Learning At The Potter's Wheel is a collection of articles on home, family, marriage, parenting, natural medicine and herbs. . . along with a few other items of interest. Have fun sorting through my junk drawer of assorted thoughts and ramblings.


The Potter has persisted in giving me treasures I don't always understand or appreciate. Patiently, He is teaching me to trust that all I really need to know is that I am in HIS hands. . .


You haven't really enjoyed a game of Uno until you've watched a game with Duke, myself and my parents. My parents are . . . well . . . experts at verbal sparring. Some might call it bickering. :unsure: :hmm:

My Dad is a stickler for details, to say the least. It's never a surprise that the game begins with him pulling out and reviewing the rules. Then he pronounces that the scoring is too complex and that he knows a better way. :confused: rvmp Rather than giving the winner of each hand the total points still held in the hands of the losers of that round, he decides to just tally each individual's points and play to 500 that way.

You might think this would make the game last longer, but keep in mind that if we are ever to START to play this game, we have to keep Duke and my mom interested. They are our two reluctant players. Mom just wants to enjoy the company and Duke doesn't really see much point in board or card games, but he's a good sport and competitive. So, at this critical juncture, debating how to keep score with Dad would be unwise and ensure that the game ended before it began. Eye Roll Emoticon

While Dad offers unasked for explanations on how we proceed, Duke and I decorate the score sheet. Everyone has a column: Mom, Duke, Me and at the top of Dad's column I write "STICKLER." We hand Dad the sheet without comment, giggling as he mutters, "Well, this must be ME."

While Dad examines the score card, we hand Mom her head gear. This is necessary for her as she has the dickens of a time telling the difference between blue and green cards. She has other difficulties also, like remembering whether or not it's her turn, whether or not the draw 2 card is the same as the 2 card, what the funny symbol on the skip card means, etc. At any rate, the light clipped to the bill of a baseball cap gives her a good way to see whether or not she's holding green or blue cards and that is at least ONE problem solved. :hooray:

So, now we have the Stickler and the Miner assembled and ready to play.

This leaves Duke to his own devices for a bit. By the time the Stickler is satisfied that we will not be breaking any moral codes of fair play and justice, it is likely that Duke has decided he needs to get some refreshments. Remember, he's a reluctant player, so he may spend some time trying to find reasons to instruct children. Eventually, he runs out of excuses distractions. It is at that point, that he sits down and becomes the Card Shark.

While Duke shuffles the cards, he calls out rules about Aces being wild, something about Jacks and things that would be considered cheating in some wild west saloons. He will often accuse others of dealing from the bottom of the deck and ask Mom if she is hiding cards in her bosom. To make matters even more interesting, he will play off of Mom's confusion and pretend that he forgot the rules also. This keeps my Dad in a bit of a tizzy as our resident Stickler.

The result is a hilarious evening of fun that the inventors of Uno could not have ever envisioned.

The Stickler cannot figure out why his score is so terrible as he struggles to keep the Miner and the Card Shark on track. The Card Shark is SURE that it really isn't required that he call out 'Uno' with his last card and feels that he is unjustly required to pick up penalty cards. The Miner keeps forgetting how to switch on her light, which the Stickler thinks would be a great addition to his fishing gear.

Me? I just laugh until I hurt.

Guess who won? I almost did. I went out several rounds before anyone noticed that I was winning. Then, things got a bit serious.

Yep, the Card Shark won. Figures! Snap Snap
read more “ALICE IN UNO LAND”


Duke and I have known this man for an embarrassing number of years. His name is Ted Stambolitis. All of our sons have chosen at some point to celebrate a birthday at his restaurant. We've watched that restaurant grow from a busting at the seams little cafe to a major attraction in our town (still busting at the seams). He's moved since opening and built a beautiful little mall that features his place. It's the kind of eatery that veterans of war, patriots and little kids alike all have a great time.

But the NICEST thing I can say about this guy is that he is a friend. He's the kind of friend that is genuinely interested in people.

It took me a while to realize that. I'd known some less than sterling characters in my life. I should have known he was different when Duke pronounced him okay (another story, I've since learned to trust my husband's judgment of character).

This man didn't become the success he is today because we were his friends. If every friend we knew ate at his place (and we've likely dragged them all there at one time or another), it wouldn't account for much in his bottom line. But if you ever go with us to his place, you'd think that we paved the parking lot for him and gifted him the mortgage.

As it is, the most we did was gladly buy a brick with our names on it to sit in front of his establishment, and Duke gave him some stamp memorabilia to hang on his wall. I say hang. Would you believe that he has the things bolted to his walls?

Knowing this man has been a privilege. He's one of the good guys that deserves every good thing that comes his way and then some.

If all of this wasn't enough, there's yet another reason we enjoy him so much.

We seldom go out to eat. It really isn't in our budget. Z-man is getting to the stage in his life where he is conversational and very outgoing. We are working on a lot of things to do with social skills with him. We are finding that people are often nice but just unsure of what they should do. It's always a balancing act for me to try and decide how much of my time and attention needs to be spent trying to make them feel comfortable, translate Z's confusing speech and how much time I should spend reinforcing lessons learned at home . . . or figuring out when to just let things go and relax. When we go out as a family, our behavior speaks to our faith, and it shapes perceptions about what it means to be a family with a special needs child.

That's one of the reasons I just love Ted Stambolitis so much. When we visit his restaurant, he acts like we have just done him the greatest honor. He finds us the best seat and tells our server to give us the best treatment.

Today, Z-man turned 6 years old. As his brothers before him, he got to go out and eat at Mr. Ted's place. Ted greeted us warmly and inquired about our health, asked how my parents were doing, etc. When we were all done with our meal, Ted told us to wait just a minute.

He went into the back and stopped his busy staff. He collected all of them and somewhere found a candle which he stuck into a HUGE chocolate chip cookie. Moments later, they were surrounding our table, clapping hands and singing 'Happy Birthday' to one delighted little boy.

Z'man was thrilled and bounced along as they sang. Then he leaned forward and blew out the candle! In case you didn't hear that, I'll repeat it.
Megaphone My little guy blew out his own candle! :happycry:

Years of speech therapy. LOTS of work. We knew he had the skills, but never before this day has he spontaneously blown out his own candle. Maybe it's because we always held our own breath and watched to see if he would, if he could.

Tonight, it was just Ted and his crew cheering him on like it was no big deal.

But it WAS a big deal. Thanks to Ted Stambolitis and the Flight Deck, we all got a gift for Z-man's birthday. My boy blew out his candle. And I'm still crying just to think of it. It is SO GREAT to have those moments of normalcy.

Such a milestone. Such a treasure. A gift to us from a friend who was just doing what he always does. How do you say thankyou to someone like that? A person that goes out of his way to celebrate what is meaningful to you?

I don't know. These few words don't really convey what I'm feeling. But, if any of you are ever in the neighborhood and want a bite to eat, I highly recommend stopping in at the Flight Deck. You'll get your money's worth and then some!


About 8 years ago, I met a man that worked at a school for troubled youth. I asked him about how successful his program was – how well the graduates did when they returned to the circumstances they had left. His answer was both simple and profound.

“Jesus works every time He’s tried.”

Wow. It’s true, you know. Every time He’s tried – every time we look to Him for the solution instead of some substitute – He works. The answers aren’t always what we’d choose or want (left to our own devices), but I’ve found in my own life that when I’m willing to lay aside my own wisdom, fears, uncertainty and doubts and look to His wisdom, then my life is filled with purpose – a nobility, if you will – that was lacking when I muddled through on my own steam.

In my own strength, I can become frustrated when I see that so many people are motivated to manipulate others into meeting their needs. In contrast, when we see this life as a proving ground for the one to come, then poor choices of those we love take on a larger importance. I grieve for what it reveals about the heart, instead of railing against their actions or looking for a clever way to respond.

That’s quite a contrast when you think about it. Most individuals are just looking for a way to get past the current irritation or obstacle. They’d be glad to try anything or anyone if the results would accomplish a desired result.

Parents are considered successful if their children manage to become adults before becoming parents themselves. Keep the kids off of drugs and out of jail. You’ll be declared a successful parent.

Marry a spouse that doesn’t cheat or abuse you, and the marriage is called a success.

If our family members don’t embarrass us or cause us undue discomfort, the family is held up as an example for others to follow. When there is embarrassment or discomfort, it’s called ‘dysfunctional.’ But don’t despair; you’re just one good daytime television counseling session away from a solution. Just follow all of the steps on the latest checklist and you too will be called a success.

That, to me, is a hollow definition of success.

The heart remains the same. We clean up the outward appearance and ignore the inside. The stuff that set things rolling in the wrong direction remains the same, but for all appearances it looks really good. We tell ourselves that the problem is with everyone else. That we are a product of our environment and that if those around us would just apologize and treat us with respect and love and care enough to stop being so . . . well . . . dysfunctional . . . THEN our lives would be better, at least.

Then that Jesus guy gets in the way of our line of reasoning again:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. (Mattheew 23:25-28).

I remember a time when mamas would stay up all night on their knees weeping and praying for a wayward child or husband or loved one. They prayed for their souls; for their children to desire HIM above all else. Now, I wonder if we haven’t started settling for a lot less . . . If we aren’t just asking God to make the road smooth without looking to see which way that road is headed?

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26)

I heard an old recording this past week of a prison worship service. At the end, one of the inmates prayed to close the meeting. Have you ever heard someone pray with such power that you KNEW God heard? That incarcerated man prayed like that. He prayed with authority and power. While workers in the prison were free to come and go, something tells me that few experienced the freedom that this man knew. I wonder if he had a loved one that had prayed earnestly for his soul?

There are people that I love that have driven me to distraction with their irresponsible behaviors. Often, my angst comes from irritation that they have inconvenienced or embarrassed me. That’s to my own shame.

There really is a bigger picture after all. The difficulty is that I’m bumping up against people who need more than a nice white-washing on the outside. They need to be made new. It’s time to stop telling people to turn over a new leaf or re-commit to doing better. It’s time to fall down on our knees and pray for new life – for people to turn to Jesus.

He really does work EVERY TIME He’s tried.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. II Corinthians 5:17

read more “WORKS EVERY TIME!”


Readers may have noticed that I have several articles on herbs and natural remedies. .: confusion :.
Here are some tips on how you might use those articles.

In the column to the right of this post – below the blog archive – :pointright: there is a list of the articles I’ve written on specific herbs. When your mouse hovers over the common name, the botanical name will pop up. If you click on the name of the herb, the link will take you to the article.

If you are looking for information on a specific symptom or condition, use the search bar in the upper right hand section of this web page. :pointupandalittletotheright: Type the word(s) you would like to research and hit your enter key. The results will bring up any articles where that key word(s) was/were used.

I’m not finished with my list of herbs. I still have several more to go. I’ve been taking my time with those as I’ve got several research/writing projects going at the same time and a busy family too. :laundry:

Bear with me; I’ll be adding more to the list. :typerblank:
read more “HOW TO USE THIS BLOG”


When I was 21, I was the smartest thing you’d ever seen. My grades reflected what my teachers said: I was gifted and smart. I knew everything I needed to know and everything everyone else needed to know (I thought). :read:I also believed that if my family and friends had all just listened to me, things would have gone SO MUCH BETTER!

Honestly, I took offense when people doubted my "wisdom" – which I dispensed liberally. No matter how many times I was proved ‘right,’ I lacked credibility. Why wouldn’t they listen? Why did I always have to explain my reasoning? Why couldn’t they just take my word for it? I wasn’t STUPID! It puzzled me that people struggled with things that seemed so straightforward and simple (to me, anyway). Rant Emote

I was well-read. I had passion. I was disciplined. I was inexperienced. I had drive. I WAS 21!

NOW, I’m far past that age. I’m still smart, but I’m a whole lot less cocky about what I know. I’ve got a lot more questions than answers, and I’m constantly checking (and re-checking) my sources. I’ve seen bedrocks of human wisdom crumble on more than one occasion. . . . And I’m starting to find that there was a lot MORE information than the surface stuff I was satisfied to swallow in my younger days. D'oh

Take praying, for instance.

I used to bend God’s ear with long diatribes about what was wrong with the relationships in my life and ask Him to fix those people who were just driving me nuts. With sobs of emotion I begged Him to change my loved ones. I would ask Him to make others more patient, loving, caring, and attentive . . . to ‘grow’ them into the people they ought to be (so that they could love an appreciate me as – as He would want them to, right?). I would tell Him how bewildering it was that they would treat me so carelessly . . . Me, the child He loved so well. I would picture Him cradling me in a gesture of sympathy. Drama Queen Emote

I don’t know how He stood it, but He did and loved me in spite of myself. He showed me that I didn’t have the first clue about what was really needed . . . and that He was using “those people” to work some things out in my own life. Smart as I was, He knew I needed some tweaking (a BIT! Eye roll).

Praying for my husband is a place where I’m continuing to grow. My prayers for this man used to be that God would make him more this or less that because it was hard on the children or me or our circumstances or WHATEVER. I was praying for God to give me the kind of husband that would make my life easier . . . because things would be easier if everyone just did what God told us to do, right? Isn’t that what this life is all about? Smooth sailing for those that serve well? . . . Not really!

Silly woman that I am, I had forgotten that God had dibs on my man. God made that man for a reason and has a plan for his life. I was created to be his help meet. God’s designs for my husband aren’t subject to my comfort. This life is a proving ground for things yet to come. In the myriad of details, it’s easy to lose focus of that.

I read where someone had been praying for her husband to develop the traits described in Titus 1 and I Timothy 3 even though her husband isn’t serving in any of those offices. The thinking was that if God finds these things important for a man to be a leader, then she wanted her husband to have these things worked into him THAT HE MIGHT BE READY TO SERVE in WHATEVER capacity the Lord needs him . . .

Ooops! I needed to sharpen my focus. If you read them, you’ll find that those verses have a bit to say about the wife of such a man . . . We need to get ready too. Ulp!

So, here I’ve been praying for a life free of conflict and struggle for me and for my dear husband. I hadn’t been asking God to prepare us for whatever HE wanted. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I did ask Him to have His will and way, but my earnest prayers were towards my own desires. I had forgotten that the Potter already had something in mind when He began to shape and mold us.

Now, I’m looking at my wonderful husband and seeing our circumstances in a new light. He’s in God’s boot camp, and God is working some things into his life and my life that we are going to need. I’d think we were too old for that, but God doesn’t. Those are muscles being formed in God’s refinery. :strong: rvmp No one must have told God about how old dogs can’t learn new tricks. . . . Then again, He made the old dogs. Guess He should know what can hunt and what can’t.
[Apologies for the country, hound-dog analogies Dog]

At any rate, my prayers have changed to asking God to work these things into my husband’s life that he will be READY for what GOD has in store and not to satisfy my small vision . . . and that He make me a wife worthy of this man He has chosen to use.
knight emote

My! The years do change perspective. I believe that’s a good thing, though!
read more “VIEWING 21 FROM HERE”