!  Boo-Hoo!!!  Thankfully, I can still see y'all in memory ;-)

Program Cover

Back of Program

A few of you have asked me to post the talk I gave, so perhaps now my family can get an idea of what the day encompassed.

Babies, Bees and Baptism

As many of you know, for a couple years I ran a sewing business.  I used to make children's clothing, mostly for babies and toddlers.  I was completely in my element, as I adore the little ones.  Being able to use my talent to express my feelings of the innocence, playfulness and carefree moments of childhood took over in my designs and I did all I could to capture that attitude in my work.  As the love I put into my pieces were discovered, I had many return customers.  There is a great satisfaction in being able to put your own 'mark' so to speak on your work.  For example, my mother, husband and even Toby could probably walk into a boutique and pick out my designs -- because they have a way of expressing who I am -- they just seem to say, "Chimene made me."

Renny Clothing Customer Pics

After about 2 years of success and over 400 garments later, my amazing sewing machine stopped working.  It was an expensive machine, and because that meant an expensive fix, I tried my hand at repairiing it. After several failed attempts I became extremely frustrated and I recall, just sitting there staring at the machine and asking, "Why?  Why did you have to break..?"  Now, we all know sewing machines don't talk, however, mine seemed to stare straight back at me and said, "Because if I don't, you will..." 

Renny Clothing, Ginger Giraffe
It was true.  I was working  12-14 hour days.  I was exhausted.  My health was suffering.  It was time to put away the business and get back in touch with my family.  My husband is so supportive of whatever I do, but he and the children were missing my time and attention, and I had to admit, I was not comfortable with the unintentional neglect sewing caused.

So, I packed everything up and closed shop.  I rested and re-cooperated.  I think I lasted about 3 days before cabin fever set in.  I am just a person who likes to be anxiously engaged.  I decided I wanted to get into gardening.  It was something I had always wanted to learn.  I started with the Internet and began to learn the basics in gardening and what would grow in Georgia's red clay soil -- which must be a lot since everything is so green here and the pollen count enormous!

I learned about annuals, and although they die at the end of the season, they are fast growers with brilliant colors --  most quite easy to grow.  I became interested in the perennial, for although they can be more expensive and take up to a year before blooming -- they will reward you by coming back year after year with long lasting blooms.  Perhaps my favorite, is the evergreen.  Especially flowering evergreens.  These plants are just as their name - forever green.  Many can take the harsh heat or the bitter cold, and still they stay beautiful all year long.  Because plants and flowers bloom at different times and seasons, we can enjoy the beauty they lend the earth throughout the entire year.

Once you gain an appreciation for flowers and plants you can't help, but begin to love and appreciate
Nasty Tomato Worm in my garden!
all the elements that help them mature and carry out their life.  The soil, rain and sun all play their roles and follow the laws of nature to help bring a flower to life.  While bad insects might infect a plant, there are always good creatures to combat them - such as spiders and birds.  The bees and butterflies and even the wind carry out their jobs to ensure that each pant can reproduce it's own offspring and live the measure of its creation -- bringing its good to all mankind in the process.

One day I was admiring one of our cone flowers.  I had already known it's roots served as a natural antibiotic, but I had planted it because it was adaptable to most soils, was drought tolerant, deer and rabbit resistant.  After a heavy rain, I noticed how it's blossoms still stood bright and tall.  So, I began to talk to this lovely creature, telling her how she had brains, brawn and beauty.  It was then I stopped to look at the detailed patterns in her leaves, petals and center bud.  It suddenly dawned on me that I could not deny knowing the artist of this creation.  Every flower is filled with so much beauty, joy and purpose that each one seems to testify that Christ alone is the author of its creation...
Cone Flowers in my garden

So why is mom talking about babies and flowers and bees and butterflies on your baptism day...?  It's coming...hang in there....But first I need to share a story about a boy Emperor in China.  The story is called 'The Greatest Gift', by Demi.

As the story goes, there was a boy Emperor named Ping.  Ping loved to look out of his telescope at the stars and the moon and all the space in between.  He just loved how the heavens seemed to fall into perfect harmony and he wanted the wisest Prime Minister to bring that same harmony to his kingdom.  Ping decided in order to do this he must let the heavens choose the right person.  He gathered all the children in the kingdom and announced that whoever could tell him the greatest power in the world would be his new Prime Minister.  He told the children that a wise leader must be able to see the unseen and know the unknown.

As the children began to carry out their request some of the boys thought it would be easy, because, as they said, "Whoever has the greatest weapons has the greatest power in the world.  For whoever has the greatest weapons can conquer the world."

Some of the girls thought it easy as well, and said,
"Whoever has the greatest beauty has the greatest power in the world.  For whoever has the greatest beauty can command the most powerful commander in the world!"   ;-) 

Some of the more studious children felt that technology was the greatest power in the world - because "whoever has the greatest technology can rule the world."

A group of very practical children saw money as being the greatest power in the world -- because "whoever had the greatest amount of money in the world could buy anything in the world."

There was one little girl named Sing who remembered the Emperor's words.  "A wise person must be able to see the unseen and know the unknown."  Sing sat by a Lotus Pond and pondered about how armies rise and fall, how beauty fades, how money comes and goes, and how ideas are forever changing.  Since none of these things lasted, she didn't see how they could be the Greatest Powers.

Sing noticed the beautiful lotus flowers.  Born from a tiny seed sleeping in the mud, the bud rose through the water on a strong green stem.  It rose above the water to bloom into a glorious flower that faced heaven.  Suddenly Sing knew what the greatest power in the world was.

The day of the parade came, where all the children must present what they felt was the greatest power.  There were many colorful costumes of Dragons, Phoenix's and Money Gods.  All of the children dressed in their finest and paraded around weapons, money, beautiful clothing and technology.  The Emperor then noticed little Sing, just walking quietly and holding something very small in her hands.  "Stop the parade" commanded the boy Emperor and he commanded Sing to come to him.  "What have you got in your hands?" asked the Emperor.

Sing showed the Emperor a tiny lotus seed which she broke in two.

"What is there?" he asked.

"Nothing" said Sing.  "and the greatest power in the world".

"How can nothing be the greatest power in the world?" asked the emperor.

"The nothing in this seed is where life exists," said Sing.  "The nothing in this seed is what makes the seed rise from the earth.  The nothing in this seed is what is fed by water, air, and the fire of the sun to bloom into a glorious flower that turns it's face toward the heavens.  And when the flower sleeps again, it releases new seeds into the earth, which are fed by water, air, and the fire of the sun to bloom into new flowers.  The nothing in this seed is Eternal Life -- it continues from seed to seed, forever and ever in perfect harmony.  Eternal Life is the greatest power in the world."
Lotus Flower

Sing was named the wisest child in all the land and became the new Prime Minister, bringing harmony to the Kingdom.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

Today Toby, you are making a choice to follow our Savior and be born again, to take upon you His name and follow in His path.  I want to remind you that actions speak louder than words...
Thanks to Keith Bell

When you make good choices you will have the light of the Son of God to help you grow and blossom in your own time and season.  As your roots grow stronger and deeper, you will be able to share your gifts and talents with mankind.  You will be tempted from time to time -- just remember the insects that eat the flowers -- read your scriptures, say your prayers and keep going to church and you will be able to fight off those temptations.  I hope you'll be like an evergreen, standing tall and strong at all times.  Most importantly, as your faith in Christ emerges, His image will be found in your countenance, bearing testimony of the Author of your creation and helping you to fulfill the measure of your creation.

26 Sept 2015
And I say these things to you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

note:  some text quoted directly from book, "The Greatest Power"  (awesome book with awesome art too).

In closing, I'd like to express my gratitude for all those who made it out Saturday, for all the Facebook and txt messages, as well as the wonderful cards and generous gifts that were sent for our little Tobes.

I decided to add this little slide show of Toby.  I originally was going to show it when Toby was getting dried off and dressed -- but Matthew thought it would be nice to just let everyone talk and move around a bit during that time.  I thought it might be cruel to make Everyone suffer through so many family pics -- but in reality, they are mostly of Toby's friends -- you never know, YOU could be in this little slide show ;-)  Btw -- the video is about 10 secs longer than the music -- that's the best I could do ;-)

 God Bless.  My heart is full.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Tango's Alka Rockets Science Project -- Bam!

Need a simple, but great looking science project for school?  Try Tango's Alka Rockets.  We were able to email the slides to his teacher, while Toby (Tango) brought in the rockets to demonstrate.

There are a handful of teachers at school who can make extra homework, or extra hours in school actually feel like a reward.  I applaud their Jedi skills.  Perhaps in time I can learn to have that force with me.  When Toby handed me a pamphlet of 4th grade science projects and exclaimed with pride how he was the Scientist of the Week, I gave him that look, that tries to show you're thrilled for him, but inside you're exploding.  I had a lot on my plate for that coming Friday -- but somehow we made it through.

...And while we're on that subject of exploding, I will point out that "we" chose to make Alka Rockets.  I had hoped to actually make a bottle rocket, like the one I helped Tatum score an A+ with in her Senior year, but with 25 Jumbo Gummy Worm Cupcakes to make - (because having a birthday is what entitles you to be Scientist of the Week) I decided to be logical with myself.

After scouring the web for Alka Rocket Ideas, I just wasn't pleased enough and ended up making my own pattern up -- with Toby's help of course -- it is his project after all ;-)   Here are the end results:

You can print this pattern out here:

Did I mention I had to arrive at the school at 6:15 am to take pictures for The Early Birds Club that morning too:

By the way, the jumbo gummy worm cupcakes were also a hit.  All it all a great Birthday week for our youngest.  Love you baby boy!  (And I still managed to keep my sanity and my smile -- the real one this time ;-)

Jumbo Gummy Worm Cupcakes

I bought a cheap packet of oreo type cookies at the dollar store and scraped the 'creme' out and crushed the chocolate cookie in a large ziplock bag.  White frosting, green confetti type sprinkles and 3 large gummy worms poking through.  It's pretty self explanatory.  (P.S.  one cake package makes about 12 Jumbo Cakes.)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Morning Prayers

Pic of Tango in San Antonio, TX  (at brother Luke's military graduation) August 2013
I sometimes feel I can  measure Tango's growth and maturity by the quality of his praying.  This morning as he said our family prayer he focused on 'Momma'.  "...and please help momma today when she works.  Help her to get everything done that she needs to get done.  Help her to work hard...but not too hard.  If she works too hard, please tell her to stop and rest and take a break..."

Oh, how I love my little boy.  And to think it was just yesterday I caught him sending a text to a friend, saying how mean I was to make him do his homework...  Hey.  I'm a mom.  I'm meant to be mean.  :-)

In all sincerity, as the day has now come to an end, I do believe his prayers were heard.  Matthew and I have been cleaning up our Rental in Alpharetta.  It's taken a tremendous amount of sweat from me and tends to keep me burning the candle at both ends.  I chose to stay in Loganville, as Toby had a game tonight -- but, I did work hard today--but not too hard.  I did get very tired and took a 20 minute nap.  It was refreshing and gave me just enough energy to make it through the rest of the day.

Thanks for thinking of me baby boy. xoxo

Monday, February 2, 2015

Toby's Design on a Dime Braves Baseball Room

Okay...maybe it was more like, "Design on a Dollar.."

When Toby wanted a Braves room--the snobby designer in me cringed at the thought of sports paraphernalia in our home. I cringed even more when I stumbled on the price of Braves Bedding and Curtain sets...So, I made my own and managed to please both of us in the process ;-)

The tablecover (although I didn't take enough time to spread it out perfectly for this picture) was something I made a few years ago and had packed away.  I would have a lamp on this table, except for the fact that mini basketball is constantly being played--and I know that lamps are magnets for mini basketballs -- right?

 I found simple red and blue reversible comforters on Amazon for $35 each--But Toby didn't like how 'rough' the fabric felt...So I made this minky blanket with baseballs using material from  Its incredibly soft and comfortable. I had enough red leftover to cover a small pillow. What a spoiled boy eh? (We won't talk about how much this extra large blanket cost to make...)  The banner is mentioned further down...

Found this large print bulldog puppy with Braves hat on I cut it out and made it into an applique by attaching to red canvas.  It's an envelope closure in back, so it will be easy to take off and clean if necessary.

I love Spoonflower artists. One day I hope to be creative enough to make my own fabric...but I doubt it--I often contact the artists myself and tell them what I'm looking for and then they create it for me -- Isn't that just awesome!

I made the curtains from Luke's old duvet cover. I had 2 extra flat queen size sheets in my cupboard, so I lined them to help keep the cold out and the heat in. This makes me twice as happy, because now I have extra space in my linen closet AND an attractive red/white/blue curtain set. Also--the Braves street sign above the bookshelf was $7 on Amazon.  P.S.  The duvet wasn't long enough, so thankfully, I had extra red fabric on hand to help lengthen them.

I made this banner using my cricut--took way too long and I wished I could have found the felt on sale. It was Toby's idea to hang up his two favorite shirts--I would prefer the boards be used to pin his favorite baseball players on--but there is always give and take when it comes to designing.  

Toby wondered where all his 'future' trophies would go--so I took care of that with a couple extra shelves from Lowes. The Brave Pennant was $7 on Amazon (with Prime shipping) yay me.

I spray painted a couple of inexpensive pegs from Lowes to hang all his hoodies on. I made him the little tote bag above. Daddy nicknamed him Tango quite awhile back. He can keep all his favorite baseball cards in this. I know, I'm ridiculous!
  Eventually I am going to find an creative way to display his game balls too.

I have to mention this miniature basketball hoop. I have to rate it an unexpected #1 Christmas gift. It has been the MOST played with item then any other gift he has EVER received! ($39 on Amazon)
  It's really sturdy and thank GOODNESS I can shut the door and cut down on the constant thuds.  We often have a whole basketball team in this room now...maybe you should think twice about getting one...

Here is what you will find for $263.79 plus 25.99 shipping on Amazon.  I do like that the fabric is made out of basket ball/jersey type material.  Since I had two beds and two windows...I just wasn't feeling it--

The BEST part about this new bedroom is that Toby actually keeps it clean.  He's almost fanatical about it -- especially if someone is coming over.  Not only that, but he actually sleeps in it -- as opposed to the sofa outside our bedroom (which he has preferred since the age of 5 ;-)

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