Welcome to our adventures. I try as best as I can to document the happenings here in our family - everything from the shenanigans to the spiritual, from the kid to the kitchen, from the cat to the catastrophes. We believe that adventure can be found in everything we do...even in the mundane tasks of the day. When we set our minds on things above in gratitude to God, we find the strength to approach life with a sense of purpose & adventure. The adventure may not always be what we have planned...but isn't that what adventure is all about?

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Someone I know is turning another year older...and, unfortunately for her it happens a few days after Christmas. As if that wasn't enough, it's 1 day before the birthday of her eldest child. Bummer.

Well, I can't change those circumstances but I thought I'd try to smooth things over a bit with a home-made gift. So I buried myself away in my craft room and the following emerged:

My friend loves to receive scripture - I think more than anything else. So instead of just sticking to our traditional one birthday blessing, I came up with 38 of them! And what better way to feature 38 scriptures than in a sweet little home-made book.

Each page features different textured or patterned paper and some of them have a little bonus feature like the one above. Or this one below:

Because I ran out of twine (which is what I typically use to bind something of this nature) I scoured my bins and found some nice pliable wire. Because wire is somewhat boring on its own, I threw on a few beads. I thought that was a nice accent.

Now I don't know about you, but 4 days after Christmas, I'm TIRED of looking at rolls of wrapping paper. So...I took a blank bag and stamped a tree on it. I also purchased a CD for my friend, which I wrapped in an inside out grocery bag. I stamped that as I did the bag and now they coordinate!

I hope my friend loves this gift as much as I loved making it for her.

Friday, December 18, 2009
This edition of TACA, I'm kicking verbosity to the curb. Since the month of December has been jam packed with busyness, there has been little opportunity to document the various goings on. In an effort to not be here all night writing, I'm just going to let the pictures speak for themselves. Most of them focus on the junior member of the Club.

Abby was "Student of the Month" at her school!

Her teacher had very nice things to say about her.

Abby decorates the tree

Abby had her very first piano recital.
She did awesome and was not nervous or scared at all.

Abby with her piano recital "trophy".
She has it proudly displayed on her headboard at home already.

I think I kept it under 1000 words...my editor will be so pleased.

Hope you are enjoying the Christmas season

love & sugar plums,
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Friday, December 11, 2009
"Mom. Can you please not give me the white jelly beans? They taste like machines."

I was afraid to ask her what the black ones taste like.

Monday, December 7, 2009
I have had the opportunity lately to make some baby blessing keepsakes for some of the women in my Mom's group. The blessings, which were written by somebody else, are just sweet little prayers for the new arrival - it covers almost everything! I've done the keepsake a few different ways - a few times I did a decorative pocket with the matted blessings tucked inside and then other times, just matted each blessing on some nice paper. This time, I wanted to bring out the big guns: Chipboard Coasters.

I have been wanting to make a Chipboard Coaster book for awhile, but I never get around to it. So here was my opportunity.

The thing I love about doing stuff like this is there are NO RULES! I've seen tutorials on how to do it - but if you know me, you know I'm a CRAFTING REBEL! I rebel against the tutorial...I go my own way.

Each page of the book has kind of a different look, different colors - I'm all over the place. I wanted kind of a distressed look, so I sanded things, painted, stamped, deckle cut, etc. The topper was I modge podged each coaster. I can't help myself with the podge...if I could, I would podge everything. I love the podge. My favorite part is peeling it off my fingers. Anyway - had a small moment of trepidation with the podge on this project....halfway through I wish that I hadn't gone to the podge, but in the end I think it worked ok.

The book is kept together with some twine, which is reinforced with.....you guessed it....a little podge. It's probably not as good as all those tutorial books that are out there, but hey - it's handmade with love. I hope the recipient is blessed.

Welcome to this world, little Jordan!

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009
"It's the kids that aren't allowed to touch the guns that usually have the accident...kids need a healthy respect for guns and the power they have."

Lt. Stan Felts,
Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Department

Uncle Jeremy gives Abby a tour of the .22

The day after Thanksgiving Club Amaro had the privilege of accompanying some of my gun-totin' family members to the Ouachita Parish Sheriff Department shooting range. The range was actually closed for the day, so we had the whole place to ourselves.

Are you wondering what our experience is with guns? Let me break it down for you...full disclosure style. I think that about 23 years ago, I shot a rifle twice, but I've seen alot of episodes of Bonanza. So I felt like I was well qualified to pop off a few rounds. Mike of course has had many a "boys day out" shooting guns with my Stepdad, Randy (aka GPP)...he knows his way around a gun. Abby showed interest in shooting after finding out that 3 of her cousins have shot guns (and 2 own their own).

Let me explain our safety detail, lest you think that we just showed up with some guns and ammo and started having a wild shoot-out. My cousin Stan is an ex-Marine and Lieutenant with the Sheriff's department and has plenty of experience with guns. Two of his 3 (soon to be 4) children know how to shoot guns and his oldest has his own rifle. My other cousin Jeremy (owner of Moore Landscaping for all your landscaping, lawn care and irrigation needs) has had and shot guns for many years. Not only do I trust them because they are my family, but they know what they are doing and they practice safe gun totin' and shootin'.

That said, we had a GREAT time...we shot a Glock .45, .40, 9mm, and an M4 (M-16)

Mike shoots an M4

Personally, I was way into the gun shooting... Once you realize the power that is behind the trigger, you have a new respect for guns. I think the 9mm was my favorite hand gun...but my most favorite was the M4. I felt like G.I. Joe for a few minutes. The .45 was too much for me...I popped that off a few times and handed it over. Too much power for this girl.

My new friend, the M4...I love him.

Abby got a very safe and slow introduction to a .22 pistol from Jeremy. He had his hand on her hand, but let her pull the trigger. She shot the gun twice and then decided to stop. The shell hit her on the way out and it scared her a bit, I think. I sat with her for awhile and made sure that she was ok. After awhile, she wanted to shoot again. At that point, we had already started packing up shop - she was visibly disappointed. "Maybe next year" I said.

After our time at the range, Stan took us through the obstacle course the officers use for training. The kids had a blast climbing up ropes and jumping over the fences. We also got to see the gym where the officers work out - very nice facilities.

A quick shout out to Stan and Jeremy for helping us to experience guns safely. We had a great time and hope to do it again soon! And anyone who is looking for Christmas gift giving ideas for me....I hear there are some good sales going on M4's if you know where to look.

just exercising my
second amendment right,


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Background: Abby & I eating dinner, a Boston song playing in the background. Me, singing along.

Abby: "You know this song, Mom?"

Me: "Yeah, I know alot of songs. I used to sing this song when I was a kid"

Abby: "Man, this must be an old song"

Saturday, November 14, 2009
I love flowers.

If I had my way, I would have fresh flowers all around my house. As long as I'm having my way, I also would like someone to come and switch out the flowers once they get that "not so fresh feeling" and replace them with fresh new ones. Yeah, that sounds good to me. This person would also make fresh sushi for me on a daily basis. Sorry, getting off topic.

A deterrent for me having a house full of fresh flowers is the cost. Until the day I have my dream garden complete with gerbera daisies, stargazer lilies, daffodils, hyacinths, irises, mums and roses, I have to purchase already cut flowers.

Recently, I found a secret little corner of my Krogers floral department. When the floral department manager sees a bouquet of flowers closing in on their "expiration", they get put in the corner and discounted. They have a big sale tag on them that reads, "Managers Special". The dozen pink roses you see here I purchased for $2.50. They are beautiful and they smell beautiful. Initially, they looked like they were getting close to the end of their time when in fact all they needed was a little TLC, which I happily gave them. A little warm water, a little cut of the stem, a little flower food - they perked right up and performed for me.

Sometimes I need to step back a take a hard look at what I'm putting on "Managers Special" in my life. What am I shoving in the corner so I can have bigger and better? What am I neglecting, what am I overlooking? What needs a little TLC?

I am loving my Managers Special...and being reminded that if I stop long enough to "smell the roses", there are treasures to be found all around me!

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Thursday, November 12, 2009
Meet Kelsey.

Kelsey has mad photo skills. Her and her husband, Jon, are owners of Focal Point Cinematic Weddings. Not only do they do incredible work, they are super cool peeps as well (and don't even get me started about their line dancing talent).

When my Mom was here visiting last week, we asked Kelsey if she would come and teach us some stuff about our cameras (my Mom just recently purchased a camera identical to mine). So Kelsey brought over her gear and her sweet spirit and we had a great time exploring our equipment.

Mom gets schooled.

We also roamed around in the backyard playing with our settings...

freaky magnolia thingy

pine cone

My mom and I had a super time and we learned some great stuff too (my mom video taped our discussion for future reference!).

I have to say, one of my favorite parts was test driving a few of Kelsey's lenses. First, the 50mm/f1.8 lens....and then, the "beast" lens. I don't remember the specs on that 2nd lens, but I know it was long, heavy and it brought me one breath away from a panic attack when I attached it to my camera. Whoa big boy...

But oh...the bokeh from that 50mm. I love the bokeh. LOVE it. If I had to choose between fall foliage and bokeh? Futile, I tell you. I have been saving my pennies for a new lens - I'm almost ready to pull the trigger!! And then, we shall have a bokeh party.

Just want to say a big thanks to Kelsey again for being a great teacher. If you get a chance, check out her photo blog and see all the fabulous pictures she's shot. And for yet another treat, visit the Focal Point blog and see some of Jon & Kelsey's video productions!


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Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Warning. Scary toe alert. Don't say that you weren't warned.

Last week my mom was here visiting and us girls got our toes done. All the same color. Such an event called for a photo shoot. I think it's a framer, don't you? What? You don't agree?

Hey, it could have been worse - at least I didn't title it, "3 generations of toe jam".

I hesitated to even put this picture up. My toes look way swoll. (I know that's not appropriate usage of swoll, but I've recently discovered this word and can't stop using it...thanks, Jen O.)

A big shout out to Mom for treating my toes right.

Toe-tally Yours,
Monday, November 9, 2009

Back in August, I participated in a collaboration put on by my friend Julie Prichard over at Land of Lost Luggage. We are tracking the seasonal progress of a local tree of our choosing. This week everyone is posting their "fall" entry...goody goody!

You all know how I feel about fall, fall trees, fall color, fall weather...anything fall, I'm all about it. You could say, I'm all about fall. HA! Ok, sorry. Let me get the train back to the station.

I need to vent about my tree selection. I am very disappointed in myself for the tree I picked for this project. VERY disappointed. Any of you who know my neighborhood (and my region) know the color there is. But my lady has left me wanting. She's a late bloomer, I knew that from last year - but wasn't thinking about it when I chose her back in August. Nevertheless, I need to stick with her...I'm hoping that for the "winter" submission, she will dazzle me with some snow-covered branches. Let's hope...

So, let's take a closer look at my lady:

Not to make my lady feel bad, but this is the tree I should have chosen...it's right down the street from my house:

Awww...she's a beauty. I'm just sayin.

Please visit the Land of Lost Luggage and check out the other submissions in this collaboration! They will not let you down!!

all about fall
Sunday, November 1, 2009

We took a little day trip down to Sewanee, TN today. For those of you that have been with the Adventures for awhile, you may remember this post from last years trip to Sewanee. It was that trip that helped me to understand that trees here in Tennessee are not the same as my home state.

And if I haven't said it enough already, I have a insatiable obsession for fall foliage. Fall foliage makes me full of folly.

But, there was a little trouble in Sewanee paradise. A little series of storms and strong winds rolled through the region this past week and left my beloved trees much more nekkid than I would have liked. We were informed by the locals that last week was the perfect week - the rains of the season had put such color on the trees - the likes of which have not been seen in some time.

But Sewanee had other delights for me to take in...

entrance to All Saints' Chapel

Templeton Library

Natural Bridge

the cross

University of the South campus

and...shocker...lots of photo ops for Abby!

We had lunch at the University's cafeteria....don't let the word "cafeteria" fool you. The food was excellent and the dining area was straight up 1800's gothic university motif. I felt like I was part of the cast of Dead Poets Society. Seriously.

So although we did not get to see the trees that I was hoping for, we had a great time roaming around Sewanee and taking in the beautiful sights of this Tennessee gem.

I'm leafing you now...lots of love from the frolicking foliage folly front,

Friday, October 30, 2009

I like to sing. I like to sing like Ethel Merman. Really loud. Randomly.

Tonight, I was doing "You Don't Mess Around With Jim" (a personal fave) in my loudest Ethel Merman voice. However, I sort of launched off in mid-song:

"last week he took all my money...and it may sound funny..."

I was interrupted by the sound of my sweet precious 1st grader:

"MOM. You are not giving any details. Who is HE?"

I bet Jim Croce didn't have to deal with such questions.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Tree ~ MTSU Campus, October 2009

Shhhhhhh.....can you hear it?

It's the sound of my internals SQUEALING with excitement!

It's fall, baby. That means TREES. Trees of ALL colors, shapes, sizes. I am in tree heaven. I even love dead tress - especially when contrasted with the living!

click for full sized image

This weekend, I should have the opportunity to travel south a bit and capture some gorgeous color. Stay tuned...but if you can't wait until then to see tree pictures, take a quick trip here and here to see some of my pics from 2008.

I'm all geeked out about the trees....so what's geeking you out this fall??

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Friday, October 23, 2009

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes
it has gone through to achieve that beauty.
~Maya Angelou

In my last 2 posts, I've shared some thoughts with you on the book of Nehemiah. If you haven't had a chance, I would encourage you to read Part 1 and Part 2 so this post will hopefully make more sense! For those that have hung with me, I hope that you have picked up a nugget or two. Thanks to those of you who have given me feedback - I appreciate you!

Let's pick up where we left off...

7. Sometimes a change of direction is required in order to continue the work of transformation

In a season of transformation, there may come a time when something we are doing no longer works or is not conducive to the direction we see God leading us. In order to press on, we may have to adjust our course a bit – or, maybe change directions altogether.

Upon hearing about the plot of the enemy and seeing the state of the workers, Nehemiah realizes that it’s no longer possible (or safe) to have everyone dedicated to the rebuilding the wall. He then implements a new strategy for the work of restoration (4:15-23).

8. Don’t overlook opportunities to take up the cause of others

Chapter 5 relates some issues occurring internally among the people. In a nutshell, “the rich were getting richer and the poor getting poorer primarily because of the way that the financial transactions contravened the Mosaic Law. Interest was being charged on loans in such a way that the people became crippled by debt. Nehemiah bravely addressed the issues and sought to equalize the economic levels among the people”[1]

There could be a number of reasons why scripture takes a break from the story of Jerusalem’s wall project (Chapters 4 & 6) to tell us about the economic woes of the people and how Nehemiah addressed the situation. To me, it’s a reminder not to become so engrossed in the work of transformation that I miss opportunities to help & serve others. Not only that, but it’s a picture of unselfishness that convicts me of my own selfish ways.

9. More opposition? Yes…and sometimes from within your own people.

Opposition is a common theme in the story of Jerusalem’s restoration. We see it before restoration even begins, it carries on during the work and it continues even after the work is done. In Chapter 6 we see more pot stirring from Sanballat & Tobiah, as well some trouble from within.

“One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetable, who was shut in at his home…”

“I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah & Sanballat had hired him. He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me.” (6:10-14)

10. When true transformation occurs in your life, even your enemies will take notice

“So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God” (6:15-16)

When a person overcomes obstacles to walk in true God-given victory, it is a testimony – even to your enemies. What glory to God!

11. The voice of opposition will occasionally find you even as you walk in freedom

Even after the completion of the wall, Tobiah continued to send intimidating letters to Nehemiah! (6:19)

To wrap up, transformation looks different for each one of us. We may not always experience the things outlined here, but we can certainly be aware of the possibility. Bottom line is when we let God do the work, the end result is going to be more than we could ever hope for or imagine!

God bless!


[1] David Pawson, Unlocking the Bible (page 584), Great Britain: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2007

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In my last post I began to share some of my thoughts from the book of Nehemiah - a book that has been speaking (very loudly!) to me lately. Towards the end of the post, I listed 11 lessons that I have learned from Nehemiah & the Israelites...lessons that I saw as being relevant to those undergoing seasons of transformation. Today I want to elaborate a bit on the first 6.

1. Seeking God in humility and repentance can bring about His favor and provision for the process of transformation.
When Nehemiah heard of the trouble back in Jerusalem, he wept, mourned, fasted and prayed. He confessed the sins that the Israelites (including himself) committed against the Lord and asked for success and favor in the presence of King Artaxerxes. The king granted all that Nehemiah asked, and then some. “And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests. …The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me” (2:8-9)
2. Making a move towards transformation in your life will invite voices of opposition.
As Nehemiah sets off for Jerusalem, we are introduced to Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official. At the end of chapter 2 we begin to see the voices of opposition rise up. “…they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.” (2:10). This will not be the last we read of these troublemakers!

When Nehemiah came to the people of Jerusalem, he laid out the problem and a plan for restoration. “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace” (2:17)

The people of Jerusalem agreed with the following declaration: “Let us start rebuilding.” (2:18).

Scripture tells us that when Sanballat and Geshem heard about this, “they mocked and ridiculed us. ‘What is this you are doing?’ they asked. ‘Are you rebelling against the king?’” (2:19)
3. The work of transformation does not require special skill – only willingness to work
Chapter 3 of Nehemiah gives a very detailed account by name of those who worked on rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. One would think that only the most skilled masons and construction workers would be on task. Not so. God used perfume makers, priests, women, government officials and entire families to do the repair work on the wall. Each of these willing participants has the honor of their name in Scripture to this day.
4. Opposition will continue during the work of transformation
“When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria…” (4:1)

“Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side said, ‘What they are building – if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!’” (4:3)

“They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.” (4:8)
5. During the work of transformation, be on guard for exhaustion, discouragement & fear.
The work of transformation is hard! Sometimes we just want to be done. In our zeal to get there, we can begin to do things in our own strength, which brings on exhaustion. Times like this can open the door to discouragement and fear. We see this happen to the Israelites.

In 4:6, the wall is halfway finished and scripture tells us that the people “worked with all their heart”. In verse 4:10 we see exhaustion “The strength of the laborers is giving out,” and discouragement, “and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall”
Knowing that exhaustion and discouragement can and probably will come, it’s wise to be on guard for it. In the case of the Israelites, we see that this exhaustion and discouragement gives way to fear:

“Also, our enemies said, ‘Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work’ ” (4:11)
The fear spreads quickly and becomes exaggerated: “Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, ‘Wherever you turn, they will attack us’ “ (4:12)

Imagine what kind of road block this can be to the work transformation!
6. Have an arsenal of tools for responding to opposition
Scripture shows several different responses by Nehemiah and the Israelites to the trouble coming their way. In one instance, we see Nehemiah respond to the ridicule of Sanballat & Geshem with proclamation:

The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you will have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.” (2:20)

In another case, we see an imprecatory prayer:
“Hear us, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.” (4:4-5)

We also see that in addition to prayer, it’s wise to have practical solutions in place:
“But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat” (4:9)
Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows.” (4:13)

Most importantly, do not lose sight of God…remember where your refuge, strength and ever present help comes from! Nehemiah did, and he encouraged the people with the reminder:

“Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome…” (4:14)

In my next post, I will cover the last 5 lessons:
  • Sometimes a change of direction is required in order to continue the work of transformation
  • Don’t overlook opportunities to take up the cause of others
  • More opposition? Yes…and sometimes from within your own people.
  • When true transformation occurs in your life, even your enemies will take notice
  • The voice of opposition will occasionally find you even as you walk in freedom
So what is Nehemiah saying to you?

Read Part 3 here