There and Back Again

The Hobbit? It’s like seeing old friends.

Very, very old friends.

Almost half my lifetime has past since the smiles graced the lips of the victorious fellowship in the ending scenes of director Peter Jackson’s rendition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Return of the King.  I sat in the seats of the movie theatre for the second time after my own pack of middle school friends bounced in to watch the final scenes unfold on the big screen.  The Return of the King seems to end multiple times, fans bracing for the end of the journey with each blackened screen, glad when scenes continue to fade back in allowing just a few extra minutes with beloved characters.  When the credits finally rolled in, my 6th grade girlfriends were not ready to let go.  We left the theatre and filled the following months with tales of our very own fellowship and the most devoted among us wrote histories of our characters.  We spent the end moments of our lunch and recess time up on the hill behind the middle school eventually finding our own ring of sorts, a leftover rubber poly dot forgotten in some distant gym class.  Our fellowship of overeager, giddy tweens defended our treasure against the band of rabble sixth grade boys, our own brand of orc.  That poly dot was important to us.  We dog-piled, tackled, and ran hard sprints to protect it.  One day after school hours,  I even had my mother take me back to school to rescue it from behind the heater fence because the boys had casually tossed it there in an act of spite as the whistle rang to return to class earlier that day.  There was even a tale of the time one of my friends whipped the poly dot out from inside the binder of our enemy all the way across the reading classroom to another member to seal an epic victory for our fellowship.  But eventually the legends faded and the adventure of those recesses spent battling the enemy broke down to today’s safety conscious school systems, the guidance counselor defusing our imaginations by banning our battles and reducing them to two hand touch.  (On an aside, I would expect nothing less from a school system who banned tag in the elementary schools.)

The fellowship disbanded, though I continued to write about my own character upon meeting another diehard with whom I would watch the extended editions, the inspiration of the stories continuing to cling to our souls.  When that came to a close, I hung onto the tales by scrawling “Dear Nin-Parma,” or “my book” as the Elvish goes, as the opening to the journal entries documenting my own journeys.  Nine years have passed since Return of the King.  The battles and victories of my own life have been underway.  I have since left the halls of my middle school, ventured through the playing fields of high school sports and classes, graduated from my high school and journeyed to college, leaving home for the first time, a feat always looming grimly ahead of me that I’m proud to have charged sword in hand (as well as love and Christ in heart) to declare my biggest victory to date.

The sights of Middle Earth during the premiere of The Hobbit last Thursday night at midnight, during the end of my first semester of Junior year at Messiah College, warmed the embers that the Lord of the Rings trilogy inspired so long ago.  Amidst the business of finals week and residence hall checkouts, the weight of the unveiling of this prequel did not quite hit my spirit until the moments directly leading up to the trip to the theatre.  Upon my second viewing tonight, my cousin put it best, it’s amazing that you are watching and there is more.  After years of watching and re-watching familiar reels and mouthing the same scripts, you are given more.  Enabled to dive deeper.  The Hobbit fills viewers with what they originally fell in love with.  Familiar scores, scenes, faces and the same breath that enlivens spirits to some greater purpose beyond oneself, in sync with the inkling author’s own relationship with the divine.  The epic motif of light versus dark permeates the movie when trolls find their defeat as dawn breaks and the cohort of dwarves defeats the goblins in the refuge of sunlight.  Even the light from the fires of the pinecones provide protection from the pale orc and his minions.

The familiar scenes of the Shire tug the hearts of the audience right away and the meeting of the great overseers of Middle Earth alludes to the impending adventures,  an excellent precursor that bridges the new tale to its forerunners.  Following the meeting of Elrond, Saruman, Gandalf and the Lady of Lorien, the elf maiden asks Gandalf, why Bilbo?, and his response is of the breed of the monologues from the Lord of the Rings that caused those deeps stirrings many years ago.  “Saruman,” he says, “believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found.  I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.  Small acts of kindness and love.  Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.”

I forgot the momentum of Tolkien’s divine inspiration breathed into his fantasy and am once again enlivened by his tales.  I have had nine years of the everyday deeds of ordinary folk.  What were my small acts of kindness and love?  The Hobbit, and its familiar faces, asks us to look back.  Yes, look back at the origins of an inspiring favorite, but also to look back at our own lives and see where our journey has led in the meantime.  It calls us not to lose sight of the epic adventure ahead and invites us back into the tale to find our roots so that we too can engage in the combat of the ordinary folk that keeps darkness at bay.

The Hobbit, you ask?
Like seeing old friends.


This evening Rachel and I travelled down the Garden State Parkway through pockets of traffic and open highway, across the causeway and down Bay Avenue to our new LBI home. (And I still can not believe I am saying that, I am so blessed).

After pedaling to Slice of Heaven and gobbling down our favored white pizza, we ended up at the playground just a stone’s throw from the house.  Eagerly, we dashed over wood-chips towards the playground favorite: the swing set.

Every time I begin pumping, kicking my feet toward the heavens, wind rushing past me as I drift back and forth,  I am taken back to first grade.  I can still distinctly remember the dainty classmate who would swing back and forth hair almost dragging the ground as she kicked her legs.  She would jerk her head back on every up swing, her long, wavy, brown hair catching the breeze in just the right way leaving me dazzled (and envious from my toes all the way up) of my petite little peer.  I longed for locks like hers so that one day I could be just as mesmerizing as I floated from the sky back towards Earth.

Now, thirteen or so years later I still want to be that girl.  Every time I go on the swings I do feel just a little bit more beautiful inside.  There is something about the playful charm of swinging.  The swings make you sort of hope you are just like way you look; full of the spirited innocence of a child on the inside, all the while stunning on the outside, simply captivating all the way through.

Snips and Snails

“What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails
That’s what little boys are made of !”

Tuesday at my Babysitting Camp, I was priveledged to have just two little 2-year-old boys. For the most part, I get an overwhelmingly large number of girls over boys and it was great to pull out the legos, matchbox cars, and trains for the morning. I love the way boys are boys, how they growl scarily with their dinosaur toys, fling cars from high heights (aka the ping pong table), and get a kick out a little bit of punch in their step (like smashing animals into each other or watching towers of blocks fall over). I thoroughly enjoyed the excitement of the two as I poured our giant bucket of stuffed animals onto their heads, smiling as they broke into little boy giggles, rolling around in the piles of fluff. They chanted to do it again so we loaded back up our bucket several times and I watched the animals tumble all around them as I poured. Boys will be boys, and we should let them!

(I got a tad bit into the legos myself!!)

She Sold Seashells by the Seashore

So as promised I want to update you all on how my first craft fair went.
BeachFest July 9, 2011
That Saturday morning mom arrived at the green lawn on Engleside in Beach Haven, LBI to get in line for my booth spot. Tyler and I arrived shortly after and began the set up of the booth which lasted a little past 9am when the fair began. I sold my wares (and seashells too!!) until 4pm.
Take a look:

So there you have it!
Thankfully I did break even for the booth and made a little extra (which I blew on candy that afternoon, hehe). But, it was a dream come true and everyone told me it would be a learning experience and it definitely was just that.
Things I learned:
-Know your audience, I would definitely do best selling my Christmas items in Oct-Dec.
-Get to fairs early, you get the better spots.
-Craft Fairs down the shore don’t do as well when the weather is sunny and hot (people are all on the beach!!), my booth was pretty dead from 12-2
-Customization should be a free perk!
-Give shoppers room to browse don’t scare them off by over talking
The woman at the booth next to mine was an experienced craft vendor and I was thankful for her advice throughout the day!
I had two memorable moments throughout the day. First, was the mother who bought the sign to my booth. Her son was having a Christmas in July birthday party and bought my sign as decor!!
My other most cherished moments of the day was the walk I took with Tyler after the fair. The shells I had painted on the beach Friday had gotten sand in-bedded in the paint and were thus not really suitable to sell. So, Tyler and I brought them along planning to drop them in the sand for some lucky beachcomber to find. As we were walking down along the foam, I noticed a young girl scurrying along the sand picking up seashells as her family walked along beside her. I quickly plopped my clam shell down in the sand upside down and headed up the beach with Tyler to watch. To my delight the girl spotted the shell and darted towards it to save it from the impending wave. I was overjoyed by the look of sheer astonishment on her face as she flipped it over to inspect the underside. Tyler and I watched as the family gathered round laughing at her find. Tyler and I soon began walking on and I couldn’t stifle my excitement as I stole glances over my shoulder several times to watch the family disappear into the distance. It was so amazing to get to be a part of setting up one of life’s little surprises and I can not wait to do it again when I return to LBI for vacation in a a little over a week. I wonder where that girl has her shell now, is it in her room, a little reminder of her vacation surprise?


What a great day! Some days my job can be much less then exciting as I watch the clock while the children play, but other times the joy of children captures my heart as I get to enjoy childhood again with them! Today was one of those days! I got to watch a little two year old boy giggle as I pushed him high on the swing and play with an awesome Cars toy that changes color in hot or cold water with a first grader. I also made a telescope out of an empty Pringles’ can. Although it is more of a craft parents would have to do most of, I felt really creative stitching together the gold pipe cleaner to hold the plastic lid to the hole I had cut from the bottom of the can. Although the boy was not all that interested in helping decorate, I think he did enjoy the final product and learned to draw stars in the process.

I have been running a Girl’s Lacrosse Clinic the past three summers for middle school girls and today’s session was probably one of my favorites ever. We had water day to beat the heat and I thoroughly enjoyed watching my lesson plan of fun water activities mixed with lacrosse run smoothly. I loved watching the faces of my girls as they giggled carrying cups of water back to their relay line throwing the water at their teammates as well as laughing hard at the end of the practice throwing water balloons and squirting water guns. I also felt great success watching as they completed the Star Drill and worked hard learning lacrosse cuts. I was just rewarded by each girl today who seem to be opening up to me more and more. I felt the connection with each of them and we enjoyed and practiced together. I was blessed to hear one little girl say she had been looking forward to the clinic all week and have one mother tell me her daughter wanted to come back from vacation to attend the session she would miss.
Overall, I am so blessed by the influence God allowed me to have on the lives of a bunch of children and middle schoolers today! I loved knowing that my energy has an impact on their lives. I’m so excited that I am going to have this opportunity many more times in my future both as a teacher and a mother! I am blessed and joyful today!


After planning out my to do list for the day I had an unexpected surprise. This morning my mom gave me the job of watering the outdoor plants. Between water runs to the different plants, I noticed a baby bird had fallen onto the deck. Initially repulsed by the sight of the pink and gray blob, I bent over the small creature saddened to find that he was only half dead, beaten and bloodied, gasping for breath. The poor bird was still so young that his eyes had not yet opened.

After a few minutes I decided I could not ignore him and came to his aid. I went up to my bedroom, looked up the site for the Raptor Trust, a famous bird sanctuary that happens to be located in my small New Jersey town, and found their directions for taking care of injured birds. I grabbed and old teeshirt and shoebox and headed for the deck. Checking to see if the bird was still breathing I used the teeshirt to gently lift the bird into the shoebox. I drove carefully over bumps as we headed for the Trust, hoping not to jerk the feeble life that I carried with me. At every stop I would lean over to check for the little fella’s movement.
Finally, we arrived at the Raptor Trust and I carried my shoebox to the Admittance Office. The woman in the office quickly recognized the baby bird to be a sparrow and commenting on his poor condition she hopefully brought him into the back. She told me I would not be able to check up on him because he would be unrecognizable from the other baby birds she had at the time. So, I left and drove home. As I drove in my Jeep the little adventure of my day caused me to think about God’ love. There is a verse in Matthew 10 that says this:

“9 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.<sup class="footnote" value="[b]” style=”font-size: 0.65em; line-height: 0.5em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: text-top; “>[b] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

It just shows that the meager care I can give to a fragile baby sparrow can only be far surpassed by the love of God. If even I, a blundering, imperfect human, knows to take care of a baby bird that way, how much more can our perfect heavenly Father take care of our needs. God knows every sparrow that falls, even the little one that fell on my deck today. This incident today was proof to me that if God cares about one tiny, insignificant bird how much more does He care about me, His child? Even using this happening as a reminder is just proof that He wants to proclaim His unconditional love to me!

…1 day in Counting!!!

Only one more day, well actually, only a few short hours until the craft fair tomorrow.

I have not done much today because we spent the day down here in Long Beach Island. What a paradise! This morning my sister, mom and I packed up the car and found some last minute items around the house before heading out at 10am. We made a few stops, including one to Dunkin Donuts, my favorite pre-shore stop and I grabbed breakfast and a caramel iced coffee, made perfectly to my liking…lots and lots of sugar!!
We made it to the Island around 1pm and stopped at Sweet Jenny’s in Ship Bottom before digging our toes in the sand. Rachel and I spent the day in the water, bobbing on the waves that were fairly large for the Jersey Shore. I painted two shells on the beach, but sand got stuck in the paint, so I’m not too sure of the quality, but they “have character” as described by my boyfriend.
Somehow our little patch of paradise was untouched by the storms in the area. The weather channel predicted 70% chance of rain, storms, and hail but mom saw that the radar showed LBI, Atlantic City and Cape May the only areas untouched by rain. God truly blessed our day!
Soon Tyler will be joining us (he is traveling as I write this) and we will be heading out to Chicken or the Egg, my favorite LBI restaurant because it was the first place we ever went on the island, for dinner and, if the rain holds out, a night on the town.
Praying for the morning that all goes well with set-up, location and sales. But off to enjoy a lovely evening in one of my favorite places on Earth with some of my favorite people. I am truly blessed today!

…2 days in Counting!

There are 2 days in counting technically, until my first ever craft fair! However, it has become more like one day because my mother, sister and I decided to head down to LBI in the morning to spend an extra day at the beach. Yay!!!

So, what did that mean for me…CRAM!
Although I did not do much today it was a cram session of making sure everything was together; making print outs, psuedo business cards, a music playlist, my booth sign (which was the big project today) and then packing stuff together. I had intended to paint personalized sand pails but never got the chance so they served as excellent carrying cases
and will be great decor for the booth.
In the morning I have to pack up, make sure I have all the last minute supplies and decor (boogie boards, table, tent) and then run through the checklist in my journal, as well as pack beach supplies (and clothes too!) for our little trip. The rest of the day tomorrow will be spent with my toes dug in the sand relaxing before the busy day Saturday, maybe I’ll even paint a shell or two on the beach.

…3 Days!

Today I did not accomplish much because it was such a busy day with babysitting, my lacrosse clinic, field hockey, and gym workout.

However, with the help of my sister I was able to package the mint my Grandmother gave me to sell from her garden, into little mesh baggies. The minty scent wafted up to my nose as I packaged, and the smell was phenominal. I also printed off some of my Grandma’s mint recipes and made little recipe books to go with each package, complete with little ribbon bows.
See them below:

…4 days in Counting

Today was a busy day of getting ready for BeachFest, the craft fair I will be a part of on Saturday, down in Long Beach Island, NJ, one of my favorite places on earth. It could not get any better; crafting and the beach equals tons of excitement for me.
Check out the details of the craft fair here:
So, here is a checklist of what I was able to accomplish today:
  • Took down and chose Christmas decor from the attic
  • Painted my prices sign
  • Bought more ribbon and mesh bags for the mint
  • Painted 4 spoons
  • Painted 4 glasses
  • Painted 6 shovels
  • Put ribbon on the shovels and some spoons
See some pictures here:
I was a little tense toward the end of the night after about 5/6 hours of crafting but it is right up my alley in terms of how I like to dedicate me time! I am filled with some stress, nervousness, excitement and joy tonight. Check back here tomorrow for another update!