Saturday, November 17, 2018

My Experience With A Monarch Butterfly

Every summer when I go back to Minnesota I go to a lady's house and buy plants that she grows in her gardens. This year I picked up a berry bush. I can't for the life of me remember what it is. I guess next year it'll be a surprise! I also grabbed a milkweed because she said it attracts butterflies.

I stayed at my daughter's apartment and put the plants on their balcony. I didn't really pay much attention to them. I watered them a couple of times and then left them. One day I went out because I was going to bring an iris I'd brought for a friend to her. I walked out and saw a big, fat caterpillar crawling around on the berry bush. Not only that, it had eaten EVERY leaf off the milkweed except for a few at the very tippy top. I don't know how it survived on those few sad little leaves.

I immediately went to Instagram because I knew a couple of people who had experienced caterpillars before and asked if it was a Monarch. Darcy, an influencer I knew, got back to me almost immediately that it indeed was a monarch. I was SO excited, except I didn't know where I was going to put it!! I started searching the web and a few people gave advice on Facebook on how to help it.

Thankfully my daughter lived right next to a pond and I was able to find it. I mean, I've never seen milkweed before and yet here were a few plants right in the backyard right when I needed it!

Here are a few things I learned about monarch butterflies.

1) They go through 4 generations: the first 3 generations only live for about 6 weeks and each one lays eggs for the next generation. The last generation lasts the longest and is the one that flies south.

2) They're endangered.

3) They form a J before they become a chrysalis. This doesn't last long. The chrysalis can last 7-10 days.

4) When they're ready to emerge, the cocoon will be translucent and they'll come out by mid-morning. They need to dry their wings before they take flight.

I named the pupa, Penelope, having no clue if it was male or female. The name just seemed to fit! I started sharing pictures of the chrysalis every morning to capture the entire experience and share it with anyone who was interested.

Did you know I had NEVER seen a cocoon in real life?!

I brought Penelope into the apartment and found a jar to keep it in. It ate more of the milkweed I picked from the pond and within a day, it had formed the J position. I was SHOCKED when the skin started peeling away. It happened in the morning while I was watching it, thank goodness! At first I was watching it and sakes alive it looked like it was in incredible pain. Next thing I know, the outer shell started moving up it's "body".

It was incredibly cool to watch the process. Penelope just hung there for the next 10ish days. It was interesting because at certain angles of my pictures, you could barely see a wing outline. And while it seemed like nothing was going on, it was totally changing!

Unfortunately, it picked a very weak stem to attach to. After a couple of days I could see the stem starting to sag. One day I used a bread tie to tighten it to a sturdier stem. The next morning it was even worse so I used a second bread tie to secure it. It started to sag between the ties, so a day later I used floral tape to secure it to the stronger stem. Whew, thank goodness that worked!

I knew it was going to be transparent when it was ready to come out, but when I woke up on the last morning with Penelope, it was completely BLACK!! I kind of freaked out at first. I went to bed at about 1am and when I woke up at 7am it had gone from bright green to black! I thought something had caused it to die.

Not even kidding. I panicked! I sent Darcy a photo wondering what had happened. Then I started to realize the chrysalis had become transparent! Literally in 6 short hours it went from opaque to transparent.

I'd had plans to go hiking, but since Penelope could emerge as a butterfly at any point, I wasn't going anywhere. I brought the jar out to the living room so I wouldn't miss it once it started breaking out. Well, just like when Penelope turned into the chrysalis, I missed the first moments of it coming out. Once I noticed some movement, I grabbed my phone to grab a video of it!!

Like a nervous new parent, I was afraid it might fall from the branch. I had to get it out of the jar so it could dry out its wings. I took it outside to the patio and grabbed a couple of flowers in case it wanted to get to one easily and quickly. We sat outside for an hour or so, and without so much as a "howdy do," Penelope took off and I never saw it again. I was hoping we'd have a moment, but mmmmm nope! Thankfully every time it tried its wings I started taking video. I was able to watch it fly off.

I'm hoping the milkweed I brought back with me will bring more monarch butterflies to it so I can watch the process all over again in the coming springs!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Celebrating Friendship With Precious Moments

We have so much to be thankful for throughout the year, and one of the most precious things to me is my friendships. The women in my life continue to play a vital role in my life. The holidays are the perfect time to show them how much you appreciate them with gifts from Precious Moments. I was happy to have the opportunity to partner with Precious Moments to review what they're unofficially calling their "Girlfriend Giving" gift line.

You can find the line on Amazon! I did some faux decorating with the frame so you could see how beautiful it is, but since I'm giving it as a gift to a friend, I didn't want to add a photo in case they want to add their own. Before I wrap it up, I may tuck in a photo of the two of us in case they want to use it though. lol

I chose the “Good Friends Are A Blessing” Ceramic Photo Frame & “She Is Clothed In Strength And Dignity” Ceramic Travel Coffee Mug With Lid to share with my readers! When you see these I have no doubt you'll know immediately which of your friends would love receiving them as a gift.

“Good Friends Are A Blessing” Ceramic Photo Frame

Frame your favorite 4”x 6” photo with a stylish home accent designed to inspire appreciation for the special bonds we share with friends. This lovely gift blends contemporary style with a timeless message about the gift of friendship
·         Carefully crafted of ceramic
·         Approximately 6.75”H

“She Is Clothed In Strength And Dignity” Ceramic Travel Coffee Mug With Lid

This stylish coffee mug is a functional and beautiful gift that features a flexible lid for sipping while you travel and an inspirational message about faith from Proverbs 31:25. She’ll be encouraged each and every day as she gets ready to take a nice hot drink with her wherever she goes!
·         Carefully crafted of ceramic
·         Approximately 6”H. Holds 11 oz. 
·         Microwave and dishwasher safe
Yes, we're coming up to the holidays when this line would be a sweet gift, but they're wonderful any time of the year. Do you have a friend who needs to be encouraged or to know that you've been thinking of them? This line would be the place to start. They're sure to be a blessing!

Just in time for the holidays I received my Precious Moments catalogue. I was happy to see this line was in it since I don't remember seeing them in the past. I've also started going through it finding other wonderful gift ideas as well. :)

Monday, November 5, 2018

Sampling AriZona Fruit Snacks

I don't know if your family has this same issue, but we seem to go through snacks at the speed of light! I never seem to be able to keep enough things on hand. Not only that, I get tired of bringing home the same thing time after time. I've been asking my 15 yr old to think of some new items he'd like me to put into his lunch box.


This is where the new AriZona Fruit Snacks come in. I was offered a couple sample bags to try them out, and since my kids love both AriZona Beverages as well as fruit snacks, how could I say, "No."?

Well, it turns out these come in what I think of as a family size bag! lol I thought they were going to be your typical small bag, but nope, these are a large size, which is great because it will come in handy in more situations that just a lunch box.

Now, I'm not an iced tea person nor am I much of a fruit snack person. That being said, I did do my "duty" to at least try them, and guess what? I'm also the one who finished the bag! Kid you not, these were so addicting. I had to move the bag back to the kitchen just so I would stop myself from eating them.

Both my boys liked the taste of them as well. When your kids can agree on anything I'd have to say that's a success!

These will be great for the sporting events we go to like my son's baseball games or Fred's son's basketball games. I can even drop some into a baggie for my youngest son's lunch for a better choice for his school snack.

AriZona Beverages all natural Fruit Snacks are gluten free, fat free, contain Vitamin C, and made with real fruit! I also am thankful that they only have 70 calories per serving so they'll be a good snack while I'm walking on the treadmill if I just want to much on something.

The juicy flavors are fruit punch, mucho mango, and watermelon. For only $1.49 or 2 for $3 you can get this latest snack to hit the shelves!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Shelter Of The Most High by Connilyn Cossette

Shelter of the Most High
by Connilyn Cossette
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764219870

So, a little background into getting this book at exactly this time... First, I've never read any books by Connilyn Cossette, although I have 2 of her books on my bookshelves. Time just keeps getting away from me!

Second, I'm in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) and this year we are covering The People of the Promised Land. We started in the book of Joshua and have read through it as well as the book of Ruth. We're now at the beginning of Samuel.

When I was offered this book for review, I jumped at the chance because now I HAD to read Connilyn's book and was very excited. What I didn't know was, this book was going to be set during the time of my Bible study! I can't tell you how amazing it was to read the description of the book again, realize the series name, and understand how well God works things together! I already understood what "Cities of Refuge" was because of what I'd learned in Joshua. I was SO ready to dive into Shelter of the Most High.


The daughter of a pagan high priest, Sofea finds solace from her troubles in the freedom of the ocean. But when marauders attack her village on the island of Sicily, she and her cousin are taken across the sea to the shores of Canaan.

Eitan has lived in Kedesh, a city of refuge, for the last eleven years, haunted by a tragedy in his childhood, yet chafing at the boundaries placed on him. He is immediately captivated by Sofea, but revealing his most guarded secret could mean drawing her into the danger of his past.

As threats from outside the walls loom and traitors are uncovered within, Sofea and Eitan are plunged into the midst of a murder plot. Can they uncover the betrayal in time to save their lives and the lives of those they love?

My Review:

Have you ever just devoured a book? I had no idea going into Shelter of the Most High that I was going to be so lost in the book.

As I previously mentioned, I hadn't read any of the author's books before, but her book covers compelled me to purchase her books. lol I had a feeling the stories inside would be just as incredible. I was right, but I had no idea how far off the mark I was. What was inside was even BETTER!

The story begins with the reader meeting Sofea and her cousin Prezi. They're out having fun like teenage girls will do, even back in Biblical times. Little do they know their lives are about to change forever. Kidnapped and taken to a foreign land, they only hope to survive, even if it's as a slave.

Connilyn's detailed description of almost every moment in the book gives so much life to the characters and Kedesh. After reading this time period in the Bible, it was incredible to see her pull into what was going on during that time and add it to what's going on in the story. We know that there were cities of refuge where people who accidentally killed someone could seek refuge. They would then have to stay there until the priest at the time dies. Kedesh is one of 6 cities named in the Bible.

For Sofea and Prezi you can feel their fear through the author's writing. When they're brought to this city, which they don't know anything about or understand the language, they don't know if they'll be sacrificed or enslaved for the rest of their lives. Can you imagine? As a reader, I could feel Prezi's helplessness and Sofea's desire to protect her.

We meet Eiten and his family, who are introduced in book 1, which I will absolutely be going back to read! There's such a mix of emotion and drama within this family you might wonder how they all live under one roof. What you do know is, there is a lot of love and reverence for God.

The way Connilyn Cossette describes nearly every piece of this story with such detail, you will think you've been transported to Kedesh! I could barely put this book down. I was up to the wee hours to get one more chapter in. I can't wait to go back to read book 1, and I can tell you I'm already impatiently awaiting book 3 when I've only just finished Shelter of the Most High!

About the Author:

When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand), bestselling author Connilyn Cossette is scribbling notes on spare paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure, out-of-print history books. There is nothing she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible and uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus. Her novel Counted With the Starswon the 2013 Frasier Contest and was a semifinalist in the 2013 ACFW Genesis Contest. Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives near Dallas, Texas. Connect with her at

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Our Yearly Mission Trip To Peru

I usually try to share several posts every year after we get back from Peru. I don't always do such a great job of it because life happens and I'm lucky if I get one up. So, that's what will be happening this time.

We've already been back for nearly 3 weeks! I can hardly believe it. The week we spend in Lima always goes by in the blink of an eye. I don't think that anyone who knows me knows how much I love Lima, Peru and the people of Lima. This being my 5th year there has made it almost like a 2nd home. So much is familiar there, the people are more like family, and those around us during that week are ones I just want to love on as much as I can!

Our first day down at Alcance we prepared care baskets for Venezuelan refugees who lived across the street. This pink building housed 60 families! The items in the basket won't last long, but hopefully our outpouring of love will!

The next day was a rather low-key one for us. It was a voting day, and in Lima, everyone is required to vote or they're fined. Everything is mandatory to be closed so we weren't able to do much until about 4pm. We went to the Inka market for some shopping, walked around the Presidential palace, went to church that night, and ate at one of my favorite places, Palachinkes!

Monday was a full day! One of the visions for the pastor at the Camino de Vida Alcance campus is to reach out to the neighborhood. A group of us swept the sidewalks while others cleaned and then painted a man's business down at the corner of the street. It was an incredible group effort!

A little surprise I had been cooking up since about March was to get a ring tattoo on my wedding band finger. Thankfully our friends were in on the secret and whisked me away to the tattoo artist. Paige ended up getting a tattoo as well. It was super cute, but I'd rather give birth 4 times in a row than get a tattoo on my finger again. lol The top was fine, but the sides and underneath were incredibly painful. The date of my wedding (underside of my finger) didn't take well, and I don't plan on getting it fixed any time soon. lol

On Tuesday we went to the main campus at Surco. We were able to learn more about Internship CDV, which one of our missionaries who went with us last year ended up participating in this year! Then we got to hear from Pastor Robert who started Camino de Vida 30 years ago! This was the first time we've been privileged to spend a chunk of time with him. From there we headed to Grace House, which is a home for women recovering from addictions and life circumstances. We've been there several times and this year we were blessed ones again to bring brand new leggings for them to have! It was SO fun watching them pick out their favorites.

Wednesday was another busy day for us. It started out with a lot of tears for our entire team. Several of them had to cut the strongest onions we've ever been in contact with. Those of us who were peeling the yucca at the opposite end of the room were crying as much as those who were cutting them! lol We were prepping the veggies for the soup we going to be serving at the hospital.

Now, I have to admit, visiting the hospital is one of the things I look forward to most! I thought I came seriously prepared this year with toys for kids and babies. Really, I thought I had more than last year. Of course, as every year has been different, we went to a different part of the hospital than we've been to in the past couple of years. We've always gone to a new section each time. It's remarkable how large it is. This time 3 of us were escorted by the director of the hospital. We went to the pediatric hospital and birthing wing! What an incredible experience! Putting smiles on children's faces or blessing a new mama with something small for their baby filled our hearts! We rolled around 2 suitcases full of items to giveaway!!

Our Thursday was one I'll never forget. We drove the furthest I think we've ever gone to the outskirts of Lima. A crew had spent a couple days digging a foundation and a hole for a water cleaner (I don't know what I should be calling it). The day before one of the men had been up until like 2am finishing the concrete foundation. He was there when we arrived helping with the rest of the building going up. It was a prefab structure so that went up fairly easily. The water tubs/containers came and we had to backfill the hole it went into. The other one had to have a little table built for it and the legs buried in concrete.

While that was all going on, we had 3 water trucks come up to the area to deliver water to families who had already been chosen. A lady walking by told us a man who was ill was out of water. These families live without electricity or running water. They have these huge tubs that water is delivered to. We helped hold the hoses as some of the water was delivered, and who knew they were so heavy?!

After the center was built, I was asked to help do the ribbon cutting. Actually, I had been asked to do it by myself. I tried to say, "No," quite a few times, but they were so insistent. I don't even know how I was chosen. To not offend them, I quit trying to reject the offer. I asked Jackie, who had managed the outreach to do it with me. What I should've done was recommend that the man who had done all of the hard work and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to do it with Jackie. I didn't even think of that until it was all said in done. I was incredibly humbled that I was asked to take part in something so special.

Another aspect that was incredibly special was that Rosita, who had cooked for years with Juanita at Alcance had passed away a couple days before, was honored by naming the building after her! It brought a lot of tears to the Peruvians who loved her so much. We ended the day with a celebration with many of the towns people & their children hanging out. Truly a beautiful day!

Sadly, our last day arrived much too quickly. We spent the day building 16 wheelchairs to distribute to people who had been already picked to receive them. Even though we've done them for the past 5 years, for the life of me, I never remember exactly how to put them together. Actually, if I think about it, I've only done them 5 times now.

The joy the people have when they receive a new wheelchair is so palpable. To us it seems like such a small thing, but to them it's freedom and opportunity! Being able to help them into their new chair, to love them for those brief moments, and to pray for them is something that I can never quite put into words. It's something you have to experience to understand.

We went out to dinner one more time, and celebrated Stalin's birthday... one more time (we'd celebrated it nearly every day at whichever restaurant we went to) before we headed to the airport. Our last day is always bittersweet. I'm thankful for the time we get to spend down there, but I also miss my kids. I love how we can do God's work every single day, but I also like the quiet of our home.

We said our farewells to Paige & Stalin while Moises rode the bus with us to the airport. I can't believe my 5th trip to Lima is in the books. As soon as we leave, I'm always ready to go back! Hope to see everyone again in a year!

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Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.