Category Archives: Random Family Fun

Christmas Countdown 2020 Day 12

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the Journey gave to you…a 2020 story that made me laugh so hard I cannot help but share it with you this morning. 

If you have known me for any length of time, you know that I carry no tenderness of heart for squirrels. I once used them as an example of being a lukewarm Christian to our Sunday School class.

Picture one of them on the side of road as you are driving. 

It looks at your car approaching, scans the far side of both lanes, calculates its chances and bolts out across the pavement. Clearly it has done the math accurately and is almost past the dotted line safely when it hesitates.

It stops and looks back from whence it came. 

A quick decision to retreat seizes this rodent and then just as quickly it darts back in the previous direction. You can almost see the wheels in its tiny little maniac brain spinning as it does a dance back and forth in front of you. 

I likened this to being a wishy washy Christian by saying, “Don’t be a squirrel.”

I never lived it down. 

Over the years I have been the recipient of a variety of squirrel statues, magnets, ornaments, you name it. 

But in January of 2020, I began an encounter of the squirreliest kind ever.

The first week of January a manilla envelope arrived with calendar page picturing one of these goofy creatures in a snow setting. Scrawled across the top was a Scripture verse. 

No name accompanied. No return address. 

I ran through the list of people who had gifted me squirrels over the years and laughed thinking of who it could be. I posted this on Instagram.

No one took credit. 

In February, a second one came and again we laughed at the st***id squirrel getting Valentines from its little tiny mailbox and wondered who it could be. We tried to decipher handwriting and postmarks, but no clues.

And then March hit. 

We met up with a pandemic, and lockdowns, and toilet paper shortages. We prayed for the curve to flatten, washed our hands and adapted to Russ working from home.

The calendar page continued to show up regularly for a few more months and we continued to speculate who it could be and then the Scripture verses ended and I started getting messages about softening my heart toward these critters and with all the turn of events out in the world, it started getting creepy. 

One evening as we social distanced with our Covid buddies, we told them about the pages I was getting each month. I jokingly asked if it was them and they shook their heads in disbelief that I would even think they would mess with that noise…no way.

I almost felt bad even considering for a minute that they would be behind this. They asked me a few months later if I was still getting them and we all tried to figure out who it was. 

The first week of December, like clock work, the last manilla envelope arrived. This time the words above the photo of a squirrel hanging its Christmas socks on a clothesline declared that soon my mystery benefactor of nuttiness would be revealed. 

I was relieved to a degree that whoever it was would finally fess up. I put the last squirrel picture out in the recycling and the questions about who it was out of my mind and pretty much forgot about it.

Then last night, as Russ carried in some pizzas and our dear friends who have been our quarantine team through this whole crazy year of 2020 came in the front door, I was presented a small cardboard box. 

Red faced and laughing uncontrollably I was told that the enclosed gift was two years in the making. It had a squirrel address label so I assumed our Reds and Nascar loving friend had somehow found a squirrel in costume or behind its own race car or who knows what for me to hang on our tree with the others they have gifted over the years. 

Instead I found a note of confession and repentance because the creeper was he.


Our dear friend had enlisted the help of his wife, family, friends and coworkers when he laid eyes on someone’s squirrel calendar at the beginning of 2019 at work.

He found out she was a fellow squirrel hater who had been gag-gifted with the calendar and so at the end of last year she gave it to him and he has worked faithfully to have different people write me messages. 

Postage drops were made from various locations…handwriting was varied to throw me off from the scribbled message to the address on the front. People I know and don’t even know were recruited to write whatever message came to them.

And the pièce de résistance was a selfie of these two crazy dear friends with the December squirrel…magnetized for the fridge door, no less. I have demanded over the years when they travel that I need a selfie to prove they were there.

All that to say, they thought of every detail. They worried sick that they were in too deep. When I think of the effort, the conversations they had as they would leave from us and both laughing and fearing that they had gone too far…I fall into fits of laughter again. 

I don’t know what on earth I ever did to deserve the wonderful people in my life. Actually I know, I didn’t do a thing to deserve a one of them.

Our family and friends are grace gifts from God. They are His mercy poured out on our lives that we would have been so richly blessed by each and every one. 

These are the treasures that moth and rust will not destroy. 

I hope my laughter made you laugh today.

I think these kinds of relationships built on the love of Jesus Christ and received as a gift of fellowship in His Name are what Paul is talking about in 1 Thessalonians. (I had to at least attempt to stay the course of Advent here, right???)

I pray you have the gift of friends who love you and will go to the greatest lengths to show you in ways you can understand but I I hope more than anything you always see them as God’s fingerprints pressed on the days of your life. 

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Monday Monday…looking back and looking ahead <3

Happy Monday!

Meet our newest family member. Yes, we are the proud owners of an Amish Friendship Bread starter and it has had babies and we have been texting friends and dropping off batches and loaves.

I had forgotten how incredibly irresistible this bread is and also how it’s like gaining a part time job with no benefits nor income. Ha!

BUT it is so fun to try and find someone who wants a batch and I have enjoyed this trip down memory lane when we passed these around back in my younger years.

I try not to think that the ingredients fermenting in ziplock bags on our counter may actually be the descendants of those bags I dealt with thirty years ago.

When I wasn’t baking massive quantities of caloric bread and trying to pawn it off on friends this weekend, we also had a wonderful Saturday with these two.

Wish you could see their sweet faces. They were kind and concerned about exposure due to Sarah’s first official teaching with certification job. Bless her. She is in the classroom with real time students while also videoing for the remote learners.

We had a wonderful day with a hike on one of the local trails and lots of time out on the patio thanks to the Lord providing us with such warm temps and sunshine.

We have upped our entertaining game by adding hand sanitizer to our patio parties..sigh.. still on point with my designer party set ups though.

and this handsome fellow who loved sunning and dozing while we talked and ate.

He had such a good time, when they were leaving this was his attitude about getting in the car.

We thought we were going to be adding a dog to our Amish Bread expansion, but when he saw Sarah start to move her own body in the car, he trotted right over and complied with leaving.

On Sunday, after an incredibly beautiful and powerful worship service at church (really a sermon everyone should hear, link at bottom) we took a bike ride with friends.

Probably the last one of the year…sigh.

It was perfection.

Now it’s time to kick into gear for another week.

I plan to take advantage of the last nice day on the radar and bring all the flower pots in and put the Christmas lights out on the bushes in front.

Who am I even?

I usually wait until the coldest day in November to do that.

I might even start turning them on before Thanksgiving this year just to brighten things up now that the sun sets a couple of minutes after lunch.

I hope you had a great weekend and that you will have a productive and hope-filled Monday!

Link for Overflow service

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On winning and losing and how you play the game <3

In the past couple of weeks I have had several opportunities to play games with Caroline. 

At three and extremely verbal, she has discovered a love for games and so she is either asking us to bring some of ours or dragging some of theirs out or both. Also at age three, she has grasped the general concept of a game without actually embracing the rules, strategy and point of each.

Half the fun for her is setting it up and you have to do it just so or we start over. Every time. She also gives constant commentary and direction. Tells you where the pieces or cards have to go, realigns them if you do it wrong, or takes the whole thing apart and hands it back so you can try again to get it right. 

On Tuesday she wanted to play Scrabble. The child can’t read and can’t even identify all the letters, but play we did. I had to turn all the tiles over and put them in rows with the rectangle shapes all in the same direction. This was rather time-consuming as she kept moving them as I tried to put them down. 

She also handed me a score sheet, pencil and the “constructions” so I could read how to play the game.  Finally we were ready to play and she, of course, went first because she always goes first. She laid three random tiles down  asking me to name them because, as we mentioned…child can’t read. 

As particular as she had been with the placement of the draw pile, her three letters were not lined up side by side but scattered more in a zig zag. Then she looked into my soul and told me it was my turn. 

I had the letters to make the word bait so I put them down on the board in a row, side by side, spelling each letter and then saying the word. She looked at me sympathetically and said we can only use three letters but she would let it go this time. 

I decided to get my act together and for the remainder of the game we alternated laying random letters down, helter skelter with me naming them and her grinning victoriously throughout the whole session. At some point she determined the game was over and so we put the items back in the box. 

Yesterday she wanted to play memory with our Macaroon set. Once again, setting out the pieces was done with precision and much rearranging to her liking. As we took our turns there were a variety of ways matches were dealt with:

If I made a match I was either greeted with enthusiastic applause, asked to give them to her so she could give them back to me or she would make a sigh and say she had wanted to make that match for me. 

Some matches were “Joely’s favorite macaroon” so a special pile of these was set aside in a place of honor for her big brother who had taken a pass on playing the game. 

When she would make a match, she would, with equal joy, distribute to my pile, her pile or Joel’s depending on the whim. 

Once the game was over she happily put the discs back in the box and grinned like she had just won the lottery despite the fact that no score was taken into account. 

I don’t know. She may be three and unable to read and oblivious to what the rules are but the child is most definitely one of the wisest people I encountered this past week.

She knows the point is that we were together and we had fun and the rest of it didn’t really matter. 

It’s good to be Caroline, as we say. 

Maybe we all could just forget to keep score today and look deep into the eyes of the ones we encounter, cheer them on, enjoy their presence and remember it’s not about winning or losing or even how you played the game. All that really matters is that you did.

Have a blessed weekend. Enjoy your people and remember…you are loved <3

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