Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Hello, February!

January went by in a bit of a blur!

Recovering from the holidays, basketball, play rehearsals, driving, eating, cleaning, growing, learning - all the stuff of daily life.  I'm thankful for it; thankful that we can have a routine and keep doing all these really good things.  I know not everyone has the luxury of a regular routine, so I am taking the time to be thankful!

With it being the evaluate-your-life time of year, you have probably heard somewhere about being "mindful" in our lives and this is a good thing, particularly if it reminds us to be thankful, not just aware.

One of the ways I am trying to be mindful these days is by keeping a bullet journal.  Ideally this functions as a planner, art notebook, and journal all in one.  So far, I am doing pretty well on the planner part, occasionally good with the art part and not so good with the journaling part.  By the end of the day, I just forget to write down all the busy things we've done that day!

But that's okay.  Just seeing my calendar and to-do list will remind the future me of this time and place.

It is a fun way to be a little bit artistic and a little bit more organized. 

I love that I can customize it to how I think and function; I can keep track of the things I want to track, keep a to-do list, etc. and do it in a way that makes sense to me, not some planner expert at corporate.  I know by now that I don't think like planning experts! 

Through trial and error (not really error, just less helpful), I came up with a layout that I really like and, just to make my life a little easier, I made some photocopies of it so I can just cut and paste the bare-bones layout each week.  Then I can dress it up as I have time and inclination.

Wow.  Only 43 years old and already I've found a way to stay sort of organized!

Oh, well.  Better late than never, right?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Syrian refugees, Hurricane Matthew, U.S. politics, Black Lives Matter vs. Blue Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter.

Poverty, abuse, selfishness, ignorance, arrogance, heartbreak, stress, sin: in our homes and schools and churches as much as in the world.

A small Christian school in crisis; a toddler with equal measures curiosity, personality, and energy; a well-loved church family divided against itself; friends and family members hurting physically, relation-ally, and spiritually; children who need and deserve a more pro-active, discerning mother.

I have to confess that while I am truly thankful for some of these things, they all have been weighing on me recently.  Weighing heavily.

And while I appreciate all of the inspirational memes on Facebook and Instagram, and even Bible verses in pretty fonts with beautiful seascapes or sunsets behind them, I have to confess that I am still left burdened, as heavy-hearted as ever.

Clearly there is no long-term, ultimate hope in politics, or causes (however worthy they may be), or do-good-ing, or even - dare I say it? - theological rigor. 

I am weary.  Weary of sin and brokenness.  Weary of being offered solutions which are not solutions.  Weary of quick fixes, self-help slogans, and "buck up, buckaroo" kind of thinking.  And I suspect you may be, too.

In His grace, He brought Psalm 33 to me last week and I've been soaking in it ever since.

"He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord." vs. 5

We seem to see so little righteousness and justice and steadfast love in our world.  But here I am reminded that righteousness, justice, and steadfast love ARE found in Him, and no matter how much stuff is screwed up here and now, ultimately, He's going to prevail.  In the end, He wins. 

And, by his infinite grace, though Him, I win.  We win.  Everyone who finds their rest in him..


And that's just verse 5! 

Go read it.  You need it.  I need it.

And isn't it amazing that He gave it to us thousands of years ago?  Just so we could read it today and remember His righteousness,  His justice, and His steadfast love and find hope where there seems to be none. 

So, taking up my cross and following Him is not so much a burden but it is the only chance of surviving this sin-sick world.

I'm never sure I make complete sense and whether or not my theology is all kosher (so to speak) but it helps me to write out some of what I'm thinking.  It takes vague emotions and half-formed thoughts and helps me pin them down - a little bit anyway.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What's for Dinner?

So, this is just to kind of keep track of a new recipe I tried/adapted and want to keep handy for another time!

I am not ashamed to admit that

I love my slow cooker! 

So, any time I find something super easy and delicious for my slow cooker, I am going to write it down.  And when the whole fam eats it without complaint, it is definitely a keeper. 

This is a version of Rice and Beans which will offend purists, but which is delicious nonetheless.  If it offends you too much, you could think of a new title for it and just put it in a different category in your head!

The original recipe is here: Ranchers Beans

And here is my adaptation, made according to what I had in the house last night:

1 pound lean ground beef (preferably already browned and waiting in the freezer!)

1/2 pound spicy pork sausage (I used chorizo. Could be browned with the ground beef and fresh onion and garlic if you have more time.)

1/2 Tbsp. onion powder

1 Tbsp. chopped garlic

1 large can (30 oz.) pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. chili powder

Put all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on high for 1 hour, then switch to low for 3 hours.  (I actually cooked it on high for 4 hours but that was because I am paranoid about the chorizo getting cooked and then I was out of the house.)

Serve over rice.

A note on rice: I love the Fit & Active instant brown rice from Aldi.  It's got the healthy aspects of brown rice without the long cook time.  Win - win.

I do not by any means set myself up as a slow cooker expert.  I break the "rules" all the time.  But I think that's one of the best things about slow cookers: they don't care about rules.  They are rebels.  Rebels with a cause: delicious, easy dinners.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Books: 2016: Update

In January of this year, I gathered ten books and set a goal to read all ten before year's end. 

Here we are, half way through the year already, so how far have I gotten?

A Praying Life by Paul Miller was a little bit of a cheat because I had begun it months before the start of my reading challenge, but I did finish it!  So cross off one!

Meanwhile, I read the first two books of Game of Thrones and got stuck half-way through the third.  It got more and more gruesome and I have a weak stomach.  I don't think I'll be watching the mini-series for that reason - it's one thing to read about it, another thing to see it! - although I am interested to watch a little bit and see how the makers imagined the characters and their world.  Anyway, cross off another!

I read A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliot.  It is the story of Amy Carmichael, missionary to India, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!  Amy was wonderful, but still human; an amazing example of a life given over to the Lord's will, not without struggle both physically and spiritually, but truly surrendered to Him.  I am generally not a fan of Elisabeth Elliot (*shock*gasp*) but this was a lovely read: challenging, encouraging, uplifting, inspiring.  Cross off number three!

Just today, I finished reading 7 Women and the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas.  It contains brief biographies of seven women (hence the title!), putting them into historical context and illuminating the incredible impact each one had on her time and on ours, and how her faith impacted her actions and attitudes. Most are well-known: Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Corrie Ten Boom, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa.  Hannah More I had heard of but knew almost nothing about, and Saint Maria of Paris was completely unknown to me before this.  Each biography is well-crafted and enjoyable.  I am certain there is much more to know about each of these women, but Metaxas has managed to give us a fair glimpse into the life and faith of each of these remarkable women.  He ends his Acknowledgements page with Soli Deo Gloria and I think that is how these women would want it.  Cross off number four!

And that is the list so far!

Four down and six to go!

To be fair, I have taken detours into a few other books, including Thrones and Dominations by Dorothy Sayers and Jill Paton Walsh - a fast and very enjoyable read! - which picks up where Busman's Honeymoon left off, with Lord Peter Wimsey and his wife, Harriet Vane, moving into their newly renovated London home, and, of course, getting mixed up in a murder investigation.  

Any others have been unremarkable enough that I can't think of them at the moment. 

I have started Far from the Madding Crowd and hope to make more progress when I need a break from packing up Will for college, and hunting and gathering school supplies for everyone else!

So, that's me.  What have you been reading?  Share in the comments below!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Colorado Trip, part 3: Family Reunion

Finally, we got the the main purpose of our trip out west: the Copeland Family Reunion.

This reunion included the descendants of my great-grandparents, Bernard and Margaret Copeland. Bernard and Margaret raised six children on a bustling farm in Idana, Kansas.  From Bernard and Margaret has grown a mighty crowd!  I don't remember how many there are at the moment - children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren - but as you'll see from the photo at the bottom, there are a lot, and that wasn't even all of them!  

(Dad?  What's the number?  Dad is our family historian!)

We had a number of family photos and artifacts on display, including Grandma Margaret's wedding dress, which she stitched herself.  Beautiful, amazing work!

We had a number of activities available each day, including hiking.  (This was Colorado, after all.)  Someone found a family-friendly hike - small beans compared to what John and Will did later in the summer!  

The picture above is a favorite of mine - Will helping Evie to navigate the path when she was tired of riding on his back.

One evening, Dad gave a presentation about our family's history - what an amazing feeling to know so much about where we're from, to have roots in such a rootless world!

I don't mean to say, of course, that we find our worth or any ultimate value out of knowing who our great-great grandfather was and where he lived!  But it is good to know where we came from, and makes us appreciate God's working throughout many generations to bring us to our current place in the world. 

A couple of nights, we had talent shows - we're a talented bunch! - and here, Katie and Sean were singing some American folk songs such as Grandpa Bernard and Grandma Margaret may have known.  Always lovely to get to hear them sing!

This is one of Dad's first cousins, Kathy, thanking another first cousin, Beth, for all she did to bring about this family reunion.  Beth did a TON of work and really made it happen.  Thanks, Beth!

Here's the whole gang.  We are divided by family groups, each color representing one of the original siblings.  Our branch - Wilbur's descendants - are in red.  

It was a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime moment and we are so thankful we could be there! 

From there, we headed back to Pennsylvania and a week at family camp.  That trip back east was longer than usual because the a/c went out on the van we were borrowing.  Kansas in July can be...a tad warm.  Scorching, in fact.  John kept checking his phone - 98* one place, 101* the next, cooling off to 99* in the next place.  Thankfully, the kids were too wilted (and dehydrated?) to complain!

But we made it.  And the family that swelters together, stays together.  

That's a saying, right?

Well, whatever.  We made it and now we have war-stories to tell and that certainly counts for something.

We are thankful for safety all the way there and back, for family near and far, and for a Godly heritage.  God is good.

Colorado, part 2

I'm not even going to bother apologizing for not writing since September!  What else do you expect from me by now?!

I'm just going to pick up where I left Colorado.

The day after we went to Hanging Rock, we went to the Royal Gorge.

Many of us walked across the bridge, facing a deep-seated and life-long fear of heights.  This wasn't made any better by the fact that if you looked down, you could see between boards, down the dizzying distance to the river below!

Will decided to face his fear and just go.  Sam dealt with his fear the way he deals with most of life, by talking all the way.  My dad - who has long wanted to walk across this bridge - took his time and enjoyed it all, placing his trust in engineering.  And figuring that if the bridge had held up all this time, the odds were in our favor for it lasting through our visit.

It did.

These two crazy kids took a zip-line across the gorge!  Nothing but a canvas sling between them and a thousand foot plunge!  

(That number is merely symbolic.  I don't remember how far down it really is.)

When we were all back on the visitor's center side of the gorge, we took this family photo.

Don't we look gorge-ous?

You didn't think I could resist THAT, did you?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Colorado Trip, part 1

This summer, we took a trip to Colorado for a big Copeland family reunion.

Before meeting up with the larger Copeland clan, we met my parents and siblings and their families for a couple of days of sightseeing and hanging out.

The day we were in Colorado Springs was rather disappointing as the mountains were completely obscured by fog!

Standing in front of our hotel, Mom pointed up and said, "Pike's Peak is right there!" But all we could see was a wall of gray!

We headed to Garden of the Gods anyway to see what we could see.  It is less impressive without the mountains for backdrop!

We visited Hanging Rock which did not require a long-distance view.

Here are my kids with their cousins, one of whom was very amused by pretending to fall backwards off the rocks.

We had fun climbing the rocks and pretending to hold up the Hanging Rock.

Mostly because we were all together, and that's fun even without a gorgeous mountain view!