Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Spot In The Woods

One of the things we have enjoyed about our new house, is space for the children to roam outdoors and use their imaginations. We don't have much land but the bit that we have has already provided hours of playing in the woods.

The girls love to make trails and houses and uncover the beauty amidst the brambles and bushes. I love that they love it. It brings back many happy memories of my own childhood and the hours I spent doing the same.

Several days ago, my imaginative ladies surprised me with something
 very special - 
My own little spot in the woods!


They are constantly begging me to "come look at something",
So I thought nothing of it when they said they had something to show me. In fact, to my shame, I was too busy to go look at it until a day later.


It's hard to take pictures that 
do the little spot justice.
Under a low hanging tree, they cleaned out a spot and cleared a path to it. Then they provided me with a woodland seat.


Across from my perch,
they wove vines to make a little wall.


Over my head there is a lovely roof of green leaves with delicate, white flowers blooming profusely.

My nine year old didn't stretch it a bit when she gushed, 
"It's just like a dream!"

I think I like being a mom.

PS. If I go missing, I might have decided to just move to my hideout.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

For Real

We talk about social media and how it paints everyone as perfect. We sigh about how it places unrealistic expectations on mothers to make the Pinterest worthy cakes and birthday parties because, evidently, that's what all the competent moms are doing. We shake our heads at the pressure it creates to have picture perfect houses where everything matches and all the chippy, shabby chic decor is cool DIY projects that the good moms somehow find time to do.

Like this picture, you have no idea what is really behind all the 'perfect' things you see.

I don't know if my blog has ever made anyone feel the pressure associated with social media but I'm guessing it might have. I try to be honest and real here but it's just a fact that it's more fun to share the pretty side of life. If it is ugly, I want to have some tidy little lesson to tie to it that makes it all beautiful again.

Well. I'm here this morning to show you the real side. I'll probably still end up trying to tie the lesson to it because I need a lesson this morning but this is reality and I'll prove it with the pictures I took this morning:


This is how my basement looks. Remember when we moved, how we just brought the essentials and planned to slowly move the rest? Here's all the nonessentials that are finally coming over. Seriously. How do we accumulate so much stuff??!


It's not even funny. It makes me want to vow I'll never go to the Goodwill again! Except I know I would break my vow.


This is how my kitchen sink looks.


And this is how my laundry pile looks.

I could give you reasons for those piles but then, there are things that just always look this way and have nothing to do with any excuses except being real.


Like my son's bed.


And my daughter's bedroom floor.


And this rug that belongs inside the basement door but is constantly thrown in the corner on a heap.


And this child's cars that he has way too many of.

We are real people in this house. We make messes and hurt each other's feelings and don't feel like saying we're sorry. Sometimes we spend too much time trying to keep everything looking good and we forget to enjoy each other in our messiness. We get grouchy and say we love each other but forget to act like it. We are real people around here.

I like to have a clean house and I enjoy DIY projects and creating beauty. I like doing special things for my family and making memories together. Those are the things I tend to grab my camera/phone and take pictures of but the truth is, we are ordinary, common, messy people. I just wanted you all to know that this morning. I also wanted you to know that God loves us, mess and all. He loves you too, don't ever forget it!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

He Is Risen!

I slipped out on the porch this morning,
and was greeted by a
spectacular sunrise that 
I wasn't even looking for!

The Lord Is Risen!


Low in the grave He lay,
Jesus my Saviour.
Waiting the coming day,
Jesus my Lord.


Vainly they watch His bed,
Jesus my Saviour,
Vainly they seal the dead,
Jesus my Lord.


Death cannot keep it's prey,
Jesus my Saviour.
He tore the bars away,
Jesus my Lord.



Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph
O'er His foes;
He arose a victor from the
Dark domain,
And He lives forever
With His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah, Christ arose.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

In The Morning, Look Up

"My voice shalt thou hear
 in the morning,
O Lord;
In the morning
Will I direct my prayer unto thee,
And will look up."
Psalm 5:3


What do you do when you wake up in the morning? Does your mind immediately start going over the list of things to be done? Do you sigh wearily and roll over, sure that you will fail today before your foot ever even touches the floor? Do all the worries and cares of life come rolling in with the opening of your eyes and all you wish is that you could just close them and go back to the one place of complete rest?

Do you ever Look Up 
first thing in the morning?


 I confess, when I open my eyes in the morning, more often than not I have a strong urge to roll over and close them again. It's not just because I was up too late the night before or because my night got interrupted by children. It's because anything I'm worrying about and all the things that need to be done immediately come rolling in and I don't feel like facing it all; I'm sure I'll fail before I ever start! 
What a poor way to start a day.

I want to learn to intentionally 
Look Up
first thing in the morning.
Even if I don't take the time to have a full fledged devotions first thing,
Even if I don't crack open my Bible right after I crack open my eyes,
Even if I don't have time for long, intercessary prayer,
taking the time to intentionally Look Up can make a big difference
 in how I head into the day.

I am not a shining example of this.
But I want to learn.


"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord,
which made heaven and earth."
Psalm 121:1-2

Friday, April 7, 2017

Birthdays And Other Things That Make Me Smile

The birthdays at our house cover every month from February to June, then take a jump to September. We just celebrated two, eight days apart - Jennifer,
who turned nine March 30 
and Charles,
 who is four today.

Jennifer got her much longed for
Birthday party 
which her mean mom
(or is it more of a lazy mom?)
never let her have before,
and a lamp to put beside her bed.




Tea party
(except it was Apple Cider and
Hot Chocolate...)


And pie in place of cake.

We celebrated Charles in super simple fashion last night because little boys don't care so much how big the celebration is, as that it is about them and that they are the center of attention


The picture showed a yellow bus cake but he wanted Blue,
so Blue it was...




He got a book and some candy
wrapped in brown paper
and he passed out candy and
re-listened to his book with 
whosoever would
and thought it was all amazing.
Little children are so 
easy to please.

Things tumble around in my brain these days but they are the kind of things that only seem thing-ish when they're in my mind, so I will leave them there to tumble and churn and develop and show you some light, surface-y things that make me smile.


This view never gets old.
Before we moved into our house, I thought I would like it best when the leaves were on the trees and I was hidden away from view. Now that we're here, and I'm looking out at this every morning, I'm not so sure.


There was snow in the air this morning; some of it even had the audacity to stick to the ground. But Spring is here! I love watching the green creep into the landscape on my drive to and from school every day.

I'm having fun slowly turning 
our house into a cozy home.
There's something about putting pictures on the wall and making a space yours that just makes my heart happy.



I'm loving this canvas for 
the boy's room!


But then, I'm also loving these plates
in their wonky little cluster.
Maybe because I've had them tucked up in my cupboard for years and they deserve to be seen after all this time.
I picked up the two small ones years ago at a yard sale and the other two belonged to my grandma.

I need to run along and take
 care of mundane things like 
laundry and dishes. 
I hope your weekend is full of little things that make you smile.
Like a child, it might be the smallest gifts wrapped in brown paper!






Friday, March 31, 2017

Marriage: Knowing It All And Still Learning

Going on sixteen years of a healthy marriage can lend itself to a certain illusion of wisdom and the sense of having arrived. That sounds very conceited and hopelessly snobby and braggy but seriously, you've kind of heard it all by now.


He needs respect, she needs love; yes. Men's minds have boxes, women's minds are all interconnected; yup. He can't read her mind; uh huh. Men and women don't speak the same language; tell me about it.

It gets to the point where you even start recognizing the examples speakers use before they ever get to their punch line: "So, let's say you're taking your wife out to eat. You ask her, 'Where would you like to eat, honey?'........." Yeah, yeah, yeah. For the record, when I say I don't care where we eat, I really don't care but I know what your point's gonna be.

By sixteen years, it's pretty rare that you hear a new idea on marriage. I mean, you just know all this stuff now.

If I'm perfectly honest though, the truth about nearly sixteen years of marriage is that I'm still learning.  I'm still coming up against instances that threaten to tear my marriage apart; days when I am sure my mistakes can never be forgiven; faults that I am sure I will never understand how to deal with. It's one thing to know all the marriage wisdom and teaching in the world, it's another thing entirely to believe it and remember it in the moment. And sometimes you do hear things said in a different way that make you say, Oh. Really? Never thought of it quite like that before.

Tuesday Chris took a day off just to take me shopping. Should I repeat that? Don't hate me, I know he's amazing! He took me to Holmes County to shop fabric and thrift stores just because he likes me. No birthday, No anniversary or Valentine's day.... Ok. I'll stop.

Anyway, if you'll remember, he has this thing about thrift stores and old cassettes. While I head straight for the clothes, shoes and purses, he makes his way to check out the tape selection. Our very first stop, he came away with a stack of four. One was a cassette our oldest loved when he was three that had long since gotten lost, I could hardly believe my eyes! Another was this gem:


Never heard of the guy but we "got to know him" on our drive home. We even each had our "Really?" moments as we listened.

He broke this news to the men - "You're never going to be as appreciated as you think you should be." Really? Did you know that's how the men feel, ladies? My husband sure agreed with him anyway.

And he told this story, "My wife can come from the back bedroom as if a nuclear blast just took place in the back bedroom. She'll come out, kinda droopy, falling apart about what just happened. She'll sit next to me on the couch. She will tell me her problem in the back bedroom, and I - in all my wisdom and knowledge and vast counseling experience (7 years of Greek, 3 1/2 years of Hebrew) - give her the answer to her problem in the back bedroom. Now she turns on me. She doesn't want an answer to her problem in the back bedroom! No woman wants an answer. All she wants to know is, do you care? Hu? Do you care that a nuclear blast just took place in the back bedroom? That's all I wanna know! Because, if you care, then I'll go back and clean it up. But, if you don't care, there will be another nuclear blast right here in the living room!" I liked that story. And Chris will, undoubtedly, try the seemingly absurd "I'm so sorry, I really care" line sometime to see if it actually works.


Yes, marriage. I wonder how God came up with something so intricately complicated?

The true blessing of nearly sixteen years of a healthy marriage is this: When real life happens - When there are misunderstandings; when you don't speak each other's language; when you are in the moment and forget all the marriage wisdom and teaching you ever heard, underneath it all there is a solid knowing. You've crossed rivers and built bridges with this person; you've soared and fallen and gotten up again; you've loved and been loved. At the end of the day, you're still learning but the strength of the knowing propels you on to dig deeper and love more perfectly.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Five Minute Friday: Ugly

Every Friday a little group of us on Facebook joins to write for five minutes on a prompt that's posted Thursday evening. If you think you might enjoy it, you can check it out here.

I'm digging back in the archives and posting something I wrote in December for the prompt "Ugly". Yes, we have some odd prompts sometimes! Surprisingly, those odd ones can turn out to be the most interesting.

 ----------------------------

UGLY

Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, ugly is not a permanent state of being. Is there anything ugly that cannot be transformed?

A smile on the face that looked so plain....

A sweet spirit discovered in the person who once looked un-likeable...

A coat of paint on the house that once looked un-liveable...

Fresh clothes on the child that was dirty and bedraggled...

A cleaned up room in place of the mess and clutter...

A sanding and refinishing job done to the old, old table and chairs...

A beautiful yard and flowerbeds where once there was endless brush and briars....

An apology from the person who hurt you so badly....

Peace in the heart that was full of turmoil and questions....

The transformation of Jesus in the heart full of sin...

   -----------------------------------

May you have eyes to see beyond the ugly things in your life to the beauty of transformation and redemption. Happy weekend!