Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Kyle loves pasta. And he loves looking at it. One of his favorite activities is to look through the cookbook their family gave me (Julie) for my birthday and find all the pasta dishes. He hasn't totally developed the "n" sound, so when he sees some noodles, he says, "doodles!" Notice the exclamation mark - he always says is like he's been waiting his whole life to see that one picture. Here are some pictures of them enjoying their "doodles."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Boots

Kyle was thrilled with Dad's new boots...he could finally see in the drawer!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Girls Night

On Friday night, our mom got together with some of the other moms from our parents' Bible Study, and so some of us girls decided to get together too. What a fun night! Kayla made the main dish for our potluck: macaroni and cheese!
We also enjoyed apple slices dipped in caramel. L-R: Anna, Kayla, me (Julie), and Katie.
No, I did not eat the whole pan of brownies! They were delicious, and I was tempted, but I restrained myself. Thanks for the yummy treat, Roberta!
After supper, we played Pick One. It is played with Scrabble letters, and everyone draws 7 letters to begin with. The first one to use all their letters (in real words) says, "Pick one." And then everyone draws one more letter, and tries to use that one, and you keep going until you can't draw any more letters. Then you count up your points like in Scrabble. A very fun game, but be sure to keep the dictionary handy! L-R: Roberta, Kayla, Katie, me, Anna (Amy was taking the picture)
Amy's Pick One words. I think she won. She always does.
After Pick One, some of the girls went in the hot tub. Kayla's mom had gotten all these gourds and paints so we could decorate them. I started on mine when everyone else got in the hot tub, and I was still working on it when everyone got out. Since the other girls didn't start theirs until the got out of the hot tub, I didn't get pictures of any other ones because they were still drying.
I had a lot of fun decorating it, but it was just like when I sit down to decorate Christmas cookies. I start thinking that I will just do something simple, and there I am, hours later, still working on it. Oh well. Snowmen just make me smile!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Burning Ropes

As mentioned before, my mom and I (Julie) are doing a Beth Moore Bible Study on the book of Daniel. A few weeks ago, we studied the story of the fiery furnace. While I was working on my packet of Bible Studies for my Poland trip, I came across Isaiah 43:2:

When you pass through the waters,

I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,

they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,

you will not be burned;

the flames will not set you ablaze.

What a comfort to know that we don't have to fear anything, be it actual raging rivers and fiery furnaces or situations that are just as menacing. Beth talks about how God can choose to deliver us from trials in three ways: Option 1-He can deliver us from the fire, and we will be thankful that we don't have to go through that trial. Option 2-He can deliver us through the fire, and our faith will be strengthened and refined as we trust in Him more. Option 3-He can deliver us by the fire into His arms for eternity. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were delivered through the fire, but they were unharmed. In fact, the Bible tells us "...there was no smell of fire on them." (Daniel 3:27) Even more than that, the ropes that bound them were gone. Doesn't God sometimes use trials to not only strengthen our faith, but to burn the ropes of the enemy that hold us captive? Ropes of self-righteousness, doubt, fear, insecurity, and many others can be burned away, leaving us free to live for Him. That lesson really got me thinking about the ropes that are holding me captive. I pray that I will be able to come through my trials without my ropes and not smelling of smoke.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Operation Christmas Child

Yes, it is time to for shoeboxes again! For those of you that don't know, Operation Christmas Child is a program that distributes shoeboxes of Christmas gifts to children around the world who are in need. Check out the website for more information:
When we look at how much we have, we are so blessed to be able to give to these children. The best thing about the shoeboxes is that all the children who receive one are given a book about Jesus being God's greatest Gift (in their own language usually), and they are told about the love Jesus has for them.
The shoeboxes can be filled with lots of different things. There is a more detailed list on the website, but here are some ideas:

-school supplies

-little stuffed animals and other toys

-hygeine items like soap, toothbrushes, and toothpaste

-hard candy (nothing that will melt)

You can designate on each box whether it is for a boy or a girl, and what age range. They ask that you include at least $7 to cover shipping costs. Also, Samaritan's Purse encourages you to include your picture and address, so that the child could write to you if he or she wanted, and so they can put a face on the person who wanted to share the love of Jesus with them. I would love to hear what you put in your boxes!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More Dag

I found another quote by Dag Hammarskjold that I had scribbled down and stuck in my desk drawer:
How can you expect to keep your powers of hearing when you never want to listen? That God should have time for you, you seem to take as much for granted as that you cannot have time for Him.

Convicting, isn't it? How precious our time is, and how important it is that we spend it with Him.

On a totally different note, yesterday we had our bathroom scale in the kitchen (I have no idea why), and I told Kyle to step up on it. I said, "Whoa, Kyle, 25 pounds!" I didn't get an actual picture of him then, but this is the smile he gave me:

He was so proud of that 25 pounds!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Julie's Song List

I don't know about you, but I go through phases of just LOVING certain songs and being able to listen to them over and over. Some songs are always in this list, such as the majority of Christmas songs, which I play constantly at work starting about July. I could listen to twenty versions of "O Holy Night" in a row and still want more. But some are ones that are playing on the radio all the time, and these ones I just can't get enough of. Here are my latest favorites: "More Beautiful You" by Jonny Diaz, "By Your Side" by Tenth Avenue North, and "The Days of Elijah" by Twila Paris. The first two are on our Christian radio all the time, and I think God like to make me happy because one of them always seems to be on the radio whenever I get in the car, which isn't that often, so I know it couldn't just be the dj randomly deciding to play them. The music video for "More Beautiful You" on YouTube is very good, but a little weird. It shows two girls having a photo shoot, and all the things that the make-up artists and computer editors do to them. It's incredible to see the transformation and realize that is what we are looking at in all the magazines and movies, and this is what we are supposed to aim for?! Count me out! It is such a dear truth to hold on to, that our beauty comes from inside, not from all the stuff we put on to cover it up. Beth Moore often talks about our faces being radiant when we are in God's Word, as His radiance is reflected on to us. Now that's beauty! The third song is an old one. I recently found it on YouTube again, one of the few times I ever go on there. The best part is the line they repeat over and over again, "There is no God like Jehovah." They say it like 30 times, but the more they say it, the more I want to shout it with them! If you've never heard it, it is one worth listening to.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Ella is potty training right now, and doing quite well. One of the highlights for both of them is dumping the contents of the potty chair down the toilet. Sorry that it is needed to stretch your neck today, right? Enjoy...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Scarlet Letter Part 2

Ever had that experience when two things that would otherwise be unrelated have something in common that you know must be God's doing? Just after finishing my last post, I decided to work on the packet of Bible Studies that we will be using in Poland. The one I am on was studying John 8:1-11, which is the story of the woman caught in adultery. How fitting. I love how Jesus does not condemn her, but tells her to change her life. He refuses to put the scarlet letter on her. But I think it is also vital to remember his command, "Go and sin no more." A life lived for Jesus has no room for scarlet letters.

The Scarlet Letter

I (Julie) have a list on my closet door of "Books I Will Read Someday." It's a list of classics and others that I thought would be good to read, and would probably never get around to reading if I didn't have something there reminding me that I decided I would. Anyway, one of the books on there is "The Scarlet Letter." Somehow, I missed having to read it in any of my English classes in high school. So I checked it out from the library a few days ago, and I'm probably about a third of the way through it. The thing that keeps striking me is the lack of forgiveness. Now, I don't know how the story ends, and I haven't read any commentaries on it or anything, but I am having a hard time with the religious people in it. On the one hand, what Hester did was wrong, and I think our society has gone too far the other way to passing over it lightly and not considering it as serious as it is. I also think that since Hester knew what the consequences were, it was not brilliant on her part to go ahead and do it anyway. But on the other hand, the Christians in this book have missed the point of God's forgiveness. Of course, forgiveness could come only after Hester was truly repentant for what she had done, but then, she should have been restored as a believer and one who had been forgiven. It just makes me think of all the scarlet letters I should be wearing. Not the same letter as Hester's, but maybe a "J" for jealousy, a "S" for selfishness, a "D" for doubting, and the list goes on. It breaks my heart that we label people with scarlet letters and forget where we have come from and how much we have been forgiven. I really hope the book ends on a brighter note (don't ruin it for me if you know the ending!), but even if it doesn't, it is a good reminder that if not for the scarlet blood of Jesus, I would be covered in scarlet letters from head to toe proclaiming my sin. Thank you Lord, for washing me white!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What else can I say? They are just cute!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Value Smart Jackpot

Amy and I (Julie) went thrift store shopping this weekend. Look at the cutie I found! And best of all, the little peppermints hanging from his arms are SALT & PEPPER SHAKERS! I decided a few months ago that I would collect salt and pepper shakers, so I was thrilled to find this adorable little guy. I don't have much in my collection yet, but here are the other ones I do have: These ones Amy gave me for my birthday.

I found these at a dollar store in Arizona when I was visiting my grandparents last winter. And since it was in January, they were on clearance for 11 cents!

Nanny and Bop gave me these for my birthday. I think they found them in an antique store.

Amy gave me these last Christmas, before I had started my collection because she knew I would love them.

I also got these ones for my birthday from Nanny and Bop. Nanny said when she was a little girl, every lady had a tomato salt and pepper shaker set.

Friday, October 9, 2009


This morning, I (Julie) woke up feeling so refreshed and joyful. The cause of this is my wonderful sister Amy. Last night, our parents and Katie had to go somewhere at about 5:45. Amy and I finished doing the dishes, then we each got a bowl of ice cream (raspberry jam and malt powder on hers, caramel sauce and chocolate chips on mine), and sat down in the living room right about 6:00. We were still sitting there when the rest of our family got home at 9:00! How I love talking with her! If anyone ever needs encouragement, something to make them laugh, or just someone to listen, Amy is the person. We talked about everything, and we could have talked for at least three hours more I'm sure. Thanks, Amy, for a delightful evening!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Mere Trifle

One day when I (Julie) was at our grandparents early this summer, I mentioned to Grandma that I would love to try making a trifle in a real trifle bowl. Our sweet grandma remembered that and for my birthday a couple months later, she (and Grandpa, although he had no idea) gave me a beautiful trifle bowl. Mom and I signed up to bring treats to our Beth Moore Bible Study this past Monday, so I jumped at the opportunity to try out a recipe for a Pumpkin Trifle that had been calling my name for a while. Doesn't it look good?
It tasted great too! The layers are gingerbread (made from a Krusteaz box mix), butterscotch pudding mixed with pumpkin and spices, and Cool Whip. It is not overly sweet, but very creamy. I will definitely make it again!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

You never know what you'll find at the Red Door Book Store

Our library here in town has what they call "The Red Door Book Store." It is just a place for them to sell extra books they have to make money for the library, I think. I love going in there because there are so many good bargains. I think the most I've ever paid for a book is $1, and they always have a cart in the middle with books for 10 cents. Yesterday I found Thomas More's "Utopia" and a book by Corrie Ten Boom called "Amazing Love." Corrie Ten Boom's story has always inspired me. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend "The Hiding Place." Anyway, a few months ago when I went to the Red Door, I found "Markings" by Dag Hammarskjold. I don't know much about the guy, but there was story in a book we have at home about unsolved mysteries because I guess he died in a plane crash in the Congo, and it's never been determined whether it was just a plane crash or something more. He was also Secretary General at the U.N. So I thought his book would be a good book of history. It was quite different than I was expecting. It was a collection of poems and thoughts that sometimes followed a general train of thought, and others, if they did, I didn't see it. I'm not much into poetry, and there were a lot of poems, so those I kind of glazed over, but there were many jewels in there that made me stop and think. Here are some of them:
"God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illuminated by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason."
Not knowing his personal relationship with God, I guess I can't say for sure this "steady radiance" he mentions is the Light of God, but it applies, doesn't it? It is amazing how we wilt without His Light as our focus. Another one:
Give me a pure heart - that I may see Thee, A humble heart - that I may hear Thee, A heart of love - that I may serve Thee, A heart of faith - that I may abide in Thee.
This next one is probably my favorite. It is a prayer, and the wording seems a little odd because it is translated from Swedish, but I think it also makes it seem more thoughtful and eloquent.
Thou who art over us, Thou who art one of us, Thou who art - Also within us, May all see Thee - in me also, May I prepare a way for Thee, May I thank Thee for all that shall fall to my lot, May I also not forget the needs of others. Keep me in Thy love, As Thou wouldst that all should be kept in mine. May everything in this my being be directed to Thy glory. And may I never despair, For I am under Thy hand, And in Thee is all power and goodness.
I have these three on my wall by my desk at work, and they inspire me every time I read them. Like I said, without knowing more about the guy and really studying the theology behind his faith, I don't know exactly where his heart was, and I don't think it's my place to know exactly where his heart was. If you ever get a chance to read his book, there are some interesting things in there.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Oh, the joys of Cool Whip!

I love Cool Whip. When we have a container in the fridge, I have been known to just eat spoonfuls of it (never double-dipping, of course). And now, I have yet another reason to love it. Who knew that Cool Whip could develop fine motor skills? Maybe we should all eat a couple spoonfuls every morning. Well, actually, I guess painting with it is supposed to help little kids learn how to use their fingers better. So Kyle and Ella's mom sent some with them so they could practice. Here are the results:

Hope these brought a smile to your face! - Julie

Monday, October 5, 2009


As most of you know, I have developed a hobby (aka an obsession) for baking, cooking, and cake decorating. I thought I'd share some of the cakes I've done in the past few months, partly just because I am rather proud of them ;-), and partly because I am determined to post more often, and being that you probably don't want to hear about the three tubes of caulk I sold this morning, I thought I'd start with these.I made this one for our family picnic this summer. The blue part says "Olson, Guntzel, Gooch, Olson Family Picnic June 25, 2009. The red stripes have all our names, and then "Even when we're miles apart, family is always close at heart." The flag has double meaning, because we were celebrating the 4th of July, and also because Sam is training right now as an Army Ranger and will probably be deployed later this year. Please pray for his protection and for our family through this. As I think back to this past year, I have yet another reason to be thankful that I didn't go to college. If I had, I wouldn't have started working at Kal's and gotten to spend those precious few months with him before he left for training. (He was a delivery/yard/whatever I asked him to do guy) Thank you Lord!

This cake I made just because I wanted to practice. I think I brought it to a Bible Study I was doing this past summer.

This one I made for the birthday of a lady in our mom's Bible Study. I was practicing my roses.

They all tasted very good, but I think this one was my favorite to eat, being that it was ice cream. All summer at work, Ogema and Rob, the other two guys here besides my dad and his partner, kept saying they didn't think I could make an ice cream cake as good as Dairy Queen. By their own admittance, I proved them wrong!

When our friends came back from a missions trip to Poland this summer, we had a picnic so they could tell us all about it. I was asked to bring the dessert.

My aunt asked me to make a birthday cake for a co-worker of hers. I was excited to try out my new pastry tip for making the chrysanthemums.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Good to be Back!

Here's our dog, Charlie, enjoying "the dog days of summer." Isn't he darling?
Hi everyone! Amy here. Sorry for the long pause in posting activity here in our neck of the woods. Thanks, Julie, for putting a post up after my long vacation from blogging. Let me update y'all on what's gone on since the last time I posted (in August--yikes!)
First of all, I want you to know that I am posting all this from my brand new laptop computer, graciously purchased for me as an early graduation present from my grandparents. Thank you, Grandpa and Grandma! I am so excited to have my own computer so that I won't have to inconvenience anyone in my family when I want to do homework, or check out blogs ;-). What a wonderful gift! However, I have not transferred pictures from the other computers yet, so I may have to wait awhile before posting the rest of my Mexico trip (Yes, I am still working on that--three and a half months later!) Bear with me as I get used to the switch, okay?
During the second week of August, I counseled at a Bible camp for Native American children. I have done this for four years now, and I love every minute of it! We had our largest group of campers ever, and some of the kids were dealing with really tough stuff--parents with drug and alcohol addictions, domestic violence, etc. I was so blessed to be able to share the hope of Christ with them during our time at camp, as we enjoyed fun activities like canoeing, swimming, sliding down the waterslide, etc. One night, I even had the privilege to pray with a beautiful little eight-year-old girl as she talked to Jesus for the very first time, and began a relationship with Him. I can hardly wait to see what God does at camp next year!
On a less interesting, but still important, note, my classes at the local colleges started in late August, so now much of my time is filled with reading textbooks, writing papers, and filling out worksheets. I can't say I always enjoy it, but I am learning a lot, and I'm working hard to develop a balanced routine.
In addition, I have joined the student leadership team for my church youth group. Basically, our job is to develop relationships with the youth in our small groups and to model the saving power of Jesus Christ to them. No small task, but with God's grace, I pray that I will fulfill it to the best of my ability. I so enjoy meeting with the girls in my small group each week and encouraging them to live fully for the Lord.
Of course, as you saw in Julie's post, we are still taking care of our adorable twin charges, who will be turning two this week. We love them to pieces!
Most importantly, God has been teaching me some amazing things this past month that I hope to share more about soon. I'm learning to be content in this season of life, to find joy in serving Jesus by serving my family, and so much more!
I know this post is getting rather long, and I don't blame you if you've lost interest, but I just wanted to give you all an update and let you know that I am still alive and well! Check back soon, as I hope to post some pictures of great deals I've found at thrift stores, garage sales, and clearance racks recently. God bless!