Penny the Traveling Clothespin Doll shares her adventures at home and abroad.

All posts in Uncategorized

Scandanavian Tour
iolet visits Holland

You are invited to come along as we explore the beautiful, historic land of canals, wooden shoes, and windmills with Violet as our tour guide. Here she is, smiling in anticipation of visiting what she calls storybook land. Ready to go?

This past summer, Violet had the grand opportunity to travel through the Scandanavian countries and see fascinating historic places in this picturesque storybook land, hosted by her friend, Sue. She toured through five countries and saw a wide variety of sights. In this post, I’ll focus on Holland, and share the others with you soon.

Here she is reading up ahead of time on all that she will see and do. Hello Amsterdam!

Amsterdam is the capital city of Holland. It is a marshy, low land, below sea level and full of canals. Many buildings are built on stilts to hold them high and dry. So don’t be surprised when you see the buildings leaning a bit. Here is a pretty little sidewalk shop.

I found this map of Amsterdam showing how it is made up of many canals. I read that it has 165 canals that cover 60 miles of waterways! I wonder, are the canals named, liked streets?

Violet visited a park that was pretty and green. In one area a road goes over the park on a bridge, and Penny met this fun lad underneath, helping to hold up the road. Now she’s helping too.

Hey, come along and hop in, we are going to cruise on a canal!

Oh, the beauty of the water, the trees, and the historic buildings. How lovely!

Bicycles are a popular way of transportation here. They are found everywhere, even at the bottom of the canals. Whoops!

Sunshine and pretty boats and bridges.

In the picture above, I enjoy seeing all the colors and artistic shapes of the tall buildings. Also, I think that the red houseboat on the right looks really homey with its awning shade and pink flower pots. I found a video online that invites you to tour a houseboat on display, and thought I would share it here. How fascinating to see the possiblities of a floating house.

Holland is also famous for its traditional wooden shoes, or klompen.
“Wooden shoe wearers claim the shoes are warm in winter, cool in summer and provide support for good posture. The wood also absorbs perspiration so that the foot can breathe.” Here is an interesting page I found on Why walk on wooden shoes?

This clogs and cheese shop has a man making wooden shoes right here. How fascinating to watch! What an art!

The Zaanse Schans is a historic windmill park with many great old wooden windmils that were collected and brought here to preserve them. Several are still operating to grind spices, press oil, and saw wood.

These are the end of Violet’s pictures, but I’d like to add a little extra here.

When I think of Holland, I think of Corrie ten Boom. I have often read her book, The Hiding Place, that tells of her family’s watch shop in Haarlam and the work they did to protect and hide Jews during World War II. The price they paid was high, they endured arrest and cruel prison camps; but Corrie lived on to witness to the fact that God’s love is deeper than the world’s deepest darkness.

Below is the ten Boom house in Haarlam, just west of Amsterdam. They affectionately called it the Beje. A nickname short of the road’s real name, Barteljorisstraat.

The Beje

Barteljorisstraat 19
2011 RA Haarlem, Holland

When looking online for information about the ten Booms, I found this interesting blog post that tells an overview of their story and gives a tour of their home. The Corrie ten Boom house by Kevin & Amanda.

I was fascinated to find that their home itself has been preserved as a museum in tribute to the ten Boom family and at this site you can get lots more detail and even take a virtual tour.

One more quote from this humble, playful and loving woman.

Did you ever wonder, where do all those Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes go after being packed by so many generous folk each year?

We posted here about the shoebox Penny helped to pack last year: Packing a Shoebox With Love.

Then in November of last year, 2017, my clothespin doll, Violet, got to travel with our friends Don and Cindy, to visit the biggest Shoebox Packing Center in the country, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Would you like to see what they were up to?

occ logo

Volunteer at a Processing Center

“Millions of shoeboxes are collected during National Collection Week, the third week in November every year. Before these special gifts can bring hope and joy to children around the world, each one has to be carefully inspected and made ready for overseas shipment by volunteers like you. You can help prepare shoeboxes for delivery by volunteering at one of our eight processing centers across the United States. About 80,000 volunteers serve annually at our processing centers.”

Quoted from the Samaritan’s Purse website – here.

There is a long line waiting to get started today, come on in and see what happens here!

Once we check in, we get assigned to our station. There are 60 stations in this plant, with 12 volunteers working per station, 6 on each side of the bench.

Each shoebox that was packed, (maybe in your hometown) is brought here to be inspected. The inspectors open each box to see, first, if there are any forbidden items inside. See the list of “inappropriate” items hanging there to remind them? This list changes sometimes depending on which country these shoeboxes will be going to. Filler items piled in those center baskets are available to replace anything that must be removed. As far as possible, each box still contains what the giver meant it to.

Violet found a friend. ♥

Once each shoebox passes inspection and is ready to go, it is taped shut and bundled into the waiting cardboard boxes.

Very often throughout the day a moment of silence is taken to stop all labors and pray unitedly for the packages being sent from here right now.

Cindy wrote: 11/27/17   “Becky, the boxes today are going to the Ukraine and Africa, we have processed 45,000 boxes so far today. Violet is taking in all the experience with us.  This is an amazing project!!!”

Lunch Break. Taking a little rest.

Don is waiting with a tape gun where the cardboard boxes come down the conveyor belt to be piled into giant stacks.

Cindy helped to enter the tracking numbers for those who are following where their box is going in its travels.

The stacks of boxes are lifted by forklift and loaded onto semi trucks to move them on toward their final destinations.

A giant panel colorfully illustrates the travels of a shoebox.

Packing, Collection Centers, and then the Processing Center to prepare for shipping.

Worldwide Distribution, where leaders are trained to use “The Greatest Journey” and host outreach events where the Gospel is shared and the shoeboxes are handed out. Then this results in Discipleship and Multiplication – spreading the word and building churches.

The Greatest Journey

“After receiving shoebox gifts, many children are invited back to participate in our discipleship program, The Greatest Journey. Through this 12-lesson course, which includes Bible stories and Scripture memorization, they learn how to follow Christ in their daily lives as they share Him with friends and family. More than 14.9 million children have enrolled in this program since 2009.”

The Greatest Journey

The little fellow in this giant poster below is holding a copy of “The Greatest Journey.”

What a great privilege it was when Franklin Graham himself stopped by to personally thank the volunteers here. There was a little program presented with skits and special music for everyone to enjoy.

Violet is here in the stack of wrapped packages on display in front of the speaker’s podium. A close up shot…

And a disant shot, can you still see her?

Merry, Merry Christmas to all!!

The Samaritan’s Purse Headquarters is located in Boone, North Carolina. There is a processing center here, but it is not as large as the one in Charlotte.

Here Cindy met with a guard and a few other volunteers by the Christmas tree.

These ladies, once upon a time, were blessed to recieve a shoebox when they were young. Now that they are grown, they have come to help others recieve them too!

Their shirts are printed to tell where they were living when they got their shoebox!

Here are a few displays of distant countries where the shoeboxes go. Merry Christmas to many children in many places around the globe!


Violet’s trip also included a wonderful visit to the Billy Graham Library.

This barn is a tribute to Billy Graham’s early days growing up on a dairy farm. Violet got to make friends with “Bessie the Talking Cow” !!

Billy Graham’s pulpit.

These happy ladies work in the house; they enjoyed meeting Violet and hearing about her travels.

Here is where Billy Graham’s Bible is kept.

I’m guessing this must be Billy Graham’s father. Here is a neat article on him. Billy Graham’s Father and the Prayer Heard Around the World.

Our church, The Genesee Country Church, here in New York, is just beginning to do more with the Shoebox collecting. Last year individuals filled 138 shoeboxes. This year we hosted a big packing party in the gym and filled 236 boxes. We are thankful for Cindy and Lois who have organized so much, and their enthusiasm is spreading!

Here Don is helping in the corner of our gym where the boxes are brought and each is prayed for, that God would guide it and bless the special child who recieves it.

Even the littlest ones were thrilled to pack a box and pray over it.

Chosen, prepared and sent with love.

The View

A man came in and sat down for a chat,

He said, “I come from Alberta,” as he took off his hat.

“Out of every window is a million-dollar view

Of mountains and streams and fields kissed with dew.

IMG_6975 - Copy

Not a person around as far as you can see.

A paradise on earth, if you ask me.”

I thought for a minute then said, “That sounds pretty fair,

But I’ve got a view that’s beyond compare.”

IMG_7042 - Copy

The man kind of chuckled as he looked around,

At the rusty old tractor and the shed falling down.

“Wouldn’t you rather live in a nicer place?”

He said with confusion across his face.

IMG_7029 - Copy

I smiled and I said, “My view is just fine,”

As I tipped back my old wooden chair to recline.

“In every direction I look and I see,

A friend and a neighbor who is special to me.

IMG_7028 - Copy

I don’t have to look very far to find,

A face that is warm, gentle and kind.

A lot of these people were young with me,

 And now our grandkids are up on our knee.


Through ups and downs we saw them through,

We laughed, we worked, and stayed friends true.

IMG_7069 - Copy

“Whenever there’s trouble that does abound,

I can count on my neighbors to gather around.

And when times of sorrow pass through my home,

It’s then when their true compassion is shown.

IMG_7026 - Copy

Though the times we live in can pull us apart,

They never really stray very far from my heart.

Memories past and new ones to come

Keep drawing us back for friendship and fun.

IMG_7074 - Copy

To the north, south, east, or west,

Wherever I look the view is the best.

I’m filled with such warmth whenever I see,

The wonderful people who are all around me.


God made some nice places under the sun,

But honestly, I think I’ve got the best one.

I’m sure your mountains are pretty to see,

But there’s really no place that I’d rather be.”


The man sat quietly then nodded his head,

He replied, “You know, I wish I lived here instead.”

Susan Ritchie – Farming Magazine, Fall 2015

IMG_7053 - Copy




This is the stack of books my mother uses for her daily devotions.  “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers is an old favorite of hers.  This year she found an old copy of “Streams in the Desert” by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman and it has really become special to her.


I have enjoyed hearing from her about favorite entries that she has found encouraging.  Most recently she printed out and shared with me a copy of the May 22 entry based on Psalm 37:5, featuring a special translation of that verse, in the Young’s Literal Translation.



Here it is in full:

 May 22

He worketh (Ps. 37:5).

The translation that we find in Young of “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass,” reads: “Roll upon Jehovah thy way; trust upon him: and he worketh.” It calls our attention to the immediate action of God when we truly commit, or roll out of our hands into His, the burden of whatever kind it may be; a way of sorrow, of difficulty, of physical need, or of anxiety for the conversion of some dear one.

“He worketh.” When? Now. We are so in danger of postponing our expectation of His acceptance of the trust, and His undertaking to accomplish what we ask Him to do, instead of saying as we commit, “He worketh.” “He worketh” even now; and praise Him that it is so.

The very expectancy enables the Holy Spirit to do the very thing we have rolled upon Him. It is out of our reach. We are not trying to do it any more. “He worketh!” Let us take the comfort out of it and not put our hands on it again. Oh, what a relief it brings! He is really working on the difficulty.

But someone may say, “I see no results.” Never mind.

“He worketh,” if you have rolled it over and are looking to Jesus to do it. Faith may be tested, but “He worketh”; the Word is sure!
–V. H. F.

I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me (Ps. 57:2)

The beautiful old translation says, “He shall perform the cause which I have in hand.” Does not that make it very real to us today? Just the very thing that “I have in hand”–my own particular bit of work today, this cause that I cannot manage, this thing that I undertook in miscalculation of my own powers–this is what I may ask Him to do “for me,” and rest assured that He will perform it. “The wise and their works are in the hands of God.”

The Lord will go through with His covenant engagements. Whatever He takes in hand He will accomplish; hence past mercies are guarantees for the future and admirable reasons for continuing to cry unto Him.
–C. H. Spurgeon


Mom’s sharing has led me to hunt up online an old copy of this book for myself.  You just can’t beat the feel and smell of an old book, and how it soon becomes an old friend.  Her copy is from 1965, and mine is from 1975.  I am so thankful for the encouragement of this devotional.

Yesterday’s entry (May 30th), was a beautiful one about the song the angels cannot sing.  The song that we learn only in our valleys of pain and suffering.  Sorrow is our school, and there we learn to sing sweet melodies of praise.  Today’s (May 31st), tells about how the strain and wear of an old ship improves the quality of its wood, deepening its beauty and value.















In her new winter coat, hat and scarf, Penny has joined the dogs and I for a walk on a grey day.





Building a snowman…





“Once I was a snowball,

Then I grew and grew,

Now I am a snowman,

How do you do? “




I’m a friendly snowman big and fat,

Here is my tummy and here (where?) is my hat.

I’m a happy fellow, here’s my nose

I’m all snow from my head to my toes.

I have two bright eyes so I can see

All the snow falling down on me.

When the weather’s cold I’m strong and tall,

But when its warm I get very small.”



But big, friendly Fritz was the end of that snowman…Poor lil’ guy.



Some beautiful scenes on a sunny day…



“I opened my eyes and my room was bright,

I wondered what happened outside last night.

I opened the windows and let everyone know

The world was covered with fluffy white snow.

I grabbed my mittens, my scarf, and my suit,

And pulled on my brand new winter boots.

I ran outside and started to play,

And hoped that the snow was here to stay.”









 “Down, down, and down it falls,

The bushes look like popcorn balls.

The places where I usually play

Look like somewhere else today.”




I love how this picture captured Randy in motion!  What a happy smile, those dogs really love the snow!




After romping about, Fritz got tired and had to rest on the soft bed of snow.






“Beautiful feathery flakes of snow

Over the woodland and field they go,

Making a blanket so warm and deep,

Over the flowers that lie asleep.”





Here is little Evangeline, all excited about her recent fantastic trip to “The Last Frontier”, the beautiful state of Alaska!



The cities in red were places that she visited, from Seattle, Washington, all the way up to Fairbanks,  Alaska, nearly to the Arctic Circle.  Oh, what a lot of sights she saw!



Lets begin our trip memories in Seattle, Washington:

Here you see Evangeline posing with her hosts, Mike and Char Mumau, near the market in this busy city.



And here is a colorful close-up of her favorite seat among the dahlias.



She really liked her visit in Kirkland, Washington, visiting friends, enjoying the beautiful garden of Pastor Eric and Cheryl Malone.



Ketchikan, Alaska

Alaska is full of history, and the early people here often made tribute to historic events in these carved wooden monuments called totem poles.  I wonder what stories this one could tell?



A scary moment in Ketchikan, when Evangeline thought her travels were over.  A BEAR GOT HER!!




Juneau, Alaska

Juneau is Alaska’s capital city.  Not far away is the Mendanhall Glacier that is 12 miles long.



How special to find a mighty little glacier, your very own size.



Watch out for the bears, Evangeline!!!




Ah, but the eagles are so majestic and full of wisdom.




What a beautiful sunrise seen at Glacier Bay National Park.  So peaceful and inspiring.

54637Sunrise in Glacier Bay National Park

It makes me think of Paul’s words in Ephesians chapter 3:

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 
that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory,
to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 
that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;
that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all saints
what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height
and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge,
that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Denali National Park,  Alaska



Those log benches are pretty neat!


This Park is centered around the highest mountain in North America, Mount McKinley.  Evangeline and her friends saw this bull moose in the Denali Park.  The moose is officially Alaska’s State land mammal.



Fairbanks, Alaska

The largest city in Alaska’s interior. Its fascinating that the Northern Lights can be seen in the night sky more than 200 days per year in this area so far north.  The shortest winter day of the year here has less than three hours of sunlight, but the longest day (around June 21) never really ends, though officially it has over 21 hours.

IMG_1242 (2)


In the cabbage patch at the Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Gardens:





“Hanging with the boys” in Pioneer Village, here they have created a replica gold-rush town, and an Native Alaskan village and museum, and lots more to see!



Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Saying goodbye to Alaska, and heading south, back to the States, Evangeline enjoyed stopping to see the Victoria Province Capital Building.  How pretty it looks all decorated in these lights.




One more stop, at the world famous Empress Hotel.  Would you like to join Evangeline for tea this evening?




I’d like to include this fascinating story about how Alaska got its State Flag.

Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867.  Alaska was still a territory in 1926 (before it became a state in 1959).  The governor decided to hold a contest for children to design an official Alaskan flag.  It was open to all children in Alaska grades 7-12.  A 13 year old boy, Benny Benson, from an orphanage in Seward entered the contest.  He was born in Chignik, a small fishing village, his father was a Swedish fisherman and his mother was an Aleut-Russian.  Out of hundreds of submissions, his design was chosen; on a blue background he arranged the constellation of the Big Dipper pointing to the North Star.

Benny said:  “The blue field is for the Alaska sky and the forget-me-not, an Alaska flower.  The North Star is for the future of the state of Alaska, the most northerly in the Union.  The dipper is for the Great Bear – symbolizing strength.”

I found this quote about when Benny Benson learned about his win in March 1927 . “One day our teacher’s  husband came in the room and he brought a telegram,” Benson recalled in 1971. “She just looked at it and her mouth dropped open. She was speechless.   … And I darned near fell out of my seat, I guess.”









Thank you to Mike and Char Mumau for the chance to be included on this very special trip!