What joy the gospel gives me. I can approach the throne of God with confidence, not because I've done a good job at my spiritual duties, but because I'm clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. ~ C.J. Mahaney

yeah, i'd say she deserves this!

Every time I do a give-away, I can't believe how excited I get right before it's time to choose the winner.  I'm always dying to know who it is!  My heart pounds and my hands get sweaty.  For real.

This time there were 39 entries and I assigned each a number.  Then I went to random number generator dot com and let it do the work of choosing.

The winner this time is a very special young lady who we've known for about ten years.  We met her family during our paper chase for Holly eleven years ago.  We actually traveled together for our next adoptions, in 2005.  She and Lacy became fast friends.  So fast, in fact, that they traveled alone together to China last summer for three weeks to assist a missionary family there.

Alyssa, I'm so excited that you're the winner of my 2013 Christmas give-away!   (I guess you remember winning my first ever Christmas give-away back in 2007.)

For those who don't know the Crosses…Alyssa's parents are in China right now finishing up the adoption process for her two newest sisters, Allie and Adéye.  Alyssa has two older, grown brothers and now eight younger siblings.  Meanwhile, she's playing round up on the six younger siblings while Mom and Dad are away.  I'd be willing to bet she's been a bit….busy!  The Crosses are the only family that I personally know with MORE than ten kids. What a distinction!!

Congrats, Alyssa!  I think I may have to deliver this giveaway personally.  I've been wanting an excuse to come see all those cute kids!


a christmas cookie plate crumb catcher!

The Christmas give-away this year is finally ready.  Over the course of the past couple days, I completely changed my plan several times.  I won't bore you with the details there.  In the end, I decided to make this Christmas Cookie Plate Crumb Catcher.  Isn't that a cute name?  I keep wanting to call it a Crumb Cruncher, but I think those are the children.  This is a Crumb Catcher.  It sits under your plate of cookies on the counter or table.  It also would make a great candle mat.

The fabric I originally chose for the green squares was about 1/2" shy of being big enough.  That left me in a pickle.  This green matched, but I wasn't sure I wanted to add snowmen into the mix.   Hmmmm.  

Sure!  Why not?  

The pattern for this is a tutorial is on this great blog I found.  Here's the link for my quilting friends it if you'd like to stitch one up for yourself or someone you love!  It doesn't take much fabric and it works up very fast.

To complete the give-away, I'm tossing in a few goodies I picked up at Parson's General Store in Morehead, NC.  I could have gone crazy in that store. 

 Wait.  I did.

I planned the colors of the crumb catcher from this dish towel.  Just loved the bright, cheery stripes.  And there is a green checked dish cloth to go with it.  When the little birdhouse ornament caught my eye, I knew it was coming home with me.  I love the way the roof sparkles with glitter!  And the balsam Yankee candle is one of my favorite scents for the season.  I bought one to give away and one for me to burn at home!

Last, but definitely not least, are these stackable salt and pepper shakers in the shape of a tree and sleigh.  So fun!

Well, there it is folks.  Somebody is going to win all of it tonight.  I'll draw a name when I get home from a gingerbread house decorating party!  

If you haven't said you want in, you'd better hurry! 


christmas stockings and a give-away

A few weeks ago, Abby sent out an SOS requesting a stocking for Ellee pronto!  I put together this patchy, scrappy, embroidered snow guy for her in a hurry, and had it shipped across the pond with some other Christmas happiness.  Last I heard, he had safely arrived in Lesotho with his red cap and gloves.  He won't need it right now; it's summer there.   Not sure why, but I just couldn't bring myself to dress him in shorts and sunglasses….

Merry Christmas!

Meanwhile, my cousin wrote me about making stockings for all of her grandchildren.  So those have kept me in stitches for the last couple weeks.

 Here's a baby girl one.  Sweet.

 And a little boy one.  Woof.

Those have been fun.  So fun, in fact, that I'll be taking a limited number of orders if anyone is interested in a Christmas stocking in the next couple weeks.  Offer closed. Thanks for the orders!  Talk to me if you want stockings for next Christmas.

$35  Hand embroidered, fully lined, personalized.

OK.  The give-away.  This is a first.  I'm doing the give-away, but I don't even have it started.  In the past, I have always drawn a name on Thanksgiving Day.  This year, I'll be curled up in front of the fireplace stitching the mystery piece instead.  How about I draw on Sunday night?  That way I can mail it out on Monday, Dec. 2nd.  Sounds good to me.

If you're willing to go all in without having seen the give-away, holla at a sista.

It will be cute.  It will be scrappy.  It will be so Laura Lee.

Have a beautiful Thanksgiving tomorrow!!  Count your blessings and hug the ones you love.  Please be especially grateful if you have ALL your family with you.  If you do, you are blessed indeed!

*click the photo to enlarge


a winner!

Time to draw a winner.  Wonder who in the world will win...

Hold on.  Gotta interrupt the girls' documentary on George Washington.  I'm sure they'll hate that.

She can't take her eyes off the screen....

Well, what do you know??

Mary Beth Avent!  

You win the Fall table runner give-away!  I'll deliver it to you in the next couple days!

Thanks for all forty-nine entries!  


long overdue catch-up post....and a fall give-away

Goodness!  I was in Africa the last time I posted to this blog.  And that seems like ages ago now.  I've been home for five or six weeks.  I honestly can't even remember.  I had the most fabulous time and I still think about that trip a lot.

Meanwhile, Jeremiah, my littlest grandson, went and got nearly grown on me while I was gone.  When I left for Africa, he wasn't even a month old.  He weighed around nine pounds or something then.  Now he's a whopping fourteen or fifteen pounds, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.  He was three months old yesterday.

He reminded me the other day that his photo didn't appear with his parents on the sidebar over there.  What kind of pathetic Lollee am I, he wanted to know.

Well, I fixed that little problem.  And here is an updated photo of him in all his chubbiness.  This was taken yesterday at his three-month photo shoot.  He's such a sweet boy...and such a trooper.  You should have seen what he had to put up with--three outfit changes, caps, hats, ties, basketballs, mustaches, you name it.  There's a price to pay for being cute, Jeremiah.  The sooner you learn that the easier life will be.

Next up...Lacy is officially in college!!  We took her down to Pensacola on Sunday.  She's getting all settled in and used to her new, very rigorous schedule of classes.  But she's also making time for fun.  Today she climbed the rock wall at the student center--all the way to the top.  That from a girl who is afraid of heights!  We've encouraged her to study hard, but to play hard, too.  And there is much to do for recreation at PCC.  Here is Lacy with Melody, Jonathan's youngest sister.  She's a senior at PCC and they are roomies this year!

 Time out for another dose of cuteness.  Had to show you Ellee in her Africa cap.  Isn't that precious?  The little heart is right over Lesotho, where they live.  They move up to the mountain city of Mokhotlong next week.

 Last, but not least... the give-away.  I had thought I'd do something fallish with leaves on it.  However, when I started cutting strips, I decided I just liked them the way they were.  This was ridiculously simple to put together.  I started it last night and finished it today.

It measures in the 15"X32" ballpark range.  I'm too lazy to go measure it.  I like it with my orange vintage Pyrex bowl.  You'll need to supply your own pretty bowl if you win it, though.

Let me know if you want a stab at winning it.   Leave a comment here or email me.


to the end of the earth

We left Maseru early Monday morning to drive high into the mountains of Lesotho.  Specifically, our destination was the tiny village of Molumong and the home of Jayne, a missionary with AIM who has lived there for seven years. The village of Molumong is about an hour’s drive from Mokhotlong, where Jonathan and Abby have been assigned to work.   The trip up there took us over eight hours.

The first two hours were relatively smooth travel, the paved road only occasionally pocked and pot-holed.  As we drove, we barely left one small town before we entered another.  One of the most noticeable differences of driving in Lesotho is the amount of foot traffic.  It seems as if twice as many people are walking along the side of the road as are driving in vehicles.  Additionally, there are animals being herded along or ridden: cows, sheep, donkeys, horses.  Women walk along carrying their burdens on their heads.  Mamas have babies bundled on their backs.  And nearly everyone is wearing a heavy blanket draped over the shoulders, held fast by a giant pin at the neck. 

After picking up some KFC in the town of Butha Buthe, we found a place to stop and have a picnic lunch in the countryside just outside of town.  We watched as a shepherd herded his sheep through the field, across the road, and to the other side. After we finished our fill of chicken and fixings, Jonathan took a couple pieces and some mashed potatoes over to the young shepherd who accepted it with a smile.

Incidentally, shepherds are everywhere—men and boys of all ages, some appearing as young as five years.  Apparently it’s a lifestyle they are born into and live out all their days.  They are essentially illiterate, but love storytelling.  Two AIM missionaries, whom I had the pleasure of meeting last week, have just completed a two and a half year project of translating thirty-one of the most important Bible stories into Sesotho, telling creation through Revelation.   Making sure the usage was correct by teaching the stories to shepherds themselves, they then made recordings of shepherds repeating them into solar powered MP3 players.  A missions team of young men is coming soon to live among the shepherds for several years and use these stories to teach them about God’s love and gift of salvation.  The shepherds of Lesotho truly are an unreached people group for whom believers should pray. 

Moving up the windy, steep road into the mountains, the view was magnificent.  I was thankful for guard rails placed strategically at precipitous drops.  We occasionally saw wrecked cars down below whose drivers hadn’t been as careful as they should have been.  At those points, I was white-knuckling Jonathan’s headrest on the seat in front of me.

What felt like the longest stretch of road was actually only the last hour of the drive up into Jayne’s village.  A good analogy for it escapes me.  We bumped and swayed, coming out of our seats, with our heads sometimes hitting the ceiling or doors.  Jonathan was doing his best to keep the bumping to a minimum, but it was still very rough going.  And the funniest part of all is how excited Jayne is that they have recently “smoothed out” her road.  I can’t really imagine how it was before. 

Arriving at Jayne’s just after dark, we were welcomed from the freezing night into her tiny home aglow with candles and parafin lamps.  The oil heater was roaring and the room was toasty warm.  Abby had brought the ingredients for a Mexican casserole which we quickly popped into Jayne’s oven.  Then we warmed up with cups of piping hot rooibos tea, a local favorite.

I’m finding it difficult to even try to explain the way I felt up there in that tiny mountain village which felt like the end of the earth.  As much as I love the comforts of home, I felt incredibly drawn to the simplicity of life there--drinking tea made from water Jayne had pumped from the village well, visiting by candle light, knowing that this is her daily experience.  We would say she’s given up so much: leaving a lucrative job as a nurse in Arizona at the age of 56, selling nearly everything she owned, leaving grown children in the States to move to a place she admits she never knew existed before.  Depending on the terrain, she either drives a Land Rover, walks, or horseback rides weekly into the surrounding villages testing the people for HIV infection and providing support for those who need it.  She shares God’s plan for marriage and fidelity and most importantly about the hope and healing that is found only in Christ.  She speaks the language extremely well and the people respect her very much.  Several neighbors stopped by to visit while we were there.  Her home has an open door and her tea kettle is always on.  God has given me so much to think about.  But for now, I just thank Him for the experience of visiting in her home and being the recipient of such gracious hospitality.

We spent the night in another home a few hundred yards from hers.  It is a home owned by AIM which has recently become vacant.  I’d like to say it was warm and cozy, but the truth is, we nearly froze.  Right now, the house isn’t heated at all.   And using an outhouse in such a climate was undoubtedly a great challenge!

On Tuesday, we drove out that hour long road back to Mokhotlong to take a look around the town where Abby and Jonathan are needing a home.  The problem is that right now, there are no homes to rent in town.   Jayne showed them a rondovel (round house, one room) which is a short term (several months) option. No running water, an outhouse, and baths in a bucket might work for a few days or a couple weeks, but Abby is adamant that it isn’t going to work for a family of four very long.  And living out where Jayne lives isn’t an option because of the necessity of Jonathan living in a more central location to pastors from the surrounding communities.  His job will be teaching theological education to the pastors who can’t continue their education in any other way.  Thankfully, several people are searching for a house for them.  So we’re praying one comes available soon.

We picnicked by the Mokhotlong River before heading back to Jayne’s house.   After he ate his lunch, Jonathan spoke to a shepherd and played him a couple of the Sesotho Bible stories he had recorded on his iPod.  The shepherd seemed very interested, so Jonathan told him to look for him in a few months and he would be welcome to come to their home to hear more stories.

As we drove we listened to Jayne talk about her work in the villages.  The scourge of HIV/AIDS is so prevalent here.   In women aged 20-50, nearly half are infected.  She says she attends funerals nearly every week.  It’s difficult for me to fathom.  Her love and concern for the families to whom she ministers is inspiring.

Yesterday morning, we said our goodbyes.  Abby and Jonathan are anxious to get up to the mountains and begin their work.  Jayne won’t be their neighbor, but she’ll be close enough for them to visit weekly.  And Jayne promised to teach Kyle to ride her horse before long!

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
~Acts 1:8


A Day in the Life in Lesotho

After spending two days in Bloemfontein, South Africa, we drove “home” to Maseru, capital of the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho.  Abby and Jonathan are currently being housed in the AIM-Lesotho headquarters, which is a small townhome in a comfortable but modest neighborhood, just across the border from South Africa.

This is the room where Lacy, Kyle and I are camping out.  That's Kyle's bed, between ours on the floor.  A wall of books greeted me as I first walked in the room.  Try to imagine my thrill at discovering my bedroom is also the AIM-Lesotho library!  God blesses in unexpected ways!  I surveyed the collection and settled on several I wanted to start: a book by Amy Charmichael, nineteenth century missionary to India; a biography of Corrie ten Boom; a Bible study of the Gospel of Mark; and my favorite book so far--The Freedom of Simplicity. 

Pulling on wool socks against the shock of freezing floors, in the morning I make my way downstairs to the kitchen to warm up with a hot beverage.  On the menu is standard American fare: cereal or oatmeal or eggs and toast, juice, and tea or coffee (or both!) We typically gather upstairs in Abby and Jonathan’s bedroom to eat our breakfast since it’s the warmest room in the house.

Once everyone is fed and Kyle and Ellee are changed, we will head outside for the better part of the day.  The sun is delightfully warm and inviting.   If I jockey my chair around, I can enjoy every ray as the sun makes its low, compact arc across this Southern Hemisphere sky.  Wearing short sleeved shirts and pants, we are very comfortable for five hours or so.  After hanging last evening’s clean, wet diapers on the line, we talk and read and play games such as Scrabble or Yahtzee.  Jonathan is often found with his nose in a history book about missions in Lesotho, stopping often to share a paragraph here or there that he finds interesting.   He also reads alound from the Bible in Sesotho, practicing language learning.

Jonathan and Abby are slowly picking up the language of the mountain people, although it’s not going as quickly as they would like.  The people here in the capital city of Maseru typically speak English, which means the benefit of total language immersion isn’t an option.  They’ve worked weekly with a language tutor to study Sesotho, but she is now out of town for the summer.

Meanwhile, as Abby feeds Ellee, Kyle will “run, run, run fast boy” around the tiny yard.  He plays in his new sandbox, bounces around on his Wahoo puppy, and generally passes the day chattering and being 100% All-Boy.  He’ll bring Lacy or me a book and climb up in a lap to hear a story, providing one can read it in a hurry.  Then he is off again to investigate some rock or leaf or whatever catches his two-year-old fancy.  

Around three o’clock, we face the fact that we will soon need to move indoors.  You would think that the house would warm up during the day.  But don’t be fooled.  It feels like an icebox after our day in the sun.  I head upstairs to start putting on layers-- that usually consists of long pants, long johns, several shirts, a fleece or wool sweater and a couple pairs of wool socks.  If I’m up and about, say, working in the kitchen, that is usually enough.  If we are planning to sit around, I grab a blanket or two for added warmth.  No, I’m not exaggerating.  We sip hot tea and eat a rusk, a hard cookie similar to biscotti. After an hour or so, Jonathan will usually agree to turn on the heater.  We draw the curtains around the small family room, conserving the warmth.  The heater runs on gas and is quite expensive to operate, thus the necessity of using it sparingly.

For the evening routine, we prepare supper and bring the plates into the family room to huddle around the heater and watch a movie. Afterward, we wash the dishes by boiling a small amount of water in an electric heater and adding it to some frigid water from the tap.  There is a hot water spigot, but since the hot water heater is only turned on for bath time, we don’t want to waste it on the dishes.  Besides, heating water in the electric kettle is quick and relatively painless.

Moving upstairs, we cycle quickly through the shower, never spending more than a minute or two each getting clean.  After that, it’s time for Abby, Lacy, and me to wash diapers by hand in the tub.  Paper diapers are super expensive here, twice the price of what they are in the States.  My girl is all about saving money, thus the new nightly routine.  They recently purchased a washing machine, which will go with them up to their new mountain home of Makhotlong.  But for now, it remains under the stairs, not hooked up to a water supply.  So, nightly diaper duty it is until then.   We gather at the end of the day in Abby and Jonathan’s room again, for playing a game or talking.  Kyle has a bedtime Bible story with a cookie and milk before being put down for the night.  Ellee is ever present, typically cradled in someone’s arms. 

Speaking of Makhotlong (pronounced: Ma HOT long— the k is silent), we are planning a trip up there early next week for Abby and Jonathan to hopefully see the house they will be living in beginning next month.  I am excited about seeing all that gorgeous countryside, the incredible mountains, the shepherds, the round stone houses with thatched roofs, and the little town where my girl will make a home for her family for the next three years.  Our plan is to drive about halfway on Monday, to a town called Oxbow, and stay in a rondavel (round house) for the night.  Then we’ll drive the rest of the way up the VERY STEEP and curvy mountain road to Mokhotlong, spending most of the day looking about town.  We’ll drive back to Oxbow to spend another night before traveling back to Maseru on Wednesday.

God is teaching me a lot on this trip, mostly just to rest and trust Him in everything.  I’ve learned that I can get by with very little if I have to.  I only brought a couple pairs of pants and a few shirts and sweaters.  We wear the same clothes for several days since the lady who does the laundry on Tuesdays can only handle so much.  I really like this simple life and I do think I could get used to it.  Internet is expensive, so like everything else, we use it as little as possible.  I find I can do with it a lot less when I have to.  This is a pattern I hope to continue when I return home to the states.  I have a deep desire to pitch about 75% of our stuff when I get back. 

I miss everyone at home, though I try not to think about leaving Lesotho.  I’m not sure when I’ll see Abby, Jonathan, Kyle, and Ellee again in person.  So for now, I’m just living in the moment, enjoying this beautiful and simple life, and thanking God for providing so abundantly for my girl and her family as they live out their call to train up leaders in Lesotho for the Gospel of Christ.