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For various rea...

The Hen House Mahomet, IL
Lake of the Woods Park Mahomet, IL

For various reasons, we decided to stay in Mahomet, Il. at the lovely Tin Cup campground and Driving Range (yes, I did say driving range...not that I would ever take advantage of it, but it was lovely to look at) for one more night, before heading to Chicagoland for the wedding of the couple Don and I had been privileged to mentor. They are getting married this afternoon, and we are so excited for them.

Since we were staying an extra day, we decided to explore the quaint little town of Mahomet. First, we indulged in a delicious breakfast at the Red Hen.

Then, upon the recommendation of our Campground Host, we went to the Lake of the Woods park. Oh My!! It was a beautiful park with a botanical garden that went on and on. We walked around just enjoying God's creation and then went back to RTJ (wondering what that is? read earlier posts) to rest.



A little later, everyone decided it was time to eat again. (I always wonder how this happens so quickly. I mean, do they really need food all that often? I can't figure out why, after a HUGE breakfast, 3 hours later they are hungry again. And they get real cranky if they don't get food. Especially the oldest one. Dad I mean.) So Don looked on Urban Spoon (his favorite for recommendations...mine too, especially in a little one horse town) and found an authentic Mexican place called Zarapes. Now I know you're thinking what I was thinking: " Illinois??" But it had multiple positive reviews, so off we went. Well, we were all pleasantly surprised. The food was fantastic, service impeccable and cleaner than most places I've been. Josiah had the Burrito Mano. It was HUGE!! Steak and beans, cheese, sour creme, lettuce and covered with homemade queso.


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Illinois: We Are Here!!

So, driving through Atlanta was frustrating, but made me realize that that is how life sometimes is. We inch a few feet forward, not making much progress, and then we do it again. And life is so daily. I get lost in the slowness and the "to do's" but miss the big picture. The progress. It is like I told my daughter once: You are looking through a microscope when you need to be looking through a telescope. 

We have to make sure to look for God in the daily routine of life, or else we will miss the process, and the lessons we need to learn in this stage. Then we will have to learn them in another stage, when we should be further along and mature enough to handle learning something else. I know there are areas that I missed. And thats ok. For if you miss something important, something that you really need to see, God will teach it to you again, in a different situation. 
I liken it to an onion. Kinda like Shrek. (not really like Shrek...just like the reference). God uses his scalpel to peel away our stinky human nature layer by layer. Every time you come face to face with how you handle a situation, you have a choice. It may not feel like a choice, but you have one. And the Holy Spirit is there as your helper. And as you make His choices your choices, you grow. And He gives you deeper challenges. Cutting deeper and causing your dependency on Him to grow and your love for Him to flourish....or not, depending on your choices. But He loves you so much that He is not going to let your screams of pain and your pouting and your whining to deter His plan for you. He may give you a reprieve, and let you go your own way for a while, but you are HIS. And He LOVES you. So He continues his surgery, carving you into the image of His likeness, for all the world to see. And I wouldn't trade that for anything. Even if I could breeze through Atlanta at 55 mph and get to my earthly destination faster. I don't want to miss my heavenly appointment, so I guess I am going to have to let Him take his time with me. I wish it was instantaneous, but if it were, I wouldn't have experiences to share, and joy in the JOURNEY. And I wouldn't need Him so desperately. Which I do. And my guess is, you do too. So as you crawl along, scratching and clawing for every bit of ground you attain, only to discover that you've only gone an inch, be grateful. For he is creating something beautiful in you. A life full of experiences you can share with others along the road. And I am grateful we are all motoring along together.

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After much-a-do...

After much-a-do, we finally made it on the road. It seems like we leave later in the day every time we leave on a trip. We got all packed and in the MoHo, otherwise known as "the big ole rolling turd or the taj mahaul, depending upon who you talk to, or how it is behaving at the moment. The kids call it the Big Ole Rolling Turd, after the motorhome on the movie "R.V." I call it the Taj Mahaul, since when my niece's husband Brad saw it for the first time said: That thing is nicer than my house! Its like the Taj Mahal. I just changed it a bit since we haul everyone around in it. And everything. And a car. Really. we tow a car behind. And the thing that connects the car to the motor home so it can be towed is called a
"TOAD". I am totally serious. So maybe we should call it "the big ole rolling toad" or the Toad MaHaul. Or Toad Hollow. Can you tell I am tired?? Today, Don named it R.T. For Rolling Turd. But I think I will call it R.T.M. Rolling Taj MaHaul. Or something else. Anyway, we were all ready and started to go when a fuse blew in the car. Now you may wonder what that had to do with anything, but for some reason (unknown to me still) it has to have the entire electrical system working. Might have to do with having brake lights. A minor need in my mind. If they can't see the HUGE brake lights on R.T.M, they ought not be driving anyway. But aside from that, we couldn't leave because we did not have any extra fuses. So Don went to get some at the local gas station. In the mean time, I went to the mall because the kids were begging for the traditional Vacation day food: Chik-fil-a. We usually go there and get it because it it across from the turnpike entrance, but since the fuse blew and we were waiting on Don to get back, I went to the mall.

When I returned, low and behold the kids meal had NO NUGGETS! Just fries. Why oh Why didn't I check it before I left the mall? Now what do I do?? So I called the mall Chick-fil-a. They were very kind and very sorry. So sorry that I think I could have gotten them to give me a whole tray of nuggets. But I didn't want that. I wanted them to get a delivery boy to bring me the stinkin' nuggets. But they didn't offer that. If I wanted to go back over there, I could have whatever I wanted. But I Didn't Want to Go Back. I wanted to leave. I wanted to be on the road already!!

Mind you, I didn't loose my temper. I wasn't ugly to the Chick-fil-a guy. How could I be when he was so great. Took down my address and is sending me some coupons. Yay! But I was very frustrated and fussed about for a few minutes. It didn't even cross my mind to ask God what he was up to. How he was working. What I was supposed to take away from this.

Now, even that wouldn't be so bad. Everyone forgets that once in a while, right. Everyone gets frustrated and looses focus once in a while. But that wasn't the first time this week that it happened. OUCH!! It happened yesterday, too. And while I know God forgives, and I don't think much about it when other people have these moments, I hate it when I act like the spoiled brat that I am, and loose it. Ok, I didn't come close to loosing it, but I have in the past. Like yesterday. Well, not really loose it, but more so than I would like.

But more about that tomorrow. Right now, I am asking forgiveness and seeking my Father's face. And then I am going to fall into bed and rest. I know that he has sleep for me now. And I so need it. Tomorrow is another day, with no mistakes on it, to quote a line from Anne of Green Gables. If you haven't seen the movies with Megan Follows, you should. You really really should. Now. Go to Netflix or Hulu or Voodu or whatever other movie source you like. See it soon. You will thank me for it.

Anyway, tune in tomorrow when I will answer the "why" question once and for all. You won't want to miss it. As for now, Good night and God Bless.

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Truly Treasured

I received a very special gift from a very special lady today. I consider myself very blessed to call her my friend. I know she sacrificed to give me this gift. It was something that was a gift to her, and I mentioned to her how much I liked it, and now I have one. It is part of a beautiful collection of products by Dayspring Company, the Redeemed Collection. It is a lovely wallet, with a patchwork pattern on the front, and the words "truly treasured" and Romans 5:8 scripture reference stitched on the back. I love what this collection represents:
 God took the bits and pieces of out broken and discarded lives, redeemed them, and then put them back together into something that is not only useful, but beautiful as well.
Thats the way he works, isn't it? What we think is broken into so many pieces that it could not possibly be useful, God puts back together, making something that is an amazing mosaic of his grace, mercy and love. It never ceases to amaze and surprise me that God would choose to use me. Maybe that is part of why he does it. He loves to be our hero. He loves to keep us in awe of Him. He loves to wow us. And he loves us to praise Him in our amazement.
I feel so honored to know such amazing, loving women. My joy in knowing them and having the privilege of being a part of them is beyond words. I know they feel like they are being blessed, but I am the one who is blessed. I have no words to describe how I feel so loved, so honored and so humbled at their acceptance, graciousness and love. Ladies, I love how you love. I love how God has taken all the broken pieces and made a spectacularly beautiful quilt out of each one of you. It is delightful to see God making something beautiful out of each of you, right before my very eyes. And as he takes the patchwork of your  separate lives, and stitches them together, side by side, he brings warmth and comfort into the lives of so many others. Especially me. And I am so very thankful that he has chosen at this time to put your pieces next to mine. I love you all dearly.

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Well, I haven't posted in a few days, for many reasons, the least of which is that I decided not to continue with LOAD this month. (Layout A Day challenge with Lain Eiman: I haven't made a page in a week, and I haven't felt a bit guilty about it. At first it was a little weird. And I do miss it, but I really can't afford the time or energy it was requiring. So instead, I am focusing on what is really important right now, which is my relationship with Christ, and with my husband and family.

It is so easy for me to get distracted. Now I am not saying that it is wrong for me to scrapbook or do other crafts for that matter. I love to record the memories we have created as a family. I love to create wonderful things from my supplies, especially fabric and paper crafts. And I believe my talents and abilities come from a super creative God who allows me to be creative because he is creative. That is not what I am talking about here. There is nothing wrong with that. What was happening was this: LOAD became my single focus. I was thinking about that day's challenge all throughout the other activities of my day. I was distracted, and tried to race through the "less important" activities like: reading to my kids, homeschooling them, fixing meals, laundry (ok, so that one really is less important, however, it is necessary) well, you get the picture. I am embarrassed to say that I really did not want to take very long reading to the kids or doing school because I wanted to do something for me. Something fun. Something meaningful. Whoa.

Yes, sad but true, I am not perfect. I get distracted and selfish. I try to justify it by saying I am doing something important, but what I really mean is that I am doing something self-serving. Something that I can post online and all you wonderful people can look at and tell me how talented, fun, creative, and blessed I am. But the older I get, the more I realize that there is only one person I want kudos from. And that is Jesus. I want to look him in the face someday and have him say, "good job. You did what was real."

Paul says: Although I speak with tongues of men and angels, and I prophesy and give all to the poor, but don't love, I am nothing. That means to me: I can create all kinds of beauty, fill my home with stuff and look good on the outside. But if the people who know me best miss out on Christ in me, what is it worth? And how can they see Christ in me when I am so self focused?

Yes, I am a very loving, giving person. Only because of Christ in me. But I want to abandon my wants, my desires and even my own needs for the sake of Christ. He knows what I need, what will make me shine his love inside and out. He provides Great Love. Not just "good enough love". And I want to be a reflector of that. A radiator of His Great Love.

How do I do that? By setting aside the things that so easily entangle me. Like LOAD. This time, at least. Maybe in October, I will be able to do it, as my situation will have changed. Like I said earlier: Scrapbooking is not bad. Crafting is not bad. It is not wrong, nor should it make anyone feel guilty- even me. But when it becomes an All-consuming distraction for me it is. Sometimes, I need a distraction. It  is necessary. Not from Christ, but so I can see Christ in the midst of difficulties. Sometimes crafting helps me connect WITH Creative Creator. But right now, my all-consuming passion needs to be Him. With no distractions. And I can't do that and do LOAD, too. So I gave it up to pursue a deeper need.

Hello. My name is Leslie, and I am a craft-aholic. It has been exactly 7 days, 4 hours and 32 minutes since I last crafted. I just made the times up. I really don't have time to figure out exactly how long it has been. I've got a more important passion to pursue. Christ in me, Christ in me, Christ in me: the hope of Glory; You are everything....Be my everything. Be my everything. Be my everything.

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