Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Make It a Truly Happy New Year

I am writing this blog the last day of 2008. Midnight tonight marks the beginning of a fresh new year. It is unscathed from hurt, disappointment, rejection, and failure. It reminds me of fresh-fallen snow with no footprints (human or animal!). Fresh fallen snow is beautiful and sparkly.

I know a number of people who feel that the year 2008 was one of the worst years of their life. There are a number of reasons involved, but the fact is these people look back over this past year with disappointment, regret, hurt, grief, and relief that it is over.

So how can we prevent that for 2009? Does life just happen leaving us no choice but to either have a good year or a bad year? Does "fate" just take over and make our years good or bad?

Absolutely not! Now, we cannot control the hurts and disappointments that come into our lives. I am thinking of a dear sweet friend of mine. She and her husband were less than two months from celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary when he succumbed to cancer and went to Heaven. This lady had given her life to building a strong marriage and a strong husband. He was a very successful man who depended on the love and help of his wife in a great way. I recall the Sunday after the funeral. She was in my Sunday school class. I was amazed. She had just buried her husband but she got up, got dressed, and went to church. The grief-stricken look on her faced pierced my heart but I watched her week after week as she faithfully came to Sunday school and then agreed to become our class pianist (which we desperately needed; I had been filling in!!!) I've watched this lady put one foot in front of the other and keep walking when I knew she was grieving deeply. I saw her begin volunteering to help at our grade school. I saw her watch her grandson play baseball on my husband's little league team. I saw her be show her grandson and his wife a wonderful time as they visited her for a few days upon his return from Iraq. The week before Christmas she informed me she would be gone for 3 Sundays so would not be available to play the piano. She said, "I know it would not be good for me to stay here during the holidays." So she went to spend time with her daughters.

This lady had a very difficult year as she saw her husband waste away from the cancer. She saw him take his last breath. She has grieved deeply. And yet, in many ways she has had a wonderful year because of her attitude. I am sure she would not choose to re-live the hurt and grief of this past year. But she made choices that have made a difference and that have actually helped her move faster through the grieving process.

She will grieve over the loss of her husband for the rest of her life; but meanwhile she is living a fullfilling and productive life and making a difference in the lives of others. We all have a choice when the hard times come. We can sit and lick our wounds and stop living life. Or we can take time to grieve (no matter what the hurt) while we keep busy and help others. We can focus on our grief and hurt or we can take time each day to grieve and then extend a helping hand to others in need.

Why don't you make some plans for 2009? You don't know what lies ahead, and it may be that some very hurtful and disappointing things may happen. But why don't we plan that when the hurts come and the disappointments and grief seem overwhelming that we will refuse to succumb to their hold.

How do we do that? First and foremost, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." We cannot walk on in victory alone. We can only do it through the strength we receive in Christ. Let's make 2009 a wonderful year; not because no disappointments or hurts come, but because we have Christ on our side to give us strength to make it through the hard times and we have the Holy Spirit to comfort us through the grief that comes.

God bless you in 2009! Have a wonderful and happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Christmas Gifts...Dread or Delight?

Christmas is coming and with it comes the privilege of giving gifts. As a customer I must decide what I want to purchase for gifts.

I know that there are those who dread Christmas. I'm sorry about that because Christmas is not a time I "have" to purchase gifts. There is no one in my life I "have" to buy a gift for; rather, there are many people I "choose" to buy gifts for because they are people to whom I want to express my love.

Years ago my good friend (now my sister-in-law) and I purchased gifts for two new friends in our lives. When we all opened our gifts we laughed because we had gotten those two ladies the same gifts we received from them...except our gift sets had more items. We had purchase the more expensive set of the same line than they had purchased for us. These ladies were so embarrassed and hurriedly said they would buy us more. It was embarrassing for Kris and me because we did not buy them gifts to get a certain gift. It was awkward to have them keep telling us they would buy us more. That is not what Christmas is all about. That incident taught me a good lesson. The amount of money I spend is not what is important. What is important is that I give what I can afford and give something that shows my love to the receiver.

Sometimes I am able to give more expensive gifts. Some years I have a very limited budget. Last year was one of those years. I have a lot of co-workers and neighbors I like to do something for, but since my budget was limited I made gift baskets for them. I made apple butter and salsa. I don't recall having such response to gifts. Both recipes were tried and proven and were delicious and I got such wonderful thank you's for those gifts.

If you have a long list of people to whom you give gifts just because you feel you "have" to, why don't you re-evaluate. There are probably people whom you could cross off your list. The fact is, there probably are people to whom you give gifts that may give you gifts for the same reason. Quite possibly they could be relieved when you don't give them a gift this year, paving the way for them to take you off of their list next year.

Possibly there are people to whom you should give a gift, but you don't want to. An example might be a hard-to-get-along-with boss. Maybe just a little perspective on your part would help. Even if your boss is not the kindest of people, that person is giving you the opportunity to take home a paycheck. Be grateful for what that person does do for you.

I do think it is important to remember service people, especially people like the garbage man. Those people work hard with little thanks or remuneration. This does not have to be a big gift, but it is a kindness to remember those people.

Sometimes the most meaningful gift you can give is a gift of words. Write a note stating some specific ways the person has helped you or encouraged you. Thank them for their investment of time, love, kindness, etc.

We don't have to dread Christmas. In fact, we should look forward to and delight in this wonderful day of celebrating our Saviour's birth. Start planning now which people should be on your gift list, how much money you can spend on the gifts, and then plan meaningful gifts that will truly say, "I love you; you are important to me." My niece and nephew gave several people in their lives a "Photo of the Month Club" coupon for Christmas last year. They gave a small attractive photo album with space for 12 photos. Each month they have sent a photo showing something that they did with their two boys that month. The recipients have so enjoyed that gift and it was something they could afford.

By starting to plan now and by planning wisely, your gift giving can be relaxing, meaningful, and something you begin to look forward to!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Moms and Daughters

My sister-in-law, Kris Grafton, and I worked on a project this past summer that has come to fruition. What started out to be a book on hormones for adolescence through menopause ended up being a book for mothers to help them know how to talk with their teenage daughters.
When we mentioned "the talk" or asked ladies what their mothers told them we were amazed at the lack of talk between mothers and their adolescent daughters. From generation to generation, mothers are failing to talk with their daughters. If we mothers don't talk with our daughters, where are they going to get their information? Their young, inexperienced, misinformed PEERS! That is not God's plan. He wants you to talk with your daughter.
We're excited to present this 200+ page book filled with practical knowledge about hormones, the physical changes that take place during adolescence, etc. But the book is so much more than that. Those "facts" can be found in many books. Talking to Our Daughters is different for several reasons. First, the foundation of all that is taught in the book is based on Scripture. One of the great problems with our society (actually the great problem) is that God is left out. He is our starting point! He is our foundation! Secondly, the book gives very pracitcal guidelines of when and how to talk with your daughter. Thirdly, the book addresses the emotional and spiritual issues that young people face.
One of my favorite chapters is the final chapter, a Bible study on the Naaman's maid who helped find healing from leprosy for her master. She was a teenage girl who possessed the same traits our young people have today. The Bible is such a practical book!
The book is available at I would encourage every mother of daughters who live at home to purchase this book and use it as a very practical guide to help you guide your daughter(s) into womanhood God's way. This is a book your daughter(s) want you to read!
Oh, by the way, we have not forgotten the original book we started. Next year we will publish a book on hormones from young adulthood through menopause!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Teen Entrepeneurs

If you have read my blog for very long, you know that I have a great love for teenagers. They are a group of people filled with passion, energy, ideas, and potential. They are our future and that behooves us to invest in them, support them, guide them, and encourage them.

Today I did a treasury on Etsy and featured all teen sellers. ( I've had some conversations with a few of these teens and they have a great spirit. (Pictured is one of the featured items.)

If you don't have some young people in your life I encourage you to look for them, find them, and invest in them. My mentor of 25 years who passed away of ovarian cancer in 2001 said, "Invest in young people; they're where it's at." She was looking at life from the perspective of knowing she would soon be in Heaven. She knew where to invest her time and energy. One of those young people she invested in was my teenage (at the time) daughter. Her investment is paying great dividends...and yours will too!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Women's Health Issues

For several years I suffered a myriad of health issues. I had no idea what was wrong and continued to get more and more frustrated as physicians, even at major medical centers, told me there was nothign wrong with me. It was in my head. I was in pain, experienced horrible fatigue, and sometimes didn't think I could make it up the steps to our bedroom when I got home at the end of a day. I had no idea that my issues were hormone issues.
I began praying and begging God for answers. He heard me and led me to a Christian physician who gave me incredible help. It was then I realized I need to take more responsibility for my health and began to do research. I read dozens of books, listened to tapes and CDs and attended seminars. It has been a slow journey, and I am still not completely back 100%. However, I never dreamed I could lose weight, have energy, and live a normal lifestyle with a full schedule again.
I have written a book entitled, Feeling Great and Looking Good for the Cause of Christ. in which I share the principles that have helped me to regain my health. I have written seven books. By far, I have had more response from this book than any other. At conferences where I speak ladies come to me in tears and tell me they have their life back because they have followed the principles in my book.
If you are suffering with health issues I am sorry for you. I want you to feel good again, have energy, have a clear mind, and be able to function and do the work God has for you on this earth. You can purchase this book at our new Etsy shop, God bless you, dear reader. I trust this book will be a help and a blessing to you.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Enjoying Fall

If you live where there are changing seasons you are, as I am, most fortunate. My husband just said today that we are nearing the peak with the changing trees in our area. It was such a gorgeous cool, crisp, sunny day here in Northwest Indiana.

There are so many great things about fall...the changing leaves, the falling leaves (it's so fun to "shuffle" through the leaves), bountiful harvests of so many kinds of squash, apples, and more. Yards are decorated with colorful mums, pumpkins, cornstalks, bales of straw, and scarecrows. There are bonfires with hot chocolate, hot dogs, and s'mores! There's that first frost and seeing your breath in the morning.

Enjoy these wonderful fall days. Drive where there are lots of trees and enjoy the color. (We live near the Indiana Dunes and always take a drive there in the fall to enjoy the thousands of trees.) Soon it will be winter. I love winter; it has a beauty of it's own. But take the time to enjoy today...the beautiful fall with all of it's color! God made it for us to enjoy so let's do it!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Really? Christmas Already?

I love Christmas. It's a wonderful time of year. Now, I realize it is still nearly 3 months away and I'm already talking the holidays! Let me assure you that I will not be forgetting Thanksgiving. It has become my favorite holiday in the past few years because I have so much to be thankful for. Please know that I will be posting blogs on the subject of Thanksgiving.

The reason I am mentioning Christmas is that I know people are already doing their Christmas shopping. I've hesitated to start pushing Christmas, but people are looking for gifts and I want to have available to them what they need and what they are looking for. That is why I have a shop on sell jewelry.

I am encouraging those who have shops online to go ahead and list the items you want to sell for Christmas. I listed two items tonight on Etsy and have had a good response already in just a few hours. One of the items I listed was the pair of blue venetian glass/sterling silver snowflake earrings pictured above. If you list items you are wanting to sell for Christmas let me know so I can take a look too! And, Merry Christmas! ...oh, that hurt, didn't it?!? It's still fall! I promise you I am enjoying every day of this beautiful weather...the turning of the trees, the crisp fall nights and more. I just want to encourage you to plan ahead and be on top of your inventory and your fall sales. God blesses us when we organize, plan, and work that plan. I want to help you have a great selling season this fall!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Singing the Chocolate Blues

Most women love chocolate and most also love brown and blue together! I think you'll enjoy the treasury I put together on Etsy filled with chocolate brown (including some delicious cookies!) and blues. Click and check it out!
Colors are powerful. They convey messages, evoke emotions, stimulate feelings, and more. Enjoy color...especially all of the colors of nature around you. I love red and black and white...which are the colors God put together on the woodpecker. I like light blue and forest green together which are the colors God used when He placed green trees against the blue sky. Nature is a great source for color combinations. What beauty all around us!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Plus-Sized Bracelets

One of the fun and interesting things about having a jewelry shop on Etsy is getting to see all the beautiful designs the talented artisans offer! It's also fun to share some of these with others.

I was able to get a treasury on Etsy this morning and because I have had special orders for plus-sized bracelets I filled my treasury with beautiful and varied plus-sized bracelets on Etsy. Let me invite you to browse that gorgeous treasury.

I know it is difficult for ladies with larger wrists to find beautiful bracelets so I offer all of my bracelets to be custom-sized at no extra charge. Enjoy looking at the treasury and also at my shop!

Monday, September 8, 2008

How Do You Feel About A Schedule?

My daughter is currently taking a class on time management. She is taking a full class load at college and works 30 hours a week. In addition to being involved at church she likes to socialize, and so the class is being a tremendous help to her. I met with a dear friend today who is doing some volunteer work for our Christian ladies' publication ministry and she showed me her weekly schedule. This is a lady who built a multi-million dollar business and now uses those talents to help others. Her schedule is incredible and shows why she is able to accomplish so much. I grew up on a dairy farm, which meant that we had to milk the cows twice a day every single day. You could never just decide not to milk those cows; they had to be milked. If you wanted the best production it was important for the cows to be milked at the same time every morning and every night. Being forced to do so much by schedule on the farm was very good for me.

There are times I feel overwhelmed and feel I just can't get everything done. This is an extremely busy time of year for me because our church will host an international ladies conference in just five weeks. But every time I get overwhelmed I know what the answer is...schedule all the things I have to do rather than worry about them.

When frustrated it is important to look at all the demands on our time and evaluate if there are some things we should let go, but often times the real culprit is that we are not scheduled. We don't live by a plan, and therefore, do not accomplish all that we should be able to do.

Fall is a great time to re-establish your priorities and schedule our time. We resist putting constraints on our time and the things we do as it can seem constrictive. There is a part of me that just wants to do things as I feel like it, but the problem with that is it makes it impossible for me to accomplish all that I am supposed to do each day!

Start small and start now. Make a list of all the things you feel you need to accomplish in the next 24 hours. Be realistic; if you are feeling overwhelmed tomorrow is not the day to clean out the attic! List the duties in order of priority and then work on them one at a time. Stay focused. When you are tempted to do something not on your list resist the temptation and stay on track.

Have some goals and make a plan to reach those goals. I have a jewelry shop on Etsy. There are two extremes that can happen. One is that I don't schedule "Etsy" time and do nothing or very little to build that business. The other extreme is that I list new items and then spend unlimited time in the forums...causing me to neglect other responsibilities. I talked with my husband and we made a plan for how much time I will spend on the jewelry business each day. That helps me to keep the balance. I had time to list the above pictured bracelet today because I scheduled time to take pictures, edit the pictures, and post the listing.

Schedule and planning are your friends. Embrace them...and have a wonderful and productive fall!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Are You Seeing the Signs of Fall?

I absolutely love fall! It is probably due to all of the great things that happened every fall when I was growing up. We would rake the leaves and play in them. We had bonfires where we roasted hotdogs and marshmallows and drank hot chocolate. We got bushels of wonderful apples including golden grimes, yellow delicious, and more. We got to eat acorn squash from our garden; Mom baked it and then served it with melted butter and brown sugar! Grandma came from Kansas and baked apple pies. We went on rides to look at the turning leaves in the Minnesota Valley near New Ulm. Oh, it was wonderful! If you live in a southern or western state where you do not see the trees turn I am sorry. It's such a treat!

Look for signs of fall. Tomorrow we will go with two of my nieces and their two sons to the local apple orchard. We'll take a hay ride, pick apples, drink apple cider and eat cinnamon doughnuts and then come back to our house for a weiner roast with s'mores over a fire my husband will build. It will help provide wonderful memories for these primary and junior-age boys!

Why don't you plan some "fall activities" for some people in your life? Make memories that will last a lifetime. It doesn't have to cost a lot; it's the fun and time together that makes the difference.

Look for fall and enjoy it; start getting out your fall wardrobe; make a purchase or two that will rejuvenate your wardrobe, such as the carnelian sterling silver pendant shown above. (You're welcome to check out my shop at I just want to encourage you to enjoy fall from start to finish! HAPPY FALL~!

Monday, September 1, 2008

In the Beginning God...

From the time I was a young girl I knew that God created the Heavens and the earth. Fortunately, even when evolution was discussed at school my parents had grounded me in the Word of God well enough to know that it was simply impossible for all of the beauty and wonder around us to simply "evolve." Psalm 146:5, 6 says, "Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God: Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever." At the end of every day in Genesis when He finished creating for that day the Bible says, "...And God saw that it was good..." Truly, everything God made is good and it is beautiful. As artisans, God is our example and He is our greatest source for creativity. It is God who puts the creative thoughts in our minds. Every time I design a new piece of jewelry I pray to the Master Designer and ask for His help. I made a treasury today featuring some of God's creativity...enjoy!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

In All Labor There is Profit!

While for many Labor Day is simply another holiday, it is much more than that for me. I grew up on a dairy farm and so holidays were not "labor free." The cows had to be milked twice a day 365 days a year (and 366 on Leap Year) without fail. The chickens also had to be fed, watered, and the eggs gathered. On Christmas and Thanksgiving, usually the only work we did on the farm was the milking, feeding the livestock, and caring for the chickens, but on most other holidays such as Memorial Day, Labor Day, and usually even the Fourth of July, a lot of work was done on the farm.
Dad was a steady, hard-working type of man who was not much into vacations. Our usual "vacation" each summer was to leave about 9 a.m. to go fishing (which included a picnic and other fun things) and return about 6 or 7 p.m. to milk the cows. In his later years Dad took a couple of vacations with us three girls, but I'm not sure he was that thrilled in traveling the country. He owned a small airplane and I think he would have preferred flying to driving! He went because Mom and us three girls wanted him to come with us.
On Labor Day of 1978 my dad went to Heaven at age 70. Both of my parents passed away on holidays. My mother, who was a more social person and passed away on January 1, 1977. We all thought it was so appropriate Dad's Homegoing was on Labor Day! I owe my dad a great debt for teaching me to work. I did not think such when I was a teenager, but it was so good for me to work on the farm. After my older siblings left home I was responsible to milk the cows twice a day for my remaining years in high school. The lessons I learned are innumerable and I am grateful. Having to perform daily duties such as milking helped me learn to be a hard-working responsible person.
Parents do their children such a favor when they teach them to work and I am grateful my parents did so! Proverbs 14:23a..."In all labour there is profit..." No one lives on our farm any more and the buildings are in disrepair, but I still have the character and integrity that was instilled in me from the work I was required to do. This Labor Day, rejoice that you are able to work and that someone taught you to work (it does not come naturally!) And if you have children, be good to them...teach them to work!
The barn [l] and the chicken house [r] pictured above were taken by our former neighbor and friend, Wanda Anthony.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Etsy Treasure-"Reminders of Our Faith"

Tonight, for the first time, I was able to snatch a treasury on Etsy. What fun it was! A few days ago I had posted a thread on Etsy with the same title. So many wonderful people posted wonderful items from their shop. I simply went through and picked some of my favorites. The only problem was that I found more favorites than I was able to list! Why not visit the treasury? and enjoy!

Teen Entrepreneurs

I love teenagers. They are energetic, spirited, loyal, compassionate, creative, and zealous. I've met a lot of great people since starting my Etsy shop to sell my jewelry and one of the greatest groups of people I have met are teenagers. I had no idea teens would have shops on Etsy, and yet I have met some wonderful young ladies. Pictured are items from three different shops. The earrings are from 2 sisters, Michaela and Susie, who are middle school students in Pennsylvania. Their shop is at The card is made by Emily, who is a home-schooled senior in high school from Indiana. Her shop is The other picture is from the shop of JustLikeRebekah who is also a home schooled teenager. He shop is at Michaela and Susie are very new to Etsy so their shop is still small, but they are adding items regularly. I want to commend these young ladies and other teens who have taken the initiative to start a business. One of the greatest characteristics that helps people through the hardest and most difficult times of life is a strong work ethic. These teens are developing their work ethic and are to be admired. Enjoy their shops!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Investment is Worth The Time & Effort

God blessed my husband and me with one daughter, Carissa, who will turn 22 in about 4 weeks. I remember holding her the day she was born...and looking at her long, curly dark eyelashes, her beautiful blue eyes, and her soft skin. My husband and I had dreams for her; not dreams to pursue a certain career, but dreams for her to become a woman of integrity and character. As young people get into adolescence and sometimes seem to forget all you ever tried to teach them (like how to make a bed and clean their room and more) it is easy to wonder how they will "turn out." I have several thoughts:

1. Just keep on praising. Young people don't need to hear your fears or concerns expressed. They are trying so desperately to prove they are okay. They need our affirmation.
2. While your children are young invest all you are able to into them. Yes, it's work; and yes, sometimes it's trying, but it is well worth the effort.
3. Prayer is one of your greatest resources. What a mighty God we have who wants our children to become productive adults. Go to Him and ask Him to fix what you cannot fix in them. (Sometimes what we think needs fixing is actually the corresponding weakness of one of their greatest strengths; getting rid of the weakness might also get rid of the strength!)

You may be wondering what brought this blog to my mind. Carissa and I are employed by the same ministry. We are in the process of producing a music CD to be released in October. The recording company came to our campus and set up their equipment to record. Carissa was put in charge of coordinating all of the singers and musicians, checking them in, giving instructions, having snacks, drinks, etc. in the room and more. The recording was scheduled for two and a half days from early morning until late at night. She had a lot to do; she left early in the morning and arrived home late at night. But she was excited. Everything went so well and I received so many comments about how she treated the people, took care of all the details and helped the entire process run smoothly.

It's very rewarding to see her becoming a responsible, gracious young lady of integrity and character. We worked hard to invest in her and make our home a happy place. However, we are human and we did not always succeed. We made many mistakes as parents; and, in fact, there are many reasons humanly speaking that she should not be a functioning adult! But I believe one of the most important things we did was take her to the Lord in prayer. God can get to the heart where we cannot. God can work where we cannot.

If you have children at home, invest in their lives daily; but also daily take them to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to help them become all he wants them to be. He wants to partner with you in rearing your children!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Loving Color

I love color, don't you? Can you imagine living in a black and white world? It seems it would get quite boring very quickly. I love the bright red cardinal sitting at the top of the tree highlighted by the shining sun; I love the bossy blue jay who pushes his way in to get what he wants; I love the bright orange tiger lily that blooms in my front yard and seems to last forever as one flower follows another on the plant for days; I love the turquoise lakes of Glacier National Park and the dark brown moose of Maine. Red is my favorite color, but I really like all colors. For some reason I used to think certain colors were "ugly." Isn't that silly? The truth is, every color is beautiful when it is used properly. We can definitely look to God's creation to get color ideas...some of my favorite combinations are the woodpecker (red, white, and black), the iris (green and purple), and the female cardinal (taupe, black, and red). I like to use David Christiansen cane glass in making bracelets because it is so colorful. Each piece of glass has a beautiful combination of colors and because it is quality glass the colors are clear and bright. I believe God loves color (quite obviously he splashed it everywhere in His creation) and I believe He wants us to enjoy color...looking at it, wearing it, decorating with it, scrapbooking with it, and more. Enjoy all the color around you and rejoice that you have eyes to enjoy all the color!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Reminders of Our Faith

I recently recently listed a purity bracelet for teenage girls in my Etsy shop. After doing so I got to thinking that it would be great to have a thread in the forums where Etsians could post items they have that remind them of their faith. It has been a very fun thread and I've enjoyed looking at all of the items that have been posted.

I have placed a few in this blog, and I encourage you to go to the forum and take a look for yourself to see more.

I was thrilled to see another purity bracelet (shown)...and such a pretty one! The parameters for the reminders of our faith are pretty broad. For example, monkeys (God's creation), baby items (what greater reminder of our faith than a new baby), sparkly cross earrings, and, of course, the word "Faith." It's been a wonderful forum and it's been fun to see all of the items that are reminders. Our faith is a precious gift from God and His son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to pay for my sin and purchase eternal life for everyone who believes.

My mind is a little more focused on my faith because it has been 40 years since I trusted Jesus Christ to be my Saviour. It's been a wonderful journey and I will never cease to be amazed that I have the wonderful gift of eternal life.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Reminders of Who We Are

Forty years ago (1968) I graduated from high school. I grew up on a farm and attended a small town school all of my life. I was protected from things such as drugs, teen pregnancies, etc. If a girl in our high school got pregnant outside of marriage we said, "She's in 'trouble'." My naivet'e was about to change. After all, this was the late sixties---the time of the Viet Nam War, college campus riots, and protest marches with banners stating, "Make Love Not War," "Peace," "Free Love," and other such idioms. Drugs and sex were the big scene on college campuses. "Free Love" was touted openly. No more abstinence...just do what feels good!

As we look at today's teenagers it is easy to see that the "free" love that was touted wasn't really free at all. It was very expensive as we have sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancies of disproportionate numbers, and hence, teen mothers who decide whether or not to get an abortion (and live with the guilt as a result) or to keep the baby and be "burdened" with responsibiltities they are not ready to accept, or to give the baby up for adoption and lose a part of themselves for years to come.

As a young person I was challenged to keep my virginity and go to the marriage altar pure. I am grateful for the leaders in my life who gave me this challenge. Promiscuity and impurity before marriage always comes back to bite and hurts the marriage relationship.

A few years ago I made a purity bracelet for teenage girls. I launched the bracelet at our church's national Youth Conference and was amazed at the response. Young people love to rise to a challenge and seemed to love being able to have a tangible reminder of the life of purity they were choosing.

God is a very loving God and His instruction for young people to be pure in their sexual lives is not because He is mean. Just the opposite is true. God knows what principles will help us become happy, contented, successful Christians. He knows that virgin young people will have a much better chance of having a happy, successful marriage.

We are helping our young people live on a higher plane when we encourage them to live purely. At any moment a pure young person can lose their virginity and become like most other young people in America, but at no time can those who have lost their purity ever become like those who still have their virginity. Let's encourage our young people to live purely!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Who's On My Side?

My sister-in-law, Kris, and I are in the process of writing a book entitled Things Your Mother May Not Have Told You...A Practical Guide for Moms and Their Adolescent Daughters. It has been a fun project that we've been told is very needed as so many moms are not talking their daughters through this traumatic time of their lives. Today I wrote the following in the book and thought it would be so helpful for anyone going through any type of struggle, that I decided to share it in my blog. As I read the forums on Etsy I see so many discouraged due to lack of sales, etc. What a great comfort to know that God is for me; He's not only on my side, He is all of the helps listed below! Enjoy!
(The picture is Kris' daughter, Ruth (l), and my daughter, Carissa (4) at Carrissa's 21st birthday party last year.

Encouragement from Psalm 18:3
Carefully study the following definitions of the words which define God in Psalm 18:3. They will be an encouragement to you and a source of comfort and hope as your realize how much God is on your side through the rockiest (no pun intended!) times of your life. God is there for you and your daughter and your family through the teen years! Notice the personalization of each of these words which are preceded by "my." We have a very personal God...a "very present help in time of need."
"The Lord is my rock (God is my ‘refuge where we are safe from enemies; He is my security.’),
and my fortress (God is my ‘strong, mountain castle for my defense; He is a net to capture the enemy.’),
and my deliverer (God is my ‘escape from danger to bring to security.’);
my God (He is ‘my Hero! It is very personal with the understood My God!’ WOW! He is my own personal Hero! I have my very own genuine Hero whose abilities and powers are so great they cannot even be compared to the counterfeit powers of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and all of the Hollywood super heroes combined. They are completely impotent weaklings compared to my very real and present God!),
my strength (God is my ‘refuge and protection; my rock where I find refuge.’),
in whom I trust (‘"Where I will flee to find refuge.’);
my buckler (God is my ‘shield as a protector.’),
and the horn (God is my ‘instrument of liberation, taken from the image of horned animals, which use their horns as a defense.’)
of my salvation (God is my ‘safety.’),
and my high tower (God is my ‘lofty place, a rock affording shelter and security, a retreat.’)"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Finding New Things

As I've stated before I love shoppping! I blame my mom for a lot of my "quirks" and this is another one of those traits I got from her. She was an extremely frugal woman and only bought things on sale. But she loved to shop and look. I enjoy looking at the shops on Etsy and as I find items I really like I want to share them. Today I found a shop I had not seen before and found the earrings and necklace featured in this blog. Aren't the blue earrings beautiful? And the necklace likewise? Elizabeth Jewelry's owner, Molly, incorporates only the finest materials including sterling silver, 14k gold filled and gold vermeil are use along with the genuine semi-precious gemstones, freshwater pearls, Swarovski Crystals, and Cubic Zirconia. The company is founded in principals of quality and value.
One of the great things about Molly's jewelry is that every handmade piece is backed by lifetime "No-Fault" guarantee. You just mail back the remaining beads, and if no beads are missing there is no charge for remaking the piece of jewelry! No kidding! Even if your cat made it a toy, if you have all of the beads, she will restring it free of charge. Fees apply is additional beads are needed for repair, but they are usually nominal. There is a $2.00 charge for postage. So when you have a piece of Elizabeth Jewelry, you can be assured that you will have it for life! She also makes single earrings at half price if you lose one.
You can visit her web site for a listing of her trunk shows at
You can also visit her blog at


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Junior High Girls Love Beading!

I must share the I had six junior-high girls to my house for a beading party. My sister-in-law, Kris, is their Sunday school teacher. During her spring program she gave the girls the opportunity to be able to come to my house and make jewelry by faithfulness in attendance, bringing visitors, etc. She has nine girls in her class, but 3 of them were unable to come. The girls made jewelry for them also. I have only one regret...that I did not take one picture! We had snacks and drinks (not on the same table as the beads!) and had most of my bead boxes on the tables. The girls were delightful and had so much fun each creating their own unique designs...earrings, necklaces, and earrings. Several girls made necklaces for their moms and one of the girls stated that she and her mom would both wear one of the designs she made. As I've written in previous blogs I love to invest in young people. They are the future of our homes, our churches, our schools, our nation. I will never cease to be amazed at the response of young people when they are loved and respected. This was the second time for these girls to make jewelry. The first time they did great, but they came this time really knowing what they wanted to make and had much more understanding of how to design. I also observed that they had more confidence. Young people respond well in learning new things and the feeling of confidence that showed as they each walked out the door with their bags of jewelry. All jewelry was wrapped in bright yellow tissue paper and placed in beautiful black and white and yellow gift bags. Each girl thanked me as she left and seemed so appreciative. Are you teaching anyone your talents and abilities? I encourage you to find a young person (or several!) and teach them to do what you do. They will appreciate your believing in them; they will grow in confidence; and you will be passing your talents and abilities on to the next generation. Try it; you'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Totally Crosses

I am a shopper. I love to shop. When I'm too tired to do other things, [if I have money!] shopping invigorates me. One of the great things about Etsy is that there is such a wide variety of shops from which to choose. I've had so much fun just "window shopping" on Etsy. I've met so many great people and seen so many cool things. One of the shops I've enjoyed and appreciated is Totally Crosses. She makes only crosses. There is tremendous beauty in a plain, ordinary cross because of what it represents----my precious Saviour, Jesus Christ, and the sin and shame He experienced for me on that cross! The crosses T.C. makes are extraordinary in their design. These are really cool wire wrapped crosses. I love having visual reminders of what Christ did for me on the cross and the fact that we have an empty cross because Christ not only died for us, He rose again and had victory over death and sin. These crosses would make great birthday or Christmas gifts. Visit her shop at To learn more about T.C. and the story behind their wonderful business

Monday, August 11, 2008

Buying Beads

One of my favorite things to do in making jewelry is to go shopping for beads. My senses are assaulted as I walk the rows and rows of bead-filled tables---so many colors, so many kinds, so many styles, so many variations.... I always set a budget limit before I go so that I do not get home with beads I should not have purchased or feeling guilty because I spent more than I should have. A budget helps me to be discretionary in my choices to insure that I LOVE what I buy. I usually walk the entire floor to see what's there. After the first few visits to gem shows I became much more knowledgeable in where to spend my time. I pretty much know the tables I am going to walk by and not stop. That is not because I don't like their merchandise or I have anything against the vendors, but I have learned more the style and types of beads with which I like to work. More often than not I'm not even sure how I'm going to use the beads I purchase. I can just tell that eventually the beads and I will make a good team! That's part of the fun of designing. I don't know how you design your jewelry, but I do the following when I sit down to design: First, I pray and ask for wisdom. I realize that God is the Creator of the beautiful world in which we live. He is the Master Designer. I know he can give me great ideas. Then I begin working. I string some beads together, take them off, string some more, take them off, string even get the idea. It is not unusual for me to make a design and then realize that is going to be OOAK or TOAK (2 or 3) because I only bought enough beads for one or two sets of jewelry. Such is the case with the shell necklaces pictured in this blog. These necklaces turned out so pretty, but alas, I am out of beads! Isn't it fun to be a jewelry designer?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Working Together

I have a dear friend of 35 years who also happens to be my sister-in-law. We have a unique and beautiful story. We met as students at a Christian college in Minnesota. I was a junior when she came as a freshman from Miles City, Montana. She attended college for just one year before moving to St. Paul to attend nursing school. Our paths crossed again a year later when I began attending church in a suburb of St. Paul which she joined a short time later. We then got an apartment together with two other young ladies and had a wonderful time as young, single adults serving in many capacities in our local church. Kris was and ICU nurse at the U of M and I taught fourth grade. A few years later Kris moved to Indiana to continue her Bible college education. One year later I also moved to Indiana. To make a long story short, we met and married brothers at a double wedding ceremony 26 years ago. In 2007 we celebrated 25 years of marriage by renewing our vows in a double ceremony with our children standing up with us. (See family picture) Kris and I, of course, have had our highs and lows in our friendship but there came a time when we had to decide (and this was before we knew we'd one day be in-laws!) if we wanted to work through difficulties and hard times in our friendship or allow hurt feelings to interfere with our relationship. We had a wonderful older lady who mentored us and helped us learn to work through difficulties. What a favor she did us. What a blessing that we chose to work through our problems! Kris and I have a close relationship and our families (husbands and children) are all close. Currently we are in the process of writing a book together. When you learn to work through relationships instead of "discarding" people when things get tough or uncomfortable, you never know what a blessing that will be to you and others in the future. Had Kris and I never learned to work through our relationship struggles, quite possibly we would never have married brothers, would not be working together on a book that is going to help women, or be able to do any of the other things we've been privileged to do together. Proverbs 18:24 says, "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." In other words, friend relationships take work. But that work is very worth it! You may not see the whole picture for years to come, but believe me, it is very, very worth it to build right relationships! I wonder how often we trade hurt feelings for some wonderful opportunities and relationships in the future and don't even know it. Take the time and effort to work through your relationships in life!

Young People Are Where It's At!

I consider myself most fortunate because I have young people in my life. Though I feel very young in my mind, I am approaching 60...the age my mother was when she passed away. Now I no longer consider 60 to be old, but I do realize I am joining the ranks of "senior citizen."
I am not a death and dying person; I love life and want to live it to the fullest. But the fact is, I will die one day. When I am gone I want it to have mattered that I lived. I want to have made a difference in the lives of those I love and those with whom I have contact.
Five years ago my niece and her husband moved to our area. What a thrill it has been to be able to enjoy their two sons, Drew (11) and Justin (7). (The boys are pictured with a pinata flip-flop we made for my sister's 60th birthday party.) Drew will be going into junior high school next year and so his mind is on becoming a teenager. Remember your junior high years? Remember how you felt? With their changing hormones and the emotional roller coaster they will experience, junior highers need the stability and the acceptance of the adults in their lives.
The other night in church Drew looked at me and said, "Aunt Jane, see this?" I looked and saw a small bump. "It's a pimple," he said. "That because I'm becoming a teenager." He was so proud of that bump!
I smiled and said, "Oh, I love it that you are becoming a teenager because I love teenagers." He grinned from ear to ear and slid closer to me. I knew I had connected with him.
Young people will never forget an adult who loved them unconditionally. We often feel intimidated and think teens don't want us involved in their lives. Nothing could be further from the truth.Why not try to connect with young people in your life? They need you and you need them! Try's a great way to live...and a great way to live after you are gone as they'll remember you forever!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Starting A Jewelry Business: Choose Your Medium

A second factor to consider when deciding to make jewelry is the components you will use in your designs. When I first began making jewelry I realized quickly that I could get "no name" crystals for much cheaper than I could purchase Swarovski crystals. And I purchased a good number of those crystals. However, as I began making jewelry I realized immediately that the clean crisp edges and the sparkle for which Swarovski crystals are known was missing. It was at that point that I had to decide what types of components I would use. I could charge less for my jewelry using the less expensive crystals, but my name was on my designs and I decided that I wanted to use Swarovski crystals. Neither crystal is right or wrong. I had worn plenty of jewelry in my lifetime with jewelry containing the less expensive crystals. I just decided that with my perfectionistic tendencies and my penchant for quality I would never be happy with jewelry I made using lesser quality components. Again, neither one is right or wrong. You just have to decide what is right for you and then pursue it with all of your heart!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Happpy Birthday, Mom!

We recently celebrated my mother-in-law's 87th birthday. She is an amazing woman who helps keep all of us in perspective as to what's really important in life. She is a diabetic who has lost both legs in the past year and a half. Yet, she keeps a happy spirit that makes all of us want to be with her. She is having problems with congestive heart failure, and yet she doesn't talk her health. She is very ready to go to Heaven, and yet as long as she is on the earth, she uses the time she has to encourage family and invest in those she loves so dearly. Due to an infection she was quarantined to her room so she could not come home to celebrate. But that did not matter to her; she was with her boys and their families, and that made it a good day for her. She laughed so hard she almost cried (see picture) and we all had a wonderful time. What a great lady. She has reason to complain. She was a very accomplished artist who has not been able to paint since her stroke. She is in a care center rather than her own home. But she NEVER complaines. She believes life and God have been good to her. I hope when I'm 87 I have the positive spirit and great attitude toward life that Bobbie Grafton has. I love you, Mom!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Wonderful Bags

She does beautiful work! Check out more of these beautiful bags at!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Forrest Pottery

I am a pottery lover from way back. I found this site on Etsy and thought the work was so beautiful. I especially loved this blue flask. It's so lovely. If you like pottery you will love the variety, the workmanship, and the beauty of each of her pieces. Go to and have fun!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Getting Started

In the coming weeks I want to give you some guidelines and principles that I have learned in the five years I have been making jewelry.

Jesus gave an illustration in the New Testament that teaches before a man begins to build a building he should sit down and consider whether or not he has the resources to finish the building. That's a really great principle.

When we decide to take on a new task, whether it is a responsibility, a job, a new business, or even a marriage, we should sit down and think through whether or not we have the resources necessary to succeed. If you are wanting to start a jewelry business consider the following.

Consider the Cost
It costs a lot of money to start a jewelry business that will offer more than five or 10 necklaces at your first show or in your online shop. I recall when I was first starting I had not yet purchased any beads. I heard about the Gem and Jewelry Show in Chicago so decided that would be a great place to buy supplies and beads. I walked in and was immediately overwhelmed by the hundreds of tables filled with every kind of bead imaginable. I didn't know where to start! Someone told me they thought I could get started for $1,000. What a laugh! I spent nearly $1,000 at that show and walked out with a few small bags of beads. It was enough to get started making jewelry but it was not enough to start a business! The start up of our jewelry business required much more than $1,000 cash because we made the decision to make quality jewelry using the best quality beads, sterling silver, and components we could find. If you are contemplating starting a jewelry business, consider the cost.