A Better Gift
Christmas cookies were big in my house growing up. As a young sweets lover I loved to bake, or do anything in the kitchen with Mom. I’m not sure which was better – the act of baking itself or the pleasure of eating the treats!
Cupcakes, birthday cakes, cookies—they were all so much fun to make! In our family each child got to choose what flavor or style his birthday cake would be each year. Biiiiig stuff! We enjoyed a variety of Christmas cookies, but decorated sugar cookies were Mom’s favorite. She joyfully told the story that when she was a little girl, they inadvertently misplaced a box of sugar cookies and found them at Easter time-- It was like finding GOLD! Knowing she loved these also made gift giving easy, because they were such a treat for her. As she grew older and couldn’t bake anymore, ANY holiday was a good time for her favorites!
Toymakers made children’s dreams come true when they introduced the Easy Bake Oven in the 1960s. One Christmas, my seven or eight year-old self circled and highlighted it in our Sears Christmas Catalog for my wish list. This was my kind of toy! MUST HAVE Easy Bake Oven! Think of all the treats I could make, and eat!
Mom said, “No, it’s too dangerous.” TOO DANGEROUS?!! What was she talking about?? I still remember my deep disappointment.
Instead, my thoughtful and caring mother gave me a shoebox filled with little Washington cake mixes, frosting mixes, a pair of hot mitts, a few mixing tools, and the promise that she would help me with my baking endeavors. Wow, thanks, Mom. (Womp, womp)
But it was a great decision on her part. Not only did I not just bake treats for myself and possibly get injured with a “too dangerous” oven, but I got to spend time with Mom, baking like a big girl. She instilled in me a confidence that “I can do this” with baking. This continues to be a blessing as I still enjoy experimenting and trying new baking projects, not just for myself, but to share with others.
Mom loved my poem, “Cookies In Heaven”. I wonder now, this Christmas, if she’s enjoying decorated sugar cookies heaven? And if so, what they must taste like??
As an adult I’ve thought of buying myself an Easy Bake Oven, but the luster is gone. But oh, what I would give to bake with Mom again.
I was incredibly honored last month to win my third award for Transformation, a 24" x 50" oil painting I created in college when I was 21 years-old. It came in Third Place ($200) in the Oakton Foundation Spring 2019 Visual Arts Competition. I'd like to share the original sketch as well as some insight behind the painting.
Like many, depression runs in my family. As a teenager I was caught in a downward spiral of anxiety and depression, and after a life-threatening crisis at age 16, I was briefly hospitalized and started getting treatment.
A few years later on my first day of college I met Sarabeth, a born-again Christian, who invited me to the Christian Fellowship group on campus. I went on and off, but mostly did my own thing for the next few years. But I became good friends with her and had many other Christians reach out to me. Even though I had been raised in church, it took me a long time to believe that the Heavenly Father really loved me and that all my sins were forgiven through the work of His Son, Jesus. It was difficult for me to grasp that Jesus bore the punishment for my sins, wanted to wash me clean with His blood and make “all things new” in my life. It seemed too good to be true! But in 1984 I cried out to the Lord and received Jesus as my Lord and Savior. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me, and a journey that I look forward to continuing for all eternity!
(To learn more about God's gift of salvation, click here.)
This painting reflects the transformation that took place in me. He brought me out of a dark place into his marvelous love. Colossians 1: 13 AMPC, "[The Father] has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love."
A book I'm currently reading which addresses healing in our hearts and I highly recommend is, Unlocking the Heart of the Artist by Matt Tommey.
Our 12th Halloween together & Celebrating Evan's 60th birthday today!
A wonderful birthday get-together with Evan's brother Scott & beautiful family at their home last week.
Interestingly... Halloween was also my father's birthday. If he was alive, he'd be 84 today. My Mom created delightful, homemade costumes for my brothers and me as youngsters. Our traditional Halloween meal was cheeseburgers with cheese cut in the shape of pumpkins and tater tots, before we went out trick-or-treating! A crystal-clear memory from my childhood is dressing up as this bride as a 5-year old in 1969 (above). However, my memory does not match up with this photo at all!! At the time, when I put on this costume I felt transformed into this magnificent, beautiful creature--the most wonderful thing in the world--a LOVELY BRIDE! Apparently, I decided to cut my page-boy bangs, and ended up with this catastrophic hair-do (LOL)! The following year I was a 'fairy princess' in the same gown. It's amazing what a good haircut can do!!! :-)
I had a dream of being a real bride since age 5!
Here's a pic from our wedding day in 2007 -- Some dreams take a long time to come true!
Here's a shot of Dad (Harry Jakubowski), age 32, who shared the same birthday - today - as Evan!
Father's Day 1967 with my brothers
It’s two months ago today that Mom passed away. We miss her a lot. These slides are taking me on an incredible journey. Each shot is like a time capsule bringing me through forgotten, happy memories of the past, sadness for our present deep loss, and hope for the future. One day we'll all be reunited again in heaven--young, happy, and completely whole. Several years ago I heard Rev. Gary Wood speak at our church about his experience in heaven. Yes, he went to heaven! You can read about it in his book, A Place Called Heaven, here . I highly recommend it. It gives a glimpse of his experience in heaven and what our loved ones may be experiencing now.
“I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night--
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.”
Just 25 years-old and taking care of three little ones while Dad worked all day-- that must have been very difficult! (L to R: Douglas, Kathy, John C.)
If you subscribe to the four temperaments theory, I notice from these photos how our personalities (in general) are developed even at this young age! John C-- exuberant sanguine, Douglas-- peaceful phlegmatic, and Kathy-- quiet melancholic... Interesting!!
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.”
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;”
What happy thoughts do you have of your Mom?
"When it All Falls Apart: How to Recover from the Loss of a Loved One"
Audio Message by Dr. Carol Ministries
I follow Dr. Carol's "Relationship Prescription" podcast, and found today's episode's about grieving helpful.
If you're dealing with the loss of a loved one(s), check it out. (This link takes you to her webpage. You will have to click on this title once there.)
Special Guest Photographer: Harry Jakubowski (Dad) • I join the family!
I was scanning a sleeve of Dad's slides yesterday that included images of family events in the spring/summer of 1964. I don't remember ever seeing these, and once again, am blown away by the "time capsule" images of our young family, my childhood home in Glen Burnie Park, MD, our relatives, and surprisingly-- my pregnant (with me) Mom! Dad took these pictures using a manual Voigtländer Prominent Synchro-Compur 35mm camera, which he (apparently) obtained during his college years in the 1950s. By the 1980's when the popularity of Kodachrome (slide) film ebbed, and I believe he moved onto a higher-quality Nikon, Dad gave me the Voigtländer to use when I took photography classes in high school. Photography was definitely something we had in common, and I wish Dad and I could have discussed photography more. He had quite an eye, and many of his photos (below) are stunning. Whenever I look at our young family, I find the 'baby' pictures of my brothers John Christopher (now 56) and Douglas (deceased) especially adorable!
(I realize this post is less specifically about Mom, but wanted to share these photos.)
For those who’ve experienced loss, you might identify with these quotes from C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear,” and “The death of a beloved is an amputation.” Ironically, on this roller-coaster called ‘grieving’ we also have these powerful promises from God’s Word, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed,” Psalm 34:18 (NLT) and “[The Spirit of the Lord] has sent me to heal the brokenhearted,” Psalm 61:1 (NKJV). Amazing!
I purchased a device that allows me to scan Dad’s slides to my computer. I am pretty speechless to see these romantic photos of Mom and Dad, ages 21 and 26. The love and joy I see on their faces is beyond words. These were taken the week after their wedding on July 8, 1960 at the "Honeymoon Capital of the World"--- Niagra Falls!
Thoughts, Memories, and
Photos • Poems