Saturday, February 26, 2011

crafting area. the beginning.

We started converting a corner of our dining room into a crafting area. Corey Jones highly recommended this idea. He's cool like that!


































Yes, I realize the window coverings have GOT to go.  That's on my to-do list.
















These are my 1980s glam sharpies mixed in with all my creative memories pens.  The buckets are from the $1 bin at Target.  I'll probably spray paint the silver one.  The other markers are Crayola markers.  These will be fun to use in the coloring books.















Lots of paper!  I still have 3 more creative memory tote bags to clean out.  Who knows how much paper and stickers I'll un-earth.

We're still using this area for some of our books.  Poor Mitch doesn't have any other place to store his study materials.  We'll try not to color in or duck tape any of them :)

content to be ooey and gooey

Contentment.  Thankfulness.

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."  Philippians 4:12.
I remember the time in my life when I learned to be content, no matter what the situation.  I remember walking that journey with my sweet Annie.  It was about 7 years ago.  Both of our families recognized the need to get out of debt and to enjoy the simpler things of life.  Annie and I would walk together some evenings and process our new mindsets.  We would encourage each other to enjoy the blessings we have.
The blessings that don't have a pricetag.
She made me this fun bookmark that reads "Sometimes life sucks, but I have learned to be content in whatever state."  I still carry the bookmark with me in my purse.  I double-checked before I made this post and it's still tucked away in its safe place in my purse.
I have truly learned to be content with my state of living.

I live in a house that was built in 1921.  It has lots of character (read "unfinished projects" and "imperfections").  But I'm content with my old house.
I drive a mini van with a few dings and well over 100,000 miles.  But I'm content with my wheels.
We have purchased only 1 new piece of furniture in our 14 years of marriage - our dining room table and chairs.  But I'm content with and very thankful for all my hand-me-downs.
The only new appliances we have ever purchased - our washer and dryer.  But I'm so thankful for and content with all my used appliances.  They just don't make them like they used to.
I have learned to borrow jewelry when I need something spectacular to wear to a special event.  I'm VERY thankful for my friends who have such great taste.

But, I still have one area in my life where I'm not content.  Maybe you can identify with this.
Sometimes I struggle with being comfortable, happy and satisfied with the person God created me to be.  I know all the scriptures that tell me this is a lie straight from the pit of hell.
Maybe I'm the only one who has this problem.  But maybe I'm not.
Somedays I can truly rejoice with my friends and genuinely compliment them on their beauty, accomplishments, "perfection".  But somedays I'm jealous and try to imitate.  I know, imitation is the best form of flattery.
But what does God think?
"For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." - David's words from Psalms 139:13-14.
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart." - God's words to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:5.
As I have continued to walk this journey to learn to be the best Dani Sue God created, to learn to be content with me, I felt God share this creative example with me.  It might be a crazy sweet tooth but I think God has a sense of humor and uses it with me sometimes.

Have you ever had a craving for homemade, hot from the oven, gooey chocolate chip cookies?  Can you smell them.  Yummy!
Think for a minute if you had this strong desire.  You go to the work of making an extra trip to the grocery to buy all the necessary ingredients and then spend the afternoon stirring together the ingredients and baking a batch of the ooey, gooey deliciousness.
Your mouth has been watering for a few hours.  You've been dreaming of a cold diet coke...I mean glass of milk...to wash the rich goodness down.
And then one of the cookies thinks to himself, "I don't like this creation.  Look at that long, thin stalk of celery.  What wondefully firm skin.  Celery gets to travel to delicious, funky salads.  Celery gets to mingle with all the healthy foods.  Celery gets to wear rich dressing.  I wish I was more like celery.  I'm round, greasy and bumpy.  I have to hang out with these other lumpy, bumpy, round, greasy cookies.  We bump together and crumble."
You sit down to bite into your delicious creation and it crunches a little like celery.  The sweet ooey, gooey goodness is gone.  yuck!

Ok, I recognize cookies don't have brains or emotions but just pretend for a few minutes.
Isn't that what we do sometimes?
God had a craving for just the perfect YOU and me.  God went to the extra work to pull together the perfect genetic ingredients for each of us.
And then we want to be just like someone else.  We trade in our sweetness for someone else's crispness.

Let me say it like this I try to trade my sensitivity for your boldness.
I try to exchange my quirky sense of style for your modern chicness.
I try to organize my chaos to look like your perfectly situated life.
Guess what?!  I will be frustrated, lost and disappointed.
God will be disappointed but patient with me.  He will re-align my heart with His and remind me of the person He created me to be.
And I will be happy and content again.
Just the right amount of sweetness, crisp, ooey gooey goodness :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

eucharisteo

I have continued to slowly read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. I’m reading it slowly, not because I don’t enjoy it, but because I’ve had to really digest a lot of good and hard stuff. Ann has a way of writing that is inspiring and thought-provoking. I can’t just quickly skim it, think warm thoughts and walk away. In fact, I've gone back and read the first 3 chapters twice.  I want a good heart understanding of what God is teaching me. I want to truly listen to His voice as I read. My word for 2011 is listen and I’m forcing myself to slow down and truly listen. I want my life to be changed when I’m done with this book.


Chapter 2 is a dissection of the word eucharisteo. Boiled down very simply, eucharisteo means thanksgiving. It envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis, but it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning joy. Ann says it like this – grace, thanksgiving, joy. “Deep chara joy is found only at the table of the euCHARisteo – the table of thanksgiving. Is the height of my chara joy dependent on the depths of my eucharisteo thanks?” (pages 32-33).

I must be thankful in whatever He gives me.  Thanksgiving is my acceptance of whatever He gives, in every situation.  It is inherent to an honest salvation experience.  "At the Eucharist, Christ breaks His heart to heal mine - Christ, the complete accomplishment of my salvation.  And the miracle of eucharisteo never ends:  thanksgiving is what precedes the miracle of that salvation being fully worked out in my life.  Thanksgiving - giving thanks in everything - is what prepares the way for salvation's whole restoration.  I will never experience the fullness of my salvation until I express the fullness of my thanks everyday."  (pg 40).  This isn't always easy, but I want to experience the fullness of my salvation.

I'm a pretty laid back, easy-going gal (most of the time!).  I'm typically not a complainer.  BUT, not being a complainer does not necessarily mean I am always thankful.  I have deceived myself into thinking my generally happy disposition is a thankful attitude but the Lord has revealed to me that I need to be purposeful to be thankful in EVERYthing; in EVERY situation.  No matter what.  Not just when it's easy.  Not just when it's cool.  Always.

I have answered the dare to be always mindful of each gift God has given me.  To keep my eyes open everyday.  To make a list of 1000 blessings.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

13.  my sweet, snuggly Bella
14.  guacamole
15.  quiet time to read with Abi
16.  duck tape :)
17.  happy daisies
18.  thunder

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

random truths

Here are a few things I've learned.  Some fun, some serious.  All are truths I live by.  Nothing to build a theology on; just fun to think about.

a lifetime is not near long enough to spend with and love my favorite people.

my high school gym is much smaller than it used to be.

spandex should not come in certain sizes, anything bigger than a large, unless it comes under the name of Spanx.

pink is an attitude.

at any point in time, one of my kids is at my "favorite age".

two miles with a walking partner is much shorter than two miles alone.

if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all.  (did you know this isn't scriptural?!  I spent my childhood convinced this was a God-breathed Word.  turns out, it's mom-breathed.)

waxing an upper lip hurts way more than waxing eyebrows - but oh so important!

Top Gun and Footloose and classic and timeless.

always extend a second chance.

fill someone's love tank every chance you get.

"The power of life and death is in the tongue." - Proverbs 18:21

the eyes are the window to the soul - always look through someone's eyes to her soul.

thongs should be worn on your feet, not as an undergarment.

Reese's peanut butter shapes (hearts, eggs, pumpkins and Christmas trees) are WAY better than peanut butter cups.  why, you migh ask.  because there is a better proportion of softer chocolate and peanut butter.  This is a fine science.

diet coke tastes much yummier with cherry syrup in a Sonic cup with Sonic ice (especially during happy hour).

homemade strawberry blubarb jam - my new breakfast favorite.

"You're never fully dressed without a smile.  It's what you wear from ear to ear and not from head to toe that matters."  (Are you singing it?).

a daisy is a very happy flower.  doesn't this make you smile?  simple and happy, a lot like me :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

a little this, a little that


I'm finally getting around to blogging about my weekend (I'm just 2 days behind; not too bad).
We didn't have any big plans.  We could just make up our plans as the weekend unfolded.
I love weekends like this!
Our big Friday night plans centered around the NHS basketball game.  Well, not really the game.  More like the half-time entertainment.  Abi danced with the Railiners.
She totally had her groove on!  (She's 3rd from the left - having loads of fun)

My girls and I enjoyed breakfast at Curtis C's on Saturday morning.  Eggs over medium, hash browns, toast and coffee - yummy!
I've had my eye on the "fight like a girl" t-shirts.  We decided to splurge.

















They didn't have my size in the pink so I ordered it.  It already arrived today!  I'm so excited.  I'm taking advantage of the fact that my girls will still allow us to wear matching t-shirts.  So fun!
It was kinda warm on Saturday afternoon so we took advantage. We hit the golf course. I so love to golf!


Abi learned to drive the golf cart. I shot a 3 on hole 7 at Fox Ridge. Yeah, I'm pretty happy about that :)













Some boys never outgrow Legos.  Mitch has discovered the Legos website and totally enjoyed designing his own set of Legos.  He's going to use them to build a "something or other" rocket part.  He was so excited when his set of Legos arrived in Saturday's mail.  Does this look like $35 worth of Legos?  Notice the recommended age is 4+.  hmmm...
















Sunday was so beautifully warm!  78*, slight breeze and partial sun.
I found a new breakfast favorite - homemade strawberry, bluberry, rhubarb jam (strawberry blubarb!).

Made a surprise road trip with Annie and Hannah to visit a sweetheart from church who is hospitalized after a serious car accident.  I didn't actually visit but Hannah and Annie did.  I read in the warm sunshine.  I'm kinda a wimp :(

Dodge man dug out his checkered pants, t-shirt and do-rag for the Daytona 500 (yes, those are the checkered muscle pants from the 80s).  The flag was flying proudly.  I'm not a racing fan.  Actually, that's not completely true.  I don't care who wins but I love the sound of cars driving round and round.  It makes for great napping noise.


































What a fun surprise Sunday evening - made another road trip to Wichita, this time to Target. Two hours was not near enough time to get all the shopping (and talking!) done. Amy taught me how to shop the $1 bargain bins. She's so creative and I'm trying not to covet. Check out these fun flower stickers for my new duck tape notebook. Yeah, I'm pretty happy with this too.


Well, I just realized I downed no less than 4 large diet cokes from Sonic over the weekend.  I really love happy hour.  I really, really love a Sonic drink on the golf course or with a friend.  Yeah, that makes me happy too :)

















Saturday, February 19, 2011

scary moment

We had parent/teacher conferences last week, but that's not a scary thing.
Matter of fact, I LOVED Abi's conference.
I have said several times this is my favorite school year.
Abi is in 2nd grade and has the most amazing, wonderful teacher.  In fact, I would say she is the most fabulous 2nd grade teacher I've ever known.
I simply don't want 2nd grade to end. 
Abi has informed me she will need to move on from 2nd grade so she can grow up and learn to be a pre-K teacher.  She's afraid she will eventually look like Elf if she stays in 2nd grade with Mrs. Childs, (Jody).
But, that's not what this is about.  That was just me being sappy and sentimental :)

Jody did this amazing, creative writing project with her kiddos.  She had them write about their most embarrassing moment, their scariest moment, the best day of their lives and a wish for the future (I hope I've got them right).  Kind of a "Days of Our Lives" thing. 
She talked to them about all the necessary elements for the writings (a good "hook" to get the audience's attention, etc).  She even allowed them to use all the naughty words needed to make the stories fascinating (fart, booger, etc.).  Maybe they were even encouraged to use these fun words, I don't know.
How fun does that sound?!
Anyway, Jody and I decided it would be lots of fun to blog the same things.  We think you should do it too!  If you don't blog, please journal it, write a note on facebook or find another way to share it.  It will be so much fun to read everyone's experiences!
I wanted to start with my most embarrassing moment but I need to scan my photo to go with it and I don't have a scanner at home.  I'll get it done next.

My scariest moment - there are so many!
Mitch and Eli will tell you they can scare me most any day.  I'm just jumpy.
I wake up many nights screaming because I think Mitch is killing me.  He hates it and I hate it.
I could write about nearly cutting my finger off last Christmas season, but that was probably scarier for my kids.
Or I could write about one of the times 911 had to be summoned for each of our kids (all under Mitch's supervision!)
But my scariest moment happened just a few months ago.

One Sunday morning, Hannah was just finishing her bath.  I was in the girls' bedroom just across the hall and could see into the bathroom.  I heard a loud commotion in the bathroom and looked up just in time to see her falling face first out of the bathtub.  Her body didn't fold or crumble.  She fell very stiff and hit her head on the toilet.  I ran to her and she was just limp, face first on the floor, with her head wedged up against the toilet.  I was certain she was gone.  I started screaming for Mitch.  Within a few seconds, she slowly opened her eyes and just looked at me blankly.  I slowly helped her get up.  She had a goose egg on her forehead and an instant bruise and lump on the bottom of her chin.  She was pretty disoriented for a few minutes.

As it turns out, she had taken a super hot bath and tried to stand up too fast.  She got light headed and just past out.  I was so scared and felt incredibly helpless.  I think I can handle almost anything happening to me but the thought of one of my kids getting seriously injured or sick is almost more than I can handle.  I don't think I'll ever forget the commotion, Hannah's limp body, the blank look in her eyes or the feeling of being so helpless.  It is absolutely synged in my memory forever.  I don't want to experience anything scarier than that Sunday morning!

I wasn't creative in that moment when Hannah fell so I don't have a pic of her sprawled out on the floor.  She would have placed herself up for adoption if I had taken the pic and posted it publicly!  So, I'll share a pretty pic of her instead.  This way, we can be friends for a little while longer :)
















Now it's your turn!  What was your scariest moment?  most embarrassing moment?  happiest day of your life?  your wish for the future?  Please share them.  It's fun to share the Days of Our Lives :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

snow ice cream

Wow!  78* today.  This is my kind of weather.
Just a week ago, we had a record 17 inches of snow on the ground.  What a difference a week makes.
It seems so funny to me to write this entry today but I just couldn't get to it any sooner.

Hannah asked to make snow ice cream during both of the last two snow storms.  I was being a stick in the mud (or snow, as the case may be).
I just don't like to get out in the snow.
I don't like to get out a bunch of bowls.
I don't like to drag out all the ingredients.
I don't like to clean up a sticky mess.
But then I got this fabulous recipe from my sweet friend, Amy.  She's the kind of mom that does all the fun, creative things with her kids.  She's the kind of mom I want to be.  In fact, we have a term for things like Amy would do, "Amy Jonesy things".  Snow ice cream is an Amy Jonesy thing to do.

So, I relented and told my kids we would make snow ice cream last Saturday afternoon.  In God's perfect timing, Amy called shortly before we started this project.  Her precious girls needed a place to hang out while mommy went to work for a bit.  I was soooo excited to have the extra help and expertise!  (actually, my love tank was a little low and this was the perfect way for me to refill it - loving on baby Gretchie)

We gathered up some clean snow (thank goodness there was still some left!).


Miss Gretchie wasn't really into gathering snow.

Next, it was time for the "mixing":
1 cup milk (or half & half)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
dash of salt


Add the mixture to the snow...(you don't need near as much snow as we scooped)

and stir together until it's the consistency of homemade ice cream:
and taste!  We give this recipe two thumbs up :)
It's much better if eaten with a friend and a smile


Miss Gretchie says "no, thank you"
"I'd prefer to read my books.  Maybe next time."
I'm so glad we took the time to slow down for an afternoon.
We had lots of fun playing in the snow and experimenting with friends.
The ice cream was so yummy.  It tastes just like homemade ice cream!
I feel like a good mommy.
My love tank is full again.
Hannah's love tank is full.
Abi's love tank is full...
and our sweet tooth is satisfied.

Thank you, Amy, for this suggestion and for loaning us your girls.  They are precious!

More blessings:
7.  Baby Gretchie
8.  a phone call from a friend
9.  snow ice cream
10. Sophie
11. little girl smiles with grown up teeth
12. a sticky dining room table

Monday, February 14, 2011

valentine's day...really?

Valentine's Day, 2011.
I've never really thought about it before but we don't have any long-standing family traditions for this holiday.
I am married to an incredibly romantic man.  He's probably more romantic than I am.  Poor guy.
In fact, I told him to "back off" when we were dating.  But that's material for a different day.
My sweetheart started the day off right - I had a half dozen Reese's peanut butter hearts and a sweet card.  My favorite candy and a card from our favorite line of cards from our dating days.  He handwrote fun and romantic sentiments in the card.
Work was crazy busy and we were short staffed.  I was so glad to leave at 3:00.
I had a fun luncheon with about 12 church ladies at Karen's Kitchen.  Grilled chicken on salad greens with strawberries, mandarin oranges, and strawberry vinegarette dressing.  Red velvet cupcake with lots and lots of cream cheese frosting.  It was so delish!  This is a really fun group of ladies ranging in age from 20 to 70.  My lunch hour went by way too fast.  I met 2 new friends at lunch and I felt an instant connection.  I can't wait to get to know them better through our virtual friendship (fb!).

So, I totally stink at fun, romantic gifts for my valentine.  I decided to make his favorite dinner - meatballs and pasta.  I wanted to make plenty of extra for leftovers this week.  I went way overboard and made an extra 9x13 pan of meatballs.  I offered them to a friend but she already had meatballs ready to go for dinner.  I honestly contemplated a giveway in blogland but decided I'd like to have them for a busy evening down the road.
You're so not going to believe what I did.  I put the meatballs in the oven and left.  I forgot to turn the oven on!  You can't imagine how disappointed I was when I walked in the door and it didn't smell like meatballs.  I almost started crying.  I couldn't decide if I was mad, frustrated, appalled, disappointed or just plain stupid.
Then I had to admit to Mitch that his favorite dinner would have to wait until tomorrow.  We had to be at the high school in 30 minutes for a concert.  It's a good thing he has such a great sense of humor.  He needs it!
This day just keeps getting better.
We stopped by Wendy's for a quick bite on our way to the concert.
Who schedules a middle school concert on Valentine's Day?!  I'm pretty sure it's a grouchy old maid.
We endured, I mean enjoyed, the concert :)
In an effort to redeem the evening, we got ice cream after the concert and laughed a lot.

Well, I guess I better go find the card I bought for my honey and write something sweet in it.  I have only a little bit of time before it's too late and rather embarrassing to give a Valentine's Day card.  Then it just looks like I got it on clearance after the fact.
I read this on a friend's fb tonight.  I thought it was just too cute not to share - I don't understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine's Day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon. Just sayin'


Sunday, February 13, 2011

homemade valentines

I used to be very creative.  No, really, I was.
I have volumes and volumes of scrapbooks from the early years of my kids' lives.
I'm serious!  I really was creative and crafty.
And then I got bogged down by life.
I have a scrapbooking table that is covered in so much stuff there aren't even piles.  It's just a mountain of stuff.  Lots of stuff.  The little bit of table that is still exposed to daylight is covered in dust (no, I will not post a picture).
Anyway, I am trying very hard to tap back into the creative, crafty side of my brain.

My girls wanted to make homemade valentines this year.  I did this ONCE with Hannah when she was in preschool.  I have pics to prove it.  I haven't done it since simply because life happened.
I agreed to homemade valentines this year.  We invested in the 1980's Glam sharpies, foam heart/flower stickers and more cardstock.













The plan was to work on valentines Sunday afternoon.  I recognize I should have started much sooner but it didn't happen.
As fate would have it, I didn't make it home with my family after church today.  Daddy took a nap and the girls decided to try their hands at homemade valentines.
It didn't work out very well.
I arrived home to find a very huge mess on my dining room table and unfinished valentines.
The paper wasn't cut to standard sizes.  Matter of fact, it wasn't even cut straight.
They used our famous duck tape to adhere the blow pops to the valentines.
Only 3 of the valentines have stickers.
The rest just say "From:  Abi".
I should have taken a picture of the huge mess but I was just too overwhelmed.  I might be able to laugh about it now but I couldn't then.
The girls turned the house upside down searching for Abi's classroom list but it has disappeared.
So that means we don't know how many pink valentines she needs and how many green ones to make.  We don't know the correct spelling of any names.
Thank goodness, Abi isn't a perfectionist.  She was very content to make mostly green valentines and scribble "From:  Abi" on them.  Most importantly to her, she has a Russell Stovers chocolate heart for Mrs. Childs (Jody, please act surprised if you read this before Miss Abi delivers it to you.)
I seriously considered posting a picture of Hannah and I making the homemade valentines from preschool but I knew most of you would know it wasn't current.
Oh well, we have some great new sharpies and foam stickers for craft time.
Eli was the wise one this year.  He chose pre-made extreme sports valentines.
Homemade valentines are totally overrated :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

duck tape

My kiddos have had 4 snow days so far this winter.
I finally got to join them this week.  We had sooooo much fun!
One of my favorite things we did together was crafting with duck tape.
I know duck tape has been around for a very long time.  I've had youth group kids who did all sorts of strange things with plain ol' gray duck tape.  I didn't realize there were colors other than sad gray.













I recognize I'm not a crafter.  All my crafter friends out there are saying "What rock have you been living under?  Of course, there are lots of fun colors and patterns of duck tape!"
Any way, my kids invested their own money in some fun duck tape.  It was such cool stuff!  I knew I needed to have some of my own.  So, off to Walmart to invest in some supplies...













Sad gray now has some beautiful friends!  Bright colors and fun animal prints.  These are my favorites.
I saw this great duck tape crafting idea from my funny friend, Beki over at The Rusted Chain.  You see, I have these fabulous friends who are so creative and crafty.  I want to be just like them.  My kids want to have a creative mommy like my friends.  I have to read some of their blogs late at night after my kids go to bed because it creates envy for my oldest daughter, Hannah.
Back to the snow day.  I promised Hannah we would do a fun craft together.  So, we started with a zebra print notebook for Abi.














Abi chose teal for the back of her notebook.  The perfect mismatch for my (not so) coordinated 8 year old.

We then moved on to picture frames.  First a leopard print...

and then a neon rainbow...
Just so sad gray doesn't feel left out or useless, we used it to fix the back of the leopard print frame...


So, I learned a new craft.  We have some fun new accessories.  Hannah is a happy crafter.

I have an idea churning in my budding crafter brain.  I want a zebra print checkbook cover and wallet for my new purse.
What do you do with duck tape?
Do you have some fun ideas to share?  I need lots of ideas and advice (especially for the checkbook cover and wallet)!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

hard work

I admit it, I don't like to work hard.
Physical labor is just not my thing.
That's why my house is less than pristeen.
I have a wonderful husband who does most of the hard work at our house.
He's strong and physically fit.
I think of the hard work as just a natural workout for him.
Back our story up 15 years...
I was a single gal who just purchased my own home.
I had a beautiful (large!) yard that required mowing at least once a week.
My dad just knew that the grass needed to be mulched when I mowed.
So, he would deliver his mulching mower to me every 5 or 6 days.
He would sit on my porch or deck and watch me mow all evening long.
He was trying to encourage independence, I'm sure.
I was growing blisters on my soft, seldom used, hands.
I thought a damsel in distress might entice a certain young, strong, handsome guy to volunteer to mow my lawn.
Oh no, he didn't want to be an enabler so...he offered me a pair of work gloves instead of mowing my lawn.
I was almost offended but decided to marry him anyway.
It has been one of our favorite dating stories and comes up often.
It came up again today.
We received 17 inches of beautiful snow in 24 hours.
My sweet, strong, wonderful husband does snow removal for the Newton Rec Commission.
He moved snow all day yesterday.
He had to go in and start again at 4:00 this morning so he didn't have time to shovel our driveway or sidewalk.
I had a short-lived spurt of independence and decided to surprise him with a shoveled driveway when he got home.
Got a blister again! and I was wearing gloves!
I'm simply not made to work this hard.
I'm made to admire the strong, hard-working man God gave me :)
(Sorry the picture isn't very good.  Please notice how dry and cracked my hand is from all the shoveling and bathroom cleaning.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

love your friends

At the end of dinner tonight, Abi (8 years old) announced something very profound.
"You should love your friends like family and love your family like your friends."
What?!
"Abi, who told you that?"
"No one.  I just made it up."
"That's very profound, Abi.  I'm going to have to think about it for a while."
"You know mommy will blog about that statement tonight, right Abi?"  (Her daddy now realizes everything is fair game for fb or a blog entry.)
So here I am.  Thinking about such a simple, yet profound, statement.
Maybe she heard it at school, I don't know.
Maybe God was speaking to our family through this precious sweetheart.
Maybe God was trying to get my attention.
I think I'm pretty good at loving my friends.
They are the family I've chosen.
I can overlook their faults.
It's easy to love them...because I'm not living WITH them.
But, have I figured out how to love my family like my friends?
So many times, I love my friends and favor them over my family.
I would much rather have a girls night out (because I deserve it.  I've earned it!).
How many times do I spend hours on fb or reading all these wonderful blogs instead of reading to my kids?
Ouch!
Don't get me wrong.  I love my husband and my kids and my extended family.
But do I lay down my life for them like I do for my friends?
Out of the mouths of babes...

Monday, February 7, 2011

my story...the beginning

A friend has challenged me to join her in a journey to live a fuller life.  I have started reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts and joined the online book discussion found at Bloom (in)courage.  It's not too late for you to join the book discussion.  I ordered an extra book for any friend who wants to join us.  The book is free to the first friend who requests it!

I have embraced the challenge and started my journey to a fuller life through an attitude of gratitude for my everyday blessings.  My prayer is that God will transform my life and open my eyes to His purposes and His blessings.

I spent my first 26 years living a very "Norman Rockwellesque" life.  I was raised in a Christian home and never really had to endure much heartache.  I had a good life...a really, really good life.  My parents loved Jesus and did their very best to teach me how to live a life pleasing to the Lord.  I was loved more than I ever knew or understood.  I started playing the piano on our worship team when I was 13 years old.  I taught Sunday school for many years.  For the most part, I was a pretty good kid.  I think my parents had it pretty easy :)

I married my high school sweetheart when I was 18 years old.  We both went to college and worked hard to earn scholarships and to pay our bills.  Again, it was a good and easy life.  We bought our first home together when we were 22 years old.  Three years later, we built our second home.  By all accounts, we had a wonderful life.

After eight years of marriage, my high school sweetheart found another sweetheart.  She happened to be one of my good friends.  In fact, she was my running partner.  Just one month before my 27th birthday, I was abandoned by my husband and left to sell our beautiful home in a coveted neighborhood by myself.  I had to suddenly learn how to live alone.  I felt unloved, rejected, replaced, alone, ugly, embarrassed.  I felt like a failure in so many ways.  I had to dig deep and draw on all that had been poured into me over the years.

I haven't told my story publicly.  In fact, I have chosen to keep it very private.  It's not anything I'm proud of or excited to share.  But I feel compelled to share it now.  Although I believe I properly grieved the loss of my marriage and worked through the process 15 years ago, I want to be an open book for the Lord to use.  I want to be fire and purified.

As I read the first chapter of Ann's book, I realized how each of us has to make a choice to either embrace God's purpose in our tragedies or harden our hearts to the work He is doing.  I want to be intentional about embracing God's purpose in my life.  I recognize I have truly lived a blessed life.  I haven't had to endure the loss of a child or a parent or a sibling or a spouse.  I am healthy and have a healthy family.  My loss is minimal in comparson to what many of my friends have endured.

But I still ask "how do I fully live when life is full of hurt?  How do I wake up to joy and grace and beauty and all that is the fullest life when I must stay numb to losses and crushed dreams and all that empties me out?"  It's my natural tendency to become resentful and negative when I face loss.  I can't tell you the number of tears I cried over the loss of my high school sweetheart, the loss of the "American dream" in my beautiful home and sporty car, the shame I faced in our small community and church.  How could God allow this to happen to me?  "Losses do that.  One life-loss can infect the whole of a life.  Like a rash that wears through our days, our sight becomes pepperd with black voids.  Now everywhere we look, we only see all that isn't:  holes, lack, deficiency."

I want to learn to recognize these holes as soul holes.  I want to embrace my soul holes as drain holes so that I can be emptied of me.  "I wonder too...if the rent in the cavas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see.  To see through to God.  That that which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin open  places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond.  To Him.  To the God whom we endlessly crave."

"How do we choose to allow the holes to become seeing-through-to God places?  To more-God places?  How do I give up resentment for gratitude, gnawing anger for spilling joy?  Self-focus for God-communion.  To fully live--to live full of grace and joy and all that is beauty eternal.  It is possible, wildly.  I now see and testify.  So this story--my story.  A dare to an emptier, fuller life."

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"  (Jeremiah 29:11).  These are often quoted words.  They can be found on plaques, picture frames, prints, just about anywhere you look in a Christian bookstore.  But do you believe them?  Do I believe them?  I DO believe them!  I want to live my life with my hands and heart open wide to the plans God has for me.  I want to embrace the life God has given me.  I want to be thankful for ALL that He has given me.

Here starts my list of 1000 gifts:

1.  A loving husband
2.  Healthy children
3.  Second chances
4.  Grace
5.  Sunshine
6.  Playing in the ocean

Saturday, February 5, 2011

old man winter

I really, really hate cold weather.  I don't think there's much good that can happen if it's less than 60*.  I suppose cold weather would be ok from the middle of November through January 5th, but that's it.  The holidays are a little more fun and holiday-like if it's cold and snowy.

I would be most happy in shorts and flip-flops all year round.  I am a coastal girl totally misplaced in the Midwest.  Matter of fact, I'm sure I've audibly heard God call us to California or Florida.  Not really, but I wish He would.  However, we're still in the Midwest where we have definite seasons.

This week, like many others across the US, we experienced "the storm of the century".  I knew the weathermen had predicted snow but I didn't know it was the storm of the century until we were in the thick of it.  I pretty much choose to live with my head buried in the snow, I mean sand, most of the winter.

On the other hand, I have a warm blooded son who continues to wear shorts despite the blizzard conditions.  The only time I've ever been called to the principal's office IN MY WHOLE LIFE was to discuss Eli's shorts last winter.  Apparently, some administrators and teachers have guidelines about what should be worn for outside recess.  I assured the principal Eli was not suffering in his shorts.  I'm a mother of natural consequences.  If he is cold, he'll wear more clothes.  This is not a mountain on which I'm willing to die.  He has plenty of jeans and pants but he is too warm when he wears them...or he's just too cool to wear them, whichever the case may be.  At any rate, the cold weather absolutely does not bother him.

It's a good thing, because...
this is his bedroom window.  We live in an old, drafty two story house.  Old man winter has been scratching at Eli's window all week.  To be honest, it wouldn't surprise me if Eli invited him in :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

listen

A new year and a fresh perspective.
No New Year's Resolutions for me.
What does God want for me this year?
What does He want my focus to be?
This year, I felt led to seek God for a one word focus for 2011.
Lots of words came to mind.
worship
intentional
peace
heart
selfless
thankfulness
joy
gratitude
self-control
focused
lovingkindness
prayer
grace
sacrifice
thoughtfulness
praise
family
mercy
refresh
discipline
rest
faithfulness
All of these are good words.
Any would be a great focus.
But I felt God said to me "listen".
Listen with my ears.
Listen with my heart.
Don't just hear, but truly listen.
Listen - to make an effort to hear something.
Listen - to pay attention; heed.
Listen to God.
Listen to my husband.
Listen to my kids.
Listen to my friends.
Listen to those in authority over me.
Listen like Mary of Bethany - "As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!' 'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'  (Luke 10:38-40)
I want to listen like Mary listened.
REALLY listen.
Listen without interrupting.
Listen without being distracted.
Listen to the words you say.
Listen to what your heart says.
Listen to what your actions say.
James 1:19 - "My dear brothers, take note of this:  Everone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."
God gave me 2 ears and 1 mouth.
I will listen more than I speak.
I will listen with both eyes and both ears and my whole heart.
Lord let my listening be an act of worship to You.
In 2011, and for the rest of my days.