Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Friends, Fries and Jesus

Why is this date special to me? December 17, back in 1977 was the day my life took a different direction because I asked Jesus into my heart.

A girlfriend asked me to meet her at Steak 'n Shake. Back in the late 1970's, in Carmel, Indiana, we didn't have Starbucks so friends met at burger joints or Pizza Hut. On an ordinary school night about a week before Christmas she shared Jesus with me. I was willing to listen because she was a good friend and I trusted her. Her Mom was our town Mayor, we were in a school club together and I'd known her for years. She was a part of a local church's youth group and had invited me several times. Over fries and a milkshake, she explained why she believed that Jesus came to die for us and gave me a little booklet.

Do people even give these out anymore?? 

I remember going home, kneeling by my bed (rib-cord from Sears or J.C. Penney's~I was Mod!) and praying to ask Jesus into my heart. If you've never heard of the Salvation prayer, you can check out one example here. It's all about grace, love and acknowledging God as our Lord and Savior.

After I prayed I felt a little different. I was a senior in high school, had just turned 17, and wasn't sure what to do next. Looking back, I didn't really have a mentor or follow-up. I had a special Christmas even though I didn't really share my "news" with many. BUT... I felt LOVED, and GOD knew he had a plan for my life. 

I've been a believer for 38 years. Ups and downs. Years when I "took a break" (college?), and years that I have felt SO close to God. I've belonged to great churches in three states and had wonderful pastors and bible study teachers who have and continue to, help me on my faith journey. It's a life-long process and certainly an adventure that will last an eternity!

Has a friend shared the Good News with you? Have you shared your relationship with Jesus with a friend or family member? I am thankful my girlfriend was bold and brave and loved me enough to share the good news. After all, Jesus is the reason for the season!!

"For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Totally makes sense why french fries bring me JOY!
Happy Anniversary to me and Merry Christmas to you!! 

In His Grip,                          
Jane                     Thanks for reading See Jane Learn!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Candlesticks

We are three sisters who live in different places yet ALL love the set of Norwegian Christmas Tree candlesticks that belonged to our Grandma Grace's family. Growing up, the candlesticks always adorned the mantle of our rock fireplace on Jenny Lane. I enjoyed looking at them there from the age of 7 until I married at 23 and moved out. When our Daddy passed away my Mom moved into a smaller home and the beautiful trees had their place of honor on her new mantle.

Last November she moved one more time, into the retirement center called The Barrington. Her apartment is cute but we realized she didn’t have a mantle and the candlesticks just really didn’t “fit” into her small place. That left my two older sisters and I with a dilemma. Who would get to own them? We aren’t siblings who fight over objects~we know people are more important than things...

It didn't take long for my oldest sister to come up with a brilliant idea! We would take turns! She had them last year, and she carefully packed them and passed them on to my middle sister who lives about 45 minutes from her. (The photo below shows them in my middle sister's home.)  I’m the only one who lives far away~Washington State is FAR away from Indiana, so they will have to be carefully shipped to me.

Isn’t this idea brilliant?! Remember in the movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, how all the friends made special memories while having their turn with the jeans? They were all very different girls yet they all appreciated the jeans in their own way. (And they all miraculously "fit"!) My sisters and I all have very different styles and beliefs, yet we love each other and our family memories. 

My sisters are givers; of their time and talents. They are always there for my Mom and each other. Living thousands of miles away, it’s hard to stay in the loop or feel helpful, but they keep me posted with texts and never make me feel guilty. When I visit them (about 2-3 times a year) they clear their calendars and give me their time & attention. I AM the baby, they say. I AM the princess still. 

“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” 
Luke 6:38 

I eagerly await a package arriving from Indiana when Christmas is over. Our new-to-us home doesn't have a very wide mantle, but next December I will be delighted to take my turn with the  “traveling” Norwegian Tree Candlesticks. Even if they need to be placed on our farm table if they won't fit safely on our fireplace mantle, I can't WAIT to have my turn sharing this gift of love, family memories and sisterhood. 

Did you notice the amazing stockings in the photos? Another family tradition started by my Grandma Grace Pande' Young was the hand-knit stockings made for each baby's first Christmas. They are beautiful, vintage-looking and BIG! My four children were each given one lovingly-made by my Mommy. Someday when I discover I am becoming a Grandma I will be attempting to keep that stocking tradition going... 

What are special treasures in your family??

In His Grip, 

Jane                   Thanks for stopping by See Jane Learn

Even more loved and treasured than family heirlooms?... The gift of JESUS, and sharing and passing on the heritage of faith.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Monday, December 1, 2014

He's a Keeper

Just like in the story of The Tortoise and the Hare, it has been a long and slow process but we are plodding along together on the right path in our marriage.

We are a bit like turtles... slowly learning how to love well.

We are in it for the LONG run and the prize at the end of our lives. Marriage takes perseverance and practice and definitely prayer.

It was 32 Novembers ago that we first met and started dating. We both worked at an Indianapolis restaurant called DALTS; I was a waitress waiting to get a teaching job, he was a cook trying to figure out life after college. November 7th~first date: (he had a free pizza coupon.) December 10th~(we knew it was love.) Mid-December~I had melanoma surgery and he spent all his non-working hours hanging out with me at the hospital. December 22nd~(he proposed.Christmas Day~he asked my parents. Yes they were shocked and not quite on board. I totally understand now that I have young adult children!! June 11, 1983~we were married!!!

31 years, 4 kids, laughter, lean years, disagreements and tears, his fall off the roof and recovery, job changes and moves, surgeries, some bad choices, counseling, grace, and through it all hanging on to God and each otherWhich brings us to now...

"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." 
Ephesians 5:25

Here are some examples from the past month of how my husband has loved and served me:

He helped with my MOPS church project making baby blankets.

 He baked really good chocolate chip cookies for our kid's visit.

He helped me untangle my yarn and roll it into balls. He even convinced his friend to help during a Seahawks game!

When I missed my Chicago flight home due to bad weather in Indianapolis, and it was the last flight out, he booked me a hotel room and a got me a ticket for the next morning. Dragging my 48 pound suitcase through O'Hare has convinced me to pack lighter. (BTW, when you book a Hilton room with points they give you two free water bottles.) The cold, stale Starbuck's bagel was my delicious dinner.

When my Thanksgiving apple pie completely dripped to the bottom of the oven, (why didn't I put the pan on foil?) he took care of my mess.

Even though he loves log fires, we both agreed that we were tired of the draft and the smell of smoke every morning. He convinced a company to give us a good deal on a gas fireplace insert. YAY! 

Let it be noted that when the gas grill quit working Saturday night he cooked our "welcome home two youngest kids steak dinner" over the open fire. My guy has many talents!

Before leaving for a business trip yesterday morning he managed to go work out, clean the kitchen, buy more lights, make a pancake breakfast and help a child with an application. I really haven't embellished the previous examples. He treats me like a princess (most of the time) even when I don't deserve it.

What have been doing, you might wonder?? Well I certainly haven't been blogging! I've just been a little off this month. I can't explain it... I just haven't had tons of energy or enthusiasm. Also, I was out of town for a week visiting family and ever since I returned I've been sick. 

Marriage is about give and take. Ups and downs. Peaks and valleys. We take turns caring for each other and sometimes it's a bit unbalanced. I hope there are times when my husband feels spoiled and I hope he ALWAYS knows he's loved.

If you too have been in a marriage for awhile then you understand. It isn't a race... It takes perseverance yet it's SO worth it.

Thank you for letting me  share how very grateful I am for how God has worked in the heart of the man who I get to call my best friend, husband, father to our four, and partner for life. He's a keeper.

In His Grip, 
Jane                 Thanks for stopping by See Jane Learn!

Monday, November 3, 2014

What I Learned in October

Here are some things I learned last month:

1. MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) is still thriving. Our two coordinators recently flew to Louisville, Kentucky for MOMCon, the MOPS national convention. I had attended a convention back in 1998 in Denver and still have amazing memories from that trip. Were any of you there? Thanks to technology, I was able to stream all the large group talks given by fabulous Christian Mom speakers. I was familiar with many of them from blogs and books I've read, and spending my weekend immersed in their encouragement felt like I was there! This Mentor Mom is going to start saving her pennies to attend next year's MOMCon since it's in my childhood hometown of Indianapolis!

2. Even guys like collections. Throughout our marriage, my husband has put up with my collections, many of which have come and gone. Two of my favorite items I collect are antique aqua Ball Jars (I went to Ball State!) and white pitchers. Now that we've down-sized, I realize I need to quit collecting and "edit" my belonging. My husband has a collection...shower heads.
Yep. He keeps a stash and switches out our shower head occasionally. The zip lock bag moves from house to house.

3. I appreciate the sound of English words better than American words. One of the books I recently listened to on Audible was A Little Love by Amanda Prouse. I enjoyed the accent of the narrator, and here's a few reasons why the English vocabulary sounds better:
"edit my belongings" vs. purge, "load the boot" vs trunk (besides, aren't trunks located on the front of an animal?), "it's rubbish" vs. trash. See what I mean? Their words just sound more classy. Great book by the way. 

4. You can find out your blood type when you donate. When I asked my doctor's office if they could tell me my blood type, they said it would  cost something like $90 to do the test. The nurse did tell me that if I donate blood to a blood bank, I can find out for free. Sounds like a and getting.

5. Now I understand why pastors where robes. I attend the modern service at Chapel Hill so our pastors are usually wearing casual clothes. I never really questioned why pastors wear robes in traditional churches (or mine on certain days such as one we call "Saint Andrew's Sunday".) After our pastor brought up the topic, I did a bit more research hereThe purpose is so our focus is on the message, not the man/woman or their personality delivering God's word. It also reminds the people of his/her special calling. The robe is not meant to set him/her above the congregation, but to set them apart due to their unique office as pastor during the Lord’s Day worship service. 

6. It's not just a musical, it's a possibility. A couple years ago when my man and I were still living in Illinois, I convinced him to watch Fiddler on the Roof with me. I had never really watched the whole musical. Well...this fall WE got to play matchmakers and connect two single friends we know and love. Guess what?! Five weeks after their first date, they are engaged and a wedding date has been set. I love happy endings, and I love how GOD knew all along they were meant to be together.
Photo courtesy of Bing
7. We should have taken the course twenty years ago. We've been taking the Dave Ramsey course at our church called Financial Peace University. Oh my... He.    Is.    Wise.
Using biblical principals, Dave teaches how to handle money. If only we'd taken his course when we first got married. Now, we're working hard to change our behaviors and correct past mistakes and move forward. If you haven't heard of it, I recommend you check out Dave's website and buy this class for couples getting married. 

I'm linking up with Emily P. Freeman at Chatting at the Sky. What have you learned lately?

In His Grip, 
Jane       Thank you for stopping by See Jane Learn.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sydney Reminds Us It's Simple

Our rescue dog Sydney celebrated her 4th birthday last week. What joy our rescue dog has brought us (and a few other things...) Observing her has taught me some things to apply to my relationship with God. See if any of her “tips” resonate with you:

Stay close. Sydney always lays right by my feet when I’m sitting on the couch or at our kitchen farm table so she's ready for my next move. If you’ve been to our house you know it can be tricky to stand up without stepping on her! I too need to spend time “at the feet” of my Jesus.

Be on alert. Sydney is always on the lookout for anything that might bring harm to me. As we walk she’s looking all around as if something dangerous could suddenly appear.  I also need to be on alert to avoid temptations and recognize potential situations that are totally opposite of what God would desire for me.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1Peter 5:8 NLT

Stick to a routine. Every day, despite the weather, Sydney wants expects a walk. “No excuses Mom.” I need to read my devotionals, pray and keep up with my daily bible study despite all the hundreds of things that try to interrupt my routine. No excuses.

Be patient and don’t give up. I don’t know the entire story of Sydney’s life before we adopted her at age two, but I do know she had a story. Her former owner became ill and so she gave up Sadie (Sydney’s former name~read more about that here.) and her brother-dog Baxter to be adopted. Baxter was adopted first and Sadie waited and waited at the Wags to Riches dog rescue for a family (us!) to fall in love with her.  I’m so glad she never gave up hope. I’m so glad we found her! I’m also glad God doesn’t give up on me (or you) and His plan might take patience but is always what is best for us.

Watch for signals. Sydney’s very good at determining that a walk might be imminent. If she sees my yoga or sweat pants... if I tie on my athletic sneakers... if she hears the sound of plastic poop grocery bags being grabbed to tie onto her leash... She’s very observant. I need to be conscious of signals that I get from the Holy Spirit. When I see something or hear something that nudges my heart or mind, I need to ask God what I can do in response.

Always be ready. Even if it was the middle of the night and it was a blizzard, Sydney would be ready; to go for a walk, to cuddle with me, or to cheerfully accept a command. There would be no hesitation. I need to be ready and flexible for whatever circumstances come my way. 

“You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." Luke 12:40

Trust and Forgive. Our puppy doesn’t hold grudges. She’s forgiven us for staying out late, not taking her on walks when we’re lazy and she even forgave her Daddy when he  drew blood trimming her nails. Our latest transgression was thinking her constant itching was due to allergies. We’d taken her to the Vet several weeks ago and she’d finished her meds. We gave her a bath and wondered why she still scratched and bit at herself nonstop. You know where this is going, right? 

Yep. Our dog has fleas! NOT cool. NOT fun. Poor girl! Boo hiss...We are busy trying to rid our new home and dog of the nasty little buggers (time and $$$) and hope our life group that's coming over for dinner tonight won't freak out if or when they read this blog post! Sorry friends...

Several lessons learned from the flea nightmare: You might think you’re protected, but the enemy is sneaky!...How do we react and what can we do more effectively in the future? Have Pets?... Use your Frontline or Advantage, do NOT busy generic. Sydney is now on a once-a- month flea pill called Nexgard. Worth every penny. 

What about People?... We need to trust, arm ourselves with God's word, and acknowledge that people make mistakes and deserve grace and forgiveness.

Love always. If you have a dog, you understand the unconditional love they give to their family. Sydney is SUCH a sweet, loving pet. No matter how I treat her or talk to her, she responds in love. Real love. I need to remember that love IS the only thing that really matters and it’s how I should treat everyone I encounter.

Simple? Perhaps it can be. Our sweet four-legged family member truly lives a contented life because she focusses on L O V E.

In His Grip, 
Jane                  Thanks for stopping by See Jane Learn!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Drop In!

It’s been one month since we moved into our new house in downtown Gig Harbor. 

When we first walked into this house we knew. 31 years of marriage and eight + houses, we knew what we were hoping for. Due to a remodel about six years ago, it was move-in-ready. This house had it all; location, view, size, charm. Yep, we were smitten.

I still claim that God led us to this place and kept it available for us until we could finagle the finances and make an offer the seller would accept. It had been on the market (above our price range) all summer, and yet it was still waiting for us. After a stressful weekend of counter offers, we finally received the news that it could be ours and we've been on cloud nine ever since.

It's fitting that we named this home “Cloud Nine!” (It’s the ninth home we’ve lived in, it’s the ninth home on the right off of the main drag, and the view of the clouds on sunny or gray days is breathtaking.) 

Remember the letter that Jane and Michael Banks wrote to inform their parents of the type of nanny they hoped for? Well we, Jane and Michael C., "wrote" lists in our heads and prayed together and individually. Our prayers were heard and even though it took quite a few years and some zig zags back and forth to Chicago, we received our hoped-for home. We're as happy as the Banks children when they realized how special Mary Poppins was! 

We've already noticed a change in our routines; I walk to work, Michael swims at the YMCA, we invite friends over more, and we feel settled. Rather than constantly wondering when our landlord might go into foreclosure, going to open houses, drooling at Pinterest house ideas, or commuting back and forth, I can spend my time more wisely. We love having a place with a central location so we can offer up our home and have friends drop in.

A couple Sundays ago I was reminded of the book, City Mouse~Country Mouse. The story tells of cousins and their very different life-styles. It ends with the country mouse deciding he liked his simple life out in the country better than putting up with the dangers of city life. 
"Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and jelly in fear!"

I, on the other hand, though thankful for the 2 1/2 years we spent out in the country  on the remote, quiet island, am thrilled to be a city girl. (My city is not a huge metropolis, perhaps village would be a better term...) I can even say this after we've encountered our first (hopefully only) theft.

We were HOME, watching the Seahawks game, and a young man swiped Mike’s bicycle right out of our garage. (We’d taken a break from the unpacking.) I find it a bit ironic since the police station is catty-corner from our house. Our local police were stellar and the bike was returned to us six hours later. (Lesson Learned: There is a much better chance of items being found, if you report thefts quickly.

I now keep the garage doors shut, lock our doors, wave to the police, and continue to be grateful for our barking guard dog Sydney. 

Even better than knowing the police will come quickly when we call, is knowing that every prayer I shoot up is heard. Sometimes God has a different plan than mine, sometimes I have to wait on the Lord's timing, and sometimes He gives more than I could ever imagine.  

How about you? Are you fond of living in the country or the city?

This "City" girl is on Cloud Nine and In His Grip
xo                               Thank you for stopping by See Jane Learn.

photo sources: Pinterest and Bing

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What I Learned in September

Every day I'm learning new things; I Google out of curiosity, read books and magazines (and lots of blogs) and God is always teaching me things through his word and the people he puts in my life. September was a lovely month here in the Northwest and here are the lessons learned that stood out to me:

1. Don't put your dog on Steroids for an allergic reaction the week after moving into a new home. Poor Sydney. She couldn't control her bladder, and like a senior, she'd tinkle a bit every time she stood up and not even realize it! We'll be shampooing our carpets again soon...

2. Spend the extra money to buy good flea meds, not generic. If you buy a cheaper version rather than Frontline, you will give your dog a BAD reaction which sends you to the Vet (Over $200 later and did I mention the accidents on our carpet?...) The book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie comes to mind.

3. If you turn 21 on a Monday, you will discover that the DMV is closed which means you can't get your new Driver's License. Yes, this happened to my baby girl. She did manage to have several legal cocktails due to understanding bartenders in Spokane. She's finally legal! 

4. I was intrigued by the meanings of my first and last names. I can't remember what made me want to look up the meanings but Jane means "gift of God or Jehovah is gracious" (thanks Mom and Dad!) and my maiden name Story means "dweller by large and rough water." (This fits since we live right by Puget Sound, but I grew up in the Midwest where the only water was a creek. Plus Story is my middle name now...)

5. The latest Rite Aid commercial is reminding me I probably should go get a flu shot. When I taught Preschool and Kindergarten I usually got one. Now that I spend my days in a baby store where little ones come and go and the general public touches lots of our pretty things I probably should do more than frequent hand-washing to protect myself from germs.

6. The series "Outlander" on the Starz network is timely! I found it ironic that last week there was a vote over in Scotland to decide if they would separate from the United Kingdom and the "Outlander" TV show incorporates the fight for freedom back in 18th century Scotland. (Along with  featuring time-travel and romance.)

7. I don't need to participate in "National Coffee Day." Apparently there was a day set aside for coffee this week and I didn't hear read about it until bedtime. No worries... every day is coffee day for me. My mornings always include a big mug of Pike Place blend brewed at home with a mixture of hot 1% milk and fat free half & half. 

8. Yesterday I found "TDN" on my laptop, which stands for "The Design Network." I can watch short videos (usually under 5 minutes) about decorating or cooking. Three of my favorites are "Holiday Decorating with Girls with Glasses," "The Lettered Cottage," and "Entertaining with Beth." 

9. I have discovered one of my unofficial roles: to change the rolls in bathrooms! Everywhere I go I seem to be the one who needs to replace an empty toilet tissue roll with a new, full one. I might be at home, at work, or at a friend's home. I'm really not exaggerating. Almost every day I seem to be replacing a roll somewhere. Perhaps I'm like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz who felt it was his job to oil all the squeaky gates with his oil can. I hope I'm taking care of a small task that makes life a bit easier for the next person. 

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble." Helen Keller

10. Great Champagne doesn't have to be expensive. One of our local restaurants always greets their customers with a free glass of bubbly and it's really delicious. The waitress shared where we could find their brand ($8 a bottle) and so I headed over to Tacoma to buy some in case we had reason to celebrate. About one day later, we received the news that our Nashville daughter had found a job. Certainly an answered prayer that deserved to be toasted. We're super excited that she gets to come here for a visit next week before her new job begins! Good thing I bought a second bottle!

Did you have moments worthy of celebrating? Learn any new random facts? I'm linking up with Emily P. Freeman at Chatting at the Sky. I'd love to hear about things you've been learning.

In His Grip, 
Jane       Thank you for stopping by See Jane Learn.