Friday, August 27, 2010

Summer and Fall, Not Summer Vs. Fall

I love this deceptive weather we have been having. Every year around this time we have several days of summer, followed by a few days of what is a definite reminder that fall is coming. On Monday of this week we were gifted with temperatures in the 60's, clouds, wind and some rain. I made soup. Yesterday, it was 90 and the kids begged to fill the pool and pull out the slip-n-slide. I like that.

I can never decide if summer or fall is my favorite, so I like having a little of both. It is very representative of my divided state of mind. I love fall because I like sweaters and jeans, getting back into routine, looking forward to all the holidays and back-to-school supplies. However, I love summer, too. Can you ever have enough sun, lazy afternoons, trips to the pool or VBS? Colorado is very accommodating in that we will have plenty of weather to suit both sides of me for the next 6 or so weeks before it finally surrenders to being completely autumn. Although, not to worry because I am sure I will still be able to revel in a few rare days of unseasonable warmth sprinkled from November to April.

But I still have enough time to switch into my autumn mindset, choosing to be thankful for what this new season holds, rather than mourning the passing of what will not be around for 6+ months. I try not to always view the past with rose-colored glasses, favoring it over the future. I will be thankful that I can put away my summer things for my much more flattering winter ones. I will be glad that soon we can go back to having our windows open, rather than depending on artificially regulated air to cool our home. I will look forward to the great clearance sales that are soon to come on back to school items. :) We will begin looking for the perfect "Fall Festival" costumes. I will start the adventure of homeschooling...

But for these last few lingering days of summer I will also enjoy weather warm enough to continue to set up the slip-n-slide, hang out the laundry and reap the last of our tomatoes. I will enjoy the still-green grass, and be glad that all the children who attend public school are busily occupied while we enjoy the calm and uncrowded parks, pool and play areas. For right now, I have the best of both seasons and I will love them for what they are-and not have to sacrifice one for the other!
P.S. What do you think of my new blog layout? I was tired of feeling like the background was competing with everything else for attention. I want the focus to be on the posts, not everything else. It is very minimal, but it suits me for now. Good thing it is easy to change!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cinderella Style

May I apologize in advance for the irritating lines? Blogger refused to allow me to have paragraphs. I have a tendency to run on (and on) I know, and I feel it is important to have a little space between all those sentences. That is the best I could do! Blame it on Blogger...

I don't mind cleaning my bathroom. I know that is many people's least favorite chore, but I guess I find it satisfying. I don't keep clutter in the bathroom (isn't that what the "linen" closet is for?!) so it is not a "clean before you clean" task. Also, it is gratifying to know that when it is clean, it is finished. Not like laundry or dishes, the never-ending tasks. I usually clean the mirror, sink and toilet 2-3 times, sometimes more, a week. I clean the tub on Mondays. I clean the floor once a week, too. That is the only part of the job I HATE! Much of the time I cheat and just Swiffer around the rug (which covers most of the floor in our tiny bathroom). Sometimes I drag out the real mop and do it. And when I am feeling particularly ambitious I fill up my trash can with ammonia (why use a bucket when I can multitask and clean the trash can at the same time?) and hot water, pull on my trusty rubber gloves, grab an old rag and get down on my hands and knees.

Whenever I am being good and doing this chore the right way it always brings to mind memories of Cinderella. It particularly conjures up where she on her hands and knees mopping the huge foyer floor. She is singing, and dreaming. Then along comes Lucifer, the cat. Spying an opportunity to make trouble, he trots through the dustpan (anyone else wonder why her dustpan is so full, even when she supposedly cleans all the time? Seems just like real life!) and proceeds to track paw prints all over the clean floor, right around daydreaming Cinderella. When her bubble bursts (literally) she realizes that Lucifer has just added more work to her already seemingly impossible to-do list. However, since Cinderella is mild-mannered, she simply scolds, "Lucifer, you mean old thing!" and goes back to mopping. Besides showing off my ridiculous knowledge of Disney's "Cinderella", I do have a point.

I know something else I should do on my knees that most often I try to take the easy way out of: pray. I took Beth Moore's study "Stepping Up" and she challenges you to pray on your face, in a prostrate position. I have done that and it is crazy how it changes your perspective. Just like spending the time on my knees mopping the bathroom floor, it puts me in touch with how things really should be. Standing up with a mop in my hand, or glossing things over with a wet Swiffer, doesn't really show me all the dirt and grime that needs to go. Praying is like that, too. I can definitely get the job done with my eyes open in the car, driving down the highway. God hears me no matter where I am. However, it doesn't give me the same clarity, honesty and focus that praying on my knees does. It doesn't show me what really needs my attention.

When I put ALL my focus into praying, and not trying to do anything else, it changes how I am praying. I am not saying all your prayer time should be laying down on the floor, but I know in my own life that days go by when prayers are said in the shower, at the table, with my kids before bedtime, and yes, even in the car going down the highway. But they are tacked on with my other activities. My conversation with God is part of my multitasking plan: do more, be more. But that is one thing that needs singularity of focus.

I have kept a prayer journal off and on over the years and last month I decided to start keeping one again. I have discovered that it is imperative that I schedule this time before my darling children pop their heads out of bed, because it is all downhill after that. Devoting time specifically to praying and ONLY praying, has opened my eyes. First, I am a very "selfish" in my prayers. They are mostly about me, my needs and the needs of those I love. Second, I have the attention span of a goldfish! Third, I can talk the hind leg off a donkey, but when it comes to talking to the Creator, I am at an amazing lack for words. Spending time on my knees (literally and figuratively) isn't something I am very good at, so I have to work at it.


Which brings me back to Cinderella-told you I had a point! She is on her knees focused on her task. She is diligently attending to her responsibility. When an attack comes, she is not thrown off course. She deals with the distraction and resumes the task at hand. I want my prayer life to be like that. I want to be where I need to be so that when things beyond my control occur, I am not distraught. I do not allow a temporary distraction to consume my focus. I realize what I am doing is the right thing and I can't let other people or things keep me from accomplishing my task. It helps me see what I should be paying attention to and it shows me all that I have to be grateful for. It shows me how small I am before the Creator, but how important I am in His eyes. Being on my knees gets the job done right.:)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What I Learned About Books and Wreaths

Because anything I do I have to do to the zenith this is yet another post about something I made. Don't worry-I am not planning on turning this into a craft blog. I just have to do anything new obsessively until I am (and you will be, too) absolutely sick of it! Don't hate me, just skip through this post. I PROMISE that my next post will not be crafty-as a matter of fact, I am working on something right now that does not involve Mod Podge, a glue gun or scrapbook paper. Still love me?

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Since I obviously have nothing better to do with my time, I have spent many hours scouring craft blogs. I kept seeing the same project over and over (there is nothing new under the sun!) and at first I didn't think much of it. But after a while it grew on me. I finally decided that, because it was relatively cheap and required precisely my talent (little to none!) I would tackle it. So, I made a Book Page Wreath!

The supplies are simple, but most are needed in large quantities. I used:
-a 10" wreath (I used straw-mistake!)
- hot glue gun with approximately a million glue sticks (I actually used over 12 short ones)
-a book that you don't mind tearing up, with lots of pages
-time I didn't believe the tutorial when it said 2+ hours. Another mistake-it took me almost three!

The supplies. They don't look intimidating, but these fellows conspire and ugly things happen! I was being cheap and went with a straw wreath. What a mess and it was soooo hard to get the pages to stick. If I am ever possessed and try this project again, I will definitely spring the $5 for a foam wreath.

I didn't think that I would feel this way, but tearing up books is kind of fun. This copy of "Shakespeare, Volume 2" cost me a measly $2 at Goodwill. It had that kind of very slightly yellowing look I wanted. However, I will say that again, I would probably change this. First I would have ripped the pages a little more aggressively. I think that would have made it look even more "ruffledy". Second,this book was not quite wide enough and because of that it took a lot more pages to get it covered. Pain!

Looks weird doesn't it? The first couple of rows went on really quickly and I was fooled into thinking it wouldn't take that long. I was wrong-filling in the bare spots took waaaay more time than anything else. As a matter of fact, I got so sick of it I left it overnight.

However, I was pretty satisfied with the end result. It is really pretty in person. It also adds a nice 3D quality to my walls. I think it would look great on a painted wall, but Joel says I am not allowed to paint.:( Fun ruiner!
Anyway, I found the tutorial here. Let me know if you want to make one, I will come help rip out pages. Or, I could just sell you mine for $500!:)

I shared my project at Jones Design Company!

share your project[4]

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Contemplating Contentment

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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. I can do everything who through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13

I have a mistaken concept of "content". I think about that word and I think it means to not complain, but really it means satisfied-not desiring more than one has. Please hold. I think I am doing really well when I don't run around crabbing about all the things that I want, all the things I think I deserve. I really can't imagine being in true need. I have so much more than I really deserve-I think Romans 6:23 covers that pretty well-I don't deserve anything more than the wages of my sin. But, because I live in a fallen world, and I was born with a sin nature, I crave things that I really don't need. Things that if I had them, I probably wouldn't even want them!

I am not just talking about physical things: money, clothes, home decor. I am talking about intangible things. Being a "perfect" wife and mother, having it "all together". I think as believers we have bought into this notion that it is okay to never be satisfied with who we are in Christ. That we are to be constantly striving to do more and be more. Pause: I am not saying that we do not need to continue to grow and mature in our faith. I am saying that to live in a continual state of feeling like you are never good enough, that you just have to try harder, stay up longer, be more, do more-isn't pleasing to the Lord. He made you who you are for a reason. I don't deserve to be a perfect wife or mother. Then I wouldn't have to rely on the grace of God. He can make me content because then I know that He will provide anything that I need to get to where He wants me to be. I have an imaginary list that I keep in my head about what I should be doing. It goes something like this:

1. I need to always have a clean house.
2. I need to be dressed modestly, yet fashionably. This goes for my kids, too.
3. I need to manage my finances, yet look like I have more money than I do. Plus, I should never tell anyone else that I can't "afford" something.
4. I need to be a fantastic cook.
5. I need to have a wealth of Biblical knowledge, have tons of Scripture memorized and constantly be involved in a Bible study.
6. I need to write witty, wise, meaningful posts.
7.I need to always be patient with my children, never raising my voice.
8. And on, and on, and on....

I am not satisfied with where I am. I am not satisfied with who God has made me and the place He has given me to serve. So few of the things on my list are truly noble goals, and the ones that are usually have poor motivation. Do I really want a wealth of Biblical knowledge so it will please the Lord, or I can show off during Bible study? I want to be content-not wanting more than I have. Knowing that each challenge in my life is an opportunity for the Lord to reveal His glory through me. Not doing it on my own strength. I can be satisfied with where I am at, knowing that anything additional that is required of me will be accomplished through Him, not me. I can be thankful that I am a somewhat patient mother of two great kids, acceptable wife to a wonderful husband, renter of a semi-clean house, often a participant in Bible study, and occasional author of a decent blog post. The Lord will make up the difference if I am relying on Him. I am allowed to be content where I am. Not in where I am going, or who I will be, but right here, right now. And that makes me thankful-and CONTENT!

This post is part of the Mom's 30 Minute Blog Challenge and is linked up there.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Frame Fun

I am sorry that I am slightly craft obsessed at the moment. I have never felt "creative" or "crafty" but after doing TONS of blog-hopping I discovered a secret to crafting: there is no secret! You just have to get in there and do it and make it work for you. I struggled because I am such a perfectionist that I would rather do nothing at all then do something that is not perfect. But I have finally been able to move past that and I am really enjoying making things. The good part for you, all six of you who read my blogs, is that anything I do can be duplicated by your average elementary school student. Yes, they are that easy!

One of my new favorite blogs is Little Birdie Secrets. They do a lot of really complicated sewing projects that I could only dream of. However, they also do plenty of things that are really accessible. That is where I found my latest "project" that took me all of not-quite 10 minutes. :) I don't know why I never thought of this! It is so easy, you can find out what they did differently here. I love a white board and often use my dry erase markers to write notes and Scriptures on my bathroom mirror. I also love the long lined notepads for the fridge but they often fall off and I am such a list maker I can use one up pretty quickly (and they are not free!) so when I saw this personalized menu/list space I was all on board.

These are my simple supplies: a 12x12 frame ($5 at Hobby Lobby this week!) a 12x12 sheet of scrapbook paper (that is where you can make it so personalized) and two flowers to make it a little more 3D.
I learned how to make these adorable flowers here. She has several other cute projects I would like to try, but I needed a little color for my board and these worked great! After putting the paper in the frame I hot glued the flowers on the front. Ta Da!
The finished product. Please ignore my poor handwriting. I was in a hurry to take photos! The "Little Birdies" used fancy vinyl cut letters to put the days of the week permanently on their board but since I can't decide if I want to use mine for menus or to-do lists I didn't want to put anything on mine. You could use stickers or even print it on if you wanted to make it last. But I think it will go well in my kitchen and I am sure I will get lots of use out of it no matter what!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Educating Decisions (and Consequences)

Doing what is right is often not what is popular. It has especially hit home for me since this will be our first "official" year of homeschooling. I have not had anyone make any conspicuously negative comments but "going" to school is so ingrained in our culture it is impossible not to feel the (often unintended) little barbs. We were at the doctor the other day and Josie proudly announced that she was homeschooled. Later in the conversation the doctor made a point to say that I didn't need to worry about any immunizations until "she goes to school next year". As if it was a complete given that I would be sending her to school. It is also really hard to read everyone's Facebook status updates saying that they are looking forward to all the free time they will have once their children are back in school, how summer was too short, and what they are doing in preparation. It makes one feel a little left out.

Please DO NOT think that this is a post on how everyone should homeschool! That is a personal decision-one that requires a lot of prayer and discussion in your family. However, I know that is God's will for MY family. I didn't necessarily want it to be. I didn't give any of it too much thought. But, a multitude of factors, not limited to: hating being separated from my children for any length of time, strong desire to limit the outside (negative, unspiritual) influences to the best of my ability, and ensuring (because I can't afford private school!) that they received a Christ-centered education. Also, I am a little bit of a control freak and I like to be in charge! Just being real here....

But it still doesn't make it easy, or alleviate the feelings that I am being evaluated. If something goes wrong, it all falls on me. There is no teacher or board to blame. I feel like I am swimming upstream- people ask Josie when she will get to "go" to school. Even my four year-old knows that doing her work at the kitchen table is not the same as "real" school. Just because you are firmly committed to something doesn't always make it easy. My kids don't need a lunch box or a backpack-and sometimes that makes me feel like a bad mom. No mother wants their child to feel left out, but homeschooling does exactly that. I know, because I was homeschooled. I longed to be part of the "in-crowd" of public and Christian schooled students. I constantly worried that I was not as smart as a traditionally educated kid. I missed out on so many things (that while they have nothing to do with actual education, are a huge part of the school experience) like prom and football games and eating in a cafeteria.

As an adult, I still sometimes deal with that insecurity. And I get a little jealous of the moms who can blithely send their children to school for 6+ hours a day. What in the world would I do with all that free time? Have the cleanest house ever? Moms who don't have to worry that they are ruining their children to learning forever, who don't have to ponder whether or not they are making their children social/educational disasters. No, I do not take the commitment to homeschool lightly.

But in the end, I can't get around what God has asked me to do. I don't know why, I wish that I had been released to turn this responsibility over to someone else-someone more confident and competent than I will ever be. Like a trained professional... However, I take great comfort in the fact that, just in my family alone, I have so many people who support my decision. That I have great friends who don't judge my choice. That my mom, my aunt, my sister, can all give advice and encouragement when I feel like the only freak who has ever decided to bizarrely sequester her children in her home...

And I will just have to learn to deal with the comments. I suppose it is, in a way, like my decision to not include Santa in our holiday celebrations. I just have to politely explain my choice-what your family does with St. Nick is between you and God. Don't ever think that I function under the delusion that I am better than you. I am muddling along on this journey only by the grace of God. Sometimes it does frustrate me that it isn't acceptable for me to be more proud of this choice-people seem to think that is my way of trying to make them feel guilty. I will challenge you-if you do feel guilty (about this, or anything else that comes along) then could that possibly be the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart? If it isn't because you need to change something, then let it go. That is really what I need to do-there is no condemnation in Christ. I need to just rely on Him for the strength and affirmation that I crave. "This world has nothing for me...". Opinions are just that, they are not fact and they cannot determine who I am in Christ. He alone can give me the strength to do His will, and they are not really my children anyway, right?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mod Podge Strikes Again!

My helper in all things crafty. And our supplies. You like the makeshift cutting/glueing surface?

Well, fear not, I have found another Mod Podge craft! Thanks to my sister, Robyn, I got the idea to make a covered notebook from here. There is no real skill involved (my kind of craft!) so I kind of made it up as I went along! I found the scrapbook paper on clearance for $0.21 at Hobby Lobby- I used three different ones, already had the Mod Podge, bought the composition notebook for $0.25 at Target (although I was a little bitter because the first one I went to was out! Another trip out for a notebook that only costs a quarter? Really?) and the big expense was the adorable ribbon- a whole dollar! Other than that, I used my trusty hot glue gun and a button I already had. I knew I had been saving those extra buttons for something! So total cost for (what I think, anyway) is a ridiculously cute notebook -or prayer journal for me- is $1.75 with tax! Score!
This is Jocelyn's notebook. It was kind of the trial run and she was in a hurry to use it. I measured the paper and cut around the cover exactly, but that didn't give me the smooth edges I wanted.

So with mine, I cut an extra flap so that I could fold it over and glue it to the inside of the cover. You can barely see the flap in the right hand side of the photo.

The finished product. I am so proud that I picked such fun paper!

See the super cute ribbon? Don't you want some?:) I glued a piece to the front and back covers so it would tie on the side.
A close up of the flower. I made it myself! I found the easy tutorial here. You better believe I will be making more of these! Definitely worth the time and it turned out so beautifully. I used two different kinds of paper and then I cut two of the green ovals out of the leftover paper to make the leaves.

So there it is. It did take a little while to make (about 1 1/2 hour ) but I was so pleased with the result. Now, I have the perfect sermon note and prayer journal! Yay!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Beautiful Boundaries

I have really been struggling these last couple of days. For the last two years I have participated in PWOC, Awana and a moms' Bible study at my church. This year it seems everything is falling apart. PWOC has changed some of their childcare policies and I do not feel peace about participating with things as they are. It is nothing to do with spiritual things, but I am a really high-stress person and I don't think I would adapt well to dealing with constant uncertainty over whether or not I would have someone to watch my children. There are some other things going on as well, and I can't seem to clearly hear that I should attend. The Bible study leader at our church stepped down from her position last semester and no one has stepped in to replace her. I really respect her decision, and I have prayed about whether or not the Lord is asking me to lead, and I really don't think He is. We struggled with a lot of disorganization in our Awana club last year and while I am planning on attending this year, it remains to be seen where I will serve. Basically, everything that I have been a part of in the last two years is in some state of upheaval as of right now.

If you know me AT ALL, you know that I like to be prepared. I am most comfortable with the familiar and "new" is extremely stressful for me. I know that it is not imperative that I be involved in all these activities, but each has been a place where I could share of my talents and also receive insight, love and encouragement. It is hard for me that it is already August and I don't know where this is all going. I really feel the call in my heart to just "wait" but patience has never come easily for me. I get frustrated that I don't know what to do, I also get frustrated when there are things I want to do but don't have the time, talent or ability. Clearly, I get frustrated often....

I have been praying about all of this for the last few weeks, and I have also been reading through the New Testament. Today, however, I felt lead to read in the Psalms and I started in chapter 16. I stopped on this verse:

"The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delighful inheritance."

I think part of my problem is that I don't like boundaries. I don't like to be told, "no". As much as I like the familar I also don't want to feel like there are things that I can't (or shouldn't) do. But as a believer, boundaries have been set for me. That shouldn't aggravate me, it should make me feel safe. Loved, knowing that my Father cared enough to set restrictions to keep me safe (and maybe others safe from me!) and not only that, but he didn't make them miserable, harsh lines-heavy gates and high fences, they are pleasant. More like rivers and flowering hedges. If I stay within the bounds He has set for me then I won't run into problems that I wasn't meant to handle. I don't have to worry about these things-He knows what is going on. For some reason He has seen fit to set these boundaries for me now.

" I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me.
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."

It was hard for me to believe that those are verses 7-8 of the same chapter. I can rely on the Lord to show me my boundaries, that tells me where I should go. He has given me His Holy Spirit and I don't have to rely on my own feeble "wisdom" to make choices. I don't have to be shaken, fearful or fretful. If He is my focus I will know what I need to do, but also I will clearly see the lines that aren't to be crossed. Just because the grass is greener on the other side of the fence doesn't mean that it is the place I need to be. Boundaries are another one of those things that we tend to think of as negative. We see them as a "no, you can't go there" rather than a "Yes, you can stay within this area and have all I have to give you. You can be cared for aand learn and grow within this safety." I want to hear the Lord saying, "yes" in these limitations right now. I know that my boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places, I know that He will counsel me and He will be at my side, keeping me from being shaken. My life is surrounded by pretty picket fences, I can be secure knowing exactly where I am in the Lord. I don't have to worry about the things beyond my control. I know He is taking care of everything outside-at the same time creating beauty inside the lines, too. He is showing me right now where my boundaries are, perhaps creating new ones, or removing ones that I no longer need. I just have to have faith to believe that it is all coming together for my good and have the patience to see it through.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Boring to Bold!

I have been on a DIY kick lately. I have been reading design and crafting blogs like they are going out of style. Since I struggle with crafts (I can't paint, am not artistic, I don't sew, etc.) I was super excited to find some projects I could finally do.Okay, so probably not a big deal to those of you who are really crafty and creative. However, I am neither, so I was thrilled to find some projects that I could do quickly (and I have to admit it, easily) this weekend. My friend Lindsay and I picked up the supplies we needed and finished these little light switch covers on Saturday. I am so not craft-oriented I even had to buy an Xacto knife! I also had my first introduction to Mod Podge-love it! I will definitely be scouring the internet for more crafts to use that on. If you know of any-pass on the info. I was really pleased with the results! I also was thrilled with my re-made clock. I forgot to take a before picture, but as it is a cheap $3 clock from Walmart, I am sure you can imagine the previous plain white background. Not boring anymore!
Ugly, boring, plain light switch covers-need I say more?
Waiting to dry...

Lovely Vanna, I mean Josie, models her new matching cover-she was thrilled!
The bathroom-I snagged some left over paper from Lindsay because it matches the bathroom perfectly!
My favorite one- in my room. The dark graphic really pops!

The clock with it's snazzy new background. It is a little hard to see in a photo but it looks really good in person. This project was harder than I thought but it turned out well. It bugged Joel that I didn't match the papers-he couldn't seem to understand that I didn't want them to be the same! Silly boys...:)

P.S. If you want to make these I have plenty of Mod Podge left!:) No, really I swiped the instructions from here. I kind of came up with the clock idea on my own. :)


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