Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Feeling the Love

I have a weird thing about seasonal decorations. I don't like to put them up (in what I consider) too early. I feel like three weeks is about good for Christmas decorations, and I shorten the time for other holidays, the ones I deem less important. I do, however, truly love Valentine's Day.

It is probably because it is in such close proximity to my birthday. I also love that it is not a high demand holiday. I love helping the kids choose Valentine's to exchange, I love the colors, and it is just fun! I have decided, though, that I want to simplify. Fewer decorations, fewer boxes, less unpacking, less re-packing...you get the picture.

I have realized that some of my favorite decorations are the disposable kind. Candy, window clings, flowers. So I kind of went that direction and came up with some really simple things. I made the wreath above from cheap-o ornaments I bought at Target. Talk about re-purposing! I paid $0.30 for a pack of three, and they came in purple, red, white and fuchsia. What could be more Valentine"y"?

The wreath was super simple. I wrapped a foam wreath from the dollar store in dollar store ribbon (beware, it did take two rolls). I pinned the ribbon on with my trusty floral pins-I am loving those things!

Then I used more floral pins to spear the hearts on. I should have started from the outside edge, but I didn't realize that I would prefer it with two rows until I was finished. Still it was easy-peasy, and you could cut plain hearts out of felt for the same effect. And it only took about 15 minutes! Love.

I used the same hearts to make a garland for my fireplace. String the hearts on some ribbon, and insta-garland. I love having a fireplace to put garlands on. When I was taking the photos Carson asked me, "Mom, do you want me to be in the pictures?" How could I say no? Of course I want him in my pictures! Please ignore the jammies...it was 8:00am.

This is what I am talking about with the disposable part. I got this white dish at Pier 1- I love it! My mom suggested filling things with conversation hearts, and I knew this would be perfect. I can toss the candy when the holiday is over, no storing stuff, but I still get the cuteness factor!

One thing leads to another... I bought this candle at Bath and Body Works for $1 with the little glass hurricane. The candle looked too small for the holder, but I put a layer of conversation hearts on the bottom, put the candle in and then filled in the space around the sides. This would be easy to do with any type of candle! I don't plan on burning mine near the conversation hearts-I can't say how that would work.

I am planning on having flowers more often. My mom bought these for Josie at Walmart of all places. Shoved into my square vase that she bought me at Goodwill (it once held more expensive, but not cuter, flowers) it makes for a darling $3 arrangement. And I can toss them!

I  used a couple of too-short flowers to fill this little purple vase and I had to display the "love bugs" the kids made at church. I am pretty happy with my little things. They fit right into my desire to simplify and have multi-use and disposable decorative items. And now we are all set for Happy Hearts Day!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Little Past Due Christmas Post

We celebrated Christmas at home this year. There is something to be said about a little "just our family" Christmas. I love a big, extended, every relative you have kind of deal, but I also love how easy it is when it is just the four of us. Our little tree became less sad sprig and more real Christmas pine when it was surrounded by a bounty of gifts.
Everyone know that Christmas really begins on Christmas Eve. We always attend the Christmas Eve service at our church. The kids were feeling rowdy and this was the best photo I got. I wanted a couple after we got home, but that was poor planning on my part. Carson's outfit didn't stay clean that long!
I tried getting some pictures at the church, but that didn't work either. Carson was not in the mood to be photographed. I also put my camera on the wrong setting and ended up with zero decent photos of  the kids opening their gifts that night. It was still a really nice night, though. We always go out to dinner. That is one of my favorite parts! The house is always spotless and so I get to come home after a great dinner to a clean house and just enjoy the evening. Joel and I ended up exchanging our gifts to each other after the kids went to bed. We loved that so much we decided we are going to do that every year.
We are the only people I know who have to wake their children up on Christmas morning. We had two sleepy heads for sure! I actually love when Christmas is on a Sunday. There is something so appropriate about spending the Lord's birthday in His house. However, it did make for an early morning since we wanted the kids to open their gifts before church.

Carson was so cute this year. He was very grateful for all his presents and was so excited to have gifts for everyone. He bought his dad some "dude spray "- that is what he calls cologne. He was so pleased with himself and even more pleased when he got a very nice thank-you hug from Daddy.
We got both the kids new robes and Carson absolutely adores his. He wore it all day for two solid days-over his clothes, even! He makes such a dapper little dude.
Jocelyn looked pretty cute in hers too. She made some of the sweetest faces over her presents-she is so expressive and excited. She loved her set of Kit books from Grammy.

Carson loved all his presents. I had to laugh over leaving the clearance tag on this one! I bought most of their presents back in July for great deals-but I didn't intend to document that in photos.:)
Jocelyn loves making a tower out of her presents every year. This is 2011's pile of loot!

I couldn't resist taking a photo of Carson with his favorite stocking stuffer: Lego Star Wars undies. He is going to make threats over this photo in later years. And his future wife will love it!
We finished all the festivities in time to get prettied up for church. This photo is an absolutely perfect representation of my children's personalities. And please note that yes, those are pirate ships on my son's socks.
 And for the finale: a fairly decent family photo, considering this was the second time we have used the timer on my camera and it was precariously perched on the sofa arm since we do not have a tripod. Someday... a tripod and a DSLR to go with it. But for now, I will settle for an okay photo of a wonderful family on a very nice Christmas morning. I know it is January, but better late than never, right?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rest is the Best

Somedays, I just don't want to do the right thing. I know, you are aghast, that I would not always enjoy and seek to do the right thing. But sometimes, I just want to tuck my feet into the sofa cushions and watch reality tv to make me feel better about my own life. Sometimes, I don't want to exercise, or homeschool or choose the healthy snack. The last one, well, pretty much I never want that one. Just being honest here.

I want to be more like Jesus, I just wish sometimes it were a little easier. Doing the wrong thing just doesn't require the same amount of effort. They lie when they tell you it is less work to smile than to frown. Physically, perhaps yes, mentally...well, I think we all know that sometimes it is just pure torture to put on a grin and bear it.

There is no denying that executing the myriad of tasks that I have each and every day, due to the fact that I am a wife, mother, teacher and involved in my church, takes time, energy, organization, patience and then a little more time. And there is also no denying that grabbing the box of chocolates that Carson bought me for Christmas, propping my feet up and zoning off to the most recent episode of Project Runway: Allstars would be a lot less effort.

But unfortunately, at least that I know of, the Lord does not issue calls to watch Project Runway. He does, however, issue a call to rest:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I think that is the key that I am missing. I am bearing my own burdens and refusing the rest that I have been offered. I want to create my own rest because I am selfish and power hungry. I want to do things in my own strength so that I can receive the credit.

And there is no denying that following Christ *does* involve taking up a yoke, albeit an easy and light one. It does involve sacrifice on my party. And sacrifice is not missing the latest episode of my favorite show. It involves daily dying to myself, the part that wants to hold onto my pride, and my need for recognition. That part that wants all the good stuff to come from me and all the bad stuff to be someone else's fault.

And it often means doing the right thing, for the right reason, even when I have the wrong attitude. I am a firm believer that when we focus on doing God's will, even without a "cheerful heart" that He will reward us by moving our heart to the right attitude. It is like running: it isn't fun when you get started and are in terrible shape, and out of breath and your knees hurt and you know that the 60 year-old lady who keeps passing you is laughing behind her hand. But you "keep on keepin' on" and you find that it isn't quite as bad as it was. That you are getting faster. That your 13 minute mile shrinks to a 10 minute one and you are proud to wear the title "runner". It might not be fun, even then, but you are seeing the benefits.

But then you (and by you, I mean me) face some hardships. Your knees keep hurting and they won't stop. You give up running and slowly, all the ground you had gained is lost. And you are frustrated. And you decide you are giving it up for good because it isn't easy and you are tired of trying. Because doing the right thing never gets easy- it just can become more of a habit. It is truly a discipline.

We think of discipline so negatively: grounding, writing sentences, all those "tortures" we endured as children. But what we didn't realize is that discipline is something to seek, to desire:

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11

When I run, I am disciplining myself. When I choose, consciously, and sometimes painfully, to do the right thing, I am allowing myself to be disciplined by the Lord. When I focus on having the "right attitude" I decide that if my attitude is bad, I just shouldn't do something. This says the opposite. It is sometimes painful to do the right thing. I have to sacrifice what the almighty "I" wants and buckle down. When I focus on doing what the Lord has told me is right, then He will bring my attitude back into line through His loving, perfect discipline.

So, it is really about a balance of rest and discipline. Doing the right thing is about focusing on the reward of righteousness and peace that lie on the other side of the pain and frustration of wading through being disciplined. But while I am in the midst of the all the "not funness" of that- I can also remember that I can rest. I am allowed to breath and gather strength through the One that can enable me to do all things. And maybe, like a little child who doesn't want to take a nap, it is realizing that rest is sometimes part of the discipline. Because the rest prepares me for the work that I need to do- and I don't know about you, but sometimes a little nap just makes me a nicer person!


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